Physical contact vs. "no-touch" policy
Hi, this is kind of a spin off, of the recent debates here on aikiweb concerning the case with mr. Klickstein and the case with a woman leaving aikido allegedly due to inappropriate behavior on the part of an assistant instructor.
I am an young woman, and I am currently "working" as assistant instructor in the children's class in the dojo where I train. In contrast to what has been discussed with the "hands off" approach when dealing with children, (meaning that instructors should have no/very little physical contact with students), I personally have a very "hands-on" approach.
This would include stuff like physically moving a child's foot to make the child stand in hanmi, and other things like this.
I do this because I find it easier to "show" than explain the significance of a specific detail of a technique to a 5-10 years old. This is also the approach of the other (male) instructors.
There has never been any issues with this at "my" dojo, nor does it seem like any child or parent see anything problematic in this approach. I would find i quite restrictive if I were to refrain from making ANY physical contact with the children when trying to "teach" a technique.
It should also be mentioned that the head instructor uses the children for demonstrations of techniques... This would also have to be abolished with a "no touch" rule?
I guess I am just wondering what others think of this? Should we really consider a "no contact" regulation in dojos? Should it be more gender divided? If a little boy comes to me and asks me to help him tie his belt properly, should I then send him to the male instructors? And vica versa?
Now, that was the adult-child issue, here comes the adult male-female issue...
There are very few women in the dojo where I train, but we are very uhm, integrated with the guys. We train, joke, "fight" etc. Basically we get very close to each other physically. This has never caused problems, at least to my knowledge. Over a period of time I had some troubles with muscle pains (my back, shoulders and so on) and some of my friends from training, as well as my sensei tried to help me with this by massaging the areas which caused me trouble.
I have never felt sexually harassed by any of my "dojo mates", or that anybody has behaved in a inappropriate manner towards me. On the contrary the people whom I have trained with these years are now people whom I trust more than many of my non-aikido friends.
But I guess that this trust has been gained slowly. Had some of the men in the dojo tried to massage me for whatever reasons, when I started my training, I would probably have been out of the dojo faster than you can say "domo arigato...". The intentions of an individual you do not know, can be very hard to recognise. Even more so when you are a teenager or a child (I was 15 at the time of my first aikido lesson).
Aikido is indeed very physical, and often very "close", and I find it sad to hear so many accounts of when this closeness is abused. But I am really at a loss with what could be done to prevent this.
So I guess that that... please excuse any spelling errors, english isn't my first language :-D