Monday, June 12, 2017

Sensei Scumbag Strikes Again?

So this news story hit late last week:

Lopez brothers, Olympic taekwondo royalty, hit with sex abuse allegations

Of course, an accusation is not proof.  Let's all keep that in mind.

BUT.

But if these allegations are true, we have yet another case of Sensei Scumbag.

Goddammit.

The Lopez family are often called "The First Family of Taekwondo" in the United States. Their performance on the mat has brought prestige and awards to my country.  So of course, because of that celebrity, and the fact that the Rio Olympics were going on, they were left in place while the investigation was ongoing, even if that meant there were other victims at risk while this was going on.

My friend Cathy Chapaty (author of "No Pouting in the Dojo", and she blogs at Searching for Grasshopper at the moment, but also read No Pouting at the Dojang and Big Budo World) wrote this epic post on Facebook about this situation, and you really should give it a read:


I can't agree more with what Cathy has to say there. 

What particularly galls me about this situation is the fact it took so long for police to be involved (who are, after all, the correct authorities to do investigations of this kind).  Honestly, though, after thinking about it, I shouldn't be terribly surprised.

Our relatively hierarchical and authoritarian martial arts culture, and our belief that somehow, martial arts training immunizes us against bad buys taking advantage of us (and our students) in the places where we have to have the most trust, makes us particularly vulnerable to this sort of thing.

Our recruitment of children and young people, often marketing the martial arts as something that empowers shy kids, or vulnerable kids, or people needing self confidence.  Combine those two, and predators have a very happy hunting ground.

Hey, you don't have to take my word for it.  There's so many examples of martial arts teachers getting caught, arrested, and convicted of abusing their students that I literally can't keep up with it on my "Sensei Scumbag" post.  Click through my link above and take a peek at the ones I have been able to add to that post - I know I've missed bunches of others.

This is a problem.  A huge problem.  And I submit that we are not equipped to cope with it, as a subculture.  We're not willing to believe that we allow people in authority, or we have people who are superior athletes or coaches, who are also willing to prey on people we're supposed to be protecting.  We obviously don't do a good enough job in making sure that the environment where a predator can take advantage of our students doesn't develop (no alone time, better chaperoning on training/tournament trips. making sure that social media/texting is appropriate, etc.).

I'll admit, though, I don't think this is unique to us, and I don't have a great solution for it, either. The fact that these asshats are using something I love so much to abuse people makes me literally sick, and there is nothing I'd like more than to hunt them down and ruin a perfectly good stick.  But that's not a great solution either.

Like this (the stick broke early).

By the way, if you don't like that I have this gut reaction, well, too bad.  I think that scumbags in positions of trust who abuse the people depending on them are members of the lowest order of human being and this is what violence is for.

But here is something I'd like to see done, in the case of celebrities and people who are Olympic gold medalists and tournament winners and whatnot.

I think when the allegations are proved true, their names and accomplishments should be struck from our rolls.  Their awards should be removed, recognition of their ranks removed, their records expunged, and they should, in our circles, become nonpersons.  We should only acknowledge them for the criminals they are, and note how it came to happen, as lessons to the rest of us.  And they should never be allowed in our ranks again.

Yes, I do think people can be rehabilitated and "do their time" after crimes.  But that being said, these people should never, ever be placed in a position of trust in our world again.  You get one chance, you blow it, you should never be welcomed back.  The risk to potential victims is not worth whatever this individual can bring to the table.  I don't care how good of a teacher they are, how great a martial artist they are.  They're gone, forever.

So if the latest, maybe most famous Sensei Scumbag story is true... those medals they've won cease to exist as far as I'm concerned.  They have never brought honor to my country, only shame.

It's the least we can do.

So what do YOU think we can do?  What are your thoughts about this latest situation?  Let me know in the comments/