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Old 08-03-2009, 11:51 PM   #158
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 896
Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

What is interesting to me is the self-centered view of those who have a "right" to their beliefs. As if those who hold contrary views do not have values of their own. And that it is egalitarian and fair to expect others to violate their own values to support another.
Because I have values of my own - and among them is a view that the separation of men and women, as sanctioned in such religions as Orthodox Judaism and islam does violence to everyone, but particularly women.
As for what I would do if a student asked to have some sort of accommodation, my assumption is that anyone who comes to study with me, wants to learn what I have to teach. And the only way to do this is my way. I'll listen to you - and decide if I agree with you. If I don't, I won't do it. If I do agree - it's now my way that we are doing.
So if someone came to me and told me that due to their religion they could not bow as prescribed, or would not practice with a woman - because it was against their religious values. I would tell them that I respected them - but their religious values were against my values - both personal and religious - and so they would not be welcome to study with me. It would be an utter violation of what I hold dear to collude in someone refusing to practice with another member of the dojo.
My mother went to a Catholic College. She was a Jewish girl, and the only way she could go to school was by scholarship. And the valedictorian of her high school got a scholarship to the local Catholic College. That was her, so she got to go to college. The bishop visited once - and every girl kissed his ring, until my mother, who walked up, looked him in the eye and shook his hand. She was right to do what she did. It caused somewhat of a scandal, but life went on. But if the school had expelled her, although I would hold such an action in contempt, they would have had a right to do so if there was a RULE that she had to conform to. Sometimes you fight the rules - but you take the consequences.
Back in the days that I was teaching aikido, I had a fellow join a class who obviously had a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He couldn't touch people - and in fact, if he did - accidentally - he'd immediately retreat to the bathroom and wash his hands for about 5 minutes. Then he'd come back and two minutes later, the same thing would happen. I sat him down and he told me how he had this disorder. I expressed sympathy and told him he couldn't return to my class. I suggested he take up t'ai chi and gave him references. When he objected, saying he was disabled, I expressed sympathy and told him to return when he wasn't disabled - I would be happy to teach him when he was in a condition to be taught.

Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 08-04-2009 at 12:00 AM.

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