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View Full Version : Idiot-wrangling at MA class



ThomasWaterless
01-23-2005, 07:55 PM
Hi, this is something for any martial arts people, or anyone else inclined to respond of course :-) We have a member at my martial arts school who´s misbehaving, and I kind of had to threaten him with physical violence to get him to act normal. My question is, is that possibly a _bad_ thing?

The thing is, this is escrima, which is a stick-fighting style, and this guy gets far, far too excited about being able to dominate people - during drills when they aren't allowed to retaliate / resist. So, with locks, he'll put on too much pressure and hold for too long, he'll attack too fast and with the wrong (dangerous) movements during drills (like stabs to the face while training with blunt knives); yesterday he hit a woman on the temple while practising blocks and counters; he was striking far more quickly than his ability to control the stick allowed. He usually does this kind of stuff with female students.

Our teacher knows about this, there've been complaints from two women I know, but as far as I can tell not much if anything has been done about it. After this woman got hit on the head this weekend, we rotated partners and I got assigned to him. The teacher made some quasi-joking comment, something about, "Bad luck, Thomas", and this guy was grinning about it. I know him from outside classes and I'm pretty sure that being known as dangerous was making him feel very good. So I asked what had happened, he told me, and I told him that if he hit me I'd return it twice as hard.

Well it worked, he calmed down very fast and trained safely while with me. But I don't like having done it. I don't do that kind of thing at all otherwise. Like I said, I know him a bit, and he's a bit of a psycho, and I know he sometimes will keep on pushing until someone basically bullies him back, harder. But on reflection, I don't believe any student in a MA class has a right to threaten other students. On the other hand, I am personally risking getting injured during practice so it kind of becomes my business there. But I could have just refused to train with him, or just warned him to go slow or I'd stop training with him. A possible advantage of the aggressive stance was it countered his enormous mental erection due to being the "dangerous student".

My question is, has anyone here had to deal with something like this? For the rest, it's a very nice class, lots of good people. The teacher is actually pretty good as well in terms of MA specifically, just not I guess at dealing with insane students (unless assigning our hero to me was actually a cunning plan...). Since the teacher knows about this what more could I say, without getting into "he goes or I / we go" stuff? It's not a huge problem (well, not for me - for some of the women I understand it's getting to be significant), but I was thinking about it, so any thoughts would be appreciated.

One relevant point - we don't spar in that class, so no informal punishments there even if they were a good idea.

Sincerely,

Thomas

The Last Knight
02-02-2005, 10:33 PM
Hey i just saw this post and i was wondering what happened with the guy?

I had a jacka** student like that in a class i teach too, but it was easier for me to deal with the guy because i teach Muay Thai, and Kendo techniques (which allows for plenty of "informal punishment") Long story short, the guy was taking advantage of the smaller people in the class, disrespecting me, and being an overall jerk. So instead of him sparring with the other students, i made him spar with me one day. We were sparring with wooden katanas (my specialty weapon) and i basically humiliated the kid in front of everyone. It was a good lesson in humility and the kid has been a great student since.

Quicksilver
02-03-2005, 12:51 AM
Hi Thomas,

The instructors I have trained with would view that kind of behavior as completely unacceptable and would have a student like that out of their schools in a heartbeat. It's especially bad when you're doing weapons or self defense training. It doesn't really matter if the instructor in your school is pretty good from the perspective of teaching MA. The instructor is, or should be, the undisputed master on the training floor and anyone who does not respect that is either going to get their ass tossed out of the school, or just get their ass kicked. One person out of control like that is a nuisance - two is a potentially dangerous conflict (what happens if someone on the receiving end of a wrist lock applied with "too much pressure" responds with a spear hand to the throat or a palm strike - hard - to the nose?).

In a broader sense, someone like that isn't really interested in the real virtues of martial arts - discipline, control, honor, mastery of skills few other have - they're training to be a thug.

Finally, from a business perspective, martial arts schools are not really interested in attracting people who are going to start driving off customers, and who are going to provide a disincentive for newcomers to join that particular school. The instructor has a real problem on his or her hands, from your description of the situation. It will resolve itself eventually, but through intervention by the police, EMS or lawyers (or loss of business), unless the instructor takes charge of it.

elissalowe
02-03-2005, 02:03 AM
I think you did the right thing Thomas...unfortunately, idiots exist almost everywhere you go, and normal channels of communication simply don't work. Clowns like that instinctively know that other people want to be civil and avoid confrontations - and they take gross advantage of it whenever they think they can get away with it.

I don't do martial arts, but I had my own idiot problem to deal with at the gym...my idiot was a good-ol'-boy, big-mouthed, "ig'runt and purrowwwd of it" redneck who never - never shuts up. He drives most reasonable people nuts, because he rests at least 5 minutes between sets - and because he's bored, he talks (loudly) at anyone who happens to be working nearby. Almost everyone wants him to stfu, but give minimal responses in order to be polite. So in his view, everyone - including yours truly - was his good buddy, and we were all given nicknames to suit.

My nickname turned out to be "Muscles." Every time this knuckledragger walked in the weight room while I was there, he'd walk up behind me, squeeze me on the arm and say "Hey Muscles!" He'd also stare and smirk, challenge me to arm wrestle, and so on. It was irritating as hell. Problem is, I'm moron-intolerant, and couldn't stand having this jerk within 10 feet of me - let alone touching me. My mistake was trying to be nice about it: I stopped him at one point and asked him to please use my name, since "Muscles" was the name of our neighbor's German Shepherd - surely he wasn't implying that I'm a dog? I was all smiles, but the cretin got the point: "Yuh don't like being called Muscles, huh?"

That seemed to work for a while, but then he started in again. Next it was "Hey Muscles - Oh, I mean Uhhh-liii-suhhhh..." Then, when he overheard that I was bulking, he switched to "Hey Bulky!" That did it. I finally flat-out told him that he wasn't going to call me names anymore, and that if he did it again, I'd file a formal harassment complaint with Parks and Rec (it's a city gym). I wasn't loud, I didn't swear, but I was pretty blunt about it.

He went absolutely apes**t, over-the-top, berserk with rage. I had 200 lbs. of ugly redneck 3 inches from my face, veins popping out of his neck, snarling "You ain't gonna f**k with me!" I stood my ground, but immediately called for my trainer, Jerry (who also manages the facility), who came tearing out of his office - and this guy - who looked like he was ready to give me a black eye just a moment before - jumped back at least 3 feet and started ranting that I was acting like a "g*ddam 10 year old", because I couldn't take a "compliment." (If you think "bulky" is a compliment, try it on your girlfriend or wife sometime and see what happens...). Jerry had to call in his boss, Jim, to restore order. It was quite a show.

But in the end it was a win for me - he can't say "boo" to me now, or else it's AMF. It was the very definition of "winning ugly" but I'll take it. I ignore him, and he ignores me - just the way I like it. Shoulda done it months ago...

W/regard to the women in your group that this guy likes to smack around: I'd advise them to simply - and loudly - refuse to partner with this jerk during drills. If only one person takes a stand, everyone else that he's abused will rally around - instead of being the class tough guy, he'll be the class pariah. When you're smaller and weaker, it's harder to stand up for yourself, but it beats the hell out of the alternative!

ThomasWaterless
02-03-2005, 09:37 AM
Thanks for your responses! Last Knight, nothing much has happened so far. As far as I know, he hasn't been spoken to, and by some comments the teacher made informally he was actually reasonably positive about this person (he's just acquired a girlfriend who was apparently impressive enough to cause some degree of respect just for that). There haven´t been any new incidents either. I´m glad you managed to get your student to change for the better, that´s great. I guess some kind of boundary-setting is necessary for some people - either once or constantly.

Quicksilver, I have to agree. I like our trainer but on the point of discipline he's inconsistent. Once in a while he'll get joky during the lessons and some students show less respect / take less care they're not misbehaving due to that. At other times, actually more in the Muay Thai / groundwork class he also teaches, he's very careful and consistent about behaviour and safety, in sparring and drills. But also there not so much social behavior. At that class we have "the toxic kickboxer". Not so nasty a person at all, but he'll break wind and burp and joyfully comment on his gases in the meantime. I know that annoyed him, but last time our teacher actually winded up agreeing with him that it was fine. I get the impression he's erring on the permissive side with people he has trouble dealing with. He's pretty young by the way, in his twenties. Maybe more a trainer than a teacher, kind of thing.

Now I get to thinking about it, one or two years back we'd just started doing some unarmed training and around the same time this basically 1.5^3 cube-shaped military trainer with about 15 years of kickboxing experience joined and basically kicked our butts every training (in his defense, I'm sure he was still holding back). I cunningly applied psychological warfare, though: first time we were about to spar I just begged for mercy beforehand and he didn't respect me enough to slap me around after that. But he was amazingly bad with sticks as well, no coordination, lots of power and minuscule safety margins. Guy'd just about bite through the stick in frustration few times a lesson. That went on for ages as well (at least subjectively), and I'm still not sure why he eventually stopped coming. He'd knocked around the later-girlfriend of our instructor during sparring, could have been that that was the final straw.

I dunno, I guess if things like this continue or happen again I'll have to speak up more strongly. Elissa, I think your idea would be best, the clear refusal to train. I know one or two of the girls I could talk to about that. I think you're right that just one public protest would help a lot. Actually, in the past he´s caused problems at college in a social context - stalking kind of stuff - by keeping everything taboo so the victims didn't want to tell anyone or accept help. Luckily quite a few people in class know about that by now so it won't work here.

Good for you though on standing up to that guy in the gym! Sounds like a real nightmare, glad to hear that the staff responded so well. I hope you well and truly spoiled his fun in having the gym as his personal playground. I know the tendency to stay nice whatever gets thrown at you, but in the broader sense it's more social to stop taking it at some point, and it definitely takes more guts <applause> :-)

Yours sincerely,

Thomas

erp7e
02-05-2005, 01:28 AM
I'd kick that guy out of the class if I were the instructor. You don't need an a**hole like that who doesn't understand respect and boundaries of acceptable behavior. Enjoying submission of people when they can't strike back, particularly females??!! He has a problem and needs to seek help.

JP
03-03-2005, 03:28 AM
I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer is surrounded in the alley by all the kids he "manhandled" .... And nothing says "back off" like the ole "grab and twist" if you know what I mean! :eek: