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Old 01-16-2014, 07:40 AM   #16
jonreading's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido South (formerly Emory Aikikai)
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,139
Re: Teacher OKs "Avoid[ing] touching females on religious grounds"

Couple of additional points...

1. To Ellis' point, I think this is largely a problem with committing to a flaccid position. In attempt to not offend anyone, the position actually emboldens bully behavior and frustrates those who capitulate to the authority. This is not action of leadership, nor what I would desire in leaders within my dojo. I have many martial arts friends who openly express disdain for the martial functionality of aikido; they believe the art in BS but they appreciate my commitment and decisions and respect what we do because we have a direction.
2. On interview, instructors are charged with several serious tasks in evaluating new students. For me, the top 3 are: 1. protect the interests of the students, 2. protect the interests of the dojo, 3. assume the responsibility of instruction. I like Ellis' points at the interview level of decision which asks, "if this individual advocates assault, I am empowering him to better execute assault?"
3. To Lynn's point, I think many of us have worked with victims of abuse or assault. Sometimes these students have special needs in their training and we work to re-integrate them into class. For me, this approach often has two strings: 1. the students recognizes the special need and compromises to find an acceptable solution (such as private instruction or limited training opportunities), 2. the is an end when the student integrates into class.

My original criticism about the role the instructor played in this decision was to recognize the complications created by what I perceive to be a flaw in the leadership of the instructor. We all have 'em and we all make mistakes, so my contribution was intended to share where I perceived the flaw to be. In elaborating on this general observation, I would advocate that as instructors we should be a secure dojo where our students are confident in themselves and confident the instructor is working in their interest. I want to be able to have a conversation with a student that goes something like, "Hey, I know this new guy is frustrating because he holds a view of women that is offensive to you. But we should give him an opportunity to prove he came to the dojo to change. I need your help... You don't need his approval for your self-confidence and I need you to be above this while we wait to see if this guy is serious about changing." But I do not think you can have that conversation with a student unless she trusts you and trusts your integrity to follow through with your promises. At some point, the student either needs to get with the program or leave.

To my other point about dojo cultures, I can appreciate the alienation this student must feel training in a dojo where everyone shares a different perspective that he does. Back to terrible sports rivalry, can you imagine the alienation a Packer fan feels when they go into a bar full of Bears fans? You either need to learn to personalize yourself to the Bears fans or find a new bar. Maybe you were adopted by Packers fans and you don't know better, maybe you were going through a phase of rebellion and the Packers represented the extreme-opposite perspective of your sensible Bears-loving parents, maybe the Bears let you down when Ditka left and you vowed never to let the Bears hurt you again. Back to the article, I think it shows something that when presented with the opportunity to change, the student instead distributed flyers about how the dojo could change...

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