Re: Religious Restrictions on Training
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.