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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: Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:23 pm    Post subject: When did politics enter the martial arts? Reply with quote

Okay, strange issue popped up and want your opinions...

Last weekend I was performing my quarterly check in and talking to one of our instructors in another state. After the usual reports I asked him if he had any issues that I or the board could help out with. He laughed and said he did have some issues but did not know what anyone could do to solve them.

After prodding him a bit more he finally said that he had been having issues with four of his students and they had started screaming at him in the middle of a class and all walked out. I immediately became concerned as he was saying this but when he explained why, my mouth hit the floor.

He said that it was because one student that was outside of a political rally protesting, saw him enter the rally.

He said that in the middle of class one of them asked if it was him he saw going into the rally to which he answered yes. At that point, he said they became hysterical and started screaming and calling him names and accusing him of things I can not repeat here.

I asked him if he had ever expressed his political views in class to which he answered never. I asked, then why would this have anything to do with you teaching them and did anything else outside of this happen that may be the underlying issue? He had no answer but said that he always viewed these students as friends and that they never had a cross word until this night. He had been to one of their weddings, to two of their college graduations, helped one move and considered all of them as friends.

I didn't believe this was the whole story so I asked for their contact information and called all four, but only two answered. I asked what made them leave and why they were so angry at this instructor. One said a difference of opinion and would not elaborate. The other told me that he could never learn from someone that could vote for "fill in the blanks" or anyone of that party. I didn't know what to say to that but asked him why this would effect learning in his class? He said that he could not learn from someone like this. He went on to say that he had been training for the last 14 years and asked me what I was going to do about it? I asked him what he expected me to do, to which he answered that I should remove and replace him. I said that based on what he and the other student had to say, I had no reason to remove or replace him as there was nothing criminal about going to a rally and that the only factor I judge instructors on is ability to teach and the only reason I would remove an instructor would be for breech of the by-laws or criminal action. To this the young, angry man started yelling that he was a criminal and that I was as well for not doing something about him. Then he started in with some very unwelcome radical views and some very unwelcome language so I bid him a good day and hung up.

I'm very single minded in my views and lean hard to my side of the spectrum but that does not stop me from speaking with those that do not share my beliefs, debating (friendly) with them, working with them, learning from them, teaching them, or even being friends with them. Politic's are just that. I don't bring them in where they don't belong. And IMHO they don't belong in the Dojo.

This is not about which side of the fence you are on nor is about politic's so please do not go into the political arena of (republican, Democrat or anything else) This post is not about the politic's themselves nor which side you're on. It's whether you think that politic's belong in the Dojo.

So I ask you;

What if you found out your teacher was of a different political leaning, would you quit?

What if you had known them for 14 years and were friends?
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mushybees
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 16 Nov 2014
Posts: 196
Location: UK
Styles: Wado ryu

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's incredible.
People are losing the ability to empathise with others and refuse to even consider viewpoints that they've decided is unpalatable. It makes for some very one dimensional and fragile characters.

I try and expose myself to left and right leaning political views and everything in between. I have views of my own but they're informed and considered views and I try and understand why someone might hold and opposing position.

If I found my teacher had political views I didn't agree with I'd be able to compartmentalise it quite easily.
If they respect me enough that they don't abuse their influence to try and sway my political views then regardless of what they believe it can't be too bad.

As for the students in question I would expect a sincere apology and they'd be receiving a stern warning. Disgraceful behaviour, regardless of their reasons.
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Patrick
KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 26961
Location: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, I appreciate the effort to ensure this discussion does not delve into general politics, as that wouldn't be appropriate here. Specific candidates, specific non-martial arts issues, etc. would not be welcome here, as you eluded to, MatsuShinshii. Thank you for that.

Though potentially awkward, the best way for the conversation to exist here is it to focus on the relevant side of the conversation: School owners and instructors, and the level to which their choice of association should impact whether or not students continue to choose to learn from them, or patronize their business in some cases.

-----

It's possible that the students are being unreasonable and acting in an immature way. That said, I believe that instructors serve the community (or, at least, a community), and if their political views lead to them supporting candidates or causes that may harm that community, or members of it, then it seems like a reasonable outcome for those members to stop supporting that instructor or that business, and choose to go somewhere else.

The fact is, you will be judged by those you associate with. The instructor can exercise their right to support a particular candidate or party, and the students can exercise their right to go elsewhere. I don't think either is necessarily wrong.

In my life, there is plenty of room for respectful disagreement on any number of serious issues. But then there are definitely some specific issues that are close enough to me personally where if I were to find someone supporting a candidate who crossed the lines on those issues, it would be difficult for me to continue supporting them. I may have known them for many years, they may be my friend, I may have been a loyal customer. But we all have lines of where polite disagreement meets a serious threat to me or someone I care about.

And if you are threatening someone I care about, then it seems pretty natural to want to distance myself from you. I may not make a big, public show of it, I might just bring the relationship to a close quietly.

Relationships shift and change, and one of the ways that they do that is based upon how the members have that relationship change and/or grow. I don't think this should be any different for the instructor/student dynamic.

Just my thoughts.

Thanks,

Patrick
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2332
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iím going to answer this as a student...

Actually, the first thing that jumped out at me, and very loudly jumped out at me, was why were they even talking during class to begin with? Shouldnít questions that have nothing to do with whatís going on on the floor wait until after class? If I saw my teacher somewhere... anywhere... I wouldnít ask about it during class time. Once class starts, itís time to focus on MA and leave the rest of the world behind. But I digress...

As a MA student, I donít care what my teacherís political beliefs are, nor do I care what anyone elseís are, inside or even outside the dojo. Weíve (meaning students, not the CI) had some discussions that stopped before they became uncomfortable a few times in the locker room. I stayed out of every one of them.

My teacherís political views donít change anything on the floor, so long as he doesnít bring it on the floor. So long as heís not attending Klan meetings or Neo-Nazi rallies or similar, it makes no difference to me. Iím pretty sure Iíd lose just about all respect and wouldnít be able to be in the same room as him if he went that way, but it would take something along the lines of that extremism for me to care.

Now, if heís bringing politics onto the floor, thatís a different thing. I donít go to the dojo to hear about anything political. If he was spouting off about issues and candidates I agree with and vote for, Iíd still be just as aggravated as if it were the opposite of what I believe.

Iím looking for a MA teacher, not a political pundit, evangelist, life coach, yoda, nor anything else like that. My teacher is a great person on and off the floor. Heís the quiet type that when he speaks about something or someone, you listen. When he speaks his mind, heís not trying to push his views or make it about him; heís just giving an opinion and itís easy to see that heís genuinely considering your view. Thatís an added bonus though; I didnít join because of that, and thatís not whatís keeping me there either. If he was the opposite of that, Iíd simply bow in to class, bow out when I was done, and cordially be on my way after I got changed.

If I or anyone else ever asked him if he was the one at a political demonstration or anything else unrelated to whatís going on on the floor during class time, Iím sure weíd get either a look of ďwhy are you asking me this now?Ē and/or heíd basically ignore it and move class along. Iím sure heíd answer honestly at the proper time and place; during class is neither the proper time nor place.
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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: Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woah, here we go. Bear with me, I have a lot of thoughts and I'll try to form them in a concise and constructive way:

We live in complicated times. The social media platforms have allowed us to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, and in a way, filter out those who don't agree as much. The internet in general has given us a "safe" place to air our grievances without direct contact with others. It has gotten to the point to where it seems that "everyone" is the "drunk uncle" at Thanksgiving dinner - those who agree are called friends, and those who don't are the enemy. We are dividing ourselves.

My political beliefs do not line up with my instructors, nor do they line up with a fair number of my classmates. They are still great people, and we still get along very well. Why? Well, those discussions do not belong on the floor (we're smarter about it... we wait until we're drinking at a bar to have those discussions )

Now, I teach math at a college. Historically, I used to allow my students to occasionally discuss things that weren't related to class, so long as it wasn't disrupting the learning that had to be done (I've always tried to respectfully bowed of these, as I don't want any of my students to feel uncomfortable.) After all, it's college, and differing opinions should be celebrated, not shunned! Things have changed enough now to where I no longer allow these discussions in the classroom, as the discussions get too heated too quickly.

Something I think we should all be mindful of are our guiding principles we take for our martial art. In Taekwondo, we have our

Oath:

1 Observe the tenets of Taekwondo.
2 Respect instructors and seniors.
3 Never misuse Taekwondo.
4 Be a champion of freedom and justice.
5 Help to build a more peaceful world.

Tenants:

1 Courtesy
2 Integrity
3 Perseverance
4 Self-control
5 Indomitable spirit

I know other styles have similar guiding principles. These principles (for whichever style you practice) should always be observed - on and off the floor! Now... this has got me thinking... Most religions have a lot of teachings about being humble and respectful. And what about in the workplace? How many of us work for a company that has a mission statement, or "cultural beliefs"? I'll bet integrity and respect are mentioned in some way shape or form! Folks in law enforcement and medicine are required to take an oath upon entering their fields. By being part of a religious group, working for a company, or being a law enforcement officer/medical practitioner, we are agreeing to these ideas, to these beliefs. Maybe we should start living these ideas and beliefs!
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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: Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mushybees wrote:
That's incredible.
People are losing the ability to empathise with others and refuse to even consider viewpoints that they've decided is unpalatable. It makes for some very one dimensional and fragile characters.

I try and expose myself to left and right leaning political views and everything in between. I have views of my own but they're informed and considered views and I try and understand why someone might hold and opposing position.

If I found my teacher had political views I didn't agree with I'd be able to compartmentalise it quite easily.
If they respect me enough that they don't abuse their influence to try and sway my political views then regardless of what they believe it can't be too bad.

As for the students in question I would expect a sincere apology and they'd be receiving a stern warning. Disgraceful behaviour, regardless of their reasons.


Agreed. I, like you tend to listen and research both sides of the coin. I definitely align myself to one side because of my beliefs and moral back ground but I look at both arguments and make an informed decision. Having said that I do not hold another's beliefs against them.

And your right it is all about respect. The way these students acted showed no respect for their long time teacher nor for themselves IMHO.

I feel this way of thinking is very narrow minded to say the least.
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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: Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
Iím going to answer this as a student...

Actually, the first thing that jumped out at me, and very loudly jumped out at me, was why were they even talking during class to begin with? Shouldnít questions that have nothing to do with whatís going on on the floor wait until after class? If I saw my teacher somewhere... anywhere... I wouldnít ask about it during class time. Once class starts, itís time to focus on MA and leave the rest of the world behind. But I digress...


I agree. They were not talking during class. The way it was explained to me was one individual, probably the angry young man I spoke with on the phone, said "I'm sorry but I can't hold my tongue, was that you I saw going into the " " rally?". The instructor said yes but lets get back to training, we can talk after class, at which point this "man" and his three amigo's decided to have a temper tantrum.

JR 137 wrote:
As a MA student, I donít care what my teacherís political beliefs are, nor do I care what anyone elseís are, inside or even outside the dojo. Weíve (meaning students, not the CI) had some discussions that stopped before they became uncomfortable a few times in the locker room. I stayed out of every one of them.

My teacherís political views donít change anything on the floor, so long as he doesnít bring it on the floor. So long as heís not attending Klan meetings or Neo-Nazi rallies or similar, it makes no difference to me. Iím pretty sure Iíd lose just about all respect and wouldnít be able to be in the same room as him if he went that way, but it would take something along the lines of that extremism for me to care.


I couldn't agree more. That is the common sense I associate with.

JR 137 wrote:
Now, if heís bringing politics onto the floor, thatís a different thing. I donít go to the dojo to hear about anything political. If he was spouting off about issues and candidates I agree with and vote for, Iíd still be just as aggravated as if it were the opposite of what I believe.

Iím looking for a MA teacher, not a political pundit, evangelist, life coach, yoda, nor anything else like that. My teacher is a great person on and off the floor. Heís the quiet type that when he speaks about something or someone, you listen. When he speaks his mind, heís not trying to push his views or make it about him; heís just giving an opinion and itís easy to see that heís genuinely considering your view. Thatís an added bonus though; I didnít join because of that, and thatís not whatís keeping me there either. If he was the opposite of that, Iíd simply bow in to class, bow out when I was done, and cordially be on my way after I got changed.

If I or anyone else ever asked him if he was the one at a political demonstration or anything else unrelated to whatís going on on the floor during class time, Iím sure weíd get either a look of ďwhy are you asking me this now?Ē and/or heíd basically ignore it and move class along. Iím sure heíd answer honestly at the proper time and place; during class is neither the proper time nor place.


Again, I couldn't agree more. We are there for a purpose not to be indoctrinated or preached to.

Thanks for your post and your views. They are appreciated.
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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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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

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

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

singularity6 wrote:
Woah, here we go. Bear with me, I have a lot of thoughts and I'll try to form them in a concise and constructive way:

We live in complicated times. The social media platforms have allowed us to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, and in a way, filter out those who don't agree as much. The internet in general has given us a "safe" place to air our grievances without direct contact with others. It has gotten to the point to where it seems that "everyone" is the "drunk uncle" at Thanksgiving dinner - those who agree are called friends, and those who don't are the enemy. We are dividing ourselves.

My political beliefs do not line up with my instructors, nor do they line up with a fair number of my classmates. They are still great people, and we still get along very well. Why? Well, those discussions do not belong on the floor (we're smarter about it... we wait until we're drinking at a bar to have those discussions )

Now, I teach math at a college. Historically, I used to allow my students to occasionally discuss things that weren't related to class, so long as it wasn't disrupting the learning that had to be done (I've always tried to respectfully bowed of these, as I don't want any of my students to feel uncomfortable.) After all, it's college, and differing opinions should be celebrated, not shunned! Things have changed enough now to where I no longer allow these discussions in the classroom, as the discussions get too heated too quickly.

Something I think we should all be mindful of are our guiding principles we take for our martial art. In Taekwondo, we have our

Oath:

1 Observe the tenets of Taekwondo.
2 Respect instructors and seniors.
3 Never misuse Taekwondo.
4 Be a champion of freedom and justice.
5 Help to build a more peaceful world.

Tenants:

1 Courtesy
2 Integrity
3 Perseverance
4 Self-control
5 Indomitable spirit

I know other styles have similar guiding principles. These principles (for whichever style you practice) should always be observed - on and off the floor! Now... this has got me thinking... Most religions have a lot of teachings about being humble and respectful. And what about in the workplace? How many of us work for a company that has a mission statement, or "cultural beliefs"? I'll bet integrity and respect are mentioned in some way shape or form! Folks in law enforcement and medicine are required to take an oath upon entering their fields. By being part of a religious group, working for a company, or being a law enforcement officer/medical practitioner, we are agreeing to these ideas, to these beliefs. Maybe we should start living these ideas and beliefs!


That pretty much says it all. Treat other with the same respect you expect them to give you.

I'm just wondering when it became so bad to have different idea's? Didn't we use to celebrate this?
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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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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14268
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could careless anyone's political affiliation, especially Soke and Dai-Soke's, because I'm there to learn first, and whenever it's appropriate, teach the MA!!

Politics do not belong on the floor whatsoever at any time. In such a way, I do not allow discussions of any degree about politics, religions, and/or sports because how heated those type of discussions can be...especially on my floor.

MA is the only thing that's being taught, discussed, learned, and trained on my floor, and I still control the tone of any conversations held!!



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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: Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
I could careless anyone's political affiliation, especially Soke and Dai-Soke's, because I'm there to learn first, and whenever it's appropriate, teach the MA!!

Politics do not belong on the floor whatsoever at any time. In such a way, I do not allow discussions of any degree about politics, religions, and/or sports because how heated those type of discussions can be...especially on my floor.

MA is the only thing that's being taught, discussed, learned, and trained on my floor, and I still control the tone of any conversations held!!




As it should be.
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