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Old 03-16-2006, 08:52 PM   #51
eyrie
 
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

No, Pauliina... you misunderstood me. I'm not saying that at all. I'm merely saying to leave whatever baggage you have outside the door before you enter. You cannot train effectively, at any level, with all that excess baggage anyhow. Nothing to do with changing or setting aside one's beliefs, whether it is convenient or not. Besides, adherence to religious law is not a belief or custom. It is something quite insiduously different.

Of course a person's religion is as much a part of them. But I don't bring my religious practices to the mat or to the workplace, or impose my adherence to religious laws on others. I strongly believe that you can still practice and maintain your adherence to the law if you wish (or are spiritually strong enough to do so). But if that's a problem then the choice is simple - don't participate. Anything else is an imposition on someone else.

By the same token, we could say that the pretext of abiding by religious law is merely a convenient way to impose your will on others.... or perhaps, even to conveniently justify one's actions?

I'm not slighting anyone's religious practices/laws/beliefs, but there's a time and place for everything.

Even within the legal systems of most modern democratic nations, the ratio decedendi almost invariably aims at upholding the spirit and purpose of the law, rather than to the letter of the law.

Again, I say, define what "unnecessary contact" means.

Ignatius
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:06 PM   #52
giriasis
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I'd love to hear some input from the muslim members of this board on this issue. Those who train in predominately Muslim countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. What do you do in your dojo when there are more conservative muslims who can't train with the opposite gender because of their religous beliefs? What Islamic tradition do you follow (Sunni, Shi'ah, modernist, conservative, fundamentalist)? Does following a certain tradition make a difference? And how do you rectify the situation when you have women join your dojos especially if they will be the only or one of a limited few? Do men who do not object to training with women train with them? Or do you have separate classes or rooms to train for men and women?

I'm really curious, because we are facing this issue at my dojo as well. I'm asking you because I'm sure you have had real world experience with this matter than mostly theoretic debates of people who are from predominantly Christian/ Western countries. How do you make accomodations or do you?

If you don't want to answer publicly you can send me a private message.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:17 PM   #53
senshincenter
 
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Good points made all around.

In a way, we've come up against this kind of stuff - somewhat. We practice ground-fighting at our school. With that practice, I've had a few women say they'd rather not ground-fight with men, or with men that are new to the dojo. Ground-fighting, it seems, brings up a kind of erotic awkwardness for some folks - makes one wonder how, for example, BJJ schools deal with this. As an instructor, I do not seek to force anyone to do something that they'd rather not do, but ultimately a great deal of training is centered on doing what you'd rather not do. Therefore, while I do not force anyone, I certainly lead them, encourage them, and support them, etc., to take on things they'd rather not do. This means then, those women that are not now wanting to ground-fight with men or with men they do not yet know well are heading toward a place, a time, and a them, where they can. So, yes, can't force folks, shouldn't force folks.

However, as I said earlier, I think when you have a religious conviction that is giving meaning to an act that a priori is thought to produce an erotic awkwardness, you are dealing with something else. First and foremost, you are dealing with something a dojo really shouldn't seek to change - regardless of its own spiritual foundations and/or political leanings (and make no mistake, gender delineations are every bit a political act as they may be a religious act). For me, however, though one should not seek to change this conviction, choosing to respect it, a dojo should every bit as much respect their own convictions - especially its own spiritual ones or those it considers to be vital to its own practical development and/or existence. This is also how I am reading Mary and Ignatius.

On a practical side, I think any dojo that has a vision of itself, one that it will want to respect enough to hold true to in the face of contrary visions brought in by new members, that dojo should make it very clear - being very direct and up front - on what it is and what it is not, on what it will do and what it will not do, etc. Often times, these things come up because a dojo may only have a vague notion of itself - one that allows too many folks to have too many interpretations. Often, if a dojo is very clear about what it is, folks can know what to expect and what not to expect, and thereby enter or leave wisely.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:02 AM   #54
Krista DeCoste
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista

Last edited by Krista DeCoste : 03-17-2006 at 09:04 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:05 AM   #55
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Krista DeCoste wrote:
I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista
Why would explaining the philosophy of the dojo and offering the man a choice be considered rude?

Living in harmony is a two way thing, it is not just up to us to accomodate those who have 'special' needs/belief systems, they also have to understand the context of the practice which we are engaged in.

What would we do if we accomodated the 'man' to come onto the mat and only practice with men, only to find out that his beliefs also didn't allow him to practice with any gay men that might be present. How far do you go in the desire for harmony?

A teachers role is as a guide for his students, their learning is his responsibility, their beliefs and and lifestyle are not ( unless they were bringing him or his dojo any disrepute ). If by admitting a member to join who will only participate with the men ( and maybe not all of them ), then this could upset the whole dojo atmosphere. This of couse would be dependant on the acceptance of each member of the dojo. What if all the higher grades in the dojo are women, how would they feel about it?
For the sake of harmony within the dojo, I would not lose too much sleep over the loss of one 'potential' student. If that is considered rude, my concept of rudeness is somewhat different to yours.

I must admit I do have an off the mat aversion to discrimination on any front, ligitimising a discrimination by giving it a religious backing doesn't make it easier to swallow for me.

IMHO There are far too many nasty practices carried out under the excuse that 'this is our culture, you should respect it' I'm not sure that I am under any obligation to respect something which I abhor.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:08 AM   #56
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Krista DeCoste wrote:
I agree with what Chris had to say. In my opinion, if we want to live in harmony with others we should accomodate them when possible. If this is his religious belief then it informs all he does and he should not be expected to leave it off the mat, as if it were that simple. This belief is not about hating women, it is a clearly defined boundary between unmarried men and women. More energy should be put towards finding a way to include him rather that trying to justify being rude to him and telling him there is no way he can train. I am wondering if this is not stemming from a resentment (coming from off the mat) of accomodating difference, a resentment of this culture and religion?

-Krista
Krista,

Living in harmony with others does not mean being a doormat to everyone who doesn't like the way you do business. It means allowing them to live their life as they see fit as long as it doesn't cause harm to you and yours.

A dojo should not be required, or even expected, to make special considerations for someone because they have an issue with the way you train.

Let's say for instance I am a recovering alcoholic. Is it fair for me to walk into a bar that has really good hot wings and say "I don't want you to serve alcohol anymore. I love your hot wings but I'm an alcoholic and I can't be around alcohol anymore but I still want to eat here." No, it isn't. I need to find a place that serves hot wings and doesn't serve alcohol.

I have trained in many other martial arts including Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo where contact with female students was rare if ever. He can find another place to train that will better suit his needs.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:23 AM   #57
Krista DeCoste
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I am not telling anyone to be a doormat. Sometimes if you are use to being in control of everything, negotiating a solution that works for both people is can feel like a doormat. In fact, my work off the mat is all about helping people to be more assertive, less aggressive or passive. As for using religious beliefs to justify hatred of others, I will not tolerate this either. However this is not a situation of hatred of women, it is a restriction, this I consider a whole different thing.

Krista
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Old 03-17-2006, 12:01 PM   #58
Chris Li
 
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
A dojo should not be required, or even expected, to make special considerations for someone because they have an issue with the way you train.

Let's say for instance I am a recovering alcoholic. Is it fair for me to walk into a bar that has really good hot wings and say "I don't want you to serve alcohol anymore. I love your hot wings but I'm an alcoholic and I can't be around alcohol anymore but I still want to eat here." No, it isn't. I need to find a place that serves hot wings and doesn't serve alcohol.
That's an unfair comparison, he's not asking any other men to stop training with women. It's entirely reasonable to walk into a bar, enjoy the hot wings and just have a club soda.

As I said before, accomodations for special circumstances are already commonly made in dojos. That being the case, the questions really ought to be whether a reasonable explanation can be given for a request for an accomodation (any accomodation), and whether that accomodation can be resonably made.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-17-2006, 12:04 PM   #59
"Budokarob"
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Seen it before.

I was at a seminar in NY a few years back, and I found myself in a group of women all of a sudden. I got to the front of the line and went to attack the woman I was facing, and she denied me. She said the same exact thing; she cannot touch anyone other than her husband. I was informed that she was a Muslim, and that is a part of their rules.

I mean, thank God that we can practice our religions freely in America, but I did have a few comments (which I did not share with her of course)

1)This is a martial art, and she is missing out on vital self-defense training using bigger, taller, male uke - not to mention the personal gains from true shugyo.

2)Does anyone think that a criminal will stop attacking a woman because her religion forbids physical contact with anyone other than her husband?? And in this scenario, what is she suppose to do??

3)This woman also wore a frilly little skirt over her dogi, which I believe is disrespectful to the art. Aikido can be considered a religion of its own (where else can you combine the physical, mental and spiritual?) so doesn't it deserve the same respect that we show the big 3??

take care,
rob
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Old 03-17-2006, 01:01 PM   #60
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Well, me, I don't hold much truck for most religions to begin with. I conduct my classes in a certain manner, based on the history and traditions of the art.

That practice has frak all to do with any religious practice. It has to do the the tradition and history of the art itself.

If someone can't set their mythology aside for a couple-four hours a week to play by the dojo and ryuha traditions, then they probably wouldn't have any joy in training with us in the first place.

I've little patience with folks who want to study a such culturally-laden arts as the budo, but want to do it on 'their own terms'. There are plenty of modern martial practices or sports they can explore that won't question their prejudices and superstitions at all.

But that's just me.

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Old 03-17-2006, 01:02 PM   #61
Michael O'Brien
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
That's an unfair comparison, he's not asking any other men to stop training with women. It's entirely reasonable to walk into a bar, enjoy the hot wings and just have a club soda.

As I said before, accomodations for special circumstances are already commonly made in dojos. That being the case, the questions really ought to be whether a reasonable explanation can be given for a request for an accomodation (any accomodation), and whether that accomodation can be resonably made.

Best,

Chris
Chris,
I understand your point that the comparison isn't ideal, but even though he isn't asking other men to stop training with women it will happen.

Men that would train with women during a paritcular exercise will have to train with him instead. Women that may be training with him, or another man that is his partner, now may be relegated to training with another woman.

Is it a huge accomodation to be made? As was stated before by many people that depends on the size of the classes and the male/female ratio in those classes.

It seems that the jury is deadlocked on this one.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 03-17-2006, 02:06 PM   #62
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
As for using religious beliefs to justify hatred of others, I will not tolerate this either
We in the west do tolerate this religious hatred even if you as an individual do not.

Not long ago a Dutch film maker was murdered for daring to make a film that showed muslims in a light that some found 'unacceptable' enough to kill the director. The film was based on the material supplied by an ethiopian muslim woman and her feeling that the islamic faith supports the degradation of women. She is now under 24hr police protection as there is a fatwa out on her life. I'm not sure what else the Dutch can do, but by doing nothing to bring the "beliefs that allow this sort of thing to happen" it is a form of tolerance.
In the UK recently during the protests over the Danish cartoons the demonstrators were carrying placards that called for the murder, annihalation, beheading of those who insult islam. in a country where laws have been passed to expressly forbid the stirring up of religious hatred, not one of the demonstrators have been brought to book. This is also a tolerance, as to come down hard on this particular minority may inflame the situation further.
We as citizens of these countries have no choice but to tolerate this hatred, and hope that over time things will not get worse than they already are.

Quote:
However this is not a situation of hatred of women, it is a restriction, this I consider a whole different thing.
This particular case may not be about the hatred of women, but you have to look at where and why these religious restrictions came into being. IMHO they are not there because the women are seen as equal to men, quite the contrary. 'If' a religion does not treat women as equal to men then maybe the fault (if you see it as that) lies within the belief system itself. Does god discriminate? I don't know as I have no acces to the mind of god, if god exists at all. If god does not discriminate then it must be the 'men' (and my guess is that they are almost all men) who wrote the books that underpin the religion.
Passing down 'restrictions' on what can and can't be done, if not a direct directive from god are a man made manifestation of the use of power over others.
Freedom of worship is rightly inherent in a free society, people are free to believe any weird idea that they want (and they do!) and we should defend this right. however if these ideas start affecting those that do not share their particular brand of belief, then they need to be open to others not wanting to 'accomodate' their particular branch of weirdness.

I would invite anyone from any religion to come and practice with me, but by accepting an invitation into my dojo you need to accept the basic tenets inherent in our system, to do otherwise is disrespectful.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-17-2006, 02:20 PM   #63
akiy
 
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Hi folks,

I just wanted to step in and ask that the subject matter in this thread be focused on the matter of aikido students at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) aikido dojo who have a religious prohibition against touching women.

If you feel the need to move this subject to a broader context outside of aikido, please take it to the Open Discussions forum.

Thanks,

-- Jun

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Old 03-17-2006, 02:21 PM   #64
MaryKaye
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
Good post Mary, good points.

Would it be impudent to ask, what the philosophical differences are? I completely understand if you don't want to go into it.

regards,
Mark
We are a Ki Society dojo. K. Tohei sensei has written a little book of ki sayings which express his philosophy of aikido and life, and for a while we were doing responsive readings (leader reads the saying, students recite it back). I was finding it increasingly troublesome to be asked to repeat these sayings. They sound like pledges or promises, and I don't agree with them religiously or philosophically.

One example was ki saying #11 (can't quote it precisely) which divides the universe into yin/yang, light/darkness, "plus ki and minus ki", and then says we strive to get rid of all of the dark pole of this dichotomy. This is dramatically opposed to my religion and I just choked on having to repeat it.

I explained this to sensei in private and asked for permission to sit silently during these readings. She agreed. But I would have supported her right to say "This is the dojo philosophy, and if you can't work within it, find another dojo." (And I would, regretfully, have left.) We talked specifically about ki saying #1, which ends "To unify mind and body and become one with the universe is the ultimate goal of my practice." I said, no, it isn't. She asked about my goals and decided she found them adequately compatible.

Mary Kaye
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Old 03-17-2006, 02:39 PM   #65
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I understand a lot of what you say Mark, and some of it I can't disagree with. But I do have to wonder just where some of the lines are drawn, and on what basis.

a) Not all followers of Islam adhere to the stricture mentioned in the first post.

b) Many 'traditional' religions have or had at one time a prohibition against casual contact with females...or with females during that 'time of the month'. Judaism and Christianity might very well both qualify here...in part or in whole, depending on what time period is discussed.

c) Many strictures and customs attributed to Islam are actually beliefs / customs held over from animist and other traditional religious practices that were in place before Islam. I believe the radical form of female circumcism practiced in Somalia is one of these. It is now attributed (incorrectly) to Islam. [someone please correct me on this if I remember incorrectly]

So some of these things are kind of hard to attribute to all of Islam, or only Islam. Personally, I think in early societies religion often acted as a prophylactic on social and medical issues. So you have prohibitions against foods that are more likely to cause illness in certain places (shellfish, pork), you have prohibitions against promiscuous behavior (venereal disease, distraction from the desired social unit), etc. I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them.

Hopefully now people can adhere to their faith, without bringing along any negative baggage (as seen from the outside anyway). Unfortunately, we still seem to have a long way to go. Personally, I guess I'd try to let the man train, as long as he understood that

a) aikido is best learned by training with as many body types as are available, and
b) if his training caused too much disruption in the dojo for any reason, he could change, or leave.

Best,
Ron

PS Hi Jun, just saw your request after I posted...If any of this does not belong here, feel free to move it.

Thanks,
R

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 03-17-2006 at 02:45 PM.

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-17-2006, 03:09 PM   #66
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
We are a Ki Society dojo. K. Tohei sensei has written a little book of ki sayings which express his philosophy of aikido and life, and for a while we were doing responsive readings (leader reads the saying, students recite it back). I was finding it increasingly troublesome to be asked to repeat these sayings. They sound like pledges or promises, and I don't agree with them religiously or philosophically.

One example was ki saying #11 (can't quote it precisely) which divides the universe into yin/yang, light/darkness, "plus ki and minus ki", and then says we strive to get rid of all of the dark pole of this dichotomy. This is dramatically opposed to my religion and I just choked on having to repeat it.

I explained this to sensei in private and asked for permission to sit silently during these readings. She agreed. But I would have supported her right to say "This is the dojo philosophy, and if you can't work within it, find another dojo." (And I would, regretfully, have left.) We talked specifically about ki saying #1, which ends "To unify mind and body and become one with the universe is the ultimate goal of my practice." I said, no, it isn't. She asked about my goals and decided she found them adequately compatible.

Mary Kaye
Thanks for sharing that with me Mary, I appreciate it. I can now understand your problem as well.
IMHO people practice aikido for their own reasons, not for the reasons the sensei wants, and I personally accept that. However the reasons for practice can change over time.

My own teacher spent 10 years with Tohei sensei so we practice Ki Aikido with his own slant from the many years spent with K Abbe Sensei in the 1950's/60's. We don't have to adhere to any of what you mention, so it is outside of my experience.

I'm glad you have an understanding sensei and that you are able to continue and your own dojo.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-17-2006, 03:28 PM   #67
Mark Freeman
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
I understand a lot of what you say Mark, and some of it I can't disagree with. But I do have to wonder just where some of the lines are drawn, and on what basis.

a) Not all followers of Islam adhere to the stricture mentioned in the first post.

b) Many 'traditional' religions have or had at one time a prohibition against casual contact with females...or with females during that 'time of the month'. Judaism and Christianity might very well both qualify here...in part or in whole, depending on what time period is discussed.

c) Many strictures and customs attributed to Islam are actually beliefs / customs held over from animist and other traditional religious practices that were in place before Islam. I believe the radical form of female circumcism practiced in Somalia is one of these. It is now attributed (incorrectly) to Islam. [someone please correct me on this if I remember incorrectly]

So some of these things are kind of hard to attribute to all of Islam, or only Islam. Personally, I think in early societies religion often acted as a prophylactic on social and medical issues. So you have prohibitions against foods that are more likely to cause illness in certain places (shellfish, pork), you have prohibitions against promiscuous behavior (venereal disease, distraction from the desired social unit), etc. I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them.

Hopefully now people can adhere to their faith, without bringing along any negative baggage (as seen from the outside anyway). Unfortunately, we still seem to have a long way to go. Personally, I guess I'd try to let the man train, as long as he understood that

a) aikido is best learned by training with as many body types as are available, and
b) if his training caused too much disruption in the dojo for any reason, he could change, or leave.

Best,
Ron

PS Hi Jun, just saw your request after I posted...If any of this does not belong here, feel free to move it.

Thanks,
R
Thanks for the post Ron, and I appreciate the balancing effect it has had on my little rant.

I only used the example of islam in referrence to tolerance of religious hatred. I am aware that it may seem that I am lumping all muslims in with the actions of a few. I do not mean to do that, although it I'm sure can be taken that way.

The vast majority of people who belong to any religion are peaceful people only wanting the best for themselves and their nearest and dearest. They happily live in multi faith situations and even us atheists are tolerated.

The history and source of religious practice does belong on another thread, but my points about dubious 'cultural' practises does have a thin tenuous link ( I hope)

to re quote you above: "I think in general, as it was men making the rules, women got the worst of these strictures where they were adversely affected by them." This is still the case for many women.

Cheers,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-17-2006, 03:36 PM   #68
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
This is still the case for many women.
Yes, it is...probably the majority if we think about it honestly. I hope my wording didn't imply otherwise...that would be incorrect.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-17-2006, 06:19 PM   #69
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I teach kids' classes at a non-profit dojo; I've had several islamic kids in my class. their only restriction has been that they do abbreviated bows, and this has only been awkward when I once wanted to correct student on his bowing and he had to explain why he couldn't do it the regular way. They have been, and are, wonderful kids and a joy to have in class; I would hate to think that they couldn't come because of their religion.
However, I am a woman; most of these kids have been boys. I personally don't think that I could teach effectively if I couldn't touch my students, take ukemi from them to feel their techniques, and throw them to show them the feel of a correct technique.
I think 'what is reasonable' boils down to the particular instructors, the particular dojos, and the particular students involved. In my dojo's case, I don't think that a 'can't touch opposite sex' student would be able to effectivly train in aikido.

-LK
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Old 03-18-2006, 08:10 AM   #70
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
I'd love to hear some input from the muslim members of this board on this issue. Those who train in predominately Muslim countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. What do you do in your dojo when there are more conservative muslims who can't train with the opposite gender because of their religous beliefs? What Islamic tradition do you follow (Sunni, Shi'ah, modernist, conservative, fundamentalist)? Does following a certain tradition make a difference? And how do you rectify the situation when you have women join your dojos especially if they will be the only or one of a limited few? Do men who do not object to training with women train with them? Or do you have separate classes or rooms to train for men and women?

I'm really curious, because we are facing this issue at my dojo as well. I'm asking you because I'm sure you have had real world experience with this matter than mostly theoretic debates of people who are from predominantly Christian/ Western countries. How do you make accomodations or do you?

If you don't want to answer publicly you can send me a private message.
I'd still love to hear from muslims on this issue. I can understand you not wanting to post in this thread as it has pretty much devolved. So please feel free to send me a private message.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 04-09-2006, 10:29 PM   #71
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

I find it fairly disturbing that this man is being called intolerant because he doesn't touch women. I know many orthodox Jews, and according to what they have told me, not touching someone of the opposite gender has nothing to do with treating them as someone lesser. It's because they are not your spouse/child, and so you are respecting them by not touching them. It goes both ways, too- Women don't touch men, as well as men don't touch women.

If class size is a problem, and he would have to work with a woman, that is a good reason to advise him to join a different dojo. If not, I don't see what the problem is. He can train like everyone else, except he will only train with men.
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Old 04-10-2006, 12:11 PM   #72
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

It's tricky to decide when an accommodation for a students with special needs crosses the line and becomes inappropriate. I have noticed a trend that students are requiring more accommodation in training, but also expecting more from their training. It scares me that this "have your cake and eat it too" attitude is creeping into training and demanding dojo to make exceptions and accommodations to meet individual needs.

I appreciate that everyone has a right to train in aikido if they choose, but if a pre-existing lifestyle excludes a potential student from participating in aikido as taught by the dojo, why should a dojo change their instruction? What right does one person have to demand accommodation over the instruction of an instructor or a dojo?

There is a fine line between accommodating a reasonable request that does not significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo, then there are requests that significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo. I think that is very important to maintain a clear distinction of what requests your dojo is willing to accommodate, and what requests your dojo is not willing to accommodate.

When a person makes a choice that impacts his/her interaction with the world around them, that choice carries with it preclusive terms that pre-determine some situations. The ability to stand by those choices even when their result is undesirable is what I call "integrity."

Imagine an alcoholic sworn from drinking as part of the rehabilitative process. Now imagine that alcoholic spending free time at a bar. Maybe that alcoholic is not drinking, but that environement is encouraging of an "accident." Imagine your spouse spending time "socializing" with past significant others. Technically, that spouse isn't cheating but the environment is certainly encouraging of that act.

No, there is something about our culture and "accidents" that makes for an irresponsible society in some respects. The original post is about a student's religion that prohibits them from female contact. So my question is why is this student tempting his decision to avoid contact with females by deliberately participating in an act that almost certifies contact with a female at some point in time? My original post was perhaps too subtle. This student is deliberatly creating an environment to encourage an "accident." And guess what, if an "accident" occurs, guess who will be blamed...
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Old 04-10-2006, 03:52 PM   #73
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
I appreciate that everyone has a right to train in aikido if they choose, but if a pre-existing lifestyle excludes a potential student from participating in aikido as taught by the dojo, why should a dojo change their instruction? What right does one person have to demand accommodation over the instruction of an instructor or a dojo?.
No one has demanded anything, so far as I can see. The original post was about a request for an accomodation, which is quite a bit different than a demand. Given that every dojo I've ever trained at makes some kind of accomodations for students, a polite request is hardly out of line.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
There is a fine line between accommodating a reasonable request that does not significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo, then there are requests that significantly impact the atmosphere of a dojo. I think that is very important to maintain a clear distinction of what requests your dojo is willing to accommodate, and what requests your dojo is not willing to accommodate.
Sure, but as I said before, I think that people are exagerrating the burden of accomodating this particular request. Still, every dojo has to decide for themselves.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
No, there is something about our culture and "accidents" that makes for an irresponsible society in some respects. The original post is about a student's religion that prohibits them from female contact. So my question is why is this student tempting his decision to avoid contact with females by deliberately participating in an act that almost certifies contact with a female at some point in time? My original post was perhaps too subtle. This student is deliberatly creating an environment to encourage an "accident." And guess what, if an "accident" occurs, guess who will be blamed...
As has been stated before, accidental contact is not the issue. People with these religious restrictions live and work with women all the time - they're not placing themselves in an unusual situation, or in a situation of unusual "temptation".

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-10-2006, 05:27 PM   #74
creinig
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

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I find it fairly disturbing that this man is being called intolerant because he doesn't touch women. I know many orthodox Jews, and according to what they have told me, not touching someone of the opposite gender has nothing to do with treating them as someone lesser. It's because they are not your spouse/child, and so you are respecting them by not touching them.
I don't think I know any woman who would feel respected if someone told her "No, I won't train with you". Quite the opposite, actually

But leaving that aside -- the described case has been compared with other situations where people need special accommodation on the mat. Elderly afraid to take rolls, maybe a rape victim who really doesn't want to train with men, etc. Right now we have an asthmatic in class who needs to take frequent breaks. Often the special treatment for such people will be greater that with the described case. But I nevertheless I wouldn't mind, don't mind, would actually like to have these people in the dojo, would maybe add in some extra hours to help them overcome their problems.

And that's where I see the main difference to this case. A religious doctrine against touching (non-wife) women is also a problem in the dojo context, but there is no will to overcome that problem. And that means, for me, that his beliefs and our way of training are incompatible. (Disclaimer: I'm just a kyu grade, so I can't really speak for the dojo).
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Old 04-10-2006, 06:09 PM   #75
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Re: Religious Restrictions on Training

Quote:
Christian Reiniger wrote:
And that's where I see the main difference to this case. A religious doctrine against touching (non-wife) women is also a problem in the dojo context, but there is no will to overcome that problem.
That's because it's not seen as a "problem" by the person in question, any more than you see the tenets of your own religious faith as a "problem" to be overcome.

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Chris

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