Want to change dojo but conflicted

Discussion in 'Beginners Corner' started by Felix79, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Hello everyone,

    I dabbled a bit in martial arts as a kid. I recently decided to get back into it and found a dojo very close to my home and have trained there for a couple of months. They train in the exact style I have always wanted to study.

    The sensei is an accomplished athlete in the martial art. Unfortunately, I am not 100% happy for two reasons:

    1. He seems apathetic and disinterested in teaching. I am often told to "follow along". He will leave students in charge of the class or put us on bag work while he does work in his back office semi-regularly. I have been shown a tiny amount technical stuff over a few months but not nearly as much as I have been at previous dojo. It seems that he is not that interested in teaching. A guest sensei recently took the class and it was so much better and different. Aside from the guest, the most I have ever been shown was from another student.

    2. I am not gelling well with his personality. He doesn't show much interest in me as a student. He complains a lot about other people he engages with in daily life and is a bit aggressive. The thing that bothers me most however, is that every second lesson, he talks about fights he has been in over the last 30 years. They always end with him dominating the other person. He is in his 50s by the way. It makes me cringe.

    It's not all bad. He is a nice enough person and isn't a bully or anything like that. He has shown us some technical things. It's just that I've trained at previous dojo where you could feel the passion of the teachers. A previous sensei from another city, would go around the room and give pointers to each student every lesson. He was super positive and passionate. I guess in a way, I have a sensei who was the benchmark of what I want.

    The other thing is that this dojo is convenient. It's literally below my apartment, and training is late at night which makes it easy for me to come home and help my young kids get ready for bed, etc.

    So, I found another dojo that trains in the same style. I really want to check it out. The problem is that it a bit further away, and is held at a time that would mean I would have to go straight from work and wouldn't be home until late. It's not ideal, but, I would still go if it meant that I was happy.

    Both dojo offer kids classes. I want my girls to get involved in martial arts but it is very important that they have a teacher who is positive. I haven't seen my current teacher with his kids classes. I assume he's not highlighting fights from his youth! But, I keep remembering my old teacher who would be very motivating and a guide for life with both his kids and adults classes. I may never find someone as positive as the old sensei, but I'd like to find someone who is at least not negative and apathetic.

    Usually, I would just go and check out the classes at the other school. The thing is, my current sensei organizes all of the tournaments in my city, and works closely with this other school. I also train weapons with him. I worry that he will be sensitive and get annoyed that I go and check out the other place.

    Ideally, I'd like to try the other dojo for the empty hand combat, and keep training weapons with my current school (they are not offered at the other dojo). The fact that he teaches the same art though, might make him annoyed.

    Any ideas how to navigate this tricky situation?

    Thanks very much.
     
  2. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2017
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    222
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    New Mexico
    In my experience you should go with your gut. I've left multiple dojos/teachers and have never regretted it. I've had similar uninterested instructors that didn't put much into their teaching. If you think you could be getting better instruction, don't hesitate. I stayed longer with some previous instructors than I should have, now I know I'm training with the right one. I would try the other school out, even if it's less convient. I drive close to an hour to train, but it's worth it.

    In summary, don't waste your time when you could be getting something better.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks for the quick response. I am in a smallish town and the fact that this teacher does weapons is quite rare. This was something I was very interested in and didn't want to miss out on. At the end of the day, it's probably better to train in another art with a great teacher than in my preferable art with a lazy teacher, right?

    Appreciate the response.

    Do you think I should tell the teacher that I checked out the other school or just leave it? I am just worried that if the other dojo sux, I may consider staying put. I don't want him to think I was going behind his back.

    I guess deep down I'm hoping it will improve but it's probably unlikely.
     
  4. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2017
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    222
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I agree that the quality of instructor is more important than type of training.

    I wouldn't tell the instructor anything, you're free to train with whomever you want to. I would keep training at the new place until you can conclude it's better or worse. If it's better I would leave the other place, I wouldn't tell him why you're leaving nor where you're training at.

    When I left one instructor I started training with a new one at the same school. You shouldn't feel bad about seeking instruction from someone else
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    Top Poster Of Month

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,146
    Likes Received:
    4,247
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I understand your reluctance, but honestly, you already know the answer. I do get it - a part of you hopes someone here will give you a good reason to keep going at the current school because it's easier, more convenient. I wish I could be that person, but I can't. This doesn't sound like a good learning environment. It might be okay for someone who is reasonably experienced in the art and just needs a place to practice (in fact, they might like his disengagement). But it'll be hard to learn there.

    Talk to the instructor at the other school. Find out if he has any relationship with your current instructor while you observe a class or two and see if it looks better. If your instructor happens to get wind of it (you have no duty to tell him, in my opinion), just tell him you are considering where the best place would be to start training with your daughter, and are doing your due diligence. If he has a problem with that, he has answered the question for you. If he doesn't maybe there's some hope.

    If you are secretly hoping maybe he's just having a bad month or two, you could ask someone who's been there at least a few months. If they say this is odd for him, there's hope. If they say this is just how he has always been, then it'll probably never improve.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thank you so much for the kind response. I'm reminded of one of my favourite quotes: "Advice is something we ask for when we already know the answer to the question, but just don't want to admit it to ourselves".

    I know for a fact that this school has a relationship with the other school. Which shouldn't be an issue. I agree with your point, that if he has a problem, then it's probably not worth training with him anyway. Most good teachers should encourage cross-training in my opinion.

    My ideal scenario would be to do the martial arts at the other place and the weapons at the old place. But as I said, I'll give up the weapons if need be.

    I had a very bad experience with a trainer in the past who I think had narcissistic personality disorder. He really messed me up and I think it has made me hypersensitive to the reactions of other trainers. I think I need to empower myself to seek out what is best for me.

    Thanks again kind sir. I think what I'm actually seeking is not a reason to continue training with this dojo, but a reason to gain the courage to move on.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Charlemagne

    Charlemagne Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2016
    Messages:
    691
    Likes Received:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    It sounds like you should seek training elsewhere to me. The instructor should want to teach, and if he/she doesn't, I wouldn't feel bad at all about voting with my feet. It's OK to put senior students in charge of class from time to time, as they need to get supervised teaching experience as well. However, that should not be the case all the time to be sure.
     
  8. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks for the reply. I think deep down I know that I should move on. I just wanted it to work so much because it ticked so many boxes: the convenience in location and time, the weapons and martial art always wanted to do, etc. I guess I was wondering if some teachers like to let you settle in and then once you show them that you are motivated and consistent, they might start imparting more wisdom and effort into you as a student. I think it is wishful thinking though!
     
  9. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    751
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    New York
    If that is true, there's still one problem:your kids. That wouldn't work for kids.

    For you my suggestion would be to switch. But since you want your kids to go, I would check out both places kids classes and see which one you like better. He may be great with kids in a way he's not with adults, or he may have an assistant instructor who connects with children run that class.

    EDIT: To clarify, even if the kids class is better in the first place, that doesn' mean you can't still go to the second, while your kids attend the first
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2014
    Messages:
    15,130
    Likes Received:
    3,249
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Lie. Tell him you have moved or your hours at work have changed.
     
  11. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Perhaps, but I think it's more likely that the character of a good teacher should translate to both adults and kids classes, right? The second dojo teach kids and adults together I believe which seems pretty good for me, as I want it to be a family thing.
     
  12. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I did consider this, but I think it shouldn't be necessary. I think I should just say that I checked it out and I think it might suit me better. I've only been there a short time. I don't know... I guess some of these instructors have fragile egos!
     
  13. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,229
    Likes Received:
    1,746
    Trophy Points:
    353
    Location:
    In the dojo
    If you’re interested in staying, talk privately to some of the senior students who’ve been around a while. The sensei could temporarily be going through a difficult time.

    My previous sensei went through a rough patch. He was going through a divorce, and his ex was keeping their 8 year old or so daughter away from him. He was going through custody hearings and stuff like that. He was truly a great guy, but during those 6 months or so, he had a very short fuse. Understandably so. Some people left; mainly new people. I don’t blame them at all, but if they stuck around things got significantly better. But again, if I walked into that from the get-go, I’m pretty sure I’d have left too.

    Maybe the guy is just normally like this. Maybe he’s going through some serious stuff. Maybe the place will be better, maybe it won’t.

    Check out the new place before you make any decisions. The grass is always greener on the other side thing and all. Check out several places. If you leave, don’t burn any bridges. Things may change down the road and you may want to go back.

    But you’ve got to be happy. There’s zero point in going if you’re not satisfied with the training. This isn’t some kung fu or samurai movie where you’ve taken a vow to honor your master for life.
     
  14. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    751
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    New York
    Most likely. But you can't know that for sure without seeing the classes in both.
    And you don't need to be in class together for it to be a family thing...that's what at ho me practice is for.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    Top Poster Of Month

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,146
    Likes Received:
    4,247
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Some do, and you don't really have to tell him anything. I appreciate it when a student tells me they are leaving, but if he's as disengaged as you say, he might not really care.
     
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    Top Poster Of Month

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,146
    Likes Received:
    4,247
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Indeed. It's even possible (though unlikely) that the current instructor really loves teaching kids, and mails it in for adult classes. Can't know without checking it out.
     
  17. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks all for the additional comments. I agree that classes don't have to be combined. In fact I would probably prefer it that way.

    I observed my current sensei teaching a kids class. There was a kid with a colored belt (meaning he presumably graded at some point) at the back of the class when they were doing kicks. The kid was jumping up and down... not even kicking. The instructor did nothing to correct him. I forgot about that until just now.

    Also, he may he having a bad patch, which may explain the poor instruction and apathy. But the bragging about fights thing seems to be a personality trait thing and I would be suprised it that goes away.

    Thanks. This has helped me organize my thoughts. Seems less likely that I will stay.
     
  18. Felix79

    Felix79 Yellow Belt

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Thanks for this. Usually I wouldn't bother saying anything except if I left to train at a school in the same style, it is likely that we will cross paths again in tournaments, camps, etc. Mt city is small and the style is not that common. It might be a good thing to do to be honest, to ensure I don't burn bridges. In saying that, he does talk a bit poorly of previous students and other schools at times and I would be suprised if he wasn't annoyed. Then again who knows.

    What do you think would be the least painful or most ethical way to go about it?
     
  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    Top Poster Of Month

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,146
    Likes Received:
    4,247
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    The way I see it, you have two simple options, and either is entirely ethical (and probably equally suited to trying not to burn bridges). Since you're new, you could just leave. Trust me, this happens a lot with students in their first few months, and won't be much of an issue for most instructors. Your other option is just to ask for a minute of his time at a point when he's not busy changing classes (during a class is usually the easiest, if he's not actively teaching it). Tell him you appreciate his time and teaching, and that you'll be transferring to the other school because it better fits your needs right now. You hope you'll see him and his students around at tournaments and the like, and so on. If you'd been there a year, I'd suggest the latter. At your level of involvement, honestly, just leaving is fine, too.
     
  20. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2017
    Messages:
    4,114
    Likes Received:
    494
    Trophy Points:
    208
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    your putting the he cart before the horse! You don't actually know that you will like the other dojo any more than this one. There is a lot to be said for convenience, particularly if it means seeing more of your kids/ partner.

    instructors have different teaching styles and student like to learn in different ways. That doesn't make. His style bad, it just may not gel with your preferred learning style. Being shown and then being left to practise would suit me rather than being constantly watched and micro managed and you are always likely to learn more from more experienced students that you are drilling with.

    tell him you want somewhere closer to work, so you are going to check out the other place, that way you can always come back if the other place doesn't meet your expectations or the inconvenience gets the better of you. Which you won't be able to do, if you tell him he is a rubbish teacher
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page