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Thread: Are you Serious?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Default Are you Serious?

    Do ‘martial artists’ take themselves, their art and their perceived status too seriously? If so, why?

    I am very fortunate to belong to a very friendly, welcoming dojo. Nobody is referred to as ‘sensei’, there’s no need to bow on receiving instruction (a ‘thank you’ will suffice) and although we observe the shinzen/kamiza and line up (pretty much) in rank order for reiho and everyone knows how to behave for formal seminars etc, you will find us laughing, making little jokes, smiling, rolling our eyes and behaving in a psuedo-pompous fashion when sharing knowledge and tips and giving encouragement. ItÂ’s less intimidating for the those who have just joined us and the ‘seniors’ make it clear that all,that separates us from the ‘beginners’ is simply more years of practise- we’re nothing special.

    Now, I have heard of other dojo leaders write letters to senior teachers asking them to admonish a slightly lower grade for not ‘correcting’ a beginner when they were continually referred to as ‘sensei’. I’ heard of some sensei shouting at their adult students, like some sort of sergeant-major for smiling and asking for further explanations. Some teachers get very annoyed if one questions a kata or technique even in the spirit of education and debate. As a newly retired university lecturer and scientist, I find this type of behaviour very odd indeed.

    It seems to me that western exponents of the Japanese arts tend to be the worst offenders...they try to be more Japanese/samurai/ than the Japanese which is silly if you’ve trained in Japan and experienced how relaxed they are in classes, especially in the koryu. My theory is that sometimes having a highish rank in a martial art is the only real ‘achievement of significance’ that some people attain and the perceived power simply goes to their heads. Other have suggested to me that this authoritarian behaviour is because I’m involved in a non-contact martial art: in contact martial arts, the arrogant are kept in place on the mat where they could get duffed over for being a silly person!

    I have the utmost respect for my art. I am aware that some of the techniques I have learned were honed on the battlefield and some warriors may have been maimed or even died in their refinement (which is why I personally find taikai rather distasteful). I have the utmost respect for my dojo mates and their sincere endeavours, hard work, time away from family after a hard days work and dojo fees - we all remember what it is like especially at the beginning - so why do some people think they can behave like the very worst fictional military commanders when they get into their hakama/go and slide their sword into their obi?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    Default

    Interesting to think about.

    I tend to agree with you.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Default

    I tend to agree as well.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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