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Drew Loto
Drew Loto's picture
Dealing with difficult seniors

Yesterday afternoon I attended an afternoon-long martial arts seminar.  I have trained numerous times under the instructor who ran this seminar.  I greatly enjoy what he has to say.  I find him friendly, helpful, and patient.  My past experiences at such events have been extremely pleseant.  My issue pertains to the other students in the class.  Generally speaking, I am a young fellow--only a year out of school--and most of the students in this class were older than I am--ranging from their 40s to their 70s.  Many of these students also train with this particular instructor on a more consistent basis and, as a result, out rank me.  

I fully acknowledge that I am not an expert in this art, and that I don't do things perfectly all the time.  Sometimes I need to think things through as I struggle to grasp a technique.  Sometimes students, generally older and higher ranked, will come by to give me a hand.  At times this can be appreciated, because I glean some genuinely helpful insights from their suggestions.  However, for much of the time, the comments that these students make can seem more condescending or blatantly inconsistent with what the instructor is demonstrating.  Their comments often seem like they come from a place of ego rather than from a place of genuine helpfulness.

Does anyone else have experience interacting with senior students who are trying to instruct in a way that seems, for lack of a better word, wrong?  How do you handle such situations?  How do you remain respectful without sacrificing your own integrity?


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Just relax, let them have their glory, just promise yourself you won't be like them when you are at their level and age etc.

Hierarchy is part of life regardless of whether its in the Dojo or the workplace or on the street. treat it as a learning zone and concentrate on YOUR journey,

Thanks for the post, I hope this helped you

I tend to use "OSU" try it

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

You just need to figure out whether what you're picking up on is your projection, their behavior, or a combination of the two.

If it's your projection, then deal with your end of it, accept that the criticism makes you defensive, and figure out why. Once you've done that you can figure out whether you should take the advice and work with it or reject it. IMO it's natural for even contstuctive criticism to make people feel defensive sometimes, it's never completely comfortable...then again, training rarely is!

If it's just their behavior, there is no reason whatsoever to care, if it's disruptive enough I guess you could bring it up with them, or with their seniors, but know how to pick your battles. IME nine times out of ten if you come to conclusion that someone else is acting like this based on their issues then your end of things is already done, it's out of your hands.