Dilemma

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by ETinCYQX, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    So I have a student expressing interest in my classes. I know he's had some legal trouble in the past, as recently as a few years ago, and he has a bad reputation locally as a result. Ultimately the final call belongs to my instructor and I've already contacted him, but I'm curious as to what you guys would do in my shoes and also how you guys would feel as parents of my other students.

    He does martial arts in other schools currently for what that's worth. I have invited him to a class and told him he needs to fill out the membership forms first. I won't take his money until then and give him a trial period while my instructor makes the call. That's my "solution", what would yours be?
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  2. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    The amount of people with legal issues in their personal history is much larger than you would believe. To me so long as this person does not represent a danger to your membership, (pedophile), I don’t see an issue. Inside the dojo community and your training may provide the structure and guidance this person needs with their life.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    +1.

    Trust your instincts. Spend some time talking with him. Set clear expectations and hold him accountable. This might be his turning point.
     
  4. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    A lot depends on what sort of legal trouble (out of respect to the potential student, please don't say what it is)

    In my eyes, sexual assault, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon are a lot more unforgivable than getting messed up with drugs and shoplifting or breaking in to cars

    As an aside....I stopped in a Dunkin Donuts for coffee the other day, the two baristas at the counter were talking about rehab. Apparently they had both been through it in the not too distant past. The woman was saying something like even though she only had one day off that week, she was going to go visit "Derek" on her day off, because she remembers what it was like to be in rehab and have no one come to visit, then get out and realize no one seems to be your friend. My heart went out to all of them.

    I don't have a whole lot of patience for most drug users but if they made the commitment to get sober, that's probably someone that could use all the positive influences they can find.
     
  5. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Your last sentence is exactly how I feel. However I have to respect the rights of my students/parents to feel safe no matter how reformed the man is. Its out of my hands now and I hope it works out for him, maybe I can help
     
  6. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    How do you know about these problems? Rumor mill or his own admissions? Rumor mill could be seriously wrong... or incomplete. If he admits them on his own, that rather speaks in his favor, no? Were they offenses that effect other people's safety, or merely his own, were you to let him train? Trespass or vandalism, for example, compared to simple narcotics possession (assuming he's clean today), assault, or robbery?

    Could he have outgrown the behavior?

    IN the end, trust your own sense of the student as well as how you feel he fits with the class.
     
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    If the legal trouble were of a violent nature, I'd be very wary of training with him, because I wouldn't want to be making someone a better and more efficient predator. I'm not saying I wouldn't train with him, but I'd want to have a frank discussion about his past and his training goals, and would keep a very close eye on him (at the least). He may be using this to help provide structure and turn his life around, or he may be picking up new tricks and techniques for "next time". Your judgement is the only ruler that you have to tell the one from the other.

    If the legal trouble was pretty much anything other than violent crime-related, then I don't think it's particularly relevant to his training or not.
     
  8. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    But even if the rumor mill is wrong or completely inaccurate, Ethan still has to be mindful of his students that have already committed the time dedication to his training, and his sabunim's wishes.

    Legal issues or not....I don't believe instructors should automatically sign up every Tom, Dick, or Yahoo that comes wandering through their door looking to train. Not everyone is a fit for every school.

    Personally, I would be extremely uncomfortable at a place that did that. If an instructor doesn't care enough about their training efforts to interview/vet a potential student, then that's not a place I care to be.
     
  9. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Know for a fact the nature of his charges, he told me as well. I won't comment on the nature of them, that's his business.

    He has a black or a brown belt in Judo already actually as well as BJJ experience and TKD experience. Believe it or not the guy does not worry me for the most part, the negative image he has here does.

    My worries too Carol.

    Thanks for the advice all. I'll leave it up to my teacher.
     
  10. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Carol -- I did not say automatically take him. I said that, in the end, ET needs to trust his own judgement about the student's character, and how well he fits the school.

    BUT -- if he's cleaned up his act, and the problems are in the past, someone needs to give him a chance to show that he's grown beyond that bad rep... or his only hope will be relocating so far that nobody'll have heard of him.
     
  11. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    Legal Trouble?

    Cops come by and ask him questions?
    Wrong place wrong time, due to a job? Or is it just personally being in the wrong place?


    Charges brought but nothing ever went to court?

    Charges brought and person is found innocent or not guilty?

    Convicted of ... ?


    Bad reputation?

    He had a reputation for being tough?
    A tough repuation and others keep coming to check it out?

    A person who would hurt people for fun?
    A person who would hurt people for money?
     
  12. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    People CAN Reform.

    But it depends on exactly what He did.
    So just use your best Deduction.
     
  13. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Just some thoughts.

    If it is just his reputation, how far in the past is it? Has he in fact changed? What are the reputations of the schools he has already attended? Could you or your teacher talk to the teachers there for insight into his current character, and if he seems to have reformed? How concerned do you expect your current students and their parents to be?

    Good luck with this.
     
  14. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    I didn't mean to imply that you did. I'm just saying that if the addition of one new member risks turning off (picking a number out of the air) 25% of the existing students/parents or more, then that is an impact that should be taken in to consideration. I think that's challenging decision for any school.

    Ethan I believe is 19 years old. I think he's a fine teacher, and that he cares about this fellow (and his school as well). But the one thing that he doesn't have at such an age is the experience and stature in the community that someone gains after running a school in the neighborhood for 10 or 20 years. I think he has shown good wisdom by bringing his instructor in on the decision.

    If the instructor says no, perhaps there are other ways you could work with him? Private lessons may be an option but IMO the group aspect of MA is important. Some schools, quietly or openly, will have a separate training slots to meet students with specific needs. Many of us have seen women-only training. Some schools will quietly LE-only training. I've even heard of a school quietly offering training specifically to people who work in adult industries. If you a few people in class could care less about training with the fellow, perhaps you guys could meet on a separate night or at a separate place? Just throwing out ideas.
     
  15. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    yes I agree. this person may have decided to change to something better. but I would say trust your instincts. your gut.

    people complain about a 'criminal class' but then if some one makes a mistake, gets caught, and pays the price, we then make them unable to do anything else but be a criminal? Well then how are they ever going to be anything else, or learn to be different then they were?
    So talk to him/her, get a feeling if they are some one who your gut says OK to. then go with it, and ask your instructor to talk with him too if that is possible. he may have some insight you do not.
     
  16. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Yes, and appreciated they all are. I'm going to give the man a chance and direct any and all complaints to my (very supportive) instructor. He's not local and is very, very good about making himself the bad guy to my students to allow me to save face.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I have not gone a day with less than an hour on the phone dealing with TKD things since September. I'm amazed at the amount of work involved and my instructor handles a good part of my workload. That said, I'm not complaining, just observing.

    EDIT: Also, if anyone's interested in discussing this more in-depth my email is in my profile
     
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  17. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Just wanted to say that's a quite the strength of character by the fellow, both in his attitude and desire to contribute and make a positive difference.

    Hope everything goes well!
     
  18. Champ-Pain

    Champ-Pain Blue Belt

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    As long as his past doesn't include any sexual or violent crimes - I'd give him a chance. Good Luck
     
  19. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    His first class tonight. He was nervous, respectful, very friendly. This has been a success. Thanks for advice, guys!
     
  20. Mark Lynn

    Mark Lynn Master Black Belt

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    This is a real good point. Have you talked with the former school's instructors? Here is a concern as I see it.

    If the guy has a bad reputation and legal issues and something happens outside of class, he stalks someone, he hurts someone (whether it was in self defense or a violent act that he over reacted, whatever I'm just speaking generally here) if it goes to court he will be tied with your school. He might not even be at your school but he could be tied to it and you be portrayed as part of the problem. Likewise if journalists would link you to sensationalize the story, lawyers might link you to get settlements and or money from you.

    However if you have talked with the other school owners and did somewhat of a background check on him then you could get added insight into his character and protect yourself (or maybe have a defense) if something comes up later. Also it would help you to answer questions to your existing students if the issue is brought up, that you have checked out his character with his former instructors.

    As a union rep. I have to deal with bad reputations all of the time, both with workers and management, 90% of the time it is all a bunch of crap. However I do get to see the seamier side of people and had people from both sides of line lie right to my face and tell me they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, when in fact they are lieing to me right then. The difference is the company is libel and I'm just doing my job trying to defend the employee. However you being the owner/head instructor of the school you are responsible (not your instructor who is not local), it can be you that is sued.

    I am totally on board with giving the guy a 2nd chance and all of that, but this isn't a private dojo, or if I understand it right, this isn't backyard type of instruction. Instead it is a business entity that has assets, that unscrupulous people might want to go after, if this guy has a bad reputation and something happens. Also because this is a business and it has received funds from the other students to provide a safe and reliable place to train, if you haven't thoroughly checked this guy out then you might be setting yourself up for problems there. Maybe this guy isn't a pervert, pedophile, or violent, he might just start crap in your school such as spreading rumors, intimidate people, whatever; I would recommend that you ask his former instructors how he was as a student. Not just take his word for it.123
     

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