Struggling to keep things neutral....

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by geezer, Jun 12, 2020.

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  1. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    IMO politics and religion have no place at family gatherings, this forum, and in martial arts classes. Some might find it odd that I even have to say this. But I have a very small group, and people's sentiments are not exactly secret these days. Worse, we live in times where divisions seem to grow deeper every day, And as much as the dojo, dojang, kwun, gym, ...or in my case these days, the garage and park, should be neutral ground where we can all come together, I'm finding it's not quite that simple.

    Here are a few examples of problems relating to the polarized world we live in that are adversely affecting my training....

    1. My instructor (out of state) and my local training partner are both so edgy about the current situation, that I have to walk on eggs whenever I'm working with them. As much as I steer clear of touchy subjects, my silence itself often indicts me as a person of a different perspective. And apparently that is a problem for them. ....Which then becomes a problem for my training! :(

    2. I've heard through a third party that similar issues have caused a significant exodus of upper level students from our head school (in another state). This is also bad for me.... since to turn a popular phrase on it's head, "A falling tide drops all ships" ...and my ship (group) is affected too.

    3. Locally, in my own tiny Escrima group (a separate organization), I've had my struggles. One particular student who was a huge asset just tested me to let me know that he is discontinuing for now ...apparently due to concerns about the whole Covid-19 thing and safety precautions like masks.

    At first I thought that he was concerned that (as was another student) that we were not taking enough precautions upon re-opening. --We work outside in the open air, maintain social distance, do a lot of forms and do paired striking drills with staffs, or sticks at larga mano (long range). And, even at that range, masks are strongly encouraged and hand sanitizer is available.

    Well, it turns out that his problem just the opposite. He's frustrated that I am "so uptight" about this whole "charade" and pushing these excessive safety measures. So he's done for now, but probably will continue doing jits and boxing with his other trainer who's less alarmist.

    So what with the recent Covid shut down, with cases still rising locally, and people's uncompromising attitudes, I'm finding really hard to keep our group going at all...

    ....or maybe it's just my deodorant? Honestly, I'm happy training with anybody who's friendly and wants to train. When did that become such a high bar to get over??? :confused:
     
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  2. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    From what you've said about your instructor recently, I wouldn't be too concerned about not being able to work with him. As far as the student is concerned-once this is over and he cools down, he might change his mind and decide to come back. If he's really upset that you're working out in open air, not doing close contact, and encouraging makss/hand sanitizer, and as a result isn't coming back at all I'd say good riddance. That's got nothing to do with his MA training, unless he were concerned about safety, and if he's really that upset that he won't come back afterwards, conflicting his MA training with his politics, then you're probably better off without him.
     
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  3. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I think one big difference between COVID-19 measures and other political opinions, is that your view on COVID will affect your training.

    It doesn't matter to my training if my Master votes Trump or Biden. It doesn't matter if my students are pro choice or pro life. Those topics aren't really appropriate for the training, and I don't know the opinions of thebother students.

    I do know my Master's opinion on reopening. I know most of our students are itching to ditch virtual classes and come back. I know some want to take safety measures, others aren't as worried. Some don't want to come back at all.

    Personally, I'm more worried about myself burning out because of the extra work to handle these measures. It's going to be challenging to schedule mat time fairly with restrictions, to make sure students are wearing their masks, and to sanitize between every class. In my opinion, this is more of a song and dance to please some government bean counters, because most of our students and their parents are in a very low risk group. And pointless tedium is what burns me out.

    I guess my point is, I understand why politics comes into in this context. Because whether or not we have universal health care doesn't do much to affect how I train. Whether we have to spend half our time on paperwork and safety measures instead of training has a direct effect on me.
     
  4. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd agree if your concern is health. In which case, don't train during that time. Or if (as a student) you're too lazy to put on a mask or don't want to do largo range in escrima (which is where you spend most of your time anyway), again don't train during that time. But come back afterwards, when it's no longer impacting anything.

    The other big thing here is that it's all temporary. So if you miss out a few months of training, unless you're planning a life or death confrontation soon, it's not really gonna hamper you in the long run.

    This is obviously very different if you're the one doing the sanitizing and monitoring everything, and doing paperwork. Particularly if it's your job so you don't have the option of "don't train til everything calms down". I haven't experienced that at the dojo, so I can't really make a comment on how draining it is, but I can see how that would be a discussion for you and your master, regardless of political beliefs.
     
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  5. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    the whole think has left a big chunk of the population quite mad
     
  6. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    ^^^^This is true. I'm trying to follow a reasonable and balanced path with regards to safety measures. People are free to disagree, and no hard feelings if they feel the need to take time off. When this is behind us, we can all carry on productively.

    What you say, Scribbs echoes my own sentiments. I get discouraged when people in a position of authority in their school impose their beliefs and value judgements on their students. Members of my family, whose opinions really matter to me, fall on both sides of this divide. They are still my family. Why would I be any more judgmental dealing with students and peers whose opinions matter less? That is totally moot to our reason for getting together, which is to train and get better at our MA.
     
  7. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    ...or it has simply revealed the fact that they've always been so.
     
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  8. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Just wanted to clarify two things about my statement you were responding to, that I'm not sure I made clear.
    1: The reason I stated that I wouldn't be concerned about not working with geezer's instructor is because, from his past posts, it seems that his instructor does care about what his political viewpoints are. Regardless of whether I agree with geezer or his instructor, to me that's an issue.

    2: The reason that I said he's better off without the student if he doesn't come back. At the point that COVID's over, it stops being about safety/inconvenience/effecting the training. At that point it's the student choosing not to come back because of a political difference that impacted a past policy (where no matter what geezer's opinion was, the policy would be impacted).
     
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  9. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    That's my problem. I'm one of the senior instructors. And on the one hand, I recognize this will burn me out, but on the other: this is a period where there's more work to do, so it would be the worst time for me to bail on my Master.
     
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  10. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    And, there's also a difference between someone who expresses an opinion and someone who imposes it.

    For example, there is a teenage student of mine that, shortly after a Presidential election, was expressing shock that anyone voted for the winner. I told her that I voted for him. She asked me why. I said that I looked at each candidate's position on all of the issues, and he was the one I agreed with the most, so he got my vote.

    I didn't disparage the other candidates, or tell her who she should vote for when she got old enough to vote. Although I did recommend my method of voting, what I suggested was that she do her research and make sure she's voting for someone she truly believes in. I didn't tell her how to think on any of the issues, only that she should think about them.

    And this was a personal conversation after class, it wasn't during class time.
     
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  11. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you guys have anyone who'd be up for volunteering to help either with the regulation-stuff, or take on an instructor role while you handle all the annoying things? If you shoot a message to your adult group, you might be surprised about who volunteers.
     
  12. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    We will. But it's a lot of work. We'll need at least 4 cleaners and 1 doorman, and we have 5 classes every day.
     
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  13. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I'm a high school teacher, and I gave very similar advice to a kid who asked me who I supported.... I told him. He leaned the other way. But he was looking into the issues and really thinking about them ...at age 14. Frankly, I was impressed and told him so! Again, this was a personal conversation ...not a classroom presentation. ...Even so, it may not have been the PC thing to do, or keep administration happy...some would like teachers to duck any controversy and stick to a scripted presentation!
     
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  14. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    One thing I'll always remember from my university classes is how two different teachers handled dissenting opinions. Both were classes themed around African-Americans, with an African-American professor. One was Psychology of Contemporary African Culture (or as my professor described it: studying black people). The other was African-American Literature. Both professors were liberal (surprise, surprise; a liberal professor).

    For the Psychology class, we had to do a book report. I don't remember who I chose, but the author was a conservative black man. When I presented the report, the professor said something along the lines of, "I know who he is, and I personally disagree with him. With that said, he is a smart man, and I'm not going to affect your grade because of those opinions." I thought it was a very professional way of stating her opinion and being honest and open, while also giving me the agency over my own opinion.

    In the Lit class, our professor had a different approach. She made the comment that it was racist of a reporter to say "Michelle Obama is bringing sexy to the White House." The reason it was racist is because when another young, beautiful woman in Jackie Kennedy became the First Lady, the reporters said "Jackie Kennedy is bringing class to the White House." Basically, her position is that if reporters think white people bring "class" and black people bring "sexy", that's because the reporters are racist and have different standards for whites than blacks. The rest of the class explained that it's probably because in the 60s a reporter wouldn't use the word "sexy". Our professor's response is "I've studied this more than you have, I know what I'm talking about."

    There's a huge difference between a teacher stating their opinion and how they came to it, and encouraging a student to do the same; vs. a teacher imposing their opinion on a student and calling them names for not agreeing with them. I actually had a lot of professors like the later, and even teachers in high school. Even people on this forum...
     
  15. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Any chance the book was my grandfather's son by clarence thomas? or a book by thomas sowell?
     
  16. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    This was 12 years ago, and I'm horrible at remembering names.
     
  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    we all have madness with in us, but i seriously think, that the circumstances we have been through have wrecked peoples sense of perspective/reality and much of whats currently going on is tied heavily to that.

    people generally are very scared/angry and they have much to be scared and angry about. take peoples framework of 21 st century reality away, as has happened and people replace that with their own version,

    its got primeval Forrest and water gods and evil spirits written all over it. to much time to think, to little to do, ( which is a line from a song)
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  18. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    All I will say is.... it's tough.

    Everyone will have a different outlook and approach to all this, and for sure this can cause conflict and division.

    I've been taking it pretty seriously, but there seems to be different levels of it means to 'take it seriously'. No right or wrong in this, just guidelines given that we can adopt to varying degrees. People have wanted to catch up a month or so ago, I said no. My elderly grandparents came over on my birthday to see me, not good, and to me such a terrible idea.

    Nowadays as things are being eased, they're still keeping social distancing in place, I am only now going for safe walks with people. But still the guidelines are to not leave home if it's not necessary, and I'm still trying to stick to this as much as possible apart from walks.

    It's tough. Everyone's trying to navigate these uncharted waters in the best way we can.
     
  19. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well that visit may have done your grandparents more good than any risk of harm they were placed in.

    im trying to pick up the pieces now with my mother, who is 90 and being in a care home has had no visitors or journeys out for three months

    the lack of exercise, the isolation, the loneliness have taken a very heavy toll on her physical and mental state. i have more or less forced a right of entry, to see her, as the risk of killing her with the virus is significantly less than her giving up and dieing of lonesomeness, which was more or less inevitably coming

    this afternoon im trying to get her to take even one step outside the flat, as she has developed acute agoraphobia and acrophobia and has neither the strength or the balance to make it that far on her own, which is something she could do no problem before they locked her in for 12 weeks

    there are a lot more causalities to this than the virus deaths
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
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  20. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    I see what you're saying, absolutely. The virus isn't the only issue. I am sorry about your mother and hope she's okay. Of course the many other issues that have cropped up are very real. Whilst I'm doing totally fine in isolation and my own personality is okay with that, many people are not coping well with it. We're all different.

    My grandparents had my parents visiting them a fair bit, and they still stepped out. I just didn't want them to die because they saw me. It wasn't necessary IMO, the phone call to me would have been enough.123
     
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