Can anyone help?
I just joined bullshido and am wanting to learn the skinny on my current instructor, who a friend recently showed me a post here from someone who slammed him as 'whacko'.
I train in the Shizen Ryu in Melbourne with an instructor who goes by the name Tadashi Taisen.
Now , for starters, he is Aussie but said he was given his name by his teacher, who I think is called Dave Ballard from New Zealand? Basically he thinks he's japanese...but he knows his stuff, and I have learned alot already. We learn samurai arts and ninja arts as well as Gyoko ryu and some keikishin and a few others whose names I can't remember now.
He threw me in with the brown and red belts from day one and has had me using wooden weapons, which my friend says is unheard of. I've felt that alot of the stuff was too advanced for me at times, though I seem to have progressed and accelerated quite fast, and he has shown belief in me which has helped me feel like I can attain black belt and that it's just around the corner...it seems really close, and this is something he has fostered in me from the beginning. I just don't know if I really want it BECAUSE he has been programming me to or because I REALLY want it...if that makes sense?
The black belts are amazed...I'm not saying that to float my own boat, it's just what appears to be the case. I'm pretty receptive to learning and he has already graded me twice in a year and a half...and I felt like I did work really hard to get there, but it does feel wierd that it's such a short period of time. He is now saying I will be at red level at the next grading camp if my taijitsu stays at the level it's at. After that it's brown and then black.
From what I gather ,he is wanting to groom students to be teachers to take over when he retires. He is in his mid 40's and is also a Transcendental Meditation instructor and reiki master. He charges $160 a month for fees, and there are three days which I can train, which I do to get the best value for my money. we have to pay membership every year ($80) and when my friend checked this site out the other day one poster said that after asking some people, noone had apparently even heard of him, and the ones who had said he wasn't a 6th dan like he told us, but just shodan. WTF?
Can ANYONE give me the real story about this guy? His real name is Brett Simpson. He trained at some school in Sydney for years before he came to melbourne and started his own school up a few years ago. His background is in karate. That's what he told me anyway?
He has also been telling us that what we are learning is secret and how privelaged we are to be learning it as we are part of an elite school. It's all started to take on this culty feeling to it. I'm enjoying it and have gotten really fit in just a year, but now I don't know what to think or do?
I think he has a good heart and is a good person, but sometimes I think he is totally "nuts" as well...
p.s I'm 35 and a woman.
Last edited by elucidare; 5/04/2010 6:15am at .
First off, welcome to Bullshido!
I think it is very self-aware of you to be able to ask questions about your training. A lot of people just go along with whatever they are doing because they are worried that, by questioning their instructor/school/art, they will have put in 'all that time' for nothing should they discover something negative. Just remember that, whatever the outcome, you took the time to become active and put yourself out there to try something new.
With that said, I am worried about this:
By the sounds of it, he would completely discourage or outright forbid cross-training for fear of his art 'leaking out.' I don't want to put words into his mouth though; that is just my impression.
Originally Posted by elucidare
Is the school very 'top heavy' (lots of brown/black belts, very few lower belts)?
What is the training and/or sparring like?
Do you feel like you can apply what you are learning in a sparring environment? Or do you feel like you are 'gracefully flailing'?
Here is a rather lengthy read, but it goes into depth and shows warning signs of martial arts cults:
The big thing I take away from that read is that the instructor uses authority (he is the unquestioned head of the school, only he knows the secrets of the art), terminology (reinforce authoritarian hierarchy, sways thoughts), and ritual (methods to establish yourself as his inferior) to establish unquestioning authority.
Now, he might say he welcomes questions, especially if some technique isn't working. Is the technique then modified to adapt to the situation or does he say you are doing it wrong that you need to concentrate more?
Again, thanks for taking the time to write in and welcome!
Hey Uncle Skippy,
Thanks for giving me such a warm welcome here, and for providing that link. I didn't get a chance to really read it in depth , as I have to go to work soon, but I will say that there were certain things I did read that are definately tactics he is using.
The underlying message I recieved from my last interaction with him, where he tried some headgame on me for calling some stuff to his attention that I wasn't happy about, was that he sees me as someone with "Authority Issues" and I need to learn my place!
Yes I suppose I do have issues with Authority. I don't appreciate being told in an underhanded way , as though it is just a suggestion that I think about, to aquire some new thing (even if it is with my best interests at heart), and then the next day be told that I basically HAVE to get it (backpack in this case) or that I HAVE to attend a workshop, which we pay for seperate to fees ($120) and which is told to us that we MUST attend at least 2 before grading camp in order to be considered for grading, thus showing commitment to the dojo.
Maybe it's the fact that his name means "Honest man" but he is communicating dishonestly with me? Who knows *shrugs*
Anyway, I gotta go, but I will check here again tonight and read it more carefully,
Stop there. Don't rationalize it. That isn't an issue with authority. You have an issue with other people being subversive in their position of authority which is a good trait to have.
Originally Posted by elucidare
Considering the following:
This is another red flag in my mind (as well in the minds of most people here). Schools that require you to buy equipment and force you to buy that equipment from them are suspect. Some may say that it is because their gear is proven or that they want some sort of uniformity and level of protection for yourself and others. The fact is, there is always 'other' equipment out there that may be less expensive to fit your budget and still be more than adequate for your protective needs.
Originally Posted by elucidare
Where I train, it is suggested we get a bag to keep our gear. My school sells its own bags, but it does NOT require you to buy one of theirs. In fact, my school sells an entire line of really high quality equipment and despite the big investment my head instructor made to create the line, he does NOT require you to buy from him.
Personally, I don't like the required attendance at workshops. The training you do day-to-day at that school should be more than enough to qualify you for grading. Going to a workshop may speed up the grading process because it might be an intense session (8 hours? multiple days?), but I don't think it should be a prerequisite for grading to the next level.
In regards to the workshops, does your head instructor run them? Or does he bring in a guest instructor?
How long are the workshops (hours) over how many days?
Is the school part of an association? Where do the yearly membership renewals go?
Try to finish reading that article I posted above. Also note that you think he has a good heart, but is a 'bit crazy' at times. He may encourage you and make you feel good about your training, but he should NEVER make you feel bad about asking questions. He should explain his stance and why the rules exist instead of launching a personal attack.
Quick summary of red flags:
- He says he is teaching you secret techniques
- He requires attendance at expensive workshops to grade/test
- He requires you to buy equipment (not sure if it is from him)
- He says you need to 'learn your place' when questioned
- He hasn't clearly stated his training lineage
- He says you must 'show commitment to the dojo'
- Close to blackbelt after a year and a half
- Yearly membership renewals
I just wanted to add by asking if cross-training means when a person leaves one dojo and starts up with another teacher? If this is what you meant, then yes, he has totally discouraged this from the beginning, and drilled it into us a few times (reinforced), saying that it can only confuse the student when they have learnt one way to then have to learn another instructors methods...which sounded reasonable to me at the time. The only thing is that emotionally it feels like I CAN'T leave...like I HAVE to stay with him to the end...and this is what repels me.
It's more of an emotional manipulation taking place I think, since intelectually I know I can leave anytime I want. I'm paying him to learn self-defense, not to manipulate me emotionally.
Also, just to clarify, by 'bag'I was talking about a backpack he told me to get to put my Gi in (as he couldn't stand seeing me carrying it in a plastic Audi bag?) , not through him...I got it from K-mart...but it wasn't good enough for him because I didn't get it for 3 weeks after he asked/told me to...when he didn't even take into account my financial sitch. Wanker is the word that comes to mind...but he doesn't have an in shop thing happening.
Basically, all the red flags you have shown me have helped to clarify my decision here...thanks so much for your help.
Last edited by elucidare; 5/04/2010 6:24pm at .
Cross training means that you train in an art besides the one you're currently learning. It doesn't mean you leave your dojo, just that you train at a different one too.
You seem like a very self-aware person and that will help you figure this out. Can you please tell us if he allows sparring, and what sparring looks like at your school?
E, you seem to really want to train and from your own description you seem to be atheletic and to pick things up quickly. I would advise that you look at some other styles (Judo, Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ, Boxing, Kick Boxing, San Da, Sambo) that have less of a BS component. You will probably be much happier. Many of the posters here started out in places like the one you are in (I spent time in several), the quicker you can get out of there and into something more legit the better.
Look at it this way; he could be teaching you one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn: trust your gut. When something seems disingenuous, it probably is. When somebody is using emotions to manipulate you into doing something or staying with something, then perhaps what they are teaching you isn't worth it.
That emotional manipulation thing is a real bug a boo.
FWIW, I'm female, a bit older than you. My black belt was my goal, and I achieved it, and went to what was next for me based on who I am, my training, my talents, and my interests. When I teach, I encourage my students to seek outside training, including in other arts. They get to learn new stuff, bring it back to the dojo, and I get to learn what's interesting to them. Even though I'm judo, I take occasional forays into aikido and BJJ, not to mentions taking in clinics and camps that interest me. NOTHING is mandatory.
I do have to ask: right now he's got you focused in on jumping through all these hoops to get a really quick black belt. Once you get it, what's he going to want next?
You need to know that all of your training is not lost should you choose to move schools. If nothing else, it has made you aware of your body, what it feels like to hit something, to be hit (hopefully), and how it feels to be completely exhausted and to continue training. If the training methods were good, this stuff translates well between different martial arts.
Originally Posted by elucidare
There have been people on here who have trained in an art for more than a decade, realized that their art/school was not what they thought, left, and then found a good school. It happens and turns out well.
Also do not think of it as losing your rank but rather as evolving your training. It isn't as if you are completely losing all of your abilities. Chances are you'll progress faster in another art than people who have no prior training.
If you move schools, please feel free to post on here asking for suggestions. I'm sure there are people in your area who can suggest a good school.
Thanks to everyone who posted. It's been reassuring to recieve different perspectives and support.
Yes, he does discourage cross-training, and has drilled that into us quite a few times since I started.
To the people who asked whether we sparr or not, we train the katas and henkas one on one, rather than all together seperately, which I actually find to be good as it gives a more realistic feeling to what we do, and being someone who has trouble visualising, it helps me to understanding what the kata is for.
He encourages us to do this with real feeling but without hurting anyone for a few minutes, and then we demonstrate to him...there has been no actual all out sparring as such...apart from one time when we played a "mock battle". He has us training out in different terrains, hills, rocky areas, uneven slopes, grassier areas and just dirt, so there is variety. I enjoy alot of what we do and I have that fire that is needed, and an intuitive understanding of my body, so I have picked it up pretty quickly.
And yes, I have learnt what it is to be hit and recieve the pain, and to hit and cause pain...so I have learnt many valuable things and gained much from this experience.
He does have an unconventional way of training which he and others there acknowledge. He throws in metaphysics and we meditate as well...which I am open to. I agree with his principles of making your word as Law...so making sure you follow through with what you say so you can be reliable and come from a place of integrity...It sounds like I'm trying to defend him here, I know...I'm just still going over things that I like about his methods and him, but also weigh it up against all the other stuff which is dodgy.
I'll get there.
Last edited by elucidare; 5/04/2010 7:58pm at .