Apathy in the Dojo
I hope I won't enrage anyone by starting this thread, but I just wanted to share my own experiences, hear if anyone has been in a similar situation, and possibly get some advice on how to handle these situations.
Basically, there's a guy in my club, let's call him Billy. Now, I believe Billy is about a year younger than me, based on the few conversations I've had with him. While he certainly hasn't been rude or anything (but perhaps not paying the instructors/art much respect), the problem is that he does. Not. Care.
In my system, getting your yellow belt usually takes 6 months (the required minimum time for grading at all); Billy has been training considerably longer than myself (people in the club have told me about 1.5-2 years, compared to my 8-9 months), and as of this June I officially outrank him. We have people of all belt grades in the same class, but naturally people of the same rank tend to pair up, seeing as they are training the same things. This meant that, being that we had about 4-5 whitebelts around that time, myself included, I usually spent a fair bit of time training with him. It was demotivating, to say the least. He was a completely ragdolly Uke, not offering the slightest bit of resistance, and for all his time drilling the same white-belt techniques he still couldn't do them properly, and would never remember the names of any of it. In our semi-Randori (Uke initiates a random attack, Tori executes any technique he/she deems applicable, then they switch roles) he would stand limply and think both as Uke and Tori, contemplating his next move (thereby missing the point of the drill, to think on your feet), and would then start tying his belt or "going to the bathroom" to play for time until the instructors called time.
Rolling with him is the same thing, he just sits there, I submit him, he complains that getting Kimura'd hurts, I repeat this as much as the time-limit allows (my record is around 12-14 times in 5 minutes) in the hopes that he'll get motivated to offer resistance, and yet never does. Now, I realize you'll tell me to avoid pairing up with him, which I have been trying, believe me. The problem is that my instructor (not trying to brag, and it would be a very lame boast indeed) feels that I'm a "good training partner", because I typically know the names of my techniques and more and am comfortable helping others (of my rank) improve their technique (slightly), so he seems to intentionally pair the two of us together in the hopes that I'll provide additional support.
What can be bothersome, however, is that my instructor seems to be getting uncomfortable correcting/critiquing Billy's technique, being that he has been training for so long with no discernible improvement, while he occasionally gives me pointers, knowing that I aspire to do the best I can. This seems to give Billy the impression that he is on par with me skill-wise, if not better than me, since he rarely gets corrected. This lack of quality control is a little distressing, but at least he isn't actually grading with this lack of knowledge/skill.
Sorry for my rambliness, but this is something that's been bugging me for the duration of my training. With any luck, my increase in rank should mean I don't have to train with him as often, but it is almost unavoidable in many cases. Has anyone else experienced this problem? How do you deal with an unwilling training partner? Should I speak with the instructor about this, or accept that little Billy has different capabilities/ambitions than myself and soldier on?
I should think a lot of people have experienced this problem, and you're certainly not at fault for finding it frustrating. I remember having lazy, rag-doll ukes and itching to give them a punch in the nose to wake them up a bit!
Because my previous dojo was so small those people tended to drop out as the regularity and intensity of the sparring increased, and go for less alive stuff like aikido or the goju ryu club. In the end there were just 5 of us left. It's interesting that he keeps coming back - have you asked him what he thinks he is getting out of the training? Surely after 1.5 years of regular classes and still a white/yellow belt he should realise there's something up. Does he train with a lot of other people, and has anyone had a word with him on his quality as a partner before?
Are you both adults paying for your training and transporting yourselves to and from the dojo?
I believe Hadzu is 16 which makes the other guy 15 or so. Most likely situation is the other guy is getting pushed into it by his parents, which I've seen before.
Originally Posted by Permalost
Hadzu, it's not your place to second-guess your instructor when you are so new to the club. If you are constantly getting paired with this guy then you may consider politely asking for some variety in training partners. Otherwise your best path is to continue to help this guy as much as you can and have some patience.
You are correct about my age (and by connection, his), I have gotten the impression that his dad is making him go, but this is unconfirmed. I agree that I am in no position to tell my instructor how he should and shouldn't teach, so I suppose I'll endeavor to tough it out. It's just a little sad, really, but I can completely see Billy's point of view; I mean, if one of my parents (somehow) forced me to practice soccer or something, I'd hate it, so of course I wouldn't put much effort into it. It's just tricky to deal with him, and I know many people in the club feel the same way, and I have openly discussed this with some members. Being that I'm sure my instructor is aware of the problem, I don't suppose much would be gained from bothering ol' Jonas about it, so I guess you make the best with what you have.
Originally Posted by NeilG
I encountered this type when I was a teenage martial artist, and also as a young martial arts teacher in my 20s. Usually they quit soon enough. 1.5-2 years may seem like a lot as a beginner yourself, but if you stick with it you'll probably see people like that come and go. Your instructor may be frustrated with this kid too- I could show all sorts of cool stuff and explain all the benefits of martial arts practice and try to make things fun, but some kids just don't want to be there and there's little that can be done to motivate them. Teaching them was the worst.
Yeah, I finally had a conversation with one and said "look, if you want to be here, great, I am happy to teach you. But if you don't then you need to have a conversation with your dad because I don't want to teach you if you don't want to learn."
Really, that's my only criteria to teach someone - they want to learn. Doesn't matter what the natural talent of the student, if they want to be there that's a qualified student. Of course I have the advantage of being a volunteer. If I made my living off this I would have to put up with a lot more crap.
Honestly, I'm not sure how much my instructor really worries about him; I'm sure it's frustrating for him when it comes up, but we have a guy with ADHD in the club that tends to keep him busy. I guess it's a matter of priorities, and why sort out the quiet kid that doesn't do much when you've got some kid trying to punch people's heads off in a blocking drill to prove how cool he is, right?
The whitebelt-crowd is prone to these people that try MA, decide it's not for them and move on, I suppose. All the people in the club at orange or above are awesome people, so I guess the less great ones get weeded out after time.
It's a shitty scenario. I would speak with the instructor privately and share your concerns and reiterate your seriousness as a student, and at the same time up the intensity of your workouts with him. Either he will rise to the occasion or seek another partner or pastime.
If you're yellow belt/gokyu/whatever you call it you should be aspiring to your next promotion and trying to show you can perform at that level. If you want to be a green belt, train like a green belt at green belt intensity. Then you'll get promoted and can work out with them. Be the guy that gets his promotions early.
You should also not miss the opportunity to train with/on an opponent like the guy you are complaining about. I'm not strictly familiar with your ryu, but in Judo most techniques can be done two ways- with brute strength and poor technique against a compliant uke, or with effortless pure technique. The latter doesn't really matter how well uke is cooperating. Find your kuzushi, tsukure, and KAKE!
Have you considered discussing this issue with 'Billy'? Sometime before or after class it may be beneficial to you both if he understands you are serious about your training time and while he may not share your enthusiasm, he needs to understand that he is robbing you of your time given his apathetic attitude. Once you've made this clear, it's his choice to do you right or continue as is. If the latter is the case, you owe him nothing beyond civility.
At your age and rank, your options are limited. Your post shows maturity beyond your years and I wish you luck.
You could tell Billy what I tell my girls-
"Suck it up and be tough" (-:
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