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matt23
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 01 Feb 2017
Posts: 5

Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:13 pm    Post subject: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

Hi all, I figured this would be a decent place to come for input. Please, I ask that you hear me out, as these are not common gripes of a disgruntled student, but questions regarding the conduct and character of what a Sensei should display. I would like some feedback on some of the characteristics of my current Sensei, as I feel that I may need to discontinue training with him due to a number of things that concern me.

To give some context, I am a 1st Dan in shotokan. One of the questions I have is on training methods. Over the last 3 years I have been with him (was formerly part of another org) I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training. There are a number of katas and techniques that are rarely, if at all practiced. For example there is a 5th you student who only knows up to Heian Nidan!

I also have experienced some unusual and questionable personal treatment. My Sensei is into an herbal health club and is obsessive about it. He has gotten the majority of his small handful of students to partake in it. This program is not FDA approved and I have doubts about taking risks. I have been badgered and ridiculed in front of other students for not taking part in the supplements. I have high blood pressure and one day he said, "one day that high blood pressure is going to kill you!"

I also went through a questionable black belt testing. I know that this is an important step and that it is not given, but my Senseis handling of the matter was dishonest. He flipped flopped on the matter of me testing at our summer training camp or with him personally. I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions. He announced he next week that he wants me to test at camp, after I tested with him! Other camp attendees knew I was a testing candidate and encouraged and rallied for me. At the conclusion of camp, not a word was mentioned to me about testing. Some were wondering and asking me what happened. The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt." I was eventually promoted in class, but was only given my certificate, no belt. Another classmate received a belt, I was told to put on my old black belt my last Sensei gave me...

I know that Karate is a lifelong pursuit and that there will be challenges. I accept and embrace that. I understand that the basic principles of karate are key. But there seems to be a lacking in this approach to teaching and treatment of students. There is only a core of five dedicated students that are training under him, including myself. Female students have quit. But these are only a few of the actions that beg me to question the character of my Sensei. Please give any sound feedback or advice.
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MatsuShinshii
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 369
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Matsumura Shorin Ryu, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

matt23 wrote:
Hi all, I figured this would be a decent place to come for input. Please, I ask that you hear me out, as these are not common gripes of a disgruntled student, but questions regarding the conduct and character of what a Sensei should display. I would like some feedback on some of the characteristics of my current Sensei, as I feel that I may need to discontinue training with him due to a number of things that concern me.

To give some context, I am a 1st Dan in shotokan. One of the questions I have is on training methods. Over the last 3 years I have been with him (was formerly part of another org) I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training. There are a number of katas and techniques that are rarely, if at all practiced. For example there is a 5th you student who only knows up to Heian Nidan!

I also have experienced some unusual and questionable personal treatment. My Sensei is into an herbal health club and is obsessive about it. He has gotten the majority of his small handful of students to partake in it. This program is not FDA approved and I have doubts about taking risks. I have been badgered and ridiculed in front of other students for not taking part in the supplements. I have high blood pressure and one day he said, "one day that high blood pressure is going to kill you!"

I also went through a questionable black belt testing. I know that this is an important step and that it is not given, but my Senseis handling of the matter was dishonest. He flipped flopped on the matter of me testing at our summer training camp or with him personally. I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions. He announced he next week that he wants me to test at camp, after I tested with him! Other camp attendees knew I was a testing candidate and encouraged and rallied for me. At the conclusion of camp, not a word was mentioned to me about testing. Some were wondering and asking me what happened. The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt." I was eventually promoted in class, but was only given my certificate, no belt. Another classmate received a belt, I was told to put on my old black belt my last Sensei gave me...

I know that Karate is a lifelong pursuit and that there will be challenges. I accept and embrace that. I understand that the basic principles of karate are key. But there seems to be a lacking in this approach to teaching and treatment of students. There is only a core of five dedicated students that are training under him, including myself. Female students have quit. But these are only a few of the actions that beg me to question the character of my Sensei. Please give any sound feedback or advice.


First let me welcome you to KF.

First and foremost instructors are human. This means we are not perfect and we have bad days just like our students and everyone else.

I can't comment on your Sensei's behavior because I do not know him. I am sure he has reasons for doing what he does in class and ultimately it is his class. I would ask to speak with him privately after class and away from the other students. There is nothing wrong with asking your Sensei questions. Whether he gives you the answers you want to hear or not is up to him.

If you are not happy with the instruction or the way the class is ran you have a few options. You can find another school, you can speak with him and see if that solves things or you can gut it out.

I understand what you have said of his actions but you must understand that there are three sides to every story. Yours, his and the truth. I am not saying that you are lying so please don't take it that way but you are only giving your side of the story. I am sure he has his.

Bottom line is if you are not happy with the instruction you should talk to him or find another school. Other than that I am hesitant to speak about his behavior because I don't know his side or his reasons for doing what you have described.

I have an open door policy, within reason. If a student is upset with something that has happened or with me they are free to talk to me about it. However and again, that does not mean they will get the answers they are looking for nor the reaction they were looking for. Instructors do things for a reason.

Take your testing for an example. In my mind I can see this as a test within itself. He tested you once and then asked you to retest at camp. This could've been to test your convictions, maturity, personality, demeanor and mental state. If you would have gripped about retesting you would have failed immediately with me. This is just an example of looking at things another way.

I will say this... most students (younger) think that they should progress faster and want everything divulged to them right now. I should have learned this Kata by now, I should be higher than this student because I know more or have more skills or have been here longer than them.

I am not saying this is your attitude but being around people like this can tend to alter our way of thinking. If you trust him then follow his lead and he will teach you what he feels you can handle or what is consistent with your grade and progress. If you do not trust him, leave.

Some arts teach a ton of Kata and old school guys like me feel that you should become proficient with the ones you have learned before being able to learn more. Maybe he is allowing students to become proficient with the Kata already taught before throwing more into the mix. Maybe he is not teaching the next Kata because he doesn't feel that his students or the Gokyu in particular has taken it seriously and trained outside of class.

Keep in mind that the old ways were to show the kata to a student a few times and allow them to work on it on their own. Periodically the instructor will have the class perform the Kata and if no progress has been made he will not move them past that Kata. At this point it is up to the student to find out what the teacher wants to see. In today's society most students want a teacher that will hold their hand and guide them every step of their journey. This is not doing the student any good because they never develop their own interpretations. A good student trains in class and trains more outside of class. This is, at least for me, the way I can tell how serious a student is. If they do not take the time to practice what I have taught them I quickly realize they are wasting my time with them and I tell them to leave until they are ready to take it seriously.

My point is there are a myriad of reasons. Until you speak with him you are guessing just like I am. Talk to your Sensei.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1250

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe this will come off as shocking to a few people, but the training methods mentioned are not unusual. There is no rule anywhere which says that a certain belt/rank or level should know a set number of kata. The only thing that matters is how well one understands the kata, the principles it contains and the use of the techniques.

As for training while enduring outside physical stress like hotter or colder temperatures, that also is not the least bit unusual. As long as it is done responsibly with proper preparations and supervision it is feasible for normal healthy people who have no preexisting conditions.

In Okinawa the summers can be as hot as 35 degrees in the shade, yet karateka still train and most dojos have no air conditioning. People are softer than they used to be because of modern comforts, but if done slowly and gradually it is possible to get used to intense effort in that kind of climate.

The belt issue is also not questionable in any way. Many traditional dojo and instructors do not give a new belt after shodan, but only a certificate or other similar document. That formal written recognition of rank is actually more significant than the belt.

The one and only objectionable thing in the OP is the fact the sensei seems to be pressuring students to buy or use the health products. Unless requested and approached by students, the only thing a sensei should discuss is martial arts. Other subjects ought to be kept for a time after training and outside the dojo.
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Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 1981
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

matt23 wrote:
Hi all, I figured this would be a decent place to come for input. Please, I ask that you hear me out, as these are not common gripes of a disgruntled student, but questions regarding the conduct and character of what a Sensei should display. I would like some feedback on some of the characteristics of my current Sensei, as I feel that I may need to discontinue training with him due to a number of things that concern me.

To give some context, I am a 1st Dan in shotokan. One of the questions I have is on training methods. Over the last 3 years I have been with him (was formerly part of another org) I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training. There are a number of katas and techniques that are rarely, if at all practiced. For example there is a 5th you student who only knows up to Heian Nidan!

I also have experienced some unusual and questionable personal treatment. My Sensei is into an herbal health club and is obsessive about it. He has gotten the majority of his small handful of students to partake in it. This program is not FDA approved and I have doubts about taking risks. I have been badgered and ridiculed in front of other students for not taking part in the supplements. I have high blood pressure and one day he said, "one day that high blood pressure is going to kill you!"

I also went through a questionable black belt testing. I know that this is an important step and that it is not given, but my Senseis handling of the matter was dishonest. He flipped flopped on the matter of me testing at our summer training camp or with him personally. I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions. He announced he next week that he wants me to test at camp, after I tested with him! Other camp attendees knew I was a testing candidate and encouraged and rallied for me. At the conclusion of camp, not a word was mentioned to me about testing. Some were wondering and asking me what happened. The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt." I was eventually promoted in class, but was only given my certificate, no belt. Another classmate received a belt, I was told to put on my old black belt my last Sensei gave me...

I know that Karate is a lifelong pursuit and that there will be challenges. I accept and embrace that. I understand that the basic principles of karate are key. But there seems to be a lacking in this approach to teaching and treatment of students. There is only a core of five dedicated students that are training under him, including myself. Female students have quit. But these are only a few of the actions that beg me to question the character of my Sensei. Please give any sound feedback or advice.



It is hard to give full honest point of view because I do not know your sensei and his overall sitaution.


Quote:
I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training.


Has this changed by the time you joined at his club or was it the standard when you started?


Quote:
I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions.


I have previously graded in similar heat, with no air conditioning but just with 1 small fan going and it was over a span of 5 hours. However my sensei had broken the grading into smaller sections allowing for sufficient breaks for water and food.

Did he allow for sufficient breaks to ensure that everyone can remain hydrated?


Quote:
The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt."


That does seem unusual after having you tested in the heat??


My recommendation

Speak to your sensei about your concerns, if he disregards those then it may be best to move to another club where the instructor respects and looks after his students.

As there is a concern that he is bullying and harassing students.
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matt23
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 01 Feb 2017
Posts: 5

Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

MatsuShinshii wrote:
matt23 wrote:
Hi all, I figured this would be a decent place to come for input. Please, I ask that you hear me out, as these are not common gripes of a disgruntled student, but questions regarding the conduct and character of what a Sensei should display. I would like some feedback on some of the characteristics of my current Sensei, as I feel that I may need to discontinue training with him due to a number of things that concern me.

To give some context, I am a 1st Dan in shotokan. One of the questions I have is on training methods. Over the last 3 years I have been with him (was formerly part of another org) I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training. There are a number of katas and techniques that are rarely, if at all practiced. For example there is a 5th you student who only knows up to Heian Nidan!

I also have experienced some unusual and questionable personal treatment. My Sensei is into an herbal health club and is obsessive about it. He has gotten the majority of his small handful of students to partake in it. This program is not FDA approved and I have doubts about taking risks. I have been badgered and ridiculed in front of other students for not taking part in the supplements. I have high blood pressure and one day he said, "one day that high blood pressure is going to kill you!"

I also went through a questionable black belt testing. I know that this is an important step and that it is not given, but my Senseis handling of the matter was dishonest. He flipped flopped on the matter of me testing at our summer training camp or with him personally. I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions. He announced he next week that he wants me to test at camp, after I tested with him! Other camp attendees knew I was a testing candidate and encouraged and rallied for me. At the conclusion of camp, not a word was mentioned to me about testing. Some were wondering and asking me what happened. The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt." I was eventually promoted in class, but was only given my certificate, no belt. Another classmate received a belt, I was told to put on my old black belt my last Sensei gave me...

I know that Karate is a lifelong pursuit and that there will be challenges. I accept and embrace that. I understand that the basic principles of karate are key. But there seems to be a lacking in this approach to teaching and treatment of students. There is only a core of five dedicated students that are training under him, including myself. Female students have quit. But these are only a few of the actions that beg me to question the character of my Sensei. Please give any sound feedback or advice.


First let me welcome you to KF.

First and foremost instructors are human. This means we are not perfect and we have bad days just like our students and everyone else.

I can't comment on your Sensei's behavior because I do not know him. I am sure he has reasons for doing what he does in class and ultimately it is his class. I would ask to speak with him privately after class and away from the other students. There is nothing wrong with asking your Sensei questions. Whether he gives you the answers you want to hear or not is up to him.

If you are not happy with the instruction or the way the class is ran you have a few options. You can find another school, you can speak with him and see if that solves things or you can gut it out.

I understand what you have said of his actions but you must understand that there are three sides to every story. Yours, his and the truth. I am not saying that you are lying so please don't take it that way but you are only giving your side of the story. I am sure he has his.

Bottom line is if you are not happy with the instruction you should talk to him or find another school. Other than that I am hesitant to speak about his behavior because I don't know his side or his reasons for doing what you have described.

I have an open door policy, within reason. If a student is upset with something that has happened or with me they are free to talk to me about it. However and again, that does not mean they will get the answers they are looking for nor the reaction they were looking for. Instructors do things for a reason.

Take your testing for an example. In my mind I can see this as a test within itself. He tested you once and then asked you to retest at camp. This could've been to test your convictions, maturity, personality, demeanor and mental state. If you would have gripped about retesting you would have failed immediately with me. This is just an example of looking at things another way.

I will say this... most students (younger) think that they should progress faster and want everything divulged to them right now. I should have learned this Kata by now, I should be higher than this student because I know more or have more skills or have been here longer than them.

I am not saying this is your attitude but being around people like this can tend to alter our way of thinking. If you trust him then follow his lead and he will teach you what he feels you can handle or what is consistent with your grade and progress. If you do not trust him, leave.

Some arts teach a ton of Kata and old school guys like me feel that you should become proficient with the ones you have learned before being able to learn more. Maybe he is allowing students to become proficient with the Kata already taught before throwing more into the mix. Maybe he is not teaching the next Kata because he doesn't feel that his students or the Gokyu in particular has taken it seriously and trained outside of class.

Keep in mind that the old ways were to show the kata to a student a few times and allow them to work on it on their own. Periodically the instructor will have the class perform the Kata and if no progress has been made he will not move them past that Kata. At this point it is up to the student to find out what the teacher wants to see. In today's society most students want a teacher that will hold their hand and guide them every step of their journey. This is not doing the student any good because they never develop their own interpretations. A good student trains in class and trains more outside of class. This is, at least for me, the way I can tell how serious a student is. If they do not take the time to practice what I have taught them I quickly realize they are wasting my time with them and I tell them to leave until they are ready to take it seriously.

My point is there are a myriad of reasons. Until you speak with him you are guessing just like I am. Talk to your Sensei.


Thank you for your insightful and valued advice MatsuShinshii. I have a lot of respect for the "old school" approach that instructors like yourself and my sensei teach. I had a feeling that the process I went through for my dan exam was a test of my character in myself, and he tells us time and time again that we should not worry about our rank. I have taken time by myself to reflect on how I felt and I believe I had felt as though I was being singled out. My classmate who also received his dan is significantly older than I am and I realized that I must check my ego and realize that this is a personal journey.

I believe that I hadn't brought up some of the things I was feeling because I was afraid that I would come across disrespectful. I try to remember and accept myself as the student. You're right, I should ask more questions and I believe it is all in the way that I frame them and how I approach him.

Once again, thank you for the insight, this put things into perspective.
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matt23
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 01 Feb 2017
Posts: 5

Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartacus Maximus wrote:
Maybe this will come off as shocking to a few people, but the training methods mentioned are not unusual. There is no rule anywhere which says that a certain belt/rank or level should know a set number of kata. The only thing that matters is how well one understands the kata, the principles it contains and the use of the techniques.

As for training while enduring outside physical stress like hotter or colder temperatures, that also is not the least bit unusual. As long as it is done responsibly with proper preparations and supervision it is feasible for normal healthy people who have no preexisting conditions.

In Okinawa the summers can be as hot as 35 degrees in the shade, yet karateka still train and most dojos have no air conditioning. People are softer than they used to be because of modern comforts, but if done slowly and gradually it is possible to get used to intense effort in that kind of climate.

The belt issue is also not questionable in any way. Many traditional dojo and instructors do not give a new belt after shodan, but only a certificate or other similar document. That formal written recognition of rank is actually more significant than the belt.

The one and only objectionable thing in the OP is the fact the sensei seems to be pressuring students to buy or use the health products. Unless requested and approached by students, the only thing a sensei should discuss is martial arts. Other subjects ought to be kept for a time after training and outside the dojo.


Spartacus Maximus, in hindsight, it was a good experience to be given such a demanding challenge. I felt great that I was able to get through the exam without physically breaking down. I think I was getting disgruntled because this was around the time when he was pushing his health ideology upon us. I was one of the few students who didn't buy all the way into it. Some students have stated positive results, but I have to thoroughly examine anything that goes in my body! Therefore, I felt that I was being given a hard time.

I believe that my interpretation of things snowballed after this incident. Thanks for your reply!
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matt23
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 01 Feb 2017
Posts: 5

Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

It is hard to give full honest point of view because I do not know your sensei and his overall sitaution.


Quote:
I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training.


Has this changed by the time you joined at his club or was it the standard when you started?


Quote:
I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions.


I have previously graded in similar heat, with no air conditioning but just with 1 small fan going and it was over a span of 5 hours. However my sensei had broken the grading into smaller sections allowing for sufficient breaks for water and food.

Did he allow for sufficient breaks to ensure that everyone can remain hydrated?


Quote:
The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt."


That does seem unusual after having you tested in the heat??


My recommendation

Speak to your sensei about your concerns, if he disregards those then it may be best to move to another club where the instructor respects and looks after his students.

As there is a concern that he is bullying and harassing students.[/quote]

Thank you for your reply, in regard to your first question, yes the emphasis on body dynamics has been in place since I started at this dojo. Sometimes it appears excessive, as I wondered if the constant break down of techniques would hinder our performance of the techniques at full speed/power due to too much thinking.

In response to your question about the exam... First of all, congratulations on making it through your 5 hour exam in the heat! Yes I was given breaks, he told me that due to the heat, we wouldn't be progressing through each section back to back as normal during a regular dan exam. I feel like I did gripe on that now that I think of it... The "looking out for my safety" statement was regarding my possible testing at camp. He stated that he didn't want the testing panel to "abuse me." I didn't know what he meant by that... In our organization, there are some differences in training philosophy and application; so in that regard, maybe he would not have agreed with some of the things that were asked.

Lastly, in regard to being abusive toward students, he's not physically abusive, but he can get a little pushy in the things he says at times. His senior students take it with a grain of salt. Back in the days, I have heard that he was abusive toward students. A friend of mine who has moved away but still trains time to time said that he has mellowed down quite a lot over the years. He is very wise and knowledgeable, that is why I still respect and train with him. It could just be his personality, he is known to get a kick out taking digs at them. Usually, they are lighthearted and taken in good spirit. But on a bad day, some things can be kinda harsh. I think that is his way of challenging people to reflect on themselves or call attention to things people don't realize they are doing.

Thanks again for the reply.
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JusticeZero
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 2164
Location: AK
Styles: Capoeira Angola

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

matt23 wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training.
Has this changed by the time you joined at his club or was it the standard when you started?

Thank you for your reply, in regard to your first question, yes the emphasis on body dynamics has been in place since I started at this dojo. Sometimes it appears excessive, as I wondered if the constant break down of techniques would hinder our performance of the techniques at full speed/power due to too much thinking.

I teach the same way your teacher does. I expect students to internalize the form as they learn, and have proper form in their mind slowly etching its way into their movements. Applications need applied practice. Forms are for form. What other aspects are you expecting to find?

Also, I see no reason to shy away from training in a heat wave. You should be able to recognize dehydration and stay hydrated and ration your exertion for the heat. If you can't, you need to learn, and this is how.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 12352
Location: Houston, TX and/or Van Nuys, CA
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Instructors and questionable treatment Reply with quote

MatsuShinshii wrote:
matt23 wrote:
Hi all, I figured this would be a decent place to come for input. Please, I ask that you hear me out, as these are not common gripes of a disgruntled student, but questions regarding the conduct and character of what a Sensei should display. I would like some feedback on some of the characteristics of my current Sensei, as I feel that I may need to discontinue training with him due to a number of things that concern me.

To give some context, I am a 1st Dan in shotokan. One of the questions I have is on training methods. Over the last 3 years I have been with him (was formerly part of another org) I've noticed that he has a narrow approach to kihon. For months on end, day after we will drill the meticulous points of body dynamics and breathing-as if there are no other aspects to training. There are a number of katas and techniques that are rarely, if at all practiced. For example there is a 5th you student who only knows up to Heian Nidan!

I also have experienced some unusual and questionable personal treatment. My Sensei is into an herbal health club and is obsessive about it. He has gotten the majority of his small handful of students to partake in it. This program is not FDA approved and I have doubts about taking risks. I have been badgered and ridiculed in front of other students for not taking part in the supplements. I have high blood pressure and one day he said, "one day that high blood pressure is going to kill you!"

I also went through a questionable black belt testing. I know that this is an important step and that it is not given, but my Senseis handling of the matter was dishonest. He flipped flopped on the matter of me testing at our summer training camp or with him personally. I ended up testing a month before camp with him... it was 110 degrees this day and the air conditioning was not used. I was pushed for two hours under these conditions. He announced he next week that he wants me to test at camp, after I tested with him! Other camp attendees knew I was a testing candidate and encouraged and rallied for me. At the conclusion of camp, not a word was mentioned to me about testing. Some were wondering and asking me what happened. The next week, Sensei explained that he, "was looking out for me and that he didn't want me to get hurt." I was eventually promoted in class, but was only given my certificate, no belt. Another classmate received a belt, I was told to put on my old black belt my last Sensei gave me...

I know that Karate is a lifelong pursuit and that there will be challenges. I accept and embrace that. I understand that the basic principles of karate are key. But there seems to be a lacking in this approach to teaching and treatment of students. There is only a core of five dedicated students that are training under him, including myself. Female students have quit. But these are only a few of the actions that beg me to question the character of my Sensei. Please give any sound feedback or advice.


First let me welcome you to KF.

First and foremost instructors are human. This means we are not perfect and we have bad days just like our students and everyone else.

I can't comment on your Sensei's behavior because I do not know him. I am sure he has reasons for doing what he does in class and ultimately it is his class. I would ask to speak with him privately after class and away from the other students. There is nothing wrong with asking your Sensei questions. Whether he gives you the answers you want to hear or not is up to him.

If you are not happy with the instruction or the way the class is ran you have a few options. You can find another school, you can speak with him and see if that solves things or you can gut it out.

I understand what you have said of his actions but you must understand that there are three sides to every story. Yours, his and the truth. I am not saying that you are lying so please don't take it that way but you are only giving your side of the story. I am sure he has his.

Bottom line is if you are not happy with the instruction you should talk to him or find another school. Other than that I am hesitant to speak about his behavior because I don't know his side or his reasons for doing what you have described.

I have an open door policy, within reason. If a student is upset with something that has happened or with me they are free to talk to me about it. However and again, that does not mean they will get the answers they are looking for nor the reaction they were looking for. Instructors do things for a reason.

Take your testing for an example. In my mind I can see this as a test within itself. He tested you once and then asked you to retest at camp. This could've been to test your convictions, maturity, personality, demeanor and mental state. If you would have gripped about retesting you would have failed immediately with me. This is just an example of looking at things another way.

I will say this... most students (younger) think that they should progress faster and want everything divulged to them right now. I should have learned this Kata by now, I should be higher than this student because I know more or have more skills or have been here longer than them.

I am not saying this is your attitude but being around people like this can tend to alter our way of thinking. If you trust him then follow his lead and he will teach you what he feels you can handle or what is consistent with your grade and progress. If you do not trust him, leave.

Some arts teach a ton of Kata and old school guys like me feel that you should become proficient with the ones you have learned before being able to learn more. Maybe he is allowing students to become proficient with the Kata already taught before throwing more into the mix. Maybe he is not teaching the next Kata because he doesn't feel that his students or the Gokyu in particular has taken it seriously and trained outside of class.

Keep in mind that the old ways were to show the kata to a student a few times and allow them to work on it on their own. Periodically the instructor will have the class perform the Kata and if no progress has been made he will not move them past that Kata. At this point it is up to the student to find out what the teacher wants to see. In today's society most students want a teacher that will hold their hand and guide them every step of their journey. This is not doing the student any good because they never develop their own interpretations. A good student trains in class and trains more outside of class. This is, at least for me, the way I can tell how serious a student is. If they do not take the time to practice what I have taught them I quickly realize they are wasting my time with them and I tell them to leave until they are ready to take it seriously.

My point is there are a myriad of reasons. Until you speak with him you are guessing just like I am. Talk to your Sensei.

First off, welcome to KF, matt23; glad that you're here!!

Most solid post!! I only want to reiterate one thing...he's the CI, and how he conducts his affairs on the floor is for him to decide alone. Any misgivings that you might feel, whether warranted or not, are yours alone, and you've that right to question your Sensei across the board.

Whether you stay or whether you go, is entirely up to you!!

Have you sat down with your CI to have a heart to heart discussion about your concerns?? If not, then at least give him that opportunity. If he refuses to sit down calmly as well as rationally with you, that, to me, is a sign for me it's time to go!!

Be respectful, even if he refuses to do so, be that positive example. Remember, just because someone's a human being, it doesn't mean that they know how to act like a human being.

Good luck!! Hang in there!!



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