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Perplexed
03-15-2006, 10:04 AM
A man has visited my dojo and is interested in practicing. His religion prohibits him from touching a woman who is not his wife. My dojo is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization, and thus may not discriminate based on religion.

Has anyone else faced this issue? Any suggestions?

jonreading
03-15-2006, 11:25 AM
??? You're kidding?

I've had some mild experience with this sort of thing, but not exactly. My issue was a student that refused to speak Japanese or participate in any "Japanese rituals." I explained that he would not be comfortable practicing, given his constraints. After a few classes, he realized that fact and left. If you are worried about legal liability, you should definitely get a lawyer.

That said, the issue appears to be whether or not the student can participate in class based on his religious beliefs. I would begin by stating that while a student may request special needs to participate in class, you cannot absolutely guarantee that his requests can be honored. Your student needs to know that he may (intentially or unintentially) come into contact with a female student during training. There are some alternatives that may be available such as solo training (sote waza) or only working with male students, but you have to be sensitive not to degrade your existing students' training quality to accomodate a new student...

If you student is uncomfortable with the possibility of contacting a female student, you need to be prepared to opening admit that the environment may not be conducive to his special training needs. I understand that I likely will not drown when I swim, but I also understand that I will get wet. Some expectations are more excessive than others, and I would consider an aversion to contact during a contact martial art to be an excessive expectation.

BC
03-15-2006, 12:01 PM
His religion prohibits him from touching a woman who is not his wife. My dojo is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization, and thus may not discriminate based on religion.

You might point out to this person that your dojo probably is also not allowed to discriminate based upon gender.

Perplexed
03-15-2006, 12:07 PM
He is aware that my dojo admits women. He and his wife watched a class.

Steve Morabito
03-15-2006, 01:00 PM
Here's my smart ass reply:
Instruct him in "no touch throws" only, with a female uke every time.
Here's my sincere reply:
Yes, as Jon says, consult a lawyer first and foremost. I'm not a lawyer, but I would suspect that a lawyer would say you may be required to provide him with a reasonable accommodation that doesn't present undue hardship or burden to your organization. In my opinion, it's not reasonable, (and actually disruptive) to alter the co-ed class. This person (as Jon implied) would come into unintended contact with a female eventually, so I think it is not reasonable to allow this individual into the co-ed class. I think you would be justified by saying, "this is how our dojo and most other dojos practice aikido...and altering the way we practice conflicts with its intention." Is it reasonable to hold private lessons for an additional fee? Is it reasonable to have a guys class AND a gals class IN ADDITION to the co-ed class? You might want to be prepared to support your answers to these questions if there is a lawsuit.
Good luck, this is a tough one.
Steve

Steve Morabito
03-15-2006, 01:09 PM
I would consider an aversion to contact during a contact martial art to be an excessive expectation.
Very nice choice of words, Jon, I agree.
Steve

Eric Webber
03-15-2006, 01:33 PM
We had the same issue several months ago. My answer to the gentleman was that everyone is expected to practice with everyone else, and he would have to decide for himself if he is willing to accept that, coming into our space. He did not return.

Mark Freeman
03-15-2006, 02:04 PM
We had the same issue several months ago. My answer to the gentleman was that everyone is expected to practice with everyone else, and he would have to decide for himself if he is willing to accept that, coming into our space. He did not return.

Well done Eric! :)

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 02:15 PM
A man has visited my dojo and is interested in practicing. His religion prohibits him from touching a woman who is not his wife. My dojo is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization, and thus may not discriminate based on religion.

Has anyone else faced this issue? Any suggestions?

I taught an orthodox Jew who didn't feel comfortable bowing to a picture, so he didn't bow - end of problem. Why not just let him come and just train with men? As long as everybody understands the situation it really shouldn't be disruptive (or a major issue) at all.
This issue came up in the New York Times - see

http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/529/

and

http://yucs.org/~dwallach/serious/ethic.htm

Best,

Chris

Michael O'Brien
03-15-2006, 02:53 PM
I'm not exactly sure on the discrimination laws so I agree consulting a lawyer is a good idea. Do the laws state that you have to modify your training to accomodate him? If so, then I guess you have to let him train. If not, then you have to decide if you want to make an allowance to accomodate him and run the risk of "If you make an allowance for one then you have to make an allowance for all".

eyrie
03-15-2006, 04:01 PM
Simple answer to simple problem. Ask him what would he do if he was unarmed and attacked by a woman who was not his wife....

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 05:31 PM
Simple answer to simple problem. Ask him what would he do if he was unarmed and attacked by a woman who was not his wife....

Probably a non-issue. AFAIK, both some sects in both Judaism and Islam prohibit unnecessary contact with the opposite sex, but the key word is "unnecessary" - there are any number of circumstances in both religions that allow for exceptions.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 05:42 PM
I'm not exactly sure on the discrimination laws so I agree consulting a lawyer is a good idea. Do the laws state that you have to modify your training to accomodate him? If so, then I guess you have to let him train. If not, then you have to decide if you want to make an allowance to accomodate him and run the risk of "If you make an allowance for one then you have to make an allowance for all".

Is what we're talking about (normal practice, but pairing with men only) really such an onerous accommodation?

Accommodations for special situations are made all the time. People with bad knees don't do suwari-waza, people don't participate in certain kinds of vigorous training for various reasons (physical condition, youth, or age), people come late or leave early to accommodate their work schedules. Nobody blinks an eye as long as there is some kind of reasonable explanation. Is adhering to your religious beliefs (and these are well established religious beliefs from well established religions) really such an unreasonable explanation?

Best,

Chris

Michael O'Brien
03-15-2006, 05:46 PM
Is what we're talking about (normal practice, but pairing with men only) really such an onerous accommodation?


It depends on the factors involved; For instance in the only class I'm able to attend right now in our dojo on Tuesday and Thursdays it averages between 2-4 people in the class. In that case, yes, it is a huge accomodation.

What happens when a girl comes in and says "I don't feel comfortable training with guys, I only want to train with girls and you let him train with only men so you have to let me train with only women."

Then someone else comes in and says "I want ..."

When you start making accomodations people will find a way to take advantage of it in most cases.

Just been my experience in life.

eyrie
03-15-2006, 05:48 PM
Well, most martial arts involve some sort of contact, unless we're talking about weapons or taiji for health. Aikido certainly requires some contact unless we're doing "no touch" throws. ;)
Whether that's "necessary" or not is the precise issue. I don't think you can learn aikido without some contact. And by extension, what is the point of learning a semi-contact martial art then if one's religious beliefs deems it "unnecessary"?

For starters, I don't think the religious beliefs issue should be brought into the dojo. It should be left outside the door, together with one's shoes and ego. If one cannot relinquish any of the above, then they should remain outside the dojo where they would be more comfortable in their own insular world.

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 05:59 PM
It depends on the factors involved; For instance in the only class I'm able to attend right now in our dojo on Tuesday and Thursdays it averages between 2-4 people in the class. In that case, yes, it is a huge accomodation.

What happens when a girl comes in and says "I don't feel comfortable training with guys, I only want to train with girls and you let him train with only men so you have to let me train with only women."

Then someone else comes in and says "I want ..."

When you start making accomodations people will find a way to take advantage of it in most cases.

Just been my experience in life.

Since accomodations are already commonly made in dojos, the slippery slope argument made above is fairly weak. The key here is whether or not a request for an accomodation is accompanied by a reasonable explanation. Opinions may vary, but in my book it seems that adherence to the established beliefs of a well known religion is on a very different level of explanation than the one given by the girl. Even in a small class (and I train in some very small classes) I don't see it as that much of a problem, but I suppose that YMMV.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 06:07 PM
For starters, I don't think the religious beliefs issue should be brought into the dojo. It should be left outside the door, together with one's shoes and ego. If one cannot relinquish any of the above, then they should remain outside the dojo where they would be more comfortable in their own insular world.

All sort of things get brought in the door - as I noted above, accommodations are commonly made for all kinds of situations. Personally, I don't think that a person ought to be made to abandon their religious beliefs in order to practice Aikido unless there is a clear and onerous burden on the other participants. Now, people may have various opinions, but I would say that the burden incurred here is more of a molehill than a mountain.

As a parallel example, I discussed the case of the student that I mentioned above (the orthodox Jew who didn't want to bow to the picture of O-sensei) to more than one of O-sensei's Japanese students, and their reaction was uniform incredulity that the question even had to be asked - the gist of the answers was "if you don't want to bow then don't bow". This was also the attitude generally adopted by the Japanese people that I discussed this with. Interestingly, more than a few American Aikido students and instructors were of the opinion that the student should be either made to bow or not allowed to participate. Maybe people should just relax a little bit and ask themselves whether small accommodations like these are really worth the trouble of working up such a sweat.

Best,

Chris

cserrit
03-15-2006, 06:14 PM
[QUOTE=
Then someone else comes in and says "I want ..." [/QUOTE]

As a woman who deals with a wide variety of abilities, ethnicities and religious groups on a daily basis...I would have to agree with Michael. There are times when I have to say enough is enough.

Aikido taught me that if I have a problem with someone (for whatever reason) then I need to learn how to work with them to create the harmony that is a part of Aikido and my life outside the dojo.

While I understand the situation, I would be frustrated in my training and assisting if I were "not permitted" to train with someone because of their beliefs on how women should or should not be treated. There is a possibility that this could be a problem in the dojo (by reading the other posts), especially if there are women in there who have been practicing for a while and wish to assist others in improving their skills.

What if the teacher one day was a woman and she had to show him a technique? Many times my sensei has to perform a technique on me before it would click. That would be a problem for him in terms of how effective he can learn a technique.

Being honest with a person about general expectations is not a bad thing and it could prevent problems in the future.

Just my humble opinion :)

Did his wife want to train as well?

-C

MaryKaye
03-15-2006, 06:15 PM
It would be, practically speaking, a major issue in my dojo. There are frequently only 2-4 students at a given class. A class with one male and one female student who cannot work together is going to be frustrating. The instructor will have to split his time between them. (And a hypothetical class with a man who won't touch women and a woman who won't touch men can't be taught at all, unless you can bring in a second instructor.)

Additionally, some of our instructors, including our head instructor, are female. Because we are a Ki Society dojo, physical contact (in ki tests) between instructor and students is continual and centrally important. There is not always a senior male student present who could substitute in giving ki tests, and omitting the ki tests would, in our style, be a major detriment to the student's training. Not being able to take ukemi from the head instructor would also interfere with our aikido test protocol.

Finally, during the larger classes it is impossible to completely prevent physical contact between non-partners. The dojo is small and collisions just happen. There is no way to have a "males only" section of the small, square mat we use. Even trying to enforce this would likely leave the women on the mat feeling cramped and intimidated.

The alternative would be an all-male class with only male instructors. As we have no "spare" instructors this would mean that women like myself would have to give up 1/4 of our current training hours to free up an instructor for this student. I know in my case this would cause resentment.

I won't commit one way or another to the question "should this be done?" but factually it would be very hard to do. It's not like omitting the bow to the shomen. It would interfere, in a small school with a female head instructor, with a large proportion of what we do in class.

Matters could be quite different if the dojo were so large that offering male-only classes was relatively easy, or so male already that they tended to occur anyway. It would be easier in a dojo that did mostly pairs and not lines, circles, or randori. And it would probably be easier in a non-Ki Society dojo. I think this one has to be up to the individual dojo.

Mary Kaye

eyrie
03-15-2006, 06:25 PM
Personally, I don't think that a person ought to be made to abandon their religious beliefs in order to practice Aikido unless there is a clear and onerous burden on the other participants.

I'm not suggesting that one's religious beliefs should be adandoned. I'm merely suggesting that they leave it outside the door along with their shoes, ego, and other personal, emotional, mental, religious, spiritual and sexist baggage.

Whilst, I agree that minor exceptions can and should be easily accommodated, I'm also suggesting that some give and take works both ways.

Josh Reyer
03-15-2006, 07:01 PM
I seriously doubt the problem here is inadvertant contact, such as collisions and the like. The man lives in the real world, no doubt he has inadvertant contact with women all the time. The issue here is simply one of training with women.

If there are no female instructors, and class size is not an issue, then I'm with Chris Li on this. If there are female instructors, or classes do tend to be small, then obviously his special needs are not within the dojo's ability to accomodate.

6th Kyu For Life
03-15-2006, 08:18 PM
I'm strongly in the "let him train" camp. It's an issue of ideologies bumping heads with each other. So don't let them bump heads. He will learn to train within his limits, as we all do, and the rest of the dojo will adapt. Both he and the women on the mat will be disadvantaged by not training with each other, and there is undoubtably the potential for problems. But you could say the same about any new student, that they are a potential for problems, and also a potential benefit to the dojo. Be grateful you know what kind of baggage this guy is bringing on to the mat, so you can anticipate how to deal with it.

Maybe after some time in Aikido, he will be able to leave his religion off the mat for a few hours at a time, but isn't asking him to do this as a condition to training imposing your ideology on him?

Clearly, it's not an easy situation, and maybe I'm too idealistic, but I think you should take this an instance to excercise peace. Don't fight, don't back off, engage and move on.

Peace,
Tom Newhall

giriasis
03-15-2006, 08:47 PM
Our dojo has recently been making accomodation to some muslim aikido practitioners that visit our dojo. They have their own dojo where they do most of their training, but will come to classes with one of our assistant instructors. Pretty much they just don't bow or train with women.

I know my sensei has chosen to make this accomodation to support their practice of aikido. (Heck, he accomodates students with disabilities and keeps a watchful eye out on how the women/ "scared-in-the-headlights" beginners/ elderly are treated in class -- often times correcting a too rough partner.) But at the moment there just happens to be no women taking the classes our muslim aikido brothers take so it really is a non-issue at this point.

However, I can see Mary's point if you only have 2-4 people a night I can see where accomodating someone would be too much of a burden. Where I train we have the opposite situation, it is rather large and we offer three classes a day M-F and two on Sat/ Sun and a "small" class is having 6-8 on the mat. We have on average about 12 people on the mat so it can be very easy to not train with someone for whatever reason.

Also, I want to add there are times I prefer training with another woman. Us ladies at the dojo will grab each other for techniques like koshinage/ maki otoshi/ jujinage, etc as we serve as each other's safety net when doing techniques that require breakfalls since most of us ladies at my dojo have a hard time with them but at the same time encourage each other to do them. While this isn't a religious reason, it is a decision based partly on gender. (The other part is that we're friends and because of that we trust each other more.)

RebeccaM
03-15-2006, 09:35 PM
The degree of problem really depends on the gender ration in the dojo. I have yet to train regularly in a martial arts club where women were not a very definite minority, and, given the typical class size at my current dojo, it would be easy to just avoid women. I'd say let him train.

It might also be a good idea to find a discreet and polite way to educate other dojo members about the situation. Otherwise people might start thinking he's a real jerk because he won't train with women. Assuming they notice...

Chris Li
03-15-2006, 10:45 PM
It would be, practically speaking, a major issue in my dojo. There are frequently only 2-4 students at a given class. A class with one male and one female student who cannot work together is going to be frustrating. The instructor will have to split his time between them. (And a hypothetical class with a man who won't touch women and a woman who won't touch men can't be taught at all, unless you can bring in a second instructor.)

In a class with three people somebody's going to be resting part of the time anyway, so it's not really a problem, it just takes a little more thinking. If there are three people and two of them are women then they can train together and he can practice ukemi, weapons, or other solitary practice - that's the way it goes, no major problem.

Additionally, some of our instructors, including our head instructor, are female. Because we are a Ki Society dojo, physical contact (in ki tests) between instructor and students is continual and centrally important. There is not always a senior male student present who could substitute in giving ki tests, and omitting the ki tests would, in our style, be a major detriment to the student's training. Not being able to take ukemi from the head instructor would also interfere with our aikido test protocol.

It's entirely possible to teach someone without touching them, or without even getting on the mat - Morihei Ueshiba did it all the time. If that's not the usual way that you do things it may take a little thought, that's all.

Two of the morning classes that I do have regular participants in their 80's. Naturally, they can't train in quite the same ways that other people do, and a number of accommodations have to be made. Years ago I taught someone who was paralyzed from the waist down, and more than a few adjustments had to be made. Anyway, in everything and anything that you do that involves other people accommodations and adjustments have to be made - that's life. In the end, I get more than I give.

An instructor that won't put some effort into trying to instruct a student with special circumstances is not, IMO, much of an instructor.

Finally, during the larger classes it is impossible to completely prevent physical contact between non-partners. The dojo is small and collisions just happen. There is no way to have a "males only" section of the small, square mat we use. Even trying to enforce this would likely leave the women on the mat feeling cramped and intimidated.

As someone else mentioned, it's unlikely that this kind of accidental contact would be an issue.

Best,

Chris

eyrie
03-15-2006, 10:53 PM
.... but isn't asking him to do this as a condition to training imposing your ideology on him?


Well, no. I don't think it has anything to do with imposing ideology nor is it a condition of training. If anything, bringing one's religious beliefs onto the mat and restricting the practice of one's self and of others (because the dojo now has to make accommodations) is tantamount to imposing one's ideology on the dojo and its participants.

Unless physical, emotional or mental limitations are involved here which will limit the range of one's practice and of others - which I do not believe they are - then that's a different issue.

The purpose of the practice is martial in nature. It is a reflection of life. You might be able to choose who you train with - male or female, but you certainly can't choose what life throws at you. Learn to deal with it, or don't.

How would he feel if the tables were turned - no one will train with him because he is not of the right color, sex and religion.

Turn the argument around. Does the religion consider female bodily contact in a martial context "unnecessary"? If it is, then it should apply to any body contact martial art and co-ed contact sport - not just aikido. The issue is not with aikido or the dojo.

And it certainly has nothing to do with ideology or discrimination on religious grounds. Segregation and sexism means the same thing, whether or not is it colored by religious dogma or otherwise.

Nafis Zahir
03-16-2006, 12:06 AM
I understand where he is coming from, and the issue is being blown out of proportion. If he trains, then he need not work with a female. But for some people to compare that to sexism and racism, is wrong. Sexism and Racism are human traits that are usually either taught or heavily influenced by the media. In his case, it is a Directive from God, and obedience to God is tantamount to anyone's feelings. This type of accomodation is easy and wouldn't stir up any trouble.[B]

Michael Meister
03-16-2006, 01:41 AM
The most important question is, which adjustments would you have to make, and are you willing to make them? Talk to the guy about the problems that may arise (the practical sort, like a possible female instructor, the psyochological, as it is always possible, that people in the dojo wouldn't like such an arrangement). Ask him for his thought, and what he would do in your situation.
There is almost always room for compromise. Just find it. And only if this doesn't lead to a solution, comes everything else, including lawyers.

Pauliina Lievonen
03-16-2006, 03:55 AM
You might be able to choose who you train with - male or female, but you certainly can't choose what life throws at you. Learn to deal with it, or don't.Doesn't this apply to the dojo/instructor/aikido practitioner as well. Here, life throws a man who doesn't want to train with women, at you. Your answer seems to be to not deal with it.
How would he feel if the tables were turned - no one will train with him because he is not of the right color, sex and religion.Isn't that exactly what you are proposing? His religion is part of the package - so he can't train? We won't discriminate on religion, as long as you don't actually live according to your religion?
Turn the argument around. Does the religion consider female bodily contact in a martial context "unnecessary"? If it is, then it should apply to any body contact martial art and co-ed contact sport - not just aikido. The issue is not with aikido or the dojo.I think it probably does apply to other contact sports and martial arts as well. That's not the point. The point is, as an aikido practitioner, are you going to deal with what life throws at you, or are you going to argue that what life throws at you has to change first before you are willing to deal with it?
And it certainly has nothing to do with ideology or discrimination on religious grounds. Segregation and sexism means the same thing, whether or not is it colored by religious dogma or otherwise.In other words, this man's religion is wrong? And that's the argument for not letting him train?

kvaak
Pauliina

Karen Wolek
03-16-2006, 04:58 AM
I don't think it's such a big deal. Hey, if he shows up to a class with a female teacher or the class consists of mainly women, well, I guess HE has a decision to make. He can decide not to take that class.

In my dojo, there aren't a ton of women, so I don't think it would be too much of a burden on anybody, except the guy himself. It might make it difficult once he advances and can't participate in freestyle, etc... I'm certainly not going to sit out so he can practice, LOL.

To be honest, I don't want to work with someone who doesn't want to work with me. anyway. :p

senshincenter
03-16-2006, 05:49 AM
What about the inconsistencies such an example could present with Aikido's spiritual foundations?

I think if one's practice is about technical/physical things, then yeah, such a thing presents no problem. Let him workout, let him get in shape, let him learn some self-defense techniques, etc. But if one's practice is truly revolving around Osensei's call for Oneness and unification, etc., such a thing could present quite a contrast in the shape of the binary delineations it choose to uphold (according to how one wants to interpret "oneness" and "unification"). In a way, it could be a matter of two contrary worldviews coming into contact with each other - not merely a matter of "let's just workout".

There is only such much tenkaning one can do with when two contrasting worldviews come into contact with each other... Additionally, it may not be the dojo's role to "enlighten" the person to the vision of Osensei's worldview of Oneness and unification. Perhaps then it might be wise to be up front on the nature of these two worldviews - of them coming into contact. This might also be the line a lawyer can take when or should you concede that your dojo cannot accomodate him. If that turns out to the be the case, it might be nice to point him toward a dojo where the worldview of Osensei is not such a foundation for training - where he would surely be able to train in Aikido while having his own worldview remain a non-issue, etc.

dmv

SmilingNage
03-16-2006, 05:53 AM
This is a really a matter for the dojo cho. Does he want to inconvenience his students by allowing a new student in that has these kind of restrictions. The non bowing isn't really an issue but not working with students,women in particular, creates a silent strain.

IMO,
Let him arrange for personal instruction.

But, I am not sure of any legal issues/consequences my solution would invoke being that it your dojo has public restraints on it. But ultimately, its a teacher to student relationship, will you accept him as your student. Its the Cho's right to accept or decline a student.

Mark Freeman
03-16-2006, 06:12 AM
Its the Cho's right to accept or decline a student.

Exactly, and as Eric in post #7 did, explain that the dojo policy is we all practice together here, and let him make the choice.

If I go into a church/synagogue/mosque, I doubt if the priest/rabbi/father/imam, is going to start adjusting things to accommodate my particular idiosyncrasies, I would be expected to conform.

regards,
Mark

Karen Wolek
03-16-2006, 06:17 AM
If I go into a church/synagogue/mosque, I doubt if the priest/rabbi/father/imam, is going to start adjusting things to accommodate my particular idiosyncrasies, I would be expected to conform.


But a dojo isn't a church or place of worship.

giriasis
03-16-2006, 07:25 AM
But a dojo isn't a church or place of worship.

~insert a "yeah that" smilie~

A dojo isn't neccesarily a place of worship. If someone's particular dojo is then he needs to be told that "we all practice some form of buddhism/ shintoism here."

And physical training (good health) for him could be a very important spiritual goal to pursue as I believe it is called for in the Qu'ran. So I don't think he would lose the "spiritual value." He just wouldn't be following O'Sensei's teaching and if I recall correctly O'Sensei didn't require his students to practice his religion but rather encouraged them to find their own spirituality hence Chiba Sensei choosing to pursue Zen Buddhism. However, for this person, it's clearly Islam.

Mark Freeman
03-16-2006, 07:50 AM
But a dojo isn't a church or place of worship.

Agreed, but it is still a place where humans congregate to practice their 'way'. Any 'organisation' has agreed rules that the 'members' abide by.
The only difference with a 'church' in respect to other 'organisations' is that the rules of the church are were written by men for men/women but attributed to a god. All other organisations have rules written by men/women for men/women, these rules can evolve over time.
The interesting thing with churches is that they also change the rules over time, depending on who's in charge at the time. God rarely gets consulted when the rules are altered. As far as I'm aware, celibacy for the catholic priestood was put in place around the 11th Century. Nothing to do with god, alot to do with the Pope at that time. The US branch of the Anglican church have caused a schism with the more conservative (and more populous) branch by allowing the ordination of homosexual Bishops.
So when I read in one of the posts above that the man in question in this thread is under a Directive from god, I wonder which of the mish mash of religious dogma is god made and which of it is man made, and therefore open to alteration.
So respect to all, and all should be free to worship whatever they choose.
If someone comes to an aikido dojo they are free to practice, if their beliefs restrict them that should be their issue, it should not impact on others who follow (worship?) the way of O Sensei - aikido is for everyone, and is to be practiced with no regards to race,creed,age or gender. One of the reasons you are more likely to find me on the mat than at an alter.

Aikido is not a religion and the dojo is not a church, thank god for that! ;)

regards,
Mark

jss
03-16-2006, 09:00 AM
David beat me to it.
Good he did a better job at it as well. :D
What about the inconsistencies such an example could present with Aikido's spiritual foundations?

I think if one's practice is about technical/physical things, then yeah, such a thing presents no problem. Let him workout, let him get in shape, let him learn some self-defense techniques, etc. But if one's practice is truly revolving around Osensei's call for Oneness and unification, etc., such a thing could present quite a contrast in the shape of the binary delineations it choose to uphold (according to how one wants to interpret "oneness" and "unification"). In a way, it could be a matter of two contrary worldviews coming into contact with each other - not merely a matter of "let's just workout".

There is only such much tenkaning one can do with when two contrasting worldviews come into contact with each other... Additionally, it may not be the dojo's role to "enlighten" the person to the vision of Osensei's worldview of Oneness and unification. Perhaps then it might be wise to be up front on the nature of these two worldviews - of them coming into contact. This might also be the line a lawyer can take when or should you concede that your dojo cannot accomodate him. If that turns out to the be the case, it might be nice to point him toward a dojo where the worldview of Osensei is not such a foundation for training - where he would surely be able to train in Aikido while having his own worldview remain a non-issue, etc.

dmv

Chris Li
03-16-2006, 11:19 AM
I think if one's practice is about technical/physical things, then yeah, such a thing presents no problem. Let him workout, let him get in shape, let him learn some self-defense techniques, etc. But if one's practice is truly revolving around Osensei's call for Oneness and unification, etc., such a thing could present quite a contrast in the shape of the binary delineations it choose to uphold (according to how one wants to interpret "oneness" and "unification"). In a way, it could be a matter of two contrary worldviews coming into contact with each other - not merely a matter of "let's just workout".

There is no binary delineation - the prohibitions against physical contact in Judaism and Islam apply equally to both men and women. For that matter, Morihei Ueshiba endorsed binary delineations such as different standards of dress (ie, the hakama) for men and women, so the "oneness" argument seems, to me, not to hold too much water.

Best,

Chris

Observing
03-16-2006, 11:29 AM
We had a muslim girl in a headscarf come and train at our dojo, she didn't seem to be so conservative as to be prohibited from practicing with men, and she had the support of her family to be there, but she still only lasted a couple of days. I'm wondering if the touching issue did turn out to be a problem. Our classes are about 80% men on average (varies from 50% to 90% on any given day).

Observing again
03-16-2006, 11:30 AM
Can women practice aikido in countries like Iran or Egypt?

senshincenter
03-16-2006, 12:58 PM
There is no binary delineation - the prohibitions against physical contact in Judaism and Islam apply equally to both men and women. For that matter, Morihei Ueshiba endorsed binary delineations such as different standards of dress (ie, the hakama) for men and women, so the "oneness" argument seems, to me, not to hold too much water.

Best,

Chris


Well, like I said, it depends upon how one wants to define "oneness" and "unification."

The binary delineation is not between what men can do and what women cannot, or vice versa. The binary delineation is what men can do with men but cannot do with women; what women can do with women but not with men.

Under certain understandings of "oneness" and "unification," the idea that touch should be delineated universally according to gender lines (because of a theory on sexuality that understands sex one way and not another) could be seen as divisive and not as unifying. In simple language, it is matter of being able to say, "Hey, if you do not start getting all sexed up when you touch your own gender, please continue that same level of behavior with me as well." In another way, from some views of oneness, such a request is a call to be seen beyond one's gender and definitely beyond one's sexuality (to bare witness to the eternal One of which one is a part of, etc. - that kind of thing).

In other words, it seems to me, if you have a dojo that professes a certain notion of unification/oneness, then you might very well not be the place for someone to maintain strong gender distinctions - particularly those that are related to heterosexuality. Moving toward strong gender delineations might very well be moving in the opposite direction of what you are seeking to accomplish spiritually. At a technical level, this would be no different from someone showing up and asking, "Yeah, I was wondering if I could train here, but I'm into boxing, so I'd like to wear these gloves here and jab at you every time you come in instead of doing that ikkyo thing." If you are a dojo where everyone trains with everyone, and if that practice is part of your spiritual cultivations, then that has to be respected - by both parties involved - in my opinion.

Again, if one just does techniques at their dojo, as this person may very well want to as well, then none of this is an issue - no more than someone saying, "Hey, I don't like training with that person, so I'm not going to train with them anymore." I have never been in a dojo where I have not seen that happen, and thus the formation of some "clicks," etc. In my experience, ours is the only dojo where that kind of behavior (click formation, avoiding a training partner, etc.) is seen as going against the spiritual training we are trying to practice. In our place, that kind of attitude (just mentioned above) is unacceptable and folks are expected to reconcile both the obvious grudge and the underlying supports that we see as being related to fear, pride, and ignorance.

On a different topic - Chris, I was under the impression that Osensei had everyone wear their hakama (that's what I always heard) - had no idea he had his male students not wearing them. Where did you hear about that one? (if you don't mind sharing)

my opinion,
dmv

Chris Li
03-16-2006, 01:51 PM
On a different topic - Chris, I was under the impression that Osensei had everyone wear their hakama (that's what I always heard) - had no idea he had his male students not wearing them. Where did you hear about that one? (if you don't mind sharing)

Generally, yes, but after the war when hakama were limited to yudansha (even in Iwama, according to Morihiro Saito) he made a specific exception for women. According to Koichi Tohei (in "Ki no Kakuritsu") this was because the sight of women's legs flying around the dojo distracted him.

Best,

Chris

MaryKaye
03-16-2006, 03:46 PM
A couple of times in my life I have been involved with groups which said "We have a mandate to include everyone. We can accomodate their special needs, and that's what we'll do."

Sometimes this works out okay, but in several cases it turned out to mean "People who ask loudly for accomodation get what they want, and people who are not so loud get pushed aside." The most awful experience I have had with this involved a group that went to extreme measures to manage and accomodate one member's bad behavior, and eventually lost numerous members because they had been verbally and physically harassed. I was one of the leaders involved, and the outcome shames me to this day. We thought we were being inclusive and fair but we sure weren't inclusive of the people who got hurt.

Whether a dojo can accomodate men who will not train with women is for that dojo to decide. I think it's naive to take, from the outside, the view that *of course* refusing to make a requested accomodation is a sign of bad teaching. The teacher has a vision of how the dojo works, and they have the right to refuse changes that move too far from their vision, or that impede the teaching of their other students too much.

Perhaps I am touchy on this point having been badly burned by it, but I think that "We have a mandate to include everyone" is a dangerous philosophy, loving on the surface but potentially very damaging. "We have a mandate to include everyone we can", okay, but judgement is required to decide who we can accomodate without losing hold of our purpose.

Mary Kaye

Aiki LV
03-16-2006, 03:51 PM
IMHO, can't & won't are two very different things. If he can't train with a women due to a religious law or rule that is one thing. If he just strictly won't because of a certain attitude or idea he holds about women due to his upbringing, experiences, etc. that is a different situation all together. Sometimes with certain religious traditions it might be a combination of both. I would talk to the guy, if you feel it won't cause a problem let him train, but just like you do with everyone else that is new watch him. See how he interacts with people both male & female. If he is just like anyone else except he only trains with men, no big deal. On the other side of coin if he can't except or has a problem with the equality of all people in the dojo then you might have a problem.

eyrie
03-16-2006, 04:32 PM
Doesn't this apply to the dojo/instructor/aikido practitioner as well. Here, life throws a man who doesn't want to train with women, at you. Your answer seems to be to not deal with it.

I have had women enquire who expressly refuse to train with men. I run a small class, mostly young males 8-17. My wife is the only female on the mat. The choice is theirs. 10 out of 10 they don't show up.


Isn't that exactly what you are proposing? His religion is part of the package - so he can't train? We won't discriminate on religion, as long as you don't actually live according to your religion?


Nor do I discriminate on any criteria. You come to train in a martial art. Sex, race, color, creed, social status has nothing to do with what we are training in. David's post echos my intention - albeit better. I am just having some difficulty saying this in a more "politically correct" fashion. ;)


I think it probably does apply to other contact sports and martial arts as well. That's not the point. The point is, as an aikido practitioner, are you going to deal with what life throws at you, or are you going to argue that what life throws at you has to change first before you are willing to deal with it?
In other words, this man's religion is wrong? And that's the argument for not letting him train?


I don't think I ever said that. All I'm suggesting is, deferrment to higher spiritual directives (along the lines of what Mark Freeman said) as an excuse for requiring accommodation is irrelevant to the training itself. He can take it whichever way he wants. I'm not saying his religion is wrong. Nor am I saying that he cannot train.

His parameter for training is to train with males only. And my parameters for training is you get to train with whoever is on the mat. Whether he trains or not, is his choice.

Big difference to what you're reading into what I'm saying.

As an aside, the laws regarding opposite sex contact is exactly the point that David raised. The argument is the same as the religious law pertaining to alcohol. Deferrment to higher spiritual directives is merely insurance against the potential for temptation, as opposed to exercising self-control - which is what martial arts is really about. Whether that's right or wrong is largely irrelevant - martial arts (in the true sense of the word) and war does not discriminate, and neither do I.

:)

Mark Freeman
03-16-2006, 05:49 PM
Nor do I discriminate on any criteria. You come to train in a martial art. Sex, race, color, creed, social status has nothing to do with what we are training in. David's post echos my intention - albeit better. I am just having some difficulty saying this in a more "politically correct" fashion. ;)

Political correctness is not always the best way to go ;)

His parameter for training is to train with males only. And my parameters for training is you get to train with whoever is on the mat. Whether he trains or not, is his choice.

You've hit the nail right on the head Ignatius, thanks.

I liked your post David, good tenkan and a nice contrast with Ignatiu's irimi! :D

regards,
Mark

MaryKaye
03-16-2006, 05:49 PM
Accepting what life throws at you sometimes means saying No to it.

If a student says, I want to train but I can only train between eight and nine in the morning, then you have to ask, can I teach between eight and nine in the morning? Do I want to? And sometimes the answer is, quite reasonably, no.

For any martial arts school there will be a point where you say no to a student. Each school has to find that point for itself. Arguments that there is no such point--that you can or should say yes to all students--strike me as self-evidently wicked. They deny that your school, or your life as a teacher, has value and is worth preserving.

"I want to train here, but I want to learn karate, not aikido."

"I want to train here, but I only want to be nage, never uke."

"I want to train here, but I don't want any ki tests ever."

"I want to train here, but I won't abide by your safety rules."

"I want to train here, but I disagree with your philosophy." (To some extent I am in this situation with my own school, and I would support my sensei asking me to leave if she felt the problem were sufficiently severe--so far she has not.)

At some point the line has to be drawn, and then it comes back to individual judgement and the circumstances of the particular school.

Mary Kaye

Chris Li
03-16-2006, 05:53 PM
At some point the line has to be drawn, and then it comes back to individual judgement and the circumstances of the particular school.

Mary Kaye

Of course it does (and nobody said otherwise). Still, as I said, this is, IMO, much more of a molehill than a mountain.

Best,

Chris

Mark Freeman
03-16-2006, 06:11 PM
"I want to train here, but I disagree with your philosophy." (To some extent I am in this situation with my own school, and I would support my sensei asking me to leave if she felt the problem were sufficiently severe--so far she has not.)

Good post Mary, good points.

Would it be impudent to ask, what the philosophical differences are? I completely understand if you don't want to go into it.

regards,
Mark

Pauliina Lievonen
03-16-2006, 06:55 PM
His parameter for training is to train with males only. And my parameters for training is you get to train with whoever is on the mat. Whether he trains or not, is his choice.
I don't actually have any problem with this. I have a private teaching practice, and I have to make decisions about how far I want to accomodate my students as well.

I guess the thing is, that to me a religious belief or custom or choice that a person can just leave aside when it's more convenient to do so, wouldn't be worth much. And so in that way for me a persons religion is as much a part of that person as their arm would be, as ridiculous as I might think their beliefs were. And asking them to change such would be the equivalent of asking someone to cut of their arm in order to train. :confused: Excuses for the rather dramatic example. :D

kvaak
Pauliina

eyrie
03-16-2006, 07:52 PM
No, Pauliina... you misunderstood me. I'm not saying that at all. I'm merely saying to leave whatever baggage you have outside the door before you enter. You cannot train effectively, at any level, with all that excess baggage anyhow. Nothing to do with changing or setting aside one's beliefs, whether it is convenient or not. Besides, adherence to religious law is not a belief or custom. It is something quite insiduously different.

Of course a person's religion is as much a part of them. But I don't bring my religious practices to the mat or to the workplace, or impose my adherence to religious laws on others. I strongly believe that you can still practice and maintain your adherence to the law if you wish (or are spiritually strong enough to do so). But if that's a problem then the choice is simple - don't participate. Anything else is an imposition on someone else.

By the same token, we could say that the pretext of abiding by religious law is merely a convenient way to impose your will on others.... or perhaps, even to conveniently justify one's actions?

I'm not slighting anyone's religious practices/laws/beliefs, but there's a time and place for everything.

Even within the legal systems of most modern democratic nations, the ratio decedendi almost invariably aims at upholding the spirit and purpose of the law, rather than to the letter of the law.

Again, I say, define what "unnecessary contact" means.

giriasis
03-16-2006, 08:06 PM
I'd love to hear some input from the muslim members of this board on this issue. Those who train in predominately Muslim countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. What do you do in your dojo when there are more conservative muslims who can't train with the opposite gender because of their religous beliefs? What Islamic tradition do you follow (Sunni, Shi'ah, modernist, conservative, fundamentalist)? Does following a certain tradition make a difference? And how do you rectify the situation when you have women join your dojos especially if they will be the only or one of a limited few? Do men who do not object to training with women train with them? Or do you have separate classes or rooms to train for men and women?

I'm really curious, because we are facing this issue at my dojo as well. I'm asking you because I'm sure you have had real world experience with this matter than mostly theoretic debates of people who are from predominantly Christian/ Western countries. How do you make accomodations or do you?

If you don't want to answer publicly you can send me a private message.

senshincenter
03-16-2006, 08:17 PM
Good points made all around.

In a way, we've come up against this kind of stuff - somewhat. We practice ground-fighting at our school. With that practice, I've had a few women say they'd rather not ground-fight with men, or with men that are new to the dojo. Ground-fighting, it seems, brings up a kind of erotic awkwardness for some folks - makes one wonder how, for example, BJJ schools deal with this. As an instructor, I do not seek to force anyone to do something that they'd rather not do, but ultimately a great deal of training is centered on doing what you'd rather not do. Therefore, while I do not force anyone, I certainly lead them, encourage them, and support them, etc., to take on things they'd rather not do. This means then, those women that are not now wanting to ground-fight with men or with men they do not yet know well are heading toward a place, a time, and a them, where they can. So, yes, can't force folks, shouldn't force folks.

However, as I said earlier, I think when you have a religious conviction that is giving meaning to an act that a priori is thought to produce an erotic awkwardness, you are dealing with something else. First and foremost, you are dealing with something a dojo really shouldn't seek to change - regardless of its own spiritual foundations and/or political leanings (and make no mistake, gender delineations are every bit a political act as they may be a religious act). For me, however, though one should not seek to change this conviction, choosing to respect it, a dojo should every bit as much respect their own convictions - especially its own spiritual ones or those it considers to be vital to its own practical development and/or existence. This is also how I am reading Mary and Ignatius.

On a practical side, I think any dojo that has a vision of itself, one that it will want to respect enough to hold true to in the face of contrary visions brought in by new members, that dojo should make it very clear - being very direct and up front - on what it is and what it is not, on what it will do and what it will not do, etc. Often times, these things come up because a dojo may only have a vague notion of itself - one that allows too many folks to have too many interpretations. Often, if a dojo is very clear about what it is, folks can know what to expect and what not to expect, and thereby enter or leave wisely.

Krista DeCoste
03-17-2006, 08:02 AM
I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista

Mark Freeman
03-17-2006, 10:05 AM
I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista

Why would explaining the philosophy of the dojo and offering the man a choice be considered rude?

Living in harmony is a two way thing, it is not just up to us to accomodate those who have 'special' needs/belief systems, they also have to understand the context of the practice which we are engaged in.

What would we do if we accomodated the 'man' to come onto the mat and only practice with men, only to find out that his beliefs also didn't allow him to practice with any gay men that might be present. How far do you go in the desire for harmony?

A teachers role is as a guide for his students, their learning is his responsibility, their beliefs and and lifestyle are not ( unless they were bringing him or his dojo any disrepute ). If by admitting a member to join who will only participate with the men ( and maybe not all of them ), then this could upset the whole dojo atmosphere. This of couse would be dependant on the acceptance of each member of the dojo. What if all the higher grades in the dojo are women, how would they feel about it?
For the sake of harmony within the dojo, I would not lose too much sleep over the loss of one 'potential' student. If that is considered rude, my concept of rudeness is somewhat different to yours.

I must admit I do have an off the mat aversion to discrimination on any front, ligitimising a discrimination by giving it a religious backing doesn't make it easier to swallow for me.

IMHO There are far too many nasty practices carried out under the excuse that 'this is our culture, you should respect it' I'm not sure that I am under any obligation to respect something which I abhor.

regards,
Mark

Michael O'Brien
03-17-2006, 10:08 AM
I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista

Krista,

Living in harmony with others does not mean being a doormat to everyone who doesn't like the way you do business. It means allowing them to live their life as they see fit as long as it doesn't cause harm to you and yours.

A dojo should not be required, or even expected, to make special considerations for someone because they have an issue with the way you train.

Let's say for instance I am a recovering alcoholic. Is it fair for me to walk into a bar that has really good hot wings and say "I don't want you to serve alcohol anymore. I love your hot wings but I'm an alcoholic and I can't be around alcohol anymore but I still want to eat here." No, it isn't. I need to find a place that serves hot wings and doesn't serve alcohol.

I have trained in many other martial arts including Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo where contact with female students was rare if ever. He can find another place to train that will better suit his needs.

Krista DeCoste
03-17-2006, 10:23 AM
I am not telling anyone to be a doormat. Sometimes if you are use to being in control of everything, negotiating a solution that works for both people is can feel like a doormat. In fact, my work off the mat is all about helping people to be more assertive, less aggressive or passive. As for using religious beliefs to justify hatred of others, I will not tolerate this either. However this is not a situation of hatred of women, it is a restriction, this I consider a whole different thing.

Krista

Chris Li
03-17-2006, 11:01 AM
A dojo should not be required, or even expected, to make special considerations for someone because they have an issue with the way you train.

Let's say for instance I am a recovering alcoholic. Is it fair for me to walk into a bar that has really good hot wings and say "I don't want you to serve alcohol anymore. I love your hot wings but I'm an alcoholic and I can't be around alcohol anymore but I still want to eat here." No, it isn't. I need to find a place that serves hot wings and doesn't serve alcohol.

That's an unfair comparison, he's not asking any other men to stop training with women. It's entirely reasonable to walk into a bar, enjoy the hot wings and just have a club soda.

As I said before, accomodations for special circumstances are already commonly made in dojos. That being the case, the questions really ought to be whether a reasonable explanation can be given for a request for an accomodation (any accomodation), and whether that accomodation can be resonably made.

Best,

Chris

Budokarob
03-17-2006, 11:04 AM
Seen it before.

I was at a seminar in NY a few years back, and I found myself in a group of women all of a sudden. I got to the front of the line and went to attack the woman I was facing, and she denied me. She said the same exact thing; she cannot touch anyone other than her husband. I was informed that she was a Muslim, and that is a part of their rules.

I mean, thank God that we can practice our religions freely in America, but I did have a few comments (which I did not share with her of course)

1)This is a martial art, and she is missing out on vital self-defense training using bigger, taller, male uke - not to mention the personal gains from true shugyo.

2)Does anyone think that a criminal will stop attacking a woman because her religion forbids physical contact with anyone other than her husband?? And in this scenario, what is she suppose to do??

3)This woman also wore a frilly little skirt over her dogi, which I believe is disrespectful to the art. Aikido can be considered a religion of its own (where else can you combine the physical, mental and spiritual?) so doesn't it deserve the same respect that we show the big 3??

take care,
rob

Chuck.Gordon
03-17-2006, 12:01 PM
Well, me, I don't hold much truck for most religions to begin with. I conduct my classes in a certain manner, based on the history and traditions of the art.

That practice has frak all to do with any religious practice. It has to do the the tradition and history of the art itself.

If someone can't set their mythology aside for a couple-four hours a week to play by the dojo and ryuha traditions, then they probably wouldn't have any joy in training with us in the first place.

I've little patience with folks who want to study a such culturally-laden arts as the budo, but want to do it on 'their own terms'. There are plenty of modern martial practices or sports they can explore that won't question their prejudices and superstitions at all.

But that's just me.

Michael O'Brien
03-17-2006, 12:02 PM
That's an unfair comparison, he's not asking any other men to stop training with women. It's entirely reasonable to walk into a bar, enjoy the hot wings and just have a club soda.

As I said before, accomodations for special circumstances are already commonly made in dojos. That being the case, the questions really ought to be whether a reasonable explanation can be given for a request for an accomodation (any accomodation), and whether that accomodation can be resonably made.

Best,

Chris

Chris,
I understand your point that the comparison isn't ideal, but even though he isn't asking other men to stop training with women it will happen.

Men that would train with women during a paritcular exercise will have to train with him instead. Women that may be training with him, or another man that is his partner, now may be relegated to training with another woman.

Is it a huge accomodation to be made? As was stated before by many people that depends on the size of the classes and the male/female ratio in those classes.

It seems that the jury is deadlocked on this one. :)

Mark Freeman
03-17-2006, 01:06 PM
As for using religious beliefs to justify hatred of others, I will not tolerate this either

We in the west do tolerate this religious hatred even if you as an individual do not.

Not long ago a Dutch film maker was murdered for daring to make a film that showed muslims in a light that some found 'unacceptable' enough to kill the director. The film was based on the material supplied by an ethiopian muslim woman and her feeling that the islamic faith supports the degradation of women. She is now under 24hr police protection as there is a fatwa out on her life. I'm not sure what else the Dutch can do, but by doing nothing to bring the "beliefs that allow this sort of thing to happen" it is a form of tolerance.
In the UK recently during the protests over the Danish cartoons the demonstrators were carrying placards that called for the murder, annihalation, beheading of those who insult islam. in a country where laws have been passed to expressly forbid the stirring up of religious hatred, not one of the demonstrators have been brought to book. This is also a tolerance, as to come down hard on this particular minority may inflame the situation further.
We as citizens of these countries have no choice but to tolerate this hatred, and hope that over time things will not get worse than they already are.

However this is not a situation of hatred of women, it is a restriction, this I consider a whole different thing.

This particular case may not be about the hatred of women, but you have to look at where and why these religious restrictions came into being. IMHO they are not there because the women are seen as equal to men, quite the contrary. 'If' a religion does not treat women as equal to men then maybe the fault (if you see it as that) lies within the belief system itself. Does god discriminate? I don't know as I have no acces to the mind of god, if god exists at all. If god does not discriminate then it must be the 'men' (and my guess is that they are almost all men) who wrote the books that underpin the religion.
Passing down 'restrictions' on what can and can't be done, if not a direct directive from god are a man made manifestation of the use of power over others.
Freedom of worship is rightly inherent in a free society, people are free to believe any weird idea that they want (and they do!) and we should defend this right. however if these ideas start affecting those that do not share their particular brand of belief, then they need to be open to others not wanting to 'accomodate' their particular branch of weirdness.

I would invite anyone from any religion to come and practice with me, but by accepting an invitation into my dojo you need to accept the basic tenets inherent in our system, to do otherwise is disrespectful.

regards,
Mark

akiy
03-17-2006, 01:20 PM
Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

MaryKaye
03-17-2006, 01:21 PM
Good post Mary, good points.

Would it be impudent to ask, what the philosophical differences are? I completely understand if you don't want to go into it.

regards,
Mark

We are a Ki Society dojo. K. Tohei sensei has written a little book of ki sayings which express his philosophy of aikido and life, and for a while we were doing responsive readings (leader reads the saying, students recite it back). I was finding it increasingly troublesome to be asked to repeat these sayings. They sound like pledges or promises, and I don't agree with them religiously or philosophically.

One example was ki saying #11 (can't quote it precisely) which divides the universe into yin/yang, light/darkness, "plus ki and minus ki", and then says we strive to get rid of all of the dark pole of this dichotomy. This is dramatically opposed to my religion and I just choked on having to repeat it.

I explained this to sensei in private and asked for permission to sit silently during these readings. She agreed. But I would have supported her right to say "This is the dojo philosophy, and if you can't work within it, find another dojo." (And I would, regretfully, have left.) We talked specifically about ki saying #1, which ends "To unify mind and body and become one with the universe is the ultimate goal of my practice." I said, no, it isn't. She asked about my goals and decided she found them adequately compatible.

Mary Kaye

Ron Tisdale
03-17-2006, 01:39 PM
I understand a lot of what you say Mark, and some of it I can't disagree with. But I do have to wonder just where some of the lines are drawn, and on what basis.

a) Not all followers of Islam adhere to the stricture mentioned in the first post.

b) Many 'traditional' religions have or had at one time a prohibition against casual contact with females...or with females during that 'time of the month'. Judaism and Christianity might very well both qualify here...in part or in whole, depending on what time period is discussed.

c) Many strictures and customs attributed to Islam are actually beliefs / customs held over from animist and other traditional religious practices that were in place before Islam. I believe the radical form of female circumcism practiced in Somalia is one of these. It is now attributed (incorrectly) to Islam. [someone please correct me on this if I remember incorrectly]

So some of these things are kind of hard to attribute to all of Islam, or only Islam. Personally, I think in early societies religion often acted as a prophylactic on social and medical issues. So you have prohibitions against foods that are more likely to cause illness in certain places (shellfish, pork), you have prohibitions against promiscuous behavior (venereal disease, distraction from the desired social unit), etc. I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them.

Hopefully now people can adhere to their faith, without bringing along any negative baggage (as seen from the outside anyway). Unfortunately, we still seem to have a long way to go. Personally, I guess I'd try to let the man train, as long as he understood that

a) aikido is best learned by training with as many body types as are available, and
b) if his training caused too much disruption in the dojo for any reason, he could change, or leave.

Best,
Ron

PS Hi Jun, just saw your request after I posted...If any of this does not belong here, feel free to move it.

Thanks,
R

Mark Freeman
03-17-2006, 02:09 PM
We are a Ki Society dojo. K. Tohei sensei has written a little book of ki sayings which express his philosophy of aikido and life, and for a while we were doing responsive readings (leader reads the saying, students recite it back). I was finding it increasingly troublesome to be asked to repeat these sayings. They sound like pledges or promises, and I don't agree with them religiously or philosophically.

One example was ki saying #11 (can't quote it precisely) which divides the universe into yin/yang, light/darkness, "plus ki and minus ki", and then says we strive to get rid of all of the dark pole of this dichotomy. This is dramatically opposed to my religion and I just choked on having to repeat it.

I explained this to sensei in private and asked for permission to sit silently during these readings. She agreed. But I would have supported her right to say "This is the dojo philosophy, and if you can't work within it, find another dojo." (And I would, regretfully, have left.) We talked specifically about ki saying #1, which ends "To unify mind and body and become one with the universe is the ultimate goal of my practice." I said, no, it isn't. She asked about my goals and decided she found them adequately compatible.

Mary Kaye
Thanks for sharing that with me Mary, I appreciate it. I can now understand your problem as well.
IMHO people practice aikido for their own reasons, not for the reasons the sensei wants, and I personally accept that. However the reasons for practice can change over time.

My own teacher spent 10 years with Tohei sensei so we practice Ki Aikido with his own slant from the many years spent with K Abbe Sensei in the 1950's/60's. We don't have to adhere to any of what you mention, so it is outside of my experience.

I'm glad you have an understanding sensei and that you are able to continue and your own dojo.

regards,
Mark

Mark Freeman
03-17-2006, 02:28 PM
I understand a lot of what you say Mark, and some of it I can't disagree with. But I do have to wonder just where some of the lines are drawn, and on what basis.

a) Not all followers of Islam adhere to the stricture mentioned in the first post.

b) Many 'traditional' religions have or had at one time a prohibition against casual contact with females...or with females during that 'time of the month'. Judaism and Christianity might very well both qualify here...in part or in whole, depending on what time period is discussed.

c) Many strictures and customs attributed to Islam are actually beliefs / customs held over from animist and other traditional religious practices that were in place before Islam. I believe the radical form of female circumcism practiced in Somalia is one of these. It is now attributed (incorrectly) to Islam. [someone please correct me on this if I remember incorrectly]

So some of these things are kind of hard to attribute to all of Islam, or only Islam. Personally, I think in early societies religion often acted as a prophylactic on social and medical issues. So you have prohibitions against foods that are more likely to cause illness in certain places (shellfish, pork), you have prohibitions against promiscuous behavior (venereal disease, distraction from the desired social unit), etc. I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them.

Hopefully now people can adhere to their faith, without bringing along any negative baggage (as seen from the outside anyway). Unfortunately, we still seem to have a long way to go. Personally, I guess I'd try to let the man train, as long as he understood that

a) aikido is best learned by training with as many body types as are available, and
b) if his training caused too much disruption in the dojo for any reason, he could change, or leave.

Best,
Ron

PS Hi Jun, just saw your request after I posted...If any of this does not belong here, feel free to move it.

Thanks,
R

Thanks for the post Ron, and I appreciate the balancing effect it has had on my little rant.

I only used the example of islam in referrence to tolerance of religious hatred. I am aware that it may seem that I am lumping all muslims in with the actions of a few. I do not mean to do that, although it I'm sure can be taken that way.

The vast majority of people who belong to any religion are peaceful people only wanting the best for themselves and their nearest and dearest. They happily live in multi faith situations and even us atheists are tolerated. :D

The history and source of religious practice does belong on another thread, but my points about dubious 'cultural' practises does have a thin tenuous link ( I hope)

to re quote you above: "I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them." This is still the case for many women.

Cheers,
Mark

Ron Tisdale
03-17-2006, 02:36 PM
This is still the case for many women.

Yes, it is...probably the majority if we think about it honestly. I hope my wording didn't imply otherwise...that would be incorrect.

Best,
Ron

Lorien Lowe
03-17-2006, 05:19 PM
I teach kids' classes at a non-profit dojo; I've had several islamic kids in my class. their only restriction has been that they do abbreviated bows, and this has only been awkward when I once wanted to correct student on his bowing and he had to explain why he couldn't do it the regular way. They have been, and are, wonderful kids and a joy to have in class; I would hate to think that they couldn't come because of their religion.
However, I am a woman; most of these kids have been boys. I personally don't think that I could teach effectively if I couldn't touch my students, take ukemi from them to feel their techniques, and throw them to show them the feel of a correct technique.
I think 'what is reasonable' boils down to the particular instructors, the particular dojos, and the particular students involved. In my dojo's case, I don't think that a 'can't touch opposite sex' student would be able to effectivly train in aikido.

-LK

giriasis
03-18-2006, 07:10 AM
I'd love to hear some input from the muslim members of this board on this issue. Those who train in predominately Muslim countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. What do you do in your dojo when there are more conservative muslims who can't train with the opposite gender because of their religous beliefs? What Islamic tradition do you follow (Sunni, Shi'ah, modernist, conservative, fundamentalist)? Does following a certain tradition make a difference? And how do you rectify the situation when you have women join your dojos especially if they will be the only or one of a limited few? Do men who do not object to training with women train with them? Or do you have separate classes or rooms to train for men and women?

I'm really curious, because we are facing this issue at my dojo as well. I'm asking you because I'm sure you have had real world experience with this matter than mostly theoretic debates of people who are from predominantly Christian/ Western countries. How do you make accomodations or do you?

If you don't want to answer publicly you can send me a private message.

I'd still love to hear from muslims on this issue. I can understand you not wanting to post in this thread as it has pretty much devolved. So please feel free to send me a private message.

Unreg000
04-09-2006, 09:29 PM
I find it fairly disturbing that this man is being called intolerant because he doesn't touch women. I know many orthodox Jews, and according to what they have told me, not touching someone of the opposite gender has nothing to do with treating them as someone lesser. It's because they are not your spouse/child, and so you are respecting them by not touching them. It goes both ways, too- Women don't touch men, as well as men don't touch women.

If class size is a problem, and he would have to work with a woman, that is a good reason to advise him to join a different dojo. If not, I don't see what the problem is. He can train like everyone else, except he will only train with men.

jonreading
04-10-2006, 11:11 AM
It's tricky to decide when an accommodation for a students with special needs crosses the line and becomes inappropriate. I have noticed a trend that students are requiring more accommodation in training, but also expecting more from their training. It scares me that this "have your cake and eat it too" attitude is creeping into training and demanding dojo to make exceptions and accommodations to meet individual needs.

I appreciate that everyone has a right to train in aikido if they choose, but if a pre-existing lifestyle excludes a potential student from participating in aikido as taught by the dojo, why should a dojo change their instruction? What right does one person have to demand accommodation over the instruction of an instructor or a dojo?

There is a fine line between accommodating a reasonable request that does not significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo, then there are requests that significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo. I think that is very important to maintain a clear distinction of what requests your dojo is willing to accommodate, and what requests your dojo is not willing to accommodate.

When a person makes a choice that impacts his/her interaction with the world around them, that choice carries with it preclusive terms that pre-determine some situations. The ability to stand by those choices even when their result is undesirable is what I call "integrity."

Imagine an alcoholic sworn from drinking as part of the rehabilitative process. Now imagine that alcoholic spending free time at a bar. Maybe that alcoholic is not drinking, but that environement is encouraging of an "accident." Imagine your spouse spending time "socializing" with past significant others. Technically, that spouse isn't cheating but the environment is certainly encouraging of that act.

No, there is something about our culture and "accidents" that makes for an irresponsible society in some respects. The original post is about a student's religion that prohibits them from female contact. So my question is why is this student tempting his decision to avoid contact with females by deliberately participating in an act that almost certifies contact with a female at some point in time? My original post was perhaps too subtle. This student is deliberatly creating an environment to encourage an "accident." And guess what, if an "accident" occurs, guess who will be blamed...

Chris Li
04-10-2006, 02:52 PM
I appreciate that everyone has a right to train in aikido if they choose, but if a pre-existing lifestyle excludes a potential student from participating in aikido as taught by the dojo, why should a dojo change their instruction? What right does one person have to demand accommodation over the instruction of an instructor or a dojo?.

No one has demanded anything, so far as I can see. The original post was about a request for an accomodation, which is quite a bit different than a demand. Given that every dojo I've ever trained at makes some kind of accomodations for students, a polite request is hardly out of line.

There is a fine line between accommodating a reasonable request that does not significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo, then there are requests that significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo. I think that is very important to maintain a clear distinction of what requests your dojo is willing to accommodate, and what requests your dojo is not willing to accommodate.

Sure, but as I said before, I think that people are exagerrating the burden of accomodating this particular request. Still, every dojo has to decide for themselves.

No, there is something about our culture and "accidents" that makes for an irresponsible society in some respects. The original post is about a student's religion that prohibits them from female contact. So my question is why is this student tempting his decision to avoid contact with females by deliberately participating in an act that almost certifies contact with a female at some point in time? My original post was perhaps too subtle. This student is deliberatly creating an environment to encourage an "accident." And guess what, if an "accident" occurs, guess who will be blamed...

As has been stated before, accidental contact is not the issue. People with these religious restrictions live and work with women all the time - they're not placing themselves in an unusual situation, or in a situation of unusual "temptation".

Best,

Chris

creinig
04-10-2006, 04:27 PM
I find it fairly disturbing that this man is being called intolerant because he doesn't touch women. I know many orthodox Jews, and according to what they have told me, not touching someone of the opposite gender has nothing to do with treating them as someone lesser. It's because they are not your spouse/child, and so you are respecting them by not touching them.

I don't think I know any woman who would feel respected if someone told her "No, I won't train with you". Quite the opposite, actually :D

But leaving that aside -- the described case has been compared with other situations where people need special accommodation on the mat. Elderly afraid to take rolls, maybe a rape victim who really doesn't want to train with men, etc. Right now we have an asthmatic in class who needs to take frequent breaks. Often the special treatment for such people will be greater that with the described case. But I nevertheless I wouldn't mind, don't mind, would actually like to have these people in the dojo, would maybe add in some extra hours to help them overcome their problems.

And that's where I see the main difference to this case. A religious doctrine against touching (non-wife) women is also a problem in the dojo context, but there is no will to overcome that problem. And that means, for me, that his beliefs and our way of training are incompatible. (Disclaimer: I'm just a kyu grade, so I can't really speak for the dojo).

Chris Li
04-10-2006, 05:09 PM
And that's where I see the main difference to this case. A religious doctrine against touching (non-wife) women is also a problem in the dojo context, but there is no will to overcome that problem.

That's because it's not seen as a "problem" by the person in question, any more than you see the tenets of your own religious faith as a "problem" to be overcome.

Best,

Chris

Dennis Good
04-11-2006, 09:54 AM
I see this as a matter of "choice" not so much religion even though that is the reason for the choice. I would explain the way the class worked and what would be expected up front. The difference between this and accommodating someone with a disability is that this is a personal choice as opposed to a condition that he has no control over. The biggest problem I see to accommodating his choice would be the disruption to the dojo and the animosity that would most likely develop. People could be offended because he doesn't want to work with them because they are female. They in turn could start to ostracize him. He could then feel persecuted because of his religion and complains or possible legal action. This scenario may not play out like that or to that extreme and in an enlightened world where everyone plays nice and no one gets offended it would be fine. Unfortunately that is not always the case. I can understand the reasons behind the choice he made and I respect that kind conviction. However I am also the kind of person that doesn't expect or want special treatment and if I were in that position I would never ask for it especially when it is something I have the ability to control.

jonreading
04-12-2006, 12:35 PM
Chris,

In regards to my comments:
1. I beg to differ about the exaggeration of the significance behind a request to accomodate male-only training. I believe the original poster's dilemna was that as a non-prof his dojo cannot discriminate against religion, but yet it would be difficult to accomodate such a request. The post alone implies a significant problem for which the poster is soliciting advice. The significance of a lawsuit resulting from this student accidentally touching a woman against his religion/wishes justify a very close scrutiny of the appropriate response, or from the dojo refusing him as a student based on religious beliefs. Now let's talk about the sexist perception some students may have regarding the individual if the dojo accomodates his request; oh, and I forgot the hardships impressed upon female students of the dojo to avoid touching this student.
2. I don't have any idea of what the individual in question does or does not do in his daily life. I do not know what exceptions or compromises he makes at his place of work or in his personal life, I don't care either. As an instructor, my decision to accomomdate or decline this request has to be based on the negative exposure this student creates for the dojo. Secondly, I do not support enabling individuals to increase their exposure to something that would conflict with their life choices. I would not give an alcoholic a drink, I would not take a vegetarian to a steak house, and I would not support aikido training in an environment that may cause contact with a female if it is against a student's religion. These are all examples of enabling a person to tempt fate.

So what whould I do? I would work damned hard to find a dojo envirnonment conducive to that training and get that student into a safe and protective environment. If that student is interested in training, then he can train safely and with confidence that his religious morals are not in danger; if his intention was to create an accident-prone environment (see previous threads), then I have protected my dojo from danger. In both situations, everyone is protected and safe from harm.

Chris Li
04-12-2006, 02:48 PM
Chris,

In regards to my comments:
1. I beg to differ about the exaggeration of the significance behind a request to accomodate male-only training. I believe the original poster's dilemna was that as a non-prof his dojo cannot discriminate against religion, but yet it would be difficult to accomodate such a request. The post alone implies a significant problem for which the poster is soliciting advice. The significance of a lawsuit resulting from this student accidentally touching a woman against his religion/wishes justify a very close scrutiny of the appropriate response, or from the dojo refusing him as a student based on religious beliefs. Now let's talk about the sexist perception some students may have regarding the individual if the dojo accomodates his request; oh, and I forgot the hardships impressed upon female students of the dojo to avoid touching this student.

The original poster said that they were concerned about the possibility of legal problems, not that any legal action had been threatened or that and demands had been made. Also, as I said before, the likelyhood of there being a problem with accidental physical contact is very small - check around in the orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities, this is easy to confirm. Sexist perceptions can be handled through open discussion - I've never seen a problem in the past in similar situations in which the issues were discussed openly and candidly.

I'm not sure what "hardships" would be impressed upon the female students, except in their own minds - which can be relieved the same way, through open discussion.

2. I don't have any idea of what the individual in question does or does not do in his daily life. I do not know what exceptions or compromises he makes at his place of work or in his personal life, I don't care either. As an instructor, my decision to accomomdate or decline this request has to be based on the negative exposure this student creates for the dojo.

If you're worried about "exposure", do you keep out the physically unfit and older students?

Secondly, I do not support enabling individuals to increase their exposure to something that would conflict with their life choices. I would not give an alcoholic a drink, I would not take a vegetarian to a steak house, and I would not support aikido training in an environment that may cause contact with a female if it is against a student's religion. These are all examples of enabling a person to tempt fate.

As I said before, the "temptation" argument isn't, IMO, relevant here. Orthodox Jews and Muslims are not cloistered monks.

Best,

Chris

MaryKaye
04-12-2006, 03:48 PM
I'm not sure what "hardships" would be impressed upon the female students, except in their own minds - which can be relieved the same way, through open discussion.
Chris

If classes are small, having a pair who cannot work together is significantly disruptive. I think that the people who say "no hardship" are not used to classes of sizes 1-3, which are fairly common where I train.

Two students who cannot touch one another is a difficult class for everyone concerned; the instructor must split his attention and someone will end up sitting out a lot.

This point has been brought up repeatedly in this thread. Have I missed a clear explanation of why it doesn't apply? Why do people keep saying "there's no hardship"?

Mary Kaye

Chris Li
04-12-2006, 03:52 PM
If classes are small, having a pair who cannot work together is significantly disruptive. I think that the people who say "no hardship" are not used to classes of sizes 1-3, which are fairly common where I train.

4 of the classes that I train at each week run around 1-3 students.

This point has been brought up repeatedly in this thread. Have I missed a clear explanation of why it doesn't apply? Why do people keep saying "there's no hardship"?

In many years of teaching (not just Aikido), my experience has been that most "hardship" situations are usually overblown, and can be overcome through a small amount of flexibility and ingenuity on the part of the instructor.

Best,

Chris

MaryKaye
04-12-2006, 06:33 PM
In many years of teaching (not just Aikido), my experience has been that most "hardship" situations are usually overblown, and can be overcome through a small amount of flexibility and ingenuity on the part of the instructor.


How, specifically, would you handle this one? Particularly, as a concrete scenario, one or two male students and a female student, where one of the males will not train with a female?

How would you handle a one-student class where the student could not be touched by the instructor? (Do you do ki-testing?)

Would these solutions work for you in the long term, or are they short-term only?

Mary Kaye

MaryKaye
04-12-2006, 06:45 PM
A question in general:

Probably most of us would be reluctant to train at a dojo in which none of the other students would touch us. It would seem hard to learn aikido under such circumstances, and tempting to go elsewhere.

What is the critical level at which you would feel inclined to leave?

My guess--obviously it only applies to me--is that for our dojo class sizes (all classes but the
Head Instructor's run around 2-4 students much of the time; hers are 7-10) and dojo size (about 20 regular students) I would start to feel very constrained if as many as a quarter of the regular students would not train with me. Much above that level and I would feel so frustrated I would probably leave, no matter the level of instruction. Perhaps I'm not as serious as I might be, but I can't maintain my enthusiasm from the sidelines.

In a bigger dojo the number could probably go higher, but somewhere around 90% I think I would feel hopelessly unwelcome no matter what the absolute numbers were.

I don't know what to do with this information. "I don't want to admit you because if I admitted many people like you, my female students would quit" is a difficult statement to make--one student is not likely to be that devastating, so he is essentially being blamed for a potential problem that he's only a small contribution to. And it *is* only a potential problem. On the other hand, I would feel very uncomfortable as a leader if the result of my policy decisions was to drive out my female students.

(Or my male students. None of these arguments seem specific to which gender is involved, except that in most dojo women are rarer than men and so the numbers crunch a bit differently.)

Mary Kaye

Chris Li
04-13-2006, 08:56 AM
How, specifically, would you handle this one? Particularly, as a concrete scenario, one or two male students and a female student, where one of the males will not train with a female?

I answered a similar post of yours further up the thread:

In a class with three people somebody's going to be resting part of the time anyway, so it's not really a problem, it just takes a little more thinking. If there are three people and two of them are women then they can train together and he can practice ukemi, weapons, or other solitary practice - that's the way it goes, no major problem.

How would you handle a one-student class where the student could not be touched by the instructor? (Do you do ki-testing?)

Don't do ki-testing that day. There are plenty of solo exercises (as mentioned above) that he can perform if the instructor puts some thought into it. It's not that hard to teach someone without touching them - Morihei Ueshiba did it, and in fact, most people are really taught by the instructor without being touched when the classes get large.

Would these solutions work for you in the long term, or are they short-term only?

Mary Kaye

I don't see any reason that they couldn't work in the long term.

Best,

Chris

ian
04-13-2006, 08:57 AM
Interesting how different ideologies clash!

Personally I would NOT go to a lawyer (why throw money at them?!), but instead I would alow them to train and say its their responsibility to avoid training with females and to explain why they can't - also I'd consider mentioning it briefly at the start of a class but not drawing too much attention to it. However, if you feel this would damage the atmosphere in the club I would turn him away.

I presume this also means that his wife could only train with females also?

I suppose a good way to look at these ideological clashes is to understand the reason behind them. For example, I only eat free-range meat, but if I was starving to death I would probably eat a battery hen considering it to be better than dying. Unfortuantely religious conditions are usually inflexible dogma precluding any ability for discussion with people with different ideologies. In such a case, it is nice to be accomodating, but I wouldn't let your classes suffer for it. It cannot really be compared with people with e.g. a disability, since they really have no choice (whereas religious belief is a choice).

giriasis
04-13-2006, 06:20 PM
Well, one of the men I mentioned in a prior post participated in a seminar this weekend. He tended to train with the same people -- people who knew and understood his beliefs, but it was his first seminar, too. He also test for 5th kyu and did a great job. There are a few other Muslim men in our dojo but they are not as orthodox in their beliefs and practice with women. He still trained on a crowded mat with women. No problems there and obviously he was not "tempted" by the women on the mat. I met him and he seemed really kind and down-to-earth -- NOT a haughty chauvinistic pig. I've met many chauvinistic men on the mat and they still trained with me and usually treated me rather poorly. He was rather respectful.

I think the key is to try and understand where they might be coming from and offer some warmth and acceptance. I think too many people are jumping to conclusions as if they will get a deluge of Muslims whose orthodox practices require them (Its NOT a choice) to not touch the opposite gender, unless a spouse. And cause a serious strain on the dojo. One person is all we're talking about here -- not a group. Although, he is a part of the group. It looked like he was the only person not training with women.

In my real-life non-hypothetical experience at this past seminar, one person choosing not to train with the women on the mat did not cause a disturbance or a hardship on the other participants.

Pauliina Lievonen
04-13-2006, 07:46 PM
The funniest thing about this whole question to me is that I'm sure there are plenty of both men and women who don't want to practice with the opposite sex without any religious convictions whatsoever.... :D

kvaak
Pauliina

Michael O'Brien
04-13-2006, 09:46 PM
I think too many people are jumping to conclusions as if they will get a deluge of Muslims whose orthodox practices require them (Its NOT a choice) to not touch the opposite gender, unless a spouse.

At the risk of starting another arguement (I mean discussion) :) this is still America and his religion is a choice and the degree to which he practices his religion is a choice.

Some Catholics choose to eat meat on Fridays, some don't. Some Jews are Orthodox, Some aren't. I won't even get started on the other "Christian" religions such as Baptists, Methodists, etc and what I see some of those people I work with doing during the week before they go to church on Sunday.

So he may choose, or not to choose how devot he is regarding his religious beliefs, or even what religion he is, but it is a choice he is making ultimately.

Now I'm off for vacation for the next 3 days; I can't wait to see where this ends up. :D

Mark Freeman
04-14-2006, 10:45 AM
I think the key is to try and understand where they might be coming from and offer some warmth and acceptance. I think too many people are jumping to conclusions as if they will get a deluge of Muslims whose orthodox practices require them (Its NOT a choice) to not touch the opposite gender, unless a spouse. And cause a serious strain on the dojo. One person is all we're talking about here -- not a group. Although, he is a part of the group. It looked like he was the only person not training with women.


I am in agreement with Michael here, how devout a person is with their religion IS a choice. If it wasn't all people of a particular faith would behave in exactly the same way, and that is obviously not what happens. The list of religious practices that require particular behaviours is very long, and we would be here for ages listing all the common transgressions.

I hope the original poster and the devout prospective student have found some way of working things out. Meanwhile the rest of us can discuss the issue, until we chose not to. ;)

regards,
Mark

jonreading
04-14-2006, 11:38 AM
It's all about having your cake and eating it too. Sometimes our choices place hardships on our lifestyle and sometimes we don't like those hardships.

Chris made a mention earlier about if Emory Aikikai refuses certain types of students; that answer is yes. When a student begin training, I discuss the necessary involvement and expectations of training. If during that discussion, I feel that training may create a dangerous environment for that student, I recommend a course of action to reduce that danger; I am not speaking about the inherent danger of the art itself in this scenario, but the physical demands expected to participate. I have recommended for overweight students to obtain support to diet and/or exercise, I have spoken to elderly (especially women suffering from osteoporosis) about the dangers of bone and muscle problems. In some cases, I have turned potential students away for these reasons and others.

I don't comprehend how an instructor or dojo would be so apathetic to the needs of their students that they would simply invite every Tom, Dick and Sally onto the mat without first evaluating the saftey of that invitation. I would personally feel terrible if an elderly student broke a bone on my mat, or an overweight student had a heart attack. Likewise, I would feel terrible if I participated in creating an environment that faciliated a religious sanctity of a student to be broken. I care enough about those students to tell them "no," and create an alternative solution to get them into a safe training environment.

Compassion is not always saying "Yes." Love and compassion is sometimes saying "No," because you are in a better position to understand the potential danger of a request. My concern on this thread exists not because I care about the religious practices of a student, but because I see an apathic attitude from leadership roles regarding the health and environment of their dojo and students.

Lorien Lowe
04-14-2006, 12:46 PM
If during that discussion, I feel that training may create a dangerous environment for that student, I recommend a course of action to reduce that danger; I am not speaking about the inherent danger of the art itself in this scenario, but the physical demands expected to participate. I have recommended for overweight students to obtain support to diet and/or exercise, I have spoken to elderly (especially women suffering from osteoporosis) about the dangers of bone and muscle problems.
Maybe you can say, 'this is the activity we do here, talk to your doctor and decide if this will be too dangerous for you.' For one, you may be denying a person the chance to improve their condition through aikido; for two, you can't always tell who's going to have a heart attack based on their fat. People with family histories of premature death due to heart attack have a high risk even if they appear fit.
Likewise, I would feel terrible if I participated in creating an environment that faciliated a religious sanctity of a student to be broken. I care enough about those students to tell them "no," and create an alternative solution to get them into a safe training environment.
We are not talking about children here. Tell them, 'this is what we do here; talk with your religious leader and decide if this activity will be safe for you.'

It's one thing to resist altering your dojo atmosphere for one student; it's quite another to take the choice away from them entirely.

-LK

jonreading
04-18-2006, 10:59 AM
Inherently, Lorien touched on some very common solutions to new student situations, which are great solutions that address the needs of the students with the realizations of training - Pre-screening is a responsible approach to physical activity. For those that play organized sports, health screenings are common requirements before athletes are eligible to play with a team. While screening does not chatch every problem, it significantly reduces the risks of injury for those participants. I simply use a larger "pre-screening" process.

The second part of Lorien's comments touches upon this undercurrent of apathetic behavior for new students. The question, "who are we to deny students the ability to train?" is a perfect example. I'll be the first to say, "The instructor, that's who." As the instructor of the the dojo and the highest authority to manage the affairs of the dojo, I reserve the right to allow or deny any activity within the dojo. My principles of management are based on those of my instructor and protection of the safety and prosperity of the dojo, and they trump any student or behavior in the dojo that threatens those principles.

Training is not a constitutional right, and it's inappropriate to amend man's inalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness with "and to train aikido." If I feel a student does not belong on the mat, I work with that student to find an alternative solution to address that belief; sometimes alternative solutions means private tutoring, sometimes another dojo, sometimes another martial art, and sometimes nothing.

Again, it all comes back to the instructor and head of the dojo. The head of the dojo is ALWAYS responsible for the students and behavior that goes on inside the dojo. If a student is injured by another student, that accident is ultimately the instructor's fault. If a student's actions during a seminar or class are disrespectful of aikido, that disrespect is ultimately the instructor's fault. In the army, this is the "chain of command." Pushing responsibility to another individual is just anothother apathetic gesture. You can push that responsibility off to...the doctor... the student ...whoever... but in the end you are doing nothing but absolving yourself of responsibility.

Kevin Leavitt
04-18-2006, 12:59 PM
and Jon you nailed a big problem with our U.S. society today, acceptance of responsibility!

I was a "drill instructor" for Officer Candidates a few years back. My job was to essentially assess the ability of a person to become a Army Officer. As you can imagine in our burecracy, it is difficult sometime to put people out. There are a multitude of things you must consider. But the Army has very strict code of values. Once someone demonstrate that they cannot adhere or subscribe to those values, they do not belong.

You have to be very careful however, as judge of these people it is very easy sometimes to project your person feeling and judgements (predujices). People religious, ethnic, gender can all be biases that are things we should not factor in.

However, regardless of those factors, if they themselves cannot subscribe to the core values of the group, then it is very clear that they do not belong...regardless of any other reasons of their backgrounds.

Sometimes it is easy to say "get out, you don't belong". Other times it is not so easy.

giriasis
04-18-2006, 03:07 PM
Considering no Muslims have publicly or privately come forward on this, my best guess that this issue really is a non-issue for them; therefore, I really think people are making a mountain out of a molehill out of this one.

GaiaM
04-19-2006, 12:06 AM
Very interesting discussion, everyone. I really think it is an important topic, not only in aikido and in this scenario but in the world overall today.

Just one quick comment. Wouldn't it be "discriminating on the basis of religion" to make allowances based on this person's religion that wouldn't normally be accepted in the dojo? For example, if everyone in the dojo is expected to train with whomever is next to them, or the person who is left over after others have chosen, and you allowed the devout muslim to switch with someone so they could always train with men, it would be changing the way the dojo operates based on someone's religion.

I guess my point is that discrimination works both ways. My understanding is that "we will not discriminate on the basis of religion" means that you won't turn someone away just because they SAY they're muslim. It does not mean you are required to make accomodations based on their actions or beliefs (which they choose to do - religion is absolutely a choice), in fact, technically you shouldn't if you stand by this principle.

Personally, I think it is up the individual dojo what is appropriate for their dojo and neither is a right or wrong choice. There is no OBLIGATION to make adaptations for anyone.

giriasis
04-19-2006, 09:43 AM
I guess it could only be religious discrimination against the dojo if the dojo practices aikido as a religion. In that case, the sensei would have an obligation to inform that student that we practice aikido in a religious manner. The basis of the allowance is not on the fact that they say that they are Muslims because many Muslims do not subscribe to such an orthodox practice. But it is because they practice a more orthodox form of Islam. A good comparison would be Orthodox Jews and certain sects of fundamentalist Christians. We have a couple of other Muslim men in our dojo who train with women, and one of these men is one of our highest ranking members and is a senior instructor. In our case, we have in our dojo we have one man how has submitted to this practice, and it has not been problem with him not training with a woman on the mat. A simple explanation is all that is needed because it's not "just because she's a woman" but "because of his particular religious beliefs." (Remember, the reverse is true for a woman who submits to this same practice.)

Also, there is an obligation for a non-profit organization to not discriminate based on religion, race, gender and nationality in order for the non-profit to maintain their non-profit status. But depending on the law and interpretation of the law, it may or may not be legal. Legally, the non-profit needs to apply the rules of dojo across the board. Remember, a couple of years ago some parents were suing a Judo Club because they didn't want their children bowing at competitions. The court ruled that bowing is part of the practice judo as it is a Japanese Martial Art and as such bowing is one of those elements that make up the practice of Judo. So the couple lost their case. (However, I think a very good attorney and a sympathetic judge could turn the judgment around.)

In this situation it could be the same thing, it would not be discriminatory if you have a non-discriminatory reason for your practice, especially if there are other alternatives available.

However, in our dojo we could be suspect to discrimination laws and first amendment laws. First, we train in a City of Fort Lauderdale building and that could be interpreted as "state action." Second, we could be pulled into court under the commerce clause as we often hold seminars where people travel across state lines and international boundaries. Third, members are told that can choose not to train with certain people if they are having a problem with a particular person. (If we allow this reason which is usually a personality conflict, then we will could be held accountable if it didn't allow someone to choose not to train with someone for religious reasons.)

But, just because something might be legally right does not mean something is morally right. Would it be more compassionate to allow the person to train assuming that your dojo is large enough that it wouldn't affect the training of the other students in the dojo? Wouldn't it be more in the spirit of harmony to attempt to include the person the best you can so they, too, can enjoy the practice of Aikido? Given the current strain of our country's relationship with the Islamic community, wouldn't it be better to demonstrate compassion than to turn them away saying that "everyone MUST train with everyone." If that was the case then, you also don't have the option to stop training with an abusive partner/ or someone who is being unduly harsh in their training with you. Because if you allow this distinction then you might legally be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle.


But in the end, my sensei's decision really doesn't concern the legalities of the matter, but just the compassionate nature of aikido. He wants to make it available to as many people as he can, and as one of the leaders of the USAF I think he sets a good example.

(P.S. Yamada Sensei did something similar years ago and now there is Aikido in Morocco.)

Amelia Smith
04-19-2006, 01:12 PM
I have a couple of minor points to quibble with here. Religion is a choice in the modern, "Western" world, but historically and across cultures I don't think most people experience religion as a matter of choice. Religion is a matter of identity, like family, tribe, nationality, and native language. Simply because one can change religions doesn't mean it is purely a matter of choice. It's more like changing families than changing fashions -- not something to be done lightly.

Anne Marie -- I believe that aikido was introduced to Morocco via Tamura Sensei, before Yamada Sensei's involvement, but I can't find the reference at the moment.

Kevin Leavitt
04-19-2006, 01:29 PM
to comment on Anne Marie's post:

I think you are correct. I can only draw from my experiences in the U.S. Army, but I find them to apply.

The Army cannot discriminate against anyone based on their religious beliefs. We even make certain reasonable accomodations for religion. I identify with and follow buddhist philosophy and have "Buddhist" on my dog tags. I am also a vegetarian..and in the Infantry believe it or not!

As you can imagine I have a few things that I must figure out how to workout with my missions and training such as meals, and philosophy/practices. What I cannot do is not take responsbility for my own beliefs and project the issue on the "system" and adopt a victim mentality.

You can wear religious items in uniform as long as they do not show or present a distraction. i.e braclets, malas etc. We have guidelines about all this.

When your beliefs or practices start interfering with the organization, then there is an issue.

So, while the army must accept all religions and make reasonable accomodations there is a line.

When I was in my Infantry Basic course about 10 years ago, my "battle buddy" was a Saudi Officer. We were in the field for about 4 weeks during Ramadan. I was very impressed by his ability to hold to his practices. He didn't eat or drink during the day at all, back then, you'd get pork with about every meal and he'd do all his prayers while we were moving on operations! He never complained, never did not do his job, or use his religion as an excuse. So, it was never an issue!

giriasis
04-19-2006, 01:58 PM
I have a couple of minor points to quibble with here. Religion is a choice in the modern, "Western" world, but historically and across cultures I don't think most people experience religion as a matter of choice. Religion is a matter of identity, like family, tribe, nationality, and native language. Simply because one can change religions doesn't mean it is purely a matter of choice. It's more like changing families than changing fashions -- not something to be done lightly.

Anne Marie -- I believe that aikido was introduced to Morocco via Tamura Sensei, before Yamada Sensei's involvement, but I can't find the reference at the moment.

Yes, the "choice" issue was revealed recently in Pakistan where the young man who converted to Christianty was threatened with the death penalty.

Amelia, you may be right about Tamura. But, my point is more along the lines of the intent to make aikido available and to continue to spread aikido to people we normally would assume it would not be available to, unless someone made it accessible to them in the first place.

Kevin, thank you for your example, I, too, admire someone who is able to follow their convictions under such harsh conditions. Yes, the accomodation needs to be reasonable and not cause an undue burden on those who are doing the accomodating. This is why I think in a very small school where's there a female instructor and a few female students such a request to not train with the women would most likely be an undue burden on the dojo. But in a dojo of our size (80 adults with about 10 active women) it should not be a problem.

Ron Tisdale
04-19-2006, 02:05 PM
Yes, the "choice" issue was revealed recently in Pakistan where the young man who converted to Christianty was threatened with the death penalty.

Actually, I think that was in Afghanistan, which in some ways is even more peculiar, since Bush just freed that country for DEMOCROCY. But it is still a choice...just a choice that has rather severe consequences. All choices have consequences (though hopefully being executed as a christian isn't one of them).

Best,
Ron

akiy
04-19-2006, 03:42 PM
Hi folks,

Once again:

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

Perplexed
04-20-2006, 09:49 AM
I am the person who started this thread.

The young man never returned to the dojo.

Thank you to all who responded! If this comes up again, I have decided to follow Eric Webber's advice in post # 7: "We had the same issue several months ago. My answer to the gentleman was that everyone is expected to practice with everyone else, and he would have to decide for himself if he is willing to accept that, coming into our space."

As a 501(c)(3) organization, we will not discriminate on the basis of religion. As an aikido dojo, we will not alter our training methods. If following those two principles ever puts the dojo on the receiving end of a lawsuit, we will drop our tax-exempt status.

Thank you again for all your ideas and suggestions.

Rocky Izumi
05-26-2006, 02:29 PM
Just as an aside that I didn't see in this thread:

There is increasing pressure on all groups that unless it is absolutely required, there should be no physical contact of older males with younger females. I noticed this trend as Aikido moved more into the mainstream.

The government of one country wanted to make all organisations that received funding support from the government to require all coaches to be certified through the government. Part of the Level One Coaching course was on touching of females by males during coaching. The course taught that touching should be minimised so that the coach was not implicated in unwanted sexual contact. The course suggested ways to limit physical contact during coaching. You know, it is real difficult trying to teach a kinesthetic activity without touch? I asked about that and was told that touching of females by males should be minimised in all cases (a textbook answer by the instructor). I pressed further and asked about martial arts where contact was required. (The textbook answer again.) I pressed further and the response was that: "Well, sometime you have to be in contact but you should minimise that contact." I guess that is why I don't let my dojos join into any oversight organisations. Sooner or later, some government prick will come along and tell you that you have to do things in a way that is politically correct. That's when I pick up my bokuto and chase them out of the dojo. You can do that when it is a private dojo.

Back to the point.

While I believe that each dojo is the responsibility and under the full authority of the head teacher and that teacher is the teacher at the will of the students, our society is constantly changing and the requirements to be harmonious with the rest of society requires that we sometimes go along with the views of the rest of the society. This is especially so if you end up with some sort of social contract like if you end up becoming registered as a charitable organisation. You have less requirement to fit into society if you are a private dojo but that is less harmonious with the rest of society. But then, you might wish to be harmonious with something else other than the rest of society. You can still remain harmonious if OSensei was right and you can be orthogonal to all dimensions/attackers if you go above them. The last option is to run away to some place where your values are more in line with the rest of that society.

Hell, escape to the Caribbean! :)

Rock

eyrie
05-26-2006, 05:36 PM
Hell, escape to the Caribbean!

I'm there Rock... I'm there.... got a plane ticket for me? :D

Rocky Izumi
05-26-2006, 08:09 PM
Sorry, I also believe in paying your own way. Do as I do, not as I say.

Rock :confused:

villrg0a
05-28-2006, 06:04 AM
Our aikido club is in Saudi Arabia. We have a couple of locals in our roster. They dont bow to the shomen and their partner, both in seiza and standing. We dont have a problem with that. Women are also not allowed to mix with the opposite sex in public areas, that is why we dont have women in our dojo.

Regarding the bowing, we requested our students to just make a fist with the right hand, and an open palm on the left just like in most kung fu and say osu!

Hope that helps.

giriasis
05-28-2006, 09:48 AM
Our aikido club is in Saudi Arabia. We have a couple of locals in our roster. They dont bow to the shomen and their partner, both in seiza and standing. We dont have a problem with that. Women are also not allowed to mix with the opposite sex in public areas, that is why we dont have women in our dojo.

Regarding the bowing, we requested our students to just make a fist with the right hand, and an open palm on the left just like in most kung fu and say osu!

Hope that helps.

Romuel,

Thanks for your response. I was curious how that worked in Saudi Arabia. I take it that most of your members are foreign nationals?

I remember someone metioned somewhere on this board that they knew of a dojo in Indonesia where they had the women and men split up in separate areas. But then someone else spoke up saying they have never seen that. And there was also a young woman training some where in southeast asia who wrote an anonymous post where at a seminar many men would not train with her and some of the few who did were unnecessarily rought with her.

Currently one of our members teaches aikido at a local mosque in Fort Lauderdale and it's open to men and boys. But a couple of men who do practice and want to grade in the USAF will occaisionaly train at our dojo. Recently we had a seminar and they just trained amongst themselves. However, a couple of them did train with women. We also have less conservative muslim members in our dojo who have absolutely no problem training with women.

I was just curious how this plays out in Islamic countries or those countries with very large Muslim populations.

villrg0a
05-28-2006, 11:09 PM
Hi Anne,

We are located in the eastern part, where oil was discovered. Refineries built, etc., resulting in population boom. Majority of our members are expatriates, few local males, zero local ladies. We are renting a place downtown, and shares it with aerobics and karate. Although we are located on the 2nd floor, there are big windows all over the place, making it very visible from the outside. The place is exclusively for male only, so is the case for most establishments all over the Kingdom. There are also places that caters exclusively for women but they are mostly beauty shops. Normal mixtures can only be seen in compounds, seldom in public areas.

So if one wishes to spread the art to local ladies, one has to be a lady too. Most local males would not mind the mixture in training but is not generally allowed. Its a little bit complicated but basically male and female are not allowed to talk, etc., in public unless you are related to them. Even in Restaurants they are not allowed to mix unless they are one family.

So if even a short conversation with the opposite sex is not encouraged, what more in aikido training where a lot of touchings are involved.

JAMJTX
06-02-2006, 04:35 PM
A man has visited my dojo and is interested in practicing. His religion prohibits him from touching a woman who is not his wife. My dojo is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization, and thus may not discriminate based on religion.

Has anyone else faced this issue? Any suggestions?

Perhaps you would be "guilty" of discrimination if you told him whe don't allow people of your religion to train here.

But, not if you told him that there are both men and women in the class, we all train with each other regardless of religion, race, creed, etc. and you can not promise that he will not come in contact with a woman. Make this clear, and then let him decide to take the class or not.

Another question would be, where does his religion stand on bowing to Sensei, a partner, etc. I'm sure there are a lot more restrictions. Probably a traditional martial way is not the right thing at all for this person.

Din
11-29-2007, 07:21 PM
People have done many trainings nowadays all over the world using virtual system, verbal instructions and many other methods which have used non physical contact in many things including martial arts. It has been a common asian ways of martial arts instruction of learning by observation.
I myself am an instructor in Silat and Aikido and have taught for many years without having physical contact between the different sexes due to religious restrictions.
Aikido as well as other arts originate from a certain culture and they all spread all over the world. How? Tolerance..
It depends whose dojo you go to and which religion u follow. Some dojo cho probably are okay with everything such as bowing to shomen and mixed training between the different sexes. Then, if a person who has such restrictions come to your dojo just allow him or her to do according to their restrictions. It does no harm if u look at it in a more positive point of view.
T o me discrimination wud also mean to force others to strip off their religious practice as well.
In my dojos and gelanggangs, I always tell my students of different beliefs to pray or meditate according to their own beliefs. The important thing is we can train together. The ladies train separately among themselves either during separate sessions or space in the dojo. Iíve been doing this for many yrs and there has been no complains. I did it as well when I was training in Adelaide for silat.
My students and also teachers which Iíve trained with have accepted the idea very well. I have many different people in my dojo and with this we r able to gain more friends and learn about one another.
Some people see that not training with different sex as being discriminative. We see it as a sign of respect to the other sex and to avoid sexual harassment issues. We come from different cultural background. That is all.
Muslims, jews and Christians of many different denominations and also other beliefs have long lived side by side according to their own religious adherences. We donít serve beef to hindus, we donít serve meat to vegetarians, we donít bow to objects which signify glorification or prayer. We donít force chirstians to come and train during their Sunday sessions. Neither do we want to be forced to eat pork, drink alcoholic drinks or bow to the shomen in the dojo or train with the other sexes. What is wrong with that?
What I d make sure is I try my best sharing with each individual my experience and knowledge in martial arts so that they come and return home benefiting from my classes.
If u see women training wearing scarfs, let them be. It is their choice much like we Asians donít understand why some westerners like sun bathing and getting tanned. Itís hot, why bare yourself in the sun, we would think. Why u want to get your nice fair skin tanned? Of course youíd think otherwise., right?
But what we all donít do is to discriminate based on race, country, religion/beliefs,political,physical disabilities,talents,etc . Heck, Iíve trained with people who has no religion as well.
Islam is the 3rd largest religion in the world and aikido has spread to may countries and many muslims have trained and still train aikido. Sooner or later we all will meet with people with different kinds of restrictions based on their beliefs. Are we going to be closing our doors to our potential friends and not share this great knowledge and experience of aikido?
How about people with HIV positive coming to your dojo?how would u handle it? I always make it a point to ask my students on the their needs either physical or due to religious. Then Iíll ask them how I can accommodate their needs and requirements so that we can train together.
BTW, thanks to everyone for bringing this topic. Good topic to discuss and sorry if my reply is too long and my English is incorrect here and there.happy training everyone...

xuzen
12-04-2007, 07:20 PM
People have done many trainings nowadays all over the world using virtual system, verbal instructions and many other methods which have used non physical contact in many things including martial arts. It has been a common asian ways of martial arts instruction of learning by observation.
I myself am an instructor in Silat and Aikido and have taught for many years without having physical contact between the different sexes due to religious restrictions.
Aikido as well as other arts originate from a certain culture and they all spread all over the world. How? Tolerance..
It depends whose dojo you go to and which religion u follow. Some dojo cho probably are okay with everything such as bowing to shomen and mixed training between the different sexes. Then, if a person who has such restrictions come to your dojo just allow him or her to do according to their restrictions. It does no harm if u look at it in a more positive point of view.
T o me discrimination wud also mean to force others to strip off their religious practice as well.
In my dojos and gelanggangs, I always tell my students of different beliefs to pray or meditate according to their own beliefs. The important thing is we can train together. The ladies train separately among themselves either during separate sessions or space in the dojo. I've been doing this for many yrs and there has been no complains. I did it as well when I was training in Adelaide for silat.
My students and also teachers which I've trained with have accepted the idea very well. I have many different people in my dojo and with this we r able to gain more friends and learn about one another.
Some people see that not training with different sex as being discriminative. We see it as a sign of respect to the other sex and to avoid sexual harassment issues. We come from different cultural background. That is all.
Muslims, jews and Christians of many different denominations and also other beliefs have long lived side by side according to their own religious adherences. We don't serve beef to hindus, we don't serve meat to vegetarians, we don't bow to objects which signify glorification or prayer. We don't force chirstians to come and train during their Sunday sessions. Neither do we want to be forced to eat pork, drink alcoholic drinks or bow to the shomen in the dojo or train with the other sexes. What is wrong with that?
What I d make sure is I try my best sharing with each individual my experience and knowledge in martial arts so that they come and return home benefiting from my classes.
If u see women training wearing scarfs, let them be. It is their choice much like we Asians don't understand why some westerners like sun bathing and getting tanned. It's hot, why bare yourself in the sun, we would think. Why u want to get your nice fair skin tanned? Of course you'd think otherwise., right?
But what we all don't do is to discriminate based on race, country, religion/beliefs,political,physical disabilities,talents,etc . Heck, I've trained with people who has no religion as well.
Islam is the 3rd largest religion in the world and aikido has spread to may countries and many muslims have trained and still train aikido. Sooner or later we all will meet with people with different kinds of restrictions based on their beliefs. Are we going to be closing our doors to our potential friends and not share this great knowledge and experience of aikido?
How about people with HIV positive coming to your dojo?how would u handle it? I always make it a point to ask my students on the their needs either physical or due to religious. Then I'll ask them how I can accommodate their needs and requirements so that we can train together.
BTW, thanks to everyone for bringing this topic. Good topic to discuss and sorry if my reply is too long and my English is incorrect here and there.happy training everyone...

Bravo Din, spoken like a learned and enlightened man.

Boon.

Keith Larman
12-04-2007, 09:14 PM
It is an interesting ethical question which was raised in our dojo a while back as a matter of fact. It was never resolved as the persons who said they wanted to train never got back to us after we were presented with their issues on bowing and training with women. But the issue has been bouncing around my head for a while.

So let me put on my flame-proof underoos... There, all set... :D

First let me say that I truly appreciate the various points of view. I am glad to see Aikido spreading and I think it is a great thing that it has found a way to be taught in many varied cultures.

But that said I don't think it is really so easy as some make it to be.

I think "reasonable accommodation" is a devilishly difficult concept which is itself firmly embedded in all sorts of cultural constructs.

So to create a sort of thought experiment... The original question was about a person wanting to train but not wanting to train with women. Let's focus on that part. But let's turn the question upside down and change it to the dojo in an Islamic state much as described above. What if a non-Muslim women applied for classes but wanted to train with both men and women as their goal was to learn aikido so they would be able to defend themselves from both men and women? Assume she is a staunch American feminist with deeply held convictions of the equality of the sexes.

So now the question is how should the dojo in this Isamlic state accommodate that need? She feels very strongly that gender should play no role in her training. And that she should be allowed to train with men as well as women. And that frankly the men should be bowing to her just as they bow to each other.

Frankly I don't think they have any sort of moral imperative to adjust their training methods to her strongly held beliefs and/or needs. It might simply be too far outside the local norm given the social and religious constructs of where the instruction is taking place. In my hypothetical I think the woman's expectation is unreasonable given the local values. Unfortunately for my female feminist friends in an Islamic country, well, they will have to find another way of learning aikido in the way they want to learn it. Or wait/hope/etc. that the social values will change in such a way that will allow them to train the way they want. Or maybe they'll need to relocate in order to do that. It is simply a reality of where they are.

The tricky part here is that the notion of "reasonable accommodation" doesn't exist as some absolute ideal outside of any other context. It is defined in terms of the culture, the location, the local religions, etc. It just isn't a simple issue. As I said, I think it is great that people have worked hard to spread aikido across the world. And I think it is great that it is finding its way into the Muslim community as well. And I think it is perfectly reasonable for those in the Muslim community to have different means of presentation which are compatible with their cultural imperatives. As a matter of fact I applaud it. But I would no more expect my wife to be accepted for training with men in a Muslim society than I would expect to have to *significantly* adjust our training to accommodate Muslim men who wanted to train here outside of a Muslim area. I would do what I could do within some sense of reasonable accommodation as I do believe there are probably some cases where we could make it work. But *if* it was too much of a problem, well, the answer is that maybe they would need to look elsewhere for their training. Just like that christian woman in a Muslim land who wanted to learn aikido to defend herself from men as well as women would need to look elsewhere.

Frankly I would do whatever I could. But the moment I felt the accommodations were an undue burden on the instructors or was resulting in lost opportunities for the other students (i.e., the female students), well, that's where I would personally draw the line. I see no problem in doing what we can. But for me, well, I have no desire to tell my female assistant to not come to class because there's only one other student and he happens to not believe in touching a woman who is not his wife.

If his religious restrictions are to have an impact on someone not getting training, well, he will be the one who will need to suffer that. I would do what I could, but if I felt it was negatively impacting my female students'/assistants' training, well, he's going to lose in the coin toss. Because where I am at women are encouraged to train with the men. That is our tradition.

All that said I have no problem with the notion of each group training as it sees fit. And I think we all have a moral imperative to reasonably accommodate as many people as we can. But there are still competing value systems in conflict lurking underneath. And sometimes what is "reasonable" in one place is totally unreasonable elsewhere. It just ain't all that easy...

I think it is a really difficult question with no easy universal answers. It is naive to say we *should* accommodate everyone. That simply isn't possible in all cases.

All that said... Everything I wrote is just my own 2 yen worth. I don't speak for anyone but myself...

Mark Uttech
12-05-2007, 05:13 AM
Onegaishimasu. It is completely possible that if you can't accomodate everyone, you can't be "modern". In the art of aikido there is no gender.

In gassho,

Mark

Din
01-16-2008, 01:09 AM
aikido was never meant a a religious movement. Many instructors who have managed to spread the art to muslim countries for example becoz mainly they are able to accomodate the needs of their members.
I am a muslim and Aikido was frist introduced to the Borneo side of Malaysia in 1971, when our chief ministers made arrangements for a japanese intstructor to be posted in our state under a muslim youth organization.
We've always had training session at the dojo without need to bow to any altar or pictures and no mixed training between the different sexes.
Those who train at our dojos consist of people of different religious and cultural background becoz Malaysia is a multiracial country and we train without having any issues why we can't train between the men and women.
Fine, we understand that some people would consider it a lost by not allowing men and women to train together. it is much like the issues of some people considering it a lost why there are no competitions in Aikido Aikikai or some other styles.Lost or no lost it is a subjective matter.
What I consider a true lost is when we are unable to respect each others differences and thus lose the opportunity of making friends.
In Malaysia for example, people have different religious beliefs, culture and practices. we respect our diferences and do not try and force things which are against their principles be it due to religion or other reasons which maybe collective or personal.
we find our common grounds and work on them the best we can to help everyone progress in aikido.
I have chinese non muslim ladies and muslims ladies train together with no problems in progressing in their aikido skills much as like their other friends who mix around in training. Why?

Din
01-16-2008, 01:38 AM
we probably need look back to our aikido and what is the main aim of aikido and does it really matter much if accomodate and tolerate according to some religious restrictions.
if we believe that we should not adhere to the needs of certain religious or cultural in our aikido training especially mixed training and bowing to pics, then maybe aikido is after all not an art for everyone which is contrary to what we all understand.
Aikido has spread to countries with strong religious practices such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Why? becoz intstructors who train there have succeeded in accomodating according to the needs of the people of the land.
Thus, we aikido is able to be shared with others and through aikido we have been able to make new friends.

kapakahi
01-06-2009, 11:51 AM
I am new to this forum but not to Aikido and not to Orhtodox Judaism.
Yoshioka Sensei told me about 30 years ago that "First comes religion and your duty to G-d. Second comes your family and your duty to your family. After that you come to practice Aikido." Yoshioka Sensei rescheduled the Shodan Test because I would not take the test on Saturday for pure religous reasons. Reading the responses to this issue I see that not everyone is fluent on all the issues. It is very, very, questionable if a Torah Jew can choose to practice Aikido over spending the same time learning Talmud. I admit wholeheartedly that of all the Martial Arts, Aikido as we have received from O'Sensei is as close as a martial art can come to be in concert with Jewish Law. Once there is a hint of competition, winners or losers, it is not the Aikido I understand or have been conscious of for the last 45 years.

Many will not understand this prohibition about touching between genders. It applies also to one's spouse in public, modesty applies in that aspect of the Jewish Law, also. I grew up practicing with many girls and women. They were the minority. It could be a non-issue just as if a woman had a male doctor or vis-a-versa. This can be looked on as a totally professional vocation and then it would be a lesser issue. It may still bother the fellow. It shouldn't bother the fervent Aikidoist as such a person is serious and wishes to better his/her partner regardless of their religious beliefs. Aikido has always accomodated the religous beliefs of people.
O'Sensei projected much love into Aikido. Of the last 3000 years Aikido is perhaps the only "language" that has crossed cultural and political boundaries to join people regardless of their predispositions. Interesting that while Aikido is bringing people together from around the World, the Jewish People, though they are dispersed among the four corners of the World, have a commonality unique from all other peoples and that common thread keeps the Jewish People unified more than any Martial Art. A jew gets hurt in Mambai and the Jew in Hawaii cries. It is if the Jewish People were as one body. When one part fails the rest of the body feels the pain. Aikido has a uniqueness that "once you are a part of Aikido it never lets go." While one body (Jew) is whole and striving to stay together the other body (Aikido) is building the parts and making them all one family.
There are some foreign forms of Aikido that preaches competition, winning, and loosing. There are also strains of Jews who are not mindful of the goals of Judaism. Both are not making the World a better place nor are they bringing more peace to the World.
Glanstein Sensei was quite unique in teaching Aikido and Judaism. There are many people I know of who became better people because of Glanstein Sensei's touch. Glanstein Sensei caused Aikido to travel to the United States. He left the womb of New York City to practice Aikido in Hawaii amongst the great Aikidoists in Hawaii.

Lastly, lawsuits. If anyone would want to bring suit against Aikido because of some discriminatory practice it would make for some scholastic debate. However, the nature of Aikido is to be totally accepting of one's religious beliefs and sexuality.
That aside, "Let's practice!"

Tony Wagstaffe
01-06-2009, 01:43 PM
If one is a teacher/sensei one tries to accommodate all....... but not when religious idealism dictates what should and shouldn't be..... When in Rome......

Erick Mead
01-06-2009, 03:03 PM
It is very, very, questionable if a Torah Jew can choose to practice Aikido over spending the same time learning Talmud. I admit wholeheartedly that of all the Martial Arts, Aikido as we have received from O'Sensei is as close as a martial art can come to be in concert with Jewish Law. I am a (not-so) good Catholic boy and a lawyer -- so a whole heaping hopper of salt later -- on the first point, I would ask if Eccl. 3:1-8 does not state the principle on this point: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ... a time for war, and a time for peace."

The Mishneh Torah discusses the positive commandment "To imitate His good and upright ways, as it is written 'and walk in His ways.'" (Deuteronomy 28:9). Maimonides says that men are called upon to imitate every quality of the Lord, as we are made in his image. Every quality of the Lord -- both merciful and warlike. The Song of Moses (Ex.15:1-2) declares that "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. ... The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name."

Some things to think about, anyway.

Eva Antonia
01-07-2009, 01:20 AM
Hi to all,

my experience from Turkey (with a large but very moderate Muslim population :) ) and Belgium with a not so large but also moderate Catholic population is that no one has any problems concerning women mixing with men and bowing to O'Sensei, the teacher and your partner. Why should they? The bow is different from the bow at prayer, it's just a form of greeting or politeness in Japanese, and no one would confuse it with the bow in the Mosque.

Same for man-woman issues, and also luckily, no one thinks it should be restricted that older men train with young women or girls or vice versa. I've never observed any type of sexual harrassment in any dojo, and I don't see any sexual component in touching during techniques. If someone is looking for it, he would certainly find it, but then he would also find it in swimming pools, overcrowded buses or his office/ factory. You shouldn't restrict a sane activity because of some insane individuals.

In my opinion you could accept that someone refuses to bow or to train on Sabbath (Friday, Hindu or whatever other sacred days) everywhere in the world; it wouldn't really affect aikido - but I'd hate to train in a pure women dojo. That's just one of the main attractions of aikido - you train with old, young, male, female, heavy, light, all sorts of people. But then again, I'd refuse to go to such a country where they insist on male-female segregation or any other type of apartheid even as a tourist or for a short-time consultancy job.

Best regards,

Eva

giriasis
01-07-2009, 07:22 PM
I just want to add that last year, Donovan Waite Sensei was at our dojo teaching and he mentioned that he was going to teach a seminar in Indonesia. My sensei asked about Muslim women not being able to practice aikido because that is what he was told by our more orthodox Muslim men in the dojo. Waite Sensei said that were he teaches there that the women wear their chador and under their dogi tops they wear another longer sleeve shirt that comes down past their hands. So, when they train with their male counterparts they grab their clothe from the longer sleeved shirt.

To those not in the U.S. we have a lot of legal issues related to how the balance the rights of all our students. My right to not be discrimnated against because I'm a woman is balanced against an orthodox Muslim's right to follow his religious beliefs. A dojo can easily be subject to a possible lawsuit if a reasonable accomodation is not made.

Any how, my more recent experience since I first posted. I was actually told by on of my senior students not to train with one our orthodox Muslims. I was told just to try not to train with him out of respect. Well, the problem came in when I was filling in teaching for this same instructor. And I was the only woman in class. It became rather difficult, well, more awkward, to try and instruct him. So, after class I told him I understood his beliefs but I do appreciate training with him. Still, today, before I partner with him I ask him if it's okay. Of course, he says, yes, but I still like to make the concession out of respect to ask.

Buck
01-07-2009, 09:53 PM
To those not in the U.S. we have a lot of legal issues related to how the balance the rights of all our students. My right to not be discrimnated against because I'm a woman is balanced against an orthodox Muslim's right to follow his religious beliefs. A dojo can easily be subject to a possible lawsuit if a reasonable accomodation is not made.


Please help me understand how that works. I really don't understand how that can be. Can you really be sued?


Any how, my more recent experience since I first posted. I was actually told by on of my senior students not to train with one our orthodox Muslims. I was told just to try not to train with him out of respect. Well, the problem came in when I was filling in teaching for this same instructor. And I was the only woman in class. It became rather difficult, well, more awkward, to try and instruct him. So, after class I told him I understood his beliefs but I do appreciate training with him. Still, today, before I partner with him I ask him if it's okay. Of course, he says, yes, but I still like to make the concession out of respect to ask.

But doesn't his beliefs-accommodating to them- over ride your culture, your beliefs, and your rights as a women? Why surrender them to him. If the guy, any guy has issue with a woman instructor, he either gets with the program or really needs to walk. This is America 2009 ,people from other countries who come here must also observe, and respect our culture and beliefs. Women are not cattle here.

DonMagee
01-08-2009, 07:14 AM
I spell out the rules fairly plainly to anyone who asks me what it is like to take my judo class. I've had serveral people ask similar religious questions (mostly about bowing). I've always told them this.

I welcome anyone who wants to train from any religion. But we do not make special accommodations for anyone. The rules are well spelled out and if they do not suit you, then it is not for you. Coming on my mat and asking me to change the rules for you is no different then me walking in your church and asking you to change your religion for me.

We work as a team. Anyone who breaks that harmony hurts the other students. It's like building a house next to an airport then claiming you didn't know it was loud.

NagaBaba
01-08-2009, 01:58 PM
I spell out the rules fairly plainly to anyone who asks me what it is like to take my judo class. I've had serveral people ask similar religious questions (mostly about bowing). I've always told them this.

I welcome anyone who wants to train from any religion. But we do not make special accommodations for anyone. The rules are well spelled out and if they do not suit you, then it is not for you. Coming on my mat and asking me to change the rules for you is no different then me walking in your church and asking you to change your religion for me.

We work as a team. Anyone who breaks that harmony hurts the other students. It's like building a house next to an airport then claiming you didn't know it was loud.

Well put, Don.
What is funny, and often happens; ppl asking for accommodation will never do themselves any accommodation for others.

The dojo is a special place for study. The dojo rules can't be changed to suit every existing religious requirement in the world - what a nonsense! Particularly, they can be contradictory. It is the students that must do a serious effort to change themselves, as a important part of their training.

giriasis
01-08-2009, 06:57 PM
But doesn't his beliefs-accommodating to them- over ride your culture, your beliefs, and your rights as a women? Why surrender them to him. If the guy, any guy has issue with a woman instructor, he either gets with the program or really needs to walk. This is America 2009 ,people from other countries who come here must also observe, and respect our culture and beliefs. Women are not cattle here.

Women are no longer chattel (that is property). We are have never been cattle (the livestock).

I live in South Florida and we have a large immigrant population, thus we are a very diverse population. We are not a monolithic "American" culture down here.

Also, how do you know the person I'm talking about is not a citizen born in the U.S.? There ARE native born Americans who convert to Islam. And that is part of the case, here. It just so happens the person who will not train with women in our dojo is a native born American not a foreign national. It's our foreign national friend who will train with me.

Respect goes both ways. By showing respect for his beliefs, he shows respect for my right to train with men...and he trains with me. Of the three that started in my dojo, he's the only one who trains at our dojo. Two of them do not train in our dojo anymore, just at their mosque aikido club. The one who trains with me and who has stayed in our dojo is an Egyptian national; the one who won't is an American convert. Go figure.

Also, the key word here is "reasonable" not just any accomodation. And forget whether someone gets sued or not. Anyone can try to sue for anything - it doesn't mean that they have leg to stand on though. It's just a matter of common decency and respect really. Schools do not need to go to extraordinary lengths but I don't think we should be a doormat to the PCism either. And that is not what I'm advocating either.

Like my direct experience, they will either stick around and find a way to train in a dojo with women and without conflicting his beliefs or they don't and find another alternative and that alternative exists for them - their male-only aikido classes at their mosque.

Buck
01-08-2009, 09:30 PM
Women are no longer chattel (that is property). We are have never been cattle (the livestock).

I live in South Florida and we have a large immigrant population, thus we are a very diverse population. We are not a monolithic "American" culture down here.

Also, how do you know the person I'm talking about is not a citizen born in the U.S.? There ARE native born Americans who convert to Islam. And that is part of the case, here. It just so happens the person who will not train with women in our dojo is a native born American not a foreign national. It's our foreign national friend who will train with me.

Respect goes both ways. By showing respect for his beliefs, he shows respect for my right to train with men...and he trains with me. Of the three that started in my dojo, he's the only one who trains at our dojo. Two of them do not train in our dojo anymore, just at their mosque aikido club. The one who trains with me and who has stayed in our dojo is an Egyptian national; the one who won't is an American convert. Go figure.

Also, the key word here is "reasonable" not just any accomodation. And forget whether someone gets sued or not. Anyone can try to sue for anything - it doesn't mean that they have leg to stand on though. It's just a matter of common decency and respect really. Schools do not need to go to extraordinary lengths but I don't think we should be a doormat to the PCism either. And that is not what I'm advocating either.

Like my direct experience, they will either stick around and find a way to train in a dojo with women and without conflicting his beliefs or they don't and find another alternative and that alternative exists for them - their male-only aikido classes at their mosque.

First, I don't have Ph.D. in the meaning of words, but I really think it is important to let you know that I meant cattle and not chattel.

Chattel meaning owned slaves. Cattle being a beast of burden, a creature that is easily domesticated, and dominated and is often use to describe human beings en masse, and specifically to this discussion women. Now some religions and peoples treat and feel woman are equal or even less than cattle. A quick search to an online dictionary will have the following stuff for the word cattle is related to in the word chattel. ETYMOLOGY of Cattle: Middle English catel, from Anglo-French katil, chatel personal property, from Medieval Latin capitale, from Latin, neuter of capitalis of the head . I thank you for your keenness, but I think I used the right word of cattle, and not chattel. Chattel is above cattle, because chattel means slave, and cattle doesn't.

With the rest... thanks and good luck. ;)

NagaBaba
01-09-2009, 08:34 AM
Also, the key word here is "reasonable" not just any accomodation.

What is reasonable for one person will be not reasonable at all for other. As such, it canít be a stable foundation for harmonious relations between people.
Especially it is true when you deal with different cultures. So such approach can be seen as a kind of favoritism in the dojo, and for me it is very wrong thing.

Buck
01-09-2009, 05:30 PM
First, I don't have Ph.D. in the meaning of words, but I really think it is important to let you know that I meant cattle and not chattel.

Chattel meaning owned slaves. Cattle being a beast of burden, a creature that is easily domesticated, and dominated and is often use to describe human beings en masse, and specifically to this discussion women. Now some religions and peoples treat and feel woman are equal or even less than cattle. A quick search to an online dictionary will have the following stuff for the word cattle is related to in the word chattel. ETYMOLOGY of Cattle: Middle English catel, from Anglo-French katil, chatel personal property, from Medieval Latin capitale, from Latin, neuter of capitalis of the head . I thank you for your keenness, but I think I used the right word of cattle, and not chattel. Chattel is above cattle, because chattel means slave, and cattle doesn't.

With the rest... thanks and good luck. ;)

If it wasn't evident I don't think anyone should be treated like cattle.

As the saying goes, "when in Rome..."

Buck
01-09-2009, 05:57 PM
Eric in Post #7 said it well. But that is a problem as we as Americans kind of lose our identity our unity as a people that is a part of the idea of patriotism. We have become very splintered and different ideologies, politically etc. Ann Marie is a good example of it when she said "we are not Monolithic America." Florida isn't its own country, or an island or something. I don't think each and every state has their own mores that come from all the different mixes of people that live there. These states become united. It seems we really lost that.

"Frances Bacon"
01-16-2009, 11:57 AM
I have a friend who is a lawyer. I asked my friend about this situation. I assumed that the dojo is in the U.S.

My friend stated that discrimination is only illegal in the sense of providing employment or government sponsored benefits. My friend did not believe that it was gender discrimination to have the man in question train only with male students. My friend also believed that it would not be discrimination to refuse to accomodate the man at the dojo.

My friend believed that the only situation that might be discrimination is if the man in question was forced to train with female students. Also, If the dojo is taking government money, through grants or government assistance, then it would be required to try to accomodate the man.

The only requirements for a 501(c)(3) that does not take government money is that 1. it is not set up to benefit one person more so than others and 2. you can't lobby for political candidates. Here is the IRS link with details.

http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html

I have tried to give answers about the legal question. My information is being related second-hand and I am posting anonymously, so this is not official legal advice.

Prespective
03-13-2009, 08:54 AM
Hello,

I would like to add some prespective to this discussion if I may, from the islamic side, or jewish side.

Reading through the many posts I would like to summarized my points as follows:

1. Those who say men/women who refuse to train with the opposite sex are missing out, since this is a martial art and you dont choose you attacker in life, yes but who said that man or woman training has similar goals as the others? They could be training for the love of Aikido, not for the defensive tactics. They could be training for good health, etc. They are in a free country, they are free to choose.

2. Some say ''leave your religion outside'' and come on to the mat. Yet from the other perspective religion is part of them, its in their heart, can they leave their soul outside and come on the mat? Some would respond and say ''can you also stop the creator of the universe from watching us?" It is not like a T-Shirt you just take it off whenever u want.

3. As some members pointed out, not accommodating the special needs of members could result in discrimination against that member. Personally I would accommodate them to add perspective and diversity, yet as long as no hate and intolerance is spread. As a member pointed out on a specific case, some men/women wont touch the opposite sex not because of hate or intolerance, but because 1st of religious rules (no offense intended to anyone) 2nd it is part of their respect of the opposite sex that they do not touch them, ie. it is considered rude or insulting to touch a woman if your a man (its part of the religion's etiquette you can say).

4. The issue with Islam and intolerance. Doing some research I found that many so called Muslims act in the name of Islam and do bad things yet it is against the teachs of their religion, its a cover for them, and media projects it as ''Islamic''. For example, with the issue of the danish cartons as one member pointed out, the cartoonist's life was threatened. In brief, I learned that in no way or shape or form should his life be threatened by any Muslim, except the authority of that country who imposes the law. Its true that that cartoonist did an immensly insulting thing and gesture towards Muslims under the cover of freedom of speech, yet the ruler of law is the one who takes care of him not anyone else according to Islamic teachings.

5. I spoke to a few Senseis I know, running their own dojos. I have found that its an issue specific to the Dojo itself. Meaning, if their are more men than women, then a woman with religious restrictions can't practice there, yet if its 50 ; 50 , then they could accommodate her partnering her with a woman. Again, it depends on the Dojo's situation. Yet what worries me is that some instructors will be hard in they way they turn down these people's requests (what ever religion they come from), and then the person turned down would associate that rude rejection with how Aikido operates and attitude it carries. After all instructors are representatives of Aikido. I personally have seen instructors who were rude in turning down special accommodations because of that instructor's own perspective or beliefs, not because he or she can't accommodate a student. I know students who grew more in respect of an instructor because that instructor turned them down with a smile and politeness. After all its all about peace and harmony!

Finally, I would say its an issue of dialogue and understanding the other side's story. Its up to the dojo and instructor and their special situation if they can or can't accommodate. But my wish is that an instructor takes the time to understand the student. Who knows that student could be an asset in the future, bring in diversity, perspective, and harmony to the class with his uniqueness.

Enjoy Aikido and have fun, relax :)

kalmen
08-01-2009, 01:18 AM
Here's a perspective from the other side...

I started practicing Aikido for the beauty of the martial art and for its spiritual aspect, I'm also studying O Sensei's teachings and I'm greatly influenced by them.

I must admit, though, that I have internal conflicts when it comes to being forced to bow or practice with a partner of the opposite sex, this is just who I am and I certainly don't expect people to understand, but their accommodation would be greatly appreciated.

I have asked a few Senseis if I could get away with these (primarily practicing with women), and they refused, which is fine, it's their Dojo and it's their rules. I'd also want to practice in a place that would understand my situation. I guess it is something I have to accept as a price to pay for being the way I am.

I haven't gone through all the dojos in my city, and hopefully I will find one, but if I don't, I guess I'm a minority and I'll have to live with it.

Guilty Spark
08-01-2009, 08:45 AM
Here's a perspective from the other side...

I started practicing Aikido for the beauty of the martial art and for its spiritual aspect, I'm also studying O Sensei's teachings and I'm greatly influenced by them.

I must admit, though, that I have internal conflicts when it comes to being forced to bow or practice with a partner of the opposite sex, this is just who I am and I certainly don't expect people to understand, but their accommodation would be greatly appreciated.

I have asked a few Senseis if I could get away with these (primarily practicing with women), and they refused, which is fine, it's their Dojo and it's their rules. I'd also want to practice in a place that would understand my situation. I guess it is something I have to accept as a price to pay for being the way I am.

I haven't gone through all the dojos in my city, and hopefully I will find one, but if I don't, I guess I'm a minority and I'll have to live with it.

That was a really polite approach to the issue Mohammad, good stuff.

For starters I would mention that no one is forced to bow to another student. No one is being forced to attend Aikido classes (as far as I know).
You choose to attend.
In class there are certain rules and traditions that people are expected to follow as they are a part of the art/environment.

I remember training with one guy once who made a point about hating all things Japanese and making sure everyone around him knew it. He didn't feel he needed to wear the dogi, he wanted t wear shorts and a T shirt. His argument was that fighters on TV wore shorts, he should be allowed to wear what he wanted too. He was of course asked to leave.

Gender segregation creates a poor training environment IMO. To me it is the exact same as someone not wanting to train with African Americans, Asians, Muslims, Native Americans etc..

Me not wanting to train with black students "just because it's the way I am" probably wouldn't see me training there. Is it fair to them? Nope. Humans are humans.

I respect the fact that people have religious issues but why should a school for example bend their rules and traditions?
Why not have the student with the religious issues bend their own rules?

In your case why couldn't you accept the fact that you're in an environment where men and women and equal, train with each other and just follow suit?

I'm also studying O Sensei's teachings and I'm greatly influenced by them.
Imagine you're in his Dojo learning his art. What do you think his reaction would have been if you said I don't want to bow to that student because she's female?

ninjaqutie
08-01-2009, 02:18 PM
And what happends if only he and another female student shows up? Then what....

Amir Krause
08-02-2009, 07:37 AM
Imagine you're in his Dojo learning his art. What do you think his reaction would have been if you said I don't want to bow to that student because she's female?

The Sensei has to make a decision, is he interested in accepting all interested students, or is he going to discriminate against those for whom the Dojo rules must change?

Any decision is legitimate. But please, be honest, if you insist a student must transgress basic rules of his religion, you may as well ask him to change religion. This type of requirement is discriminatory.

I guess many here miss the importance of sex segregation in Orthodox Judaism and Islam due to your living and being brought up in a Protestant Christian environment (or a secular post Protestant Christian environment). I do not know of equivalent fundamental rules in Christianity. Though I am sure there are some. Growing in a secular post Jewish community, I find a huge distinction between the Orthodox Judaism concept of opposite sexes segregation and discrimination against women.


For starters I would mention that no one is forced to bow to another student. No one is being forced to attend Aikido classes (as far as I know).
You choose to attend.
This might be the legal side. Yet, this is discriminatory in the moral sense.


In class there are certain rules and traditions that people are expected to follow as they are a part of the art/environment.
True, but are all the rules equally important?

I remember training with one guy once who made a point about hating all things Japanese and making sure everyone around him knew it. He didn't feel he needed to wear the dogi, he wanted t wear shorts and a T shirt. His argument was that fighters on TV wore shorts, he should be allowed to wear what he wanted too. He was of course asked to leave.
Sorry, but this example is misleading. You compare a person with no respect to tradition, to a person who follows one tradition and is interested in practicing and honoring another.

Gender segregation creates a poor training environment IMO.
I agree, this does make a poor training environment. Yet, not traveling and not turning the lights on one day a week seems much more harmful of life quality, and religious Jews do it one full day (>24 hours) every week.

To me it is the exact same as someone not wanting to train with African Americans, Asians, Muslims, Native Americans etc..
Me not wanting to train with black students "just because it's the way I am" probably wouldn't see me training there. Is it fair to them? Nope. Humans are humans.

The difference is the matter of cause\motive. If one is dismissive of other peoples, and a racist, you are right. But if one only follows his religion, and is willing to do the most his religion allows him to, it is not the same.

I respect the fact that people have religious issues but why should a school for example bend their rules and traditions?
Why not have the student with the religious issues bend their own rules?
WE respect Japanese tradition while practicing Aikido, are we bound to disrespect any other tradition (most of which pre-date Aikido by many hundreds of years)? Can one not find a way to respect both?

In your case why couldn't you accept the fact that you're in an environment where men and women and equal, train with each other and just follow suit?

Ahmed never said men and women are not equal, this is your interpretation.
I do not know his explanation (the Islamic one), but for instance some Orthodox Jew interpretations I have heard would believe that the woman is more worthy, and her honor should therefore be kept inside.
Ahmed (and many religious Islamic and Jews) may train with women – these are the rules of his religion – you can either accept him or discriminate against him, period.
Actually Religious Jews are only allowed to touch women, after both have gone to purify in the Mikve (special water pool), are you willing to create on in your dojo and ask all women and men to go there prior to training?

Amir

Unreg56
08-02-2009, 11:56 AM
"I guess many here miss the importance of sex segregation in Orthodox Judaism and Islam ...I find a huge distinction between the Orthodox Judaism concept of opposite sexes segregation and discrimination against women."

At least for the sake of people familiar with racial segregation and discrimination around the world, you will have to do better then that.

"... but for instance some Orthodox Jew interpretations I have heard would believe that the woman is more worthy, and her honor should therefore be kept inside."


If I remember correctly these are the same people that demand segregated public transportation (brings memories doesn't it?) and praise god every day for "not making me a woman".

An ideology that preaches segregation by race or sex is discriminating by the definition of the word and should not be accommodated.

aikilouis
08-02-2009, 12:10 PM
Sorry, but this example is misleading. You compare a person with no respect to tradition, to a person who follows one tradition and is interested in practicing and honoring another.
Hell is paved with good intentions. No matter what excuse one finds for one's behavious, only the acts matter.

I do not know his explanation (the Islamic one), but for instance some Orthodox Jew interpretations I have heard would believe that the woman is more worthy, and her honor should therefore be kept inside.
Ahmed (and many religious Islamic and Jews) may train with women Ė these are the rules of his religion Ė you can either accept him or discriminate against him, period.
Well, no matter what fancy clothes the various religious authorities dress it with, it is still the manifestation of sexual repression and fear, and the most vocal advocates of purity are often the most hypocritical in private.

Guilty Spark
08-02-2009, 12:18 PM
The Sensei has to make a decision, is he interested in accepting all interested students, or is he going to discriminate against those for whom the Dojo rules must change?

Any decision is legitimate. But please, be honest, if you insist a student must transgress basic rules of his religion, you may as well ask him to change religion. This type of requirement is discriminatory.
Interesting times we live in isn't it.
I come to your house and if you make me take off my shoes at your door you may very well be discriminating against me.


I guess many here miss the importance of sex segregation in Orthodox Judaism and Islam due to your living and being brought up in a Protestant Christian environment (or a secular post Protestant Christian environment). I do not know of equivalent fundamental rules in Christianity. Though I am sure there are some. Growing in a secular post Jewish community, I find a huge distinction between the Orthodox Judaism concept of opposite sexes segregation and discrimination against women.

I may border on being a hypocrite.
Personally I don't like training with females. Might be due to the hooah environment of the military I work. May be due to previous bad experiences I have had and seen in a different MA school. It might be the constant threat (real or feigned) of sexual harassment that often accompanies females places. (Yes happens to guys too but it's uncommon)

This said my current training partner is a female whom I consider to be my best friend. There are female members of this bored who would do circles around me on the aikido mat and I'd love to get the snot beat out of me by them.

The difference is that while I may have personal reservations against training with females (for some valid reasons IMO) I'll never refuse to train with one or refuse to bow to one showing the same amount of courtesy I would a male. They have every right to be on the Aikido mat that I do and I feel I would be disrespecting them, myself and the Dojo if I treated them any differently.

My issue is that people come to various institutions and want to bring their religious and cultural practices.
Why does it often come across that the same people are reluctant to accept that the institution they are attending has different practices than them and choose to modify their own while present?

Do you see where I am going?
I admit I know very little about religion. This may be a bad example but I'll try.
Lets say your religion does not allow you to eat on Fridays. For whatever reason I go to an establishment belonging to your religion. Fridays are TGIFs (ThankGod It's Friday) for me at and my tradition (work/family whatever) to order Pizza at lunch.

Would it be rude of me to order pizza and eat it in front of you at your establishment or would you expect me to respect you your religion and the establishment and refrain from eating?

That may be a little simplistic but that's how I see a lot of religious and cultural issues on the matter. You respect mine while I don' really worry about yours.


True, but are all the rules equally important?

Yes otherwise they would be suggestions.


I agree, this does make a poor training environment. Yet, not traveling and not turning the lights on one day a week seems much more harmful of life quality, and religious Jews do it one full day (>24 hours) every week.
How much does not traveling or turning lights on compare with behaviors at a dojo?
Perhaps an issue would be the actual location of the OPs Dojo.

The difference is the matter of cause\motive. If one is dismissive of other peoples, and a racist, you are right. But if one only follows his religion, and is willing to do the most his religion allows him to, it is not the same.


WE respect Japanese tradition while practicing Aikido, are we bound to disrespect any other tradition (most of which pre-date Aikido by many hundreds of years)? Can one not find a way to respect both?

That may be an ideal solution, a compromise but ultimately I would err on the side of respecting Aikido's traditions vice someone choosing to show up and train there.


Ahmed never said men and women are not equal, this is your interpretation.
Not in as many words no, I was referencing what I've seen and dealt with regarding treatment of women.
Why do you think it woul be offensive to bow to a woman, Amir? Remembering you're not touching them, what might the reason be?


I do not know his explanation (the Islamic one), but for instance some Orthodox Jew interpretations I have heard would believe that the woman is more worthy.
Amir, you should take a few minutes and research Islam and what they think of women being more worthy then men.

-- these are the rules of his religion -- you can either accept him or discriminate against him, period.
Or, they can accept that a school doesn't treat women differently than men for whatever reason (training, bowing) contact) and either accept it or find something else to do.

are you willing to create on in your dojo and ask all women and men to go there prior to training?
If I was running a school in Israel? Maybe.

In Canada I would say no students under 18,men train with women, no heavy make up or cologne, accept and respect my schools rules and traditions and leave the drama at the door.

While we obviously don't agree on this issue Amir (Nor probably will) I appreciate your opinions and the time you took for the well worded and thought out post thank you.

Mary Eastland
08-02-2009, 12:35 PM
Interesting thread....I like to train with everyone.....even the people I might not like to train with.

If men won't trian with women how can women become teachers?
Mary

gdandscompserv
08-02-2009, 02:48 PM
I guess many here miss the importance of sex segregation in Orthodox Judaism and Islam due to your living and being brought up in a Protestant Christian environment (or a secular post Protestant Christian environment).
Protestant Christians were fine with slavery, witch trials, and not letting women vote long before they embraced equality.

people are strange
08-02-2009, 03:13 PM
it is funny how people think. i had a couple parents who approached me with concerns regarding bowing and those strange words i said to begin meditating and to end it. i explained to them what was going on and they seemed satisfied that it didn't conflict with their religious beliefs. course the fact that they often fail to pay their monthly dues wasn't mentioned. not sure how they reconcile that. lol

ninjaqutie
08-02-2009, 03:24 PM
This is a very touchy subject. My dojo only has a few females (5 and I am the only one that trains regularly) so training with a female could be minimized usually. However, 3 out of 4 classes this week involved 3 students. That meant 2 males and me being the one female. Now, when there are 3 students in my dojo, one person is in the middle and the other 2 take turns being uke. Then you switch.

Now, this allows one person to rest for a tiny bit. IF you were to say "Hey Ashley, sorry but you aren't going to be able to work with XYZ." Then the other poor uke is the only that can work with myself and XYZ, which means they will not be able to rest at all. This may not be a big deal, but when it is 108 degrees and you are still doing an intense class, then a tiny break every now and then is good. Sure, the instructor for that class could work with a student to even the numbers out, but usually our sempais and sensei prefer to watch so they can help.

Having said this, I am an advocate of allowing all to train if they want and I believe that a reasonable attempt to accomodate a student should be made. The training of the other students shouldn't be compromised in this process either. The question is, does this cross the line for this particular dojo. Only this anonymous person knows the proportion of male/female ratio as well as the normal number of students on a daily basis.




On another note (as another female brought this up): I personally prefer to train with men and I will partner up with a man faster then I would a female. Chances are that I will be attacked by a man more then I would a female. Since most... no... all of the men there are stronger then me, then I know I have to get my technique right. I personally would be a little bumbed if a guy refused to work with me, but at the same time, though I amy not understand, I would have to respect his religious beliefs. I would like to think that several other aikidoka would feel the same way.

This person also didn't mention if they were an instructor or a student. I hope they aren't the one to have to make this difficult decision.

ruthmc
08-03-2009, 08:00 AM
Religious restrictions on contact between men and women are all based on very old fashioned assumptions that women are primarily considered to be sexual objects, and any male interest in them whatsoever is considered to 'defile' the woman... :rolleyes:

These men need to realise that women are people first, and should not presume anything else!

Treat people as people, and you won't go wrong.

In the dojo we are ALL people :)

Ruth

8NAWC6
08-03-2009, 08:40 AM
Let's say that you wanted to be a fireman but religious restrictions prohibited you from touching a woman to save her from a burning building. Most, and I understand not all, would not allow you.

Moreover, Aikido is a martial art and we are learning how to defend ourselves. Women don't need to know how to defend themselves from other women, they need to know how to defend themselves from men. If you are not willing to participate in the passing on of the art to women then I'm afraid that Aikido isn't for you.

ninjaqutie
08-03-2009, 10:24 AM
Women don't need to know how to defend themselves from other women, they need to know how to defend themselves from men.

I agree with that and I mentioned this in my post up a couple from you. :) Another point that hasn't been mentioned is (if he is taking it for a self defense related reason) what would he do if he happened to be attacked by a woman? It does happen. Would he just accept the violence because he isn't allowed to touch her? Or does this cross a line that allows him to protect himself?

Sorry for my ignorance here, but I really don't know how strict this is to be followed. There are so many religions and so many different levels of each of these religions. I feel so ignorant outside of what I do. :crazy:

jonreading
08-03-2009, 11:49 AM
Hmmm. Great questions. Couple of things that I wrestle with when discussing this kind of hypothetical situation...

On one hand, religious rights are pushing for tolerance in a dojo, on the other hand, women are pushing for equal treatment. The dojo is becoming a battlefield for political lobbies. Advance, advance, advance...

I find it difficult to ask someone to violate the sanctity of their religion in class. If I were to consider such a command, it would only be with the utmost understanding for the gravity of the request, and done with confidence the outcome would be worth the weight of the request.
I also find it hard to allow any student to be treated unfairly for any reason, so I choose to step in when I see discrimination (or discriminatory habits).

Pertaining to a man whose religion prevents him from touching a women...

I think I have said it before in a post, "you can believe whatever you want as long as its what we believe too."
In US, we sometimes trample over others' rights when we try to advance our own. That is the freedom we have when we own our own dojo. But think about what would happen if a bunch of Muslims opened a "Muslim only" dojo [in America]? What about a "Christian only" dojo?
Also, I am hestitant to identify the harm here. From the majority of posts I have read clearly the man is missing out on training, not the other way around.
So the bottom line is a man who suffers [in his training] from not training with others because of his religion does not have the right to train aikido???

Wanna know the two most common complaints I hear about partners who are less desireable as partners? Bad attitude and personal hygeine. I ask people with bad attitudes to leave and I talk to students with bad hygeine - I actually have a web page devoted to personal hygeine... Substitute "bad breath" or "smelly feet" for "women;" are we still willing to kick someone out of a dojo? I am not equating sexism with bad hygeine, but I also want to draw a line of conviction which separates sexism from a preference training with partners. We live in a world of personal preference, discrimination transcends preference and hurts others. We should be tolerant of preference, we should not be tolerant of discrimination.

Work with individuals in the same way you would work with anyone who has individual needs for training - physical, mental, emotional... It is impossible to avoid contact with women in the US every day, our religious friends need to accept that culture in American dojo. Some people don't like working with others for whatever reason (age, sex, attractiveness, smell, attitude), our dojo friends need to accept the fact they possess traits which make them more/less desireable as partners.

Rabih Shanshiry
08-03-2009, 12:42 PM
Religious prohibitions on contact with members of the opposite sex are part of the standard of modesty for both male and female members of those communities. They are not statements about the superiority or inferiority of one sex over the other.

Consider single sex locker rooms. Every gym/dojos I've ever been in offers them. It is an expected part of our social standard on modesty. Because men and women change in seperate areas has nothing to do with sexism. There really is no need to make this issue more than it needs to be.

A conservative woman of faith who wishes to learn Aikido should not be made to abandon that goal or compromise her religious ideals in order to do so.

All those who argue to the contrary are insensitive and fail to extend the priciniples of Aikido to the matter.

In my mind, there is no doubt how O'Sensei would have handled the matter:

[O Sensei said:] "...Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian.” Then I asked, “O Sensei should I remain a Christian?” He replied, “Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian.” If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost." - Andre Nocquet

aikilouis
08-03-2009, 01:15 PM
Andrť Nocquet didn't go to Japan with a list of demands.

Rabih Shanshiry
08-03-2009, 02:16 PM
Andrť Nocquet didn't go to Japan with a list of demands.

Part of the problem is that we are unable to differentiate between a demand for preferential treatment and a request for acommodation.

aikilouis
08-03-2009, 03:04 PM
From the moment you start saying "It's part of what I am, I can't change it", you make the situation non negotiable.

It's a crucial situation because joining a dojo is a commitment to a learning process, and implicitly you accept to be changed by it, and most probably in unexpected ways.
On one side there is your personal integrity that will dictate to put an end to the experiment if you consider it goes beyond the acceptable, but sometimes the value of the experiment can also lie in pushing the envelope. On the subject there are very interesting pages in Ellis Amdur's book Old School, concerning loyalty, commitment and limits.

Flintstone
08-03-2009, 03:31 PM
Religion is NOT negotiable. That's it. Let the man train with men. What's the problem? The word here is respect. How you want them to respect you if you don't respect them in the first place? Half the world's population belong to a religion with such a constraint. Maybe half of the world is wrong, then?

Marc Abrams
08-03-2009, 04:07 PM
People seem to be mixing apples and oranges here. An Aikido dojo is NOT a religious institution, or place of worship.

If I were to go to an orthodox synagogue, I would expect that I would not be worshiping with the women. If I visited a mosque, I would not expect that I would worship with a women. I can respect the structures that they put in place to demonstrate and teach their value systems.

At the hombu dojo, O'Sensei DID have men and women train together. I should not have to change the nature of the practice environment in order to satisfy all of the students unique demands. One potential student who was a Muslim man did not enroll because of the possibility of his training with women. I liked him, he liked me and the dojo environment, but we agreed to respect the differences that did not allow for him to feel comfortable training at my school.

If people want to start their own schools that blend the religious with training (and there are some out there), then they are entitled to do so.

One person's perception of modesty is another person's perception of bias. I do not discriminate or lack the respect for people who differ in terms of race, gender, religion,...... I do ask that in my dojo, my view of respect is that everybody trains with everybody, regardless of perceived differences. To each their own.... However, we should not confuse a place of training with a place of worship, nor should we have to sacrifice our own values and beliefs to satisfy others. Part of learning to live in a world of differences is to agree to disagree and still respect those differences.

Marc Abrams

Mary Eastland
08-03-2009, 04:09 PM
Religion is NOT negotiable. That's it. Let the man train with men. What's the problem? The word here is respect. How you want them to respect you if you don't respect them in the first place? Half the world's population belong to a religion with such a constraint. Maybe half of the world is wrong, then?
Maybe?!?
If this went into effect maybe women would have more barriers to break through so they could train.
It is disturbing to read about men not wanting to train with women and women not wanting to train with women.
This makes me glad I have my own dojo...come and train if you want to train with everyone.:)
Mary

ninjaqutie
08-03-2009, 04:51 PM
It is disturbing to read about men not wanting to train with women and women not wanting to train with women.

I don't think it is neccesarily a women not wanting to train with women issue (at least with me). It is about preference I think. I prefer to train with men, but that doesn't mean I don't like training with women.

Guilty Spark
08-03-2009, 09:30 PM
Religion is NOT negotiable.

How about the barbaric and violent laws that many of those religions promote, are those negotiable?

I don't think it is necessarily a women not wanting to train with women issue (at least with me). It is about preference I think. I prefer to train with men, but that doesn't mean I don't like training with women.
Same here.
I can understand women preferring to train with men with self defense/survival in mind because I think the very same thing.
In the long run I assume regardless of their preference they will still train with anyone and everyone. Part of Aikido is being an Uke right? IMO refusing to train with someone is failing the spirit of Aikido.

It's one thing to ask and if people accept and accommodate it that's fine. What gets me is when you hear about lawsuits popping up over it.

Chantal
08-03-2009, 10:26 PM
ok .. so here is a real life example that fits perfectly with our current conversation. I am a Catholic School Teacher and it is understood that the students at my school will pray with us, go to mass with us, celebrate the liturgical celebrations with us and be active members of the catholic school community. This said, I also understand that most of the kids in my class are not Catholic. Interesting isn't it? ... well, here is my point... The kids are not Catholic yet the parents chose that their child should attent this school. The same thing applies in aikido except that YOU are the one that chooses to attend and are expected to participate as a symbol of respect. If you choose to go, then i believe that you should respect their ways of doing things, regardless of your personal faith.

Now think of this example ... you are a tourist wanting to visit another country. Before you depart, you research your destination and become informed about proper ettiquette concerning things such as greetings and salutations, table manners and how to address people. Now imagine that if you were to shake hands in this country, it would be seen as disrespectful. Instead, the proper thing to do is kiss the hand. Knowing this, and being that you are visitor, you do what is accepted and have fantastic trip...

... Now let's change the lense of this vacation. We are all basically visitors in the art of aikido. We come from all kinds of faiths yet we choose to gather in a dojo to practice a common goal of martial arts aikido training. As a visitor, it would be rude (having already known the protocol) to do something opposite the sensei ... or even refusing to fully participate would be seen as disrespectful.
My question is ... did you not research aikido before joining and become an informed participant ??

In all due respect, my advice to you ... do as the others do!! If you can not handle the traditions of the japanese culture in regards to aikido, perhaps there is another art which would be better suited for you.

(i had more to say but my original post got deleted ... will add more when my thoughts fly back to me)

ninjaqutie
08-03-2009, 10:40 PM
I enjoyed your analogies Chantal

Rabih Shanshiry
08-03-2009, 10:47 PM
Is it just me or does anyone else get the sense that people's positions on this topic depend largely on whether they are sympathetic to the particular religions in question or even religious belief in general?

In most dojos above a certain size, it is very easy to accommodate a request from a man or a woman to train with partners of the same sex. It is much harder to accomodate someone in a wheelchair, for example, but I suspect fewer people would argue against that.

The issue boils down to this: what harm does it do to allow a woman to practice only with other women, provided there are enough female students in the dojo willing/able to accomodate?

That woman is asking for a little understanding, not much more. She is not seeking to impose her views on anyone else. She is not demanding that other students also abide by this restriction.

On the other hand, the owner/instructor of a dojo who says "my dojo, my rules" is imposing his/her standards and views on everyone else. That's their right. It's also their responsibility in many instances - I just don't think this is one of them.

Rabih Shanshiry
08-03-2009, 10:56 PM
ok .. so here is a real life example that fits perfectly with our current conversation. I am a Catholic School Teacher and it is understood that the students at my school will pray with us, go to mass with us, celebrate the liturgical celebrations with us and be active members of the catholic school community. This said, I also understand that most of the kids in my class are not Catholic.

Funny you should mention this Chantal. I went to a Catholic school myself though I am not Catholic. And yes, we were expected to bow our heads in prayer every morning, go to chapel once a week, and attend mass each month.

That being said, there was LOTS of accomodation and respect for people outside the Catholic/Christian faith. We bowed our heads in prayer, but we were not forced to say specific prayers. When we went to mass, we were not expected or pressured to take the eucharist in any way.

In fact, at the end of every prayer, the school chaplain would always say "We ask this each in his or her own way, I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." I heard that hundreds of times. The spirit of it struck a real chord with me.

It did not take much for the school to accommodate students of other faiths and make them feel welcome. They managed to do this without compromising their Catholic identity. In fact, they saw this celebration of diversity an important expression of their Catholic mission.

That is the model I'm advocating.


(Dang, I hate it when people double post. Sorry y'all).

Ellis Amdur
08-03-2009, 11:51 PM
What is interesting to me is the self-centered view of those who have a "right" to their beliefs. As if those who hold contrary views do not have values of their own. And that it is egalitarian and fair to expect others to violate their own values to support another.
Because I have values of my own - and among them is a view that the separation of men and women, as sanctioned in such religions as Orthodox Judaism and islam does violence to everyone, but particularly women.
As for what I would do if a student asked to have some sort of accommodation, my assumption is that anyone who comes to study with me, wants to learn what I have to teach. And the only way to do this is my way. I'll listen to you - and decide if I agree with you. If I don't, I won't do it. If I do agree - it's now my way that we are doing.
So if someone came to me and told me that due to their religion they could not bow as prescribed, or would not practice with a woman - because it was against their religious values. I would tell them that I respected them - but their religious values were against my values - both personal and religious - and so they would not be welcome to study with me. It would be an utter violation of what I hold dear to collude in someone refusing to practice with another member of the dojo.
My mother went to a Catholic College. She was a Jewish girl, and the only way she could go to school was by scholarship. And the valedictorian of her high school got a scholarship to the local Catholic College. That was her, so she got to go to college. The bishop visited once - and every girl kissed his ring, until my mother, who walked up, looked him in the eye and shook his hand. She was right to do what she did. It caused somewhat of a scandal, but life went on. But if the school had expelled her, although I would hold such an action in contempt, they would have had a right to do so if there was a RULE that she had to conform to. Sometimes you fight the rules - but you take the consequences.
Back in the days that I was teaching aikido, I had a fellow join a class who obviously had a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He couldn't touch people - and in fact, if he did - accidentally - he'd immediately retreat to the bathroom and wash his hands for about 5 minutes. Then he'd come back and two minutes later, the same thing would happen. I sat him down and he told me how he had this disorder. I expressed sympathy and told him he couldn't return to my class. I suggested he take up t'ai chi and gave him references. When he objected, saying he was disabled, I expressed sympathy and told him to return when he wasn't disabled - I would be happy to teach him when he was in a condition to be taught.

Ellis Amdur

Ellis Amdur
08-04-2009, 12:22 AM
Aikido IS something. And it is more than just the internal training peace. And it is more than just Daito-ryu lite amalgamated with some eccentric old guy's religious flights, more or less suppressed by his successors.
This from Terry Dobson:
What is much more important than anything I say is that I touch you. Through me, through my touch comes the touch of the founder of Aikido. There is no Bible you can buy that syas, "This is what Aikido is." it is transferred from person to person. These vibrations pass among us." From the limited edition book, BETWEEN TRUST, LOVE AND SURRENDER
Those who refuse to touch another human being within the walls of an aikido dojo are betraying the goal of the founder - because, aside from every other debate you may have, what he taught, however, attenuated, is passed from hand to hand. If a male teacher, for example, does not touch the women in the class, then, in essence, he has broken the only link possible to the founder.
I stand by my last post - but this is also true.
Ellis Amdur

Amir Krause
08-04-2009, 02:41 AM
I find it interesting that many here prefer to prevent any contact with people of a different culture. Is this the spirit of Aikido?

For such a religious person (might be an Orthodox Jew, Islamic, or a Nun with such Vows, or any other religion) to come and intend to train on a mixed sex dojo, is already making a great step and lots of concessions. Even if he will not train with women directly, he might still touch a women by accident, he will see women around him. In many ways, that person is embracing the liberal concept of "for each his own". A difficult concept for most religions, which too often impose their views on the world .

Rejecting such a person, and discriminating against him, seems to me as counter productive.
So you will not be able to teach him in your way 100% and he has already set clear boundaries he does not intend to break. Don't everyone do that? (I have yet to see students who realize in advance the change Martial Training will affect on them, or any who can predict this change). Isn't his willingness to learn from a different tradition, his openness, worthy of some accommodations? Isn't it better to give the additional viewpoints of another society to people who belong in another?

The teacher has a choice, it is not the best one, rather of the lesser evil:
- Discriminate against religious people - not letting the train at all.
- Discriminate against women\men - accept some student who will only train with others of the same sex.
Note, the women\men would not directly train with these specific people in any case: these people will either train only with people of their own sex or not train at all.
In my own opinion, the balance is clear. I believe that in the long run, all will benefit from such accommodations. Knowing others of different culture, learning to be really tolerant to different customs, even after they contradict your own beliefs and customs. This is the true meaning of liberal, and "freedom of and from religion" - not just to live according to your own faith, but to accommodate those who follow a different path.

Some of you refer to the Dojo as a private place. I disagree, a dojo, is a public place, even if you hold it in your own yard. The dojo is open to the general public, it is not the same is being in your home.

My Sensei once faced this dilemma, he decided to accommodate the student, who trained with our group, but did not train with any of the women. Even if it meant he had to wait a round.
Some other students, refuse to bow to the Shomen. We let them live with their beliefs too. It does not hurt anyone.
While Sensei accommodates these students, he does not impose their rules on anyone else: we had training camps on Sabbath, even if they could not join (Sensei checked when most could and decided accordingly). We have women trainees (including some Yundasha) - they are not discriminated.

Amir

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:00 AM
I've been training in a dojo in Indonesia where men and women trained in different days. So what? Did I miss something by not practising with the women? Not really. Did women miss something by not training with men? Maybe some stronger grips? Well, maybe. But anyway that was their choice.

Your dojo, your rules? Yes, for sure. Many dojos in Spain are not the property of the teacher, so it's not their rules, but the owner rules. The one who gets the money rules, if you get my point.

As someone appointed before, it's much more difficult to accomodate for a wheelchair student that to do so with a man or woman with that constraint. Will the wheelchair guy not be allowed to train, because he will miss some link to the founder? He cannot do tachiwaza, and that's the are in where most of the techniques lay. If I'm an orthodox jew and cannot bow to the shomen, what difference is there with the wheelchair guy? It's just an impossibility. My religion will prohibit me to do so. It's not negotiable. I won't bow. The wheelchair guy won't sutemi, for example. It's just an impossibility, no matter he wants to or not.

Why is religion negotiable and not the other cases? The man won't bow, and won't touch the female students. Not negotiable. If you are not flexible enought as to permit him to train, maybe you're lacking some of the spirit of (or link to) the Founder. That's fundamentalism / laicism and will only feed the flames of hate between religions / lack of.

Just my eccentric views.

BTW, I train with women, bow to shomen, anything... but respect those with such constraints. They are welcome among us. Respect is not about religion.

ruthmc
08-04-2009, 04:26 AM
Would somebody like to explain to me exactly what is "immodest" about the way we touch each other while doing Aikido?

I am wrapped up in my underwear, a big T-shirt, gi bottoms, gi jacket, belt and hakama. These clothes are more substantial than what I wear to go to work!

People grab my wrists, and occasionally an elbow or shoulder. These parts of my body sometimes bump into other folk on a crowded street and it doesn't bother me or them.

My arms get grabbed and twisted into assorted locks and pins during the course of a technique. I'd never consider my arms to be a particularly private part of my body - they are what I use to work, shop, drive - people see them all the time, and both men and women have arms.

So come on, explain why any of the above is compromising my modesty? :rolleyes:

Amir Krause
08-04-2009, 04:37 AM
Would somebody like to explain to me exactly what is "immodest" about the way we touch each other while doing Aikido?

I am wrapped up in my underwear, a big T-shirt, gi bottoms, gi jacket, belt and hakama. These clothes are more substantial than what I wear to go to work!

People grab my wrists, and occasionally an elbow or shoulder. These parts of my body sometimes bump into other folk on a crowded street and it doesn't bother me or them.

My arms get grabbed and twisted into assorted locks and pins during the course of a technique. I'd never consider my arms to be a particularly private part of my body - they are what I use to work, shop, drive - people see them all the time, and both men and women have arms.

So come on, explain why any of the above is compromising my modesty? :rolleyes:

Why is it releavant?
Why should you have to understand the origin of some or any religous restricion?
The Sensei is not a Reabi nor a Priest nor Imam, he is not supposed to approve the restrictions that believer decided to follow.

Religion is based on faith, not on understanding. Since I do not believe, most of the strictures make no sense to me. And I do not refer only to those related to sex segregation.

Amir

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 04:59 AM
Would somebody like to explain to me exactly what is "immodest" about the way we touch each other while doing Aikido?

I am wrapped up in my underwear, a big T-shirt, gi bottoms, gi jacket, belt and hakama. These clothes are more substantial than what I wear to go to work!

People grab my wrists, and occasionally an elbow or shoulder. These parts of my body sometimes bump into other folk on a crowded street and it doesn't bother me or them.

My arms get grabbed and twisted into assorted locks and pins during the course of a technique. I'd never consider my arms to be a particularly private part of my body - they are what I use to work, shop, drive - people see them all the time, and both men and women have arms.

So come on, explain why any of the above is compromising my modesty? :rolleyes:
It's not about understanding. It's about faith. Whatever fall into this cathegory is a different thing altogether. You can argue ad infinitum, if someone has faith you will not change it. No matter what.

It's not about why my friend is in a wheelchair. It's about he IS. You can argue ad infinitum, if someone is handicapped you will not change it. No matter what.

And I'm not necesarily saying that faith constitutes a handicap, but rather some restrictions.

sorokod
08-04-2009, 05:22 AM
Would somebody like to explain to me exactly what is "immodest" about the way we touch each other while doing Aikido?


It is not about touching, see this (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8182658.stm) for an example. It is not about you either. You are (probably) not Muslim or Jewish and so not bound by their laws.
It is about them. They fear that by being a woman you will cause them to sin against their gods.

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 06:47 AM
So if someone came to me and told me that due to their religion they could not bow as prescribed, or would not practice with a woman - because it was against their religious values. I would tell them that I respected them - but their religious values were against my values - both personal and religious - and so they would not be welcome to study with me.

Ellis,

I don't quite understand how someone's personal choice not to bow, but perhaps to show some other sign of respect to the dojo, violates your values. You express respect by bowing, they may express it with a Kung-Fu style hand push or something similar. Is it really that big of a deal?

I enjoyed reading the story about your mother. Thank you sharing that. It does leave me wondering how you can hold the position you do in light of your mom's experience. Imagine if the principal of the school told your mom, "my way or the highway." Your mother would have been expelled, probably would not have gone to college, and her life could have been very different - presumably for the worse. What good would that have done anyone? It certainly would not have made her respect the school or bishop any more - probably a whole lot less.

Yes, it's your legal right to refuse to accomodate those whose values are different than yours. Just as it would have been the school's legal right to expel your mother at the time. This is not a question of what is legal but rather what is the greater good.

How many people would have missed out on the benefits of Aikido training had O Sensei required them to convert to the Omoto faith in order to study the art?

...rab

ruthmc
08-04-2009, 06:58 AM
It's not about understanding. It's about faith.

Faith in what? That a bunch of outdated restrictions are relevant in modern society? (and I include the lifetime of O Sensei as modern, because he had no such restrictions)

t's not about why my friend is in a wheelchair. It's about he IS. You can argue ad infinitum, if someone is handicapped you will not change it. No matter what.

Your friend in the wheelchair isn't there by choice. Those who chose to adopt religious restrictions DO have a choice.

Unless of course you live in a country where you get flogged for choosing... evileyes

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 07:06 AM
Faith in what? That a bunch of outdated restrictions are relevant in modern society? (and I include the lifetime of O Sensei as modern, because he had no such restrictions)....Unless of course you live in a country where you get flogged for choosing... evileyes

Thanks for making my point Ruth:

"Is it just me or does anyone else get the sense that people's positions on this topic depend largely on whether they are sympathetic to the particular religions in question or even religious belief in general?"

Guilty Spark
08-04-2009, 07:07 AM
Is it just me or does anyone else get the sense that people's positions on this topic depend largely on whether they are sympathetic to the particular religions in question or even religious belief in general?

Very much so. I think to a lesser extent being religious in general and more having an issue with certain religions rules which they take issue with.

The issue boils down to this: what harm does it do to allow a woman to practice only with other women, provided there are enough female students in the dojo willing/able to accomodate?
Over all harm? Probably not much. In larger classes a woman asking to train with women only probably wouldn't be that big of a deal. In smaller classes more so.

For myself and some others it seems that segregation based on religion offends the spirit of the dojo, aikido and the uke.

Here is one possible harm though. Lawsuits. What happens when I, a female show up at your dojo and after 3 days I urn to you and say I will only train with women. If another man touches me during training I will go to the police and accuse them and the school of sexual harassment. If you ask me to leave I will sue you for discrimination because I'm female.

Lets say my parents were racist to the extreme. I grew up in the environment and being racist is as spiritual to me as any religion. I turn to you and say I'll only train with white students, I won't train with any coloured students. It's my preference and how I was brought up. We have a lot of students in the class, why can't you accommodate me and only let me train with white students?

Would anyone here be so quick to accommodate me then?

I've been training in a dojo in Indonesia where men and women trained in different days. So what? Did I miss something by not practising with the women? Not really.
If I had a chance to train with someone like Mary, Janet , Ruth or other females from this forum and I skipped the chance on purpose I would be ashamed of myself as an Aikido student. Did I miss something by not practicing with them? Very much so.

jss
08-04-2009, 07:10 AM
What good would that have done anyone?
<snip>
This is not a question of what is legal but rather what is the greater good.
Not everyone is a utilitarian.

jss
08-04-2009, 07:25 AM
Why is religion negotiable and not the other cases?
The wheelchair is not negotiable because the guy in it, doesn't have a choice.
Religion is not negotiable, if the religious person says so.
The dojo rules are not negotiable, if the teacher says so.

I don't see a problem here. Religious people don't have some sort of right to be taught aikido at their own terms. Aikido teachers don't have the duty to accommodate everyone.

Mary Eastland
08-04-2009, 07:39 AM
Not training with every person available in your dojo does cause harm...it calls attention to you and makes you different.
You are not blending with what is.
Women bring a different energy to the mat...mixed with men's energy it becomes Aikido.
Take responsiblity for your own choices...Ellis's story about his mother is about this...she chose not to kiss...if she was expelled it was because of her actions.

When I was handed a bag by the founder of Kokikai... I handed it back. I chose not to carry it...if I was ostracized, it was because of my choice. I was not and seemed to be respected more because of it...but I was willing to accept the consequences of my choice.
Mary

Marc Abrams
08-04-2009, 08:53 AM
I find it both disturbing and interesting how we treat "religious" differences to a another standard than other differences that people might have. Ellis pointed out very clearly that the teacher also has a distinct choice in creating a training atmosphere that best represents the art form and the teacher. This training atmosphere is entirely different than an institution of religious learning or practice. The constraints that Ellis pointed out regarding a person with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) would interfere with and disrupt the training environment to the same level that would occur when one person will not train with a person who just so happens to be of another gender.

Mary is also right when she talks about the harm in a dojo atmosphere that occurs when the insidious introduction of spoken and unspoken rules that delineate personal differences and preferences is allowed to take place.

Despite the failed rationalizations that some religious people try and create, the separate treatment of men and women in these religious cultures is not equal. The women end up (at best) being treated as second class citizens. They suffer from countless instances of different levels of types of abuse and mistreatment (even violence) while being told it is to protect them and treat them as "special." The greatest loss is that the men are simply not placed in a position to learn from the type of wisdom that is gained from being a women (there is also a type of wisdom that is gained from being a man).

I strongly agree with Mary when she talks about the value of having women in a dojo. If a dojo, for what ever reason, chooses to to exclude by designated "types" (gender, race, age,.....) then I would not want to train in that type of environment. A teacher can create that type of world to live, teach and train in. I can respect that person for standing by one's choices, while at the same time, not agreeing or choosing to support that type of environment. That teacher does not owe me an explanation, nor I to the teacher; what we do owe each other is a modicum of respect so that we do not perpetuate a culture of violence due to not accepting the differences between us.

Marc Abrams

Amir Krause
08-04-2009, 09:16 AM
Here is one possible harm though. Lawsuits. What happens when I, a female show up at your dojo and after 3 days I urn to you and say I will only train with women. If another man touches me during training I will go to the police and accuse them and the school of sexual harassment. If you ask me to leave I will sue you for discrimination because I'm female.

Can't you be more inventive then that?
If you look at the beginning of this thread, it seemed like the Sensei could have been also sued just for religion discrimnation.
One could argue you present a legal reason for seperating the practice of both sexes - to prevent such lawsuits.

Despite the failed rationalizations that some religious people try and create, the separate treatment of men and women in these religious cultures is not equal. The women end up (at best) being treated as second class citizens. They suffer from countless instances of different levels of types of abuse and mistreatment (even violence) while being told it is to protect them and treat them as "special." The greatest loss is that the men are simply not placed in a position to learn from the type of wisdom that is gained from being a women (there is also a type of wisdom that is gained from being a man).

I strongly agree with Mary when she talks about the value of having women in a dojo. If a dojo, for what ever reason, chooses to to exclude by designated "types" (gender, race, age,.....) then I would not want to train in that type of environment. A teacher can create that type of world to live, teach and train in. I can respect that person for standing by one's choices, while at the same time, not agreeing or choosing to support that type of environment. That teacher does not owe me an explanation, nor I to the teacher; what we do owe each other is a modicum of respect so that we do not perpetuate a culture of violence due to not accepting the differences between us.


So you will not accept religious women of such religions into your classes?
Because the religions they worship reduce their status, how does that make sense?

Instead of creating a dialog, teaching them (men or Women) and trying to create a lrager scale enviroment, you believe it is better
to force "liberal values" on all comers? Against the very spirit behind liberalisem and equality to all?

I happen to know at least one great Person and a good Aikidoka (of another dojo) for whom I am happy he could find a teacher willing to accomodate to his religous requests.

Amir
P.S.
To me, the OCD case sounded like much more dirupting then a religious person not training with the other sex. Perhaps because my experiance has shown it is easy to integrate such people without much of a disruption.
Let us not forget, many here have often recommended people to refuse to train with someone wit whom they can not manage (feel he is abusive / does not let them train). Such behavior is acceptable in most cases.

Ellis Amdur
08-04-2009, 09:32 AM
1. As for the story of my mom, as I said, I would hold in contempt a school that still had an ideology that we Jews are personally and primarily responsible for the death of Christ expelling my mom because she wouldn't act in a submissive fashion - but if a requirement of the school was such submission, then knowing that, she could be expelled. She or I might fight it - because such values are repulsive to me. But at the same time, I accept that they have the right - (unless they are taking public money). The boy scouts do not have a right to discriminate against homosexuals, because they take public money. The same, I believe, for the American armed forces.
2. I would not go into a mosque and demand that women and men sit together. But if I were a member of that mosque - and a Muslim - I would. Were I an Orthodox Jew, I would similarly fight against such a belief.
3. Now to the criticism of illiberality. So-called fundamentalists have certain views of the world and morality and they do not wish to compromise. Particularly as a religious person, that is understandable. But if those views demand that others conform to their views, now we have a conflict - perhaps an irreconcilable conflict.
Western societies, due to a distortion of "multiculturalism," are easily intimidated by fundamentalist ideology - as in, "the x people are upset, so if we accommodate them, they will stop being upset. Because a fundamentalist has an all/nothing ideology, a compromise is, in fact, the new "point of negotiation." A very fine writer in the Netherlands recently bemoaned the potential loss of freedom in his country due to the changes that were happened based on the demands of fundamentalist groups. "I have always treasured freedom. However, I have no idea how to fight for it."
As a human being, I am certainly curious about the values of other cultures - but I believe that the values I have are the best in the world - the same, honestly, as you. Otherwise, why hold such beliefs? So to state, so to speak, that the teacher is being illiberal for not accepting those whose values conflict with those of either the dojo or the teacher is to assume that the teacher - liberal Westerner or Japanese - must give up his or her values, which conflict with those of the fundamentalist. My reply is not on your life. I am a fundamentalist liberal - I will not willingly abet activities that go against my values.
Speaking as a teacher, you (whoever you are) do not have a "right" to learn from me. I have a choice whether you are suitable to teach. This applies both ways - I recall an aikido teacher in Florida who has an all male dojo. I fully support his right to do this - and fully support his students in training with him. Maybe if I were a member, I'd argue with him, and he'd either change his mind (not likely) or not. And if I were too disruptive, maybe he'd expel me. That's the way of the world.
Best

Marc Abrams
08-04-2009, 09:46 AM
Can't you be more inventive then that?
If you look at the beginning of this thread, it seemed like the Sensei could have been also sued just for religion discrimnation.
One could argue you present a legal reason for seperating the practice of both sexes - to prevent such lawsuits.

So you will not accept religious women of such religions into your classes?
Because the religions they worship reduce their status, how does that make sense?

Instead of creating a dialog, teaching them (men or Women) and trying to create a lrager scale enviroment, you believe it is better
to force "liberal values" on all comers? Against the very spirit behind liberalisem and equality to all?

I happen to know at least one great Person and a good Aikidoka (of another dojo) for whom I am happy he could find a teacher willing to accomodate to his religous requests.

Amir
P.S.
To me, the OCD case sounded like much more dirupting then a religious person not training with the other sex. Perhaps because my experiance has shown it is easy to integrate such people without much of a disruption.
Let us not forget, many here have often recommended people to refuse to train with someone wit whom they can not manage (feel he is abusive / does not let them train). Such behavior is acceptable in most cases.

Amir:

Do you know me? You must know me better than I know myself, because you describe me as wanting to force "liberal values" on somebody else. The religious woman is entitled to her beliefs and opinions. I can entirely respect where she is coming from and understand her point of view. ONCE AGAIN, I do not have to accept them as my own and to change the training atmosphere to accommodate that person's unique requirements for training. If that religious woman finds a training environment that best suites her needs and requirements, than I am happy for her. I am not forcing anything onto anybody. I am allowing people to make the their choices on what they believe is right. I can respect that as long as that choice does not directly lead, support, or condone violence (except when preservation of life makes such violent actions necessary).

You speak of creating some dialogue while at the same time condoning behaviors that make the dialogue meaningless. I have had many dialogues with many people from different cultures, religions.... and at times, we have simply agreed to disagree on certain things yet actually gained further respect towards each other for the sincerity of who each person is, while having a greater caring from creating a more peaceful and sustainable world to live in.

I am a licensed psychologist who has substantial experience working with people diagnosed with OCD. I have also substantial experience working with people from a wide variety of religious beliefs, cultures, etc.. I stand behind what I wrote previously. I believe that the level of disruption is comparable and not acceptable in my school.

When people refuse to train with somebody in a dojo, that is a situation that needs to be directly addressed and resolved so that everybody is willing to work with everybody else (in my opinion). My experience is that when this is not addressed it festers to a more destructive level that typically results in one or more people leaving a school.

Marc Abrams

ps- my own personal experience is that "liberal" people tend to be FAR MORE accepting of differences amongst people than the very religious. If your experience is different than mine, than you are more fortunate than I.

ninjaqutie
08-04-2009, 10:48 AM
Wow, this thread is getting pretty heated!


Lets say my parents were racist to the extreme. I grew up in the environment and being racist is as spiritual to me as any religion. I turn to you and say I'll only train with white students, I won't train with any coloured students. It's my preference and how I was brought up. We have a lot of students in the class, why can't you accommodate me and only let me train with white students?

Would anyone here be so quick to accommodate me then?

Just wanted to say that this really got my attention. I can honestly say that I am pretty ignorant to other religions outside of mine, but this... this I got. I'm sure a lot of us have experienced this in some shape or form.

I think the point is that a person has beliefs. Some of those are a lot stronger then others. I have a choice to either alter or stand firm on my beliefs. If I go somewhere and they aren't willing or simply can't accomodate me, then I have the choice to move on. If on the other hand, they are willing to work with me, I don't see the problem in giving it a go.

Guilty Spark
08-04-2009, 10:53 AM
Can't you be more inventive then that?
No, I'm not very smart or creative. Apology

That example may be simplistic to you but it is a very real and VERY common problem in North America.

you believe it is better
to force "liberal values" on all comers? Against the very spirit behind liberalisem and equality to all?
Training in Aikido is a choice.

How do you feel about entertaining students at your school who ask not to train with anyone who is Jewish (Lets say you have a mix of people there)

Janet Rosen
08-04-2009, 11:08 AM
Ellis' mom's story resonated for me - I was a (born) Jewish woman who got full financial aid to attend a Jesuit university to go to nursing school. There was a theology requirement, which I accepted because I had chosen to go there. As it happened, they offered a number of religious studies classes that we could take (I remember taking "Ingmar Bergman and the Silence of God" and having interesting post-movie classroom conversations with Saudi students on some of the themes!).

Anyhow, on the topic at hand:
When I ask, in the dojo, for permission to train without kneeling or having my thumbs grabbed because of medical/physical limitations, this is in no way a training that embodies rejection of other people, or in any way makes them "other" or demeans them.

Having said that, if there was a dojo cho who didn't want to deal with my physical issues, that's his right. I might not like it, but it's his right.

In my own value system, the only reason to refuse to train with a person is feeling they are a danger. Age, gender, religion, skin color, disability - all part of normal life.

jonreading
08-04-2009, 11:25 AM
This is a great thread. I like some of the things I have heard.

At the time I am writing this thread, I have now read several posts from the religious lobby and the women's rights lobby. However, I still believe the dojo is not a place of politics. The decision to allow or refuse any student for any reason lies with sensei and the dojo board. I support the right to refuse any student for any reason as long as the decision is made in the best interest of the dojo. But to make a decision on behalf of the dojo that is influenced by politics?

Dojo are benevolent monarchies. Make decisions in the best interest of your dojo and take responsibility for those decisions. Understand the weight of your decision and move on without regret.

I think we are dabbling with the unspoken comment that "religions that segregate sexes are sexist," The attacks on the stupidity of religious observations are somewhat disappointing to read. I don't think that is the point of this thread either.

Amdur sensei mentioned a dojo that took some heat for an only men environment - which was a thread on Aikiweb. Yet when I searched the forums about only an women environment it did not portray the same message. We need to work within our dojo to make sure everyone is treated fairly, but we need a consistent message of fairness.

Amdur sensei also mentions that students must be trainable, which I believe to be me key to this conversation. Preferences which prevent a student from learning aikido are just as debilitating as physical and mental disabilities. If we would give leniency to a student to qualify as "trainable," we should work to make sure we commit that same leniency across the board and we remain consistent. Students who are committed to train will find a way to balance their personal life and aikido; we should be there to help them achieve that balance and if they can't we direct them somewhere where they can find something else.

Janet Rosen
08-04-2009, 12:11 PM
I think we are dabbling with the unspoken comment that "religions that segregate sexes are sexist,"

Oh I think some of us are very explicit in the fact that we believe that to be true. It's sort of the definition, to me: institutionalized separation or "otherness" is what qualifies as an "ism."

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 12:53 PM
Students who are committed to train will find a way to balance their personal life and aikido; we should be there to help them achieve that balance and if they can't we direct them somewhere where they can find something else.

Well said Jon!

Janet -

I think your comment that religions which regulate the interaction bewteeen men and women are inherently sexist is unfair and inaccurate (not to mention deeply offensive).

We seperate sexes within our society: locker rooms, rest rooms, women-only gyms, and same-sex schools are all examples of this. Does that mean we are a sexist society? (I think we are but not for those reasons.)

There is nothing inherently contradictory about the concept of separate but equal. At the same time, I realize this is a controversial topic because there are so many examples - historical and modern-day, here and abroad - in which separation is used to institutionalize inequality. It doesn't have to be that way and we certainly do not need to project all that baggage onto an individual who would prefer to train with same sex partners - whatever their set of reasons..

Ellis Amdur
08-04-2009, 01:29 PM
OK Rabih - would you get specific? What is wrong with practicing with a same-sex partner. I do not know of any religious proscription that states, "Thou shalt not practice pseudo-combatives with a member of the opposite sex." I'm curious - would the proscription apply to kenjutsu, where you do not touch the other person?
If your reply is, "My religion proscribes physical contact with a person of the other sex." Why? If you reply, "It's immodest," what does that mean?
Does it mean that your religion expects men to become sexually aroused if they touch a woman?
Is it that you will be touching someone owned by someone else (her father, her husband, her brothers)?
In other words, beyond a catch phrase which implicitly says, "You don't have a right to ask me that, because it's my religion, and if you question that, you are prejudiced," please explain what are the negative consequences of touching a woman in practice.
And while we are discussing this, please further cite a society in which "separate but equal" is the rule, in which women are really treated as equals, in terms of employment opportunities, educational opportunities, freedom to move about unmolested in public, and having an equal say in choosing a mate. If one were to reply that women are protected by the separation rules - so that they are not equally educated, have equal employment opportunities, equal say and freedom in choosing a mate, that is, by definition, sexist. Not an attack - just a definition.
And fwiw - I very much favor sames-sex schools, when they really foster education and an egalitarian society. Children - Boys, in particular, but girls as well seem to learn far better when in same-sex classrooms. However, we are talking about adults.
I will underscore - if there is a same-sex martial arts academy, I have no problems whatsoever with it's existence, whether I like it or not. I do have a problem with the religious or ideologically bound individual expecting that others conform to their rules, when they enter another society.
Ellis Amdur

Marc Abrams
08-04-2009, 02:05 PM
OK Rabih - would you get specific? What is wrong with practicing with a same-sex partner. I do not know of any religious proscription that states, "Thou shalt not practice pseudo-combatives with a member of the opposite sex." I'm curious - would the proscription apply to kenjutsu, where you do not touch the other person?
If your reply is, "My religion proscribes physical contact with a person of the other sex." Why? If you reply, "It's immodest," what does that mean?
Does it mean that your religion expects men to become sexually aroused if they touch a woman?
Is it that you will be touching someone owned by someone else (her father, her husband, her brothers)?
In other words, beyond a catch phrase which implicitly says, "You don't have a right to ask me that, because it's my religion, and if you question that, you are prejudiced," please explain what are the negative consequences of touching a woman in practice.
And while we are discussing this, please further cite a society in which "separate but equal" is the rule, in which women are really treated as equals, in terms of employment opportunities, educational opportunities, freedom to move about unmolested in public, and having an equal say in choosing a mate. If one were to reply that women are protected by the separation rules - so that they are not equally educated, have equal employment opportunities, equal say and freedom in choosing a mate, that is, by definition, sexist. Not an attack - just a definition.
And fwiw - I very much favor sames-sex schools, when they really foster education and an egalitarian society. Children - Boys, in particular, but girls as well seem to learn far better when in same-sex classrooms. However, we are talking about adults.
I will underscore - if there is a same-sex martial arts academy, I have no problems whatsoever with it's existence, whether I like it or not. I do have a problem with the religious or ideologically bound individual expecting that others conform to their rules, when they enter another society.
Ellis Amdur

Ellis:

There you go asking people to rationally explain their religious beliefs. You have some nerve :D ! Why is it that most religious institutions ask us to suspend critical/logical thinking? I frankly support the Dali Lama's comments about religion and science. He said that both religion and science are about enlightenment and if the religious belief conflicts with science that you might want to consider changing your religious beliefs!

Rabih:

History does show us that religion has been used in an oppressive manner against women, other religions, etc.... Let us write off history for a moment. The issue seems to be that "modern"/"liberal" societies simply ask that people accept and allow for different cultural norms to be respected within a larger society. That means that if your religious beliefs, cultural norms, etc.... dictate that you separate the sexes and you follow your beliefs, then you should be allowed to do so as long as it can be amply demonstrated that human rights are protected for all people. In religious societies, cultures, countries, etc., this level of acceptance for differences simply does not exist (or at best, given lip service).

In a "modern"/"liberal" society, you can establish a school that allows for only same-gender training. You have a right to establish it and I have a right not to agree with it. If it is my school and I choose to elect a training atmosphere that is open to all, I am not discriminating against your religion or beliefs, I am not insulting your religion or beliefs. Wouldn't be interesting if I asked for the same freedoms that you can choose here to be available say in a Hasidic Community or Sudan, or is some evangelical Christian community. I have been taught that I should be willing to offer the same rights to others that I demand for myself. Were you taught that as well?

Marc Abrams

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 02:50 PM
OK Rabih - would you get specific? What is wrong with practicing with a same-sex partner. I do not know of any religious proscription that states, "Thou shalt not practice pseudo-combatives with a member of the opposite sex."

Thanks for the laugh, Ellis! Despite spending my academic career studying religion, I'd have to agree with your findings. It ain't there! At least not in that format...

I practice with men and women alike in my Aikido training sessions so it would be difficult for me to defend a belief that I don't share. I'm not here to debate the pros or cons of that or any other religious practice. That said, I know enough to say that the issue is not about trying to control women or disrespect them in any way. It is certainly not about trespassing on someone else's "property" (this is a European idea and the historical basis for women adopting the husband's surname in marriage).

If it were my dojo, I wouldn't have any problem accomodating a Jewish woman who observes negiah as long as she understands that she may be sitting out part or all of some classes depending on the size and composition of attendance on any given night. That's no skin off my back.

At the same time, I'd have a zero tolerance policy if anyone in the dojo exhibited any form of disrepect to another person for any reason. That includes her being disrespectful to other students and other students being disresepctful to her.

Some of the most polite and genuinely warm women I know won't shake my hand. I don't take it personally. Everything else about our interaction affirms the respect they hold for me. I try to return that respect by accepting their custom as foreign as it may be.

...rab

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 02:56 PM
Faith in what? That a bunch of outdated restrictions are relevant in modern society? (and I include the lifetime of O Sensei as modern, because he had no such restrictions)
Says who? Who are you to say that? What you find outdated restrictions is their beliefs. What are you beliefs are liberantism to them. Who's right? You, of course. Bah...

Your friend in the wheelchair isn't there by choice. Those who chose to adopt religious restrictions DO have a choice.
And you cannot respect their choice, right? That has a name, and it's not beautiful.

Unless of course you live in a country where you get flogged for choosing... evileyes
Or you live in the Free World (TM). Hahahaha... or in The Country of Liberties (C). Don't go that way...

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:00 PM
If I had a chance to train with someone like Mary, Janet , Ruth or other females from this forum and I skipped the chance on purpose I would be ashamed of myself as an Aikido student. Did I miss something by not practicing with them? Very much so.
Intolerance. To say the least.

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:05 PM
The wheelchair is not negotiable because the guy in it, doesn't have a choice.
Religion is not negotiable, if the religious person says so.
The dojo rules are not negotiable, if the teacher says so.

I don't see a problem here. Religious people don't have some sort of right to be taught aikido at their own terms. Aikido teachers don't have the duty to accommodate everyone.
Me too. I don't see a problem. Just that you keep puting religion on the same sack as anything else. Religion is not negotiable, whether the religious guy says so or not. That bold letters are the point. That's why it's a "religion" and not a "preference".

Are you the kind that won't go out with me because I don't drink alcohol and by drinking orange juice I'm hurting your sense of fun and thus mining our friendship and corrupting the group? Very well it may be the case...

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:10 PM
Not training with every person available in your dojo does cause harm...it calls attention to you and makes you different.
That's why I'll be happy not to train in your dojo. Or with you.

You are not blending with what is.
I would say it's you who are not blending with other people's beliefs system. Who are you to tell them what is? What kind of new age hip is that?

Women bring a different energy to the mat...mixed with men's energy it becomes Aikido.
Yes. I say christians bring a different energy to the mat. Mixed with jewish's and muslims' energy it becomes Aikido. Or something like that, if that's the way you preffer to put it. But no. You're right, the other 50% of world's population is wrong. Is that the real teaching of the Founder? If it's so, let me out of the sect.

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 03:11 PM
I have been taught that I should be willing to offer the same rights to others that I demand for myself. Were you taught that as well? Marc Abrams

Hi Marc,

I'm not sure if that was a serious question or not. For the record: Yes, I was taught (and embrace) that not only as an ideal of American society but also in the form of the Golden Rule - a foundational principle found in practically every major religious tradition.

I'm afraid I may be missing your point.

...rab

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:21 PM
Oh I think some of us are very explicit in the fact that we believe that to be true. It's sort of the definition, to me: institutionalized separation or "otherness" is what qualifies as an "ism."
As in "laicism". Are you conscious that you're segregating because of religion? An orthodox Jew or a Muslim cannot train with you. Now, how you call that?

Anonimouse
08-04-2009, 03:35 PM
que tal Alejandro, there are at least a few (that I know personally) orthodox jews and moslem aikido practicioners who practice Aikido without imposing such demands on their dojo. Are you implying that they are not true religious people?

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 03:47 PM
que tal Alejandro, there are at least a few (that I know personally) orthodox jews and moslem aikido practicioners who practice Aikido without imposing such demands on their dojo. Are you implying that they are not true religious people?
Hola Anonymouse. Actually I know many muslims who train together men and women. I understand they are not true followers of the book. Me? I train with anybody, man or woman, catholic, ortodox, protestant, jew, muslim, atheist, agnostic, bahai, budhist, hinduist or any other form of religion you can consider or even invent. But I understand them who choose to be fidel to the book. And try to accomodate them. Of course any teacher can chose who to train (if he owns the dojo and law permits him), but that doesn't prevent the fact that such a behaviour has a name. Of couse you can tell me you won't allow me to train with you because I'm a vegetarian. I will accept and leave. That won't prevent me calling you names and thinking low of you. Most probably you will be thinking low on me too. That's the way we'll be in permanent conflict. That's it about beliefs systems. Isn't that what O'Sensei was talking all about? Avoiding conflict?

Marc Abrams
08-04-2009, 04:18 PM
Hi Marc,

I'm not sure if that was a serious question or not. For the record: Yes, I was taught (and embrace) that not only as an ideal of American society but also in the form of the Golden Rule - a foundational principle found in practically every major religious tradition.

I'm afraid I may be missing your point.

...rab

Rabih:

It was a rhetorical question. Of course I believed that you were taught. A funny (or not so funny) thing happens when the basic precepts of major religions get translated into practice. I frankly find it very disheartening. Religion can be wonderful vehicle for establishing and maintaining a strong moral identity. When the practice ends up going against common sense morals, then people get hurt for all of the wrong reasons. Embracing differences as something positive seems to be one of the hardest lessons to instill in people, because it is a lot easier to hate than it is to accept that which is different from us.

Marc Abrams

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 04:22 PM
When the practice ends up going against common sense morals, then people get hurt for all of the wrong reasons.
What is "common sense"? You surely mean "your common sense as instilled by your set of beliefs, different from other cultures' common sense".

Anonimouse
08-04-2009, 05:33 PM
:-D well sometimes they overlap.

all I'm saying is if you're good enough an Aikido sensei to decide on religious law matters with authority and fairness you're sorely needed in your religious congregation.

I'd refer someone like that to their pastor/rabbi/imam/priest they can surely work something out.

Janet Rosen
08-04-2009, 05:57 PM
As in "laicism". Are you conscious that you're segregating because of religion? An orthodox Jew or a Muslim cannot train with you. Now, how you call that?

I'm very happy to train with anybody. Nowhere have I ever said I would not. Please do not ascribe words or thoughts to me that I've never and would not express.

I am not aware of any group that segregates on the basis of gender, color, religion or whatever that does not implicitly as part of that segregation make a value judgement about one being better or having more rights than "the other." This is NOTnecessarily about religion but about ANYthing that posits an "other" and mandates segregation (South African apartheid and 1970s style radical feminist music festivals come to mind as two examples having nothing to do with religion).

In the case of women, whether it is England denying women suffrage because they are "too delicate" in their sensibilities to vote wisely, the USA in the mid 20th Century protecting women from "having to do a man's work" (never mind that poor women scrubbed floors and did laundry and ironing the old fashioned way and did manual farm labor, etc for centuries), or religious leaders insisting women must cover their hair or faces and not be touched because men are such beasts they will fall on them if tempted (and what does that say about the religious leaders' attitudes towards men???) , there is no "otherness" without some power dynamic and somebody being treated inequitably.

Again, by definition setting up an institutional bias that separates people into categories is an "ism."

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 08:10 PM
I'm very happy to train with anybody. Nowhere have I ever said I would not. Please do not ascribe words or thoughts to me that I've never and would not express.

I am not aware of any group that segregates on the basis of gender, color, religion or whatever that does not implicitly as part of that segregation make a value judgement about one being better or having more rights than "the other." This is NOTnecessarily about religion but about ANYthing that posits an "other" and mandates segregation (South African apartheid and 1970s style radical feminist music festivals come to mind as two examples having nothing to do with religion).

In the case of women, whether it is England denying women suffrage because they are "too delicate" in their sensibilities to vote wisely, the USA in the mid 20th Century protecting women from "having to do a man's work" (never mind that poor women scrubbed floors and did laundry and ironing the old fashioned way and did manual farm labor, etc for centuries), or religious leaders insisting women must cover their hair or faces and not be touched because men are such beasts they will fall on them if tempted (and what does that say about the religious leaders' attitudes towards men???) , there is no "otherness" without some power dynamic and somebody being treated inequitably.

Again, by definition setting up an institutional bias that separates people into categories is an "ism."
As is "laicism". Again.

Marc Abrams
08-04-2009, 08:12 PM
What is "common sense"? You surely mean "your common sense as instilled by your set of beliefs, different from other cultures' common sense".

Alejandro:

You seemed to have forgotten a word in my quote. That word was morals. Read again "Common Sense Morals." Let me help you out on a basic common sense moral: "Do onto others as you would have others do onto you." A more spiritual/religious version of that would be "Everything and everyone was created by the hands of GOD, so treat them accordingly." I would venture to say that this simple precept is rather universal in nature.

Now, if you read the sentence before the quote that you chose, you would see that I clearly recognize the genuine value that can be garnered from religious belief and practice. When certain "religious" people and the institutions that they create and represent take certain basic morals from their religion and distort them to the point that girls have acid thrown on their face for daring to get an education (AT AN ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL NO LESS); where you can be assured that your car will be stoned if you drive through certain neighborhoods on a Saturday; where you can be killed in the name of GOD for being a Jew, Black, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, ..... I THEN HAVE A PROBLEM! Maybe, just maybe, my "common sense as instilled by your set of beliefs, different from other cultures' common sense", as quaint as it might be, tells me that something is seriously wrong.

In my dojo, as in my family, "do onto others as you would have others do onto to you" applies. That means that EVERYBODY in my dojo MUST train with EVERYBODY else. The dojo environment is a wonderful venue to learn to blend with others and accept differences while working together. If a person is not willing to do that, then he/she needs to find another place to train.

I am very fortunate to have gone to an international university and traveled a good deal. Practicing that common sense moral has enabled me to establish and maintain friendships throughout the world with people from many different cultures, religions, countries, gender, sexual preference..... I seem to have no problems accepting differences as long as they do not infringe upon the basic, universal human rights that we all are entitled to. When that line is crossed, those people can not remain as friends of mine. So far, it has served me well and has allowed me to bridge supposed barriers and distances. That tends to lead me to conclude that it is universal in nature and represents the highest ideal of religion/spirituality. I truly wish that I could function at that level all of the time, but alas, I am human. At least I try and reach that height and seek the same from those in my family and those who seek to train at my school.

Marc Abrams

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 08:38 PM
Marc, my only point in this whole discussion is that religion is not to be argue about, but to embrace it or not at all. You can't call yourself a muslim if you are a drinker. Not negotiable. And that's all I'm trying to say.

Paraphrasing you, I am very fortunate to have worked in a company that allowed me to travel a good deal and also to live in those places in long stances. Talking years here. I'm talking places like Turkmenistan and Indonesia. In the former, if you're not a practizing muslim you're entitled to jail. Chuchs are burned down, Chistians are burnt alive, etc. Indonesia, on the contrary, has 4 or 5 official religions and tolerance is heavy (save for the mandatory exceptions). I maintain those friendships with people from different cultures, countries and all of that. No problems with them. But when you talk about religion, it's an accept or shutup thing. Because that's the nature of religion / faith. Not negotiable.

It's your right to believe that everybody must train with all the other EVERYBODY. If that supposes a barrier for me, I simply will not join. Not me, you understand, an hypotetical me. That won't stop me from calling you (again, not you Marc) intolerant, segregacionist, etc. simply because you're preventing me from training based on religious beliefs. You're not accepting my religion in your dojo, and that's all my point. And I believe that was not the point O'Sensei wanted to make clear (if there was a point he wanted to make clear).

Such a dojo and/or sensei is clearly laicist as in Janet's "Again, by definition setting up an institutional bias that separates people into categories is an 'ism.' "

Best.

Flintstone
08-04-2009, 08:41 PM
Let me help you out on a basic common sense moral: "Do onto others as you would have others do onto you." A more spiritual/religious version of that would be "Everything and everyone was created by the hands of GOD, so treat them accordingly." I would venture to say that this simple precept is rather universal in nature.
Sorry for flooding, but don't believe this precept is THAT universal in nature. But anyway thank you for helping me out ;).

Rabih Shanshiry
08-04-2009, 09:28 PM
In my dojo, as in my family, "do onto others as you would have others do onto to you" applies. That means that EVERYBODY in my dojo MUST train with EVERYBODY else. The dojo environment is a wonderful venue to learn to blend with others and accept differences while working together. If a person is not willing to do that, then he/she needs to find another place to train.

Marc,

A lot of what you say makes sense and resonates with me. Then we get to a statement like the one above which confuses the heck out of me.

It sounds like your interpretation of the Golden Rule is, "Do unto others as I would have you do unto me" instead of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Those who observe negiah are not violating the Golden Rule in any way. They simply choose to observe a degree of personal space and self-isolation that is outside the norm of our society. That's a pretty tough road to travel on. It's hard to be different. I don't know that we need to make it any harder.

I agree that the dojo is a great venue to learn how to blend and accept differences. I don't see how your position on this issue jives with that philosophy. Seems like having someone like that in your class would be a great opportunity to put that concept into practice. And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that experience led your student to reexamine their religious assumptions on the matter over time.

Well anyway, I think the horse we've been beating died a number of posts ago. I think we'll have to "agree to disagree" as you put it. I'm sure I'll be visiting your dojo in the not too distant future and look forward to meeting you when I do.

...rab

jss
08-05-2009, 12:44 AM
Me too. I don't see a problem. Just that you keep puting religion on the same sack as anything else. Religion is not negotiable, whether the religious guy says so or not. That bold letters are the point. That's why it's a "religion" and not a "preference".
But your religion has no authority over me, so to me the rules of your religion are no more than your preferences as a religious person. As long as I don't convert to your religion, I don't see why I would accept it's authority.
This really is a recurring theme in discussions about religion. On the one hand, religious people fail to grasp that to the non-religious person their beliefs are no different than any other belief (voting preference, freedom of speech is good, Clynelish is good whiskey, etc.). On the other hand, non-religious people fail to grasp how massively important religion is to religious people and how much it is part of their personal identity.
It's a bit ironic actually: I'm not religious, but I did attend a Catholic school for twelve years. And in most cases I find myself defending religion, because in my specific case these discussion mostly consist of non-religious people saying stupid stuff about religion. :)

Back to the issue at hand, I could not care less about the reason why someone would not want to train with women. If it is because of religious beliefs, I'll show respect and tell you that's not the way we train here. If it's because you're a sexist, I'll show you a lot less respect and tell you that's not the way we train here. It's quite simple really: if you don't want to play by the rules, you don't get to play.

Are you the kind that won't go out with me because I don't drink alcohol and by drinking orange juice I'm hurting your sense of fun and thus mining our friendship and corrupting the group? Very well it may be the case...
No, you can drink anything you like. The question is if you're good company. Although if you're driving, I'd sure prefer you to drink orange juice. ;)

jss
08-05-2009, 01:02 AM
That won't stop me from calling you (again, not you Marc) intolerant, segregacionist, etc. simply because you're preventing me from training based on religious beliefs.
And you would be correct in calling me that, so I wouldn't mind. Liberalism, pluralism and laicism are indeed "isms" and they do segregate. The problem is that most liberals, pluralists and laicist don't like to accept that, because the they are 'tolerant', 'pluralist', etc.
It's a strange world out there, you know... :D

Abasan
08-05-2009, 01:45 AM
Only human beings make religion difficult. By constantly looking at the little things and losing the big picture.

gdandscompserv
08-05-2009, 02:09 AM
Only human beings make religion difficult.
that strikes me funny. do you know someone who is not a human being?;)

jss
08-05-2009, 02:15 AM
I agree that the dojo is a great venue to learn how to blend and accept differences.
But not any and all diferences. Or should we allow people to practice judo in our aikido classes? ;)

gdandscompserv
08-05-2009, 02:17 AM
But not any and all diferences. Or should we allow people to practice judo in our aikido classes? ;)
as long as they don't start doing that internal stuffs!:eek:

Flintstone
08-05-2009, 02:32 AM
But your religion has no authority over me, so to me the rules of your religion are no more than your preferences as a religious person. As long as I don't convert to your religion, I don't see why I would accept it's authority.
Not trying to convert you or make you accept anyone's religion authority. Never in my intention. But yes, we agree that you are segregating based on religion. And someone will sue you for that. Not me for sure ;).

And yes, this horse is dead several centuries ago.

jss
08-05-2009, 03:00 AM
But yes, we agree that you are segregating based on religion. And someone will sue you for that. Not me for sure ;).
Perhaps someone will sue me*, but I don't think the judge will agree with them (Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.):
- I clearly stated the dojo rules, it's their choice to accept them or not to train.
- I'm not segregating on religion, but on actions (not training with women). The fact that the motivation behind these actions is religious, is irrelevant. If I were refusing people just because they are muslim (or whatever) even when they are willing to abide all the dojo rules, then I would be discriminating and could be rightfully sued.

* I don't have a dojo, nor am I a teacher, so I guess I'm safe for now. ;)

Flintstone
08-05-2009, 03:10 AM
Perhaps someone will sue me*, but I don't think the judge will agree with them (Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.):
- I clearly stated the dojo rules, it's their choice to accept them or not to train.
- I'm not segregating on religion, but on actions (not training with women). The fact that the motivation behind these actions is religious, is irrelevant. If I were refusing people just because they are muslim (or whatever) even when they are willing to abide all the dojo rules, then I would be discriminating and could be rightfully sued.

* I don't have a dojo, nor am I a teacher, so I guess I'm safe for now. ;)
Are you talking public money here? Not a lawyer too, but I'll put my money on you loosing the trial.

ruthmc
08-05-2009, 04:16 AM
Marc, my only point in this whole discussion is that religion is not to be argue about, but to embrace it or not at all.

But when you talk about religion, it's an accept or shutup thing. Because that's the nature of religion / faith. Not negotiable.

Rubbish! The adpotion of religious beliefs and practices is a personal choice, and as such is open to as much discussion as somebody's choice in cars :p

You can't call yourself a muslim if you are a drinker. Not negotiable. And that's all I'm trying to say.

That's very interesting. I wonder what you would say to the senior member of the Muslim Council of Great Britain who advised a friend of mine that the best way to proceed on his wedding night would be to give his new wife some alcohol so that the marriage could be successfully consummated? evileyes

I have come across so much religious hypocrisy in my life (from many different religions) that I consider your statement that religions are to be unquestioned is extremely dangerous.

One thing I will never do is to stop questioning everything - I'd be less of a person if I were to do that!

Flintstone
08-05-2009, 05:17 AM
I'm sorry, Ruth, for not making myself clear. English is not my mother tongue as I guess you all already noticed by now ;)

I mean, of course I question about religion. Is this acceptable or not? Do I find that particular rule extravagant, old-fashioned or not? That I can do. And believe me that I do. But at the end of the day, you take it or leave it. You cannot be a muslim and get drunk every other day. Period. No matter if I find it outdated, strange, or whatever. It's the rule. That's what I say.

If that guy is an orthodox Jew and cannot touch women, that's all about it. He just cannot do it. You like it or not. Nothing will change it, unless he stop being an orthodox Jew. That's all.

If the teacher chooses not to accomodate to his particular needs, he's in his right to do so (if he's not getting public money and the dojo is his own). But that doesn't do much for the integration, since Aikido is NOT about religion, but about understanding, blending and harmonizing. The religious guy can understand, but cannot blend with the touching women part. He simple CANNOT, no matter he want it or not. It's not hard to understand.

If the dojo rule was to party every friday by drinking and eating an all pork BBQ... would you buy some lemmonade and some beef for the accomodation of the muslim guy training with you? What's the difference?

As I said before, the horse is dead some 1500 years ago. Sterile discussion we are having here.

Best.

Marc Abrams
08-05-2009, 06:55 AM
Marc, my only point in this whole discussion is that religion is not to be argue about, but to embrace it or not at all. You can't call yourself a muslim if you are a drinker. Not negotiable. And that's all I'm trying to say.

Paraphrasing you, I am very fortunate to have worked in a company that allowed me to travel a good deal and also to live in those places in long stances. Talking years here. I'm talking places like Turkmenistan and Indonesia. In the former, if you're not a practizing muslim you're entitled to jail. Chuchs are burned down, Chistians are burnt alive, etc. Indonesia, on the contrary, has 4 or 5 official religions and tolerance is heavy (save for the mandatory exceptions). I maintain those friendships with people from different cultures, countries and all of that. No problems with them. But when you talk about religion, it's an accept or shutup thing. Because that's the nature of religion / faith. Not negotiable.

It's your right to believe that everybody must train with all the other EVERYBODY. If that supposes a barrier for me, I simply will not join. Not me, you understand, an hypotetical me. That won't stop me from calling you (again, not you Marc) intolerant, segregacionist, etc. simply because you're preventing me from training based on religious beliefs. You're not accepting my religion in your dojo, and that's all my point. And I believe that was not the point O'Sensei wanted to make clear (if there was a point he wanted to make clear).

Such a dojo and/or sensei is clearly laicist as in Janet's "Again, by definition setting up an institutional bias that separates people into categories is an 'ism.' "

Best.


Alejandro:

Here is where we agree to disagree. I entirely accept your right to practice and believe in your religion. I am not preventing you from training in my dojo. That is your interpretation of your beliefs that either allow you to practice in my dojo or not. What you described above in those countries in intolerance. I am remarkably tolerant and accepting of differences. My asking people to work with everybody is simply putting that idea into practice.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Flintstone
08-05-2009, 07:03 AM
Here is where we agree to disagree. I entirely accept your right to practice and believe in your religion. I am not preventing you from training in my dojo.
Again, don't get me wrong. I'm playing devil's advocate here. As I said, I practice with everbody.

I am remarkably tolerant and accepting of differences. My asking people to work with everybody is simply putting that idea into practice.
As would be to ask me to eat pork? That's simply an impossibility. Were you remarkably tolerant you would allow an hypothetical me to join and train only with men. They will understand. If not, neither you or your students are remarkably tolerant. But let's agree to disagree. This is not my case, and I'm getting tired of the whole devil's advocate thingy.

Best.

Kevin Leavitt
08-05-2009, 07:25 AM
I think there is a difference.

Our social norms in the U.S at least, don't really line up with this religious restriction.

Where as not eating pork...meh...not a big deal.

To me it all has to do with the concept of harm.

IMO, there is some harm that is caused to the women in the dojo by this religous practice, and therefore, I would probably not allow it to happen.

Where as with Pork...don't see the harm that is done by not eating it.

That said, I will find a big eye opener when I head to Afghanistan to work with tribal folks. From what i am told, alot of my relationships I will build will be over drink and food.

I am a vegetarian and have not eating any meat for over 9 years. It is considered rude to turn down food that is offered to you in many cultures.

That is something I am going to have to deal with as well.

Is it better to violate my own belief and principle for the greater good, or can I some how mitigate it to a common ground?

Don't have the answer, but I am in enough of these situations in the U.S. and a religous liberal and vegetarian where I am constantly subjected to the religous and dining practices of others that I have to work and socialize with.

I never ask or expect anyone to make accomodations for me. I simply bow my head and quietly go about my own business.

That is a part what comes with the territory when you spiritual and religous practices are not the norm.

Get used to it, and don't expect other folks to accomodate yours. Besides it makes for good spiritual practice on your behalf.

If you don't like it, go found your own "we don't touch females dojo". It is your right to do that!

Abasan
08-05-2009, 09:23 AM
that strikes me funny. do you know someone who is not a human being?;)

Well not really, but what I meant was, we like to make things difficult for ourselves. In the end we forget that its all about love.

Flintstone
08-05-2009, 02:33 PM
At the end of the day you're still discriminating the guy for his religious beliefs. Me? I will try to accomodate him. If not enough men, too small a group or whatever reasson that prohibit me to do so, I'd simply talk to him very clear and most likely than not, he'll understand and leave, or skip the class or mitori geiko-ing a lot.

No big deal.

Ey, Kevin, I won't be starting such a dojo. I'm extermely liberal concerning religion ;) !

aikilouis
08-05-2009, 04:10 PM
Alejandro,
I don't know if your latest interventions are just a way to defuse the controversy or if you are sincere and think it's really no big deal after all, but I find the subject crucial because it defines the basis on which the teacher/student exists in the study of aikido.

As Joep previously explained what some of us reject is a certain behaviour towards a portion of a dojo's membership, no matter what the motivations behind it might be. It is not an anti religious stance, it is an stance against a form of dehumanisation.

The no touch rule some extremist religious groups impose is already insulting enough in the public sphere when justified by a "superior" motive like faith, but it becomes downright inacceptable in a dojo, in the role of guests and students and definitely not in a position to redefine the rules of the house.

The argument of the tolerance to other cultures doesn't hold water very much because here again, every evil behavious can be justified by the blind obedience to cultural prescriptions. It could actually be a positive gesture to point out the destructive effects of some social norms.

Finally I find disturbing the idea that faith allows to give up any sense of responsibility and excuse any transgression of the rules of life among humans. It is a clever strategy when motivated by political goals to play that card and count on the timidity of the opposition to close their eyes and swallow the pill. Also, when one adopts the integrist view and says "those who don't follow the rules to the letter are not true believers", one slips quickly into a generalised witch hunt because one can always be more authentic than the neighbour and interpret the rules in an increasingly extremist way, at the expense of all freedom.

PS : concerning the hypothetical suits against a "discriminating dojo", I don't know how it is in Spain, but in France the complaint would be quickly dismissed.

Kevin Leavitt
08-05-2009, 05:34 PM
At the end of the day you're still discriminating the guy for his religious beliefs. Me? I will try to accomodate him. If not enough men, too small a group or whatever reasson that prohibit me to do so, I'd simply talk to him very clear and most likely than not, he'll understand and leave, or skip the class or mitori geiko-ing a lot.

No big deal.

Ey, Kevin, I won't be starting such a dojo. I'm extermely liberal concerning religion ;) !

No, I don't think it fits the definition of discrimination really. It is simply a incongruent set of values in which you must make a choice do so "no".

It is one thing to say "If you cannot train with women, you cannot train here". (Not discrimination)

It is another thing to say "you can't train her because you are a Arab, Jew, Black, or otherwise". (Discrimination)

The Boy Scouts of America successfully defended against allow girls to be Boy Scouts, Atheist, and Homosexuals to participate.

It would seem kinda silly for me to join a Bacon Eating Club then say that "I want to be a full member but I am a vegetarian and don't eat bacon, it offends me, can you make me something else to eat, and Oh...please buy another grill, cause my food can't be cooked on your bacon grill.!"

Also, it would be silly of me to join a religous based organization that requried me to take an oath to pledge loyality to a higher being, and then say..."oh I won't do that part".

Then when they say "well you can't be a part of our club cause you don't share our values"...to then cry "Discrimination!"

In a way, it is the other way around...I am actually discriminatiing against their beliefs and practices and bring my own beliefs and forcing them on them.....how ironic!

I am all for equality...trust me, I am a card carrying liberal unitarian! LOL!

But I also do not believe that we need to have a completely homogenous society that cannot say "no" and everyone has the right do have their own affinity groups that CAN discriminate if they so choose.

I think aikido as a philosophy is pretty darn open and excepting.

We shouldn't have to limit or bend our beliefs in the name of "Blending" or "Harmonizing" in order to accomodate everyone.

If the person can't find a to meet us in the "middle ground" then do we really need to hurt our own values in the name of Harmony?

Flintstone
08-06-2009, 02:54 AM
No, I don't think it fits the definition of discrimination really. It is simply a incongruent set of values in which you must make a choice do so "no".

It is one thing to say "If you cannot train with women, you cannot train here". (Not discrimination)

It is another thing to say "you can't train her because you are a Arab, Jew, Black, or otherwise". (Discrimination)
Hi, Kevin.

I find this example a logical falacy. Let me put it like this:

1. Saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here is discrimination based on religion.

2. If you cannot train with women then you cannot train here.

3. If you are a muslim or an orthodox jew then you cannot train with women.

4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: If you are a muslim or an orthodox jew then you cannot train here.

5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.

That's my reassoning. So, based on semantics your example looks plausible, but based on logics, that's a falacy.

I won't join a "bacon eating club" if I'm a vegetarian. That's in the name. But why cannot I join a "martial arts school" if I'm a muslim? There's no contradiction there! What's "martial" have to do with "religion"? Not talking about koryu here. I mean, "beacon eating" has much to do with "vegetarian", but "martial" ahs nothing to do with "muslim".

Ludwig: It's not a matter of diluting the matter. Really. It's just that I'm playing the role of an orthodox jew or strong muslim here, when I'm neither one or the other. My "religious" views, if any, are frankly liberal, so, so, so much close to agnosticism than to anything else. So, really, I shouldn't care about this. But since my wife is a muslim, I'm somewhat concerned and sensitive with the whole matter.

Best.

jss
08-06-2009, 04:59 AM
I find this example a logical falacy. Let me put it like this:

1. Saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here is discrimination based on religion.

2. If you cannot train with women then you cannot train here.

3. If you are a muslim or an orthodox jew then you cannot train with women.

4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: If you are a muslim or an orthodox jew then you cannot train here.

5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.

That's my reassoning. So, based on semantics your example looks plausible, but based on logics, that's a falacy.
Were it not you're making a logical falacy of your own, as we have:
1. Saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here is discrimination based on religion.
4. If you are a muslim or an orthodox jew then you cannot train here.
from which does not follow
5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.
because you have not proven that he is actually saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here, although it is the consequence of his rule that everyone trains with everyone.

You argument as it is now, can be translated to
1. Saying (if M then NT) = D.
2. If NW, then NT.
3. If M, then NW.
4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: If M, then NT. (Correct.)
5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: (If M then NT) = D (Fallacy.)

With M = muslim or orthodox jew, D = discrimination, NW = not to train with women, NT = not to train.

Flintstone
08-06-2009, 05:06 AM
Sorry, Joep, I don't follow you.

jss
08-06-2009, 05:34 AM
Sorry, Joep, I don't follow you.
The problem with your argument is that you do not prove that "saying everyone should train with everyone" is equal to "saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here".
Granted, from "saying everyone should train with everyone" logically follows that "muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here", but that does not make "saying everyone should train with everyone" the same as "saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here". And that's why your "5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion." does not work.

Flintstone
08-06-2009, 06:00 AM
The problem with your argument is that you do not prove that "saying everyone should train with everyone" is equal to "saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here".
Granted, from "saying everyone should train with everyone" logically follows that "muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here", but that does not make "saying everyone should train with everyone" the same as "saying that muslims or orthodox jews cannot train here". And that's why your "5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion." does not work.
C'mon, that's just minor semmantics. What about this:

1. "Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here" is discrimination based on religion.

2. Who cannot train with women cannot train here.

3. Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train with women.

4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here.

5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.

Demetrio Cereijo
08-06-2009, 06:24 AM
There's no men nor women in aikido practise, there's only uke and tori.

jss
08-06-2009, 06:30 AM
C'mon, that's just minor semmantics. What about this:

1. "Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here" is discrimination based on religion.

2. Who cannot train with women cannot train here.

3. Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train with women.

4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here.

5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.
Nope, it's not minor semantics. So let's get down to full formal logic.

3. Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train with women.
That's the same as: If you're a muslim or an orthodox jew, you cannot train with women.
Formalisation: A implies B.

2. Who cannot train with women cannot train here.
That's the same as: If you cannot train with women, you cannot train here.
Formalisation: B implies C.

4. By Modus Ponens of 2 & 3: Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here.
That's the same as: If you're a muslim or an orthodox jew, you cannot train here.
Formalisation: A implies C.
Proof: Assume A is true. A implies B, thus B is true. B implies C, thus C is true. Hence, if we assume A, C is true. Or, A implies C.

No problems so far. Then you add another premise (which I'm not arguing against, as it is true):
1. "Muslims and orthodox jews cannot train here" is discrimination based on religion.
That's the same as: Saying "If you're a muslim or an orthodox jew, you cannot train here." is discrimination based on religion.
Formalisation: D equals E.

So now we have:
1. D equals E.
4. A implies C.

Now the question is can we prove from these two statements the following:
5. By Modus Ponens of 1 & 4: This is discrimination based on religion.
Formalisation: E.

I don't see how. You could write:
1. D equals E. as 1. S(A implies C) equals E.
but that doesn't seem to help much. What you want to prove only follows from
A implies C / (A implies C) equals E, but we have not established the second statement, so the conclusion has not been proven.

Guilty Spark
08-06-2009, 07:58 AM
Alejandro, religion is someones choice right?
And you are basically saying it is discrimination to not allow a muslim (for example) to exercise their religious practice of not touching a woman in the dojo.

How would you feel if I came to class and choose not to train with muslims? I'm not religious but the mantra of muslims=bad was ingrained in me growing up the same way religion ingrains rules into it's members.

Would you accept and accommodate me not training with Muslims(or Jews, Asians, Spanish)?
Or you do think there is a marked difference between someones personal choice (say being a bigot or racist) and religion?

Do you feel the "rules" of religion more important than someones personal choice just because it's from a recognized religion?

Rabih Shanshiry
08-06-2009, 04:06 PM
Alejandro, religion is someones choice right?
And you are basically saying it is discrimination to not allow a muslim (for example) to exercise their religious practice of not touching a woman in the dojo.

How would you feel if I came to class and choose not to train with muslims? I'm not religious but the mantra of muslims=bad was ingrained in me growing up the same way religion ingrains rules into it's members.

Would you accept and accommodate me not training with Muslims(or Jews, Asians, Spanish)?
Or you do think there is a marked difference between someones personal choice (say being a bigot or racist) and religion?

Do you feel the "rules" of religion more important than someones personal choice just because it's from a recognized religion?

Hi Grant,

I'm done debating the merits of whether a person who cannot train with the opposite sex should be accomodated or not. However, I would like to comment on your statement since it's been brought up a few times in this thread by others as well.

The question is whether religious beliefs/practices should be treated differently than other strongly held convictions.

The American legal system has largely answered that question in the affirmative - giving more weight to religiously-based practice than to other convictions. Hence, the myriad of religious accomodation laws found at the state and federal level. I believe the primary reason for this is to protect religious minorities from undue discrimination and hardship.

Do they have similar statutes in Canada?

Rabih Shanshiry
08-06-2009, 04:12 PM
Nope, it's not minor semantics. So let's get down to full formal logic.

Wow! Reminds me of my logic class during grad school studying with the brothers at the Dominican House in DC. Crazy.

I wish I could jump in to help you guys settle the matter but I'm afraid I'm a bit rusty on all that MP/MT stuff.

...rab

akiy
08-06-2009, 04:31 PM
Hi folks,

Once again:

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

Flintstone
08-06-2009, 05:02 PM
Since I'm not in the states and don't even have a clue what a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo, let me quietly drop the discussion and go back lurking to my cave.

Best.

Guilty Spark
08-06-2009, 08:49 PM
The question is whether religious beliefs/practices should be treated differently than other strongly held convictions.

The American legal system has largely answered that question in the affirmative - giving more weight to religiously-based practice than to other convictions.
Ahhh, I'm quite saddened by your answer but thank you.

Do they have similar statutes in Canada?
I'm not sure to be honest but I can only imagine they would.

Shadowfax
08-06-2009, 09:19 PM
If a man comes to the dojo who wishes to practice but who is not able to train with me because I am female, I say he is still welcome. Now if he and I were the only students in the class for the night it might become an issue. Especially if the Sensei teaching for the night were Tara. But in that case... shrug.... his loss.

I can understand how such a person might feel considering not long ago my own religious views would have had a major effect on my even taking up aikido.

gdandscompserv
08-06-2009, 09:29 PM
Hi folks,

Once again:

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun
Of course it is a complex issue. 501(c)(3) status really only pertains to an organization's tax exempt status. It is America's civil right's laws that deal with discrimination. However, the courts have been very leniant regarding "discrimination" whan done in the name of "religion." I know there exist in America, 501(c)(3) religious organizations that have prohibitions against women holding certain offices.

Kevin Leavitt
08-06-2009, 10:10 PM
yes and the Boy Scouts of america openly do not allow girls to join Boy Scouts, Atheist, or Homosexuals...and they are a 501

wiki seems to have a pretty good primer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_of_America_non-profit_laws

aikilouis
08-07-2009, 12:48 AM
Here again, the problem has nothing to do with a person's religion, but on a given behaviour that makes the practise of aikido in its full sense impossible. After that, if that person is a rabid supporter of the Taliban, of Torquemada or of Stalin, as long as he keeps it out of the dojo, it's not the dojo's concern anymore. After all, Ueshiba met and practised with many people with very debatable views on their nation and its place in the world.

If the person wanted to join a chess club, that no-touch rule in his/her life would not be a problem. Also, if the restriction was, for example, that s/he only dresses without anyone else in the room, it is simply an accomodation outside the core of the activity.

Flintstone
08-07-2009, 05:49 AM
Here again, the problem has nothing to do with a person's religion, but on a given behaviour that makes the practise of aikido in its full sense impossible.
Untrue. It's all about religion.

After that, if that person is a rabid supporter of the Taliban...
Thanks for the assumption.

dalen7
08-07-2009, 07:32 AM
Accommodations for special situations are made all the time. People with bad knees don't do suwari-waza, people don't participate in certain kinds of vigorous training for various reasons (physical condition, youth, or age), people come late or leave early to accommodate their work schedules. Nobody blinks an eye as long as there is some kind of reasonable explanation. Is adhering to your religious beliefs (and these are well established religious beliefs from well established religions) really such an unreasonable explanation?

Best,

Chris

There is a difference between physical limitations and those imposed limitations we place upon ourselves by our beliefs.

Of course this does not mean one cannot accommodate such a request, etc. But the question then remains, why go somewhere which does not share the same values as yourself... this is where the true issues arise.

When you go into any particular milieu, your a guest of that, and then later you may fit into it... often people try to bring and impose their natural way of doing things into their new surroundings.

i.e., a big complaint I read constantly about people who live in Hawaii are about those who move from Cali over to the islands trying to make it be something other than what it is.

Its not that the guys/gals from mainland are worse off for their ideas, and probably have some good ideas at that, its the fact that they are new to the host place and automatically appear to be trying to adjust an established base to suit their will. [Not quite that harsh, but thats how its taken.]

So in short, it always has amazed me of the people going somewhere and then try to claim discrimination when they knowingly went into something culturally different then they are used to. ;)

Personally, I feel we would do good to drop a lot of our notions we cling to... Im not saying either way what I would do as I dont know because Im not in that situation to see how things fit.

If I do open a dojo it would probably be word of mouth anyway and not a free for all... for me there would be the dynamic of who I would want to teach. Is that bad? It may sound snobbish, but at the same time I dont want to make the time for the number of people that typically come in and then leave after a month or so of Aikido... as well as peoples goals and aims, etc.

Things arent that cut and dry, really - it takes both parties to try to work together and understand each other. :)

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
not that any of the above made sense, or reads like I wanted it to... but the essence is there somewhere. lol

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 07:58 AM
dAlen wrote:

So in short, it always has amazed me of the people going somewhere and then try to claim discrimination when they knowingly went into something culturally different then they are used to.

Kinda like buying cheap land at the end of a runway, building houses then complaining that the airplanes make too much noise for the community.

Personally, I feel we would do good to drop a lot of our notions we cling to... Im not saying either way what I would do as I dont know because Im not in that situation to see how things fit.


I was just talking to this with my wife last night about how apparent it is to me now working with people and all the baggage they bring onto the mat or studio. In most cases they are not even aware of it as they have no reference point or awareness of it. If they "let go" well what are they letting go of? Also, it can be a scary thing to abandon what had provided you security, comfort, and habits.

Not an easy task, but I agree.

If I do open a dojo it would probably be word of mouth anyway and not a free for all... for me there would be the dynamic of who I would want to teach. Is that bad? It may sound snobbish, but at the same time I dont want to make the time for the number of people that typically come in and then leave after a month or so of Aikido... as well as peoples goals and aims, etc.

I think it depends on how you approach it. I would be open to anyone that wants to train, but they must listen to me, not waste my time, and try to do things my way.

It is also a luxury that is hard to afford for most folks that need to stay in the green sometime. Or at least that is the preception.

How do you maintain your ideals and standards of excellence while keep folks in the dojo. I have my ideas in this area. I think there are some good ways to have it both ways.

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 08:02 AM
Ludwig wrote:

Here again, the problem has nothing to do with a person's religion, but on a given behaviour that makes the practise of aikido in its full sense impossible. After that, if that person is a rabid supporter of the Taliban, of Torquemada or of Stalin, as long as he keeps it out of the dojo, it's not the dojo's concern anymore. After all, Ueshiba met and practised with many people with very debatable views on their nation and its place in the world.


No, I think it is important to sometimes take a holisitc view of the person. If I had verifiable knowledge that someone did not represent the values that we aspire to outside the dojo as well, then I would ask them to leave.

Being a Terriorist is definitely one of them and I think it is our business.

An extreme example for sure, as folks don't usually wear "Hug me, I'm a terrorist!" T-shirts.

I did have a student once that went out got drunk and kicked people's asses in bar fights for fun. I counseled him. Next time, I refused to train him any longer.

I think as Aikdoka, we have a responsibility that extends beyond the hours and walls of the dojo.

dalen7
08-07-2009, 08:13 AM
... Also, it can be a scary thing to abandon what had provided you security, comfort, and habits.

How do you maintain your ideals and standards of excellence while keep folks in the dojo. I have my ideas in this area. I think there are some good ways to have it both ways.

First point is on the spot... been through some of those scary moments myself. :)

Second thought about the income, I suppose when that is your main source of income it can make things less than idea... a challenge within itself to be sure, which perhaps could be avoided.

Curious your take on it as you mentioned you had a couple of ideas in that area.

Peace

dAlen

Kevin Leavitt
08-07-2009, 08:56 AM
Well my take on it is that we do a pretty poor job in aikido over all at teaching basic foundational skills. Sure most schools have a syllabus of techniques and testing criteria....that is not what I am talking about.

Some of this is probably linked to the whole "internal" thread. But I don't really want to go there as it gets way too emotional and over complicated with lots of things really confusing the fundamental problems.

Probably should start a new thread for this though as it is NOT related to this thread at all.

bottomline is that in doing a particular technique in aikido, there are some fundamental body skills and a certain level of conditioning that must exsist in order to actually do it successfully. There are ways to do this I think.

If you want to discuss we can move to another thread!

DH
08-10-2009, 08:27 AM
Of course it is a complex issue. 501(c)(3) status really only pertains to an organization's tax exempt status. It is America's civil right's laws that deal with discrimination. However, the courts have been very leniant regarding "discrimination" whan done in the name of "religion." I know there exist in America, 501(c)(3) religious organizations that have prohibitions against women holding certain offices.
There is a narrow line between allowable doctrine and tax exempt status and discrimination law.
You can be a religious college and refuse to allow an Atheist to teach religion (the United States V Holy cross college) But you cannot be a college accepting federal funding and do the same thing!
You can refuse to allow a gay choir director, or even a women pastor, but you cannot do so in a private school accepting federal funding
Now here's the catch. The public school system began selectively discriminating against Christian gatherings in favor of Wicca, and Muslims and many others even after a Supreme Court ruling banning selection of student instituted gatherings.
So you have very defining rules mostly centered around the acceptance of public money or activities on public grounds.

The courts will most likely remain lenient in that regard. It is almost impossible to separate doctrine from religious freedom. The laws and what constitutes "harm" will remain flexible-but I suspect only in regards to western Judeo/ Christians sensibilities. I don't think you are going to see Shia law respected and protected under 501 status here anytime soon. Law isn't perfect; it’s a guideline of accepted community standards of behavior.
So an aikido club -as a non profit- will not enjoy the same freedom-or protection under federal discimination standards as it does not have a "belief system" covered under the adjoining freedom-of-religion laws. Worse they may be treated differently under the law, if the same aikido club is meeting in a) a church or b) a Fed. funded building of some kind then an equal 501 group (like a Baptist bible study group) renting the same space.
Confusing? You betcha.


As for women in the dojo. I have no trouble with the OP. I train with women all the time in my dojo-I just make sure to shower after.
The problem is...
I can't get them to join me!:D
Dan

K. Abrams
08-10-2009, 03:32 PM
I was an Orthodox Jew from birth, but as an adult I grew away from the restrictions because I found them to be the mechanations of men acting out of their own earthly motives, not ones of divine enlightenment or direction.

When I first trained in aikido, I was hesitant to join a co-ed class because of the contact with males to whom I was not married. But I came to realize that if I wanted to integrate myself into the greater outside world and culture, I would have to adapt to it and not expect it to adapt to my rather limited and limiting little enclave of medieval holdouts.

I'd have to say that getting into martial arts was my first step in opening up my mind. I don't feel that it has made me less of a Jew, just way more sensitive and aware of what constitutes being a Jew, and what is artifice created by those who would consdier themselves the ruling class. The choice of whether to train or not has to be based on the comfort level of the individual. He (or she) can always find someone to start a single-sex school.

Dan Harden:
As for women in the dojo. I have no trouble with the OP. I train with women all the time in my dojo-I just make sure to shower after.
I'd think that those women would wish that you showered BEFORE you train with them. [crinkles up nose] :)

Guilty Spark
08-30-2009, 03:38 PM
I was an Orthodox Jew from birth, but as an adult I grew away from the restrictions because I found them to be the mechanations of men acting out of their own earthly motives, not ones of divine enlightenment or direction.

When I first trained in aikido, I was hesitant to join a co-ed class because of the contact with males to whom I was not married. But I came to realize that if I wanted to integrate myself into the greater outside world and culture, I would have to adapt to it and not expect it to adapt to my rather limited and limiting little enclave of medieval holdouts.

Thread Win.

Amir Krause
08-31-2009, 06:40 AM
I was an Orthodox Jew from birth, but as an adult I grew away from the restrictions because I found them to be the mechanations of men acting out of their own earthly motives, not ones of divine enlightenment or direction.

When I first trained in aikido, I was hesitant to join a co-ed class because of the contact with males to whom I was not married. But I came to realize that if I wanted to integrate myself into the greater outside world and culture, I would have to adapt to it and not expect it to adapt to my rather limited and limiting little enclave of medieval holdouts.

I'd have to say that getting into martial arts was my first step in opening up my mind. I don't feel that it has made me less of a Jew, just way more sensitive and aware of what constitutes being a Jew, and what is artifice created by those who would consdier themselves the ruling class. The choice of whether to train or not has to be based on the comfort level of the individual. He (or she) can always find someone to start a single-sex school.

Dan Harden:
As for women in the dojo. I have no trouble with the OP. I train with women all the time in my dojo-I just make sure to shower after.
I'd think that those women would wish that you showered BEFORE you train with them. [crinkles up nose] :)

Hi Kreyna

Would had joined M.A. back then, when you were just stating, if the teachers would have insisted on your training with man from the start?
Do you think others of similar situation, just starting "Hazara BeShela" ("Returning to question" - the common Hebrew term of people leaving orthodox Judaism Ė and becoming secular), would have joined such a place?

BR
Amir

P.S.
I know of very few orthodox jews who are active M.A. in most cases, these people are the excpetion, and are already more open then most around them. This was the reason I believe they should get consideration: in deciding to join a coed Dojo, they already make significant concessions to their way of life and rech a hand to us - non orthodx.

DonMagee
09-03-2009, 06:49 AM
When I wanted to swim at the YMCA, they had a posted set of rules in the pool room. You had to follow those rules to continue to swim.

I didn't like all of them. I prefer to swim in the buff, I hate showering before a swim, and I love to cannon ball. But, I knew going in what the rules were. The same is true if you come to take my judo class. I have a clear, open, and easy to find set of rules. We bow in, we warmup, we do judo, we switch partners until everyone has worked with everybody, we spar, we bow, we go home, we repeat the next class. You will be grabed, sometimes in appropriately (never on purpose), sweated on, slammed, kicked, floated, thrown, bleed on, cut, and possibly get some broken bones. If you don't like any of that, then my school is not for you. You don't decide who you train with any more then you decide what throw you are going to practice. So yes, this is discrimination, but discrimination is not always a bad thing (in most cases it is not a bad thing). It says "I'm looking for these kind of people to train", so if you are not that kind of person, you and I are probably not going to get along. You will get substandard training, and I will get annoyed with you for your silliness. It's best for both our sakes if you don't train with me.

When I started in BJJ there was a guy who came in with no arms. He didn't just want to learn bjj, he wanted to fight MMA on our upcoming card. My coach turned him down. Sure he was athletic and had good kicks, but his fighting MMA wouldn't be good for him, my coach, the promotion, or the guy who got tricked into fighting him. He did some bjj classes for a few weeks, realized it was really hard to do without arms compared to TKD, and left. A nice guy, but I wouldn't of trained him in judo. I'm not properly educated to deal with a guy with no arms, and it would break the flow of my students and their training.

To further all of that, and something that I didn't read even discussed here, is this.

I am an atheist. Every discussion up to this point as assumed you should have respect for religions beliefs because you want them to have respect for yours. In my eyes, a person asking me to make a religions exception is beyond ridiculous. Being a atheist means that religion is nothing more then fairy tales and myths. I can keep my mouth shut to be polite. I won't challenge anyone from having a belief unless they put it in my face. But here I would be with a guy asking me to change what I do in a major way, disrupting my class flow, over something I view as a storybook.

That doesn't mean I won't train you if you believe in god/gods. It means that if that belief interferes with the structure I've laid down, then you probably need to find a different dojo. In fact, I know of a few in the area that cater to those with restrictive beliefs. If they are decent human beings, they will respect that and move on. I'd do the same if I happened across a school that wanted a group prayer prior to class.

Walter Martindale
09-03-2009, 03:44 PM
(snip)
I am an atheist. Every discussion up to this point as assumed you should have respect for religions beliefs because you want them to have respect for yours. In my eyes, a person asking me to make a religions exception is beyond ridiculous. Being a atheist means that religion is nothing more then fairy tales and myths. I can keep my mouth shut to be polite. I won't challenge anyone from having a belief unless they put it in my face. But here I would be with a guy asking me to change what I do in a major way, disrupting my class flow, over something I view as a storybook.

That doesn't mean I won't train you if you believe in god/gods. It means that if that belief interferes with the structure I've laid down, then you probably need to find a different dojo. In fact, I know of a few in the area that cater to those with restrictive beliefs. If they are decent human beings, they will respect that and move on. I'd do the same if I happened across a school that wanted a group prayer prior to class.

Hear-Hear!!.
Kinda like Richard Dawkins' remarks that there are no muslim, jewish, or christian children, only children of muslim, jewish, or christian parents. The rest is indoctrination from storybooks... This business of "one true god" - why is that any less ridiculous than Odin, Zeus, or the various Tortoise or Raven stories of the native cultures of the Canadian indigenous people...?
A quick google search on "worst bible verses" brings (among others):
http://en.wordpress.com/tag/worst-bible-verse/
Whee!
W

akiy
09-03-2009, 04:16 PM
Hi folks,

Request #4:

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14) forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun