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Jennifer Yabut
05-10-2008, 08:10 PM
Today after practice, a few of us discussed having an all-women class at our dojo. It would be a bare-basics beginners class, held twice a week. The highest-ranking woman (who is a 1st kyu) will teach the classes, and I also offered to help. We also talked about making flyers with a questionnaire. One, to get a consensus of which time of the day to have class, and also to promote these classes to the public at large.

Has anyone else ever taught an all-women class? How did you promote it, and how successful were the classes?

JW
05-10-2008, 11:13 PM
Hi, although I have no personal experience with such a class, a dojo here in San Francisco periodically does something nearly identical to your idea, so I thought I'd mention it. www.heartaikido.com is the URL of the dojo if you want to get in contact with them.
Good luck with the class!
--JW

Michael Varin
05-11-2008, 07:57 PM
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

tuturuhan
05-11-2008, 08:23 PM
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

I as an old man have taught "all women's classes" for differentiation purposes, conceptual/theoretical purposes and ultimately for utilitarian purposes.

During various periods in martial arts history, there have been times when the distinctions between Male/external/muscular and Female/internal/fine motor movement were quite clear. Women practiced among themselves to refine techniques that were akin to their natural qualities as women.

The study of Nagigata is dominated by female practitioners. In Chinese martial arts is the story of Wing Chun and how it was founded by a female monk. Tai Chi Chuan and Aikido have a greater following of women than karate and tae kwon do.

I personally have taught "all women's classes" mainly to cull the "female attributes for fighting. Softness, sensitivity, rhythm, detailed focus, fine motor movement and deception to name a few. I have taught them first with the "Fan" as weapon and than the "Hidden Knife" to accentuate the "Yin/Female".

Today, 99% of the classes teach "equality" in techniques. The truth is that equality is a falsehood. In general, there does exist female positive traits that are "less seen" in men. Yet, because of equality they are not brought to the forefront. As such, most women never really learn to defend themselves.

But, in the second week of practice...I put a knife (A Female Weapon) into the hands of my woman student. I emphasize that until the last moment they must keep their blade hidden. I tell them "go in close...remember what the spider said to the fly". They learn quickly that it doesn't matter if their opponent is 6 ft 3 inches and made of muscle. With the knife they have learned to look deep into themselves and see their "power".

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Chris Li
05-11-2008, 08:56 PM
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

A relevant thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2608

Best,

Chris

Jennifer Yabut
05-11-2008, 09:25 PM
A relevant thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2608

Best,

Chris

I actually read through that whole thread some time ago. One of the reasons why we were discussing having a women-only class was to attract more stay-at-home moms or those who home-school their kids. As I mentioned earlier, it's more like a "intro to Aikido" summer course, and considerably less intense than the regular basic and mixed classes. Not everyone is into the "big throws" or "big ukemi", and some folks may even get turned off by that stuff. Hopefully, some of these new students will choose to stay and continue to train in the other classes.

jennifer paige smith
05-11-2008, 10:19 PM
I've taught and attended womens only classes since the beginning of my aikido career. Some with the teacher from Heart of the Mission Aikido whose link is provided in an above post.
Without opening an entire on-slaught of conversations about gender politics,etc.etc.etc......(snoorrrrrrre) , so please, let's not go that far, I will point out that many, if not most, dojo have nothing even close to strong womens enrollment.
These are broad sweeps of the brush and there are exceptions, but there are diminishing numbers of women practicing in many long-time dojo and the number of women coming to aikido and staying is pretty slim, too.
The dojo where I first trained and was a member of for many years has a strong womens showing,relatively. As does Heart of the Mission Aikido, as do all of the dojo in Heart of the Mission's 'friends' links. All of those dojo provide womens only classes and put awareness and attention to the presence of women in the school. They also offer beginning classes where a male and female student co-teach. This awareness brings about support. When we see people like ourselves we feel welcome. It is simple human nature. So gender politics aside the proof is in the pudding: THE WOMENS NUMBERS ARE HIGHER IN THE SCHOOLS WHO PROVIDE THESE CLASSES. Not that the schools don't have things to work out and not that other schools don't have strong womens showing. It's simply a matter of observation and asking the women 'did you enjoy that class?' and thy say 'yes' and they continue to train.
I'm coming up on 20 years in Aikido and I know I've been supported by this community approach.
In general, I support teaching classes with intentionality where a gap exists, be it male,female,racial,class, or culture. If you see a gap fill it with loving intention and good training.
Bueno.

bkedelen
05-11-2008, 11:55 PM
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 12:02 AM
I actually read through that whole thread some time ago. One of the reasons why we were discussing having a women-only class was to attract more stay-at-home moms or those who home-school their kids. As I mentioned earlier, it's more like a "intro to Aikido" summer course, and considerably less intense than the regular basic and mixed classes. Not everyone is into the "big throws" or "big ukemi", and some folks may even get turned off by that stuff. Hopefully, some of these new students will choose to stay and continue to train in the other classes.

Then why not call it an "Intro to Aikido" summer course instead of a woman's class?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 12:06 AM
I've taught and attended womens only classes since the beginning of my aikido career. Some with the teacher from Heart of the Mission Aikido whose link is provided in an above post.
Without opening an entire on-slaught of conversations about gender politics,etc.etc.etc......(snoorrrrrrre) , so please, let's not go that far, I will point out that many, if not most, dojo have nothing even close to strong womens enrollment.
These are broad sweeps of the brush and there are exceptions, but there are diminishing numbers of women practicing in many long-time dojo and the number of women coming to aikido and staying is pretty slim, too.
The dojo where I first trained and was a member of for many years has a strong womens showing,relatively. As does Heart of the Mission Aikido, as do all of the dojo in Heart of the Mission's 'friends' links. All of those dojo provide womens only classes and put awareness and attention to the presence of women in the school. They also offer beginning classes where a male and female student co-teach. This awareness brings about support. When we see people like ourselves we feel welcome. It is simple human nature. So gender politics aside the proof is in the pudding: THE WOMENS NUMBERS ARE HIGHER IN THE SCHOOLS WHO PROVIDE THESE CLASSES. Not that the schools don't have things to work out and not that other schools don't have strong womens showing. It's simply a matter of observation and asking the women 'did you enjoy that class?' and thy say 'yes' and they continue to train.
I'm coming up on 20 years in Aikido and I know I've been supported by this community approach.
In general, I support teaching classes with intentionality where a gap exists, be it male,female,racial,class, or culture. If you see a gap fill it with loving intention and good training.
Bueno.

Well, you know what the say about good intentions and the road to hell :).

There are even fewer African-Americans in Aikido then there are women, but I wouldn't support racially exclusive classes either, even if it did increase enrollment. Maybe I just don't believe that the end justifies the means.

Being encouraging and supportive, on the other hand, sounds good to me...

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 12:19 AM
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

As I recall, Sokaku Takeda usually carried a knife hidden inside his kimono, and he never seemed very female to me. The naginata was traditionally taught to men (and still is in many koryu schools) - it didn't start being used by women until later on in the Tokugawa era and then caught on with women as "Atarashii Naginata" in modern times. I don't think it had much to do with body mechanics.

If women have such different body mechanics then it would only make it more imperative that they trained with men - since they would need to learn to deal with the different body mechanics employed by male attackers. Are there many self defense classes for women that have them focusing on female attackers?

I'm still waiting for the "short skinny guy's class" so that I can focus on my unique body mechanics :).

Best,

Chris

Ron Tisdale
05-12-2008, 06:53 AM
What is "Nagigata"?

Best,
Ron

Mary Turner
05-12-2008, 07:17 AM
Thank you Jennifer, well said.

I would welcome an all-female class, but I would be all alone.
Recently, we had a woman and teen daughter observe our class, and I spoke with them, trying to encourage them to join. One of our yudansha walked over, clapped me on the back and said, "Watch us throw Mary all over the place tonight and slap her around!"

They didn't come back.

I don't think he meant to be threatening, but a lot of men simply don't get a woman's perspective.

SmilingNage
05-12-2008, 07:29 AM
It is a incomplete sentence Ron.

It is like Nagi gata go home because he left his dogi there or Nagi gata go to practice because his ukemi is no good.

I think it would be a good idea to have a women's type introductory class to peek the interest of possible female students. They still need to be integrated into co ed class to help further their skills. We all need the challenge of different sized ukes and nages to help promote our depth of understanding and application(s) of technique.

aikishrine
05-12-2008, 07:47 AM
First off where's the harmony in an exclusive class like this?
Secondly how do women get the proper effect of working with people of all sizes and strength, if only working with woman.

I understand the idea of this, however i have found that the women who stay with AIKIDO and train for long periods of time have become quite good, and they work well with men. I would put their AIKIDO right up there with any man in my dojo at the same level as they are.

Please forgive me for stepping on any toes.

tuturuhan
05-12-2008, 07:52 AM
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

In Taoist thought, everything is catogorized as Yin/female and Yang/female.

If the knife were large and imposing it would be seen as Yang/male. If the knife is "deep, black and hidden" it is seen as female.

As such, the right hand is seen as male and the left hand is seen as female. The right had is at 100% strength. The left hand is at 80% strength. Nonetheless the left hand has strength.

Likewise, the left/female hand is 100% senstitive vs. the right hand which is only at 80% sensitivity.

In female martial arts, the concentration is on rhythm, sensitivity, detail, and deception. NOW, CAN MEN and should they learn female martial arts?

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

jennifer paige smith
05-12-2008, 08:17 AM
Well, you know what the say about good intentions and the road to hell :).

There are even fewer African-Americans in Aikido then there are women, but I wouldn't support racially exclusive classes either, even if it did increase enrollment. Maybe I just don't believe that the end justifies the means.

Being encouraging and supportive, on the other hand, sounds good to me...

Best,

Chris



Well,I''ve ben enjoying my road to hell and I hope you have some fun on yours, too.

jennifer paige smith
05-12-2008, 08:42 AM
Thank you Jennifer, well said.

I would welcome an all-female class, but I would be all alone.
Recently, we had a woman and teen daughter observe our class, and I spoke with them, trying to encourage them to join. One of our yudansha walked over, clapped me on the back and said, "Watch us throw Mary all over the place tonight and slap her around!"

They didn't come back.

I don't think he meant to be threatening, but a lot of men simply don't get a woman's perspective.

Thanks. It's really about opening the whole heart of ourselves and our dojo ( which is a reflection of our 'selves') and extending with courage.

BTW, I didn't realize you were located in Chapel Hill. I've wanted to visit C H and I wondered if there was a dojo. I guess I got my answer.

Peter Goldsbury
05-12-2008, 10:04 AM
Hello Jennifer,

I think we should live and let live, in the sense that classes offered should match the needs of the dojo, but there might be an issue in the dojo. I do not know: only you know the possible issues.

Way, way back, when I was a student at New England Aikikai in the 1970s, long before Kanai Sensei had his stroke, some of the women formed a women-only dojo. This was quite divisive, because the men somehow felt hard done by. The women were quite happy for the young males to take spectacular ukemi, in demonstrations designed to show how effective aikido was for women, but then excluded the men from taking the same ukemi in the womens-only dojo. The dojo did not last very long.

Of course, one could argue that the issues were not the same then. The goal-posts were not the same for men and women. I am not sure about this. It might have been true in Boston as a whole, but was certainly not supposed to be true in the NE Aikikai. In view of what O Sensei stated in his discourses, I think it should not have been necessary for separate sex training. But then we learned that the Aikikai Hombu had been running women's-only classes for years, but which were all taught by young, sexy male instructors (though the youth and the sex element was probably not stressed too much).

Here in Hiroshima, it would be unthinkable to run women's-only classes. For a start, half the dojo population is female anyway and one of the three instructors is female (a 4th dan, whose 5th dan husband is also a dojo instructor). The mat space is big enough to divide the dojo into separate training spaces. We have a hard core who attend every class and the numbers are half-and-half male and female. But we never divide the class according to sex differences. Sometimes the yudansha are at one end and the beginners are at the other end (special ukemi training) with the rest in the middle.

Actually, I am hoping that my very first yudansha will be female. She is divorced, runs a restaurant, and has a teenage son with severe problems (perhaps autism). So he comes and sits at the side while his mother practices. Actually, she is one of the best advertisers for our dojo and about half the students we have, practice because they know her or have been recommended by her.

So I would never split my own dojo according to sex differences. If I did, I think it would destroy the dojo. But I can also remember my Boston experience and think that perhaps the reason why there was a demand for a women's only class ( = run only by women with men totally excluded) was bad dojo management.

I think you have to trust your own instincts here.

Best wishes,

PAG

Jennifer Yabut
05-12-2008, 10:32 AM
Then why not call it an "Intro to Aikido" summer course instead of a woman's class?

Best,

Chris

Because we are trying to increase the number of female students, and quite a few women had been scared off by the intensity of the "normal" classes. Of course the goal is to hopefully integrate some of them into the other classes, but a few may be perfectly happy with the "lighter" side of Aikido. It's only two classes out of the week; it's not like we're trying to form a brand-new "women only" dojo or whatnot - which I agree doesn't benefit anyone.

Janet Rosen
05-12-2008, 10:34 AM
My understanding - which may be wrong - is that naginata was felt do be a good home defense weapon for women when men were away at battle? Kinda like a shotgun behind the cabin door?

Anyhow, my take has always been I want as many types of training partners as possible. But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

tuturuhan
05-12-2008, 10:55 AM
Like Vibrations and Discordant Sounds.

Build it and they will come. People will meet and bond given "likekind". But, expect repulsion from those who cannot or will not change their frequencies.

Someone mentioned "sexual attraction". I always tell my men students "Why are you spending so much time with me...if you want to meet women? Instead, you should be taking ballroom dance, preferably salsa dancing." Likewise, I tell them that the great masters of recent times have all been incredible dancers. (Bruce Lee was cha cha champion of Hong Kong circa 1962)

It's not surprizing that "we" see more men in the martial arts than women. Most of the martial arts are male oriented in terms of physicality, intellect and spirituality. They do not make the distinction between Yin and Yang.

Likewise, they do not understand the ability to interact. How many men can actually lead well in the Tango. In fact, how many can dance at all? This is what "men" can learn from women.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Jennifer Yabut
05-12-2008, 11:09 AM
Anyhow, my take has always been I want as many types of training partners as possible. But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

Exactly. It's only a summer-long (probably about six weeks) course. When I first started Aikido, I was far more comfortable working with other women, though I did work with many of the big guys as well. Now I usually take on the biggest guys on the mat to make sure my technique actually works. ;)

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 11:40 AM
But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

Maybe, maybe not. My feeling is that there is an inherent destructive quality in dividing people into sub-groups based on immutable (or near-immutable) characteristics such as gender, race or religion - enough so that it ought not to be done without a compelling reason.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 11:41 AM
Because we are trying to increase the number of female students, and quite a few women had been scared off by the intensity of the "normal" classes. Of course the goal is to hopefully integrate some of them into the other classes, but a few may be perfectly happy with the "lighter" side of Aikido. It's only two classes out of the week; it's not like we're trying to form a brand-new "women only" dojo or whatnot - which I agree doesn't benefit anyone.

If regular classes are too intimidating then beginner's classes are a great option, but why would you want to purposely recruit students merely because of their gender?

Best,

Chris

Jennifer Yabut
05-12-2008, 01:24 PM
If regular classes are too intimidating then beginner's classes are a great option, but why would you want to purposely recruit students merely because of their gender?

Best,

Chris

Erm...why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? We're simply looking for another way to increase the number of female students. It may work, it may not. Consider it something of an experiment for my dojo, if you like. ;) Of course it would be ideal if *every* student is able to "jump right in" and mix it up with everyone - but *some* folks aren't comfortable doing so. Although there is a higher percentage of women practicing Aikido in comparison to other martial arts, Aikido *is* still male-dominated. Some women can get intimidated working out with a bunch of big guys - even in a beginners class. I'm not one of those women; I jumped in most *every* single beginners and mixed class from day one. But then again, I also had previous martial art experience (TKD and Iaido), so I at least possessed some "martial intent" and "awareness". I've also worked with some rather timid female students in the beginners classes who were clearly intimidated by some of the more "elaborate" techniques - even though it was a "basics" class.

I don't know if this is something you can understand as a male. Since most women tend to be "smaller" then their male counterparts, it can be rather daunting for them to practice techniques on someone twice their size. Yes, we *should* be able to practice with *any* person, regardless of size or gender. But sometimes, it *is* helpful to work with someone closer to your size. When I was learning koshinage, I tried to partner with someone closer to my size (male or female) as much as possible. Working with a big guy simply wasn't helping me with the general "form" of that particular technique. When I got a *little* better (seriously...my koshinage still sucks), I started taking on bigger guys, but it took some time for me to get to that point.

My whole point is that different people have different needs. What works for one person may not work for the next. We're just trying to access those who may not be "ready" to take on a "regular" class yet.

bkedelen
05-12-2008, 01:59 PM
I personally think people may teach as they will. It is simply none of my business who teaches who, and no one should be forced to teach a person or group against their will. That said, it will significantly benefit the practitioner of Aikido to come in contact with a wide variety of other humans during training. Limiting a student's ability to contact a wide variety of other practitioners is at some point going to be doing the student a disservice.

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 02:42 PM
Erm...why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? We're simply looking for another way to increase the number of female students.

I'm just not certain why it would be necessary to recruit students by gender, race or any other such characteristic.

I don't know if this is something you can understand as a male. Since most women tend to be "smaller" then their male counterparts, it can be rather daunting for them to practice techniques on someone twice their size. Yes, we *should* be able to practice with *any* person, regardless of size or gender. But sometimes, it *is* helpful to work with someone closer to your size. When I was learning koshinage, I tried to partner with someone closer to my size (male or female) as much as possible. Working with a big guy simply wasn't helping me with the general "form" of that particular technique. When I got a *little* better (seriously...my koshinage still sucks), I started taking on bigger guys, but it took some time for me to get to that point.

I'm quite a bit smaller than a number of the women that I train with (I average around 125 pounds), and I often train with people more than twice my size.

My whole point is that different people have different needs. What works for one person may not work for the next. We're just trying to access those who may not be "ready" to take on a "regular" class yet.

Hence, the beginner's class - but why segregate it?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 02:43 PM
I personally think people may teach as they will. It is simply none of my business who teaches who, and no one should be forced to teach a person or group against their will. That said, it will significantly benefit the practitioner of Aikido to come in contact with a wide variety of other humans during training. Limiting a student's ability to contact a wide variety of other practitioners is at some point going to be doing the student a disservice.

Of course, people are free to do what they like - that doesn't mean, however, that a particular course of action is wise or advisable.

Best,

Chris

JW
05-12-2008, 06:07 PM
I'm quite a bit smaller than a number of the women that I train with (I average around 125 pounds), and I often train with people more than twice my size.



Hi Chris-
It is good that you are not intimidated by others because of your size. However, if overcoming intimidation were that simple for everyone, in all situations, we would not be having this discussion.

But in fact, we live in a world where men in general are free to do as they please, whereas women are at this point in history part of a living movement to struggle towards equality. Jennifer Smith was right-- it is always difficult to get into this argument, and like others in this thread, I didn't want to, but then I thought there is a remote chance that me piping up might affect you in some way because I am not female myself.

Although there are MANY motivations ("justifications" if that is how you must see it) to do this sort of class, let me just mention one in an attempt to make this point of view valid for you.
One in 3 women (statistically would include lots of people you know.. and it is assumed to be on the low side of accurate) in the US are estimated to have been sexually abused. You might have guessed it, it is usually done by a man. This has a lot of effects on one's life, including an aversion to putting yourself in situations where you will go and be one of very few women, or the ONLY woman, to get grabbed and thrown by a bunch of men who know what they are doing and are very confident and often a little aggressive. But you can see that aikido might ultimately be good for you.. even though at first it would seem so unattractive that you probably would pass by a dojo without ever even thinking about the possibility of becoming a member.

So, you can see that such an outreach/transition class would not only be a reasonable thing to do for the dojo's enrollment, for the women in question, and for society at large, but it would in fact be the RIGHT thing to do.

Now of course this is an extreme example of how quite a few women are not on equal footing with men regarding confidence issues in and out of the dojo. Although it is an extreme example, it is in fact an illustration of something that is not specific to sexual abuse against women:

The emotional reaction to being excluded by a group that has power or apparent power over you can cause one to become discouraged. You may debate if sexism against women is present, but please consider that it is likely to be real and active in a world where men enjoy more high power positions and higher pay, in a world where female dojo enrollment is decremented at dojos that don't actively seek women, and in a world where women must every day be vigilant of the very real threat of sexual violence against them.

Do you think any of us have a point, or does it still seem like blind sexism to have a women's outreach beginner class?
--JW

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 06:37 PM
This has a lot of effects on one's life, including an aversion to putting yourself in situations where you will go and be one of very few women, or the ONLY woman, to get grabbed and thrown by a bunch of men who know what they are doing and are very confident and often a little aggressive. But you can see that aikido might ultimately be good for you.. even though at first it would seem so unattractive that you probably would pass by a dojo without ever even thinking about the possibility of becoming a member.

Why would anyone be getting beat up by more experienced practitioners in a beginner's class? Sounds like more of a class management problem to me than anything else. I'm all in favor of beginner's/transition classes, but I don't see that segregating them by gender is necessarily the wisest choice.

There are plenty of people who would be more comfortable in classes that are all white, or all black, or all hetero or homo, but that doesn't mean that slicing and dicing the practice into separate groups is going to be beneficial in the end.


Do you think any of us have a point, or does it still seem like blind sexism to have a women's outreach beginner class?
--JW

I never said it was blind sexism, or that there would be no benefit - what I said is that there is an inherent destructive quality in dividing people into sub-groups based on immutable (or near-immutable) characteristics such as gender, race or religion - enough so that it ought not to be done without a compelling reason.

Now if you're talking about special circumstances, such as self defense classes for abused women, then it may be that you can make a compelling argument.

But no, I wouldn't consider the kind of general beginner's class that we've been talking about to be much of a compelling argument.

Best,

Chris

JW
05-12-2008, 07:34 PM
Why would anyone be getting beat up by more experienced practitioners in a beginner's class?

Well, they probably wouldn't. What is at issue here is perception. If you are not a martial artist, but are still a person who could benefit from aikido, you might not necessarily know about how things go in a martial arts class. So you wouldn't realize that aikido is something that is good for you. You might never think about aikido, and what a shame (for all of us) that would be. The point is outreach catered towards people who feel excluded.

Really this type of class is a way to include those who may not feel comfortable under normal circumstances-- there are in fact a lot of them.

Now if you're talking about special circumstances, such as self defense classes for abused women, then it may be that you can make a compelling argument.
Well, maybe that is what we are talking about, in essence. Many people do aikido for self defense, and many people are abused women. If you are an abused woman seeking a self defense class, then aikido for that person is exactly a "self defense class for abused women." So, this temporary 10-week intro class is a way to reach out to her, so that she will see the benefits of aikido for her, so that she can become a regular dojo member in the future.

Look, everyone can see that your general argument makes some sense. Dividing people is bad, that is of course true. If male dominance in the dojo creates a barrier that keeps women out of the dojo, then by your own argument, something should change. So what can change? Well, someone creating an all-women dojo is one way. I think we all see the problem with that system of permanent divisiveness. No wonder the aforementioned dojo failed. This women's intro class however is a form of outreach, which by its very nature is a form of inclusion, not exclusion. I see it that way anyway. It is just 10 weeks of a class where women are not made to feel uncomfortable. There are still infinite weeks of classes where men are not made to feel uncomfortable, even on the same days as the women's class. It is hardly a case of male exclusion.

Well, that's my opinion anyway! There is no right or wrong, so I won't argue any more. I just hope you can see that the point of this, and the results of this as mentioned in previous posts, is inclusion of women, not exclusion of men.
--JW

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 07:56 PM
Look, everyone can see that your general argument makes some sense. Dividing people is bad, that is of course true. If male dominance in the dojo creates a barrier that keeps women out of the dojo, then by your own argument, something should change. So what can change? Well, someone creating an all-women dojo is one way. I think we all see the problem with that system of permanent divisiveness. No wonder the aforementioned dojo failed. This women's intro class however is a form of outreach, which by its very nature is a form of inclusion, not exclusion. I see it that way anyway. It is just 10 weeks of a class where women are not made to feel uncomfortable. There are still infinite weeks of classes where men are not made to feel uncomfortable, even on the same days as the women's class. It is hardly a case of male exclusion.


Myself, I wouldn't say that the answer to divisiveness is to create more divisions. At least, not unless the circumstances were fairly extreme.

"We're not anti-(xxx) we're pro-(xxx)" - insert your own groups, this is a pretty common argument. The problem is not that there are no alternatives for males or whatever group is excluded, the problem is the division itself. Wasn't that the question addressed in "Brown v. Board of Education"?

Best,

Chris

jennifer paige smith
05-12-2008, 09:28 PM
Myself, I wouldn't say that the answer to divisiveness is to create more divisions. At least, not unless the circumstances were fairly extreme.

"We're not anti-(xxx) we're pro-(xxx)" - insert your own groups, this is a pretty common argument. The problem is not that there are no alternatives for males or whatever group is excluded, the problem is the division itself. Wasn't that the question addressed in "Brown v. Board of Education"?

Best,

Chris

This is Brown v. BoE.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education.

Chris Li
05-12-2008, 09:44 PM
This is Brown v. BoE.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education.

Which part are you talking about? The one that says "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."?

Best,

Chris

JW
05-12-2008, 10:48 PM
The problem is not that there are no alternatives for males or whatever group is excluded, the problem is the division itself.

This is a very theoretical point of view, and I could see myself agreeing with this theory. It is a hard-line approach that is easy to defend if you are on the priviledged side of a pre-existing cultural division, such as the cultural division that makes it easy for us males to have so much self-confidence that we can saunter into a dojo and say, "ok sign me up!"
I see what you are saying, but I disagree in cases like this where all around us, some people actively put energy into keeping males in power-- don't we need to actively put energy into stopping this arrangement, if it is to ever end? Anyway I just wanted to explain why I would disagree with something that sounds fine to me in theory. (I not talking affirmative action in dojo enrollment, just supporting a females-only intro class that feeds into regular class)

Myself, I wouldn't say that the answer to divisiveness is to create more divisions. At least, not unless the circumstances were fairly extreme.

So then, what is the better solution to the masculine dominance in aikido, which evidently has the power to prevent women from signing up (due to the support from a culture that priviledges men)?
--JW

Chris Li
05-13-2008, 12:43 AM
This is a very theoretical point of view, and I could see myself agreeing with this theory. It is a hard-line approach that is easy to defend if you are on the priviledged side of a pre-existing cultural division, such as the cultural division that makes it easy for us males to have so much self-confidence that we can saunter into a dojo and say, "ok sign me up!"

Well, I spent more than a few years on the under-priviledged side of pre-existing cultural divisions - but I've never asked for any special arrangements, and I wouldn't take them if offered. Sure, it might have been more "comfortable", but at what cost?

I see what you are saying, but I disagree in cases like this where all around us, some people actively put energy into keeping males in power-- don't we need to actively put energy into stopping this arrangement, if it is to ever end? Anyway I just wanted to explain why I would disagree with something that sounds fine to me in theory. (I not talking affirmative action in dojo enrollment, just supporting a females-only intro class that feeds into regular class)

Which Aikido dojo are actively putting energy into keeping males in power? I'm sure there must be some - but I've only rarely seen an institutional policy of this kind. Besides, everybody is free to train as they like - male only, female only, whatever. I'm just saying that I don't see it as a particularly wise choice - not that you or me or anybody else should go around "stopping" it.

So then, what is the better solution to the masculine dominance in aikido, which evidently has the power to prevent women from signing up (due to the support from a culture that priviledges men)?
--JW

Why does it need to be "solved" - why is there an obligation to create a politically correct balance of race, gender or religion in the dojo? Unless there is deliberate intent involved, I don't see the problem.

Best,

Chris

Angela Dunn
05-13-2008, 07:50 AM
just throwing in my own thoughts here. And if I am wrong then I am sure someone will correct me.

There was a woman only class that my dojo set up with a female instructor. As far as I understood it it was aimed as a self defence class for a certain amount of time with the aim of feeding them into the main class. Did not work out that way. Soon as it came to feeding in they did not come back.

The classes designed as feeder classes had a mixed group of people, they did feed in. Sure that brings the amount of females registered in my particular dojos up to Five and three teenage girls in the younger members section. Many a time I am still the only female in class. But it worked a lot better as far as I can tell than just having seperate classes for females only.

I can see the argument with regards to women feeling more comfortable working with each other for whatever reason. If it works in getting more women into a dojo then great as long as they do mix into the main class after. However if women need a womans only class in order to do Aikido I am just wondering how likely it is for them to join in with a males class afterwards?

This does also raise the question though, in my mind at least, of why are women in general staying away from aikido in the first place? Is it for cultural reasons, fear of the unknown, scared of training with men or are martal arts seen as a mans domain and women just find them not appealing?

AsimHanif
05-13-2008, 08:09 AM
Good thread...nice to see this type of serious respectful dialogue again here...

I very much agree with Chris on this one. As a person of color I had felt unwelcome in certain dojo when I first started training (now I could care less. ;) I consider that a management issue. I certainly wouldn't have attended special Persons of Color classes or such.
Also at my dojo we've had several women come with the intent of pursuing aikido. None of them stuck with it. The reason they gave was that the training was too hard on them, not that they felt uncomfortable or intimidated.
Personally I think they key is to target a younger demographic while they're open mentally and physically confident. This goes for both males and females.
And I'd like to know what is the goal of an all womens class? Is it simply to increase female enrollment? If so, why? How does simply have more of X benefit the dojo or training? I simply like to have more ‘bodies' to train with. Hopefully they're cool people as well.

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 09:44 AM
If male dominance in the dojo creates a barrier that keeps women out of the dojo, then by your own argument, something should change. So what can change? Well, someone creating an all-women dojo is one way.

It can change, but is it the best change to accomplish your goal?

My parents grew up in a south where seperate was considered equal. Please note that this did not function as a "feeder system" in any way. I've gotta go with Chris and Asim here. In general, I'd have to question this way of bringing in more female students.

Best,
Ron

dragonteeth
05-13-2008, 10:33 AM
I've got mixed feelings on this. I could definitely see the benefit of an all women's class if there are religious restrictions in the community against unrelated male/female contact. I think it would also be a welcome thing among women who are very body conscious, either because of being overweight or because they have "perfect" bodies and have felt uncomfortable being in close physical contact with guys who find them attractive.

Fortunately, however, I'm old, ugly, and dumpy and fine with that, so I don't mind being in mixed classes at all.:p

In fact, I prefer it since I don't care for the social dynamics that can sometimes arise in an all-female group. I've never been made to feel overtly unwelcome by anyone because of my gender, and usually ignore the one or two jerks that crop up from time to time.

Diane Stevenson
05-13-2008, 10:55 AM
Just a short comment from a student who happens to be an at-home- mom.

I find evening classes difficult to fit into the schedule of my family. Typically going to class means finding a sitter for my youngest, (as my husband travels on business), shifting dinner to an hour earlier, making sure other kids' homework is done right after school, and a late night for my older kids who want to come train too (getting home at 9pm, which means bed no earlier than 9:30, and getting up the next day at 6am for school).

I would JUMP --thru hoops, maybe flaming ones, even :eek: -- at a class offered during the school day. Even if meant to be a introductory class I would do my best to weasel my way in. While it wouldn't address my kid's needs, it would give me a stress free time to add to my training schedule.

A women's only class? Well, usually I do enjoy training with the guys, 'cause I know I can't shift them on strength alone. On the other hand, after reading this thread, I think I may well appreciate better the opportunity to hone my sneakiness. :cool:

JW
05-13-2008, 11:53 AM
It can change, but is it the best change to accomplish your goal?

My parents grew up in a south where seperate was considered equal. Please note that this did not function as a "feeder system" in any way. I've gotta go with Chris and Asim here. In general, I'd have to question this way of bringing in more female students.

Best,
Ron

I think we all agree that segregation is bad-- permanent female dojos like the one I brought up in reference to Professor Goldsbury's above post are in this thread being used in to illustrate this.

This thread is about an intro course ("feeder" class), which has been pointed out in this thread to sometimes be effective in recruiting permanent female members, and sometimes unsuccessful. I feel like the arguments against segregation per se don't apply to this situation, in other words I think a women's intro class is a different thing than segregated dojos. It sounds like you guys feel differently, i.e. that feeder classes for a dojo are just the same as segregated classes. I don't think anybody here said that segregating a dojo would be a good idea--I certainly didn't mean that.
--JW

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 11:55 AM
But if your feeder classes are segregated, what is the message that you've sent to any that join and stay in the main dojo?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 11:57 AM
Actually, I remember a thread that was here some years ago, about an all male dojo. I'll have to search it out and see what I said then...I wonder how much my ideas have changed...

Here is the post that started a lot of the controversy:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=29500&postcount=13

Link to the entire thread in upper right hand corner.

Best,
Ron

Marie Noelle Fequiere
05-13-2008, 11:58 AM
Now if you're talking about special circumstances, such as self defense classes for abused women, then it may be that you can make a compelling argument.

Chris[/QUOTE]

Now, I would not advertise a class aimed at abused women. Most of them try to hide their situation, and they will rather not show up. Just make it a simple self defense class for women in general, and everybody will feel more comfortable registering.

dragonteeth
05-13-2008, 12:07 PM
I agree, but even in an all women students self defense class I think it is good to introduce male uke at some point during the experience. Performing technique against someone your own size and strength might be good in the beginning, but facing someone larger and stronger later on would build confidence and allow for the adjustments to technique that might arise in dealing with someone taller. Not to mention the fact that an abused woman might do well against other women but freeze up in their first encounter with a male attacker. Better to have that moment pass on the mats than in a real situation, IMHO. :)

Jennifer Yabut
05-13-2008, 12:26 PM
Actually, I remember a thread that was here some years ago, about an all male dojo. I'll have to search it out and see what I said then...I wonder how much my ideas have changed...

Here is the post that started a lot of the controversy:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=29500&postcount=13

Link to the entire thread in upper right hand corner.

Best,
Ron

Ugh...I read through that entire thread a couple months ago. I can't believe I read the whole thing! :rolleyes:

Anyway...I do understand where both sides are coming from, and I agree, long-term segregation of the sexes doesn't do anyone any good. That includes all-male or all-female dojos. From what I'm gathering from some of the posts here, all-women "feeder" classes can go either way. They may be successful in attracting more women to the dojo and retaining them in the main classes...or it may turn out to be a bust.

I like training at my dojo, even though it is male-dominated. There are many times when I'm the only woman in the class. I like getting thrown around by the big guys and testing my technique on them. But since my dojo's membership is primarily male (with no female blackbelts...yet), I know it could potentially put-off some potential female students who have no previous martial art experience.

So what is wrong about having a separate intro course to "reach out" to those who may otherwise never join? It's just two classes out of the week, and the dojo has classes every day. May I also add that we also have two other noontime classes in the week which are *not* segregated?

And like I said earlier in this thread...it is kind of an experiment of sort. It may work, or it may not...

AsimHanif
05-13-2008, 12:30 PM
I think Intro courses are good...
but woman aren't the only ones with insecurities. Men have feelings too:(

Asim

JW
05-13-2008, 12:33 PM
Which Aikido dojo are actively putting energy into keeping males in power? I'm sure there must be some - but I've only rarely seen an institutional policy of this kind.

Is anyone really talking about Aikido DOJO that are "actively putting energy into keeping males in power" or "institutional policies" that do so? Is that what you are talking about?
That's not what I was talking about.

I think it is clear that the real wall this argument is running into is this: some people think our social universe operates without man-made mechanisms that give underserved comfort to some people at the expense of undeserved discomfort to others, while others disagree. Lack of discriminatory laws on the books is not good evidence that there is no discrimination in reality.

Angela Dunn above asked -- why are women underrepresented in aikido compared to society at large? That's an interesting question that is hard to test. This experiement is one way to test a hypothetical answer. Women may lack interest, in which case dojos that feature this class would not significantly increase female enrollment over time. Or, a certain percentage of women may perceive emotional or psychological barriers to entering the world of aikido or martial arts, in which case we would expect a result like Jennifer Smith mentioned above, wherein dojos with these programs have significantly higher female enrollment in their regular class roster. Of course these are just 2 ways to interpret these results, but my point is only to illustrate the argument for these feeder classes.

As for why increasing female enrollment might be a desireable thing: anybody who cares about other people and thinks that aikido is good for people's physical, mental, or spiritual well-being (and therefore good for society at large) would understand why it is important to remove all barriers to aikido enrollment. I feel like we all enjoy doing aikido ourselves, and we all claim to care about others. So why are we contesting this motive? It's not about getting a certain # of women in dojos and saying mission accomplished-- it's about making sure that aikido is not discouraged for anyone who might want to do it.

I would be happy to stay with this thread if we were to talk about the mechanisms that we might design to remove barriers to aikido, in this case the barriers that some women (mostly women who are NOT in aikido btw) perceive.
But discussing whether or not sexism in our society might have a negative impact on the psychology of some members of our society is beyond what I can say more about.
--JW

Trish Greene
05-13-2008, 12:45 PM
Hello all!

I just finished skimming through this thread and found it very interesting. My dojo has a self-defense class for women one night a week. It is not an aikido class but more of a street level self defense. The other nights of the week, the classes are broken up into a kids aikido class and an adult aikido class. My sensei does not breakout the beginners. His theory is that the older members teach the younger members, you learn by teaching.

I am (by far) the oldest female practitioner at the dojo. We have several teenage girls that do practice with us. When these teenage girls first started out in the dojo, I would practice with them until they got comfortable working in a mixed gender environment. I would work with them on the move, then pass them over to one of "the big guys" so that they can perform the move on them.

The reason I make sure that they work with the big guys? Because most likely the big guys will be more representative of who would be attacking them on the street. It is an empowering moment for the young ladies and usually gets them excited about continuing on.

I have a set of girls who has been working out with me for about 4 months now. They are finally breaking out of their beginner tentative mode and are now really giving the guys heck and taking ukemi all the while giggling their goofy heads off!!

Bronson
05-13-2008, 12:46 PM
what is the message that you've sent to any that join and stay in the main dojo?

That segregation and division are bad except when they benefit me?

Bronson

JW
05-13-2008, 12:47 PM
But if your feeder classes are segregated, what is the message that you've sent to any that join and stay in the main dojo?

Best,
Ron

Well, I was invisioning a situation like at the dojo I cited earlier in the thread-- instead of separate men's and women's intro classes, the dojo had regular intro classes periodically and then also had women's intro classes periodically too. I agree that if all intro classes were segregated, it would send a bad message.

I'm trying to imagine what message I would perceive from the type of situation I described, and what messages others might perceive.

For me I come up with-- "some dojo members never would have joined without the womens outreach class-- for a reason that is not known to me."

Or if I was a woman in one of the feeder classes, more like: "It's ok if you didn't like the idea of being swamped by men at first-- but now that you know you like aikido we're glad you don't have a problem with it."

I guess one of the problems with this women's intro class idea is that these 2 very positive and feel-good messages are not the only ones that would be perceived in reality, huh?

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 12:52 PM
I guess one of the problems with this women's intro class idea is that these 2 very positive and feel-good messages are not the only ones that would be perceived in reality, huh?

They may...or they may not.

One thing I'm **trying** to do, is to be more consistent with my own reasoning. So I'm trying to look at this from a lot of sides, and even switch some of the parameters. What if it was black vs white. What if it was an all men's dojo. What if...you get the idea. I guess *if* my response is well thought out, I'd better have a pretty darn good reason to make an exception to a no descrimination rule. ;) And maybe it shouldn't be based on a knee jerk emotional reaction, but rather, something I'd actually thought through.

Best,
Ron (not saying that others haven't thought their positions through...just applying this to myself)

PS And unfortunately you lovely people reap the rewards of my inner musings... :D

dragonteeth
05-13-2008, 01:10 PM
Agreed Johnathan, but I would like to offer one more barrier to participation - time. As Diane mentioned, most women who are mothers can only participate while their children are either in childcare or at school unless the dojo is in a location that provides childcare during the class. Some like Diane have the opportunity to take advantage of classes during school hours. Others who are working full time during the day and mothering at night have to find someone who will watch their children for them. Spouses are not always happy about that (especially when you train 2-3 times per week), and babysitters cost money - something that is in short supply for a lot of folks right now. I know for me when I am training full time that can run up to $100/week. Plus as a single mom, it can be really hard to pick up my son from after school care, go home, change clothes, get him fed, get the sitter settled in, and get to class in time to dress out, stretch, and help set up in an hour to two hour time frame. I can't even imagine what that schedule will be like when he starts doing sports activities of his own.

So I guess if I could offer up one suggestion it would be to offer childcare during class, even if for a fee. That would benefit all single parents, and even many married ones. I know quite a few husbands (or wives) who would really enjoy it if their spouse took the kids out of the house for a couple of hours several times a week.

JW
05-13-2008, 01:14 PM
One thing I'm **trying** to do, is to be more consistent with my own reasoning. So I'm trying to look at this from a lot of sides, and even switch some of the parameters.

I get that, and I agree with the idea.
And I understand that this class can be interpreted as an "exception to a no-discrimination rule."

But, I really don't feel that trying to work against sexism is an emotional knee-jerk reaction. It is indeed something that I think about a lot and something that a lot of people also think about a lot.

If you would consider this class an exception to a no discrimination rule, I would say that it is an action designed to specifically address issues of confidence, intimidation, and dominance that exist specifically for some women due specifically to experiences in a sexist society that have negatively impacted them. That's why in this case it might not make sense to trade male/female for black/white, etc. Because this is specifically a class that exists because of the undeserved psychological advantage that many men enjoy with little effort, at the expense of many women having to struggle for equality. If anybody seriously make the claim that black people are so intimidated by white people that they are discouraged from joining aikido, then I guess we would have to argue again-- but at this point in the history of this male-dominated world, this particular argument of undeserved low confidence and intimidation really seems to apply to women.
--JW

ps, as Lori Snidow just mentioned, psychological barriers are not the only barriers that our society has lumped preferentially onto women's shoulders.
The harder that dojos reach out to people, the more people will get to do aikido. It is for the whole human family after all.

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 01:43 PM
Well, I was very intimidated as an African American male growing up in a mostly white suburb, and being almost if not the only Black person in my classes, all throughout my school years, up to and including college. I suffered a fair amount of abuse, both from Whites and Blacks as a result.

But I lived through it, and I believe I am better for having made the adjustment. And I still deal with this situation from time to time in my working life. I've had people say in meetings with HR that *I* wouldn't have to worry about the upcoming layoffs...because I am Black, so AA would take care of me. Yeah, right...

Perhaps by overcoming those issues in a mixed environment, there are advantages gained? I don't think a tit for tat comparison of what women go through and what Blacks go through is in order...but let's just say for the sake of argument that the two are equal. What if we drop Black and substitute Gay, as in another thread going on now?

What then?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 01:47 PM
this particular argument of undeserved low confidence and intimidation really seems to apply to women.

Try going up Black in the inner city surrounded by drug dealers, crime, police brutality, poverty, etc...

See what that does for self-esteem. Or growing up in Appalachia. Heck, or rural Texas for that matter.

One thing I'm slowly learning...none of us has a lock on misery. There is always plenty to go around.

Best,
Ron

John Connolly
05-13-2008, 02:05 PM
Hi Ron,

I think that is great concept, however, imagine being any of the aforementioned people in those situations, AND being a woman. I think that although there are plenty of people in bad situations everywhere, women really do get the crappy side of the equation almost universally. As (a bit more than) half of the population everywhere, they are on the receiving end of violence from men a great deal more statistically than men are from themselves or from women, or than women are from women. It makes good sense, in regard to building a comfort level with confrontation (something that those of us that have been in the MAs for a while have gotten used to), such as grabbing, punching, throwing, or even simple body-to-body proximity issues, that women have a space that they feel comfortable in "getting there". If a women-only class helps to build that comfort and confidence, I believe it is a good idea.

A simple caveat: As they get comfortable with the dojo environment, it behooves women to work out with men as well, in order to learn to protect themselves, and to not get put into a state of panic if a confrontation with a male occurs.

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 02:14 PM
Hi John, but then, as Chris Li said, why not have a course *specifically geared toward that*? A course for women (or people) with abuse issues, or issues with close physical contact, etc?

Are only women abused? I don't think so. I know men who were traumatised in their youth, and they would NEVER join a regular aikido class with all the close physical contact. I know some who would, too...

Best,
Ron

JW
05-13-2008, 02:26 PM
Try going up Black in the inner city surrounded by drug dealers, crime, police brutality, poverty, etc...

See what that does for self-esteem. Or growing up in Appalachia. Heck, or rural Texas for that matter.

I never meant to contest this-- in fact I agree that self-esteem is negatively impacted by these things.
This discussion seems to have devolved from the topic of an all-women's class to a discussion about segregation itself. I don't believe in segregation in general, and I don't believe that making up random concessions for any group that feels disadvantaged is a good idea in general either.
This class is not a concession for women-- it is a mechanism that addresses male domination's impact on female enrollment by taking away male domination in one class session.

I just believe that male dominance perpetuates itself in that male-dominated arenas can be intimidating to women. I believe that men can take advantage of this situation sometimes (we may not even realize it), and by not fighting it, we allow ourselves to sometimes accept its favor but then never fight against it.

Segregation is not supposed to be involved in outreach in general-- this is a case wherein those who are reaching out are attempting to overcome the particular barrier of intimidation due specifically to one group's dominance or presence.
Well, I feel like it is a dead horse now!

Anyway I don't believe in granting concessions as a solution to problems. I believe problems should be solved. Aikido is one small way where I see an end to one gender's psychological domination of another, and it sucks that there are very real reasons for some women to not find aikido even though it is needed.

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 02:34 PM
... this is a case wherein those who are reaching out are attempting to overcome the particular barrier of intimidation due specifically to one group's dominance or presence.

Hey, that almost sounds verbatim like the support for Affirmative Action! Gee, go figure... ;) Anyhoo, not that I disagree all that strongly, but it's been fun trying to think it through a bit.

Well, I feel like it is a dead horse now!

Not at all! I've learned some things and enjoyed the chat.

Best,
Ron

John Connolly
05-13-2008, 02:34 PM
Sure, I imagine many men who get into martial arts were traumatized at some point in their lives. A PTSD specialty course for men and/or women is also a reasonable suggestion.

My point is more that men dominate business, politics, and in most models, family life (at least overtly), and with this domination as well as the issues of violence and trauma, women may be easier acclimated to the dojo environ (at least to start, and only as an option, not a requirement) in a women's only class.

I teach a small/for-free/university club, and I encourage women to join, but many quit and the reason they give me often, is that they can't get past the initial discomfort (or feeling of inability or vulnerability) with working out with male ukes/nages. This has been a great disappointment to me, as I see self-defense as a right, one that should be especially afforded to women. As a male, I wouldn't presume to run a women's only class, but I would love to see those women that left go to one, and come back some day into the co-ed class with some of their fears conquered, enough to begin conquering more...

JW
05-13-2008, 02:38 PM
Hi John, but then, as Chris Li said, why not have a course *specifically geared toward that*? A course for women (or people) with abuse issues, or issues with close physical contact, etc?

Are only women abused? I don't think so. I know men who were traumatised in their youth, and they would NEVER join a regular aikido class with all the close physical contact. I know some who would, too...

Best,
Ron

That's a great idea! (Except for one minor detraction, that many abused folks would avoid the public exposure that this class creates, as mentioned above)
And this great idea is not mutually exclusive with the women's class idea. I think they could both happen--
Especially since the women's class is also for women who for other reasons don't feel comfortable jumping into a male-dominated class.

So, should we have this discussion again? The past is immutable so I think Chris Li's argument that this is segregation along unchageable lines is still valid.

Ultimately though, the abused person's class and the women's class have a striking, important difference-- the women's class specifically addresses an intimidation felt as a product of many males being together. In other words, excluding non-abused people may not be particularly helpful to abused people. But, that's another experiment, and I guess it is one that psychologists have probably already explored so I will shut up!

Anyway I think John Connolly has said it better than me just now, so I can cool it.

JW
05-13-2008, 02:43 PM
Hey, that almost sounds verbatim like the support for Affirmative Action! Gee, go figure... ;)

True...
In fact both AA and outreach have the same goals, right?

The reason I like outreach like this is that although it has the same goal as AA (unobstructed equal opportunity in the future), it has a more honorable mechanism. The rough analogy I guess would be having a female quota in the dojo = AA, the female class + its associated advertisement = outreach.

And thanks to you too, I'm glad it is not a dead horse!
--JW

Ron Tisdale
05-13-2008, 02:49 PM
Interesting distinction...I'm going to mull that over for a while.

Best,
Ron

Buck
05-13-2008, 06:12 PM
Some info that might help with starting a women's class

I don't know if this counts but I was once involved in a company safety program some years ago. It was because of company saving money on their insurance. It was also because several woman were attacked in the parking lot not real serious, a drunk panhandler and an ex-boyfriend. It was this combination that got the program started. The program essentially was a low impact women self defense using basic Aikido, watered down basic Aikido and principles to be more exact. Added to that was the run of the mill awareness strategies. The program was volunteer and not mandatory. The program failed. It failed because of the lack of interest by women. Here is the scoop in my opinion there are allot of similarities.

1. The PR didn't scare the women into taking the idea of safety seriously. For PC reasons as being a company the program was headed by a women, I assisted and there was another woman martial artist there too. Two women play major roles, me the guy played the pin cushion role. Only a handful of woman ever showed up for the program.

2. Women doubted it allot, and questioned the information allot, and seemed to undermine the program. It seemed talking self-awareness hit buttons of insecurity, vulnerability, or other emotional and psychological sensitivities. Then when moving to actual hands on lessons of the class had compounded and reinforced those feelings.

3. I felt women where not interested in the physical lessons, they liked the power from the wazas, but they didn't really get hooked. They didn't have the interest or see the value. I don't think it was something they didn't find interesting. Example, say you go into a woman's high fashion clothing store and announce free memberships to a gym or self-defense class. The gym will win everytime. Do the same thing in a discount clothing store where there is a variety of women. More women in their 50s and up would take the self-defense class. All the other women would be headed for the gym.

There are the three major reason why the program failed. We can say the program taught by women was a martial arts class. Women in the company class didn't feel it was important to learn self defense. It didn't matter if men were around so they could say they felt intimidated by men.

I can say it is very hard to get a healthy long term class going that focuses intensely and sticks to learning martial arts traditionally and the way most are still taught.

For women there has to be a mix. Women are multi-taskers and multi-learners. Just ask any fitness instructor, women need to have their interest levels routinely piqued to maintain interest. Women are bored by the same routine. You have to have routine change on several levels and often. So if you are going to do a class I think you would need to calculate that in.

In college, I dated a Persian women who referred to herself as such. We came back from studying and I dropped her off at home. As I left, she was attempted to be mugged outside her front door. When the police arrived, the mugger was beaten seriously and taken to the hospital. My date didn't have a scratch. The 5'6'' 125lbs women took down a 6'4'' 30 year old ex-con on parole.

Point is, women can be tough fighters. They raise their women differently were she is from then here. I didn't by the idea that women are inferior after hearing that. I think the program would have been very successful with women like that.

I firmly say that a martial arts class like Aikido, is set up for men's interests and for men. To be successful at a women's class you have to redesign training and practice to keep women interested. Your approach has to be different too as the goals. And how to teach to be different appealing to women's interest. Gradually teaching like at first as a dance , a girls night out event or fitness class then in time move to a more physical hands on class. It could include allot more women. You can't do it like a typical martial arts class that is and has been geared toward men. Stay aware from the traditional martial arts class atmosphere. Feed into and tap into women's interest.

I think you see low numbers in the dojo, and Aikido enjoys higher numbers of women, because the approach doesn't appeal to the average women who is looking to find better fitness and weight loss. I recommend to keep it always fresh, the benefits target women's interest and needs, don't do a traditional martial arts atmosphere and you might be very successful.

AsimHanif
05-13-2008, 07:12 PM
Ron said
"Are only women abused? I don't think so. I know men who were traumatised in their youth, and they would NEVER join a regular aikido class with all the close physical contact. I know some who would, too..."

Exactly Ron...that's what I was getting at in my earlier post. These issues cut across gender lines.
It's very hard for me to find a compelling argument for women lnly Intros. If we looked at the root cause of why some do and some don't stick with aikido, I believe comfort with the same gender is a very small percentage.

Asim

jennifer paige smith
05-13-2008, 09:45 PM
Today after practice, a few of us discussed having an all-women class at our dojo. It would be a bare-basics beginners class, held twice a week. The highest-ranking woman (who is a 1st kyu) will teach the classes, and I also offered to help. We also talked about making flyers with a questionnaire. One, to get a consensus of which time of the day to have class, and also to promote these classes to the public at large.

Has anyone else ever taught an all-women class? How did you promote it, and how successful were the classes?

This is a practical question regarding how.

Anyone with experience to offer in that respect would be helpful to our friend who IS offering this class.
One great suggestion I read was having class during school hours to accomodate the schedule of mom's. Another good suggestion I heard was to contact a dojo who already offers these classes.

numazu
05-14-2008, 02:49 AM
I think Aikido is one of the few physical activities where it really doesn't matter if you are male or female. Therefore having female only classes is really a mute point. I think it is much more beneficial for women to train with men because if they want Aikido for self defence then it is most likely a man that will potentially attack them on the street.
Having said that, it is interesting to note that young men actually fall victim to violent assault more than women. Young guys on their own can be a target for the random gang bang.

dragonteeth
05-14-2008, 07:16 AM
Just curious - has anyone attended the all-women's class at Hombu? How does it differ, or does it?

Back to the original topic, from a promotional standpoint, I guess it would depend on who your target audience within women would be as to how you could market it. If you are looking for college aged women, maybe talking to some of the sororities at local colleges would be a start, or scheduling a demonstration on campus at the beginning of the summer session. If you are looking for the soccer mom demographic, you might talk to the rec department that sponsors the little league teams to see if you could hand out flyers at their events or set up a table. If you're looking for a general 30-50 range, you could contact local yoga studios and bodywork practices (eg massage therapists) to see if they would like to pair up and cross market (ie they hand out your flyers and you hand out theirs). If you are looking for older women, you might want to contact some of the civic and social organizations like the Red Hats to see if their members would be interested. You could also talk to some support groups as well, and target a variety of those. I would think that a cancer survivor group would get as much out of the physical and spiritual aspects of aikido as an abused women's group would get out of the defensive security side.

Just some ideas. However, if you are going to do that much marketing, you might find yourself with enough male interest too that you could consider having two sections, one mixed and one female. Is there such a thing as too many students? :)

SmilingNage
05-14-2008, 09:39 AM
Actually, I remember a thread that was here some years ago, about an all male dojo. I'll have to search it out and see what I said then...I wonder how much my ideas have changed...

Here is the post that started a lot of the controversy:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=29500&postcount=13

Link to the entire thread in upper right hand corner.

Best,
Ron

That was a great thread until it was hijacked by certain argumentative people for their own agenda(s). Instead of a discussion it became a witch hunt and very ugly.

Knowing what I know now about Sensei Linden, as I had a sit down with him last year at his dojo, You would view that thread, his responses and him in a different light. But as Fate would have it, dont ask me to clarify, as he asked me to keep our conversation private and I intend to do so. Since that thread wont die a death it deserves, I thought it important not to judge Sensei Linden until you meet him yourself.

I dont see the need for all of this hullabaloo. Its a good idea to start a woman only class to help bring in more woman into the dojo, if thats their goal. Its a bad idea to keep the woman in a women only class.

Personally all people should be exposed to Martial Arts. It helps complete the education cycle. The martial arts bring together the physical and the mental aspects of being human, and really makes the connection between the two.

misogi
05-14-2008, 09:47 AM
Hi

I just read through the thread and feel compelled to throw in my tuppence-ha'penny:) I guess it would be a good idea to give you some background...
I am the proposed teacher of this class. It was originally mentioned to me some time ago as something that may be a possibility when I became 1st kyu. Most people in our dojo start teaching at 1st kyu. I am the first female to reach 1st kyu in the dojo so far. The dojo has been active for over 15 years. Currently we have 2 sandan, 5 or 6 nidan and a few other shodan and nidan who have moved and train elsewhere - all males.
When it was first suggested that I teach an all women's class (probably about a year ago) I was a little offended. I wondered if the thought was that I wouldn't be able to teach guys. I thought it would be unrealistic, after all, we need to know how to work with guys, big guys, guys of all shapes and sizes, isn't that the point? Ego:)
When I started at this dojo, I was one of two females, and regularly the only female on the mat. I liked it that way. I felt quite special - I was the lady on the mat!:D
Now, four years later, there are quite a few more ladies on the mat, and regularly too. However, there are still only a handful of us.
I believe we have a very healthy dojo. The guys are very respectful, helpful and generous, we all are. There is no special treatment, just because you are female - for the most part, don't *let us* throw them or let us get away with anything because we are "weaker", we all throw each other good and hard. And of course the men are not all burly 6 foot something weight lifters. Some of them are of a similar build to us. But a 125lb guy will usually be stronger than a 125lb woman.
There is a love of "big ukemi" in our dojo, and when people come to watch class, there is a tendency for Sensei to bring up the high flyers and give a breath taking and (for some) fear inducing demonstration. Many people don't come back.
There have also been women who have left because they were intimidated by the actions of some of the men, or because some of the men got a little rough with them (I know this is something that needs to be addressed, it has been, and continues to be) I too got hurt and harassed a few times when I first joined. It's a martial art, I dealt with it, some don't. I understand that many of the people who don't stick with it, truly don't want to. But I have witnessed enough women over the years who probably would have stuck if the environment had allowed them to.
I still don't know how I sit with a "women's only" class. But, what I do believe is that it will give some people, who would otherwise have not come on the mat, the opportunity to do so. And some of the people who may feel intimidated in the beginning, an environment to feel a little more comfortable until they "feed in". I guess also, as a beginner teacher, it will give me an opportunity to begin exploring the (yin) feminine side of Aikido.
Every dojo has its personality, its quirks, its positives and negatives. We have a very (yang) masculine dojo, not only in male numbers, but the Aikido practiced is very *masculine* - strong, powerful, dynamic. I accept that this is my description and opinion - however, having trained at a few ASU dojos, where there is more fluidity, less atemi, and aikido is generally much more gentle - I would describe our Aikido as (yang) masculine.
We have noticed that the retention of women is considerably less than that of men, and would like to do something about that. The class would start with all women. We would let them know it is a limited course with a view to feeding in to the other classes. We would encourage them to come to the other classes as soon as they like. We would introduce male ukes and probably male teachers. But the initial classes would be for women only with the focus on basics from a female perspective.
Incidentally, the initial reaction to this class by other dojo members, male and female, was very positive. The men were keen to have more women on the mat, the women were keen to have a class where they were seen as valued members of the dojo.
Ultimately, we all want to practice Aikido together.

I find it very interesting that all the negative comments have all come from men who find an all women's class as some kind of discrimination. We do not want to discriminate, but appear to have been doing so, and for this reason are trying to encourage more women on the mat.

We can't advertise for "abused women" - a) many abused women do not want to admit the fact b) we don't have the skills to deal with the emotional needs of the abused woman - by advertising it as such may imply that we are equipped to deal with their experience. Of course women who have experience any kind of abuse would be welcome. Just as men who have experienced any kind of abuse are welcome to all of our other 13 classes a week.

So, this is why we want to offer a short-term women's aikido class.

A word on self-defense. In my experience, women's self-defense courses are better left to the guys covered in padding. We want to teach a martial art.

Peace:)

Ron Tisdale
05-14-2008, 10:41 AM
Hi Judith, nice post, thanks!

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-14-2008, 01:59 PM
I find it very interesting that all the negative comments have all come from men who find an all women's class as some kind of discrimination. We do not want to discriminate, but appear to have been doing so, and for this reason are trying to encourage more women on the mat.

Hi Judith,

I've been thinking about your post, and I also noticed a comment in another thread that caught my attention. A couple of questions:

1) What is it that makes the statements you refer to "negative"?

2) Could you quote some of them so that we are on the same page?

3) Why is it that "men" making those statements is an issue?

4) Do you disagree that there are in fact other ways to encourage women on the mat...other than a woman's only class?

Just to let you know where I am personally comming from, I do not have an issue per say about this type of class, but from a logical point of view, it does cause me to wonder about discrimination (someone would in fact be excluded based on their gender).

5) Is it in someway inappropriate for me to try to address these concerns here?

6) What would be your preferred venue for me to discuss these concerns?

7)Is there a preferred method I should use?

Best,
Ron (and good luck with the classes, I hope they accomplish your goal)

misogi
05-14-2008, 02:48 PM
Hi Ron,

I don't have time right now to go back and quote "negative" comments. It just appeared that some folk thought that this was some segregratory, descriminatory agenda-based mission. Let it be said that this is not the case and I did not feel this from your posts. I find your approach very constructive.

The reason why I find it interesting that they are mainly from men is that there is no way that a man can truly understand what it is like to be the only (or one of few) female on the mat. As a woman in the martial arts it is *usually* the case that you are in the minority, *usually* the case that you are weaker, often the case that you are confronted with someone much bigger, stronger and more advanced, often the case that some guy wants to prove himself by intimidating or hurting a woman, (the same guy does the same with other guys sometimes too, but as a female it is much more overpowering, and often incredibly intimidating - I don't think guys appreciate the power of the male/female dynamic when physical aggression is involved - and here I mean *aggression* in it's negative sense. This is usually only the case with beginners. As people get to know the dojo, it's members and is able to sort the wheat out from the chaff, these issues tend to disappear - often along with the newest female member...

I understand that Aikido does not require great strength. This is one of the main reasons why I love it so. However, when starting out, it is not easy to understand what you are doing and why.

I don't necessarily believe women only classes to be the answer to the problem. A beginners class will always have a mix - be it of genders, body types, personalities, physical ability...The point is that we are trying to make it a comfortable space for women to *start* - to let them get a feel, in an environment where they may raise any issues they might have about working with the opposite sex, how to deal with Sempai who may be rough, hitting on them, difficult to work with etc. I know these are issues in all dojo, and I also know that separation may not be the answer and must be short lived.
Again, this doesn't sit with me very comfortably.
But as a woman who has visited many dojo, trained with both sexes, and been thrown very hard and treated very roughly by guys (and a few females too!), I feel this is something worth offering to women who have never been exposed to the martial arts and may feel less capable than their male counterparts...

The horse has been well and truly beaten!!:D

Let's keep talkin'

Peace:)

Ron Tisdale
05-14-2008, 03:01 PM
Oh, and I just read back through the thread, and I should note that some men in the discussion have stated they agree with this idea, and other men have said that it concerns them...not that it shouldn't happen.

I see that not all the women responded so differently either. So I really am currious about the idea that *men* are commenting *negatively*. It gives the impression that the segregation is already beginning...if you see what I mean. ;)

Best,
Ron

Bronson
05-14-2008, 05:05 PM
If you want more women on the mat teach Muay Thai or kickboxing. The Muay Thai class at our multi-art facility is bristling with female students and more are joining every week. And the guys in that class are HUGE.

Bronson

Ron Tisdale
05-14-2008, 06:34 PM
Nice post again, Judith! Thanks for the honest answer. I do appreciate you taking the time.

By the way, I've trained at your dojo (if it is Henry Smith Sensei's dojo), and I must admit I have a hard time imagining people intimidating others while he is around! ;) I think he would put short shrift to that kind of behavior, promptly!

You've got a good teacher.

Best,
Ron

Chris Li
05-14-2008, 06:35 PM
The reason why I find it interesting that they are mainly from men is that there is no way that a man can truly understand what it is like to be the only (or one of few) female on the mat.

Here's a line of reasoning that is often brought up in these type of discussions, and seems to be intended to squelch discussion by anybody outside of the group in question.

I've never really bought into this argument - if I can't truly understand you because I'm male, then it follows that you can't truly understand me because you're female. Now, if you can't truly understand me then how do you know what I do or don't understand?

Best,

Chris

Chris Parkerson
05-14-2008, 06:46 PM
Oh, and I just read back through the thread, and I should note that some men in the discussion have stated they agree with this idea, and other men have said that it concerns them...not that it shouldn't happen.

I see that not all the women responded so differently either. So I really am currious about the idea that *men* are commenting *negatively*. It gives the impression that the segregation is already beginning...if you see what I mean. ;)

Best,
Ron

IMO, even terms like segregation and exclusion have negative connotations to the very real need being expressed here. Defining this opportunity in a positive light "womanspace" or "yin-time" could better define the project. Woman to woman discussions (mentoring) in a real-time environment is a very necessary part of female group dynamics- especially when the new environment is dominated by male metaphor, signs and symbols. It just does not have the same magic whenin mixed groups.

Chris Parkerson
05-14-2008, 06:57 PM
[QUOTE=Christopher Li;206458

I've never really bought into this argument - if I can't truly understand you because I'm male, then it follows that you can't truly understand me because you're female. Now, if you can't truly understand me then how do you know what I do or don't understand?

Best,

Chris[/QUOTE]

I learned the answer to this one and will say it as Many women are just too polite to post it.

"Because your (the man's) actions show you have no clue that you are creating an intrusive and discomforting feeling in me - a sense of being violated- Violation can be very subtle as well as overt.

I am a male. If I have not answered "on point" please correct me on thread or in PM.

Chris

Ron Tisdale
05-14-2008, 06:58 PM
Woman to woman discussions (mentoring) in a real-time environment is a very necessary part of female group dynamics- especially when the new environment is dominated by male metaphor, signs and symbols. It just does not have the same magic whenin mixed groups.
That makes sense to me on some levels. My fiance works in a mostly male field and office. She could really use a female mentor...unfortunately, there really isn't one available. I hear about this frustration often.

Best,
Ron

Bronson
05-14-2008, 07:53 PM
That makes sense to me on some levels. My fiance works in a mostly male field and office. She could really use a female mentor...unfortunately, there really isn't one available. I hear about this frustration often.


I guess I don't understand the need for a same sex mentor. I was educated in a field dominated by women and consequently there are women that I look to for mentorship in that field. Also, one of my main aikido influences is a woman. I would think it is more important to find a person who is good at what they do for a mentor and gender/race/religion/etc be damned.

I'm still having a hard timing understanding how we can fix sexism with more sexism.

Bronson (perhaps I'm just simple)

giriasis
05-14-2008, 08:46 PM
Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train. Women are neither being prevented from taking the other classes nor are they being forced to take the women's only class. Judith and Jennifer, am I correct in assuming that you are not replacing classes already in existence where male dojo members would lose an opportunity to train? And there are additional intro classes offered as well in which anyone can join? It would be sexism to start a women's only dojo. It would be segregation to force all women to only take the women's only class. It would be reverse discrimination to take away classes from the men so that there can be separate women's class. What I see is that they are creating a women's only class in an effort to make up for gender disparity in their dojo. I also do not see them saying you can not create a special men's only class either. But, men are not the ones on the receiving end of the inequality - the women are. This is a rational solution to a perceived inequality.

My suggestion to both Jennifer and Judith is to fully invest in it and see what works out. More power to you.

Buck
05-14-2008, 08:48 PM
Judith,

I am not sure if you read my other post. I strongly feel that only a small number of women are interested in a martial art. Because of that it makes it very difficult to attract and keep women in a martial art. We of course are speaking Aikido. One of the more women friendly arts, I think.

By far and wide martial art dojos will have more men then women, 10/90 women to men ratio, in class. Because it is hard to attract and maintain a class for women. Allot of thought has to go into redesigning the class to focus away for the benefits and interests of men.

I find it remarkable of women who are in martial arts because it isn't something they are drawn to. Women are drawn to the benefits of exercise, and have a unrelenting drive to accomplish their goals. Aikido doesn't offer the same benefits of exercise or interest. Yet another hurdle to a women's class.

Tae Bo was brilliant. It is the model for getting women into martial arts. It fused martial arts into an exercise program. A great first introductory handshake into the martial arts. From there once women reach their goal then they can move into a more martial arts class.

I don't think the reason women overall or is the underpinning reason why they don't join a martial arts class is because of some jerk guy. That is a general surface reason. Women deal with jerks allot in their lives. I think the deeper reason is the natural disinterest into a male activity, much the same way men are not interest in learning how to build up their Kegel muscles.

To start and have a successful women's class it has to be done differently then the classic martial arts class approach. It has to be done in a way that will interest women and benefit women for women to be attracted to the class. Women are not interested nor see the benefits in taking something designed for men.

Chris Li
05-14-2008, 08:50 PM
I learned the answer to this one and will say it as Many women are just too polite to post it.

"Because your (the man's) actions show you have no clue that you are creating an intrusive and discomforting feeling in me - a sense of being violated- Violation can be very subtle as well as overt.

I am a male. If I have not answered "on point" please correct me on thread or in PM.

Chris

The above only works if you assume that someone who "understands" you will never make you uncomfortable.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-14-2008, 08:55 PM
Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train.

So it would be OK if someone created a whites only class as long as people of color had other classes that were available to them?

I thought that argument had been more or less settled in the 1950's...

Best,

Chris

Buck
05-14-2008, 09:00 PM
I am reading the sexism element that has come into play. Do you mix men with women if you redesign the class toward womens interest? Solution, I feel is an intro class that is a martial art exercise class then work them into a more classical martial arts class. Get women comfortable with martial arts. If you are willing, I think more success would come of it if the regular martial arts class focused on a mix of both men and womens interest. But that is hard, as it breaks tradition and you no longer have a classical martial arts Aikido class.

I don't think starting a womens class is an easy thing to do.

Chris Li
05-14-2008, 09:06 PM
I am reading the sexism element that has come into play. Do you mix men with women if you redesign the class toward womens interest? Solution, I feel is an intro class that is a martial art exercise class then work them into a more classical martial arts class. Get women comfortable with martial arts. If you are willing, I think more success would come of it if the regular martial arts class focused on a mix of both men and womens interest. But that is hard, as it breaks tradition and you no longer have a classical martial arts Aikido class.

Questions of income aside (although I know that can be important), I generally feel that it is a bad idea to change your training to accommodate sales and marketing concerns. You never please everybody, and you end up compromising your own training.

Best,

Chris

giriasis
05-14-2008, 09:26 PM
So it would be OK if someone created a whites only class as long as people of color had other classes that were available to them?

I thought that argument had been more or less settled in the 1950's...

Best,

Chris

First, please read my post in total and consider it as my entire point.

And, yes, it would be okay to create a class for whites if the whites were in the minority in a situation in order to offset the racial disparity in the particular dojo. And, so long as that class did not take away the current training opportunities of the African Americans.

And no, that argument was not more or less settled in the 1950's. The solution only BEGAN in the 1950's and continued on into the 1970's and beyond. There is a lot of other case law that followed that to address the issue of discrimination. And this is NOT the segregation of the 1950's. Women are not being forced to train exclusively in the women's classes and not being allowed to train with the men. And, men are not being forced to train in men's only classes and not being allowed to train with the women. That would be what Brown v. Board of Education ended. This is not what is going on here.

Chris Li
05-14-2008, 09:32 PM
And, yes, it would be okay to create a class for whites if the whites were in the minority in a situation in order to offset the racial disparity in the particular dojo. And, so long as that class did not take away the current training opportunities of the African Americans.

And that's what I'm disagreeing with - saying that forming an exclusive group is OK because you're in the minority just perpetuates the problem.

Best,

Chris

dragonteeth
05-14-2008, 10:08 PM
Questions of income aside (although I know that can be important), I generally feel that it is a bad idea to change your training to accommodate sales and marketing concerns. You never please everybody, and you end up compromising your own training.


You know, I could be wrong, but I never got the impression anywhere along the line that this was a money making concern. I got the strong feeling that these women really love aikido, and they are trying to find a way to reduce the barriers that exist within their particular environment which keep new female practitioners from discovering this wonderful art.

Having thought about this a little while, I can see this from two different perspectives. You can look at it from the segregation standpoint, equating it with racial segregation which understandably has very negative connotations. Or you can look at it from the same standpoint that gives us children's classes. Again, some would find that objectionable because it equates women with children, and we certainly are not.

But when you get past the socially created mental barriers those two ideas bring with them and truly get to the core of what they are trying to do, maybe it changes a little bit. Why do we have kids classes? Because their joints can't handle full bore practice, and because they think and learn differently than adults. Nevertheless, we hold them anyway because we feel that starting kids in martial arts is a good thing, and because we want to build a foundation with these individuals who are the future of aikido.

When Judith posted her initial piece, I really started to see this picture differently than I had originally. If this happened to be a girls class just for the sake of being a girls class, I'm not sure I would feel as supportive. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. They have a legitimate reason for wanting to have a separate beginners class supported by the comments of women who have left the class. They want to reach an unreached demographic to give them a better picture of what aikido is about than what some of these women apparently see in the regular class. Once they get a taste of it (and become aiki-addicts like the rest of us) dealing with the boys may not seem such a big deal after all, especially if they are gradually introduced through joint classes or selected visiting male instructors and uke.

And going out on a limb with a big target on my back, yes, I could support either an all male or a single race class IF and only if it served a similar purpose, and if the object was to eventually integrate the students into the regular dojo. My very first dojo as a kid was in a very poor city neighborhood church, taught on a volunteer basis, and set up as an outreach mission to bring something positive to the kids in that neighborhood. I got to see and experience first hand the changes that martial arts practice can bring to a kid's life. Sometimes it's worth deviating from the norm to bring something as positive as aikido into someone's life, and I think these ladies may very well be justified in what they're trying to do.

Jennifer Yabut
05-15-2008, 12:02 AM
Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train. Women are neither being prevented from taking the other classes nor are they being forced to take the women's only class. Judith and Jennifer, am I correct in assuming that you are not replacing classes already in existence where male dojo members would lose an opportunity to train? And there are additional intro classes offered as well in which anyone can join?

Thank you, Anne Marie. I think you spelled out the true issue at hand more eloquently than I did. :)

In case I wasn't clear in my initial post, the proposed women's classes would be *in addition* to the already-existing classes. Our dojo recently started two noontime classes which are open to *everyone*. We discussed having the two women's classes *alternating* with the other noontime classes.

And yes...we're also privately discussing having another "intro" class (both men and women) to compliment the beginners classes.

Chris Li...I respect your opinion; however, with all due respect, I don't think you'll ever *really* understand or appreciate the challenges women face in the martial arts. I've had my share of getting hit on and bullying - and some of my male counterparts simply don't understand how...damaging...that crap can be to a woman's psyche. Especially when the offender in question is supposed to be a "teacher".

If I can do something to help more women feel comfortable training in a male-dominated environment, then what is the harm in that? Remember that the goal is to integrate these women into the regular classes...not to keep them permanently segregated. And also keep in mind they have a CHOICE to take these classes or not.

Chris Li
05-15-2008, 12:26 AM
Chris Li...I respect your opinion; however, with all due respect, I don't think you'll ever *really* understand or appreciate the challenges women face in the martial arts. I've had my share of getting hit on and bullying - and some of my male counterparts simply don't understand how...damaging...that crap can be to a woman's psyche. Especially when the offender in question is supposed to be a "teacher".

Well, if I can't *really* understand you then the same must go for you *really* understanding me, and if that's true then you really have no idea what I understand right? As far as I'm concerned, the "you don't *really* understand" argument is basically an attempt to deny that someone else can have a legitimate opinion that disagrees with your own experience.

In any case, I never disagreed with gender separated classes - what I said was that there ought to be a compelling reason for separating the classes or else the damage outweighs the benefits. I'm sorry, but feeling "more comfortable" or trying to increase the gender or race balance in a group that is already fairly well integrated just doesn't seem to meet the bar for me.

Now that may be different than your opinion, but I think that it's a legitimate point of view.

Best,

Chris

Nafis Zahir
05-15-2008, 01:49 AM
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?


You're not going to see it. Men don't mind when women want or have a women's only class. We don't feel left out or think that it's unfair. No matter what the reason they want to do it is, we either encourage them or leave them alone.

numazu
05-15-2008, 05:25 AM
I think the most benefit for women who are a bit timid about trying out Aikido is to have a separate womens beginner class. When they build up their confidence and technique then go and join the main class. Essentially getting into the main class and training with other women and men should be their goal otherwise they might get too comfortable only training with women and that might distort the reality of martial arts (taking care of ones self).
So I support the womens only class for beginners but after that join the others.
p.s. I think alot has to do with the sensei too. If the sensei is good and makes sure nobody is being a bit of a brute then there shouldn't really be a need for a womens only class anyway. The Sensei's I have had were great at making sure everyone respected and looked after each other. Once you get pretty good then you can mutually push each a other a bit more.

Michael Hackett
05-15-2008, 08:27 AM
A friend of mine, a female nidan karateka, teaches at a local dojo and noticed that few women were attending classes for any period of time. She now teaches a "cardio-kickboxing" class a few times a week and it is mostly attended (at least from what I've seen) by women, although a few men work out with her too. That seems to have been a successful introduction to open classes. I've noted a fairly equal demographic when I've visited the regular karate classes. Their school seems to be a fairly rough 'n tumble school with quite a bit of throwing and joint locks in addition to the kata training and kicking and punching stuff karate folks do.

misogi
05-15-2008, 09:46 AM
Anne Marie and Lori - you get the picture and I appreciate your insight - thanks!

Phillip - I understand what you are saying, but we just want to attract people to Aikido. I, as a woman, like the routine and hate cardio-exercise classes. I understand a lot of women enjoy the attractive package of aerobics, kicksersise, legs tums and bums...there are plenty of gyms and clubs offering that. We will be offering Aikido:D

Chris Li - I would never assume to understand you:)

Ron - Henry Smith Sensei is indeed a man who will not tolerate any ungentlemanly behavior - but alas, it still comes to pass. Thanks for your encouragement.

Peace:)

dragonteeth
05-15-2008, 10:19 AM
Oh great. Now I have this vision of aiki-robics stuck in my head...a group of people in powder blue gi and pink hakama with circa-1980s style terry sweat bands, white Reebok tabi boots and leg warmers doing jo kata at a furious pace to Kanye West's "Stronger."

Thanks! :D

Ron Tisdale
05-15-2008, 10:25 AM
EEEEwwwwww......

B,
R ;)

misogi
05-15-2008, 11:55 AM
I love that Lori! Hey, maybe we're actually on to something:D

Michael Hackett
05-15-2008, 12:00 PM
Lori,

THANKS SO MUCH for sharing THAT vision! Oh, the horror, the horror.

Bronson
05-15-2008, 12:07 PM
I've had my share of getting hit on and bullying - and some of my male counterparts simply don't understand how...damaging...that crap can be to a woman's psyche. Especially when the offender in question is supposed to be a "teacher".

So the real core problem is that sometimes the men don't treat the women with respect.

If I can do something to help more women feel comfortable training in a male-dominated environment, then what is the harm in that?

No harm at all, it just isn't fixing the core problem. After, the initial intro to aikido in the all femal classes they will still be fed into the main classes where the men still sometimes aren't treating the women with respect.

Bronson

misogi
05-16-2008, 08:58 AM
The main core problem is not truly known. The observation is - the retention of women is low. We have tried various methods of general retention. More classes. More basics classes - now we are specifically reaching out to women.

As with many dojo, and life in general, there are always a few men who disrespect women. Unfortunately, their actions can be the final push on their way out.

The intention here is not to male bash, or get into a gender discrimination debate. The intention on this forum is to gather useful tips that will help us start a short term women's aikido class

Peace:)

happysod
05-16-2008, 10:47 AM
The intention on this forum is to gather useful tips that will help us start a short term women's aikido class
Well, all I can do is wish you every success and hope you share your observations (good or bad).

My own peripheral experience has only been with a couple of segregated dojos (non-aikido, one female one gay) and there wasn't evidence of any "feeding" into the main association going on until the practitioners had been there for years. To be fair, they did manage to retain some students who I feel may have left if the option wasn't there.

As for the "negative comments" - sorry, but bound to happen. If someone had asked how to attract and retain more martial-orientated young males in aikido , it would have garnered the same amount of controversy. (In fact if you do a quick thread search, you'll find that young aggressive males have been often been singled out as the main problem facing aikido in the 21st century, so may have gained more approbation)

Buck
05-16-2008, 08:18 PM
The main core problem is not truly known. The observation is - the retention of women is low. We have tried various methods of general retention. More classes. More basics classes - now we are specifically reaching out to women.

As with many dojo, and life in general, there are always a few men who disrespect women. Unfortunately, their actions can be the final push on their way out.

The intention here is not to male bash, or get into a gender discrimination debate. The intention on this forum is to gather useful tips that will help us start a short term women's aikido class

Peace:)

I know you don't think my suggestion works and is the way to attract women, but women just aren't attract to an pure Aikido class. Since you tried various things to attack women and they don't seem to work, it was for me, useful to understand what women want is that tightly toned large muscles groups, and low body fat. What they don't want is feeling vulnerable.
See Muay Tai, Tae Bo, kick boxing gives the average women a feeling of empowerment. Aikido gives that power to women when she is the Shi, but then takes that away when a women is the Uke. They get that feeling of vulnerability when being the Uke. Women don't like feeling vulnerable. They don't seek out things that will empower them and the things that will make them feel vulnerable, moreover when feeling vulnerable. They also don't like hiting the ground and having their face where peoples feet have been.

My tip is, that you have to change Aikido for women to attract women to Aikido in the numbers you are looking for. I understand why you don't want to change Aikido in this way, but it might be the only way to get the results you are looking for.

Good luck.

Buck
05-16-2008, 08:37 PM
Judith,

It is pretty powerful that a few men act in a way that upsets you. I see that more as the real issue. It might be a good idea for you to get a class just for women who feel the way you do.

I understand the uncomfortableness a person can experience when others attitudes are upsetting. Bullies in the dojo isn't a nice thing to experience physically or verbally. Bullies can be both male and female who target males or females and both. When faced with someone who harasses others it is best to form your own group getting away from the harasser. I know some people who are targeted will stay and not leave believing any person who attacks them is a bully. Now learning Aikido to deal with bullies is the very reason to go to class, it is empowering to them. So a dojo bully or two is part of practice.

I would suspect that getting more of the type of women you wish in the class would help insulate against the problem males.
Well anyway, I think you have a difficult situation on your hands and the best of luck with getting the type of women you need for your class.

jennifer paige smith
05-18-2008, 10:06 AM
Please take a minute to read this beautiful essay written by George Ledyard. The conversation is still continuing on this acount, and every 'parry (sp.?), block' I've encountered on this particular forum is unified in his essay.

Thanks George (if I may)!!!!

www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7447

Buck
05-18-2008, 04:55 PM
Jennifer,

I am not sure what block and parry you have encountered in this particular form. I don't know what your meaning behind that is. I am unclear if you think my suggestions are an attack on you or women. I hope that is not what you mean.

My suggestions come from two areas, observation, and experience with a women's class that failed. My observations reflect the success the exercise industry has with women. The industry is now trying to attack men! But men aren't going to take a LesMills class or Tae Bo. They rather take a martial arts class, spin class, or hit the weights.

And it has been my experience when I did take a LesMills class at the gym full of women, I wasn't welcomed. I was snubbed and ignored by the women. Being treated poorly, not feeling welcome, and feeling like the enemy, I quit.

Spin classes I notice attract an fair number of both men and women. I joined a spin class and have been comfortable there ever since.

I know women can get just as mean and ugly as men. I have had women Profs in college who favored the good looking males students with higher grades. The women Profs who had a great distain for males and gave them lower grades. I have worked with women who bullied everyone. I have come across all types of women from all over that where completely unique and different.

My point is there is all types of women, and it seems you unintentionally placed women in a narrow field of view. And excluding a wide range of women by not aaccommodating to their needs, and interest. I don't see Aikido notaccommodatingg to women, or picking on them.

Aikido of all the martial arts is very accommodatingg to women. It is just I think not every women is attracted to Aikido, and not because there are some jerk males dominating Aikido, ruining it for all women. The women who are attracted to Aikido and train are not all alike. Women in Aikido come from a diverse wide range of backgrounds and personalities. But these women just are a small number out of the whole wider range and diversity of women.

Take my LesMills class for example, most of the women where jerks, and projected negatively upon me. They were all the same type of women. Women who didn't want anything to do with men being in their class. Whereas, the spin class the women where completely different. They talked to me and welcomed me, and give me tips to besuccessfull in the class. Of course not everyone women was that way, but I didn't get snubbed like I did in the LesMills class.

I don't think you are being flexible enough or open enough to otherpossibilitiess and views. It seems you want to approach your class for women form one angle. And it isn't tips how to start a class you are asking for, but how to get like minded women together who feel they have blocked and parried against male attacks, and are feed up with men in your Aikido class.

Because I don't think there areallott of women in Aikido who have the same experience as you, and not all Aikido dojos give women a hard time, and not all women see things the same way, is what I am saying and is not an attack on you from me that you need to block or parry. I just offering my experience and insight to those road blocks that make it tough for you to get what will make you comfortable and enjoy Aikido.

I am all for a all women's Aikido class. I am all for all men's Aikido class too. I am foraccommodatingg to all types of women and men in Aikido. And in no way, would I very say anything you would have to block or parry. I seek to harmonize.

jennifer paige smith
05-18-2008, 07:06 PM
Hi Buck,
Nothing personal.

You happened to be at a point near the post when it went on this forum.

If you'd like to contact me personally please PM me and you can ask or tell me anything you'd like.

It is a wonderful article and I hope any readers who visit this thread will check it out.

www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7447
Best,
Jen

Mike Sigman
05-20-2008, 11:59 AM
This might be worth a read:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/05/18/the_freedom_to_say_no/?page=full

Lyle Bogin
05-20-2008, 02:36 PM
Although I can think of many reasons to have an all women's class (my own wife would never do something as intimate as aikido with another dude, especially some sweaty mug she just met), the best reason is simply because you think it would be good for you and your dojo.

My main question is will there be a "mommy and me" thing going on, it is it just for the moms. Kids and moms all together...that's a mental workout for sure! Most of those kids of programs are set up that way to attract a mid-day audience. If that's the goal than including stay at home dads (I am one all summer) would be nice.

However, if no kids are involved then a women's only class makes total sense to me. Aikido is a scary venture, and a bit more emotional safety, especially at the beginning, is always a good thing.

Go for it and good luck!

Buck
05-20-2008, 07:30 PM
http://www.sierrasun.com/article/20080515/COMMUNITY/492350390

For your internet reading pleasure this is worth a read too. I think between the link Mike gave and mine both support my line of thinking for those women who want to start a women's class.

I still stand by the opinion that Aikido is one of the most women friendly martial arts out there. And it is a tough venture to get women interested in martial arts. Aikido does better at keeping women too, but it is a tough venture to keep women interested. Even with all the opportunity presented to women to train the numbers of women in Aikido are not high. What a hurdle to those women wanting a class.

I would think because of the low number of women in the dojo it doesn't help to get the unique contributions women can make as Ledyard senesi has said. This doesn't make Aikido as inclusive as it could be.

The question then is how do you get more women interested and stay in Aikido? It may be hard to hear but you have to court women by what interests them. Aikido as it traditionally stands doesn't court or cater to the interests of women. This means I think that the small number of women in Aikido have to work harder in some dojos. It is an unfortunate event, it maybe women themselves who cause the low numbers of women in Aikido.

Buck
05-20-2008, 07:56 PM
It has just been brought to my attention that another hurdle faced by an Aikido women's class is that there are women who don't want to be taught by another women. How high that hurdle is I don't know but I am sure there is some truth to that.

Women are very complex in what attracts and makes them commit to something. I am glad women are in Aikido, I don't know if the numbers will ever be high enough to match the number of males. The point being that a women's traditional Aikido class is going to be small in numbers, and may not last as long as it should no matter what the analysis is, or how wide the doors are open.

Janet Rosen
05-20-2008, 07:59 PM
It is an unfortunate event, it maybe women themselves who cause the low numbers of women in Aikido.
HUH? In every dojo I've been at, in every style, and be it as a member or a one time guest, female sempai were welcoming and sharing and female kohei were happy to see somebody else more advanced.

I think aikido, esp the examples set by the leading instructors both male and female I've met, is very inclusive - I see women advancing through the ranks, I see women called upon equally with men of the same rank for demo ukes, etc.

So I agree that having an all womans short introductory class may serve to bring in women who might otherwise be hesitant, I really don't see aikido as a problem for women. There are individual dojo cultures that are a problem (bullies or whatever) but overall I don't see any problem inherent within the art or in terms of the examples set by most high ranking instructors.

Buck
05-20-2008, 08:09 PM
http://www.sierrasun.com/article/20080515/COMMUNITY/492350390

It is an unfortunate event, it maybe women themselves who cause the low numbers of women in Aikido.

Because of women's lack of interest in Aikido as taught traditionally.

I see that I needed to finish my thought.

misogi
05-21-2008, 07:12 AM
There are plenty of men who are not interested in Aikido - they think it is too soft, or not a real martial art. I understand all your points Buck. We do think differently and we are complex. Even complex enough to find Aikido fascinating and addicting. It is after all a martial ART. We want to attract the women who are interested in Aikido, they may be few, but we want them all:)

Secondly, on the subject of women in science - Nursing is a science that is flooded by women - I guess that depends on how science is defined...;)

Peace

Jennifer Yabut
05-21-2008, 09:19 AM
HUH? In every dojo I've been at, in every style, and be it as a member or a one time guest, female sempai were welcoming and sharing and female kohei were happy to see somebody else more advanced.

I think aikido, esp the examples set by the leading instructors both male and female I've met, is very inclusive - I see women advancing through the ranks, I see women called upon equally with men of the same rank for demo ukes, etc.

That has also been my personal experience as well. I trained in TKD as a teenager, and sexism was MUCH more rampant - or at least in that particular dojang.

Aside from the few times I've been hit on and bullied (by the same person), most of my interactions with male students and instructors have been very positive. And I also get called up to uke for techniques on a fairly regular basis.

My female sempai have also been very supportive. :)

So I agree that having an all womans short introductory class may serve to bring in women who might otherwise be hesitant, I really don't see aikido as a problem for women. There are individual dojo cultures that are a problem (bullies or whatever) but overall I don't see any problem inherent within the art or in terms of the examples set by most high ranking instructors.

I would also say that is something we are trying to address as well. As Judith pointed out earlier, our dojo has had a reputation for being rather "rough", which attracted quite a few big burly guys - but also put-off a few women as well. We have been working on changing that impression, and hopefully bringing in some more female students as a result. The art itself doesn't have to be "fixed". ;)

jennifer paige smith
05-21-2008, 09:28 AM
HUH? In every dojo I've been at, in every style, and be it as a member or a one time guest, female sempai were welcoming and sharing and female kohei were happy to see somebody else more advanced.

I think aikido, esp the examples set by the leading instructors both male and female I've met, is very inclusive - I see women advancing through the ranks, I see women called upon equally with men of the same rank for demo ukes, etc.

So I agree that having an all womans short introductory class may serve to bring in women who might otherwise be hesitant, I really don't see aikido as a problem for women. There are individual dojo cultures that are a problem (bullies or whatever) but overall I don't see any problem inherent within the art or in terms of the examples set by most high ranking instructors.

Affirmative, yeah-huh. It's aikido. good 'ol aikido. Love it, love it, love it.........

Buck
05-21-2008, 07:55 PM
Wow, the estrogen level in the room!

I didn't know this thread was really about women and sexism- I really not good at the "War Of The Roses" game. I am about getting women into the dojo and experiencing Aikido. I don't want to get into discussions about divisions. I would like to focus the discussion on how to get women interested in Aikido by starting a women's class.

I personally would like to see more women in Aikido, women of different backgrounds, different ethnicity. I have one- on the fence reservation I didn't mention. Sitting in the back of my mind is, the risk of a special Aikido group being exclusive to one type of person, thought, politics, etc. I don't think that is the direction of unification, but an opportunity for division. I am not completely against a women's class, if it is done to get women interested in Aikido. I cross my fingers that it wouldn't turn into something else. Something that Aikido isn't about. I don't have issues with women in Aikido.

A friendly FWI, when the discussion turns into a us vs. them, well am not interested in going in endless circles. I am interested in solving problems, getting results, finding answers, building bridges where there wasn't one before. I focus on the postive. That is what Aikido has taught me and I want to share that. That is what I am about.

Guilty Spark
05-27-2008, 12:24 AM
An all women class compared to an 'all white' class is like apples and tomatos.

AsimHanif
05-27-2008, 04:04 PM
I'm reading this thread and I can't help but wonder about names like Ozeki, Keller, DiAnne, Hendricks, Fujitani and Matsuo Sensei and the effect of a lack of substantial women's presence during their training careers.
I happen to think people either want to do aikido or they don't, regardless of demographics. I also think being a minority many times spurs you to prove you belong.

my dime.
Asim

dragonteeth
05-27-2008, 06:03 PM
I happen to think people either want to do aikido or they don't, regardless of demographics.

I completely agree.

However, I gather that in this particular case they feel that women are getting enough grief from certain individuals in class because they are female that they don't stick around long enough to make that decision. If the new women can have a chance to learn what aikido is about and get a true taste of it without having to deal with that issue, then they can make a better determination as to whether aikido is something they would want to pursue. Once they have made the decision to pursue it, they will hopefully grow to a point where the hassle of dealing with those individuals will seem a small thing in comparison to the joy of training. Then they should be able to successfully integrate with the class at large. Something tells me that if the particular situation that they have alluded to in their dojo did not exist (or was solved), these ladies might consider having the women's class unnecessary.

Of course I could be wrong - wouldn't be the first time! ;)

AsimHanif
05-27-2008, 07:30 PM
Hi Lori/All,
of course I can't speak to their specific situation but I know that dojo pretty well. I've trained there a good amount of time over the years. I believe I even trained with Jennifer at a recent seminar in MD. My impression of some of the senior male aikidoka in that dojo is they are an energetic bunch not necessarily 'rough' as a group. But of course, I'm not there regularly.
My advice would be to anyone who feels like a club is not addressing their needs...open your own and create the type of environment you seek. You may find a whole new set of challenges await.

Asim

Jennifer Yabut
05-27-2008, 08:08 PM
Hi Lori/All,
of course I can't speak to their specific situation but I know that dojo pretty well. I've trained there a good amount of time over the years. I believe I even trained with Jennifer at a recent seminar in MD. My impression of some of the senior male aikidoka in that dojo is they are an energetic bunch not necessarily 'rough' as a group. But of course, I'm not there regularly.

You were also at Jane Ozeki's seminar? Not sure if I remember you or not.

In case I haven't made myself clear, I really *like* where I train, and I like most all the folks I train with - male and female. But unfortunately, we've had problems keeping female students (like many other dojos), and we're simply trying remedy this. :)

And to address your other post, have you ever seen the "Holding Up Half the Sky" video? DiAnne, Ozeki, and eight other high-ranked female instructors are featured in that video. Something that DiAnne said during her interview struck me. She talked about how she *didn't* have any female role models when she first started training, and how she wasn't looking to be a "role model" herself - but it just happened. Others in that video talked about how important it is for women to have female role models to look up to.

Over the past year, I've had the opportunity to attend seminars held by female instructors (Lia Suzuki, Lorraine DiAnne, Jane Ozeki, Barbara Britton, Julia Freedgood, and Fiona Blyth). I really wish that more female instructors would do seminars, but as Ozeki pointed out to me recently, most of them have day jobs (she's a full-time teacher and only teaches one class a week at NY Aikikai), and there aren't many female full-time instructors. However, if today's female students continue to be exposed to these high-ranking women, maybe *some* of them *will* be inspired enough to stay in Aikido for the long run. Women generally *do* have a harder way to go with their training, and it *does* help knowing that others have traveled that same path and became successful.

Which leads back to the original intent of these classes...getting more women to come through the door. What happens from there is entirely up to them...

AsimHanif
05-27-2008, 11:21 PM
Hi Jennifer.
The implied question in my earlier post was ‘did not having a substantial female presence have an impact on their own training'…not whether or not having female role models is good. Of course it's always encouraging to see others you can relate to that serve to inspire. But I could only imagine that as a woman, training with a Paul Sylvain or a Bruce Bookman would push you in any number of ways; just as I make efforts to train with those who are bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced than me.

The attraction to aikido for me was….aikido itself. Many times I was the only person of color in a dojo and at times I was not treated well. The people I bonded with were not necessarily people who ‘looked' like me but people who shared similar experiences.

In my dojo we have a good cross section of people, which I'm most proud of. They all train for different reasons and it's great to see them guide new people coming in. At the same time we don't sugar coat what we do or how we train. We may not be the place for everyone…that's fine with us. For us it's not about the numbers, it's about the training…period. In any event, I believe the dojo members create the environment that make PEOPLE feel welcome or not.

So with regards to various promos to get in a certain demographic through the doors…like the old saying goes…"you can lead a horse to water….."

Yes, I was at Capital. Jane O Sensei was great. And much success on whatever course of action you choose.

Asim

barbaraknapp
05-28-2008, 11:21 PM
Hi
someone may have already said this, if so I apologize - I don't have time to read the whole thread! I have trained in womens classes and started one (more than one? I can't remember), and thought I would pass on some things I learned -
- a women's class sometimes sets up more problems than it solves. If it is going to make bad feelings in the dojo it isn't worth it. Everybody's training will suffer.
- If the dojo is very supportive of women's training, you probably don't need a women's class: if it is not, a women's class probably will create problems.
- I am also not sure women's classes are really all that good for the women in them. Better ways to do it might be to offer classes at times more women can come, or offer a babysitter during class. You might end up with a class that is mostly women.
- Finally, I believe women take our cue from what we see happening to women who have been around awhile at the dojo. If there are strong women getting promoted to higher ranks, teaching, taking ukemi at demonstrations, and enjoying themselves, then we feel safe. If there are not...a women's class won't help.
on the whole, I don't think its a good idea.

Enrique Antonio Reyes
06-13-2008, 07:08 PM
We once planned to introduce an all women's class but apparently my partners have a more commercialized idea of the class so eventually I had to beg off. They said that (as physical trainers) women like choreography...so you might want to incorporate more dynamic exercises in the warm-ups...just a thought.

Iking

AnniN
10-09-2008, 02:20 PM
I'd just like to add my humble opinion as well:

I myself probably wouldn't be tempted by an all-womens class... Probably because I enjoy training with men, if I can do a technique on them it means it's really working :) Plus, I myself enjoy the traditional martial arts atmosphere in the dojo and would not want to change it to a more-appealing-to-women direction. I also dish out "watch us slam the crap out of her"-type humor quite often:D (I can't remember who posted that or the exact words, but anyway...) I also enjoy slamming the crap out of guys ;)

I've never had any issues with bullying or disrespect or anything like that. Everyone in our dojo is absolutely wonderful and I am good friends with all of them. everyone is polite and respects each other, its as if I had a lot of brothers and uncles :)

But I do understand that some women might feel intimidated by martial arts (whatever the reason, training with men or the fear of it being hard and painful or whatever). I also understand that it's not about segregation or discrimination or sexism...So I think the idea of a women's intro class a could be good way to encourage women who might at first feel awkward. I think offering this option would be a good way to build their confidence a little so they'll feel more comfortable in a mixed class... of course, there are probably many women like myself to whom training with big guys has never been an issue :D

Jacqueline von Arb
01-02-2009, 04:14 PM
I am a bit afraid, though, that it would be teaching these women 'aikido with a crutch' - and getting rid of the crutch could be harder than blending in from the start.

But by all means, Jennifer, as long as the intention is to funnel the students into main student body - go ahead and give it a try. Who are we to say it won't work at your dojo? (please come back and tell us how it went! we might be the ones to learn something from your experience!)

Jacqueline

Jacqueline von Arb
01-02-2009, 04:23 PM
I just had a couple of ideas of alternatives (that could apply to all beginners, not only one demographic) - I haven't seen these mentioned or practiced anywhere, so I'd love to hear if any dojo has tried this:

- add or replace a half-hour of the (co-ed) beginners or introductory weeks (before or after keiko) to also introduce the principles of aikido (lecture or discussion) - not only the on-mat techniques. I'll bet ladies will do just as well as their male counterparts in discussing these and perhaps the confidence will trickle unto the mats?

or

- introduce the concept of mentorship to the dojo:
assign a more advanced student to each of the new beginners. As in other mentorships, women should mentor other women, and men should mentor men. Also, it would perhaps be a good idea to establish a do's and don'ts of mentorship (what makes a good mentor), and/or a list of topics to cover during the mentorship period (lasting as long as the introductory class until the beginner feels confortable). Some newbies won't need a mentor for long, and that's ok too.

I see great benefits for the advanced students in awareness (taking part in establishing what the list should be, f.ex.), taking ownership in the responsibility to ensure the welcome, safe-feeling and integration of newbies, and getting to practice relational aikido in addition to techniques in the process.

As for the feasibility of those 2 alternatives? Has anyone tried anything like it?

Phil Van Treese
05-11-2009, 02:10 PM
Good idea if there are enough women who would like it. I guess some women feel intimidated by working out with a bunch of guys. I have 1 lady in my aikido class that just walked in one day and said teach me aikido. She's been with us ever since and loves working with the guys. When I asked her why she walked into a "all male dojo" she simply said that she needed to practise on us so if she would ever get jumped, she could take care of herself. Her words exactly. She is an instructor's dream. Absorbs everything, always gives 125% and leaves class smiling. She is a real trooper!!!!

Ron Tisdale
05-11-2009, 03:02 PM
Jennifer,

Did you start the class?

Did it last?

Were you happy with the results?

Best,
Ron

Arashi Kumomura
05-12-2009, 12:29 AM
I was about to respond with a bunch of personal suggestions before I realized how old this thread was.

But, I'll throw in a couple of pennies, anyway.

I think starting an all-female introductory class could be a good idea. It does limit the practitioners and it does segregate, but it also encourages people to start something new, and in this case, that new thing is Aikido.

Ultimately, it would be best to practice among people of all shapes and sizes. This wouldn't be achieved by forming a female-only school, but those serious enough to continue training would most likely seek a more advanced dojo and thus meet a wider variety of partners.

There are a lot of people who won't join a dojo or martial art because of their supposed "intensity" (so I assume), more so when speaking about women. I think this intimidation is decreased when the class in question is an all-female class and it introduces them to a world they may otherwise never see.

I'm also curious as to how the classes went. Let us know if you're around, Jennifer.

dalen7
05-30-2009, 12:59 PM
Sounds cool, hope the best in your endeavor.

From my experience I can say we have had 2 women total since i have been at the local dojo. One was there for about 6 months and disappeared. The other one comes in once in a few months, may come a couple of times and another long break.]

And the daughter dojo is made up of kids, with 3 teenagers, one of them female, an older man, and an adult woman. From the times I have been there the adult woman has not shown up often, but the teenage girl has.

I dont know, but the environment isnt quite right for female students in our dojo...not saying that cant change, but there would have to be some adjustments...which led me to consider what I would do if I had a dojo...

First I would definitely consider having a class for anyone [male or female] who dont want the roughed up MMA feel. Then I would have a separate class for those who want to pound on each other and work out each others joints till they dont function properly. :D [just kidding, but the point is there.]

Ultimately it would be nice to have both classes combined, at least to create softness and awareness in the rougher classes - and help some the softer classes to go beyond the fluidity to truly applying of the body mechanics on larger people till they feel it. [a lot of the time a lady will put a move on a guy and he will go down for the heck of it..or even men with men...Ive seen it with the latter a lot - sometimes, I will resist until they figure out it isnt ballet and there is a reason Ill go down or not. [actually I would like to take ballet, I think it would help my aikido...those guys/gals have strong legs!]

At the end, each dojo will figure out what they need, the vibe will draw or push people away. [I would hope to be open enough to draw both crowds, but we will see..Im still 'new' at this. ;)

Again, good luck!

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
Just saw this was older post...need to start looking at the time stamp.

Linda Eskin
05-30-2009, 01:48 PM
We were just having an informal discussion of this today at the dojo. I was sitting out the class with an injury, and I brought 2 guests, 1 woman, 1 man, to check out Aikido & my dojo. One of the 2 women (out of 8 students) participating in the class happened to mention while we were chatting that it would be nice to get more women into the school.

I understand the desire to attract more women to the school, and to Aikido, but the ratio isn't a distraction/issue for me. As one who has been into ham radio, flying, mechanical engineering, and programming I'm used the being the only woman in the room/company/class. The female friend I brought is of a similar temperament. We would probably not even notice "oh, hey, look... I'm the only woman here," unless someone pointed it out. We're used to ratios of 100:1. Hey, shorter lines for the ladies' room! ;-)

Regarding the idea of a women-only class, I don't like it. I would be put off by seeing that at a dojo, for several reasons. I would wonder why women are separated from the "normal" classes - are they not welcome, or capable? I'd worry about what I'd be missing by being in what I would assume would be a watered-down, lower-expectation class. I don't want to learn "Women's Aikido" for the same reason I would never by a "Lady's Tool Kit." The assumption is that it's not quite the real thing.

That said, I think the problem could be addressed by simply renaming the class, and including men. I know men (moreso than women) who are not interested in Aikido because they don't want to get hurt being thrown around, and who are probably intimidated by the idea of being awkward beginners around a bunch of hardcore jocks. ;-) Men and women with these concerns could be "brought into the fold" through a class called something like "A Non-threatening Introduction to Aikido," or "Aikido - Breath and Blending," or whatever.

When I was in college there was a physics class that didn't require math. It was about the principles and ideas - not the calculations. It wasn't called "Physics for Women" (horrors), it was called "Physics for Poets." I'm sure it attracted lots of women, and probably also men, and the name wasn't offensive or exclusive. I think the same idea could be applied to an Aikido class, with better results.

kartoffelngeist
05-31-2009, 03:43 PM
I've been considering this for a while with kendo. First off, it's a university club, so there are a lot of people about who are potentially interested in starting something new,
A lot of women/girls I've spoken to about it won't go along for the simple reason that there aren't enough girls there. I know a lot who say they would come along if one of their (female) friends went with them. As soon as they come in to the dojo, they see a bunch of men smacking each other about, and most are put off by this atmosphere.
So I've been wondering for a while about having a female only class, probably just as a one off. It has nothing to do with any great ideology, just that girls don't always feel comfortable in a male dominated atmosphere, especially one which seems aggressive (which it's really not).

Maybe the context of a university club is slightly different, but I think the idea's good.

Anita Dacanay
02-24-2010, 05:00 AM
Chris, I understand where you're coming from, but I completely agree with and support Jennifer's ideas.

I am a 43year old Mom, a 5'4" girly girl with no prior m.a. experience before Aikido. I would never have had the nerve to walk into a dojo and hop onto the mat with 6 or 8 guys who towered over me. Way too intimidating. The only way I started Aikido was to join in kids' classes with my son, and only then with lots of playful prodding from his Sensei, whom I trusted.

After a month or two of getting my feet wet with the kids, I began to take beginner's classes. Then I began to take advanced classes. Now I routinely walk into the dojo to train with 6 or 8 guys who tower over me, and I am grateful because I know that if I don't get the technique right, it won't work. I get a lot out of my training.

I'm sorry, but of course there are gender politics involved, as well as physiology. Most women are shorter than most men, and they generally have less upper body strength. Women are still socially conditioned to be more passive/submissive, while men are still conditioned to be more aggressive. Of course these are generalizations, but they are generalizations based on current reality.

I love my dojo brothers dearly, but I do get sick of being the only woman on Monday nights sometimes. Geez, it'd just be nice to have someone to chat with in the dressing room! I think there are a lot of women who could really derive great satisfaction from Aikido, and who could contribute greatly to the art, but they might need a bit more accommodation, encouragement, and nurturing in order to give it a serious go. Offering all women's classes are a great idea toward achieving that end.

Where imbalance exists, it might take some effort directed towards swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction in order to achieve harmony.

My 2 cents as a beginner who might easily have never begun, but who is so glad that she did.

Good luck with your efforts, Jennifer!

Anita Dacanay
02-25-2010, 03:32 AM
Sorry for the double-post - but I just realized how very old this thread is! lol - Maybe a good idea to check the date before I post next time.

I'm still interested in the idea of all-womens classses, and how that has gone for others. It's something I have mused about repeatedly as a way to introduce more women to Aikido.

If you're out there: Barbara, I'd like to know the specifics of how bad feelings were created in the dojo by having an all-womens class? What kind of bad feelings and why? It seems to me that if it would work towards the end of getting more people into the dojo, that the class would be a good thing for the dojo. Were there issues about who was using the mat when? Did the guys feel discriminated against? What happened?

I suppose I came far too late to this party, but the subject still interests me; so if anyone else has info or experiences that haven't already been covered in the existing six pages...please enlighten me! Thank You.

Trish Greene
02-25-2010, 01:06 PM
I must have been blessed, I started out as the only women in the dojo several years ago and have never had an issue working out with the guys. I only had one case where a kokyo throw banged up my nose a bit ( I am short! He forgot to adjust for height!) but other then that, no real injuries to speak and no "uncomfortable" male/female issues!

There are a lot of ladies who work out at the dojo now! However I have taken about a 4 month break but am looking to get back on the mat soon.

lbb
02-25-2010, 01:47 PM
If you're out there: Barbara, I'd like to know the specifics of how bad feelings were created in the dojo by having an all-womens class? What kind of bad feelings and why? It seems to me that if it would work towards the end of getting more people into the dojo, that the class would be a good thing for the dojo. Were there issues about who was using the mat when? Did the guys feel discriminated against? What happened?

Not Barbara, but here's my observations. IME, almost all men get a little bit weird about a women's class...not necessarily what I'd call "bad feelings", but just...weird. Like, they can't keep from making remarks about being "excluded", even in a joking way...or they ask "So what do you DO anyway?" (oh, we sit around and TALK ABOUT YOU). I don't know, the whole thing seems to have some weird fascination for them, which I sort of understand intellectually and sort of don't get at all. We had no problems with any men seriously alleging discrimination or getting cranky and complainy about it, and they were all supportive of it...but with the majority of the men, this weird thing would still show up from time to time, like they regarded it as somehow strange and alien. No, guys, it's just women doing aikido, that's all.

Eric Winters
03-03-2010, 11:59 AM
I think it depends on the focus of the women's training class. I think it is great to get women more comfortable with training in a MA but after 6 months and if the focus is self defense then they should definitely be in the general class training with men. This is very important because most women get attacked by men. If the focus is not self defense then more power to ya. In the dojos I have been in the men did not have a problem training with women. Probably because I have had three women teachers (Pat Hendricks, Linda Holiday and Kayla Fader) :)

Best,

Eric Winters

Anita Dacanay
03-04-2010, 07:20 PM
Mary - thank you for responding to my query. The "weird" feelings as you describe them seem as though they would be pretty easy to handle. The "bad" feelings that Barbara described seem a bit more intense/difficult than that.

Eric, I agree that women should practice with men from a martial standpoint. But the other side of that coin is that women who have actually been abused or assaulted by men in the past might be able to get a great deal from the practice of Aikido, but may be the very ones who aren't too excited about hopping onto the mat with a bunch of guys they don't know.

I know that one of the gifts I am receiving from Aikido is developing a sense of "owning" my own body and my own energy. A woman who has felt violated/small/weak stands to gain a huge benefit from what Aikido can offer. But only if she is willing to confront her own fear, and only if she has a totally safe and supportive environment in which to confront those fears. For some women that might mean an all-women's class.

P.S. Eric, I was lucky enough to take a class from Kayla Feder recently. She's an inspiration for sure!

lbb
03-05-2010, 08:29 AM
Hi Anita: "weird" may even be overstating the case...maybe "puzzling" is a better word, as in, it's a puzzling reaction. It was more a reaction of curiosity, like there had to be something different about a women's class! And of course, there is a difference -- that men aren't present -- but what does that imply about how the class is different? I don't think there is a valid generalization, honestly -- it all comes down to specific situations.

I also wonder if the reaction I'm talking about is nothing more than sincerely well-meaning men asking themselves if they are the source of a problem. I wonder if a women's class makes these men ask themselves if they're doing something to make it difficult or challenging for women to train. In the case of the men I'm thinking of, I'd say the answer is, "No, not really" -- but I can understand how asking yourself that question would not be a comfortable thing.

Ron Tisdale
03-05-2010, 10:45 AM
Heh, none of the GOOD questions are comfortable. :D

Best,
Ron

Anita Dacanay
03-05-2010, 01:34 PM
Mary, I understand what you are saying, and I think it is clear from the responses in this thread that the very idea of a women's class sparks a lot of questioning and some discomfort for a lot of people. All the more reason why I think it is an important discussion.

Ron - I tend to agree!

phitruong
03-05-2010, 02:05 PM
Heh, none of the GOOD questions are comfortable. :D

Best,
Ron

you meant "no good questions are comfortable" :)

personally, i am very comfortable with uncomfortable questions and you should too, for example,

are you good or evil? answer: yes
are you a man or a woman? answer: yes
are you wearing skirt or pant? answer: yes
:p

Barbara Knapp
03-06-2010, 05:02 PM
Hi Anita,
Its been awhile, and I can't find my original post, but I think I meant just about what you and Mary have described - just imagine how you might feel if some men decided to take a class night to have a class where men could just train with each other and not have to deal with women. Losing a night, feeling excluded, feeling put down perhaps...even if it were not because " some men are afraid of (don't like) women" which might not be an easy thing to hear and accept. (I do understand there is a difference between the two situations, you don't have to tell me.) I think all-women's classes can be valuable. They were for me when I started. I am wary of them because I have come to believe that anything that creates divisions in a dojo that is avoidable is best avoided. That would include failing to invite everybody around when going out after class, it doesn't have to be something deep: but that's another topic. Starting a women's class because women at a dojo are already uncomfortable is I think problematic - and makes more discomfort in the long run. Starting one to help women who are afraid to start make a beginning might be a good idea, if the whole dojo is in support of it and it doesn't become a separate track long term. But in any case different situations call for different solutions, and my experience may not apply to your situation at all.

lbb
03-06-2010, 06:44 PM
Starting a women's class because women at a dojo are already uncomfortable is I think problematic - and makes more discomfort in the long run.

I can think of several reasons why women already at a dojo might be uncomfortable training in classes with men...but honestly, I can't think of any reasons that would best be addressed by a women's class.

Anita Dacanay
03-07-2010, 04:08 AM
Thanks, Barbara. What I am gleaning from your posts is that if everyone at the dojo is not supportive of the idea of a women's class, then it can serve to create even more division. (Or maybe highlight the divisions that already exist?)

As far as my situation goes, right now I am just happy that I get to practice Aikido at all. I think it is a privilege just to have the chance to learn and get onto the mat with people who have many years of experience to share with me. I am lucky that even without a women's class, I had enough support to get onto the mat for the first time even though it was scary to me. Once I did that, my own fascination and stubbornness took over. :)

Right now I am still absorbing a lot and feel like a "baby" in my Aikido studies. But I am hoping that in the future at some point, I can find a way to show a bit more leadership in inviting more people into the dojo, hence my curiosity on how this particular venture has gone for other people.

Shadowfax
03-07-2010, 02:03 PM
Speaking as a woman who has plenty of reason to be uncomfortable training with men I have to say that I would not want to be in an all woman's class. Yes there are time when I get very nervous and sometimes even scared but that's why I am there. To work through it and learn how to deal with it. Avoiding the thing you are afraid of will not help you to overcome the fear. Fortunately I have some really wonderful teachers who are aware that I have these issues and are able to help me. I think the men I train with are terrific too, even if they don't really quite know why I freeze up on them sometimes. They are always willing to work through it with me and help me to continue to learn.

If the dojo had an all women's class to start with I don't know I may or may not have gone that route but I don't think it would have been a great benefit to me as compared to training in a regular mixed dojo.

lbb
03-07-2010, 03:19 PM
Speaking as a woman who has plenty of reason to be uncomfortable training with men I have to say that I would not want to be in an all woman's class. Yes there are time when I get very nervous and sometimes even scared but that's why I am there. To work through it and learn how to deal with it. Avoiding the thing you are afraid of will not help you to overcome the fear.

Well, first off, "uncomfortable training with men" doesn't necessarily mean "scared". Most (if not all) of the people reading this come from societies that have few contexts where extensive physical contact between men and women occurs without at least the question of sexuality coming into it. The dojo is different, but people don't simply drop their socialization at the dojo door. Many women may find that a women's class makes it easier to take the step of studying a martial art, simply because all the man-woman issues are absent.

As to when fear is the issue -- what worked for you will work for some women who have "plenty of reasons to be uncomfortable training with men", but not for others. I've known many people who were traumatized by various experiences, who doggedly tried to follow the old adages about "facing your fears" and "getting back on the horse", and had it backfire in spectacularly ugly ways. I think that most people who are truly traumatized (as opposed to a momentary, one-time bad experience) need some time to let it alone...which some might label as "avoiding the thing you are afraid of". I think that's simplistic -- people need time to heal. Do we say that someone who crashed their bike and broke their collarbone is "avoiding the thing you are afraid of" if they don't hop right back up and get on that bike, broken collarbone and all?

Aversion is a normal reaction to trauma, and it's often a very functional reaction. "But what if someone never gets past that stage?" you may say. I say that "never" is a long time, and it only comes when someone is dead. In the meantime, they're on their own clock, just as we all are. Everyone who's been through trauma walks a different path: there is no universal road and there is no set time schedule. What may seem like a detour to someone else, could in fact be this person's most direct path to healing and moving on.

Anita Dacanay
03-07-2010, 06:38 PM
Mary, I agree with everything you just said.

Shadowfax
03-07-2010, 07:38 PM
Ok Mary let me put it this way. Traumatized might be a mild way to put it. If you can imagine it I have probably experienced it. I really would rather not go into detail as to just what it is I have experienced in my life but let me reassure you I do know what it is to experience trauma on a rather large scale and not just one kind. Physical (both kinds), verbal, and emotional assaults (by multiple people) have been a large part of my early life. Maybe there are people who have been through worse. I'm sure there are. But I'm not talking about one time events or the usual ugly boyfriend type experience we all hear about. When I say uncomfortable I don't just mean its not fun for me. The word was my way of avoiding coming closer to the actual truth so that I would not have to bring to conscious memory those things which I would prefer to forget. Trust me I do understand what fear is. I also realize that not everyone has the strength to stand up to and face what they are afraid of. I was simply posting my personal point of view on the subject.

Just popped in here to say I had to laugh when I got to tonight's class and realized that the only people to show were me, my sensei Tara and one other woman who is prepping for her sandan test. So I had my first all girls class tonight. Enjoyed it very much but I still think I would not want to do it all the time.

Anita Dacanay
03-08-2010, 04:50 AM
Hope you had a fun all-girls class, Cherie! :D

I think it's fantastic that Aikido has helped you face your fears, but I also think that Mary's point was: to each her own path. What has worked for you may not work for others, and that doesn't necessarily mean that those others are not "strong". There are many, many different ways for a woman to be strong.

I am glad that you know and acknowledge your own strength. Good for you.

Shadowfax
03-08-2010, 05:31 AM
I did have a fun class. But then girls or guys or both I have never not had a fun class. ;)

I'm not sure I would say aikido has helped me face my fears so much as I face them myself by choosing to take aikido. It certainly has helped me in many ways though. I also have some experience dealing with and helping other women through and past other kinds of fears. Funny how the proverb about falling off a horse was mentioned. That's what I do.

After a riding accident that came very close to breaking my back it took me 6 years to regain my confidence with horses. How did I do it? Well it turned out that the only real way is to continue to ride. To have lots and lots of positive successful rides but that still didn't quite do the trick. What did the trick after all those positive rides was for me to fall off the horse again and realize it would not kill me to do so. I only partially dislocated a shoulder that time. ;) Aikido has completed the job by teaching me that falling is no big deal and teaching me how to fall and refining my sense of center.

Since then I have worked with other women with their fear and have seen them successfully overcome it. One of them has not yet fallen. In the 4 years I've worked with her, she also has slowly progressed and has now got confidence where she once had constant fear and worry. She also has learned through experiencing and getting successfully through the things that once scared her. If another way works for someone else that's great but I have a hard time see what other way would work so well.

lbb
03-08-2010, 06:50 AM
Ok Mary let me put it this way. Traumatized might be a mild way to put it. If you can imagine it I have probably experienced it. I really would rather not go into detail

Then don't feel you must. I didn't ask. I simply made the point that it's inaccurate to generalize from your personal experience: what was effective for you, may well be the exact wrong thing for someone else to do.

Trust me I do understand what fear is. I also realize that not everyone has the strength to stand up to and face what they are afraid of. I was simply posting my personal point of view on the subject.

Cherie, I really think this is a simplistic way of looking at things. I hear this as a statement like, "Every problem is a nail. How do I know this? Because I have this awesome hammer, and it can whack the everlovin' crap out of all those nails!" I would never suggest discarding a tool that has proven to be useful...but I think it's also important to recognize that even the most powerful tool can't solve every problem, and may be a spectacularly bad idea for some. You will most likely come to encounter problems in life that refuse to be solved by vigorous application of your "hammer", but even if you don't, I assure you that other people have. If you don't see them whackin' away at their problems, it isn't because they're not "strong enough" -- it's because they know that you don't use a hammer if the problem isn't a nail.

bulevardi
03-08-2010, 08:23 AM
If I start a only-men-class. It would be sexistic and all women will say it's not fair.
But if there is a only-women-class, it should be okay? :D

lbb
03-08-2010, 09:35 AM
If I start a only-men-class. It would be sexistic and all women will say it's not fair.
But if there is a only-women-class, it should be okay? :D

Why are you asking a question that has almost certainly been addressed at great length in this thread?

bulevardi
03-11-2010, 05:32 AM
Why are you asking a question that has almost certainly been addressed at great length in this thread?

Are you worried about my reading comprehension?

lbb
03-11-2010, 07:35 AM
Are you worried about my reading comprehension?

No, I'm just asking why you're asking a question that has almost certainly been addressed at length in this thread. If you've read those comments, and have some disagreement or question with them, why not state it? And if you haven't read them, why not do so?

RED
03-11-2010, 08:56 AM
burn o_o

ninjaqutie
03-11-2010, 11:10 AM
The only thing that would cause me to be uncomfortable working with a man is if I was doing jujitsu and had head head inbetween my legs. That might make me a bit uncomfortable. Other then that, I actually prefer working with sweaty men most of the time. They are stronger then me and I can't muscle my way through the technique as easily (if at all). I do however apprciate working with women, but it doesn't happen often in my dojo. The neat thing about working with another female is that it seems like we have an understanding with one another. We just seem to get whether we want to be slammed around or take it easy without saying anything. Just a different feeling and type of training in my experience.

JW
03-11-2010, 12:49 PM
I was reluctant to get back into this thread, but since it keeps popping back up on the front page anyway, here's one more post from me..

The only thing that would cause me to be uncomfortable working with a man is if I was doing jujitsu and had head head inbetween my legs.

But you're already a martial artist!
Not to pick on you, but this is just one example. The original point was more of a women's "intro/outreach" type class, that would get people into regular classes if they like it. The reason I think it is especially valuable is simply that there are lots of non-martial artist women who may in fact benefit from aikido, and who may benefit aikido as an art. Many of them have a legitimate reason behind why they never thought of joining a martial art. It may have to do with their own life, but in many cases, the fact that our culture may still have sexist attitudes being perpetuated is a major culprit.

So-- for these people, who are not martial artists and have never been to a dojo, who have never heard of MA being something where they could flourish, who don't know first hand how those of us within any given dojo may in fact be not sexist at all-- this could open their eyes.
If we can legitimately say we (as individuals and as representatives of a martial art) have no part in maintaining a sexist society, and that there are no women who have had their attitudes regarding MA or male-female interaction impacted in ways they didn't personally deserve by sexism, then we don't need and in fact shouldn't have womens' outreach classes. But if we can't confidently make that statement then we are fooling ourselves.

The same could be said for any type of outreach class (that is the point of outreach). A women's intro class does not mean someone who feels strongly can't start some other kind of outreach class. Tom Osborn is posting about a PTSD veterans' outreach class of sorts. You could start one for anything, and that would not mean a women's intro class is bad.

RED
03-11-2010, 12:56 PM
My Sensei is a woman. And I love training with her.

However, outside of her I prefer men as training partners.
I can maybe think of 3 women I like to work with, and the rest I just don't connect to.
However, I think that maybe for some women there might be a better approach to teaching women in general. Women have other qualities and attributes than men obviously... even in aiki.
I'm a girl that tends to benefit and thrive with training with men.

However, I've worked with women who are good aikidoka, but they don't thrive training with men, they thrive better with women. They would work out with me over a guy any day basically. We all learn differently, and we learn the best from those we can relate to. I relate better with men... a lot of women do not, and I think that should be respected.

In the end the goal is creating excellent Aikidoka... and schools should do whatever it takes to serve their students, regardless of sex, just as students should serve their school.

ninjaqutie
03-11-2010, 01:14 PM
No offense taken Jonathan. :D Uck.... I hate finding typos "head head" instead of "his head" AFTER I can't edit it anymore! I was just merely commenting on what was brought up towards the end about some women feeling uncomfortable working with men (whatever the reasons are). Heck, some people have issues being that close to anyone- period.

Anita Dacanay
03-12-2010, 05:14 AM
So-- for these people, who are not martial artists and have never been to a dojo, who have never heard of MA being something where they could flourish, who don't know first hand how those of us within any given dojo may in fact be not sexist at all-- this could open their eyes.
If we can legitimately say we (as individuals and as representatives of a martial art) have no part in maintaining a sexist society, and that there are no women who have had their attitudes regarding MA or male-female interaction impacted in ways they didn't personally deserve by sexism, then we don't need and in fact shouldn't have womens' outreach classes. But if we can't confidently make that statement then we are fooling ourselves.

The same could be said for any type of outreach class (that is the point of outreach). A women's intro class does not mean someone who feels strongly can't start some other kind of outreach class. Tom Osborn is posting about a PTSD veterans' outreach class of sorts. You could start one for anything, and that would not mean a women's intro class is bad.

Yes! The original intent of this thread (I believe) was to address the issues/needs of the many women who are NOT already coming to dojos and learning Aikido. I think it is hugely presumptive, and a real shame, to just assume that women aren't interested in martial arts, generally speaking, and that is why so few of us are represented. I find Aikido to be so enriching and rewarding; I know there are other women like me who would feel the same if they were exposed to Aikido in a meaningful and comfortable way. This is why I think an outreach effort is worth it.

ninjaqutie
03-12-2010, 11:25 AM
After reading the thread in its entirety, I have a few comments. :) It turns out that I am pretty much on the fence with this. I understand dojo's wanting to have more females. Heck, I am the only one that trains most of the time. Sensei's wife trains, but not that often (other then teaching the kids). I too have gotten used to the empty women's locker room and have grown accustomed to strewing my stuff all across the bench. It always throws me off when another female enters. Wait.... I have to share? :D

I think an all womens intro class could be a good thing to get their feet wet. Especially if they are trying to get over a problem with being that close to a male... or female for that matter. However, once that intro course ended, I would be interested in seeing if any of them would continue on. One poster previously stated that no one really came back. Perhaps an intro to aikido class would be best. Males and females could train together. If a female has a preference for training with another female, then fine. The course could focus on basic footwork, simple techniques, ukemi, etc. Something that will give them a good foundation and could be structured. It could slowly give them skill sets and allow them to gain some confidence.

I think a class like that might be more successful. I think a major issue with aikido is that you are just thrown in with everyone else. Sure, people are willing to help you, but it can be intimidating. You get shown a technique four times and your off to the races. It is an intricate art and you often don't get to work on a given technique long enough to grasp it before you are being shown something else. Then, to top it all off, the next class you go to, you don't do any of the techniques you were shown previously. It is a daunting and overwhelming process. I think that is the main problem with aikido.

It isn't an instant gratification style and you don't pick up on the movements so easily. I guess in the end, I can't say that an all women's course is a bad thing. I have taken a women's self defense course (RAD: Rape aggression self defense) and found it quite useful, but it was more along the lines of: learning to punch, kick, knee a guy in the groin, some basic throws, etc. At the end, we were tested with three attackers coming after us in full body red suits and we got to beat the crap out of them. HOWEVER, I also believe that a class should consist of a variety of people: male, female, tall, short, heavy, light, stiff, limber, rough, gentle, skilled, unskilled, etc.

I believe the more you expose yourself to, the more you will get out of the art. Limiting yourself in the beginning is okay I suppose, but to truly flourish, you have to spread your wings and try to fly. It is the only way to truly see the world around you.

lbb
03-13-2010, 02:46 PM
Ashley, I agree with what you've said above. I think that there are some cultural elements that present special challenges for women entering into the martial arts, but as you say, there are also challenges irrespective of gender. We can't eliminate all of those challenges, and frankly I think we shouldn't try with some of them -- for example, we can't change the fundamental fact that learning aikido (or any other martial art) isn't accomplished by means of "tricks" or "tips", but by plain and simple hard work and persistent training. What we can perhaps do better (than we typically do) is to...how to say this...give beginning students a vision of how they can do it without any shortcuts? We can work on getting them to understand that yes, it's a challenge...no, there are no shortcuts...but the people you see around you, the ones who have done it, are no more talented than you are. They just kept coming back.

Linda Eskin
03-13-2010, 09:19 PM
...What we can perhaps do better (than we typically do) is to...how to say this...give beginning students a vision of how they can do it without any shortcuts? We can work on getting them to understand that yes, it's a challenge...no, there are no shortcuts...but the people you see around you, the ones who have done it, are no more talented than you are. They just kept coming back.

Brilliant, Mary. And what you said applies to everyone. It seems to me that we have as many nervous, self-conscious, uncertain men show up as women. We have some really small guys, some old guys, some guys with injuries or disabilities, and probably a few guys (or more than a few) who are uncomfortable at the prospect of training with the "jocks" who beat them up in junior high. And the "jocks" might have it the worst, because they may expect Aikido to be easy, because they are generally big and strong and coordinated, and they may be surprised and discouraged when it is not so.

What you said could be really good for any of us to hear: "... the people you see around you, the ones who have done it, are no more talented than you are. They just kept coming back."

Anita Dacanay
03-14-2010, 06:03 AM
Yes, Mary and Linda, what you both say is very true indeed for people who are beginners, but still doesn't address in the least the issue of how few women show up at the dojo on their own in the first place, and how to expose/invite those women to try Aikido.

I feel like I need to keep driving home the fact that I was one of those women, and that that is why this is such a big deal to me. I would have never even thought that I could or would want to get up and try Aikido, if not for sitting there in a chair watching my son do it for a year. The idea wouldn't have occurred to me, because I had never been exposed to Aikido, and my martial arts experience was limited to having watched the "Karate Kid" movies. Oh, I suppose we could also count my years of watching "Kung Fu" as part of my afterschool TV line up. lol

The fact that our dojo membership is so overwhelmingly male was also a challenge for me at first. This is no longer a challenge at all, but I needed a bit of encouragement to give it a try in the first place.

I do feel that it is important to make the distinction between the goal of supporting/guiding beginners to continue their practice, and the goal of getting people into the dojo who might not come without some special encouragement or accommodation. One is primarily a question of how to be good instructors and good Sempai to new students; the second (the one I thought this thread was addressing) is an issue of outreach, as Jonathan described, in order to address the needs of people who are not already signing up for classes, for whatever reasons.

If an all-women's introductory class got some new people to give Aikido a try, then I should think it could be considered a success. I don't think these women all have to become lifelong practitioners for it to have been a successful venture. For some, just trying it may mark a personal victory. I think that the ones who are meant to continue practicing will do so, because I think that Aikido has its own energy and it works on us on so many levels. I know that for me, practicing Aikido just makes me feel good, and that's why no one else has to motivate me to keep coming back to class. My own experience motivates me.

Shadowfax
03-14-2010, 02:21 PM
I feel like I need to keep driving home the fact that I was one of those women, and that that is why this is such a big deal to me. I would have never even thought that I could or would want to get up and try Aikido, if not for sitting there in a chair watching my son do it for a year. The idea wouldn't have occurred to me, because I had never been exposed to Aikido, and my martial arts experience was limited to having watched the "Karate Kid" movies. Oh, I suppose we could also count my years of watching "Kung Fu" as part of my afterschool TV line up. lol

That was pretty much my experience as well except I had not even really been exposed to martial arts even in theater. I was taught that such things were violent and should not be considered even as entertainment.

So lets look at it this way. Even if such a thing as an all woman's class existed would that fact have drawn you or I to try aikido in the first place? How would we have known to look for an all women's class? What would draw us to even look at martial arts period be it a women only or mixed gender format?

In my own case it was someone seeing and recognizing that I had the potential and the qualities that would mean I would take well to, and benefit from, it. And said person helping me to discover its existence and then giving me much encouragement to try it all the while shooting down every potential objection before I could seriously make it. Even though I myself did not belive such was possible.

It took the inviting and kind attitude of two senseis at a local dojo who saw that I was completely lost and needed a great deal of encouragement. Who took time to make me feel welcome and wanted even though I was struggling to even learn the bare basics of ukemi. It took all of my fellow students giving encouragement and drawing me in and making me feel like a part of the group in spite of the fact I felt like an ugly duckling among the swans.

Society says that women are not supposed to be into such things, we are not supposed to have a dominant spirit or enjoy rough sports. Even all the while it says to women," you can do anything you want to", it still quietly sits in disapproval of those who do take up such things or makes the few who do out to be unusual or different maybe not feminine in some way. Or it splits us off into the female only version of the sport as if to emphasize that we are not truly equal to the men. And to be honest many of us simply are not and cannot be. So sure maybe a women only class would be appreciated by many. maybe not. Seems to me if there were a ready market for it such classes would be common and so this thread would not exist.

There are many reasons why women do not take up martial arts besides those earlier discussed. So how can we as martial artists (both men and women) help to encourage others (both men and women who might not have previously considered it) to try it?

A great idea mentioned above, my dojo has a monthly class that specifically introduces new people to aikido, thoroughly explaining everything from its history to basic movement, how a class proceeds and the etiquette involved. For myself I found the class highly valuable and a big help in my entry into what was a very foreign and intimidating world.

Those of us in the art need to pay attention to those we meet or know and their qualities and offer encouragement to them. And help them to discover their own potential. Be it in aikido, some other form of martial art or some other endeavor that they may not have the courage to try without someone to give them the push they need.

Anita Dacanay
03-14-2010, 02:55 PM
There are many reasons why women do not take up martial arts besides those earlier discussed. So how can we as martial artists (both men and women) help to encourage others (both men and women who might not have previously considered it) to try it?

A great idea mentioned above, my dojo has a monthly class that specifically introduces new people to aikido, thoroughly explaining everything from its history to basic movement, how a class proceeds and the etiquette involved. For myself I found the class highly valuable and a big help in my entry into what was a very foreign and intimidating world.

Those of us in the art need to pay attention to those we meet or know and their qualities and offer encouragement to them. And help them to discover their own potential. Be it in aikido, some other form of martial art or some other endeavor that they may not have the courage to try without someone to give them the push they need.

Cherie, I hear what you are saying.

I have a pretty extensive background doing arts outreach as a performing artist, so the idea of Aikido outreach is just very appealing to me. It has always been very exciting/rewarding for me to encourage someone who has never written a poem before to take up a pen and do just that; or to watch a group of people who had never considered themselves to be performers get up on a stage and share their creative voices.

In that spirit, I suppose there are any number of ways, both informal and formal, to focus on introducing more women (and more people in general) to Aikido. This is something I am sure I will continue to think about at length as I continue my own practice.

Linda Eskin
03-14-2010, 03:48 PM
Yes, Mary and Linda, what you both say is very true indeed for people who are beginners, but still doesn't address in the least the issue of how few women show up at the dojo on their own in the first place, and how to expose/invite those women to try Aikido.
...the goal of getting people into the dojo who might not come without some special encouragement or accommodation ...(the one I thought this thread was addressing) is an issue of outreach, as Jonathan described, in order to address the needs of people who are not already signing up for classes, for whatever reasons.

If an all-women's introductory class got some new people to give Aikido a try...

I think I'm getting your point. :-) But I also think it's not only women who might need some special encouragement and accomodation. I don't think it's a gender thing. I think there are just as many men who dont know about martial arts, haven't heard of Aikido, would be very uncomfortable walking into a dojo full of sweaty people who appear to be fairly proficient, etc. It can be an age thing, a fitness thing, a confidence thing...

I'd rather see an "Intro workshop" or "Discover Aikido in an Afternoon" kind of thing, open to anyone. I dunno... Maybe there are a few things that need to be addressed privately, woman-to-woman, and man-to-man. But I'd have been really put off if I'd seen a Women Only class when I was looking for a dojo. I don't want to be some "special case" student, I just want to be a student.

Of course, I'm one of those people who fought my way into the football class in jr. high (and wood shop, and metal shop). I grew up flying, skateboarding, and working on cars. So my perspective is influenced by that.

A woman (girlfriend of a guy who was training) was in the dojo months ago, and I asked her casually if she'd ever done Aikido, or any martial arts. She seemed almost offended, and replied sharply to the effect of "Oh my goodness no, of course not!" Naturally the class started just then, and I didn't have a chance to ask her to elaborate, but I've wondered about that since. Did she think she wouldn't be capable? Or that it wasn't a suitable pursuit for a lady? Or what?

I'd be interested in hearing what your considerations were, and indeed, those of any women - or men - who thought Aikido was "not for them" somehow. I have known a few women who would've been stopped by the fact that they'd have to keep their nails short, for instance. Knowing what people's concerns are can help us address them better. Clearly, since there are lots of women doing Aikido (guessing about 30% at my dojo), simply being female isn't the issue.

Here's an example of what I'm thinking. If there are people who think they would look like a hippo if they wore all white, and their vanity is what's stopping them, then a message to address that might be "Do you let concern over your appearance keep you from following your passions? Come experience a way of being where your character is more important than your clothes." Well, something like that. I think that is a more empowering message than "Think you can't do Aikido because you are a woman? We think even woman can practice Aikido. Come give it a try."

I dunno... It's a thought...

Anita Dacanay
03-14-2010, 08:01 PM
Linda, sorry to sound like a broken record. (Guess I'm really dating myself with that phrase, eh?)

I think the "Intro to Aikido" workshop idea sounds great; I still don't think that rules out the possibility that a woman's class might have value as well.

I feel like we have already listed some of the many reasons why women are (generally) under-represented in Aikido, but I can share my story to be specific...

Some of the things that made me personally reticent about getting on the mat for the first time: I have never been particularly athletic in the sense of playing team sports or anything of that nature. I have had weight issues my whole life and don't always feel comfortable with my body. I have a history of abuse which made me uncomfortable with the idea of all of that physical contact with a bunch of men whom I did not know. I was also not all too confident that the guys would want me there, and didn't know if I wanted to deal with that vibe. I did have a fear of getting hurt - but after I started practicing I also realized that perhaps the bigger fear was the fear of hurting someone else. (Nice girls don't punch, right? That's why my atemi sucks.) I was afraid that I would not be able to devote the time necessary because of my family responsibilities. And finally, I was just kind of afraid of looking like an idiot, especially at my age. A bunch of reasons, some gender-specific, some not.

For me, it really was not about the finger nails, or the fact that I look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in my gi. (Which I kinda do.)

So... I managed to face all of those fears and realized that I could get up and go ahead and feel uncomfortable and scared, look like an idiot, feel guilty about leaving my kids for a couple of hours...and survive all of that to discover that I love every minute that I spend on the mat. I like sweating; I like how each partner makes the technique completely different; I like feeling my body move in ways it never has before; I love the excitement of lining up and wondering what we're going to do next. I love the little victories when I FINALLY "get" something that has eluded me for weeks or months. I love learning something totally new. I love that Aikido makes me feel like I want to be present, inhabiting my body. I like the way Aikido shows me that I always have many options available to me in the midst of challenges/confrontations.

So I guess I'd just like to share all of that with other women who might have a list of fears that looks something like mine. Not because I don't care about the people whose list of fears/obstacles is different from mine, but because I feel like maybe I am in a position to reach those particular women.

Maybe my first proselytizing mission will be to try to encourage some of the other dojo Moms to get out onto the mat with their kids. If they're going to sit and watch for an hour anyway, why not just join in? I know these women are already interested in Aikido because they've chosen to bring their kids.

THEN I will amass a great army of Aiki-Women-Warriors to fight evil and injustice throughout the world... and we can have our own anime series... and trading cards. :D

Linda Eskin
03-14-2010, 11:19 PM
Thank you, Anita, for the clarification. :) Hey, I remember broken records! :p

So, yeah, there are a few gender things in there. But mostly those are considerations that apply to everyone (not being particularly athletic, not being comfortable with one's body, fear of looking stupid...)

Here's the kind of idea I was thinking of, which might attract more women without be a "Women's Class," and which comes from one of the specific issues you mentioned: Offer a Kids & Parents class (which might be a challenge because they need to be learning in very different ways), or (if there's room - like two areas in the dojo) offer a Kids class and a Beginners class running concurrently. Those could address the difficulties of finding child care, the guilt of abandoning ones' kids for a couple of hours, etc. Actually, that's a lot like the kinds of things some companies have done to attract more women (on-site child care, flexible working hours...)

I totally admire and support your intent - to introduce people to Aikido who might really enjoy and benefit from it. I'm just trying to explore ways that don't reinforce the very notions we're trying to get away from - that there's something inherently so deficient about women that we require a special "remedial" course before we can join the regular classes with the "normal" (male) students.

I suppose a women's class could be promoted in a powerful enough way that it wouldn't have to come across as "watered down." An 8-week Aikido Boot Camp / Jump Start / Women's Intensive, or something? All the students could be given t-shirts like I saw recently in someone's Facebook profile. It showed two yudansha (both female? hard to tell from the image), with Nage doing iriminage, I think, and Uke flying through the air. It said "Thows Like a Girl." ;)

Probably what we need is more data, and less conjecture. Start a class. Let us know how it goes. :)

Anita Dacanay
03-15-2010, 04:59 AM
Yay! I'm not alone in remembering broken records.

Yeah - I think that a woman's class could indeed be promoted in such a way as to not make it sound like a watered down version of Aikido. I mean, I don't think it would need to be watered down at all. I just think that the all-girls environment might make some women more comfortable at first. (Love the t-shirt image! lol)

By the way, a lot of those fears I listed turned out to be paper tigers for me once I actually got on the mat. Any weirdness with the guys just kind of worked itself out when I kept showing up. At least for me it did; if any of them feel weird that is now officially their problem. LOL - Now my biggest frustration is feeling like I'm being babied by certain people when I don't need or want that at this point. I told one of my sempai the other day, "You can really throw me. I'm tougher than I look."

I do like the Kids and Parents class idea - although we kind of do that informally anyway at our dojo; parents are always welcome to join the kids.

I agree that we need more data, less conjecture. I am really not ready to teach yet. I can't... walk on the rice paper without wrinkling it. But my gears will keep spinning - and I appreciate the input from all of you who were willing to walk back into this old thread with me. :)

lbb
03-15-2010, 06:54 AM
I think there's a fundamental point being overlooked. Any class -- whether a "women's class", or a "beginner's class", or a "parent-child class", or a "people over 50 class", or whatever -- cannot possibly be all things for all the people who fall under the broad category of its title. If we're sensible and sane, we acknowledge this, clearly articulate what we are trying to do with a class, don't make assumptions about what others may infer from the class's title, and don't try to burden any class with too many expectations. Is a women's class all about getting new women to try aikido? I don't know why that should be the default assumption, but whatever, if it is your purpose for a particular women's class, make that clear -- and then the people in the peanut gallery need to play fair and not try to shoot it down with a lot of objections about what it's not.

Anita, I disagree with your last statement. "We" don't need "more data". Those who are willing to do something need to be clear in their own minds about what it is they want to do, and then they need to do it -- ideally also persuading others to support them, but refusing to be dragged into a pointless debate by the inevitable knee-jerk cries of "But that's sexist!" Understand why you want to do what you want to do, and then do it. Convincing other people (particularly those who have a vested interest in preventing change) to get behind you and push is not the way to go.

Linda Eskin
03-15-2010, 09:23 AM
To be fair to Anita, I was the one who initially said we need more data, less conjecture (in my post above). What I meant was that the way I feel about having a women's class is probably not universal, and that someone should try it, and get back to us on how that works out.

I was discussing how I personally feel about the issue. I sure as heck don't have any vested interest in preventing change. I just don't like the idea. Seeing that a dojo has women's classes might put me off from training there. But I'm perfectly willing to believe I could be in the minority on that account, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if someone were to actually start one, and see how it goes.

bulevardi
03-15-2010, 10:00 AM
I understand the demographic kinds of classes: a kids class, a senior class, ... So you could make another level of training for each class: softer, slower, harder, advanced,....

But I don't actually see the purpose for a woman's class.
Like following guitar lessons "for women".

If it's just to get more women in class... Write on the website: "women friendly class" or same as "gay friendly class, senior friendly class"...

Anita Dacanay
03-15-2010, 10:48 AM
In the vein of Linda's comment about "more data, less conjecture": I personally was kind of looking for that in this thread. I was hoping to hear more of: well, we taught a women's class for X amount of weeks, we called it "X"; X number of women came, X number of them stayed on or went on to other classes, we generally got good/bad/mixed feedback, we probably will/won't do it again...so on and so forth.

I really don't feel that I have much to add to the conversation at this point that wouldn't be just repeating myself a la the old broken record. It is simply an idea that interests me.

lbb
03-15-2010, 10:51 AM
But I don't actually see the purpose for a woman's class.

That's okay. You don't have to attend one.

To paraphrase what I said above: it doesn't matter if you don't see the purpose. I don't see the purpose in all kinds of things, but then, those things don't require my understanding in order to justify their existence. Universal understanding and consensus is not the basis for any endeavor, and why people think a women's aikido class should be some kind of exception to that, I'll never know.

ninjaqutie
03-15-2010, 12:38 PM
What we can perhaps do better (than we typically do) is to...how to say this...give beginning students a vision of how they can do it without any shortcuts? We can work on getting them to understand that yes, it's a challenge...no, there are no shortcuts...but the people you see around you, the ones who have done it, are no more talented than you are. They just kept coming back.

Mary.... lovely statement there. Just what I needed to hear. :D

Anita Dacanay
03-15-2010, 08:10 PM
Okay, so I didn't have anything to add - until I went to class tonight and these two adorable teenaged girls show up! There were no other women there besides me, which has been the routine for some months now on Monday nights.

I was so glad that I was just... there. It was a nice opportunity for me to be present, be encouraging, be warm and... be myself in a constructive way within the dojo. Perhaps lately I'm just wondering what I have to contribute besides paying my monthly dues. I guess I was happy to throw a little "Mom" energy their way while helping them with basics.

Just a related anecdote - thought I'd share.

jonreading
03-16-2010, 11:03 AM
I still believe the ultimate decision to exclude participants from class (or create exclusive classes for participants based upon age, sex or religion) should remain with the dojo and assessed by that dojo's needs. I don't think there is no right answer for that discussion beyond standing up for principle and making exception to those principles only when necessary. The battle of the sexes will always leave us with ackward moments of touching, positions, and dialogue in physical training. Women who cannot interact with men, even from a training level, require assistance that is not found in a dojo. I believe the heart of the matter is that we [accurately] perceive female attendance to be low in aikido and martial arts in general and wish to change that fact.

I remember a consumer focus group survey in which I participated. The survey included buying decisions for a variety of items, including house cleaning goods (soaps, detergents, solvents, etc.) and foods - Almost everyone of my survey responses differed from my female counterparts. I also found out during the survey that these types of products are very strongly marketed towards females (in addition to healthcare and childcare) and not males.

Long story short, aikido and martial arts have an image problem with female priorities and I think that affects attendance. We promote a male-dominated marketing effort with few prioirties that overlap for both males and females. Aikido may need a survey group of women to collaborate a marketing shift to address the different gender-related, decision-making priorities of female martial artists. I'd certaily be interested in those priorities...

As stupid as it sounds, I make many purchasing decisions for my family's house goods. As I remarked to a friend one time in response to joking about Snuggle fabric softener, "I'll never by anything that is promoted by a friggin' soft, cuddly, talking stuffed animal that smells like a friggin' mountain spring." I didn't say friggin' though. We choose to make our decisions based upon those factors that appeal to our priorities. Now if they only made a baseball field scent for fabric softeners...

lbb
03-16-2010, 07:42 PM
Jon, good points, but I do think it's missing some of the point to view a women's class as "exclusion". That's a side effect, not the goal.