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jennyvanwest
03-13-2007, 07:54 PM
We have a great dojo, including an excellent woman sensei, a fun & supportive environment, and serious training for all regardless of gender....but not that many women members of the dojo. I'm interested to hear if your dojo has a strong female contingent and what you think contributes to that.

Is it only a matter of time? Offering intro to aikido for women class series? Word of mouth? What do you think are the factors that have contributed to your dojo's success in this way (or lack thereof, for that matter)?

Thanks in advance...looking forward to your thoughts / experience.

Jenny

(Oh...and 25 ukemi if you thought the title of this thread was "keeping attractive women at the dojo" :rolleyes: )

sefie
03-13-2007, 08:49 PM
There's no particular emphasis given to females training, but there are 4-6 females training at the "aikido club" at my university , while I'm the only one at my "normal" dojo.

All of the sensei are male, however, my sensei at the uni really takes special care to keep females interested in training. He usually makes a point of getting me to be uke, even though I'm not the highest ranked student, because he wants the other females to see "a female who knows what she's doing, but also doesn't look particularly strong". He also takes time out after class to ask females how they felt about training, and whether they felt comfortable with what we'd covered. He also talks about his support for feminism and equality - again, off the mat.

I talk about aikido at work, and how it's perfect for the "tiny chick with no muscles". I know I'm perpetuating the weak female stereotype, but I'm a walking example of it :D I've gotten at least two other women interested, and hopefully they'll come to training with me this week.

I don't know how a "women's only" class would work, but mostly because I've never had a class run by a female, nor have I even attended one with more than 6 other females who were not total beginners. However, I suspect it's really not all that different to a "normal" class - I could be wrong.

I think there's still a prevailing sense of "real" martial arts being "for the boys", and women are more likely to take either Tai-bo, fight-robics or generic self-defence classes if they're interested in that sort of thing.

jennyvanwest
03-14-2007, 01:42 AM
thank you, Diana--I really appreciate your comments.

I don't know how a "women's only" class would work, but mostly because I've never had a class run by a female, nor have I even attended one with more than 6 other females who were not total beginners. However, I suspect it's really not all that different to a "normal" class - I could be wrong.

To clarify--our dojo has monthly dues and you can attend as many sessions as you want (I think this is the norm). Personally, in the beginning I thrived on the "show up to any class and get started" program. (there are free intro sessions once a month which draws in a lot of members.) I swallowed my pride and jumped in.

Our dojo occasionally has 6 week "intro to aikido for women" that meets once a week--for some women, I suspect that this might be a less intimidating way to get oriented than just showing up and practicing the first time with a half-dozen 20-something guys (no matter how awesome they are!). It tends to have a bit more discussion than regular training sessions but otherwise is the same. Part of the trick seems to be getting enough female dojo members with experience to attend, so that enough demonstration of techniques can happen.

Basically, we're trying to reach critical mass of women so that more women stick around.

OK, back to listening :)

Dirk Hanss
03-14-2007, 04:11 AM
(Oh...and 25 ukemi if you thought the title of this thread was "keeping attractive women at the dojo" :rolleyes: )
... 21 22 23 24 25 *sweating and exhausted*

No what I really thought was to attract women, you need attractive men - Ok Ok I'll do another 15 afterwards. An that is probably not the right strategy to keep them.

We are about 8 regular students in our dojo, half of them women. 6 out of the 8 started or restarted aikido in their 40's. So our problem is more to keep the young students.

Our sensei is male. Usually to keep women one would expect to have at least one female instructor. But have only one and that is male. What might have helped, is that he has some pith on health - in warming and in techniques and about a quarter of an hour he explains why we do it the way we do it - either physically or philosophically.

Some of our ladies do not like weapons classes at all. So probably if sensei stresses too much on weapons, he might have trouble keeping them.

Just my view, as they did not really tell me, why they are still there, and those who left did not tell either.

Best regards

Dirk

DarkShodan
03-14-2007, 08:31 AM
I am going to watch this thread closely. We have had this discussion in our dojo many times. We have one high ranking female, but that's is. I don't know how many members we actually have, maybe 30, but only about a dozen regulars. We have females come in for a few weeks and then they disappear. Not sure why. The guys tell me it's may fault. Maybe true. I am the dojo a$$hole. Hey, every club needs one! I try to limit my exposure to new students, especially females, so I don't scare them off. Seriously, I travel around the country and visit other dojos and most seem to have a fair number of females. Maybe it's a mid-west thing. Maybe women truly think martial arts is a guy thing. I think Aikido is different from many other arts because we don't fill the room with excessive testosterone. I know one Aikido club had a ladies only class on Sundays. That went well for a while but I understand they don't have it any more. So, as normal for me I have offered no answers but have thrown in my 2.75 cents.

Basia Halliop
03-14-2007, 09:23 AM
Well, when I first started, something that probably made me more likely to join was that I saw maybe 25-30% women in the class, and that in those first months there were always some women (newbies like me, dan grades, and a range in-between)... If you walk into a new place and a new activity you've never done before and you are the only woman in a room full of men (esp. if it's something athletic and/or close contact, and esp if that's a new experience fro you), you might feel strange and very conscious of that fact and wonder why there are only men and whether there is some reason for that or whether it will be awkward/embarassing or whether you will suck or everyone will patronize you, (or conversely, whether you have to singlehandedly uphold the reputation of your entire gender) etc.

If there are several women on the mat and no-one seems to care, it makes it feel like infinitely less of a big deal to try it... You don't keep feeling like "a girl trying to do a 'guy-thing' ", you're just a person doing something new and interesting.

The more you have the more you will get... But how to get to the level where it's self-sustaining? ?? No idea.

Once you're really into it I don't think it matters nearly as much.

Juliette
03-14-2007, 10:47 AM
When I first went to observe a class the first thing I noticed was that there were about 5 women on the mat, 3 of them very experienced, yet none of them were big and muscle bound. This was very comforting and confirmed what I suspected about Aikido; that it is a practice that all types of people can partake in. Now if I had gone to observe a class where no women were participating, Iím sure I would not have begun my training the very next day, which I admit is sad.
To keep women I think that something as simple as talking about the trials of beginning training (which is where I am) may help. To attract, I think it is up to us female dojo members to talk about our training with other women who may be interested. I have only been training 2 months and a few of my friends have become interested simply because of my (very subtle) changes in poise and my enthusiasm for leaning something new. As for all women classes that sounds nice but going to coed classes as well seems really important, as practicing with people twice your weight really feels different!

chitara
03-14-2007, 10:48 AM
Wow. A very interesting topic. Very gender touchy. Where to start....where to start......
#1 Insecurity:As a general rule, women are insecure with respect to athletic ability in a setting of predominantly male peers. Add any form of gymnastics and adios amigo.
#2 Good Looks. I cant believe I am going to say this.....but....in our dojo, the men are not ugly, not that out of shape and probably would be considered "average -above average" in appearance. ugh.....there i said it. Throw this into the mix and women become more uneasy as they are learning to tumble, take ukemi and other techniques that cause them to be the center of attention. It can be a humiliating experience as you are the only female learning to shikko, roll, etc while a group of guys are just watching you......waiting for you to finish.....and you know they are talking about you....laughing at you.....judging you.....then you remember how fat you look swimming in an oversized gi you purchased.....and they are all agreeing....yup, she's a fatty. Ok, maybe they're not really doing any of these things........but you cant control the overactive mind of a new female student.
#3 Time. Women, by nature are selfless and have families. The majority of responsibility falls on their shoulders. Getting dinner ready, making sure homework is done, frantically putting together projects, chauffeuring from girl scouts / boy scouts / soccer practice, music lessons, etc. Couple this with a single mom and, well, forget it. She'd rather take a nap then get sweaty and become embarrassed.
#4 Romance. Sadly, the women who have come into our dojo never made it beyond blue belt. Guess there's something to be said about a guy in a skirt.........Everyone either developed a relationship & ran off or got married and never returned. (including the men)
#5 Unsupportive "Significant Others". Having hurdled 1-4(no kids but godmother to the masses), made it all the way to hakama, I gotta say, it was tough. For whatever reason, most men are intimidated that a woman can carry the title of a martial artist. Oh sure, in the beginning, it's sexy! But when they discover this is something that is a part of you, you are traveling to seminars, more than likely with men, well......things get sticky. Is it worth the argument? The guilt trip? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Many relationships have been terminated, looking back unregrettably, due to these. A man's role is "protector and provider". This according to my brother, also a martial artist, who was counseling me throughout these failed relationships. When a guy is not able to provide one or both of these, the scale is unbalanced. Insecurity arrises, and thus, another thorn (in a female aikidoist side) is born.
#6 Hormones. We've had a few young ladies start, then dating began.....and I guess making out was more fun than taking mat.

SOLUTIONS:
#1Insecurity Solution: When I hear of a female thinking about joining, as the sole female in the club, I take it upon myself to invite them for private "how to" classes. Show them the basic of the basics so when they come to class, they have a sense of knowledge regarding the subject matter.
#2 Good looks Solution: tell her they all have bad breath and assure her over and over no one is critiquing, we've all started on the same square. It also helps that we've gone over #1
#3 Time Solution: "Where there's a will there's a way". Whoever said this, clearly did not have children, or worked 2 +jobs &/or going to school nor where they a single parent averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I do not have any children of my own but I am a school teacher. I can certainly appreciate and empathize with this scenario. The solution: there is no time. Wait till things settle down, then come back and enjoy
#4 and #5 Romance and Unsupportive Solution: Get over it. If you came in to find a husband or boyfriend, then good riddance I say. Mission accomplished, vaya con Dios. Unsupportive significant other.......still working on this one....but as with physical so is verbal....redirect, redirect, and redirect until they see your point of view. If all else fails, tell them you signed up for a Yoga / Pilates class at the local YMCA.
# 6 Hormone Solution: They'll be back........I hope.

In a nut shell: As women in Aikido, we love the art.....Why dont others?!?!? I lasted for years....why cant they?? It's not the club, or it's members, or the weapons class, it's just them. Some people prefer vanilla over chocolate. It's just a matter of taste. As women, we continue to be role models in the club and for our club. Just keep doing what you're doing. After all, you made it. Law of averages, there's someone right behind you. And despite the reputation I have in my dojo, I gladly, warmly, openly welcome them. Just as long they dont take my corner locker space. (hee hee)

Marie Noelle Fequiere
03-14-2007, 10:58 AM
I remember a woman who came one day to my dojo to watch the class. We had a great session, and, after we exited the tatami, I told her : "You're going to enroll, right?". "It hurts, doesn't it?", she said (she was talking about the wrist locks). I had to admit that it does, but that your partner is not trying to torture you, and that you can tap out whenever you want. She never came back. Was I supposed to lie to her?
In my dojo, unless we include Sensei's wife and his two daughters, we are only two women. But I notice that we come to class more often and that we are a lot more dedicated than the vast majority of male students. During the week, we cannot leave our work early enough to be on time for the afternoon class, but Sensei undestands. On Saturdays and Sundays, however, we are usually the first to show up for the seven am class, and, since we are early, we help clean the dojo, wich, according to the late - and deeply regreted - Kensho Furuya Sensei, is part of the training.
Isn't quality better than quantity?

charyuop
03-14-2007, 11:25 AM
Our dojo is one of those called Garage dojo. Even tho Sensei won't charge monthly fees it is hard to find people who will take part to classes (it is a very small town).
Sensei is a very good one and very experienced (Godan), thus it is not a teaching quality problem (so if you are near Ponca City Oklahoma and you want a good Sensei in Aikido come and visit us :D ).

I guess the problem is Aikido. Not many people see Aikido as a good Martial Art. Most of the people get more attracted by TKD, Karate, JKD and other more "striking" Martial Arts.
I think that females are a much smaller number in taking Martial Arts, thus making 2+2 I can see why a smaller number of women come to Aikido dojo.

da2el.ni4na
03-14-2007, 11:58 AM
Thanks to everyone who has responded in this thread. This was actually the topic of a conversation I myself had last night.

I would personally like to hear more about how to achieve that situation where a person can walk into the dojo and see several women on the mat, and thereby get the impression that it is acceptable/safe/enticing for women to practice also.
I have a feeling it has to do, among other factors, with how the dojo is e.g., attitudes regarding aikido, politics, equality, physical exertion, physical roughness, etc., even when there are no female students. Of course new students, male or female, contribute to the social dynamic, but my question is more focused on the starting stages.

Chitara, thanks for putting out such an organized post.
Diana, thanks for sharing what your instructor does with respect to female students. It was the most pertinent so far to my question.

DarkShodan
03-14-2007, 12:38 PM
You need money to make money. You need female students to attract female student. I get it!

Yes, Chitara, thank you for the organized post.:crazy: I should expect nothing less from you. :p

Looking back I see that some women left because of relationships, guys do that too. Some moved due to school or job change. I know a few that came in because their husband's wanted them to learn a martial arts. Lets face it, if YOU don't want to do it the you're not going to. What about location? We're on the south suburb of Omaha. We talked what if we had a dojo more in town or west of town, would that make a difference? Who knows. You almost want to run a special for women. Ladies Night Aikido! Drinks are half off! Bring a friend for a discount on mat fees! Then you appear desperate. I think it's better if you get two friends or sisters to join. It's like going to the gym, you're more likely to go if you have a workout partner. So, you tell me "women of Aikido", if a dojo had a special rate for women are you

a.) More likely to join
b.) Less likely to join
c.) As likely to join

If you have a friend or realtive in Aikido are you

a.) More likely to join
b.) Less likely to join
c.) As likely to join

Guilty Spark
03-14-2007, 12:41 PM
Having a womens introduction at second thought seems like an okay idea. Get the girls into the dojo and over the initial reservations of doing martial arts. I think after an initial few classes though they should be put into a mixed gender class quickly. I'm not big on single gender classes.

Two big probems. Guys often try to impress and win the attention of women and younger women sometimes treat the dojo like a social group, maybe something aikin to highschool?

I think if you want to keep mature females (mentally not physically) in class you need to ensure the dojo isn't treated as a dating service (by either guys or girls). Keep away the negitive pressure of guys hanging over them, giving them special treatment etc..

When girls start acting like an alpha female have it sorted out.

I guess the biggest thing is to make it comfortable.

Jim Sorrentino
03-14-2007, 02:55 PM
Greetings All,

Penny Sablove-sensei (of Heart of San Francisco Aikido) and Linda Holiday-sensei (of Aikido of Santa Cruz) published a very helpful article on this subject in Aikido Today Magazine #45 (April/May 1996 --- Positive Outreach for Women in Aikido). Sablove and Holiday have a 10-point checklist:

1. I always make sure there are women teaching (and not just me).

2. I invite guest instructors to the dojo on a regular basis, and I make sure that there are women guest instructors.

3. At black belt exams, I often invite women to sit on the examining board. For kyu exams, I call women black belts to let them know they are invited to sit on the kyu exam board. In this way, there are women in visible authority positions.

4. I am careful to use both women and men as ukes.

5. I give Instructor Guidelines to people training in the dojo, one point of which is to be aware of gender balance when choosing ukes as well as to be careful to use gender-neutral language.

6. While teaching and working with people individually during class, I make sure that female students get roughly the same amount of my attention as male students.

7. I keep a lookout for beginning women partnered with men who are being intimidating or over-instructive. In these cases, I may go over and talk with the man, have everyone change partners, or perhaps address the whole class on the issue of respect.

8. I make it a practice to maintain faith in everyone's potential.

9. I remain aware that a woman on the mat may have experienced violence, either as an adult or as a child, at the hands of men, and that this may have a tremendous effect on how she approaches Aikido.

10. We have a women's class in the dojo about once a month.

The article also includes useful commentary on each of these guidelines. Most of the guidelines have been quite helpful to me in my own dojo, especially #8. It would be interesting to hear from Sablove-sensei and Holiday-sensei (and their students) about whether and how their views and approaches on this matter have changed over the past 11 years.

Jim Sorrentino

Erik Calderon
03-14-2007, 03:10 PM
I've had my dojo for eight years, though I have never had a very large group of women.

I do have a few, and they are very dedicated, and it's wonderful training with them.

At Honbu dojo in Japan, they have classes that are dedicated for women only. That might help. I've thought about doing it and probably will in the future.

I hear in Califormia, many women practice in Aikido.

www.shinkikan.com

jennyvanwest
03-14-2007, 03:15 PM
thank you ALL for these incredibly thoughtful responses. Chitara, all I can say is amen. Well said.


I would personally like to hear more about how to achieve that situation where a person can walk into the dojo and see several women on the mat, and thereby get the impression that it is acceptable/safe/enticing for women to practice also.
I have a feeling it has to do, among other factors, with how the dojo is e.g., attitudes regarding aikido, politics, equality, physical exertion, physical roughness, etc., even when there are no female students. Of course new students, male or female, contribute to the social dynamic, but my question is more focused on the starting stages.

Answering my own question! what a great idea!:D thanks Daniel.

Here's what kept me coming back (some of which has to do with being female, some not, but here goes):
--prompt return of inquiries by phone and email.
--attentive and non-rushed answering of all questions before, during, and after those first classes.
--respectful, warm, and welcoming attitude of everybody, ESPECIALLY more experienced students.
--TWO dynamic women in hakama at the free monthly intro session and a lot of men too (at our dojo hakama are worn starting 5th or 4th kyu)--there was a strong feeling of oldtimers being interested in working with the totally inexperienced and the obvious presence of these particular women was key.
--most men throwing me comensurate with my experience level, rather than my gender, offering help but never patronizing. (ok, well occasionally, but I can give them a hard time now)
--while we train hard (it gets wicked fast and loud in there!), there is a lot of emphasis on strong ukemi, and machismo is not rampant. We also have classes where we slow stuff down a lot and work closely on connection to partner, etc.

That said, to keep women in the dojo it seems to me absolutely critical to have more experienced women on the mat at intro sessions and the basics classes where people are more likely to start out.

Excellent point about offering to connect privately with newer women and give them a hand getting oriented. I will take this one to heart.

So, you tell me "women of Aikido", if a dojo had a special rate for women are you

a.) More likely to join
b.) Less likely to join
c.) As likely to join

If you have a friend or realtive in Aikido are you

a.) More likely to join
b.) Less likely to join
c.) As likely to join


b & a; but I tend to shy away from the whole 'ladies night' type of thing ;-)
interesting questions!


I guess the problem is Aikido. Not many people see Aikido as a good Martial Art. Most of the people get more attracted by TKD, Karate, JKD and other more "striking" Martial Arts.
I think that females are a much smaller number in taking Martial Arts, thus making 2+2 I can see why a smaller number of women come to Aikido dojo.


I would tend to disagree with this conclusion; the people I've known along the way who did aikido (prior to starting myself)--one was a woman /dance teacher who raved about it, another a very grounded, centered, calm man who was a teacher of aikido--definitely spoke to the accessibility of this particular martial art to women.

thank you all for your input and I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Mary Eastland
03-14-2007, 03:41 PM
Our organization is 60% female.

Everyone on the mat is treated with respect. Everyone is made to feel important and welcome.

We are an independant orginization, with little emphasis on rank or politics.

Several women started training with their children and stayed after their kids stopped training.

LLoyd, I am wondering what behavior qualifies you to be the dojo a$$hole and why would you be pleased with that role?

Mary

sefie
03-14-2007, 05:46 PM
Ah, maybe that's it... I'm totally used to being the only/rare female in a male-dominated environment (geek culture, work in IT industry, etc), which is probably why I didn't even blink at the thought of taking a "traditionally male" activity like martial arts. To me, the thought of a gender-segregated class is a bit superfluous, but I can see how it would be less intimidating for a girly-girl :D

I don't think the idea of a "critical mass" is limited to females, though. There have been other threads discussing why people in general train at a dojo, and it's usually because they feel accepted there. If there are lots of people training, then other people look at them and think "well, I'll probably feel accepted there too". If there is no feeling of acceptance, then they'd most probably leave.

It's how you foster that feeling of acceptance is what I think differs between females and males. We talk about which techniques work better for females (or people of shorter stature and less physical power :p) and what kinds of attacks are more likely to happen to females - yokomen (ie: being slapped), ushiro and katatori come to mind, it's very rare for a female to get straight out punched in the face or gut, so those attacks may put them off.

I also try to take an interest in their lives outside of aikido - ask them what they're studying, where they're from, "gosh, I could really go a chocolate bar right now, what do you think is good?" sort of stuff. Can't shut me up off or on the mat ;) Of course, I chat with the guys as well, but they tend to open up more when you talk about training and techniques, while the females seem to open up when you treat them like people, rather than just another training dummy.

(PS: As for seeing aikido as a dating circle... The afore-mentioned sensei also tells students that he quit aikido for a few years because he discovered dating :D And it was pure coincidence that my own break from aikido came around the time my husband and I married ;) )

Ecosamurai
03-14-2007, 06:21 PM
This is a lovely thread I think. I often wonder what would entice more women into the dojo. I've considered relying on my devilish charm and rugged good looks but sadly none of this has worked :D ;) :eek:

My girlfriend (we're getting married next year too) is my senior student and it's noticable that her presence definitely encourages other women to try training with us.

Sadly I've noticed over the years that many of the females who come to aikido suffer from the 'girls going to the toilet in groups problem'. It's a mystery to most men as to why women always go to the toilet together on a night out in a pub or club, men definitely don't bother doing this in my experience. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen a group of women start training, and the one who was really interested in the beginning stops training because her friends who were never really interested decide it's not for them.

In our dojo at the University there are three regular female members and about 6 regular male members which seems to be about the average ratio in my experience. I think it'd be more if women didn't drop out when their friends did and had more confidence to keep training on their own. I think that the ones who aren't bothered if they come to training alone are the ones who tend to stay, this is certainly true of our three female members I think. If not for this I think our gender ratio would be about 50-50.

Wish I knew what I could do about it. I want more women to train with us because they tend to get the idea of softness before the guys and dispense with the need to rely on physical strength quicker. It's swings and roundabouts in terms of progress rate and works out even in the end but I think that women tend to grasp the basics of 'relaxation' quicker than men because they're often more used to not relying on physical strength than the guys.

So basically, we need more women on the mat!

Regards

Mike Haft

Amelia Smith
03-15-2007, 07:17 AM
Good discussion here.

When I started, I joined a dojo with about 5 or 6 active male members and one woman, all of whom had been practicing for at least 3-5 years, often more. Having the one woman student there did help, as did the fact that we had a female visiting instructor about 3 weeks into my time there.

The main thing, though, was that nearly everyone was friendly and respectful, and I enjoyed the challenge of learning and pushing myself a bit. I was frustrated when the sensei wouldn't let me do breakfalls in the first 6 months, then I went away for a month, and a guy who had joined the week before I left was doing breakfalls all over the place (we were both in our mid-20s at the time).

I also nearly quit because one guy (who no longer practices aikido) was so sleazy and leering, I just couldn't stand to practice with him. I stopped practicing with him, and it became much more tolerable, but I think that most men aren't sensitive to that kind of attitude in other men, and it's hard to explain it without sounding petty and a bit over-reactive. That can drive a lot of new female students away, but if there's someone in the dojo they can talk to about it, and the sensei is understanding, then you should be able to work it out. If the sensei spends all his time fixated on the sexiness of new female students, you can probably forget about ever having many serious female aikidoka in that dojo.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that you don't necessarily have to have a lot of senior female students (although that can help) just friendliness and an attitude of treating women as people.

DarkShodan
03-15-2007, 08:04 AM
I'd like to think if you're a female and you join our dojo, and of course we like you, you're more of a little sister to 12 big brother's. I'd like to think our dojo is like many others in that we are like a small family. It's been proven several times that we take care of our own, as it should be. We've had our share of strange and scary people come through the door, as is expected in any club / organization. Those things tend to work themselves out, sometimes with a little help on my part. (every club needs a dojo a$$hole).

What about a "Women's Empowerment Workshop" or a 'Women's Self Awareness Workshop"? I've been playing with the idea of getting all the female martial arts instructors in the area all together in one spot for one day. They could each do a demo on their specific arts, maybe have each of them do a self defense workshop. Throw in a desk of police officers to talk about safety tips and crime prevention. I have a lawyer friend who would be more than happy to attend and offer legal advice. It may not necessarily attract women specifically to Aikido, but you have more exposure and it may help out some of the other clubs in the area. It would at least get people involved, not just women. Advertise to high schools (especially around homecoming and prom) and the local colleges. Just an idea. I've seen women's seminars advertised but I think they are all just having tickle fights with pillows. I could be way off. :rolleyes:

Mary - The position of dojo whiner was taken, so I took the dojo a$$hole position. I'm certified and well qualified. I'll send you a copy of my certificate, as well as 3 personal references. Few see the honor is such a position. It has little rewards. :cool:

Basia Halliop
03-15-2007, 09:30 AM
I'd like to think if you're a female and you join our dojo, and of course we like you, you're more of a little sister to 12 big brother's.

I imagine you're partly joking, but that kind of sounds like the kind of thing that would make me leave pretty fast, or if I was already addicted, start seriously looking around at other dojos. Few healthy adults enjoy being patronized to or treated like a child.

Sometimes you have to put up with it in small doses, but it's one of those things that really tests your attachment to training and to your dojo.

Qatana
03-15-2007, 11:08 AM
Isn't the question, what is the ratio of women in aikido compared to women in the other MAs. COnsider that there are how many thousand dan-ranked women in aikido compared to say BJJ. There are approximately 20. In the whole world.
Martial arts are not on a whole a Girl Thing.

jennyvanwest
03-15-2007, 12:14 PM
What about a "Women's Empowerment Workshop" or a 'Women's Self Awareness Workshop"?

This wouldn't draw me in, personally. I don't like being singled out like that. I was very empowered and self-aware to begin with. Being given equal respect and equal treatment on the mat and seeing other women already out there is much more of a draw.

DarkShodan
03-15-2007, 12:58 PM
:freaky: Well, I gave it a shot. As I am constantly reminded, I'm a guy and I just don't get it. Ok, fine. I'll just have to rely on my good looks, sharp wit, and my Capt. Kirk smirky grin to attract females to the dojo. It hasn't worked in the past but I'm not giving up!

K Stewart
03-15-2007, 01:47 PM
I imagine you're partly joking, but that kind of sounds like the kind of thing that would make me leave pretty fast, or if I was already addicted, start seriously looking around at other dojos. Few healthy adults enjoy being patronized to or treated like a child.

Sometimes you have to put up with it in small doses, but it's one of those things that really tests your attachment to training and to your dojo.

Interesting how different people have different reactions to the same thing. Not right or wrong, just different.

When I read the comment about the dojo relationship being somewhat akin to brother-sister relationships, I agreed--in a positive way. :) Maybe that's cuz I grew up as the only girl with three older brothers and we all got along great, and I was expected to do the same things and pull my oar, as it were, rather than being seen as the helpless little sister. Just interesting how we all see things in different lights, perhaps depending on our filters or life experiences.

In fact, I did share once with my oldest brother that I do sometimes feel like I have a new group of big brothers at the dojo (even though I'm older than some of them!)--and for me that's a really good thing.

In our wonderful dojo of about 10, I am very frequently the only female student. The environment at our dojo is welcoming and encouraging for all students. It's a great place to be.

Sensei and all the students are supportive, considerate, encouraging, and I think they train with me as hard as they'd train with any other new student--to that student's level, in other words, not training based on gender. They push me, in a good way, and help me get better and learn. I have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude for all their help.

As for women not sticking with training, I don't know. We've had a few women take one class or two, and they never come back. Sad.

I try to be as encouraging and friendly as possible. And I know my sempai and fellow students are just friendly. So at least in our dojo, it's not the environment that's causing the new women students to not stay.

Maybe it's the physical exertion and discomfort/pain of learning something new? Maybe they're thinking it looks pretty easy and then they're surprised at how challenging it is? I don't know. But at least they try one class. Maybe the time isn't right, now. Maybe they'll be back later when they have the time to make the commitment it takes. I hope so.

I do feel blessed that my horse trainer (shodan in Yoshinkan Aikido) recommended I commit to Aikido for a year. Not a few weeks--a solid year. He said that a year of practice would give me a small glimmer of what to expect of Aikido and to know if it was something I wanted to pursue. So I went into it knowing I would be training for a solid year, period.

Now? I'll be there until my walker prevents me from taking breakfalls. :) And then maybe I'll try to transition to walker waza.

Kara

sefie
03-15-2007, 03:35 PM
When I read the comment about the dojo relationship being somewhat akin to brother-sister relationships, I agreed--in a positive way. :) Maybe that's cuz I grew up as the only girl with three older brothers and we all got along great, and I was expected to do the same things and pull my oar, as it were, rather than being seen as the helpless little sister. Just interesting how we all see things in different lights, perhaps depending on our filters or life experiences.
I have to agree here, my knee-jerk reaction was "oh dear, there goes the patriarchy again", but when I thought a little bit about it, I can see how some people do thrive on a more "humble Grasshopper" approach to martial arts. As long as the treatment is based on respect and care for someone's level of physical fitness, and not patronising them, then this can be a positive thing.

However, a female who chooses to take up martial arts on her own initiative is probably someone who would not take being patronised well, so I'd be really careful with that approach :disgust:

Kim S.
03-15-2007, 07:21 PM
Please bear with me, I have a point to make.

My Dad made me take TKD when I was in elementary school. His reasoning, I needed to know how to defend myself from a "bad guy who might want to hurt me". It was an ok idea, but basically my parents set my martial arts/defense goals for me. (Can't date until you are a black belt. I ended up earning my shodan when I was around 12/13 years of age. My parents changed the rules to where I had to know how to drive before I could date.) When I moved to where I live now, I became distracted and lost interest in TKD.

The point is I think many parents make their children take TKD, Karate, etc. for their own satisfaction and not the child's. The children never had the chance to develop their martial goals. Because of that, most children in those situations will earn their black belt and drop out. I believe this is true for many young female martial artists like me.

What I am trying to say is that if your not self-motivated, your not going to do it. I have heard many girls say that they have earned their black belt or brown belt in martial arts and then semi-joke about it. More or less imply they took it because their friends were doing it and their parents were making them.

Even though I dropped out of TKD, five-ish years later, I found Aikido and love it - partly because of my TKD background and I liked the usefulness that Aikido brings to real life situations along with wanting to understand the Japanese culture a bit more.

Kim S.

P.S. I think MA like TKD have become so commercialized that traditional budo/ martial arts philosophies have been compromised.

hapkidoike
03-15-2007, 08:01 PM
Look, I am not trying to come off as a jerk here, but has anybody thought that it might be the case that women just are not into doing martial arts as much as men are? And if that is indeed the case, why is it necessarily a bad thing. Look at the game of chess, there is one woman, Judit Polgar (who is ranked 13th with a rating of 2727) who competes with the top 100 players. (I will freely admit that there may be one other woman on the list at this point, I did some work on the subject for a psych class while I was in university some 5 years ago and then she was the only woman represented. Today I looked up the FIDE top 100 players and could not find another woman on the list, although I may have missed one). The point being that not as many women are represented in the chess world as men when it comes to the highest level of play. We can ask ourselves what this means until we have exhausted all possibles and still not really understand it. I guess what I am trying to suggest here is that men and women like to do different stuff, and why should that be viewed as a bad thing. For example, my ladyfriend likes to do competitive dance. Do I have any interest in dance, competitive or otherwise, no and I never have. Are there a disproportionate amount of women than men that go to her dance studio? Of course there are. Men, at least from my experience and from hers at the dance studio, are not so interested in dance or figure skating (which I used to do and really is a lot more fun than it looks) and women more often than not are not that interested in chess and martial arts as such.

I guess what I am getting at is I don't get why we feel the need to analyze everything based who (based on gender, race, height, weight or whatever) is doing it and how you can interest people who are uninterested in the field. I just don't see the point of such manipulation.


P.S. I think MA like TKD have become so commercialized that traditional budo/ martial arts philosophies have been compromised.

Isn't TKD more of a sport, like rugby, football (you know the one with the round ball), or wrestling (not WWE) than a"traditional budo" as such?

Peace,
bettis

sefie
03-15-2007, 08:50 PM
I guess what I am getting at is I don't get why we feel the need to analyze everything based who (based on gender, race, height, weight or whatever) is doing it and how you can interest people who are uninterested in the field. I just don't see the point of such manipulation.
With respect, I don't see it as manipulation, but rather encouragement for others to find something that they may enjoy and learn from as much as you do. I have a lot of work colleagues and some friends who don't have any hobbies or interests outside of work, and say that they're looking for something to spend their spare time on. Naturally, I'm going to suggest something that I find pleasure in, and if they decide to come along, that's great.

If someone is truly uninterested, then they either stop coming, or they don't come at all. But if they're willing to have a try, why not make the initial experience as pleasant as possible? In fact, why not make the WHOLE experience pleasant, for both newbies and regulars? It's not like treating new people, regardless of gender, etc., nicely and making them feel welcome in the dojo is going to hurt the people who train there regularly.

(PS: To Kim, there's nothing cuter than an 8-year-old brown belt :D I'd love it if any of my future children take up a martial art, but I think acheiving budo mentality is like a religion - it takes a certain maturity that children usually don't get until much later.)

giriasis
03-15-2007, 11:24 PM
Support your female class mates, but do not to patronize them. Treat them with equal respect and dignity. Help them train to the fullest extent of their abilities. Essentially, treat them like a decent human being.

I'm very fortunate to train with a high ranking woman sensei. However, some people don't get this experience. I started my board "Women in Aikido" to help encourage and foster women training in aikido. I was actually inspired by the connection I seemed to feel and make with other women at the USAF Winter Camp one year. The creation of my bulletin board wasn't a reactionary decision contra a dominant male-paradigm to set forward a feminist agenda, but rather simply a proactive one to give other women support in their training. Women are often "the only woman" in class or in the dojo and sometimes its nice to have another chick/woman/lady to talk to. At one point, I didn't think it was necessary then I started to get the occasional email thanking me for the site. So I decided not to delete it.

As to what Isaac says, I think there are just simply less women interested in aikido. I base this off another bulletin board I attend of female fitness enthusiasts with over 2,000 members whereas my bulletin board has just over 180 members. A few do take some form of traditional martial art (karate, tae kwon do, judo, aikido), but the majority love Tae Bo, Turbo Jam, Powerstrike and other Kickboxing type workouts. For fitness, these programs are excellent and often very challenging and these ladies would do plyos in circles around you. They enjoy the martial feel of being tough but their goal is fitness and not self-defense.

As to Tae Kwon Do, I recently took up TKD for a month and the classes were about 40-50% female. But most of the class (adults) incorporated a lot of conditioning exercises and drills and was very low on contact between partners. When they did "self-defense" it was no where near the intensity of throws or falls like we do in aikido so there was no need to learn rolls or breakfalls right away. So I think TKD might be more appealing because it's a lot less contact between partners and has a strong fitness element.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule like Mary Eastland's dojo. It's just we just don't have an equal number of women walking into the dojo in the first place. If we did and our membership was still 20% female then I'd worry and try to figure out what the heck is going on.

Yes, it helps to have higher ranking women in the dojo, but if you don't, don't sweat it. Rather focus on treating your female training partners with dignity and respect.

But if you are having a problem retaining women members, you might also be having a problem retaining male members as well. You are just getting more male students because you have more men inquiring about aikido to begin with.

Lorien Lowe
03-16-2007, 01:25 AM
All but one of the women who were training at my dojo when I started have quit. Off the top of my head,
one went to graduate school,
two had kid issues,
one was dissapointed that our dojo-cho wasn't teaching as much, and one left in a huff because we weren't 'feminist' enough (which
the remaining women took as an insult).

So, only one left because of issues we had any control over, and none of us were about to take up the changes that one 'suggested.'

Lorien Lowe
03-16-2007, 01:27 AM
Two others who started after I did:
One had body/joint issues, and another got a divorce.

Roman Kremianski
03-16-2007, 07:01 AM
Look, I am not trying to come off as a jerk here, but has anybody thought that it might be the case that women just are not into doing martial arts as much as men are?

That's sorta how I see it too. How many women Aikidoka do you know would pay $500 to go to an Aikido summer camp where they'll get completely destroyed for 6 hours a day? But all the guys happily do it. Aikido requires a lot of physical dedication. A close female friend of mine left Aikido because she could no longer handle going through university sore and beaten up all the time. And she trained for 5 years prior to that!

grondahl
03-16-2007, 07:27 AM
That's sorta how I see it too. How many women Aikidoka do you know would pay $500 to go to an Aikido summer camp where they'll get completely destroyed for 6 hours a day? But all the guys happily do it. Aikido requires a lot of physical dedication. A close female friend of mine left Aikido because she could no longer handle going through university sore and beaten up all the time. And she trained for 5 years prior to that!

Do really all the guys happily go to the summer camp?

Dirk Hanss
03-16-2007, 07:34 AM
Isn't the question, what is the ratio of women in aikido compared to women in the other MAs. COnsider that there are how many thousand dan-ranked women in aikido compared to say BJJ. There are approximately 20. In the whole world.
Martial arts are not on a whole a Girl Thing.
Dear Jo, you are right (and Roman, too). But as there are much more women in aikido than in most other martial arts, some dojo have many of them some, some have none or a neglible proportion.So the question is, why and what can we do, if we want to do something.

If a dojo cho or sensei wants to have a better ratio, what should he do? Soft taiji-like aikido? Could help. Women only classes? Could help, too, but is usually not the goal. More Apres-Aikido sessions? Great idea, I did not mention that before, but it could be very important. We have a new sofa corner just outside of the training room and always cool beer. Some prefer water, sodas, or their own organically grown juice. But sitting together have a chat (outside aikido), get some extra explanations (about aikido or techniques), etc. It is getting late then, but it is extra fun for most of us. And it helps the few chatter-boxes to keep their mouth shut most of the training time ;)

Another idea: try to an a sign at the dojo "real men only", "girlies prohibited", "male students preferred" and have a look, how many woman just sign up, because they feel unwanted and probably just want to sue the dojo. If they ask you can tell them: "I'll give you one month as trial membership. If you then are still wanting to train with us and you do not spoil our training, then you are welcome as a constant student." Would be just a temporarily limited marketing gag. As soon as you have five or six female students, you don't need it any more. Maybe you can replace it by "After some good experience, we welcome woman students as well". nevertheless you should know your area well. Might shoot to wrong direction.

Best regards

Dirk

Best regards

Dirk

Mary Turner
03-16-2007, 07:38 AM
I'm really enjoying this thread.

I'm the only regular female student in our school. We have had some luck in the past with entire families joining, but once one of them left, they all did. I'm not sure why women don't stay, but it seems like some are disappointed that we are not more chatty and social than we are. I like to hang out and talk after class too, but that's not why I train.

Once we had an observer ask Bunn sensei, "Do you have many women training here?" and he replied, "No, we don't have any." The observer, puzzled, pointed to me on the mat and Bunn said, "Oh, well that's Mary. I just think of her as a student."

Roman Kremianski
03-16-2007, 08:21 AM
Do really all the guys happily go to the summer camp?

Would you shell out half a grand of your own money and miss a week of work to willingly go to a place that would make you miserable? :D

Peter Goldsbury
03-16-2007, 08:30 AM
That's sorta how I see it too. How many women Aikidoka do you know would pay $500 to go to an Aikido summer camp where they'll get completely destroyed for 6 hours a day? But all the guys happily do it. Aikido requires a lot of physical dedication. A close female friend of mine left Aikido because she could no longer handle going through university sore and beaten up all the time. And she trained for 5 years prior to that!

Hello,

In the Hiroshima University aikido club, the female students are the kanbu and they are running the club. So they will set the agenda for summer school.

Best wishes,

Roman Kremianski
03-16-2007, 08:34 AM
What're you trying to say? I wasn't talking about the Hiroshima University aikido club...:confused:

Obviously like dojos, many summer camps differ too. (Not that I been to many)

ChrisMoses
03-16-2007, 08:49 AM
It's been my experience that women and men simply respond differently (in general!) to many aspects of training and teaching styles. First a bit of background.

My first Aikido dojo was pretty typical: fairly small, mostly male. Women were encouraged to join, but not to teach (they actually had an unofficial policy against it, if you can believe that...). They were encouraged to train with other women, but not really used for demonstrations much. Gee, wonder why there weren't many women... The last dojo I trained at was led by women and was pretty close to a 50/50 mix throughout the ranks. Despite the gender equality, there were still some women only classes (more workshops, there were no regular women only classes) and often instead of, "beers with the guys" after class, you would hear about "Margaritas with the girls." People were expected to go to summer camps and come to workshops. Where I train now, despite being open to all genders, are both all male environments. My wife, who did Aikido with me at the first school, and briefly at my last aikido dojo, currently trains at an all women's Kung Fu school. She was initially not interested in an all women's school, but I really liked their sifu and thought she would gravitate to their teaching style. When asked recently at her purple belt test, why she started Kung fu, she answered, "Chris told me I'd really like it here, and he was right." :) Dang, I guess there's a first for everything! ;) Anyway, just trying to create some perspective for my opinions here, since I've run the spectrum.

Guys, if left to their own devices are perfectly happy being very critical to each other. Corrections are often negative, meaning that instead of reinforcing what someone is doing well as the primary feedback system, you start taking that for granted and pointing out what's being done wrong. It's been my experience that women don't really respond well to this as the primary feedback system. It isn't that women don't want to know what they're doing wrong, I think when I was teaching aikido, the women in class were much more introspective than the men and wanted to do things right every bit as much. I did find however that they responded a LOT better to, "Wow, that's great, you're really doing X that we talked about last week, is that something you've been working on? Cool, now that you've got that dialed, you should start looking at Y. Here's where you could do this better..." I'm not teaching Aikido right now, but I do teach some at my sword school, and this is the type of feedback I tend to give irregardless of sex. Reinforce and then correct. Some guys however would hear the same instruction as above as, "That's great!....................." So rather than lead with reinforcement, I found it easier to lead with sarcasm, derision or wry wit, "Wow, what the heck is that?", "Hmm, interesting, what was that anyway?", "So, how's that workin' out for ya?" or (our current favorite where I train now, "That SUCKED!!!" Note that I'm not saying, "You suck!" Most guys, tend to hunker down and try to do it better when you tell them that what they're doing is no good. It's not taken personally, they know they can do better, so they try harder, or listen better to whatever correction comes next (and it has to by the way, if you're going to use this approach, you HAVE to follow it up with constructive information). Women, in general, tend to start shutting down to this kind of criticism, it's taken personally and whatever helpful information comes later isn't absorbed as readily. Further, they feel pushed from the group. It isn't that their kotegaeshi could be better, it's that you don't appreciate them, or like them. The same can be true in the "don't tell them anything" training environment. Guys tend to approach it as a game, "what's he doing? I'm gonna find out!" and women tend to feel like they are being excluded, "Why won't he tell me what I'm doing wrong?"

Certainly there are exceptions on both sides of these generalizations, and I'm not saying one teaching styles is better than the other. But if you're having trouble keeping women in class I would really examine your teaching model and how you interact with students.

Peter Goldsbury
03-16-2007, 09:10 AM
What're you trying to say? I wasn't talking about the Hiroshima University aikido club...:confused:

Obviously like dojos, many summer camps differ too. (Not that I been to many)

I could ask you the same question.

I mentioned the Hiroshima University simply as an example of a traditionally male dominated university club now run by women.

Best wishes,

George S. Ledyard
03-16-2007, 09:14 AM
It's been my experience that women and men simply respond differently (in general!) to many aspects of training and teaching styles. First a bit of background.

My first Aikido dojo was pretty typical: fairly small, mostly male. Women were encouraged to join, but not to teach (they actually had an unofficial policy against it, if you can believe that...). They were encouraged to train with other women, but not really used for demonstrations much. Gee, wonder why there weren't many women... The last dojo I trained at was led by women and was pretty close to a 50/50 mix throughout the ranks. Despite the gender equality, there were still some women only classes (more workshops, there were no regular women only classes) and often instead of, "beers with the guys" after class, you would hear about "Margaritas with the girls." People were expected to go to summer camps and come to workshops. Where I train now, despite being open to all genders, are both all male environments. My wife, who did Aikido with me at the first school, and briefly at my last aikido dojo, currently trains at an all women's Kung Fu school. She was initially not interested in an all women's school, but I really liked their sifu and thought she would gravitate to their teaching style. When asked recently at her purple belt test, why she started Kung fu, she answered, "Chris told me I'd really like it here, and he was right." :) Dang, I guess there's a first for everything! ;) Anyway, just trying to create some perspective for my opinions here, since I've run the spectrum.

Guys, if left to their own devices are perfectly happy being very critical to each other. Corrections are often negative, meaning that instead of reinforcing what someone is doing well as the primary feedback system, you start taking that for granted and pointing out what's being done wrong. It's been my experience that women don't really respond well to this as the primary feedback system. It isn't that women don't want to know what they're doing wrong, I think when I was teaching aikido, the women in class were much more introspective than the men and wanted to do things right every bit as much. I did find however that they responded a LOT better to, "Wow, that's great, you're really doing X that we talked about last week, is that something you've been working on? Cool, now that you've got that dialed, you should start looking at Y. Here's where you could do this better..." I'm not teaching Aikido right now, but I do teach some at my sword school, and this is the type of feedback I tend to give irregardless of sex. Reinforce and then correct. Some guys however would hear the same instruction as above as, "That's great!....................." So rather than lead with reinforcement, I found it easier to lead with sarcasm, derision or wry wit, "Wow, what the heck is that?", "Hmm, interesting, what was that anyway?", "So, how's that workin' out for ya?" or (our current favorite where I train now, "That SUCKED!!!" Note that I'm not saying, "You suck!" Most guys, tend to hunker down and try to do it better when you tell them that what they're doing is no good. It's not taken personally, they know they can do better, so they try harder, or listen better to whatever correction comes next (and it has to by the way, if you're going to use this approach, you HAVE to follow it up with constructive information). Women, in general, tend to start shutting down to this kind of criticism, it's taken personally and whatever helpful information comes later isn't absorbed as readily. Further, they feel pushed from the group. It isn't that their kotegaeshi could be better, it's that you don't appreciate them, or like them. The same can be true in the "don't tell them anything" training environment. Guys tend to approach it as a game, "what's he doing? I'm gonna find out!" and women tend to feel like they are being excluded, "Why won't he tell me what I'm doing wrong?"

Certainly there are exceptions on both sides of these generalizations, and I'm not saying one teaching styles is better than the other. But if you're having trouble keeping women in class I would really examine your teaching model and how you interact with students.

Chris, you're spot on here!!! This is exactly what my partner Genie told me... as you know she was a national championship fencer and we were discussing coaching women as oppose to men. She has been after me to make my teaching style more user friendly along these lines. I, of course, trained in the Japanese manner in which nothing was ever said unless you were doing something wrong. Great praise from Sensei was a grunt, which you only got if you managed to surprise him by doing something not as badly as he had expected. Genie assures me that this is not the best model for me to use.... So now we have the new improved "Positive George".

Roman Kremianski
03-16-2007, 09:30 AM
I mentioned the Hiroshima University simply as an example of a traditionally male dominated university club now run by women.

Well, then that's just an example of a dojo that simply happens to be run by women. How does that apply to other dojos around the world?

gdandscompserv
03-16-2007, 09:36 AM
So now we have the new improved "Positive George".
I think I met him.
:D

mriehle
03-16-2007, 09:47 AM
Another idea: try to an a sign at the dojo "real men only", "girlies prohibited", "male students preferred" and have a look, how many woman just sign up, because they feel unwanted and probably just want to sue the dojo.

I realize this wasn't meant to be taken too seriously, but...

...the really sad thing about this (to me) is that it would probably work in some areas that I've lived. For a minute. The problem is that a high percentage of the women you'd get to sign up that way would be the sort who see all men as The Enemy. IME, women I've trained with who came in with that attitude had to get over it before they could train effectively.

That might be a Good Thing if you were capable of helping them get over it, but you'd have two strikes against you from the start. And if they really didn't want to get over it, that would be the third strike.

But, aside from the specific tone you may be on to something. Nothing motivates people to excel at an activity like being told they are completely unsuitable for the activity.

K Stewart
03-16-2007, 10:44 AM
Support your female class mates, but do not to patronize them. Treat them with equal respect and dignity. Help them train to the fullest extent of their abilities. Essentially, treat them like a decent human being.

...But if you are having a problem retaining women members, you might also be having a problem retaining male members as well. You are just getting more male students because you have more men inquiring about aikido to begin with.

This really sums it up, in my way of thinking, anyway.

This is exactly the environment in our dojo: decent, quality human beings training with other decent, quality human beings. Training to help each other advance and gain abilities. No patronizing, no gender bias. Just serious students training hard together and enjoying strong practice.

And I've only been practicing a year, but it would seem that this approach would just build a healthy dojo, period. Not one concerned with men:women ratios, but attracting good people.

I just know for me it mattered not one bit how many women were in the dojo or that there was no special women's class or anything. I just wanted to start training, so I did. But others are different and that's great.

Kara

da2el.ni4na
03-16-2007, 11:10 AM
It's been my experience that women and men simply respond differently (in general!) to many aspects of training and teaching styles.

Thanks Chris, for sharing about that aspect of teaching styles. In my head I connect that with what I wrote about how a dojo is regardless of who exactly is there and who is targeted for "marketing". Specifically, I think some people would be hesitant or resistant to the encouraging and/or more verbally engaging teaching style.

Dan

George S. Ledyard
03-16-2007, 12:00 PM
Specifically, I think some people would be hesitant or resistant to the encouraging and/or more verbally engaging teaching style.

Dan
That's it of course... in my own case I've had to investigate "why" I was resistant. Just what does cost me or anyone else for me to say "good job" on something.

That story Kisshomaru told about O-Sensei returning to Tokyo after the war was very revealing. K Ueshiba had personally saved the dojo by hand carrying water to put out the fires when Tokyo burned. Then for two years they had squatters in the place. Finally, he got them out and cleaned the place up to the point at which it could function as a dojo again. His father said "Good job, son." He said it was the first time in his life that his father had actually said that to him.

This may be a Japanese art but I don't think we need to pick up every aspect of the culture as it relates to training, just the functional ones. I realized that I had simply picked up by osmosis the whole idea that you don't baby the students, etc But how is positive feedback babying them? That might be fine when it's the Marine Corps and you are sending these guys out to combat in 10 weeks or so. But most of my students are highly intelligent professionals with families. I realized that most of this was my problem not someone else's and I've started to change. But it's interesting to see how easily I can slip back. That's why I have my sweetie to remind me...

Mary Eastland
03-16-2007, 12:46 PM
What're you trying to say? I wasn't talking about the Hiroshima University aikido club...:confused:

Obviously like dojos, many summer camps differ too. (Not that I been to many)

I have been to 16 summer camps and 17 winter camps and I find your statement to be incredible.
While we still went to camps we encouraged our students to go...and go they did, men and women.
Mary

Erik Calderon
03-16-2007, 02:34 PM
Has anyone thought of hiring a marketing consultant and tailoring a marketing campaign that will attract women?

I know that when I opened my dojo, my marketing campaign was directed towards married men in the range of 30 - 35 years of age.

www.shinkikan.com
aikido shinkikan

jennyvanwest
03-16-2007, 03:47 PM
How many women Aikidoka do you know would pay $500 to go to an Aikido summer camp where they'll get completely destroyed for 6 hours a day?

Ummmm...me? If I ever had $500 all at the same time that wasn't spoken for. I'm going to spend a precious $100 next week to get "completely destroyed" for an entire long weekend I could otherwise be spending with my family. I'll probably come home exhausted & covered with bruises having thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, unable to shut up about aikido, much to the amusement of my husband and young sons.

May you meet lots more women like me on the mat! :D

giriasis
03-16-2007, 09:32 PM
Would you shell out half a grand of your own money and miss a week of work to willingly go to a place that would make you miserable? :D

Yup. And the registration fee is usually more than half a grand and add the plane fare and you'll be close to a grand. I'm planning on doing it this year. (Week long USAF Summer Camp) It will be the first time I'll be able to go, and I'm pretty darn certain I won't be the only woman there. Of course, I get to use my vacation time to go. One of the benefits of having a great job. :D

Tinyboy344
03-17-2007, 02:13 AM
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(

Roman Kremianski
03-17-2007, 04:29 PM
Anne Marie Giri: Very cool! I was told it's mostly a guy's thing, but more women like you should attend! (If at all, I dunno how many usually show up)

giriasis
03-17-2007, 06:34 PM
Anne Marie Giri: Very cool! I was told it's mostly a guy's thing, but more women like you should attend! (If at all, I dunno how many usually show up)

Well, Roman, I know that at least at the USAF Winter Camp, that there are quite a few women around 33% are female in attendance. And there are women of all skill levels from unranked kyu to 6th dan. I don't know about summer camp. After I attend this year. I'll let you know. Men are still in the majority no doubt.

Roman Kremianski
03-17-2007, 07:15 PM
Well, I based my guess on my own dojo. We all attend the USAF Summer camp too (At Colgate University right?), but out of our whole dojo, maybe 1 women comes! That's sorta what gave me the impression that maybe alot of women don't like going to summer camps and just doing Aikido with guys all day long...

Anyway, I'll be attending for the first time this year too (was too broke to go to any of the previous ones) so might cya on the mat!

giriasis
03-17-2007, 07:32 PM
Well, I based my guess on my own dojo. We all attend the USAF Summer camp too (At Colgate University right?), but out of our whole dojo, maybe 1 women comes! That's sorta what gave me the impression that maybe alot of women don't like going to summer camps and just doing Aikido with guys all day long...

Anyway, I'll be attending for the first time this year too (was too broke to go to any of the previous ones) so might cya on the mat!

Well, we should definently meet up and train together. I don't think it's male or female thing for not going. It's just a matter of time and money just like they guys. A lot people from my dojo just don't go to the big seminars or travel. I'm one of the few people from my dojo that does travel to seminars. I guess a lot of guys don't like to go. ;)

Actually knowing that most dojo don't have a high percentage of women in the dojo I'm often pleasantly surprised to see a strong minority of attendee at the bigger seminars are female. I noticed this to with the Yudansha seminar in Chicago as well.

Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(

Well considering the number of dojo that don't have a majority of aikidodoka that are women then that would be kind of hard to do. What is nice to see is at least one or two dan ranked women in the school. What is really nice is to find a dojo run or co-run by a woman aikidoka. It doesn't have to be a majority, but the thinking is "if she can do it, then I can, too." I know when I first started it was nice to have at least one other woman on the mat, but then again I also like being the only woman on the mat at times so I could getting to train with all the big burly guys. ;)

Don
03-17-2007, 07:54 PM
We have had women come and go and we always ponder that question. Here is what I think (my own opinions not an official dojo postion) after having observed this phenomenon for 14 years.

Aikido takes a longer time to master than some other martial arts it seems, unless perhaps you are offering multiple classes every day of the week. This tends to discourage both men and women.

Many people, men and women, drop out because they can't master the forward roll. Thanks to a suggestion by, I believe it was Ann Marie girl on this board, after years of trying different techniques to teach rolling, I have found an almost guaranteed way to teach forward rolls. It hasn't failed since I started it. But unfortunately up to that point it seems that women had a harder time because of their smaller musculature in mastering the forward roll. But as I said, both men and women drop out because of difficulties with ukemi.

Now, this next idea is totally from a guys perspective looking in at this problem, so it could be way off base. As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women. These guys may or may not have a smelly gi, bad breath, or lack control. All of these things combined with being in close contact to your partner might make some women uncomfortable.

We only have one woman currently. I think she is in it for the long haul. Interestingly she is Japanese. I have asked her how we could attract more women. She really doesn't know. There are just lots of things out there for people to do. And if aikido takes a long time to master, and people want instant gratification, the culture may just be working against us. We have these discussions from time to time about holding women's self defense seminars. I tend to not like to do these things, and generally defer from participating. Why? Because I have been training in akikido for 14 years now (and another 2 if you count the 2 years in high school) I train to find the blend AND to find the martial application, (which frequently may not be the way you finish the technique in the dojo) I am EXTREMELY reluctant to try and teach ANYONE, man or woman, some of this in an afternoon seminar. First if someone tries a technique in a real encounter, I would wager money that it will not work because they haven't internalized the tecnique, they get an adrenaline dump, and they will most likely end up getting hurt or worse. And besides these things seem to not attract a lot of women.

jennyvanwest
03-17-2007, 08:23 PM
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(

Well considering the number of dojo that don't have a majority of aikidodoka that are women then that would be kind of hard to do. What is nice to see is at least one or two dan ranked women in the school. What is really nice is to find a dojo run or co-run by a woman aikidoka. It doesn't have to be a majority, but the thinking is "if she can do it, then I can, too." I know when I first started it was nice to have at least one other woman on the mat, but then again I also like being the only woman on the mat at times so I could getting to train with all the big burly guys. ;)

Ditto! It was not a deterrent for me to show up for the intro and have it be mostly men. In fact, I enjoy being one of the only women. But seeing a few women out there and knowing there was a woman teaching part of the time during the week made a difference.

Don, thanks for sharing these observations. In particular the very simple fact that "there are just a lot of things out there for people to do."


Now, this next idea is totally from a guys perspective looking in at this problem, so it could be way off base. As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women. These guys may or may not have a smelly gi, bad breath, or lack control. All of these things combined with being in close contact to your partner might make some women uncomfortable.

Just personally, this doesn't bother me. I don't smell so great either when I sweat. Having spent a lot of time contra dancing over the years I'm used to guys sweating on me. It's just part of the price for all that fun. :rolleyes:

Qatana
03-18-2007, 11:21 AM
" As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women."

Yeah, most heterosexual guys I know would vastly prefer getting up close and personal with men than women.

sarcasm button "on full"

Don
03-18-2007, 03:04 PM
Jo: Well, I hope that shot over the bow was in jest. Surely you are not seriously suggesting that you can't see this as a potential problem, but like I said, its a guy's perspective trying to solve this problem.

When I am instructing I am extremely concious of how other male students interact with female students and how I interact with them. One would like to think that everyone on the mat is there to just learn the aikido, and for the most part that is true. But it is incredibly easy to find oneself inadvertently getting in a position where the other person if they are a woman is uncomfortable with the contact. Even worse, and fortunately I have never had to deal with this situation is where a student intentionally tries to take advantage of the closeness of contact between a male and female student.

Two cases in point, either of which could have resulted in a nasty situation. One time when I was training with a 3rd kyu who happened to be a woman, we were doing koshi's. I was uke, and like I had done a thousand time before, as I prepared to be thrown, I reaced over to grab the front of nage's gi. Well, on a male that is not a problem. But you can guess what happened in this case....I was very embarassed and apologized. Fortunately, this woman was not at all put off by it or angry. It was just something that happens from time to time she joked.....

In the other instance, I was instructing, and we had one relatively new woman at the time, and my plan for the lesson was to work ikkyo from a prone position. Now of course that requires that one person be lying on their back and another be on top of the person attacking their face. No one was getting it and so I pulled this woman over and carefully told her I wanted to use her to illustrate a point, because she was smaller than the other students. I suppose I could have just said " So and so, come over here..." and just did the illustration. But, I didn't want to presume, so I asked.

I think if you presume in today's environment, you open yourself to situations that you may never have intended to get into but did.

So, I think its always possible that there are women who feel uncomfortable with the close contact. Heck, what if the woman I had used for the prone illustration of technique had been a victim of rape. She might have been really uncomfortable in that situation, and if I had not the presence of mind to ask, could have created a lot of harm. As it was it was all okay.

Roman Kremianski
03-18-2007, 03:20 PM
I reaced over to grab the front of nage's gi. Well, on a male that is not a problem. But you can guess what happened in this case...

Oh man, I did this millions of times on a female friend (by accident mind you) through a strike while passing under for uchi kaitenage. You're not alone.

sefie
03-18-2007, 04:08 PM
I do agree that the very close physical proximity thing (and the obvious consequences of the sweat and smell :yuck: ) can put females off, it IS an essential part of martial arts. You can't throw or hold someone properly at arm's length!

But if we want to actually try to find ways of attracting women to aikido, and not just complain about what turns women away. Not all women are wilting flowers, able to be knocked over by the sheer aura of testosterone that surrounds the dojo (at least, as long as it's not summer! :crazy: ). I'm as squicky about wet wrists or necks, but someone's encouraging me to "just throw him", or to emphasise the positive side of things ("you're stronger than just a bit of moisture!") instead of "oh, eeeeeeeeeeeeeew", then I feel better about learning and want to overcome my intial reaction rather than give in to it.

Ledyard-sensei made a really good point about using positive reinforcement in a non-patronising way. What was that song about R-E-S-P-E-C-T? :D

Amelia Smith
03-18-2007, 06:36 PM
For me, inappropriate contact is more a matter of attitude than a question of what touches what. There's a world of difference between accidental contact with breasts (for example) which can't be avoided in the long haul, and intentional groping.

jennyvanwest
03-18-2007, 07:04 PM
So, I think its always possible that there are women who feel uncomfortable with the close contact. Heck, what if the woman I had used for the prone illustration of technique had been a victim of rape. She might have been really uncomfortable in that situation, and if I had not the presence of mind to ask, could have created a lot of harm. As it was it was all okay.

I think this sort of sensitivity is SO important. Unfortunately so many women have experienced rape or sexual abuse of some sort either as adults or children, and practice of martial arts can be instrumental in overcoming the effects, when practiced in a supportive environment.

For me, inappropriate contact is more a matter of attitude than a question of what touches what. There's a world of difference between accidental contact with breasts (for example) which can't be avoided in the long haul, and intentional groping.

I totally agree. I think most women can tell the difference.

Qatana
03-18-2007, 08:03 PM
When I was dancing I had to be lifted by many partners. I don't give a damn where their hands are if I am eight feet in the air and there is a choice between getting my boob grabbed by accident or being dropped on a hard-wood floor.
I don't see why it should be any different in the dojo.

And Don, do you know what the word "sarcasm" means?

Don
03-19-2007, 03:35 PM
Sarcasm: A sharp and sometimes satirical utterance that depends for its effect on bitter or caustic language and is designed to cut or give pain. (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary).

Have a nice day out there in California....I know I'll have one here in Charlotte.

Basia Halliop
03-19-2007, 04:12 PM
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women?

Nah... what I meant more was that the really extreme opposite situation (no women at all) may affect the people who are really 'trying something new' and may really like it once they start. If you walk in the first time and there are 10 men and no women, you might notice it and you might need to be feeling more adventurous to try it then a random guy walking into the same room might need. If you had already done a lot of sports or already thought you would like it it would be less likely to put you off. And it doesn't have to be a majority or anything (on the contrary, I think there's an advantage to getting to practice with lots of people bigger than you). It just does make it a bit easier if you aren't the only one, and the more you have, the less you will get only the already adventurous women...

But barring that, just having people act welcoming and treating each person as an individual and not making a huge deal of it is probably even more important.

Thinking of my experience in electrical engineering (about 25% women in undergrad, a bit less now in graduate), many of my best mentors have been men, and I have no problem being a TA and having a bunch of guys only 3-4 years younger than me calling me 'miss' or 'ma'm' :) However, that was all things I was used to being one of the top students in since elementary school, plus I had the family background where it was taken for granted -- someone with a different background might have been put off or might never have tried it enough to realize they liked it and that it was OK to like it.

I wouldn't worry if your numbers aren't actually equal, I agree that's not really the point. But I do think it's a factor that influences many women, whether consciously or unconsciously.

jennyvanwest
03-19-2007, 08:14 PM
Has anyone thought of hiring a marketing consultant and tailoring a marketing campaign that will attract women?

Erik, I think this is an excellent point, well worth wrapping into the general picture of drawing in new members.

Lorien Lowe
03-20-2007, 11:52 PM
I'll third what Amelia said. If you notice yourself squashing something intimate, say 'sorry' and keep on training. If you're training intensely, you probably won't notice.

Tony Wagstaffe
03-21-2007, 05:35 AM
We have a page on our website dedicated to women.... treat the darlings with lots of respect, but equally.... Could do with more of 'em as its a good leveler when the blokes get put on their backsides and say "cor flamin 'eck love take it easy!"
Still, things might change!
Tony

Tracy Van Zandt
03-21-2007, 11:59 AM
But as I said, both men and women drop out because of difficulties with ukemi.

Speaking as a new (6 months) female student who is struggling with those damn forward rolls... I can definitely see your point.
I have wondered, though, if women may have an easier time with ukemi in some respects -- since we are generally smaller, and more flexible, and I would imagine are therefore less likely to get hurt. Every time I do a truly terrible fall, I am very happy that there's not a lot of weight coming down on whatever body part I mistakenly landed on.

As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy

I think this may be an issue for some people, but it depends mostly on the attitude of the particular guy you're training with. I am totally comfortable with the guys at my dojo, because it's very clear that we're there to train, and if they have any other sorts of thoughts they hide them well :)

I just don't think you're ever going to get a high percentage of women in *any* martial art, but it seems that Aikido is more suited to women in general. I did a few months of karate years ago, and quickly reached a point where I realized that I could never be all that good at it -- no matter how much I trained, I could get stronger and have better technique, but there was no way I could get around simply not having enough mass to put behind a strike. I would never have a chance against someone twice my size, which I found very frustrating, and was part of the reason I quit. At least in Aikido there's some small amount of hope :rolleyes:

As for how to attract female students -- a big factor for me has been that the senior student in our (new and very small) dojo is a woman who very obviously kicks ass. Both she and our sensei clearly have the attitude that the women can do anything the guys can do, which I have found very encouraging as a beginner.

Luc X Saroufim
03-21-2007, 01:34 PM
i'm going to summarize some major points women have posted so far: to be fair, i will only mention replies that i have seen at least twice in this thread.

1) I, as a woman, will feel more comfortable seeing a female senior student(s), or a female that is very good in Aikido.

my response: why do you have to be convinced that women can excel in Aikido, in order to think that you can? this is an insecurity that you have to overcome, and has nothing to do with how male students treat you.

i'll bet you $1 that excellent female Aikidoka have confident in their own self's, and were never bothered by the number of men in class. they didn't declare that men should respect them, they earned their respect. remember that Aikido is about defeating yourself, and you're not going to do that by looking at others.

2) more females should teach

my response: i refuse to be part of a dojo that is going to wrap itself up in politics. the issue of women's and minorities' rights is political (voting, salary, EEO, etc). a dojo is a place that is run by one person, rooted in Japanese culture. they don't hire people, and it's not a democracy: there's no bill of rights, no constitution. save all that stuff for the workforce. a dojo is a place where people go to "get away", and to better themselves. there should be no quota.

3) men's "other" intentions:

my response:yes, it happens. i'm embarassed to be associated with men in this respect. men are pigs, and dogs should stop licking themselves, but neither fact is going to change. if you want to practice Aikido with men you will run into the occasional idiot.

all i can ask is that you give us the benefit of the doubt and walk into class with an empty cup every day. most men are there to learn Aikido: there's plenty of places to meet women, and most male Aikidoka know this.

4) advertising geared towards women

my response: this, i can agree with.. i support it very much, because it's the polar opposite of what i mentioned in 2). instead of saying "more women should be allowed to teach", we should increase the probability of having female teachers by increasing the number of women.

Cady Goldfield
03-21-2007, 02:14 PM
I agree with Luc. IMO, we're in a dojo to train in and learn a discipline, and there should be no politics concerning a "quota" either for students or instructors of any given gender or other factor.

At the same time, there are naturally going to be matters that occur due to gender, even if it is something as basic as self-consciousness during physical contact. I like to think that as adults, we can resolve such issues in such a way that no one is offended or humiliated.

That there are jerks who cause problems is a given in any human environment. I'd think that they would be dealt with on the spot in the same manner that one would deal with a student who has bad hygiene (see the "Anonymus" forum for the thread on stinky keiko gi...). Gender is but one of many human conditions that we all have to learn to live with. ;)

The basic thought here is that there is no room for patronizing behavior in a dojo. By the same token, while it's nice for women to have role models to "look up to" in an art, I don't see why such a model should be exclusively of the same gender. I'd like to be able to look up to anyone whose skill I admire, and set my sights high to attain that level of excellence for myself.

giriasis
03-21-2007, 10:13 PM
i'm going to summarize...

I'm going to summarize my original rather lengthy tit for tat response with this:

We don't:
1. Want an Aikido Bill of Rights or Constitution;
2. Think all men are pigs or dogs;
3. Want to advance some sort of "feminist agenda";
4. Want some form of Affirmative Action that promotes women faster so that we have more women teachers;
5. Want some kind of advertising that will grossly stereotype all women; and
6. Want to water down aikido and do to Karate and Kendo what Powerstrike/Forza has done.

I think the women on this board have pretty darned good idea of what we feel is necessary -- Treat us with dignity and respect. That's it -- plain and simple. No more, no less.

Please do not lecture us as to how we should really feel or react. And please do not read into what we say.

Everyone here has done a great job in not getting into the whole "gender politics" debate. So please let's not go there, okay? The "gender politics" debate unfortunately just creates a downward spiral of a debate. Just revisit the old "gender issue" threads on this board for your fill of this, please.

Luc, I know you mean well. But, please don't "mean well" all over me. As my grandmother always said, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Luc X Saroufim
03-22-2007, 07:23 AM
5. Want some kind of advertising that will grossly stereotype all women

i said i'm in full support of "advertising geared towards women."


6. Want to water down aikido and do to Karate and Kendo what Powerstrike/Forza has done.

i re-read my own post and i still don't see how i implied this at all.

it seems to me you're offended because i am lecturing and patronizing. this is an internet forum, not a dojo, so words speak louder than actions. i ask you to give me the same respect and not judge my character until i throw you or twist your arm ;)

Basia Halliop
03-22-2007, 08:29 AM
Luc, you're preaching to the choir -- the women in this thread are the ones who ARE training.

Someone specifically wanted to know what we thought might bring other women in (I interpreted this as women who have not yet discovered the wonders of aikido), and pondered the question of why some dojos have lots of women and others don't, so some of us are just trying to brainstorm.

FWIW -- I am pretty violently opposed to quotas or anything of that sort, so I hope nothing I said seemed to suggest otherwise. For the record, quotas, double standards, politics, etc, are evil slimy things that I want nothing to do with, OK?