Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > General

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 07-23-2002, 02:12 PM   #1
memyselfandi
Location: East Coast
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 55
Offline
Jewish issue

As an Orthodox Jewish male I'm not permitted to purposefully touch a woman (not before marriage that is. And no, this is not a sexist issue). After watching a class at a local dojo, I discovered that while some of the practice is 1 on 1, a lot of it is everyone in the class lining up for Ukemi against one Nage. The former is not so much of a problem (just never pick a female partner), but the latter may cause some difficulties.
I've already spoken with the sensei about it, and he said that it shouldn't be a problem for a couple of years at least (until I'm more advanced and have to practice with anyone I can).
I'm wondering if I should really go through with this. I'm kind of embarrassed to have to exclude anyone from practicing a technique with me, but I think I'll be able to handle it. What I'm really worried about is offending someone else...
Has anyone else witnessed (or experienced) this problem? How was it handled in your Dojo?
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 02:37 PM   #2
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Offline
Blush!

I would be offended if someone refused to work with me because of their religion. This is my feeling as a woman, I don't know how others feel about it. I don't impose my beliefs on others and don't expect theirs imposed on me, in particular on the mat.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 02:41 PM   #3
Rev_Sully
Location: Somerville, MA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 58
Offline
It seems that perhaps uke/nage should be viewed beyond gender.

Although you have a prohibition against touching women pre-marriage, perhaps you should see beyond the gender of your uke/nage. I have no practical examples for you. Only opinion. The dojo is a sacred space just as a Temple or Church is.

With the like prohibitions, you should also be concerned about bowing to the Kaimza, the altar at the head of the dojo under O-Sensei's portrait as violation of the Mosaic Covenant Respecting graven images and gods before YHWH seeing that the Kamiza Respects the Japanese notion of the Kami, the Deity which watches over "us".

But people should respect your religiosity and you should not have to made to practice with women if that makes you uncomfortable/violates Judaic Law.

Cheers!

"He who knows best knows how little he knows." -Thomas Jefferson
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 02:44 PM   #4
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Offline
In twenty years of aikido, I have never heard of someone not working with a woman because they are a woman! Sorry about the bluntness of this, but it is offensive as a woman aikidoka.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 03:03 PM   #5
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Offline
another thought on this: substitute woman for a person of color, someone with a handicap, an older person, you get the gest of it. would that be acceptable? I dont think so. "Sorry Sensei, I can't work with Joe because he's ....."
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 03:11 PM   #6
Choku Tsuki
 
Choku Tsuki's Avatar
Dojo: Bond Street Dojo
Location: New York, New York
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 123
United_States
Offline
sexual bias

OSensei said [something to the effect that] "aikido is a way to make the world one family."

You have to practice with everyone.

If you can't practice with everyone, then you shouldn't show up to class, and you should forget about aikido.

I don't think we should discuss religion within this forum.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 03:13 PM   #7
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Offline
Smile

here, here Chuck, well said!
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 03:27 PM   #8
Jakusotsu
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 12
Offline
As much as it may offend you, it's his religion. He is as perfectly justified in subscribing to his religious beliefs as you are to venturing the idea that your five senses provide you accurate information about the world around you and that you are not being controlled by some great malevolent force whose sole reason for existence is the perverse amusement it receives from orchestrating your deception.

One might consider Orthodox Jewish religious beliefs offensive. Rene Descarte might venture to say that one who believes in indirect realism without justifying it is naive.

One is capable of differentiating bowing to the kamiza, and to each other from worship. It does not necessarily follow logically that if one believes that one should not purposefully touch women, that this stricture does not apply to martial arts.

The Orthodox Jew, insofar as I understand them, do not avoid touching women because they are women. They avoid touching women to keep themselves pure. Not because women are dirty, but because they wish to prevent anything illicit from happening and have taken the above measures as a precaution.

They make this choice not because they believe women degraded, but because they wish to maintain personal integrity. This has nothing to do with the qualities that inhere in women, but the qualities that inhere in the self. This is a description of self-control, not of prejudice. Substituting "woman" for "person of color" in this case is ridiculous, unless one feels an unusual attraction to persons of color.

My suggestion to Mr. Ari Fuchs is that he reflect on whether or not training with women constitutes a violation of his personal ethics. This is something he should do rationally, without heeding knee-jerks reaction to imagined insults.

If he decides he does not wish to train with women, and if he is questioned about it, he should assert simply that he doesn't purposefully touch women in any way in accordance with his religious beliefs. If this is likely to cause offense, he should qualify it with the statement that he is doing this to maintain his personal integrity, not because he lacks respect for women.

That said, I do offer this old Zen proverb:

Two monks were walking along a path in a snow-capped mountain. It was spring and the snow was beginning to melt, forming little rivulets. On their way to the monastery, the monks saw a woman who couldn't get across the water. Offering to help, one of the monks let the woman climb onto his back, and he carried her accross the stream.

Later the monks had almost returned to the monastery. One monk looked to the other and said, "I can't believe you did that! You know its our policy never to touch women!"

The other monk looked to him and said, "I put her down after we crossed the river. Are you still carrying her with you?"

Mr. Fuchs may or may not find that useful. That's for him to decide after considerate reflection.

I apologize for the length.

Eric Kroier
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 03:54 PM   #9
Kent Enfield
 
Kent Enfield's Avatar
Location: Oregon, USA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 224
United_States
Offline
If I were running a dojo and you came to me with this situation, I'd recommend that you don't train with us. Not because I find your beliefs offensive, but because practicing with everyone in the dojo is part of training. It's like (in effect, not purpose, obviously) saying you'd like to train, but you won't train techniques with the left leg forward, or that start off of yokomen-uchi. It conflicts with part of the curriculum. It is a self-imposed limitation that, as I am sure you are aware, makes some things difficult or impossible. Unfortunately, training aikido just happens to be one of those things.

Kentokuseisei
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 04:17 PM   #10
memyselfandi
Location: East Coast
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 55
Offline
This was exactly the response that I was afraid of . I repeat, "I do not want to offend anyone". I (as well as my religion) do not have any problem with women, handicap, the elderly, or "people of color". In fact, an orthodox woman would have the same problem training with a male. So whether or not training with women violates my personal ethics, it does violate my religious beliefs.
Quote:
OSensei said [something to the effect that] "aikido is a way to make the world one family."...If you can't practice with everyone...you should forget about aikido.
I'm sorry, but I do not believe taking Aikido should mean giving up any prior beliefs. I'm trying to find a way to take this Art without offending anyone, but if my religious beliefs cannot be accepted (not by you but by the other students at the dojo) then I will indeed "forget about Aikido".

PS - Thank you Eric for understanding.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 04:36 PM   #11
lt-rentaroo
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 237
Offline
I must say I'm suprised at the responses to this question. Really, if anyone should be open minded about this situation, it should be Aikido people.

It's sad that according to most of you, Mr. Fuchs should not study Aikido solely because of his beliefs.

While I personally find this particular belief silly, to Mr. Fuchs it is not. To him, it constitutes a large part of his life and I respect him for having the personal integrity to uphold his beliefs.

I'm certain Mr. Fuchs is not the only Orthodox Jew practicing (or wanting to practice) Aikido.

My advice to you is essentially what you've already done. Speak with Sensei regarding your situation. And even though you wish not to offend anyone, you invariably will, but only because he/she does not fully understand your beliefs. Make it your mission to explain why you maintain this belief. Educating your fellow Aikido students will help tremendously with your desire to study the art.

I wish you well.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 04:45 PM   #12
shihonage
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 890
United_States
Offline
I was about to say "cue the two zen monks and a woman story", but someone beat me to the punch.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:03 PM   #13
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,079
United_States
Offline
Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
In twenty years of aikido, I have never heard of someone not working with a woman because they are a woman!
I have, more than once. I've heard it the other way, too - they were called "women"s classes". More than a few dojo have those types of classes, but if you think about it they are just as discriminitory as the other way around, and without even having the excuse of a religious tradition that goes back thousands of years.

I had a student years ago who was an orthodox Jew, and although he would touch women there were other parts of the practice (such as bowing to the picture) that he didn't feel comfortable with, Nobody, including well known students of Morihei Ueshiba had a problem with him eliminating those things from his practice, and it really caused no problems at all. As long as the reasons behind the alteration are clearly known to the members of the dojo I don't see any reason why it should present a problem. Certainly I wouldn't try to argue him out of his religious beliefs, as many people seem in favor of doing.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:08 PM   #14
Jakusotsu
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 12
Offline
>>.PS - Thank you Eric for understanding.

Understanding is something that I work hard at doing. Thank you for having given me an opportunity to succeed.

...................................

As a previous poster pointed out, O'sensei said that the goal of Aikido was to make all the world one family.

I think this would be accomplished much more quickly if we would begin accepting those with reasonable, if somewhat different from our own, beliefs, as opposed to trying to railroad everyone into a set of dogmatics.

"All people are created equal" is just as dogmatic as "There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet" (to borrow from another thread). "Women are equal to men," "AIDS cures gays" and "We all have a right to express our opinions" are likewise.

We live in vary confusing times and the media, e.g., will not provide the truth for us. I maintain that we must rationally reflect, and allow no one to dictate to us of what this rational reflection should consist. When we express dogma as accross-the-board-truth, we cheapen the human power of reason.

I encourage Mr. Fuchs' practice of Aikido. To disallow him that oppportunity would be to disenfranchise him from the "world family" to which Aikido aspires.

He should of course be mindful of his differing beliefs and practice where it will cause the least conflict. I do not recommend he join the Sister Mary Francis Catholic School for Girls' Aikido Club.

Eric Kroier
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:15 PM   #15
Chuck Clark
 
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
United_States
Offline
I wanted to respond to this subject and have deleted half-a-dozen streams of thought. I have strong feelings about this. I will leave it at this...

I have personally (on several occasions) not accepted students in the Jiyushinkan (my dojo) that had similar beliefs (Orthodox Jews and Muslims). No one refuses to practice with another member of our dojo.

Mr. Fuchs certainly has the right to his beliefs. He may find a dojo that will allow him to not touch women. Most likely it will be an all male dojo or an all male orthodox Jewish dojo, etc.

Best of luck to you, Mr. Fuchs. You may learn to throw people down, but in my opinion, you won't be doing aikido. (and with my opinion and about $3.50 you can get a really good cup of coffee!)

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:15 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,079
United_States
Offline
Re: sexual bias

Quote:
Chuck Kuske (nyaikido) wrote:
OSensei said [something to the effect that] "aikido is a way to make the world one family."

You have to practice with everyone.

If you can't practice with everyone, then you shouldn't show up to class, and you should forget about aikido.

I don't think we should discuss religion within this forum.
So Aikido should make the world "one family", except for those who won't follow the rules? How are people going to become "one family" if they should "forget about Aikido"?

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:16 PM   #17
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
Offline
All of you have valid points in your comments. I still would feel this that this situation does not belong on the mat. Bowing is one thing, discrimination (and it is discrimination, whether it is religious beliefs or not) is another. Everyone of us is entitled to our opinion, but it shouldn't be foist upon others. I accept all of your opinions, but do not necessarily agree with them (they are yours, and are therefore valid to have). I would like to hear what other women have to say on this matter.

We all benefit from working with each other, men and women, strong and weak, beginner and senior. We all learn from each other.

I think we need to keep religion out of this conversation, as Chuck noted above.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:25 PM   #18
Steven
 
Steven's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkan Sacramento - Seikeikan Dojo
Location: Orangevale, CA
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 607
United_States
Offline
Dear Ari Fuchs,

I expected you'd get these types of replies too. However, everyone is entitled to their beliefs just as you are. I personally don't see anything offensive about it and have seen a lot worst in Aikido dojos in my view. I visited one dojo that actually had a womans only class taught by a woman but when the men wanted their own class, the women cried fowl. I made the mistake of not calling the dojo before arriving and showed up on ladies night. EGADS! If looks can kill ... Like, how dare I enter the dojo on THEIR night. YIKES!

Then again, I can see Rachel's point too. I've seen the behavior where men did not want to train with women simply because they are women and nothing else. But then again, I would have to say that for someone who is looking at opening their own dojo, lashing out at someone because of their religous beliefs doesn't help your cause of potential new students that might be lurking in these halls.

I had one little girl in my dojo say she didn't like training with the boys because in her view, all boys were stupid. I'll note at this time it was my youngest daugther. I immediately put her with a boy and only allowed her to train with boys. Her attitude has changed and when it's time to take a partner, she usually grabs a boy. (I think she likes the power it gives her when she man-handles them).

Bottom line is this is between you and your dojo/sensei. If they don't have a problem with it, then to heck with what anyone here thinks.

For the record, you're welcome in my dojo anytime.

Regards ...
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:26 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,079
United_States
Offline
Quote:
C.E. Clark (Chuck Clark) wrote:
I have personally (on several occasions) not accepted students in the Jiyushinkan (my dojo) that had similar beliefs (Orthodox Jews and Muslims). No one refuses to practice with another member of our dojo.
In principle, I agree. I'm not in favor of special treatment for anyone. However, I also believe that any rule should be able to shift dependent upon the intent and the reasoning of the circumstances. I'm not, for example, in favor of seperate classes for women. I might, however, be in favor of seperate classes for battered women who have severe problems interacting physically with men.

I'm a strong believer in inclusive practice. Realistically, that means that in some cases accomodations may have to be made. Many people disagree with that to one degree or another, and that's fine, but it's just not the way that I feel.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 05:37 PM   #20
memyselfandi
Location: East Coast
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 55
Offline
rachmass-

I repeat, I have nothing against women!!! And I agree with you Rachel, "men and women, strong and weak, beginner and senior" all do in fact learn from each other. That is not what my religion is against. Not touching members of the opposite sex can indeed be seen as a precautionary measure as Eric mentioned. Let me put it this way; how much easier do you think it would be to avoid premarital sex (a sin in many religions) if you could not touch a member of the opposite sex to begin with?

PS - I'm sorry for bringing in religion, but that is after all what this discussion is about.

PPS -- I too would like to see what other women would have to say on this matter.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 06:16 PM   #21
Jim23
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 482
Offline
I'm really baffled by this thread.

Tolerant, (even senior) aikido people discriminating against someone else's beliefs or customs? Shame on you all! So what if he doesn't want to have a female partner, who cares?

Respect him and his religion - please.

I can't believe what I've been reading here!

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 06:26 PM   #22
giriasis
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 819
United_States
Offline
Ari,

My knee-jerk reaction to you religious views and similar other religious views is that it is sexist. I would be more offended though if someone just didn't want to train with me just because I was female. If we met on the mat at a seminar, and you said that you can't train with me because your an Orthodox Jew, I would respect you albeit not totally understand. Although, I would want to be understanding and would try to flag you down later to learn more about you.

In regards, to whether avoiding pre-marital sex would be easier if I didn't touch men. When I'm on the mat, sex doesn't enter my mind. It's not even an allure while I'm on the mat. For me, training in aikido is genderless, asexual even. I've been training in aikido for three years now and have not had the temptation to have pre-marital sex as a result of touching my partner in the course of aikido training.

Off the mat, hand shakes and friendly hugs don't bring the allure of sex in my mind either. There are different kinds of touching, and I've learned the tell the difference between a sexual attraction and just a friendly affection. So it is hard for me to understand the need to not touch to avoid that temptation.

P.S. I think religion is something that needs to be discussed, since it is very relevant to the question at hand.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 06:27 PM   #23
Richard Harnack
Dojo: Aikido Institute of Mid-America
Location: Maplewood, Missouri
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 137
Offline
Re: Jewish issue

Quote:
Ari Fuchs (memyselfandi) wrote:
As an Orthodox Jewish male I'm not permitted to purposefully touch a woman (not before marriage that is. And no, this is not a sexist issue). After watching a class at a local dojo, I discovered that while some of the practice is 1 on 1, a lot of it is everyone in the class lining up for Ukemi against one Nage. The former is not so much of a problem (just never pick a female partner), but the latter may cause some difficulties.

...

I'm wondering if I should really go through with this. I'm kind of embarrassed to have to exclude anyone from practicing a technique with me, but I think I'll be able to handle it. What I'm really worried about is offending someone else...
Ari -

1. As you have seen by Rachel's posts, you may have difficulty in not giving offense.

2. Have you talked to your Rabbi? As an Orthodox Jew I would have thought you would have consulted with him first, since you clearly state it is a religious issue.

3. Perhaps the resolution lies with you. I suspect that ritual purification may be in order after practice anyway.

4. Lastly, not knowing where you live, I in larger cities (NYC or LA) there may be a dojo comprised of Orthodox martial artists.

Our organization has dojos in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Haifa, how they handle it I do not know. I strongly suspect that Ultra-Orthodox do not practice Aikido or any other "foreign" philosophy.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 06:32 PM   #24
Chuck Clark
 
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
United_States
Offline
Chris,

I agree, however, this is not one of the reasons that I will bend on. At what point do we draw the line...some folks don't want to practice with beginners, or old people, or skinny, fat, black, white, etc.?

I have told a few students that they could only practice with people on a certain list for awhile. They were leaving great bruises, etc. on others and the ones on the list could handle them with principle and softness until they "caught on".

We have had quite a few students that didn't want to bow or clap, etc. Fine, shake hands with your partner before practice and after is okay.

I think Mr. Fuchs has every right to practice within his beliefs if he can find a place that will go along with it.

Mr. Fuchs,

As far as curtailing pre-marital sex...it's simple...if you don't believe in it...Don't Do It!

There are more than a few in the world that feel nothing wrong with beating women in public if a man has "improper" thoughts when they look at the woman. Of course, it's the woman's fault. I realize I have taken it to a different level than you meant, but if each one of us isn't responsible for our decisions, where does it end?

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
  Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2002, 06:46 PM   #25
memyselfandi
Location: East Coast
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 55
Offline
I guess that wasn't a very good example. I was not implying that one is not responsible for his actions, I was just trying to give a possible reason for the law. I was never really taught anything of the sort...it's just something that occured to me that might be a reason.
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Handmade Aikido Gifts - Handmade functional ceramic art with aikido themes



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Issue of "Aikido East" USAF Online Newsletter AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 1 01-31-2006 01:01 PM
New Issue of MI Magazine AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 0 11-04-2005 06:55 AM
Latest Issue of "Aikido East" Now Available AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 6 05-30-2005 01:00 AM
Notes on the "street effectivity" issue drDalek General 19 03-27-2004 06:15 AM
Website: Aikido Online Spring Issue AikiWeb System AikiWeb System 0 05-14-2002 11:23 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:22 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate