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Should I stay or should I go?
You should stay.
16%
 16%  [ 1 ]
You should go.
83%
 83%  [ 5 ]
Total Votes : 6

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OhioShodan85
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 19 Oct 2018
Posts: 2
Location: Ohio
Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:28 pm    Post subject: Should I stay or should I go? Reply with quote

I have recently found myself in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, and it's been eating away at me this week...

To give you a bit of background I am coming from a school that was more or less stripped of all its intermediate and advanced students by one student that bullied everyone (literally chased everyone away). That student left our school no more than a week after he got his black belt (good riddance).

We have been slowly building up our numbers again this past year, and have hit growing pains. We have a lot of beginners, and I'm sure you are all aware of the challenges and blessings that beginners bring. Some are naturally inclined and require very little correction, while others try their darnedest but never seem to get it. We are not a competition school, and we have a lot of parents and children in class together. Our focus has always been learning and growing confidence.

Until very recently our approach with these students has always been they are promoted/allowed to test if they put in the time, make an effort, and are showing continued improvement in the scope of their rank. We were not looking for perfection, and mostly used positive reinforcement. I'm not going to lie to anyone, these white-yellow belts very much look like beginners. Their stances aren't perfect, they open their fists, the drop their hands. Typical beginner stuff. Most of these students are young children so we really focused on leading by example, while also being realistic with expectations.

Well now our lead instructors (mostly the head instructors brother) have decided to adopt a more firm stance, and what was once a pep talk to encourage students to want to be better, is now barking corrections and threatening push ups. We are going back to "the old days of karate". Kids are on the brink of tears, and I've noticed our attendance drop. I'm not going to argue which teaching style is more effective, that's not the point I am trying to make. The point I am hoping to get across is that their has been a very noticeable negative shift. People no longer show up early to catch up with each other, and leave the second class has dismissed.

I don't think our head instructor has noticed it, because he gets caught up in the lesson he is giving. He is a NICE GUY. I work several towns over and people I work with know him. He's that kind of guy. He knows everyone and loves to talk.

Some background about me: I've been training in Shotokan karate on and off since I was in my pre-teens (in my 30's now). I FINALLY earned my black belt this year and have been getting to know the ropes of instructing and assisting in class. To me karate is a fun hobby, and a great way to wind down after a stressful day at work. I want to show up and sweat, learn, and help. I've invested enough time in it that it's become a significant part of my life and who I've become. I love it, but it is not my entire life. This is my 5th school through the years, but my first since finishing college.

Up until a few weeks ago my role in class(as well as the other black belts) was primarily that of a participant, that assisted with instruction when asked. I teach for a living, so instructing has never been on my wish list as a hobby. Mostly I would run warm ups for the first 10-15 minutes, and would help the newer guys with their kata. I was happy with that.

Now we have been asked (literally told to get off the mat) to stand aside and watch the other students, and make corrections whenever they screw up. In my last class this week I did not break a sweat once, but almost had a white belt in tears over the corrections I was told to give her. I love the people in the school I am currently in, and have been there for a few years. But I just don't like where this is going.

So here are my main issues:

1) Plain and simple I pay a fee to be in this class. If I am instructing and not participating should I be paying to be there? We do not have a separate advanced class to attend, so now I feel like I am paying to work.

2) The negative shift. This isn't nearly to the level of Cobra Kai or anything, but this is a student body that was built up on positivity and it has been noticeably removed. This is not my teaching style (in my own classroom or in karate) and feels foreign to me.

3) I 'm not getting a workout standing on the sides making corrections. Most of the other black belts seem to content to step back and take a passive approach, but that's not me. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything if I don't need blast the AC as soon as I get in my car.

4) I really like these people. While I don't agree with the new approach to teaching, I do respect and genuinely like all of them.

So what would you do? Should I approach it with my instructor, and if so how would you do it? This shift seems to be product another instructors return after a long hiatus. I don't want to tell him how to run his class, that's not my business. Or should I respectfully step out, and find another school in town?

Genuinely on the fence...
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14188
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to KF, OhioShodan85; glad that you're here!!

Sounds to me that your MA betterment would do far much better if you separated yourself from that dojo for cause. After all, you've answered your own question(s) by saying this...

Quote:
But I just don't like where this is going.


Your MA betterment deserves to be treated with the utmost respect because this is your MA journey, and yours alone, and you must be accountable for your MA betterment across the board.

The comings and the goings of the dojo, as you spelled them out quite distinctly in your OP, interfere with learning; the focus should be on training and not really anything else. If you're not being challenged whatsoever, then you're learning has been kicked to the curb.

Yes, talk to the CI about your concerns respectfully, and if afterwards you still feel the same way, then it appears to me that your directions are quite clear.

Loyalty is a two-way street, therefore, if the CI's loyalty as the CI, and as to what and why he's there for is wained, then your loyalty should be towards your MA betterment.

If the fun is gone, then so should you!!

You're not asking for anything unreasonable, after all, you're just wanting to be trained in a challenging and effective way, and not to participate in anything the interferes with your improving your MA betterment...in which, that is quite reasonable!!



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singularity6
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 958
Location: Michigan
Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very well-written post. Thank you for taking the time for being clear and concise about your concerns!

I suspect the folks who're calling the shots are a bit overwhelmed, hence the abrupt change in teaching style. It also sounds like allowing the one student to advance through the ranks was a mistake. Now that this student is gone, perhaps some folks could be convinced to return?

Regarding the idea of teaching - Most schools that I'm familiar with shift the focus from training to teaching somewhere around black belt. A good leader in any organization will always be training his/her replacements. This is how we keep things alive, and martial arts schools are no different. The higher higher ranks in martial arts seem to be more dependent on contributions to the school (i.e., teaching) than on the performance of skills, forms and the breaking of things. That being said, it is important to get some further training. I'd sit down with the CI with your concerns. Could it be the case that your school requires black belts to teach while in class, and train more on their own (I know my school leans this way, as does my friend's.)
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5th Geup Jidokwan Tae Kwon Do/Hap Ki Do

(Never officially tested in aikido, iaido or kendo)
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14188
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black Belts that train on their own is a oxymoron to us because black belts are still learning and developing through many Shu Ha Ri stages; they need to be nurtured just as much as any other students, if at times, even more so.

With that, where's the challenges that feed ones Shu Ha Ri of ones MA betterment?! In the dojo, and not engaging in the Student and CI relationship, while on the floor, and not assisting the CI from time to time, which is part of the teaching models of most MA schools around the world, limits the black belt student.

Students are there to learn, and the CI is there to teach everyone who's part of the Student Body, without exceptions.

Black belts aren't decorations for the MA school, and neither are the Kyu ranked!!

Imho!!



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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2284
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, OhioShodan85. I advise going to the introductions area and introducing yourself there so we can get a better sense of who you are, what your experience has been (aside from this), and we can properly welcome you. Now for the conversation at hand...

I understand and agree with loyalty. But as Sensei8 said, that works both ways. You came to the dojo to train and to learn; not to be a teacher. By having you teach and barely train, theyíre doing you a disservice. Iím not saying theyíre taking advantage of you, as giving them the benefit of the doubt, theyíre hopefully not intentionally doing you this disservice.

If I were in your shoes, Iíd have a talk with the head guy. A private conversation where you donít let emotions get in the way. Forget about the teaching style being used now; address the most important issue. If youíre feeling this way, chances are pretty good that your contemporaries are feeling the same thing. If he doesnít change this, he may end up losing a lot more senior ranks.

Iím a school teacher too - science and PE. The last thing I want to do is go to the dojo and teach there too. I donít mind helping out here and there. If my teacher asked me to cover a class because he couldnít make it, I wouldnít mind that either. But definitely not day in and day out. I didnít sign up for that. I signed up to train and learn.

As far as teaching styles go, being a teacher and being someone elseís student is pretty tough. Weíve had formal training. Itís hard not to go into teacher evaluation mode. Thereís been several times Iíve wanted to give assistant instructors advice. Friendly and professional advice that comes from a good place and that Iíd think it would really benefit the person. Iíve never done it though. I think about how I personally feel about unsolicited advice on how to do my job, and I back off. The way I look at it, they know what I do for a living. If they want advice, theyíll come to me. And Iíll give it to them.

To wrap my thesis-lengthed post up, have a private talk with your head guy. Explain your concerns. Give him a chance to see it through your eyes. If he canít give you a reasonable solution, look elsewhere. If he can, it all works out.
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conrad665
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 17 Jul 2009
Posts: 153

Styles: Shotokan Karate, Ashihara Karate, Judo, Iaido

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, OhioShodan85!

I'm sorry to hear that you are not happy with your club. I experienced the same situation, the reasons were not totally the same, though, but quite similar. Maybe you would like to have a look at my previous topic:

https://www.karateforums.com/giving-up-karate-and-taking-up-judo-vt51418.html

I have struggled to quit (or not to quit!) my club for nearly three years and quit it last month. I am happy with my decision, as I got rid of the negative feelings I have for the club. I like my instructors, too, they are not bad people, but there are other things, you know. I wasn't content with the style of education and the system in the club anymore. Everything got more and more stagnant as I waited for a miraculous change. Staying away (at least so far) has greatly helped me, although I miss karate VERY much indeed. If you have the opportunity, I would suggest a change of scene. If possible, you can transfer to a another club. I am going to start a kyokushin karate club next month, just to see a fresh point of view.

And I think JR 137 has a solid advice. I could never speak to my instructor about such issues, because he seemed to stuck in his own mindset and was very reluctant to change things in the club. Maybe you can help change your club for the better by speaking to your sensei.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14188
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's always a definitive between speaking with the CI and/or arguing with the CI; approach is very critical, even though the final decision are two fold: you decide to leave/stay or the CI enforces rules he/she has established.

There's also another definitive between knowing how to teach and not knowing how to teach; not every black belt can teach, nor should they ever attempt to because the MA betterment of the student is lessened drastically. Even if the black belt does know how to teach, including how to manage to floor, but lacks the social aptitude in which to do so, that black belt shouldn't teach, nor attempt to.

MA betterment is paramount for the student. Without having a clue pertaining to the floor, the students MA betterment is at risk.

Imho!!




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OhioShodan85
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 19 Oct 2018
Posts: 2
Location: Ohio
Styles: Shotokan

PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for all of your responses! I'm glad to know that others can see where I am coming from, and to know I am not overreacting. I will definitely take the advice of a few and sit down one on one and discuss my concerns with him. More than likely I will have to call him. His brother is always there early and stays late, so I wouldn't get privacy. I certainly won't argue, or try to tell him how he should run his class, but just tell him what I am observing and feeling.

I'm sure you all know how your club becomes like family, and leaving always hurts so I'd like to avoid it if possible. It's a small town too, so leaving and joining somewhere else will definitely become known to everyone in my current club very quickly. Everyone in town was trained back in the 60's and 70's by my original instructor (my current instructor was actually trained by one of his original students)! But I'm in my 30's so I've definitely reached the point in my life where I know I'm the one in charge of my experience. I'm not wasting time playing around.

An added complication is that my oldest childhood friend is new in the class, and voiced the same concerns to me this weekend. After YEARS of trying to convince her she joined last winter, and took her very first belt test on the same day I took my black belt test. It felt special that day. When I told I shared her concerns she said she was relieved, because she was thinking about quitting and she didn't want to let me down. I hate thinking that she's just sticking around because I am there.

It's tough. My last school I left was because I was moving from New Mexico back to Ohio. I was HEARTBROKEN and still miss them very much (such an amazing school!). The people always have an impact and stay with you.

And to answer whether or not its expected that black belts train on their own; it's never been discussed at any point. We do not have any formal expectations written out of what is expected of a black belt aside from the tests themselves. Several of our black belts are retired individuals and keep coming simply because they just like being there (I think that's a fair reason to come), and others have literally grown up in the club and have been coming for 20+ years. A few weeks ago a few of them were struggling to remember certain parts of heian katas, so I know they are not working on their own. Katas get sloppy if you don't practice regularly! Compared to other schools I've been too, this one has always felt less structured.

I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes. Wish me luck!
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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd advise you to leave.

It sounds like your instructors have fallen into the same mind set that the general public has of Yudansha (black belts), that its the end of the road and nothing could be further than the truth. This is where the real learning begins not ends. Your instructors should have classes strictly for the Yudansha.

Which brings to question; when do they train? I assume that they are at least of Sandan grade or higher. Who teaches them? You might want to look to their teachers for instruction.

As far as if you should be paying... well if you're not being taught anything what are you paying for? You're paying to do their job. I can't stand teachers that think that it is some how a privileged that is worth paying for.

When we get to that level and are asked to start helping and teaching classes, notice I said asked - not everyone wants to teach, we are given the opportunity to do so outside of our classes and our due's are reduced or dismissed completely depending on how much time we spend teaching/helping. Your instructor needs to understand that you are helping him but this is not a requirement and it certainly doesn't replace being taught new information. Either he has a new teacher, which means you should not be paying but being paid or a student that might help out from time to time, which means he needs to teach you and concentrate on your improvement and growth as a martial artist. Putting you with White and Yellow belts is ridiculous. I bet that's a real challenge for you. Sorry that's sarcasm.

I do not agree with Yudansha training with white belts every day. Nothing wrong with getting back to basics from time to time but every class? It's like you get to start over again.

I'd leave and find a school/instructor that will invest in you and your training into higher grades.

Just my 2 cents.
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The person who succeeds is not the one who holds back, fearing failure, nor the one who never fails-but the one who moves on in spite of failure.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27548
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like others mentioned, you should make a an arrangement to sit down and talk with the instructor about the changes. Also, bring up your concerns about not getting to train as much as you would like.

Based on what you have said, if the school continues as you have mentioned, it doesn't sound like you'll be happy if you stay there. If that's the case, then its time to move on.
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