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Old 09-26-2010, 02:45 PM   #36
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
Re: To bow or not to bow

Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Hello Abrams Sensei,

May I say that I enjoy and appreciate your thoughts on the human perspectives people bring to their discussions and to actual training in Aikido. Your frank, and at times passionate perspectives on the expressed attitudes and positions of others are both informative and interesting. Thank you for responding to my thoughts.

You are correct in that we should not compel or otherwise coerce others to comply or to adopt any of the tenets of traditions we happen to hold dear and inviolate. As Americans, we remain free to choose, and to vote with our feet.

Nevertheless, I have found that students with significant martial arts experience other than Aikido, are quite often challenged to readily adopt or otherwise adjust to the different environment and guidelines for training in new dojos. It should be expected that they need time to let go of deeply held beliefs and habits that they may not know that they still have, even as they sincerely attempt to understand and incorporate the nuances of a new culture and style of behavior.

As long as these people remain sincere and diligent in their efforts to conform, isn't it worth our time, patience and a wee bit of tolerance, to afford them a chance to assimilate this new culture? I have found this to be worthwhile, and while not always successful, the overall results verify applying Aiki compassion to and acceptance of people's natural foibles and resistance to change.

Yes, Aikido is not a religion, yet we are able to judiciously apply Aiki Principles to broaden our own perspectives, and to perhaps help others to think beyond and outside of whatever box they find themselves in.

Even hermit crabs accept that they will need to change their "homes" to survive and to grow
Takahashi Sensei:

I absolutely agree with you about giving people time to assimilate. I have been, am and am always willing to work with people to assimilate to a new perspective (as I have done, am doing, and hope to do in the future). My experience has also been that most very religious people are not willing to assimilate. They simply cannot "wrap their heads" around the idea that a bow in an Aikido dojo has nothing to do with subservience to another deity/higher authority...... So if the person is not open to assimilate to the new environment of the dojo, then what? I have trained harmoniously with people from most walks of life. I have found deeply spiritual and religious people who have opened themselves up to new experiences and in engaging in behaviors in a different milieu with them recognizing that the same behavior within their culture is not appropriate for them to engage in. Ultimately, it ends up as an individual decision. I respect their decision to give something new a try. I also respect their decision to not do so. I simply ask that they respect my decisions as well as to what constitutes appropriate and respectful behavior while training in my dojo.


Marc Abrams
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