Abuse in the Dojo....
by, 07-18-2011 at 02:59 (3941 Views)
Three weeks ago I was getting ready to go home after training at a gym in central Nagoya. They have two dojo there, a Judojo and a Kendojo, that night my group was using the Judojo. I have been going there for the past 8 years and there are several groups using the same space. I know most of them by face as they do me, so there is a connection of mutual respect and acknowledgment in one another. We all get along.
There was a new guy at the gym who had taken up roost in middle of three competition grade tatami layouts. He had three kids with him: two boys and one girl. The eldest was a boy close to 13, while the other two seemed to be about 8 or 9. The eldest was twice as big as the younger boy, three times as big as the girl. They were practicing what appeared to be karate. The man was dressed in a dingy red shirt and dirty shorts and sat on the corner of the competition area cross legged. He was having the children spar full out without pads and with taped fists. They were going fast and not pulling any punches. Worst of all, it was the two smaller up against the larger boy, one at a time.
He would scream at the oldest boy to really attack the younger kids- a scene straight out of the "Karate Kid". Seriously, the older boy was WAILING on the little ones, with real punches and kicks thrown at their heads, legs and all points in between. Not only did the red-shirted man urge the eldest boy on to hurt the younger kids, but he would proceed to insult and verbally humiliate the smaller children for not taking it. Finally, the girl got the wind knocked out of her, she fell down and she began to cry, which infuriated the man who began to scream at her. After his screaming fit, the smaller boy was pitted up against the older boy. At this point I walked some 30 feet across the mats to stand behind the man in the red shirt, whom turned and gave me dirty looks. Finally, after slugging the younger boy into submission, the older boy kicked the younger in the chest and then finished by punching him in the throat. This knocked the boy flat on his back, who went silent for a second, stunned. After what seemed an eternity, he sat up, wheezed, began to cough and let out with a heart stopping sob. His eyes filled with tears and he rolled onto his hands and knees. I was furious and I stepped on the mat immediately.
I announced loudly "What you are doing is dangerous isn't it?" and walked over to the little boy. I asked him if he was okay, to which he replied "I'm fine" (daijobu) through his crying, gasping, drooling and coughing. I looked him in the eyes and it was clear he was afraid to say otherwise, and he glanced at the man in the red shirt who was snarling at us. I then stood between him and the older boy, who was clearly only doing what he was told, and I demanded that he be more careful. I asked him if he knew if he was hurting the two little ones and he acknowledged by nodding and looking down at the mat in shame. Meanwhile the scumbag in the red shirt started yelling at me, telling me it was not my business and that they were fine. After I finished with the older boy I turned and walked just outside of reach of the man and looked him dead in the eyes. I calmly told him in a loud, clear voice (for everyone to hear) that if "You didn't stop this, I will stop this". At that point the entire Judojo, with some 50 people in it, had come to a standstill and turned all to look at me. At that point he looked down, lowered his voice and said "They'll be fine".
Satisfied I turned, walked over and patted the little boy on the head and made my way back to my area. When I got far away, the man called out "They are fine and mind your own business". So, I grabbed my stick, walked back out on the mat. Dead silence ran over the room and you could hear the machines in the weight room turning, something you can never normally hear. I eased back over to him, holding the stick under my arm inoffensively and told him "This is my business, and the business of everyone. Children are not beaten here." He looked away and he snorted like an arrogant swine. I asked him if that was clear and he understood, and he said "yes".
At this point I walked back over to my group again. They were watching on, the younger students seemed pale white. What I had just done was VERY aggressive, something that is usually looked down upon. I was angered, but not in an out of control way. I was still calm and amicable, I was not looking for trouble and my only intent was to stop what was going on before one of those kids was injured seriously. I was pushing my adrenaline back- and at this stage I began to become anxious that I was going to be in trouble for what I had done, and I was sure I was about to get an earful. I apologized to everyone there immediately and made it a point to repeat that with respect. To my surprise, my sensei smiled, brushed off my apology and began to make small talk with me like nothing happened. Things went back to clamoring as normal in the Judojo as the evening wound down and the "goodbye" announcement was made and Auld Lang Synebegan to play on the intercom.The drama was over and nothing became of it.
But something did become of it. After 8 years of being there, of being seen every week, people are now saying hello to me on the mat, when I walk in the door and they even wave at me at the station. They are talking to one another now, I see then smiling and chatting as the class begins. I have never witnessed that before. It's like something clicked at that moment and it was like I was speaking for everyone...and it didn't matter that it was me who was confronting the man in the red shirt- it was as though I tapped into everyone's feelings and was speaking for them. I haven't seen the man in the red shirt there, but I am told that after my little problem that two of the groups complained about him and he was kicked out of the gym for life. I am not sure if that is true, but I would certainly like to believe it.
I can only hope those children have found a better teacher, and if that was their father I can only hope that he is ashamed of the way he treats his children and will cease his methods. In my mind what he was doing that night makes him a complete b*stard.