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Old 01-16-2014, 11:30 AM   #27
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"

Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Yes agreed.

How is rigidly forcing others to violate their religious beliefs practicing Aikido?

Well, a couple of things for me influenced the approach I have crafted over the years:
1. The student picked the dojo, not the other way around. I work very hard to give an accurate representation of our values, teachings and training methods. I speak to both my strengths and weaknesses and I understand they may affect a prospective student's decision to train.
2. I assume that a new student is looking to find a dojo that aligns with both the change the student is looking to accomplish and the culture in which that endeavor is done joyously. I understand that our dojo is not for everyone and I do my best to get a prospective student into a better fit if they do not flourish in our dojo.

The rigidity I hold is the expectation that students inherit a sense of community to the students, the dojo and training. I value this expectation because I believe it contributes to the safety of training, the level of commitment reflected within the dojo and the personal relationships established between students.
To flip the question, what kind of religious belief would discourage fostering this kind of relationship with students of a dojo?

The only "wrong" in this situation is not standing up for what you believe and expressing that belief with sincerity. My point is that before we become instructors (#3 on the list), we have other obligations to first consider; helping a new student find his place and understand if aikido is right for them. Aikido is not the right place for everyone and that's OK. Aikido dojos are not all the same and that's OK. This is about leading a student to find the best solution to meet his needs, which may not be your dojo. The aikido in that is understanding the solution is not what you want you, but what the student needs.

As an observation about your question, I have two comments:
1. A student is not compelled to participate in class for any reason. You could argue the dojo environment is adversarial to the student's personal beliefs, but without a point of compulsion you cannot really argue anyone is "forced" to do anything.
2. As a point of personal belief, I do not accept poor interpersonal skills cloaked behind any politically charged classification. I would hazard that if the foundation of this article was simply a personal belief and not a religious one, the tone of this conversation would be different.

I find it odd that we say, "be any shape you want," but then we pound that shape into the round hole and complain when it doesn't fit like the round peg. Why not find the right hole for the peg and be happy it fits?

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