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Old 12-10-2007, 10:14 AM   #5
James Davis
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Dojo: Ft. Myers School of Aikido
Location: Ft. Myers, FL.
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 716
Re: Poll: How religious is aikido to you?

Aikido is not a religion for me per se, but it does make me better able to behave myself. I live in a competitive and potentially violent place, and aikido helps me to avoid getting sucked in.

Our dojo meets in a gymnasium attached to a baptist church. Some members of the church, when observing Aikido classes through the windows, were concerned about our rei to O'Sensei at the beginning of class. They felt uncomfortable, thinking that I was running a cult, even though their pastor is one of my students! For weeks, the parishioners were asking Pastor Dave about what we were doing, and voicing their concerns. One night, Dave looked uncomfortable and I asked him what was bothering him. He told me what his congregation had been saying, and that he didn't want me to have to change what we do in class because he knew about my Christian faith and that we weren't worshipping O'Sensei when we performed zarei. I thought for a moment and said, "Well, O'Sensei's picture can just stay in the closet." He was apologetic, and told me that he felt bad about my having to adjust my class to accomodate people who didn't even attend. I told him that Jesus and O'Sensei have in common the fact that they want us to get along. I told him, "I don't think that O'Sensei really cares if we put his picture out for every class, and even if he did, he would be just fine with it being put in the closet if he knew it would create harmony." I told Dave to never let something like this bother him and deal with it alone when he can come and talk to me about it. I still take O'Sensei's picture out every once in a while during class to explain to the newbies who he was and what he started. The people of this church have been wonderful about letting us rent their facility, and I'm glad that the lines of communication are open. Some might be disappointed for my having "caved" and changed the way the class is run, but I think that Jesus and O'Sensei would be happy with what I've done.

Wow. Pretty longwinded for a poll response!

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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