Monday, August 21, 2006


Thanks everyone for answering me, especially Supergroup. You are becoming a Sempai to me because of all the help you have given.

I’m very happy with my dojo. A couple weeks ago, I was telling myself that I loved it. I was happy as a clam until this happened. Now, I’m over it. I don’t care about this extra stuff that goes with the training. I’ve been thinking about what everybody said told me. However, I decided to not to leave my dojo because this problem isn’t a big deal to me. I much rather learn by a international Goju-Ryu master than by some local Sensei. If I left, I would miss my dojo and Sensei very much. Plus, it would kill me to not have karate when I’m at SCC too. I’ve been looking forward about training at SCC again.

Right now, I’ve been missing karate. I couldn’t go last Thursday because I went to the LDS temple instead. I’m so glad that I went because I haven’t been there since winter. It was so peaceful there and it put things into perspective for me. While I was there, I didn’t care if I was missing training. If I would have gone to the dojo instead, my conscience would be plaguing me about not going because Latter Day Saints are commanded to go to the temple. Therefore, I would be sinning and have to repent if I didn’t go. In addition, the temple is so much more important than going to the dojo to train. The temple is eternal and the dojo is temporal.

I’m not going to be there this week because I’m going near Seattle to work in an airplane hanger with my dad. I like working with him because I make lots of money. However, I don’t like it because I miss training at dojo. I just wonder if Sensei thinks I’m mad at him because I’m going to be away for a week and a half.

Here are other weird rules that I have to abide by when I’m at the dojo or Sensei’s house. I said this in “Never touch my hands on the Shomen wall. Or never put a picture of Sensei on the ground. Or never have your back to Sensei when talking to someone. Or never show any disrespect towards my Sempai. Or always call my Sempai, "Sempai" even outside the dojo. Or always obey my Sempai, without question even if they are wrong. Or never leave anything at Sensei's house, like a water bottle. Or never yawn inside the dojo. Or never show the pads of my feet when I sit. I always have to sit cross-legged or in seiza. Or when watching my Sempai do advanced kata, I have to stand straight as a board, pay attention, and not move around at all.” On the last day of Gasshuku, I was getting really antsy about standing and watching a Sempai doing a higher kata. When I wasn’t paying attention, Sensei caught me and made me do push-ups in a corner.” Or never lean against the wall when standing. It seems like I find out about a rule until I break it. I'm not used to getting into trouble so easily.”

I talked to my dad about me saying that I didn’t miss the Russians. He said that when I said that, everybody thought that meant that I didn’t like them at all. That explanation makes sense from my Sensei’s and Sempai reactions. When I said that, I meant I didn’t miss them because I didn’t even get to know them that well. My dad says that I get into these situations because I’m slightly autistic. He says that I think, perceive, act, and process information differently than most people. My Sempai and Sensei don’t know me that well. I say things that are direct and from the heart. Some people perceive me being mean and cold. However, I mean no harm. I think that happened last week. Now, my dad wants to call Sensei to explain to him what I meant and why I’m so different. I’m thinking that would be a good idea for future reference.


Becky said...

LIzzie, may I quote from your post? I really would like to seek council on your behalf from other women involved in the martial arts. However, one thing you said really jumped out at me:

"I just don’t like the idea about obeying my Sempai outside the dojo...Or always obey my Sempai, without question even if they are wrong"

This is bad. Even in the military, you don't have to obey an order if you find it morally reprehensible. This worries me, that they expect to have this much control over you.

I have to go to work now. I'll think on this amd try to come up with some advice for you as to how to deal with this.

supergroup7 said...

All the advice that you have received has been delivered by people who have various experiences, and knowledge. I believe that every piece of advice is just as valuable because it gives you a different perspective of the same problem.

I'm glad that my words are helping you. I believe that we have bonded together because we both understand what it's like to train in similar circumstances. Yes, Lizzie, I do feel like I've accepted the role of one of your Internet Sempai here, and I'm honored that you have allowed me to help you. I'm glad that you are thinking everything over, and asking yourself important questions towards your future training. Only you know which answers will fulfil your goals, and I trust that you will make really great decisions.

You have placed your values in perspective for yourself. Good for you! Attending temple is where you needed to be, and you made that decision, accepting the consequences. That is right, and good. Karate is not something that should replace what we value in our lives, it is something that supports, and enhances our lives.

Since you have chosen to go to work on an airplane hanger with your father this week, and you have concerns about how your Sempai/ Sensei will react to your absence, perhaps you may want to connect with one of them somehow before those classes. You can explain your religious duties which made you miss class last week, and how important working with your father is to yourself, and to your family. Now.. they might still believe that you are missing class due to the punishment of not being allowed to go to Sensei's, but that is their choice.

Let me look at the rules that you are asked to follow at your dojo, and see if I can "pull out the goodness" in them ( if that is possible):

Obeying the Sempai outside of the dojo "Never show disrespect to Sempai" "Always call my Sempai "Sempai" even outside of the dojo. "Always obey my Sempai even when they are wrong":

Usually if you are interacting with Sempai, it's in a training moment, right? or in a "dojo" atmosphere? It's not like they come to your house, and start bossing you around? From what I've read about your Sempai, most of what I've read anyway, they seem to have your best interest at heart. Also, you say that they aren't being too bossy.. so that should not change. Obeying them is for the smooth running of class.. what kind of class would you have if everytime a more experience student suggested " Bring your knee up higher when you kick" to someone, and the lower kyu said "No way! I LIKE keeping my knee down there.. why should I raise it?" It would be chaos, and no one would learn ( in my opinion). Now.. let's look at the whole "obey even if their command is wrong".. I believe that this is a moment to learn mental control, patience, and humility. It takes alot out of you mentally to make yourself do something that you KNOW is not "right".. you have to curb your desire to resist, or say something. I learned that there really isn't a "wrong, or right" when you are training in karate.. you just have to look at what they are making you do, and realize that there might be moments in your life when you will have to do something a little strangely, and you will have to adapt to that demand. This is great practice for that.. learn to swallow your words, your thoughts, and your desires.. and just adapt to that moment. It doesn't mean that you have to change what you know as "right".. the few minutes that you spend doing it wrong won't hurt your skills at all, and will actually help you develop into a more flexible martial artist. Also.. Sensei will see your strength of character through your willingness to do it "wrong". He knows that you know the proper way to do it, and he will see the fact that the Sempai has taught you the mistake because it will be echoed louder through your sudden different actions. He will be able to take the Sempai aside, and help him/her get a deeper understanding of that part of their knowledge. Sometimes, as a Sempai, you do not realize that you don't "know" something until you try to teach it to others. Sempai are not perfect, (being human means that we all make mistakes) but for the sake of the art they have to attempt to be as close to perfect as they can.

"Never touch my hands on the Shomen wall, never put a picture of Sensei on the ground, never have your back to Sensei when talking to someone" This is a physical act of an interior attitude. The more you appreciate, and are grateful for the gift of being able to learn karate, the more you can appreciate that it took years, and years of training of various people, and their willingness to share their knowledge with others so that you can be standing there in that dojo learning the art. As a sign of respect for this history, and the gift that your Sensei is doing investing him/herself into your efforts to improve yourself you do little things in the dojo like treating things with respect, bowing, and such. I was watching my Sensei one day, and I realized "When does he get to train?" I realized then that a Sensei sacrifices his/her time to train so that he/she can invest his knowledge into his/her students. He/she has to try to find time to work on his/her skills at other times: for example, early morning.

"Never yawn, show the pads of your feet. Only sit cross-legged or in seiza" This is just cultural differences that affect these rules. It is considered rude in our culture to lift up our index finger at the other person. Showing the pads of your feet is "rude" in Japan. Sensei Gichin Funakoshi was unable to even say the word "socks" to his son because of how rude he considered that word.

"Standing still while Sempai do their kata" Yes.. I can see this rule. It's a sign that you aren't interested in what they are doing up there. The idea is that you are to watch them, and learn through watching. Learning only happens when your mind is actively processing the incoming information. The idea is to watch the Sempai intently. You can focus on their stances, and how they switch their weight, or how they turn their feet, or what their hips are doing as they move, etc. etc. The more you watch them perform kata, the more your brain becomes familiar with the movements, and creates a memory of what should be.. then when you are asked to do this kata, you will have already built up some pathways of memory towards a good performance instead of having nothing to fall back upon. By standing there and watching your Sempai perform you are actually doing some intense mental training ( if you chose to)

"Leaning against the wall"

Yep.. I have that rule in my dojo too. I tell you, it makes sense.. Our karate training is mostly mental. I'd say at least 80% mental. You have to convince your body that it's not as tired as it thinks it is.. ( which is the truth, actually.. we will hit our mental barrier far sooner than our physical one) By leaning against the wall, you are physically showing that your mind has given up... by standing alert, and still ready to go, your mind is saying to your body "Not yet.. we still have more to do.. and we CAN do it" You'll be amazed at what you can achieve if you give yourself permission to do it.

Lizzie, you have both A.D.D. and slight autism?? yes.. if this is what is happening.. yes.. you would process information differently than most people, and it would be easy for others to misunderstand you. It would be to your benefit to explain, and help others to understand you better. My son is autistic, and I will do this for him, I will be like a liason to others, and help them understand his behaviour, and what he is trying to explain to them.

" Now, my dad wants to call Sensei to explain to him what I meant and why I’m so different. I’m thinking that would be a good idea for future reference."

Your dad is an extremely wise man. Yes... If it is allowable in your dojo, call Sensei and talk to him about your autism, your A.D.D., about the whole "russian student" scene, and help him to understand you better. I'd mention that it was my Dad that told me to phone because this would show your families love, support, and authority towards your actions. I'd apologize for any insult that might have happened because it was not your intention to insult anyone.