Wednesday, March 8, 2017
An Open Letter and Apology to the Academie Duello Community
I’m writing this because I’ve lost control of my anger over the last few months during my training. Because that loss of control has made a number of people unsafe, and feel unsafe in the space.
I’m writing this because I’m accountable for my actions. I’m not just accountable to Devon as my director, I’m not just accountable to Clint as the head instructor, I think that I’m accountable to the school at large; to the greater community.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely a part of that community.
It’s my belief that the best way to move forward is with honesty and transparency.
TL;DR - Aaron has issues with anger management. Those issues have been affecting students that he trains with and teaches. Aaron seeks to atone for his actions. Talk to Aaron, Devon, or Clinton to learn more.
At various points in my life, I’ve come close to hitting the bottom. And I’ve always been lucky enough to have people to talk to, and a place to go. After moving to Vancouver a number of years ago, Duello has become that place I go.
A few people have asked me about Duello and what it means to me, and I tell them that it is my temple. It is where I go to feel good about myself; where I go to find people with similar ideas about what it means to be a good person.
Recently, my actions have led it to be less than safe. There are people who aren’t safe and comfortable in the space because of my actions. Who aren’t safe and comfortable training with me or being taught by me.
It tears me apart that this is where my training and failure to manage my anger has led me. It saddens me beyond words that I’ve caused people to stop walking this path that has led me to so much growth, happiness, and peace.
So how do I fix it?
Bruce Lee said that mastery of martial arts is really just mastery of self.
And reflection has led me to see that I’ve stopped trying to pursue this mastery. That through my own thoughtless action, I’ve been letting my anger manage me, and not the other way around.
My own path forward begins with this:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t actively put the safety and experience of my fellow students at the fore of my practice. I’m sorry that I’ve acted in a way that communicates a lack of control and safety.
But talk is cheap. So what can I promise?
I can promise that I’m answerable to Academie Duello’s administrative team, and that they are taking active steps to address this. If you are interested in those steps, you can contact Devon or Clint and they will answer those questions for you.
I can promise that I’m setting up my own personal accountability structures. And that I'm actively practicing my own anger management exercises and working through an anger management workbook from a well regarded local anger management counselor, Alistair Moes. If you’re interested in what I’m doing, or feel a desire to help in some small way, you can contact me and ask such questions as you feel are necessary.
Lastly, and this is something that I’ve been worried about within the school for some time: If you see things, people, or practices that make you uncomfortable or that you think are a concern, no issue is too large or small. There’s a lot that I don’t see as part of my own inward reflection, and things that the senior instructors may not have eyes on. We as staff and instructors are here to facilitate swordplay, martial practice, and personal growth, and that can’t be done if the space feels unsafe.
I’d like to close out by offering a very sincere thanks to the wonderful people and staff of Duello. I’ve been told that there are people who have asked “How can I help Aaron with this?” after I’ve had an outburst. I’ve had people who have also offered to help me with my own personal accountability structures.
It’s enormously humbling that I have so many people who care about me, and are good enough people to try and help me with a demon that I’ve struggled with for my whole life.
I’m going to do better.
Thank you for reading.