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Old 07-06-2015, 08:11 AM   #1
Sojourner
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Ai symbol Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Does your Dojo have clapping as a part of the opening ceremony?

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordp...ng-and-aikido/
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Old 07-06-2015, 08:57 AM   #2
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:20 AM   #3
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.
In my opinion, anyway. I am quite surprised to read that you find the practice uncommon in Western dojos. In my experience it is the rule and not the exception.
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Yes. You are not practicing Aikido if you don't do this.
Joking right?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-06-2015, 09:32 AM   #5
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

I've seen so many iterations of this. 1-4 claps, sometimes with a bow before, between, and/or after. Some people incorporate Shintoism, Buddhism, or other into their practice. To each hi/her own but I think we are practicing 'our' aikido, not O'Sensei's or anyone else's aikido, seeking to find and express ourselves.
In my dojo we have a moment of silence and a simple bow...each person in the dojo can utilize that process to do what they need to to get their head right.
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Old 07-06-2015, 10:44 AM   #6
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
Joking right?
Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.
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Old 07-06-2015, 10:50 AM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.
But you don't get to define "spirituality" for me or my dojo's culture. Personally I do NOT equate a specific tiny ritual piece of a larger religion as "spirituality."

Where I train now? We Don't Clap (we bow in and sit and do breathing for a few minutes). The USAF dojos I was part of for years: no clap. The CAA dojo I was part of for a time: no clap.

If we each washed a special dish in a special sink, or told a ritual joke, it would suffice to "establish the training time as free from the mental detritus...."...ANYTHING the group does each time at the opening of class does that.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-06-2015, 11:26 AM   #8
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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If we each washed a special dish in a special sink, or told a ritual joke, it would suffice to "establish the training time as free from the mental detritus...."...ANYTHING the group does each time at the opening of class does that.
I think the part I regard as crucial is where everybody is simultaneously engaging in a physical action that produces a sound. It is the opposite of going into yourself to clear your mind in your own way or whatever...that would be bringing something onto the mat that you should be leaving off. The sacrifice of choice to the traditions of the group is important.

Being in a room where everybody is together, but each doing their own thing and choosing their experience is the default, and Aikido provides a safe alternative where you get your full integrity back when you clap out.

It's not really a big deal if you don't do things the way I have been taught, but I think training where Sensei demonstrates a technique, and everyone pairs off and tries to make it work is a bit silly if you don't view it as a group "spiritual" activity....i.e. it might be better to structure training differently.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:19 PM   #9
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Sorry - not joking, but stating a personal opinion too heavy-handedly and non-inclusively.

IMO the little ritual before and after practice - particularly the stuff that is derived from a religion the student may not believe in - is crucial to establishing the training time as free from the mental detritus of the day, when you are open to learning new things and having new insights. Rather than bringing baggage onto the mat, you leave it off the mat and just be a part of what's going on.

I feel this way because it answers a lot of my questions about how Aikido is trained and transmitted. To me its a fairly pointless endeavor if you take the spirituality out of it.
I see Moksu the same way - but have never clapped. I mean ever. I know some people do but ... can't be that crucial to the ritual.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:06 PM   #10
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
I see Moksu the same way - but have never clapped. I mean ever. I know some people do but ... can't be that crucial to the ritual.
Thanks, Peter. This has been a good day for me as far as learning things.
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:09 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

[quote=Cliff Judge;344142]Being in a room where everybody is together, but each doing their own thing and choosing their experience is the default, and Aikido provides a safe alternative where you get your full integrity back when you clap out. [quote]

I don't think aikido is the only place in my life described by that first clause.
I'm still not getting the link between the clap per se and either group cohesion or my integrity.
However, I'm happy that you are thinking about the essence of what the clap means to YOU.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-06-2015, 02:13 PM   #12
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

"Spirituality" is such a vague and useless word....

Every group, regardless of culture, regardless of the reason why the group exists, has little rituals to signal the start of "group" activities. Athletic teams clap or clasp hands before they go on the field. Recovery groups might start meetings with a prayer. Japanese martial artists tend to bow, Western fencers salute their teacher. Business or political meetings will have some sort of "call to order," with things like introductory announcements, an agenda, and so on.

But I think it's a real stretch to say that the specific ritual that *some* dojos use is so integral to the art that you aren't practicing aikido without it, and even more of a stretch to anchor it in aikido's "spirituality," whatever that even means.

For the record, my dojo claps. Except when we're doing a standing bow at the start of a weapons class, because it's really awkward to clap with your hands full. I've been to dojos that clap more, or not at all. I've trained with koryu teachers who bow, clap, and chant.

Katherine
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Old 07-06-2015, 04:56 PM   #13
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

I understand from the late Okumura Shigenobu Shihan that the practice of clapping in the Hombu stopped when the Shinto kamidana was removed. It continues at Iwama because the Iwama Dojo is still regarded as part of a shrine.

Hakushu is often used at the parties following a wedding ceremony, where it means applauding the bride, groom, parents, guests, whoever. The wedding announcer hired in the occasion tells the guests when to clap and how intensely to do so.

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Old 07-06-2015, 06:07 PM   #14
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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In my opinion, anyway. I am quite surprised to read that you find the practice uncommon in Western dojos. In my experience it is the rule and not the exception.
Cliff, I have to say I sort of find that comment, and the first one, a bit disturbing. I mean, Shinto is a religion at its most basic definition, right? I've been practicing aikido for 20+ years now and have never been in a dojo where the clapping is part of the usual routine. Its far off the beaten path for all of the places I've trained. We've heard of it, of course, and I've observed it in films taken in schools in Japan, and in other schools operated by Japanese-birth instructors, sure, but in my mind, that is Shinto layered on the aikido. Separate things, done sort of together.

When we come together as a larger group we sometimes say a quick prayer on the mat, asking for wisdom, health and safe learning for those involved, but we're talking to the Christian God, not the Kami.

So, no, we don't do the Shinto clapping routine. But... Then we most certainly practice aikido.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 07-06-2015, 06:22 PM   #15
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

There are several things done in aikido that have its origins in Shintoism. It's up to you though if you want to put that spirit into the movements.
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Old 07-06-2015, 07:01 PM   #16
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

From a website on Oomoto Kyo: http://www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enFaq/indexfaq.html

[i][A-They should live according to four teachings and four principles. These are fundamental to the Divine Plan and applicable to the lives of all humans. Oomoto also teaches that God gives humans freedom of choice; they have freewill to decide whether to follow these teachings and principles.

Q-What are the teachings?
A- They are: 1) Harmonious alignment with all life and the universe. 2) Revelation of celestial truth and its lessons. 3) Innate patterns of behavior for man, society and the cosmos. 4) Instinctual creative drives.

Q-What are the principles?
A- They are: 1) Purity through purification of mind and body. 2) Optimism, specifically believing in the goodness of the Divine Will. 3) Progressivism as a way to social improvement. 4) Unification or reconciliation of all dichotomies (good and evil; rich and poor; humans and nature; humans and God, etc.) The four can be thought of as a code for right living. By practicing them, humans can live in harmony with the universe and lead a heavenly life in spirit and flesh./I]

So, four festivals related to the four seasons, four principles and four teachings, and I believe I heard somewhere that the four claps are related to this.

From Lao Tzu - ritual is the husk of faith. The blog author identified as Christian. The difference between a light snack and the Sacrement of Communion, the difference between someone spilling water on me and the Sacrement of Baptism; it's belief and faith.

I asked Kawahara Shihan about the different opening rituals once. He was clear that as I was a non-believer, if I did try to perform a ritual that was completely meaningless to me, my behavior could possibly be insulting. Ordering students to follow the same ritual was as wrong as ordering an atheist to recite the Lord's Prayer. He told me O Sensei was an Oomoto Kyo practitioner, but not all Aikido people practice Oomoto Kyo.

I only clap once to end meditation or switch exercises. I follow the practices of whoever is teaching.
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Old 07-07-2015, 12:06 AM   #17
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

So, why is it necessary for aikidoka to imitate any aspect of Ueshiba Osensei's spiritual practices if one hasn't delved into and seriously studied Shinto, particularly Omotokyo, and the purpose and meaning of such ritual(s)? It should be clear, by now, that Ueshiba Osensei's spiritual practices were not widely understood, even by his own students. That religious/spiritual faith has been the subject of multiple interpretations, some published, some not, since his passing. Should one only imitate the clapping ritual to the shomen/tokonoma? Perhaps aikidoka should make pilgrimage to the various jingu associated with ancient, Japanese budo so as to enhance their practice? Should aikidoka practice chanting and meditation under a waterfall? Is a cold shower good enough or is the possibility of rocks landing on one's head necessary for it to be a real, spiritual practice that will benefit one's practice? Who decides what are Japanese "trappings" or "wrapping paper" and what is crucial to good practice?

By the way, many aspects of daily life in Japan are steeped in Shinto. Most of the younger generation(s) in Japan don't even recognize the depth of Shinto influence in their lives and don't particularly care to know.

Last edited by Gene McGloin : 07-07-2015 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 07-07-2015, 07:04 AM   #18
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I understand from the late Okumura Shigenobu Shihan that the practice of clapping in the Hombu stopped when the Shinto kamidana was removed. It continues at Iwama because the Iwama Dojo is still regarded as part of a shrine.
I had a chance to teach in our native UK earlier this year. I specifically asked Inagaki Shihan about the etiquette for the start of class. He said that the claps were for the kamidana and that in a place like a sports hall or school, a bow to a picture of the founder is usually sufficient. He added though, that I should try to fit in with the local etiquette and it turned out they were used to claps. Therefore, I did it exactly as we would to a kamidana, kind of as a rehearsal, should anyone want to visit Iwama to train.

Regards

Carl
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:22 AM   #19
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

I will have to admit at this point that perhaps, as most of my Aikido experiences have been in ASU dojos with a bit of Iwama and Kokikai, that I was obviously not sufficiently informed to claim that clapping was the rule and not the exception. Very interesting. Thanks for the learns everyone.

I almost hate to say this but...Aikido is a derived Shinto practice. Shinto is not "a faith" in the sense that an Abrahamic religion is, and it doesn't require your full awareness of the ritual for your participation to be valid. Aikido is the same way.

So whether you clap or not you are all offering your training to the Kami, every time you get onto the mat.
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Old 07-07-2015, 07:40 PM   #20
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

I would still say a quadruple amputee with meaning in the ritual, belief and faith, would do a better job of the clapping than I would with both my hands.

I believe the original blog author was partially ruminating on whether he was offering anything of himself to the Kami and that he valued his Christian beliefs. From O Sensei (by way of a few translators) - The world has 8 million gods and I cooperate with them all. The Art of Peace is not a religion, it perfects and completes all religions.

I don't read anything above that says I am involved in a Shinto ritual exclusively, or that I am participating in another religion by training in Aikido.

Not all of O Sensei's students were in Oomoto Kyo, but some were and that is the derivation of the practice I think.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:13 AM   #21
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
I had a chance to teach in our native UK earlier this year. I specifically asked Inagaki Shihan about the etiquette for the start of class. He said that the claps were for the kamidana and that in a place like a sports hall or school, a bow to a picture of the founder is usually sufficient. He added though, that I should try to fit in with the local etiquette and it turned out they were used to claps. Therefore, I did it exactly as we would to a kamidana, kind of as a rehearsal, should anyone want to visit Iwama to train.

Regards

Carl
Hello Carl,

Have you looked at Stan Pranin's Lost Saito Seminars, organized by Paolo C in Italy? I do not remember the beginning and end of training, but when I participated in Saito Sensei's seminars in Europe and the USA, everyone clapped.

Best wishes,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-08-2015, 12:19 PM   #22
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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I would still say a quadruple amputee with meaning in the ritual, belief and faith, would do a better job of the clapping than I would with both my hands.

I believe the original blog author was partially ruminating on whether he was offering anything of himself to the Kami and that he valued his Christian beliefs. From O Sensei (by way of a few translators) - The world has 8 million gods and I cooperate with them all. The Art of Peace is not a religion, it perfects and completes all religions.

I don't read anything above that says I am involved in a Shinto ritual exclusively, or that I am participating in another religion by training in Aikido.

Not all of O Sensei's students were in Oomoto Kyo, but some were and that is the derivation of the practice I think.
In the blog post, I detected an unmistakable note of worry that clapping may be religious in nature, and that for this reason it may be incompatible with exclusive convictions of faith that forbid participation in other religions.

The clapping has both religious and non-religious aspects to it. I do believe that it has a psychological importance as a queue but I won't argue that any further here. But it is a fact that it is tied to Osensei's religious experience, and it is clear that, to him, Aikido was inseparable from that religious experience.

I would just hate it if I held evangelical Christian beliefs and then I died and found myself in Hell because I had been seriously committing my life to engaging in a heathen practice for years. Mistakenly believing it was compatible with accepting Christ as my savior. Obviously, Aikido is not itself a religion, but surely Satan does not tempt the faithful only through organized religion. It seems exactly like him to mask a tool of corruption as a seemingly innocuous practice.

I think if one is committed to that type of belief, one should pray quite a bit about it, and/or consult with one's pastor, and be forthright with him about the origins of these practices. Perhaps your soul is safe if you steer clear of clapping, perhaps you might do better to steer clear of dojos where clapping is practiced. Or perhaps it might be safest to steer clear of the art altogether.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:33 PM   #23
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Quote:
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I think if one is committed to that type of belief, one should pray quite a bit about it, and/or consult with one's pastor, and be forthright with him about the origins of these practices. Perhaps your soul is safe if you steer clear of clapping, perhaps you might do better to steer clear of dojos where clapping is practiced. Or perhaps it might be safest to steer clear of the art altogether.
I think it's pointless to speculate about what is and is not compatible with beliefs that I don't personally share. The God concept in which I believe is able to discern what is in a person's heart, and judge accordingly. YMMV.

I personally do not make any particular religious association with my dojo's opening ritual, and would so advise any prospective student who asked. Beyond that, it's a matter for discussion with one's own spiritual advisor.

Katherine
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Old 07-08-2015, 05:23 PM   #24
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I personally do not make any particular religious association with my dojo's opening ritual, and would so advise any prospective student who asked. Beyond that, it's a matter for discussion with one's own spiritual advisor.

Katherine
So what would you say to a visitor who said to you, "I noticed that when you began class and ended class, everyone bowed and then clapped twice. That is exactly what I saw people doing when I visited a shrine in Japan. I was told by my tour guide that this was an important ritual, a way of calling the attention of the god of the shrine and asking for blessings. Is that what you do here?"

Or, "that is a nice little altar at the front of your dojo, with the picture of the Founder of Aikido as its focus...are you worshipping him?"

I.e. what you say to someone who really probed you on whether the clapping was a piece of religious practice?

I find thinking about this makes me uncomfortable. I think I would have to be honest that it is absolutely a vestige of Shinto. The reason why we do it, is simply because that's what our teacher taught us (yes he is Shinto) and it is therefore an important part of our living traditions.

And then it's basically...where does the visitor want to go with that? If they press me on whether *I* follow Shinto, the truth of the matter is I feel like I do, based on what I understand of it, though I admit I may be appropriating. My teacher has, in fact, stood in our dojo and stated that our dojo is our church.

At ASD, Aikido is more credibly "religious" than most yoga studios, and there are people who avoid yoga practice because it doesn't fit with their beliefs. This isn't really a matter you can just wave away as pointless. If a visitor were to state that they might have a problem training if there were religious elements I would have to, in good conscious, turn them away.

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 07-08-2015 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:16 PM   #25
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Re: Shinto Clapping in Aikido

Once again some great points being brought out in this discussion, I tried to make a "poll" on clapping in Aikido, but it looks like the poll function here may be disabled and when I tried on "Survey Monkey" it ended up giving me more grief than what it was worth.

The Ki Federation of Great Britain does not have Clapping as a part of any of its ceremonies. We do however bow in and out to the picture of Sensei Williams and in our local dojo there is also a picture of Abbe Sensei. In my mind I don't consider bowing in or out of training in any way "religious" I have served on a Jury before and we had to bow in and out to the Magistrate along with everyone else and I see it in the same way that it is simply a show of respect and acceptance of the order of leadership in the Dojo.

Still for me if I was to attend another Dojo or another Aikido orgs seminar for example and they participated in Clapping I would probably not join in with that section of the ritual. I think that in a western dojo if a member did not wish to particpate in clapping that they would be unlikely to be forced to do that, although I stand corrected if clapping is mandatory in your dojo. If I were told that membership or attendance at a Aikido Dojo was dependant on joining in with clapping then I would not make an issue of it there and then, but I would not return to it either and would find another trianing centre. My reason is that I feel that it is a breach of the first of the Ten Commandments - "you shall have no other gods before me".

I am well aware of the differences between Buddhism and Shintoism and the fact that in Japan, Buddhists and Shinto people can cross over in ritual where neccessary. It is my view that from the point of being an evangelical that I would not participate in that, I would not visit a shrine in Japan and join in the ceremony there for the blessing from the Shinto god/s, although I would have no real problem in simply visting the places of Shinto worship in Japan as a tourist, I just do not wish to join in with them and I fully respect the right of anyone else to go there and join in, clap, pray or do whatever works for them.

I think that there is a lot of pressure on people today to conform to a view that suggests that all roads in religion lead to a first cause of the universe eventually. Personally I have no problem in people having the view that there religion or faith system is correct at the exclusion of the others. I realise and accept that O'Sensei says that he respects all of the different gods and has room for them all. Its just one of those areas where I do not agree. It is a view held strongly in religious circles, - when Jesus told the Pharisees that if they wanted to see the Father then here He was in front of them, and that if they had seen Jesus that they had seen the Father, then that got them so angry that events fell in place that led to his crucifiction. This battle still rages on today and will not be brought to any real resolution any time soon.

Still whilst I might disagree with O'Sensei on that one point, if I were a Sensei and ran a dojo I would do my best not to discriminate against anyone that wished to learn Aikido that had some religious convictions. If a student did not want to bow in for example then I would not require it of them. If I had a Jewish or Adventist student I would not require them to grade or attend a seminar on Sabbath (Saturday) for example. If I had a Muslim male or female that wished only to train with a member of the same gender then I would try and facilitate that to be the case when parters are paired up for training. I don't think these problems are difficult to overcome, but at the same time I think there is a time for common sense as opposed to rigidity because that is the way something has always been done.

Last edited by Sojourner : 07-08-2015 at 08:22 PM.
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