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Old 01-15-2014, 01:33 PM   #4
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,069
Re: Teacher OKs "Avoid[ing] touching females on religious grounds"

A significant chunk of this earlier thread covered much of this topic:

Most of my earlier comments on this topic surrounded setting an expectation and then meeting that expectation. As a real example, it sounds like this instructor conceded to the student what I would consider to be an extreme request. That is, the request to specifically avoid contact [with a female student] in a contact sport. In doing so, I believe the instructor set an expectation in the dojo that other students (specifically the offended student) found to be unacceptable. The fact is the instructor now has the problem of continuing to meet that expectation as long as the student in question continues to train, while the offended student need only leave and find a new dojo. I am guessing that instructor is hoping the new student is a millionaire and wants to train for the rest of his life...

One of the things I did not previously mention is that at some point when there is a conflict (say, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans who have to train at the same dojo), there is such a thing as affirmation by non-action. That is, by letting the Red Sox fans train (an affirmation of activity) in all of their antagonistic glory (pin-striped gis, red belts, etc.) the instructor may not be specifically be an advocate of Boston, but she is effectively not supporting the Yankees fans training at the dojo who are offended by the activity. In this example, the common solution would be to say the dojo does not permit paraphernalia (of any kind) on the mat out of respect for all individuals who train, even the sad, sad Chicago Cubs fans.

The thing that bothered me most in the article was the aikido instructor sought to project the responsibility of the decision onto other agencies and minimize the harm caused to the dojo. As a student, what would resonate with me from that message is, "This new student is more important than you, but I don't want you to think that I don't support you so I got some other people to say what I am doing isn't wrong. If you are offended, I hope that you are not offended enough to leave."

The good news is that the offended student has probably been given a glimpse of what eventually would become more transparent as a flaw in the leadership of the dojo. She has the opportunity to find a new place that will include her in training and better reflect her interests in the leadership decisions of the dojo.

And to be fair, I am firm believer that all dojos are not for everyone. We should align our training with communities that share our interests, beliefs and goals. Students' decisions to leave a dojo are more commonly influenced by other factors such as quality, location, schedule, organization and so on. Our dojo is patently prejudiced towards the needs of the dads that we train with... classes start after dinner and bed time and our wives could care less what we do once the kids are in bed... But we have turned away students because our schedule is not attractive to anyone with a life. Or, who live in the sticks (Seiser, I'm looking at you)

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