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Old 08-03-2009, 11:49 AM   #144
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,135
Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

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.
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