How to Receive Traditional Martial Arts Training

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by Bill Mattocks, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Try thinking of it like this. Let's say you were offered the option to pay X and also help clean the dojo, or pay X+Y and the dojo hires someone to clean up.

    You could also think of it this way - at a fast-food restaurant, the patrons are expected to throw their trash away as they exit. They don't have to do so. No one will run after them if they don't. But if no one cleaned their own table, the restaurant would have to alter their business model, hire more people, and prices would go up.

    But ultimately, I think buying a 'good' (like fries and a shake) is not like buying a service (like training).

    You pay to be taught - and you'll be taught if you show up.

    However, the instructor doesn't have unlimited resources. Students needing one-on-one or desiring advanced training require more effort, and that's a limited resource. So it is not (IMHO) unreasonable for an instructor to limit some of that to those whom he or she thinks will be best able to receive and implement it.

    Students who do things like exhibit a good attitude, who are enthusiastic about training, who give their best effort, help others, and yes, even pitch in to tidy up the dojo after class might be good indicators of the kinds of people who are most deserving of that extra bit of effort by the instructor.

    That's how I look at it, anyway. I don't think I am being made into slave labor by pushing a mop around for a couple minutes at the end of class, or emptying out a trash can.
     
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  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    One might also note that in Japan, students at public schools clean the classroom after class is over.

    Without Janitors, Students Are In Charge Of Keeping School Shipshape

    "There, "school is not just for learning from a book," says Michael Auslin — a former English teacher in Japan. "It's about learning how to become a member of society and taking responsibility for oneself," says Auslin, who is now a resident scholar and director of Japan studies at the American Enterprise Institute."
    For some in traditional martial arts schools, even in the USA, training is about more than just learning the martial arts style being taught.

    When we train with a weapon, everyone runs to the back and gets themselves a weapon. And some senior student runs back and gets a weapon for Sensei.

    He is more than capable of getting his own weapon.

    It's about respect.

    Tidying up the dojo is not about what I paid for - for me. It's about respect.

    I dump my trash at McDonald's also. Because I have some respect for the next person who sits at the table I sat at. Part of being a public citizen.
     
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  3. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I've cleaned dojos since I was a white belt. I was never asked to, I just did. My guys cleaned up as well, I never asked any of them to. They saw us doing it, and took it upon themselves to do so in kind. (There were times when I'd ask for volunteers on an upcoming weekend if we had to paint or if we were building something, people always showed up, especially the ones with trade skills). But, cleaning up the dojo, in big ways or small, was something everybody did at one time or another. It was like bowing in, or putting in a mouthpiece, or wrapping your hands or fist bumping your buddy when he landed a great combination.

    As for the paying of tuition and not picking up after yourself - never really thought about it. Don't really care.
     
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  4. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    It depends on the instructional model. If your model is a pure service-for-payment, then students should have no responsibility beyond showing up, sure. But not all of us teach on that model. Mine is a club and family model, for example. Some students "pay" their dues by services provided rather than writing a check, others contribute in other ways, and of course some give money which pays the rent.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
     
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  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    My sifu teaches a handful of us in his back yard and the garage when the weather gets bad. It's a small yard and a smaller garage. A couple times a year we take time out to pull the weeds, cut back the undergrowth, prime the trees, clean up in the garage and his office, etc.

    It's just about keeping our training area nice. It ain't slave labour. It's a relationship of trust and sharing, and it takes time to build.

    Honestly, I think it's a shame that many in Western culture distill it all down to money, and a financial transaction. Some things are more than that, the value runs much deeper. People who can't see that, are missing something of real value.
     
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  6. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I can see both sides of this issue. On the one hand, I find any manner of manipulation repugnant, on a visceral level. Doing something because it's the right thing to do is a done deal. But if you try to shame me or pressure me into doing something, I'm probably not going to do it, even if, intellectually, I know I probably should. This is part of why I drifted away from "traditional" martial arts in the first place. It's also part of why I get into some trouble around here, sometimes. :)

    But I can see how chipping in to help clean the school is a sign of respect for the instructor and for the school. It makes sense. This is very true at many BJJ schools, as sweeping and mopping the mats isn't just about routine maintenance, but actually is a matter of hygiene. I wouldn't want to be the guy who gets ringworm at the school and gives it to my kids. Yuck.

    I think it's interesting that the idea of helping to clean up the school is linked in some peoples' minds to "traditional" instruction, when my experience has been that this is one thing that was consistent between the traditional schools and the non-traditional schools I've seen (presuming people here consider MMA and BJJ to be non-traditional).
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
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  7. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    For what it's worth, I agree with you to a point. It's a matter of value. Is what you're getting worth the value? If you're being asked to help clean the schools, are you still receiving a good value for the services being rendered?

    There are many eating establishments that ask you to please help keep the restaurant clean, and in return they give you a great value for your food. Not just the chains, but I've seen some one off joints with great food manage their prices by asking for a little help from the patrons. And the patrons gladly do so, because they know they're getting really good food at a great price in return.
     
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  8. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    I can ask please, when you say noticed and then noted, these things are noticed and noted by whom? Thank you :)
     
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  9. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I believe that in a small dojo, everyone gets to know everyone.

    All of us know who is lazy.
    All of us know who seems to dodge out as soon as class is over and avoids doing anything like emptying a trash can or pushing a vacuum cleaner.
    All of us know who avoids being hit, complains about being hit hard, or likes to inflict pain but refuses to accept any.
    All of us know who complains the most about everything.
    All of us know who brings 'drama' to the dojo.

    After many years of training together, we pretty much know everyone and how they behave. If we see it, sensei sees it.
     
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  10. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    Absolutely I agree with this. Also there is a esprit de corps in most dojo and doing what you say chipping in lifting mats or cleaning up stuff yes I think can help foster this spirit.. that is my experience also.. only still I am wondering if it is voluntary to do or not to do then for what reason do we note and notice who is not like us? My question if I can convey it right is I think what do we (like you say all of us) what do we gain or what do it benefit us by noting and noticing?? And maybe also then what are we to do about it?? Thank you :)
     
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  11. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    When we train in the martial arts, for some of us it is a holistic experience. Unlike learning a foreign language, or how to do advanced mathematics, it matters what kind of person a student happens to be. Their behavior when given a chance to demonstrate concepts like humility, sharing, kindness, enthusiasm, and willingness to go the extra mile, demonstrates to some of us what kind of martial artist they may become over time.

    A caveat I also mentioned earlier is that obviously not everyone *can* put in extra time or effort to do things like clean floors or empty trash after class (although we are only talking about a few minutes, 10 or 15 at the most). Some have obligations that preclude them from participating - this should be understood since everyone's situation is different.

    Given, as I said earlier, that most instructors have limited resources for one-on-one training and teaching more advanced techniques, they have to decide with whom to share it. Would it be better to share it with people who have demonstrated the characteristics I mentioned above, or someone who by their actions shows they are not willing to put forth voluntary effort?

    As an example, I got a text from my sister yesterday. She was asked by her boss to apply for a supervisory position that just opened up. Why? The boss told her she had been observing that my sister was staying late to help others finish their work and she thought that demonstrated a team attitude that would serve well in a supervisory capacity. My sister was never told to help other people finish their work. It isn't her job, per se. She would not have been reprimanded or punished if she had not done so - it wasn't even expected of her. But when she did it, her boss noticed it.

    Does that answer your question?
     
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  12. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    For us. it is the amount of effort that is put in to the person. And a lot of our training is pretty hard and quite often I could not be bothered getting up early to get my head punched in. But if the guy is putting in the hard yards then I will as well.
     
  13. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    Yes! You are kind to answer the question thank you.. I ask because you are clear in your answer.. and I cannot disagree with anything you have said at all! It mirror my experience also.. I think what you have said about the kinds of traits demonstrated, humility, kindness, enthusuasm and willingness to go an extra mile are, or can be, pointers to a martial artist who is at very least responsible, and that can only be a good thing yes..

    I have something I am seeking for your opinion on specifically and you have made same point in a different way.. this..

    This sound to me like we apportion legitimacy to someone reasons for not participating? Is like this person is excused their nanna is sick in hospital and but this other person I do not excuse them because I imagine they are just a lazy so-and-so.. yet it is all voluntary! My question, you can tell me please why it is ok to judge those unfavourably for not participating? That is fostering an inclusive dojo?? You would not see it as divisiveness?? Thank you for your opinion :)
     
  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Interesting. Bare in mind though all of martial arts is voluntary.
     
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I know this wasn't directed at me, but I'll give my take on it, as well.

    First thought: This isn't about excluding anyone. It's a choice they make. If they choose to do some extras - even the least of those extras - I choose to reward that. The basic stuff goes to everyone. I'm not expressing well what I mean here, so I hope you're making more sense of my words than is in them.

    Second thought: At a certain level, there are considerations beyond martial skill. In mainline NGA, a black belt (Shodan) is a certified instructor. The work to reach that rank includes instructor training and a year of student teaching. That's why this becomes an issue at hat point. Most of the instructors I know in NGA would consider the willingness to pitch in, help take care of the dojo, etc., to be part of the attitude that makes a good instructor. Not every style has that soecific concern, but these are also the common traits of the best training partners and students I've had. Thus, putting more time into these folks is a wise investment of that limited resource.
     
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  16. JR 137

    JR 137 Master Black Belt

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    Our dojo has a dojo cleaning night about 3 times a year. Everyone shows up and helps out. We take down all the stuff on the walls and dust, mop, clean the mirrors, and everything else. When repairs are needed, people volunteer to help out.

    We have a few events a year where we all bring in some food. We all set up and break everything down.

    We're not a commercial dojo. I can't see our dojo paying for much more than a vacation or two every year for my CI and his wife after the overhead is covered.

    We're like a family. A family that's beats each other up, but a family:) These things strengthen the bonds between us. No one is too good to show up, including our CI. We have parents who don't train that help out with this stuff. None of this is mandatory, and no one's looked down on if they can't be there. It's all part of the experience of our dojo.

    I could see people thinking they shouldn't have to do any of this. Far too many McDojos use stuff like this or requiring teaching as cheap labor. It's all on the CI - if it's being run strictly as a business, I wouldn't help out. If it's being run as a community/family type place, I'm more than happy to help out any way I can; in fact I feel guilty if I can't.

    If you feel all the dojo does is take from you, then you shouldn't feel any obligation to give back. If you feel you get from the dojo more than you give, then you should feel some obligation to help out.

    It's all a balance of giving and taking.
     
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  17. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Gerry answered pretty well and much as I would have.

    In essence, we all recognize that everyone has struggles that we're not aware of, and no one is ignored or excluded on the basis of problems they may face that we simply do not understand.

    However, it must also be said that there are lazy people. Unkind people. Rude people, and not everyone has an illness or a disability to blame it on. I mean to say that while some people are, for example, autistic, not everyone who behaves like an a-hole is autistic. Sometimes they are just an a-hole.

    We tend to have long-term relationships with our fellow students. Years in many cases. While none of us know everything about everyone, we all tend to get a pretty fair idea. We know people who are struggling with real issues that impact their ability to train. A person who can't stand being touched, for example. But that person is working on it, we recognize that, we work within their abilities to assist them. Another person just doesn't like being hit hard, but he sure does like to hit people hard. That's not a disability, in my judgment. That's being a bully. He won't progress unless he learns to overcome that negative aspect of his personality (in my opinion, I'm not the sensei).

    But as Gerry says, all get trained. No one gets excluded. But again, the instructors have limited time to do one-on-one and advanced training. It is only fair that those who demonstrate the aspects of a true learner get that extra bit first.
     
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  18. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Master Black Belt

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    Sorry if this was already mentioned but if you belong to a fitness gym, regardless of how fancy or expensive you are expected to wipe down the equipment after you use it.
     
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  19. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    When you teach the Arts for a while you realize what you're doing can have long lasting influences. Dojos are different from one another, most times, anyway, but when you run one, any kind of one, you're putting an environment into play that can also have long lasting effects on some people, their lives and their families.

    People I've taught - teach some of the things they learned in the dojo to their children. And those things have nothing whatsoever to do with choking someone out or punching them in the face or exercising. I've been told this over and over and see it manifest itself in the kids of people I once taught.
    I know it's easy to say that "they should have learned those things at home". In a perfect world, yes. But many of them did not have as stable an environment at home as you and I did.

    I remember the single mother of a student asking me about something that was bothering her son. He had seen one of the newer kids in the dojo getting badly bullied after school and didn't know if he should have come to the kids aid. She had told him he should have gone and found a teacher. Wanted my opinion. I told her, 'If I was witnessing your son getting badly bullied would you want me to just go go about my day? What if I saw YOU in a jam? Should I just go tell someone?"

    "But I don't want him to get into fights."

    (me) "Different subject, but neither do I. And, what, you think fighting was the inevitable outcome of that scenario? You son has some very good verbal skills."

    The kid being bullied went on to a high level career in protective services. Raised his kids to stick up for other people. The kid that watched it happen, never watched something like that happen again. He became a very successful businessman, and raised his four kids not to stand by and watch. He currently has two grandchildren in the arts, and a granddaughter who wrestles. And my bet is they help around the gym. Just like HE did.
     
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  20. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    This all make sense yes you have answer very nicely I am grateful thank you! and like I do not disagree with any thing you have said :) only I mean we cannot know the circumstances of every person and but still we adjudge someone that do not broom the hall or tidy away as unwilling or lazy and we adjudge this as not a good thing and then like you and @Bill Mattocks describe dojo operate a quiet hierarchy of deserving yes??

    OK so let me instead ask you a question, I am correct in thinking you are instructor yes?? If so, then what have you said to student who seem to you completely unwilling and devoid of legitimate excuse to pitch in and help take care of dojo etc? Or if not what *have* you said then what *would* you say? Say that person is me what you would say to me as instructor I am your student?? Thank you :)
     
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