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Old 08-04-2009, 08:53 AM   #173
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I find it both disturbing and interesting how we treat "religious" differences to a another standard than other differences that people might have. Ellis pointed out very clearly that the teacher also has a distinct choice in creating a training atmosphere that best represents the art form and the teacher. This training atmosphere is entirely different than an institution of religious learning or practice. The constraints that Ellis pointed out regarding a person with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) would interfere with and disrupt the training environment to the same level that would occur when one person will not train with a person who just so happens to be of another gender.

Mary is also right when she talks about the harm in a dojo atmosphere that occurs when the insidious introduction of spoken and unspoken rules that delineate personal differences and preferences is allowed to take place.

Despite the failed rationalizations that some religious people try and create, the separate treatment of men and women in these religious cultures is not equal. The women end up (at best) being treated as second class citizens. They suffer from countless instances of different levels of types of abuse and mistreatment (even violence) while being told it is to protect them and treat them as "special." The greatest loss is that the men are simply not placed in a position to learn from the type of wisdom that is gained from being a women (there is also a type of wisdom that is gained from being a man).

I strongly agree with Mary when she talks about the value of having women in a dojo. If a dojo, for what ever reason, chooses to to exclude by designated "types" (gender, race, age,.....) then I would not want to train in that type of environment. A teacher can create that type of world to live, teach and train in. I can respect that person for standing by one's choices, while at the same time, not agreeing or choosing to support that type of environment. That teacher does not owe me an explanation, nor I to the teacher; what we do owe each other is a modicum of respect so that we do not perpetuate a culture of violence due to not accepting the differences between us.

Marc Abrams
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