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#132746 - 11/20/03 06:07 AM student dilema

This is a rather long story but please bear with me, I would really appreciate some advice.

Quite a while ago a woman in her thirties approached me about joining our club. She told me the name of her previous instructor and that she had got to purple belt (4th kyu) under him and wanted to return after a 10 year break. Her instructor is well known locally, he teaches wadoryu based sport karate. I teach wado, but have no interest in the sport side. our katas are very similar.

I told her that she was welcome to train and that if she wanted to wear the belt she had previously earned that was fine, although it may take a while to work back up to that standard. She was happy about that but said she had never actually collected her purple belt as she left training after passing but before her belt was ordered. I assumed her old club just did things differently (ours gives the belts on the day a student passes) and said I would order a new one for her, which I did.

She came to train and I was shocked that she could not remember what a forward stance was or how to kick or punch AT ALL. after two or three lessons it became apparent that she had either never been a purple belt or was a very poor one. On speaking to her more about her previous training, it became obvious that she may not have been completely truthful. She told me that on passing purple students started to learn pinan nidan and I knew her old club, like ours learns that kata for orange blet (7th kyu). I asked if I could see her previous licence and/or certificates so that our association could verify her current grade. It turned out that she had lost her licence and all certificates except her yellow belt (8th kyu) one.

Doubly suspicious now I spoke to her ex instructor who confirmed that she had only trained to yellow belt.

I told her that her old association had no record of her grading beyond yellow belt and in view of both this fact and the fact that she was really struggling to keep up with the purple belts it would be best all round if she trained in a yellow belt and was assessed at the next gradings.

She was absolutely outraged that "all that money and effort" was for nothing. I knew she was lying but rather than call her on it I said that she would be more comfortable training with the students of similar ability to herself (which is tue). She seemed to be very insecure and I suspected that that was why she lied. Although she was wrong to do so, she obviously had "issues" and I believed that by gaining confidence through training, she would become less insecure and therefore have less need to make up stories.

At her first assessment, she gave up after half an hour. At the next one she was awarded an orange belt. I was pleased for her as she had been training hard and I thought that was the end of the matter. She passed her green belt and then her blue (5th kyu).

However, three months after taking her blue belt she asked me why I had not put her in for purple belt. I explained that the average student training 3-4 hours a week takes around 6 months between 5th and 4th kyu and that she was making good progress, but not ready yet. She was very upset and then stopped training due to an ankle injury, which I know for a fact was fictitious as she confided in another student that it was an excuse because she was upset with me.

She has just re started training after 2 months off and wants to grade in January. I have just found out she has been telling at least one other student that she was ready last time (after 3 months as a 5th kyu) but that I would not let her grade. She has also been banging on to me about getting the purple belt "back" (you know, the one she never held in the first place, and I am finding it difficult to hold my tongue.

What shall I do? I can not challenge her because I will not break the confidence of the student that told me (and I know he is not lying, he just wouldn't).

She is obviously a lower standard now than when she was training regularly. I am tempted to put her in for grading and let her fail, but know that is morally wrong. I am also tempted to throw her out, but I feel that is also wrong because she is obviously mentally troubled rather than malicous. If I say she is not ready to grade, she will be complaining to other students that I am holding her back which is bad for the morale of the club.

How would other instructors handle this problem? And before anyone else says it, yes I know I have handled this badly and should have told her I knew she was lying in the first place, but I am still learning too.
Sorry again for the long post.

#132747 - 11/20/03 06:26 AM Re: student dilema
JohnL Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/24/03
Posts: 4309
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Don't think you've done anything wrong.

I'd tell her when the test is and advise her that you don't think she's ready for it, however if she still wants to try, she's welcome.

Then judge her on how she does in the test.

If she does well, fine

If she fails, fine.


#132748 - 11/20/03 08:08 AM Re: student dilema
NancyP Offline

Registered: 10/02/03
Posts: 119
Loc: Florida

I agree with John's advice. This student was not honest with you from the beginning. I, too, believe that you did nothing wrong - I believe you handled the situation very well.

I am sure the other students in your dojang have seen this student's skills, or lack thereof.

John's advice of letting her know that she's not ready but welcome to try is good. Judge her on what she is able to do - don't fail her "just because", but don't pass her "just because", either.

In my relatively short (8 years) training, I've seen too many students wear a belt, I believe they don't deserve. (For example, a 12 year-old 2nd Dan who, at the very least, doesn't know up to the blue belt poomse.)(I know, this was covered on another thread.) I busted my tail to get to where I am, and for me, personally, it lessens the belt itself.

I say, good for you about wanting to stick with the highest standards for your students. In the long run, it most definitely reflects on you, not the student.

Good luck.


#132749 - 11/20/03 08:47 AM Re: student dilema
xerxes Offline

Registered: 05/13/03
Posts: 515
Loc: Georgia, USA
Talk with her privately. Tell her you contacted the ex-instructor and he said she had only achieved yellow. Let her know that you know she lied. Then kick her out. An outright lie like that is an egregious breach of the instructor/student relationship. Don't tolerate it.

You can not be responsible for every person who has mental problems. It is not your fault that she is the way she is.

I have been reading this forum since about January. If one can judge a person by their forum postings(perhaps a dubious concept) then you are the finest human being that has posted here. You have shown yourself to have intelligense, grace, maturity, and compassion.Unfortunately, she is abusing that compassion.

#132750 - 11/20/03 10:29 AM Re: student dilema
Jagman Offline

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 40
[QUOTE]Originally posted by xerxes:

I have been reading this forum since about January. If one can judge a person by their forum postings(perhaps a dubious concept) then you are the finest human being that has posted here. You have shown yourself to have intelligense, grace, maturity, and compassion.Unfortunately, she is abusing that compassion.

You are right about your comments about Sharon, she is like you described (I am fortunate enough to be one of her students.)

I also share your point of view on the student.

I am so sorry that this is one of first posts and yet again I am putting across my strong views and coming across as angry

I feel strongly about this and it really annoys me.... those of you who know Sharon will agree that she should not have to put up with this.

Sharon has bent over backwards numerous times to help this student (like she will do for anyone because she is so lovely)and the lack of respect this student shows is absolutely disgusting. It makes me sick to my stomach!

I am not exaggerating when I say that this student is a attention-seeking, compulsive liar (I have known this person a very long time and could be considered as loosely related to her but NOT a blood relative and I do not consider us as related)

she also tried to include me in her web of lies.

I am not as nice as Sharon (not many people are) and I will not pretend to be, but I am a nice caring, patient person honestly
I know none of you will believe me but I am [IMG][/IMG]

just to give you a better idea....

She faked an ankle injury (saying it was broken) because she was not a good enough standard to grade, and then even had the cheek to tell Sharon that she done it in her class AND THEN said she was going to apply for compensation! from Sharon!

she has done other appalling things as well

I am Sorry Sharon, but I have to give everyone a better idea about the student/situation.


#132751 - 11/20/03 03:28 PM Re: student dilema
Bossman Offline

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
I would take her to one side and explain fully what you know, give her back her licence money and ask her to leave.
If you feel you would be betraying too many confidences, teach her intensively in class in front of the others in such a way thet you aren't victimising her but she and her classmates will be under no illusion as to why she's not ready to grade.

#132752 - 11/20/03 04:52 PM Re: student dilema
Kotetsu Offline

Registered: 04/17/03
Posts: 314
Loc: Hollis, NH, USA
Though not an instructor, I'll reply anyway, cause i'm just like that. [IMG][/IMG]

I agree with John as well, you should let her go for the test. I personaly would never push a test, because i never believe i am ready(my instructors have different ideas about that, but hey). I know most people probably would not do that, but if she has some common snese, she will trust the instructor.

I would also go for Bossmans point of view, except take it a little further. Don't victimize her, but make her do more work than everyone else(i can get a little mean at times). For example: if everyone does 30 pushes, make her do 35 or 40. If she asks you why, tell her you are trying to prepare her for that test(which is true). Also, use her as an example, say you are working on katas, have her do her's and pick apart everything she did wrong so the class can se what to do right. Not only will this provide better learning for your class, but should illustrate to her how unready she really is.

Well, that's my bit. I don't claim to be knowledgable on anything(cause i'm not) so this is just advice from a student. Hope you get this problem worked out to everyones' advantage. Personally, if you would lie to your instructor, you are not dedicated enough to what you do to pursue adequately.

#132753 - 11/21/03 02:53 AM Re: student dilema
Fighting Dwarf Offline

Registered: 03/27/03
Posts: 322
Loc: UK
Sharon, I agree with everyone else - it doesn't sound like you handled the situation badly at all.

With most people, I would agree with what JohnL said. From what you and Jagman have said about this particular lady, though, I'm not so sure. She sounds like the sort of person who, when she fails, will say that you had already decided she wouldn't pass and failed deliberately just to spite her, or something like that.
I'd tell her that it's completely up to her. If she believes that she is ready to test, then you'll put her in for it and that(like Bossman and Kotetsu suggested) you'll push her a bit harder in the run up. Then when she does fail, make sure that whoever gives the grading lets her know that she's not up to standard etc. If she doesn't know the person giving the grading, it'll be less likely to come back to you as well. It sounds like she needs a good slap (metaphorically speaking [IMG][/IMG]) to bring her back to reality, maybe failing the belt she believes she should have will do that for her.

Alternatively, give her the name of a good therapist and tell her to come back when she's normal! [IMG][/IMG] Unsympathetic? Me?

Good luck!

#132754 - 11/23/03 10:19 PM Re: student dilema
kiwi Offline

Registered: 07/26/03
Posts: 789
Loc: Wellington New Zealand
Don't let her test. In my opinion a student should never fail a grading because the instructor should always know whether the student will pass or fail (as you do here). Putting her up to grade, when you are pretty sure she'll fail will make the situation worse. Once you get to a certain level in martial arts, at some stage youve got to put alot of time in if you wan't to move higher. If shes not willing to do that then she shouldn't be grading.

#132755 - 11/24/03 08:22 AM Re: student dilema
kempocos Offline

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 516
Loc: flemington,nj,usa
I must agree with everything said about this. I would tell her flat out that belts are not paid for with money they are paid for with sweat, technique, and attitude. I would then tell her that when she is ready you will let her know. Every time she says she was a purple belt tell her she was a yellow belt according to her old instructor/orginazation. Your other students already know your character in the dojo, if it is like we hear in your posts it will take much more than her words to sway your students opinion of you. In fact not to bend to her will do more for your standing with them.

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