Is it unethical to form a romantic relationship with a martial arts student

Anarax

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Hello all,


Firstly, I'm referring to two legal-age consenting adults both of which are single. Would you as the instructor date a student? If not, please explain why and the issues that you think may arise. If you would, please explain why you would feel comfortable doing so.

Thanks
 

Jimmythebull

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Hello all,


Firstly, I'm referring to two legal-age consenting adults both of which are single. Would you as the instructor date a student? If not, please explain why and the issues that you think may arise. If you would, please explain why you would feel comfortable doing so.

Thanks
jealousy
 

skribs

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I would not pursue a relationship with a student I was attracted to. However, if the student asked me out, I would have no problem accepting.

The problem with a lot of these questions is there isn't a good one-size-fits-all answer. Part of it depends on where you live, how long you've known each other, how you approach the situation, and what the power dynamic is. There's a difference between an assistant instructor from a small town dojo dating a high-level student that they've known each other for years, and the owner of a school in a big city approaching all of the 18- and 19-year-old students and propositioning them right before their first belt test. And there's a lot of things in between that get grayer and grayer.

The reason I would wait to be asked out is because I wouldn't want her to think "Is he going to hold it against me on the test if I say no". I also wouldn't want others to think that I'm giving favors in class for favors outside of class. And I wouldn't want it held against me if we break up that I was creating a hostile environment. Even going in without those intentions, it's how others take it or how others see it that could bite me on the other end.
 

Holmejr

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Yes, why not? If the school is corporately owned and their rules dont allow it, then its unethical. If I own the school and I make the rules, then its not. Now if she gets promoted simply based on extracurricular activities then
 

isshinryuronin

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I don't think it's unethical if the student is willing and not feeling pressured to accept. My experience is that they are usually more than happy to date an MA instructor. Thinking if it will impact their tests does not come into the student's mind at the time - The decision is made on an emotional, not logical level. Isn't most dating? The main thing is to be honest and not take undo advantage of someone less able in terms of being influenced.

A little different from the instructor's side. When an instructor is considering whether to date a student, they must consider that student lost as an income source. Another consideration is that after the breakup the student may take revenge via word of mouth or social media, negatively affecting the business. But, then again, the instructor's decision to date is likely based on emotion rather than logic as well.

My experience in this matter comes from many decades ago, when most instructors were in their twenties and MA lessons were more of an exciting new activity during the time of changing social attitudes and personal freedom. Like a rock band, there were groupies. Things may be a lot different now in several respects - social, demographic and legal.

Old Chinese proverb: "Don't F your business or the business will F you."
 
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Bill Mattocks

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I don't think it's unethical if the student is willing and not feeling pressured to accept. My experience is that they are usually more than happy to date an MA instructor. Thinking if it will impact their tests does not come into the student's mind at the time - The decision is made on an emotional, not logical level. Isn't most dating? The main thing is to be honest and not take undo advantage of someone less able in terms of being influenced.

A little different from the instructor's side. When an instructor is considering whether to date a student, they must consider that student lost as an income source. Another consideration is that after the breakup the student may take revenge via word of mouth or social media, negatively affecting the business. But, then again, the instructor's decision to date is likely based on emotion rather than logic as well.

My experience in this matter comes from many decades ago, when most instructors were in their twenties and MA lessons were more of an exciting new activity during the time of changing social attitudes and personal freedom. Like a rock band, there were groupies. Things may be a lot different now in several respects - social, demographic and legal.

Old Chinese proverb: "Don't F your business or the business will F you."
"A wise bird doesn't poop in its own nest."
 

skribs

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I don't think it's unethical if the student is willing and not feeling pressured to accept. My experience is that they are usually more than happy to date an MA instructor. Thinking if it will impact their tests does not come into the student's mind at the time - The decision is made on an emotional, not logical level. Isn't most dating? The main thing is to be honest and not take undo advantage of someone less able in terms of being influenced.

A little different from the instructor's side. When an instructor is considering whether to date a student, they must consider that student lost as an income source. Another consideration is that after the breakup the student may take revenge via word of mouth or social media, negatively affecting the business. But, then again, the instructor's decision to date is likely based on emotion rather than logic as well.

My experience in this matter comes from many decades ago, when most instructors were in their twenties and MA lessons were more of an exciting new activity during the time of changing social attitudes and personal freedom. Like a rock band, there were groupies. Things may be a lot different now in several respects - social, demographic and legal.

Old Chinese proverb: "Don't F your business or the business will F you."
There's been a big uptick in sexual harassment training over the last decade, and I feel like nowadays that will much more be on people's minds.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Reasons against:
  1. Unequal power exchange ("He was my instructor, I trusted him.")
  2. Perception of unequal treatment. ("Of course she got promoted ahead of me. She's doing the Sensei.")
  3. Student discontent / dojo politics. ("Did you hear what happened to so-and-so? Sure, she's sleeping with him.")
  4. Potential for future legal issues. ("He was in a position of authority, I didn't feel like I could say no.")

Reasons for:
  1. Bonking.
 

skribs

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Reasons against:
  1. Unequal power exchange ("He was my instructor, I trusted him.")
  2. Perception of unequal treatment. ("Of course she got promoted ahead of me. She's doing the Sensei.")
  3. Student discontent / dojo politics. ("Did you hear what happened to so-and-so? Sure, she's sleeping with him.")
  4. Potential for future legal issues. ("He was in a position of authority, I didn't feel like I could say no.")

Reasons for:
  1. Bonking.
Some of those could be the case if you have a relationship first. Let's say I go out and meet someone, and invite her to try out Taekwondo (and let's say I'm teaching TKD again). Now we have a new white belt that I'm dating, but it went the other way.

The reason I feel its often a gray area is there are less and less things people do outside the house nowadays. I work from home. I do a lot of shopping from home. I don't have to leave the house to watch a movie, or even to pick one out. I have exercise equipment at home so I don't need to go to the gym. There's less and less places for me to meet someone.
 

Steve

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Hello all,


Firstly, I'm referring to two legal-age consenting adults both of which are single. Would you as the instructor date a student? If not, please explain why and the issues that you think may arise. If you would, please explain why you would feel comfortable doing so.

Thanks
Yes, because there is an inherent imbalance of power. It is highly unethical.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Some of those could be the case if you have a relationship first. Let's say I go out and meet someone, and invite her to try out Taekwondo (and let's say I'm teaching TKD again). Now we have a new white belt that I'm dating, but it went the other way.

The reason I feel its often a gray area is there are less and less things people do outside the house nowadays. I work from home. I do a lot of shopping from home. I don't have to leave the house to watch a movie, or even to pick one out. I have exercise equipment at home so I don't need to go to the gym. There's less and less places for me to meet someone.
Yeah, I get it. But I have watched these things go south a lot more than I've seen them work out. I do know of a husband-wife team who run a very successful dojo, and one is student to the other; but as you said, they were a couple before they were instructor/student. I suspect that students who start at a dojo where that's already the case are going to take it better than students who suddenly find the situation changed, but that's just my gut feeling.

Ultimately, I don't have a dog in this fight. I am married 20 years and very happy about it. I see students as students and nothing else. There is no relationship of ANY kind outside of the dojo, and most of them I do not know their last names, where they live, or anything else other than first names and current belt. I am friends with the other instructors, but we don't spend much time socializing outside of the dojo, although we think of each other as family.

Dating just makes things complicated. Just my opinion.
 

Oily Dragon

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Reasons against:
  1. Unequal power exchange ("He was my instructor, I trusted him.")
  2. Perception of unequal treatment. ("Of course she got promoted ahead of me. She's doing the Sensei.")
  3. Student discontent / dojo politics. ("Did you hear what happened to so-and-so? Sure, she's sleeping with him.")
  4. Potential for future legal issues. ("He was in a position of authority, I didn't feel like I could say no.")

Reasons for:
  1. Bonking.
Well...love can bud in the strangest places. Who knows.

If that did happen with a paying student, I'd say the best solution is for the student to quit class and start taking private lessons.

They can even still wear gis. Gis are hot.
 

Steve

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Well...love can bud in the strangest places. Who knows.

If that did happen with a paying student, I'd say the best solution is for the student to quit class and start taking private lessons.

They can even still wear gis. Gis are hot.
Well I agree, but man you said that in the creepiest way possible. Yuck.
 

skribs

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Yeah, I get it. But I have watched these things go south a lot more than I've seen them work out. I do know of a husband-wife team who run a very successful dojo, and one is student to the other; but as you said, they were a couple before they were instructor/student. I suspect that students who start at a dojo where that's already the case are going to take it better than students who suddenly find the situation changed, but that's just my gut feeling.

Ultimately, I don't have a dog in this fight. I am married 20 years and very happy about it. I see students as students and nothing else. There is no relationship of ANY kind outside of the dojo, and most of them I do not know their last names, where they live, or anything else other than first names and current belt. I am friends with the other instructors, but we don't spend much time socializing outside of the dojo, although we think of each other as family.

Dating just makes things complicated. Just my opinion.
At some point you had to make things complicated somewhere in order to get your wife!

I made plenty of friends at my dojang. There was one family that I would go over to their house for holidays and events. Another couple of guys my age that we'd play board games. A few of the upper belts lived near me and we would meet at a nearby park to practice. Plus several students I would see in the halls at work. At my new BJJ dojo, I've started playing video games with one of my fellow students.

I really miss have that personal relationship with most of my students and their families. It would have been the hardest part about leaving my old dojang, except they are still operating under COVID restrictions and I barely got to talk to people before or after class anymore.
 

skribs

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Well...love can bud in the strangest places. Who knows.

If that did happen with a paying student, I'd say the best solution is for the student to quit class and start taking private lessons.

They can even still wear gis. Gis are hot.
To me, that sounds almost worse. "They get free private lessons just for sleeping with the instructor."
 

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