Re: Religious Restrictions on Training
ok .. so here is a real life example that fits perfectly with our current conversation. I am a Catholic School Teacher and it is understood that the students at my school will pray with us, go to mass with us, celebrate the liturgical celebrations with us and be active members of the catholic school community. This said, I also understand that most of the kids in my class are not Catholic. Interesting isn't it? ... well, here is my point... The kids are not Catholic yet the parents chose that their child should attent this school. The same thing applies in aikido except that YOU are the one that chooses to attend and are expected to participate as a symbol of respect. If you choose to go, then i believe that you should respect their ways of doing things, regardless of your personal faith.
Now think of this example ... you are a tourist wanting to visit another country. Before you depart, you research your destination and become informed about proper ettiquette concerning things such as greetings and salutations, table manners and how to address people. Now imagine that if you were to shake hands in this country, it would be seen as disrespectful. Instead, the proper thing to do is kiss the hand. Knowing this, and being that you are visitor, you do what is accepted and have fantastic trip...
... Now let's change the lense of this vacation. We are all basically visitors in the art of aikido. We come from all kinds of faiths yet we choose to gather in a dojo to practice a common goal of martial arts aikido training. As a visitor, it would be rude (having already known the protocol) to do something opposite the sensei ... or even refusing to fully participate would be seen as disrespectful.
My question is ... did you not research aikido before joining and become an informed participant ??
In all due respect, my advice to you ... do as the others do!! If you can not handle the traditions of the japanese culture in regards to aikido, perhaps there is another art which would be better suited for you.
(i had more to say but my original post got deleted ... will add more when my thoughts fly back to me)