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  • Is my sensei trying to sabotage me?

    I'm getting a complex from my second iai teacher. On the day before the shodan exam, she made me come to her house, in heavy, heavy rains, knowing that I would have to come by bike, and practice in a humid, sweltering dojo for 7 hours, with no supervision. There were a few times that collapsing seemed almost inevitable, but if I took even a quick breather, she was equally quick to look up from talking with some guests, and chastize me for not practicing.

    This sensei recently decided that I should study jo. Thinking that it might be pleasant, I concurred. After one lesson, she signed me up for a shodan exam. I demurred. She insisted. I said, no thank you. She persisted. I said, please no. She put her foot down. last weekend, I was packed off to jodo seminar in a nearby onsen town. Three of us went there on Saturday and Sunday, to attend 8 hour practices, where we were the absolutely worst people there. We had only had a few hours of training with a jo, and we couldn't even do most of the kihon, let alone the kata. The shinsa was one week away by this time.

    After the seminar concluded, the three of us had a meeting, and decided that it was far too early to take the shodan shinsa. We politely asked the sensei tobe excused. She refused point blank. All three of us had business on the day of the exam, or at least I do, the other two coul dbe making it up. She arranged a special sitting of the exam for us. One of the other people cancelled on that too, he said he had to go to Tokyo. The other one said she'd do it to be my partner, but she didn't want to take the exam itself. I said I didn't want to take it either. The sensei accepted the other two people's excuses, but she told me I must take the exam, in no uncertain terms.

    Having done jodo only 7 times so far, I felt destined to fail miserably. With 14 practices a week for the past 2 months, living on 4 pieces of toast a day, and 5 hours sleep, how could I possibly learn jo? I did the exam today, after a long, 6 hour practice. It was awful. I blanked in the middle of the kata, and almost collapsed. I did yon honme wrong too. Yes, it was a small mistake, but still, it was wrong.

    I'm starting to think this woman is out to get me. This is twice now that I've ended up making an arse out of myself, largely because of her practice schedules or demands. People who have seen my iaidou outside this woman's dojo, or had seen it before the day of the shinsa, thought it was pretty good. However, I know have a reputation for doing crappy iai, and even worse jodo! I'm the inept foreigner, the one who collapses in practices, in the middle of a kata.

    I've cut school club from my schedule, but with the next free day almost a month away (I have work and practices or embu, or taikai every single day until June 21 or so), it seems like too little too late.

    How the heck can I get it through to this woman that I'm going to end up in the hospital if this continues? I was in the best 8 at my kendo shodan shinsa. My reputation has gone steadily downhill since I joined this woman's dojo. It's frustrating.

    This post has been fermenting for a few weeks now, forgive the length. I'm only interested in good advice, not accusations of being a weakling. If you think I'm weak, come over here and take on my schedule, 35 hours of work, 35 - 40 hours of budo. . . and I have to bike to them all.

    c

  • #2
    This is your second iai-teacher? Was there a conflict with the first one? You describe a very bad situation. I think you need a break from iai at that particular dojo. it is very strange to be pushed in front of a shinza without having the skills that are needed. A jo-teacher I know said that he did not let any of his students go for shodangrading unless they had the skills necessary for nidan, because he wanted the club to look sharp for his own teacher.

    Are there other possibilities to practise iai, without wearing out your bike? You get good calves for kendo, anyways Bicycling and kendo is great, i pedalled 4000 miles last year, and it made a large difference for my kendo. Not good for comfort in seiza though, but I got up pretty fast.
    it is very ambitious of you to do all three arts, and i hope that you find a better behaving iai-teacher, or the one you have stop misbehaving. It is rare with female iai-teachers, so it is even worse if things dont work out well.

    Comment


    • #3
      Seems very strange to me too.
      A student's performance reflects directly upon the sensei, so unless she's telling everyone you're someone else's student, it makes no real sense to me. This is possible, if not a little terebi-drama poi.
      Is there another sensei you can have a quiet word to about this? Get a local opinion from someone that knows her. It may be that you need to drop one of the arts you're doing, or find a sensei more suited to your learning style.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have no conflict with the first teacher, we are still doing iai and kendo together, and enjoying it a great deal.

        This sensei comes highly recommended. A friend introduced me to her, and she's considered very good. She's a nice lady, I like her when not doing budo, but she is very demanding. It puzzles me as well why she is behaving this way. She doesn't tell everyone I'm someone else's student.

        I've tried getting a local opinion, but her other students are just as puzzled. She pushes me harder than anyone. She's a very forceful lady.

        c

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        • #5
          I'm not saying this is the case here, but with my experience in coaching youth sports, I have seen coaches who tend to push the ones they feel have more potential. Perhaps she's testing your resolve.
          I don't know how it would go over in Japanese culture, but the only way you'll truly know what she's thinking is to discuss it with her, and that's if she's willing.
          I can see how it would bother you, but perhaps it's not a negative thing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Confound,

            The japanese mind is strange, I know, Ive lived with one forall my life.

            My thoughts:

            1. You are being tested. That is why you are being pushed.

            2. You are being tested. That is why you were asked to do something you are not ready for. To see if you will execute as told.

            3. You are being tested. To see if you are worthy of being her student.

            4. She hates you.

            With the Japanese, it is hard to tell, those conniving little .

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            • #7
              I usually don't advise quitting, but you can only burn the candle at both ends for so long. You should be getting some enjoyment out of this and if it is pushing you to the point of collapsing, that is just simply not good.

              At one point when I was in Japan, I had to stop going to my second practice dojo. The work schedule changed, I was already biking like a maniac from work to the nearest train station, rode the train, and then ran the mile or so to get to the place, and this already got me there late and then the work schedule changed and it would be impossible to get there with anytime to practice. My sensei understood. No hassels, a little sad, but he understood.

              The moral of the story is you can only jump through so many hoops before it becomes too much. If your sensei doesn't understand what they are putting you through, they are just loopy.


              I always worried about people percieving me as an irresponsible gaijin when I was there and had to stop at that second dojo, but normal people will understand. I was lucky because they understood my difficulties. If this sensei looks down on you for stopping, that is just a bunch of crap so don't worry about it.

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              • #8
                I have no idea what is going on in the sensei's mind either. She seems to like me, she always asks me to stay for tea, and tells me stories. I've done everything she's asked, but I'm tired of being made to look like an idiot constantly. Really tired of it...

                c

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Confound

                  ... I was in the best 8 at my kendo shodan shinsa. My reputation has gone steadily downhill since I joined this woman's dojo. It's frustrating....

                  ... I'm tired of being made to look like an idiot constantly. Really tired of it...

                  Confound:

                  I don't mean to sound like Miyagi sensei from Karate Kid, for I am definitely not a sensei. Reputation and pride have no place in budo. The best 8 finish in a local shodan shinsa will mean nothing when you go up to the nidan divisioin. And our kendo will always look idiotic to someone who's 2 dan's above us.

                  If one's is so mindful of one's own look and so proud of one's own reputation, then does that person really have the humbleness and openess in the heart to accept criticism from others? And without criticisms, how can one really advance?

                  Maybe this sensei has seen the individuality and pride in you (which traits are more prevalent in the West than the East), and she's working on breaking you down in the same manner in which the army breaks down a recruit's individuality, so he will be an integral part of the military machine. The analogy sounds negative, but you get my idea.

                  Regardless of the sensei's intent, I have no doubt that you will come out a stronger person and budo student. And when you return to Canada, there will be no dojo too tough for you.

                  You're leaving Japan in July, no? Just tough it out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You raise a good point about humility slidercrank, but my point came across poorly in the post. What I mean is, I'm conscious about being a foreigner, and that every act of mine sets a precedent. (This sounds just like the post I just wrote.) It is really important to me to disprove the prevailing theory (at least where I am) that gaijin aren't serious about martial arts, they don't story hard, they give up, and as a result, they end up being really crappy at whatever they try.

                    To disprove this theory, I've practiced very hard, and garnered a well-earned reputation for being a hard worker, and a serious student. I take the responsibility of maintaining that reputation very seriously, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of anyone who comes after me. It wasn't easy to reach the level of integration with the budo community that I have now. Hopefully, on the strength of the good will I've tried to create, anyone who comes after me will have an easier time. That's the real point, the real reason that disappointing a sensei is not an option.

                    c

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                    • #11
                      Confound,

                      Set your resolve and finish. You have two months at most. You already know the answer.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Confound
                        ... What I mean is, I'm conscious about being a foreigner, and that every act of mine sets a precedent.... Hopefully, on the strength of the good will I've tried to create, anyone who comes after me will have an easier time. That's the real point, the real reason that disappointing a sensei is not an option.

                        Any self-consciousness is by definition bad for budo, right? There are reasons for phrases like "mushin" or "fudoshin," no?

                        Having said that, your intent is noble. Some of us have a tough enough time living just for ourselves without worrying about setting examples for the unknown others to follow. If that is truly your goal, then just set your mind to it and carry it through; it sounds like you have already gone through a lot and there is just a little bit more to go before the end.

                        And after the end will be Canada, the land where you will once again be just one in the crowd, and you will be able to concentrate fully on budo and be more than able to handle the "recreational training" of most North American dojos.

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                        • #13
                          I'm not down with 'recreational training', nor do I want to be 'one of the crowd'. I just want the 6 hour practices, on the day before exams or embus, to stop.

                          That said, there are only 50 days left. I'll survive until then. Thanks for the advice.


                          c

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                          • #14
                            She not on the Kokusai bandwagon is she?

                            For the sake of Japanese Intanashio-naru.

                            We had one that used to parade us around town like chickens. It was follow my leader on our bikes to the dojo going the long way round etc. Some really want you to try hard and also want to be seen giving you the medicine. This foreign connection thing over here is sometimes rather wierd but does have some genuine aspects.

                            Take the grade and you will get it for sure. Also its a feather in her cap. But is that really what you want? Dont you feel that if something is aquired too easily it not worth trying for?

                            Its reminds me of grades I took after a years practice of ten time a week. Then someone who had been doing an hour a week that resembled a kendo elephant got the same grade.

                            In the interests of true human understanding I would tell her to get lost. Be firm but polite..... "I like this but I am not ready"! Time she learned a bit about herself and her relationship with others. But then again you are not me in my position.

                            I had not used to be so abrupt. But now feel so grateful for what I learned in Japan, I feel bound to return the compliment by helping them too.

                            Hyaku

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                            • #15
                              maybe its an attempt at trying to pull you
                              hehe

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