Re: Religious Restrictions on Training
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.