Just trying to clear some things up here. From the recent thread on
women's classes (which, admittedly, I've mostly scanned rather than
read) I seem to be reading from one camp that some folks believe that
everyone has a right to be able to train, that it's some
god-given thing that you should walk into a dojo and be accepted.
If I've misread or misinterpreted, I apologize up front. If not, I'm
gonna climb up on my soapbox and proclaim here a bit.
My assertion is this: No one has a right to train in aikido (or
any other budo). Training is a privilege granted by the
instructor/headmaster of the school or organization. Said privilege
can be revoked at any time, for damned near any reason.
I know a lot of MA schools operate under the warm-body principle; ie,
if its a warm body with cash (plastic or contract will do, too) in
hand, they can train.
I've read that Kano, Funakoshi and Ueshiba (notably among other
masters) claimed to want to open up the budo to everyone. However, in
practice, did not Ueshiba require carefully-prescribed introductions
with references, etc? Did he not also declare that aikido was not to
be taught willy-nilly (my paraphrase) in order to prevent ruffians and
ne'er do wells from learning the art and misusing it?
Other master teachers have insisted on similar introductory
This, I believe, is a Good Thing (tm).
Screening or filtering applicants for training helps ensure the dojo
population is sincere, dedicated and motivated. (Unfortunately, it
does not prevent decimation of the student body by job moves, etc.)
It usually keeps 90-day wonder wannabees off the mat and allows the
instructor to somewhat determine the composition and size of
Did I hear a gasp of shock? I hope not. The instructor, IMO, has
no responsibility whatsoever to teach anyone at all. To
me, the budo are a precious stone not to be cast among swine.
Who determines who are swine and who are not? In my dojo, I do. In
yours, you do. Are we always right? Maybe not. Are we right sometimes,
well, if we're careful, incisive in our evaluation of applicants and
fair in our selection, then we'rre gonna be right most of the time.
What about, you ask, the teachers who are obviously prejudiced against
this or that group? Well dear friends, if the teacher is that
prejudiced, would you want to train there anyway? Indeed, if this is
the case, should you train with that sensei, knowing of his or
her bigotry? Nope.
There is no right to learn budo. It is a rare privilege that should be
earned, a treasure that should be bought with humility, perserverance
and dedication. It is nothing to trifle with and nothing to play
My thoughts: if you want sport, go play with a ball. If you want
fitness, join a gym. If you want therapy, find a support group.
If, however, you seek to learn some wonderful things about yourself,
about an ancient and exotic culture -- about the mindset of the
warrior and how to apply that to your life today -- in other words,
about the budo, then by all means get thee to a dojo and train!
But don't expect (gods forbid never demand!) to be admitted. Approach
application for acceptance humbly, and with a sincere desire, but
never, never expect to be handed your training.