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Kai Lynn
12-05-2011, 11:34 PM
Hello.

First off, let me say that I understand sexism comes in varying ranges. As of late I have been starting to understand something one of my dear friends once said. "The most hurtful type of racism is the subtle. Obvious stuff you can deal with. But its the little things that eat at you and slowly you start to wonder if they are truly there."

Over all, I'm a good dojo. We have an on and off campus dojo and both I am my boyfriend are officers for the school club. We are also the same kyu rank.

The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.

There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.

kewms
12-07-2011, 05:41 PM
Being at a dojo with female black belts helps enormously. At my first dojo, the beginners' classes were co-taught by a married couple, so male beginners tended to learn appropriate respect from the very beginning. You might look around to see if there are other dojos in the area with a more balanced demographic. Whether you ultimately decide to make a change or not, seeing different perspectives can help you figure out what your expectations should be.

Men and women are different. They learn differently, and they come to training with different physical characteristics and different social conditioning. Good teachers recognize that, and try to give all their students the kind of attention they need to succeed.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
12-07-2011, 07:42 PM
In my experience, the dojocho/chief instructor sets the tone and others will fall in line. Yes, there will always be one or two guys who think we are fragile - OTOH I find there are always one or two guys who don't understand that a very slender wrist will have tendons easily damaged if their usual hamfistedness isn't attenuated, and in both extremes, simple polite, friendly communication works.

In most of the dojos I've trained in, folks really are treated the same - size or awareness of individual quirks or disabilities play much larger role than gender.

We do have one evening class that tends to get a good number of young men (16-22) and I'm often the only woman that evening, and old enough to be their grandma. So I've asked the instructor to use me as demo uke at least sometimes each class so they can see I'm not a porcelain doll. It works. So you may want to quietly ask the instructor - maybe as a question about how he perceives your readiness to take that role and if there is anything you can focus on improving in order to do so.

Mali
12-08-2011, 12:37 AM
There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.

Well, I'm personally of two minds on this one. I'm used to being the only female in the dojo, or at least one of the few. Now that I have started Aikido, however, it seems we are close to a 50/50 split on men vs women. The difference is that a lot of the women ARE more fragile, weaker, and generally difficult to deal with when they are uke. I don't feel as though I am doing the techniques correctly, but they are taking the falls anyway. I generally prefer to partner with someone who not only has more experience, but also more size and strength because I feel like I *get* the technique much better..

That being said, the first few dojo classes I went to, I ran into this issue, but as the guys realized I wouldn't just 'give' them the techniques they relaxed in to working with me. If I were you, I'd probably try to talk about it with your Sensei. At our dojo we make sure that everyone has a two different partners for every technique and we make it a priority to work with someone different every single technique as well, if possible.

The gi is terrible though, I'm totally with you on that. I'm currently debating on whether or not I want to spent 40 bucks on just the gi pants from the Century line for women.

Finally, as for the guys coming out of the locker rooms laughing, well, it's what they do. It's easy to assume they are deliberately leaving you out, but I'm sure it's just a case of men not noticing what is going on around them. Either that, or I just have exceptional male students that I work with regularly that have already been beaten up by enough girls that they're used to it by now. :)

LinTal
12-08-2011, 02:00 AM
When I started I was the only female too, I definitely noticed a subtle difference. I found, though, that since I was the only one in a certain category that it freed me up from ego issues and competition - both for myself and my training partner. Since then I've noticed that I get injured at the joints easier if the others try to crank on the power, but that fact seems to improve feedback for my technique and my training partner's external awareness. As more girls have joined I have definitely noticed a different social conditioning, but the ones that last develop a tenacity that balances that.

That aside, it's okay if there's a difference as long as it's healthy. If not, leave or change the place. If so then stay and deal with it. My 2c.

philipsmith
12-08-2011, 02:47 AM
As a male instructor I don't think that in many dojos it's overt sexism.
Men and women are different (I'm glad to say) each with their strengths and weaknesses. The problem is usually, however, one of the male ego. many men feel threatened by a competent, assertive female. My own student a mother of two in her early 30's is often accused of being too strong or aggressive when we visit other dojos.
She's neither - just a good Aikidoka.
Interestingly she has started taking my class when I'm away and her biggest supporters are a 6' 3" ex-karateka and a 280lb ex body builder (both Aikido Sandan). When I got back from my last trip they both took great delight in telling me a) what good classes she'd taken and b) how a visiting Nidan had rather a shock when taking ukeme.

I guess what I'm saying is don't be too hard on us poor men. Some of us fell threatened by successful women showing up our weaknesses!

Hanna B
12-08-2011, 05:13 AM
In my experience, the dojocho/chief instructor sets the tone and others will fall in line.

Yes. If the people teaching assume women are fragile little things, at least until proven otherwise, all the others will follow.

Actually I think it's quite naturally that women and men are treated differently in the aikido dojo. We don't treat the sexes the same in normal life. That's in our culture. It follows into the dojo. But if everyone involved knows that we should strive at treating the sexes the same on the mat - that does not mean treating all individuals the same - that's a major breakthrough.


People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.

I'm not a big fan of rankings... but this is a good reason to have them. If you didn't have a rank, everybody would probably act like if pretty much all the guys were your seniors. Now rank is something official, making side stepping more difficult.

Being the only one in "the other locker room" isn't always fun. That's for sure. Probably your best option is finding another dojo, where you won't be the only woman.

You could do a little investigating without making hard decisions beforehand. Cut down on training at your regular dojo, or take a little leave (if people ask, you just don't have the time, or you have other priorities at the moment). Visit other dojos. Watch classes, then try training a class if it looks like fun. If a little bit of dojo hopping makes you decide your old place isn't too bad after all, that's also a good outcome.

Kai Lynn
12-08-2011, 09:58 AM
Thank you for all the responses so far- its nice to hear from other Aikidoka females and of course from the male Aikidoka about this.

To address the responses in a random matter I'll start with Hanna B. I'm not interested in finding another dojo. Our area has 2 and I am at the one that fits me better; the point of this post was trying to cheer myself up by reminding me that there are other chicks out there trudging through it alone. And as Janet made me aware, I have the added benefit of being classifed (by most) as a young, tough female.

As for Mali, the notion that females are weaker when it comes ukemi is something that irks me. I'm a biomedical engineering student, so I have a pretty decent grasp of anatomy. Basically it comes down to it, males are stronger but females are more flexible- meaning injuries in the same sport are about even. However, females injures are usually knee and hip related while males take out their groins and upper body.

What I have noticed as someone who has played contact sports her entire life is that females without a history of sports tend to be very meek due to social conditioning when it comes to physical stuff while males without a history of sports, again, tend to be more reckless when it comes to physical stuff. When I watch white belts, I try to give the shy ones (which tend to be all the females we get) a bit more encouragement and explain the body mechanics that keep things safe. Now if I could only figure out how to get them to stick. X)

I'm with you on the partnering with the higher ranked person thing though. My BF has dubbed me a 'black belt chaser' because when it comes to partnering up I head straight for a sandan or godan when I can. They help a lot. The few female yudasha I've worked with at seminars proved to teach me just as much as the men, even though most where tiny compared to me.

Also its not the pants that bother me as much (I have drawstring waistline ones in a 5 from JK.) A 4 top fits me better but there still is the problem of .7 hip to waist ratio. So I'm considering getting a female top from Century.

kewms, out of over more than a dozen black belts (which oddly enough is half of our dojo) only one is female. She is older and has been out for the last year or so due to a combo knee/ back injury. I miss her, if in part because I got to watch someone who was barely 4 feet take down 6'5" men like they were nothing. In the short time with her, I had learned a lot.

ninjaqutie
12-08-2011, 09:58 AM
For a long time, I was the only (or one of a couple) females in my dojo. I never had an issue being the only one. I actually embraced it. I loved rolling around with the guys and I took advantage of having the changing room all to myself. In fact, when other females did come, I was a bit pouty because I had to remember how to share. :D Most people in my dojo were either 1st kyu or above or near beginners like me, so the rank issue never really came into play. Sensei was using me for ukemi after training a few months (previously took aikijitsu for 8 years) and that may have made a difference. A lot of guys loved to really toss me about because they knew I could take care of myself. If someone was being too gentle, sensei would tell them I could take care of myself and not to worry. Maybe broaching ukemi with your sensei wouldn't be a bad thing.... just depends on their personality and how receptive they are to feedback. Best of luck.

kewms
12-08-2011, 11:19 AM
kewms, out of over more than a dozen black belts (which oddly enough is half of our dojo) only one is female. She is older and has been out for the last year or so due to a combo knee/ back injury. I miss her, if in part because I got to watch someone who was barely 4 feet take down 6'5" men like they were nothing. In the short time with her, I had learned a lot.

One of the most intimidating people I know in aikido is a sempai of mine from my old dojo. Well under five feet, barely 100 pounds fully dressed, but a spirit two or three times that size. I want to be her when I grow up. :D

Katherine

kewms
12-08-2011, 11:21 AM
A lot of guys loved to really toss me about because they knew I could take care of myself. If someone was being too gentle, sensei would tell them I could take care of myself and not to worry. Maybe broaching ukemi with your sensei wouldn't be a bad thing.... just depends on their personality and how receptive they are to feedback. Best of luck.

This really does help. My teacher regularly encourages junior people to go all out when training with yudansha -- male or female -- we wouldn't be yudansha if we couldn't take care of ourselves. And that in turn shows more junior people -- male or female -- the standard they're trying to reach.

Katherine

LinTal
12-08-2011, 12:18 PM
This really does help. My teacher regularly encourages junior people to go all out when training with yudansha -- male or female -- we wouldn't be yudansha if we couldn't take care of ourselves. And that in turn shows more junior people -- male or female -- the standard they're trying to reach.

Katherine

Agreed! Maybe this might also show the other students (as if you weren't already :p ) you're willing to play the game in their language. Couldn't hurt, to have that greater exposure, chat to your sensei?

NagaBaba
12-08-2011, 12:43 PM
Hello.

First off, let me say that I understand sexism comes in varying ranges. As of late I have been starting to understand something one of my dear friends once said. "The most hurtful type of racism is the subtle. Obvious stuff you can deal with. But its the little things that eat at you and slowly you start to wonder if they are truly there."

Over all, I'm a good dojo. We have an on and off campus dojo and both I am my boyfriend are officers for the school club. We are also the same kyu rank.

The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.

There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.

The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank. If you feel that ppl don’t respect you, you have to work twice or ten times harder, instead of looking for hypothetical sexism. I’ll give you example of my wife. For reasons due to work schedule she practice judo in the class, where she is only one woman, all guys are much stronger and 40-50 lb heavier than her, all of them with strong competition background. For first 4 years she couldn’t throw anybody even ONCE. The same was for ground work and submissions. In judo the rules are very clear; your technique is not effective so nobody will jump by himself to take a fall.

But she persisted, worked twice hard than anybody in the class, and few years later she can sometimes be successful. The result is that whenever she enters to the dojo, everybody, top world competitors from national team welcome her friendly and show a lot of respect.

Such hard work heals you from imaginary problems and put you back to the real world.

LinTal
12-08-2011, 12:57 PM
@NagaBaba. To be fair, sexism is a valid concern in any predominantly single-gendered activity, particularly in aikido since it can be so physical. It can quite likely be either real or not. If so, it can be either unconscious or conscious, overt or covert. If not, it can be either perceived, assumed or non-present. Bit hard to judge which one it is as an outsider with just a blurb to go off. We may well be able to rule out several options though. In any case, showing and developing persistence and strength of character couldn't be a bad thing - for any situation in or out of the dojo.

Basia Halliop
12-08-2011, 02:20 PM
It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

If you do basically like where you are, and don't want to leave there, then that's probably your best approach, IMO. It can be hard to stop worrying about what others think of you and whether they respect you or not, but to some extent the more you can stop caring about anyone else and just try to be good, the more they WILL eventually respect you more. (And regardless of whether they do or not, you'll get more out of the training, IMO).

E.g., the 'frailty' thing - guys, for the most part, at least nice well-brought-up-non-psycho ones, have been taught all their lives not to beat up women and that being respectful of them means not using physical force against them. That's a GOOD thing.

However, yes, it does get in the way in the dojo sometimes, and they need to be learn better or rather learn better judgment on when such behaviour is good and when it's just cheating you out of good training. They also need to learn through time and experience that you aren't as frail as they are afraid you are (and IMO it's fear of being responsible for injuring someone as often as it is genuine patronizingness - not that that doesn't ever exist too).

Best advice I can think of for that is to get good enough, in techniques and at ukemi, that eventually it speaks for itself. Also it helps once you have a few people willing to go less 'easy' on you. After a bit the others watch and start to see that nothing bad is happening.

(This is useful at seminars -- if I'm in a line with a bunch of strangers where everyone is going frustratingly easy on me, occasionally I have gone and searched out someone from my dojo -- bonus points if it's someone big and 'scary-looking' -- and let them smash me around a few times. After the initial shock passes (OMG he's going to kill her! LOL) the strangers relax and start treating me more normally).

Eva Antonia
12-08-2011, 02:26 PM
Hi,

I'm Belgian resident but thanks to my work had already the opportunity to train in some other countries, like Turkey, Aserbaidjan, Hungary or Côte d'Ivoire (this evening I missed training in Göteborg by some minutes:drool: ). Generally women are a minority, but I rarely got the impression that there is a sexism problem. Maybe that is due to the fact that I am, although thin, rather tall and strong, and don't have fear of any sort of ukemi. But then in my dojo there is only one other female who is like me, and all the others more or less REQUIRE soft and "female" treatment.

We have some four girls in their late teens and the same amount of boys. All of them are very skinny, have very thin wrists, and already due to their weight and lack of technique are easy to throw. BUT the girls attack softer, they are afraid of being hurt; for techniques ending with sankyo, nikkyo or something that could require a breakfall they always chose those partners of whom they are sure that they treat them gently. I always thought that I was of the gentle sort until one of these girls shrinked back with real terror from me when I bowed to her for some sankyo technique. I did not observe this behaviour in even one single of the boys.

So it wouldn't be so surprising if men get a prejudice against women if so many women behave this way, both wanting to be equal and emancipated and still requiring special treatment for female frailty. I am rather surprised and appreciate very much that most men still are able to differentiate between women who are as capable and as committed as themselves and the others who are just asking implicitly for getting away with some "aikido light". But for that you need at least to practice with the woman in question to find out what kind of spirit she is.

Then sometimes I get surprised at myself at underestimating some of the women with the soft approach. Once it happened at a seminar in Brussels that there was a small, very beautiful brown girl with a blue hakama and a long black ponytail, who paired up with me. She had this feathery touch and I thought it would be one of the "don't hurt me, please" girls. But then she was absolutely brilliant, took me down without that I even realised how she did it...after the seminar I found out that she was a 4th dan from Peru...That tought me a lesson in not always judging according to appearances.

I also know the problem with the waist of the gi. I just resolve it by tying the gi on the hip bones. They are much wider than the waist, and still there is more width below where the articulations of the thighs are, so nothing falls down. I suppose people who are too fat to tie the gi around their waist do the same. And then you can bind the belt and the hakame in the waist, so there is one knot less if the gi is 10 cm more downwards, which is another advantage.

Best regards,

Eva

Shadowfax
12-08-2011, 03:53 PM
All I can say is I am very lucky in the dojo I am training in. We have quite a few females in the dojo including two Sandans (one of whom co-owns the place) and one, about to be, Nidan. Of the kyu rank students training regularly in the dojo I am most senior at the moment and we have one other female student. And we also regularly have Mary Heiny Sensei come to us to teach class and I get semi-private lessons with her. And Kayla Feder sensei regularly teaches a seminar within easy driving distance ,so I get to see her as well. I get lots of really amazing female aikidoka to train with. :D

All of the instructors in my dojo use me often for ukemi, as has Heiny sensei, and I tend to be a favorite for the guys when we are working on the really interesting unbalancing and connection exercises Ikeda sensei teaches, because I'm not easy to move. I have only a very few times sensed any attitude from a male student that seemed to be condescending and not from any regular student in the dojo, and they soon got over it.

My teachers are very interested in encouraging female martial artists.

Yes the gi fit is not perfect ,for me the issue is the chest but its not really a problem that my limited sewing skills cant manage. ( I have the rater pricey preference for Piranha Gear Karate Gi) And yes there are times when I am the only female student in class,(heck there are times when I am the ONLY student in class) but generally when the boys are laughing in the changing room I am siting with sensei having some sort of fascinating ongoing conversation about aikido.

I hope at least my post can encourage you in that not all dojo have the issues you face and there are indeed places where women are not so in the minority or stuck feeling a bit left out or out of place.

Kai Lynn
12-08-2011, 05:17 PM
The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank. If you feel that ppl don't respect you, you have to work twice or ten times harder, instead of looking for hypothetical sexism.

Such hard work heals you from imaginary problems and put you back to the real world.

I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism. I currently train at all the session both on and off campus; my BF and I are 'constants' as my sensei puts it. Last time I missed a class was in June when I had strep throat. We also spend copious amounts of time together outside of class working on kata and techinique. And no, we don't play around in class; hell, we are more vicious attackers with each other than anyone else.

I've been a high achiever all my life; one of my problems is a 'nagging' voice though. I might berate myself for not working hard enough but that doesn't mean I am lazy.

And Kayla Feder sensei regularly teaches a seminar within easy driving distance ,so I get to see her as well. I get lots of really amazing female aikidoka to train with. :D

I hope at least my post can encourage you in that not all dojo have the issues you face and there are indeed places where women are not so in the minority or stuck feeling a bit left out or out of place.

I loved all the clips of Feder's work. She seems to be a very amazing woman and I'd love to train with her if I am ever on that side of the coast. And thanks- the post did help. ^^

kewms
12-08-2011, 05:35 PM
And yes there are times when I am the only female student in class,(heck there are times when I am the ONLY student in class) but generally when the boys are laughing in the changing room I am siting with sensei having some sort of fascinating ongoing conversation about aikido.

Heh. This reminds me of a story about Madeline Albright, former US ambassador to the United Nations. She used to host a monthly lunch for female ambassadors. But of course good relations with the US ambassador are important for many countries, and so there were complaints that she was showing unfair favoritism. Her reply was that any country that wished to appoint a female ambassador could do so, and thereby earn itself an invitation.

What's true of female yudansha is even more true of female instructors and chief instructors. They are good for the attitude of the dojo as a whole.

Katherine

kewms
12-08-2011, 05:48 PM
We have some four girls in their late teens and the same amount of boys. All of them are very skinny, have very thin wrists, and already due to their weight and lack of technique are easy to throw. BUT the girls attack softer, they are afraid of being hurt; for techniques ending with sankyo, nikkyo or something that could require a breakfall they always chose those partners of whom they are sure that they treat them gently. I always thought that I was of the gentle sort until one of these girls shrinked back with real terror from me when I bowed to her for some sankyo technique. I did not observe this behaviour in even one single of the boys.

We had a 4th kyu test at the dojo last night. It went well: the person testing showed good technique with good energy. This resulted in the person taking ukemi -- who was female -- flying around a bit, making solid contact with the mat, etc. Which was fine: she's a brown belt and the ukemi required was well within her ability.

But there was a female beginner watching the test who winced and cringed and muttered under her breath. To her credit, she didn't flee in terror, but she clearly has some work to do before she'll be comfortable in that role.

Katherine

hughrbeyer
12-08-2011, 08:26 PM
One of the most intimidating people I know in aikido is a sempai of mine from my old dojo. Well under five feet, barely 100 pounds fully dressed, but a spirit two or three times that size. I want to be her when I grow up. :D

Short blond hair? Blows through you like a freight train? Yeah, I know her.

I think there's no question that to get equal treatment you'll have to be more aggressive. One of the first female managers I worked with (early '80s) was in a management meeting which consisted of a bunch of men and her. At a particularly contentious point in the meeting, the men suddenly called a bathroom break and disappeared into the men's room. She hopped to her feet and followed them in. They freaked, but she said, "No way you're working out some private agreement in front of the urinals. I'm not leaving until you do."

You probably don't need to invade the men's changing room, but maybe you need to put more of yourself into attacks and making sure your technique is effective when you're nage. The idea of talking to your sensei offline about what you need to do to be a useful uke for him is a good one. Telling your partner outright things like, "Stop holding back on that throw, I need practice taking the breakfall out of it" is good too.

Shadowfax
12-08-2011, 09:41 PM
Telling your partner outright things like, "Stop holding back on that throw, I need practice taking the breakfall out of it" is good too.

There have been times when I have outright told training partners that they are not doing me any good by going easy on me. We women need to be able to handle being treated rough and be able to still be able to think and act under those circumstances. We can't learn how to handle that unless we train against it. Having a bunch of big strong guys to train against is really a gift. After all it's not often that a woman gets attacked by another woman in a way that is a real threat. But it is not at all unusual for a woman to be pushed around by a man.

hughrbeyer
12-08-2011, 09:53 PM
And speaking as a guy who has been known to be bullheaded on occasion, I'd appreciate being told how you want to train, verbally or otherwise. The woman Katherine mentioned upthread, if I have the right one, never leaves you in any doubt that she's ready to take whatever you dish.

Conversely, being a meathead, I tend to worry about overpowering someone who is substantially smaller and lighter than me. Often, I'll take it as an opportunity to work on sensitivity and on dropping the muscle and tension that are so hard to get rid of with a stronger opponent. That's fine for me, but if you're wishing I'd just treat you like one of the guys it's not so good for you. So be explicit. Don't expect that they should just know what you want.

kewms
12-08-2011, 10:00 PM
And speaking as a guy who has been known to be bullheaded on occasion, I'd appreciate being told how you want to train, verbally or otherwise. The woman Katherine mentioned upthread, if I have the right one, never leaves you in any doubt that she's ready to take whatever you dish.

I think you might be thinking of someone else.... The woman I was thinking of (Beth F.) had dark hair and may have been before your time. Same idea, though. She put me under the mat a couple of times...

Edit: On further reflection, I think I do know who you mean. Sounds like she's really come into her own the last few years. Yay!

But in any case... in my own experience, I've found that guys generally get the picture pretty fast once I attack them. :D

Katherine

Basia Halliop
12-08-2011, 10:40 PM
That's fine for me, but if you're wishing I'd just treat you like one of the guys it's not so good for you.

I've always hated that phrase. I don't think of it as wanting to be treated 'like a guy'. I think of it as wanting to be treated like ME, and not like some imaginary woman someone assumes I ought to be like... (sorry, this thread is just making me philosophical -- I know no offense was meant).

Anyway, I do know what you mean and think it's a good point. People can't read minds and if they aren't sure they often err on the side of caution.

Basia Halliop
12-08-2011, 10:43 PM
I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism.

It doesn't necessarily mean the sexism isn't real, but sometimes the cure is the same anyway. Not always -- some things are better fought by confronting them directly. But other times the best is to pursue your own goals relentlessly and let others think or not think what they may.

lbb
12-09-2011, 04:25 PM
Actually I think it's quite naturally that women and men are treated differently in the aikido dojo. We don't treat the sexes the same in normal life. That's in our culture.

Then it's NOT natural, it's cultural. As a great many reprehensible practices are also cultural, I don't think the fact that something is a cultural practice means that it's good, right, or not subject to question or challenge.

lbb
12-09-2011, 04:27 PM
The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank.

And is disrespect the same? Or is it automatic, if one is of the wrong gender?

Can't have it both ways...

lbb
12-09-2011, 04:32 PM
It doesn't necessarily mean the sexism isn't real, but sometimes the cure is the same anyway.

The cure for what, though? That's where this thread has wandered off. Many suggestions are being made, but which problem are they solving, exactly?

Basia Halliop
12-09-2011, 05:08 PM
I can only speak to my own comment, but I meant the two problems of the effect other people's lack of respect has on you personally, and the actual lack of respect itself.

In my experience both are SOMETIMES (not always) dealt with well by ignoring other people and going for your own goals (in this case working as hard as you can to be as good as you can -- not specifically 'to gain people's respect', but just to be good. Though it may have the side effect of gaining people's respect, sometimes more effectively than more direct measures of insisting on respect).

Of course it depends what the actual problems are, how they are affecting you, how much they're practically blocking you from achieving your goals, all kinds of things....

Basia Halliop
12-09-2011, 05:16 PM
That's where this thread has wandered off. Many suggestions are being made, but which problem are they solving, exactly?

Wandered off from where, though, exactly? I wasn't aware anyone was actually trying to 'solve' someone's 'problem'. I thought we were just having a conversation and sharing thoughts and experiences.

As per the original post:
Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.

lbb
12-09-2011, 09:18 PM
I can only speak to my own comment, but I meant the two problems of the effect other people's lack of respect has on you personally, and the actual lack of respect itself.

The context was Szczepan's response to OP, which began as follows:

"The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank. If you feel that ppl don't respect you, you have to work twice or ten times harder, instead of looking for hypothetical sexism."

OP responded:

"I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism."

So, that raises the question: just what are we curing, anyway? And doesn't that hinge on whether the sexism in question is real or, as Szczepan put it, "hypothetical"? In the general sense, I'm sure the problem could be defined as "crappy training experience", but the cure depends on the cause.

I'm of two minds about the advice to ignore other people and go for your own goals. On the one hand, you can't force a bigot to abandon his stupid bigotries. On the other hand, just how much aikido can you do while "ignoring other people"? Partner practice is essential, and if your dojo is full of people who won't be good partners to you, for whatever reason, you can't exactly "go for your own goals" in that situation.

There's also the consideration of whether it makes sense to accept such a situation and stay in it. If you're a woman living in a world where every aikido dojo is sexist, and you want to train, you might as well suck up the bullshit ripoff hypocritical twice-the-work-for-half-the-credit crap at your present dojo as anywhere else. But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?

Belt_Up
12-10-2011, 08:27 AM
But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?

/salutes such sentiments, with the flag of your choice rippling in the background.

phitruong
12-10-2011, 08:40 AM
or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?

hey, those bullshits are good shits. great for roses, nice blossoms and prickly thorns. :)

Basia Halliop
12-10-2011, 08:07 PM
I'm of two minds about the advice to ignore other people and go for your own goals. On the one hand, you can't force a bigot to abandon his stupid bigotries. On the other hand, just how much aikido can you do while "ignoring other people"? Partner practice is essential, and if your dojo is full of people who won't be good partners to you, for whatever reason, you can't exactly "go for your own goals" in that situation.

That's why I said sometimes... The biggest time ignoring other people's ATTITUDES (not other people) is likely to help you, IMO, is when the problems they are posing aren't really practical, but psychological, e.g., when you start believing them, or when you feel like you want those people to admire you.

There's also the consideration of whether it makes sense to accept such a situation and stay in it. If you're a woman living in a world where every aikido dojo is sexist, and you want to train, you might as well suck up the bullshit ripoff hypocritical twice-the-work-for-half-the-credit crap at your present dojo as anywhere else. But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?

Well sure, but she said that she had no intention of leaving and basically liked where she was. From that I took it that she wanted to stay and deal with it and that she was more venting than anything.

Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?

FWIW, I don't think anyone should 'knuckle under and accept the situation', though I suppose I can see how what I said would sound like that. By all means keep trying to change things, especially things that are in your way (and of course that includes changing dojos if that's what's in your way or if it serves you better) -- but know at the same time that their opinions don't matter.

susanmarie
12-11-2011, 03:03 AM
The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.


You know your dojo better than I, but with specific respect to the ukemi, you may get somewhere by asking, respectfully, "I noticed that you tend to call other people a lot more than you call me for ukemi. What do I need to do to improve my ukemi so that I can be called up more?"

Again, with regards to the "acting like you're going to break", you may have good results by saying "I'd like to work on taking falls from a little harder throw; would you mind?"

kewms
12-11-2011, 02:00 PM
Again, with regards to the "acting like you're going to break", you may have good results by saying "I'd like to work on taking falls from a little harder throw; would you mind?"

It can also help to point out that being indecisive about the throw actually makes the ukemi more difficult. The throw doesn't need to be "hard," but it does need to be firm.

Katherine

Hanna B
12-11-2011, 05:16 PM
Then it's NOT natural, it's cultural. As a great many reprehensible practices are also cultural, I don't think the fact that something is a cultural practice means that it's good, right, or not subject to question or challenge.

We're digressing... but it is natural to have a culture. "Natural" does not equal "good". Not having any cultural patterns affecting our actions would be... impossible. Artificial.

I'm just saying it isn't strange that these things happen.

lbb
12-11-2011, 06:10 PM
Well sure, but she said that she had no intention of leaving and basically liked where she was. From that I took it that she wanted to stay and deal with it and that she was more venting than anything.

That's true, and I think that this thread has provided a lot of good, practical strategies for dealing with it. None from me! My senseis are married, he's a rokudan, she's a yondan, and they have three daughters and no sons. So, women aren't exactly marginalized in our dojo :D

Michael Neal
12-12-2011, 01:51 PM
I am not sure how guys laughing together coming out of the dressing room is somehow sexist, is it possible you are being ultra sensitive?

Janet Rosen
12-12-2011, 03:10 PM
It can also help to point out that being indecisive about the throw actually makes the ukemi more difficult. The throw doesn't need to be "hard," but it does need to be firm.

Katherine

VERY true. The first time I did a perfect breakfall was because I was put there. No fear, no pressure, just....there....

RoisinPitman
12-12-2011, 04:23 PM
I am the female founder of my own dojo (1987) in Jersey, Channel Islands and currently hold the rank of Godan. I have quite a few females in the club and the guys treat them with respect as aikidoka and as people. Maybe they think that the 'nasty, horrible' woman at the head of the class might deal with them accordingly.

None of my girls have any problems training with the men.

kewms
12-12-2011, 05:14 PM
VERY true. The first time I did a perfect breakfall was because I was put there. No fear, no pressure, just....there....

Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine

kewms
12-12-2011, 05:15 PM
I am not sure how guys laughing together coming out of the dressing room is somehow sexist, is it possible you are being ultra sensitive?

It's not sexist, but it can cause one to feel left out and isolated. I think that's what the OP had in mind.

Katherine

Shadowfax
12-12-2011, 05:30 PM
Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine

ya know uke can choose what kind of fall they take a large part of the time. Iv'e shocked the snot out of my training partners on more than one occasion by taking a breakfall out of his throw rather than the expected roll. My particular favorite is to take them off of the end of the jo, in jo tori kokyunage. :D

We don't really do a lot of breakfall practice in my dojo but I enjoy taking a few now and then so I just go ahead and take them. Of course when I want that I go find a training partner that I know will thrown me with a lot of energy. ;)

NagaBaba
12-13-2011, 11:28 AM
Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine
I ca'e see where is a problem? Ask Nake to throw you for breakfall and that's it. So simple.

NagaBaba
12-13-2011, 11:50 AM
Anonymous User wrote:
The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example.

That is another illusion. Respect is not displayed by calling up for ukemi. It is some kind of the myth created artificially may be for political reasons.
On fact some ppl are NOT called up for ukemi, cos instructor is not able to throw them!!!

We should not even use term 'taking ukemi', instead we should use 'attacking instructor'. These tow terms representing two very different particular states of mind. First one is a caracteristic for 'trained uke' whose goal is to show in good light instructor. That of course has nothing to do with Budo.

phitruong
12-13-2011, 03:34 PM
being the only male in the mostly male dojo, i don't feel sexist; although, i do feel sexyist at time.
*queue music
i am too sexy for my gi
too sexy for my gi
too sexy that it hurts.
i am ....

now with feeling* :D

back to the regular schedule of gender differential treatment

Mary Eastland
12-15-2011, 08:03 AM
Phi, are you the only person in your dojo?....to bad all that good stuff goes to waste. :D

George S. Ledyard
01-19-2012, 03:16 PM
This is an article I wrote back in 2005. I think it's relevant...

Martial arts have traditionally been the domain of the strong male. Despite the stories of mythic woman warriors who rode with the boys and fought alongside them as equals and even superiors, this was always the exception rather than the rule. Samurai women were taught to protect themselves and their families yet how many of us can name any of these fighting women? No, it’s pretty much a boys club and the few females who get let in are the ones able to play as the boys do.
There are probably more women doing Aikido on a percentage basis than any other martial art, although that would be just a guess, I have never seen figures on this. Despite their wide participation, which goes back to the early days in the 1930’s in Aikido’s development, women are notoriously absent from positions of prominence in Aikido. I know of no female instructors who have regularly taught at the Aikikai Honbu Dojo. In it’s hard to find any woman acting in the capacity of dojo cho in Japan, regardless of what organization one is referring to.
The contribution of the wives of the prominent instructors are sometimes alluded to when the Shihan recount their young days as uchideshi but then only in reference to their caretaking roles even though many of these wives trained as well. One almost never hears reference to women in terms of their skill on the mat.
Not until one leaves Japan does one encounter significant female presence in the ranks of those teaching the art. But even overseas, the leadership of virtually all Aikido organizations is almost entirely male. Woman may have significant responsibility, and in fact be indispensable to the various organizations, but their efforts are largely in support of the male leadership of these organizations.
I believe that Aikido should be different. I think that few would maintain that its raison d'etre is imparting fighting skills to the public yet we continuously use a performance standard which places, not just women, but the less athletic, and the elderly of both sexes at a disadvantage when compared with the young male practitioners of the art.
Recently a book on Aikido appeared in which the author, a senior Aikido practitioner, stated that any fourth kyu male in his dojo could take any woman in Aikido in a fight. The sheer lack of sensitivity it took to make such a statement tends to hide the fact that it also shows a complete misunderstanding of what Aikido is all about.
First of all, Aikido is not a combat art as normally taught. The techniques of our art are derived from a system which was taught to members of the samurai class and only make real sense when considered, not as a comprehensive empty-hand fighting system, but as part of a wider system which assumed that both the practitioner and his enemy were armed. When the equalizing effects of weaponry is removed as a factor, a distinct advantage is had by the student who is more physically powerful and can over power his adversary. This advantage exists until the opponent reaches a very high level of technical skill at which time attempts to use that type of physical power would no longer have any advantage but would rather be a detriment to the strong but not as skilled practitioner. If one were to look at Aikido from a true combat standpoint in which the practitioners were armed there would be a great equalizing factor between men and women and pure physical power would be secondary to smooth and quick movement and an understanding of openings.
Since normal practice of Aikido is done empty handed (unless one is doing actual weapons training), a distinct advantage is had by those of larger stature and more aggressive disposition in terms of overcoming their partners. The problem here is, of course, that Aikido isn’t primarily about overcoming one's partner. Masakatsu Agatsu is the term the Founder used to describe the point of Aikido training. "True Victory is Self Victory" is clearly not about how to defeat some outside enemy but rather it’s about dealing with our own internal demons. When O-Sensei said Aikido is the True Budo, he didn’t mean that Aikido was the most bad-assed fighting system. He meant that Aikido was, in his mind, the fullest expression of the aspect of Budo which teaches us how to live fully, to see ourselves as caretakers rather than destroyers.
The Dan system was originally set up in an attempt to assure that a certain quality level was maintained in the art. The real problem with this was that the system tended to focus on only one set of criteria, the technical, martial side of the art has been greatly favored over other factors and not to the overall benefit of the art. We are all familiar, I am sure with various high-level teachers who, while having a certain relatively high level of technical expertise and martial ferocity in no way embody the basic values which we would like to incorporate into our lives. Just as in the case of measuring intelligence in which the focus on the IQ has given way to a recognition that there are actually multiple types of intelligence and that a given individual could excel in one and be quite ordinary in another, our Aikido hierarchy needs to better reflect the different contributions one can make in an art which has so many facets.
I met a woman just recently who had started Aikido well after her fiftieth birthday. She has now been training for well over ten years and feels that Aikido has changed her life. In an Aikido world which only values strength of technique and difficult ukemi this person has no real status. Yet her age, while making it difficult to train as physically as the young folks do, gives such a depth to her practice that she is in a position to address in a meaningful way all sort of folks for whom instruction from someone like myself would have less relevance.
There are all sorts of Aikido teachers out there who are quite capable of going toe to toe with some hypothetical aggressor but who lack the ability to speak in any meaningful way to the hearts of a group of students whose needs don’t really encompass daily requirements for self defense techniques. There are a quite large and growing number of teachers who, while not being terribly interested in the martial application side of the art, are taking technique into whole new realms of exploration and can provide great insight into the connection between physical technique and the spiritual side of the practice. Many of these teachers are female instructors who have run dojos for years and have a tremendous depth of teaching experience, often bringing students into the art who would never have been interested in training in the more macho world of traditional martial arts including much Aikido.
This is not to say that there aren’t women who have successfully gone toe to toe with the men in their training and succeeded. Virginia Mahew, Pat Hendricks, Mary Heiny, Lorraine Dianne, Patty Saotome, etc. all managed to get ahead in the male dominated hierarchy of Aikido. But this shouldn’t be how we measure success. Women should not have to measure their worth according to their ability to be "like the guys." To insist on this is to place only secondary emphasis on the contributions which they make well in excess of what their male counter parts often make.
It has been my experience that women are generally more interested in the social/relational aspects of the art than in the martial. The community bond between dojo members is often created more through the efforts of a group of female students within a dojo than by those of the men. It has been my experience that the women within a dojo are far better at nurturing students who are emotionally damaged or are physically less confident.
In the absence of a different way of recognizing the wide-ranging nature of accomplishments and contributions, the Dan system should be administered in such a way that equal recognition is given to those that are contributing to the growth of the art in any such substantial way. The female instructors who have well over thirty years of experience in both training and teaching but who still find themselves down a rank or two below their equally experienced male counter parts should be brought up to parity. There should be more female instructors on the seminar circuit. The high-level teachers should go out of their way to include senior females as well as males as ukes. It makes a strong and very public statement about the support they can expect from their organizations.
No more should we encounter the dojo which places the male students at the top of the technical and hierarchical heap while the women, all ranked in the second tier, do all of the organizational and administrative work thereby actually keeping the school going for the men. No more should we recognize the accomplishments of women only to the extent that they resemble those of the men but also for the unique contributions they can make which perhaps most of the men can’t or won’t.
Aikido must be inclusive to accomplish what the Founder saw as its essential mission of bringing people together. People may have exceptional talents teaching children, they may be exceptionally nurturing to those of us who have been damaged in various ways. We will find those individuals who have great insight into the spiritual side of the art and they may not be the ones who are best able to show how to handle a roundhouse kick to the head. Instructors should make it a priority to create a new generation of instructors both male and female, young and old, who are empowered to make their own explorations of what Aikido can become and our organizations should support these teachers in following their visions. It is only by doing this that Aikido can grow in such a way that it is both inclusive and has the elements which a widely divergent group of practitioners requires.

Mark Freeman
01-19-2012, 06:19 PM
This is an article I wrote back in 2005. I think it's relevant...

What a great article, an excellent perspective thank you.

Here in the UK there are probably less women in high ranking positions than the US (although I stand to be corrected on this). Although my teacher is the technical head of the Ki Federation of GB, the President is Sensei Margaret Williams, she is an inspiration to all the many members in our organisation. We probably have a 60/40 male/female ratio, which may be that high, simply due to her being such a great aikidoka and great role model to both sexes.

I have spoken to 30 year plus guys, who remember the older 'harder' days of training and they all agree that using any 'strength' with her is pointless, it just gets you into trouble.

I really like the fact that aikido attracts a higher proportion of women than the other MA's. And for all the reasons, you gave in your article, there is no reason why women shouldn't feature equally alongside men in the higher levels of our art. And it is an art we practice, not a combat system.

regards,

Mark

graham christian
01-19-2012, 08:48 PM
What a great article, an excellent perspective thank you.

Here in the UK there are probably less women in high ranking positions than the US (although I stand to be corrected on this). Although my teacher is the technical head of the Ki Federation of GB, the President is Sensei Margaret Williams, she is an inspiration to all the many members in our organisation. We probably have a 60/40 male/female ratio, which may be that high, simply due to her being such a great aikidoka and great role model to both sexes.

I have spoken to 30 year plus guys, who remember the older 'harder' days of training and they all agree that using any 'strength' with her is pointless, it just gets you into trouble.

I really like the fact that aikido attracts a higher proportion of women than the other MA's. And for all the reasons, you gave in your article, there is no reason why women shouldn't feature equally alongside men in the higher levels of our art. And it is an art we practice, not a combat system.

regards,

Mark

And the lesson is????? There is no machismo is Aikido. (shhhh, don't tell anyone, they may have to find their feminine side)

Regards.G.

Malicat
01-19-2012, 09:31 PM
And the lesson is????? There is no machismo is Aikido. (shhhh, don't tell anyone, they may have to find their feminine side)


I'm not sure how y'all do it, but the yudansha around here are already wearing skirts... how much more feminine do they need to get? ;)

--Ashley

dalen7
01-20-2012, 03:27 AM
Well, you would have no problem in my neck of the woods here in Hungary training with people...
... they will throw you up against any size. [In Thai Boxing, especially in the beginning, this can be devastating with potential mishaps...] :)

In grappling there is no problem with guys grappling with the gals here either.

The only difference that I notice with the women in Aikido here is that they [the men] do take an extra effort to go easy as not to cause an accident. [no 'accidental' over-applied nikkyos, etc.]

Despite the free-flow, I did once see something that stateside would cause some eyebrows to be raised - each place is different... as each milieu filters things through their own [cultural] ideas and experiences, so mileage may vary.

LinTal
01-21-2012, 03:59 AM
Yeah! I appreciate guys slowing their nikkyo on me, only because it took too many months to fix the last time. So difference can be great if it's proportional.

Now, when it comes to my sensei... he's got wrists like rubber tree trunks! You'll just hammer and twist away at nikkyo with him and he'll give you a smile and lie down for you calm as anything. Oh how polite he is!! :D

dalen7
01-21-2012, 05:44 PM
Now, when it comes to my sensei... he's got wrists like rubber tree trunks! You'll just hammer and twist away at nikkyo with him and he'll give you a smile and lie down for you calm as anything. Oh how polite he is!! :D

Indeed... we have a 'rubber' guy as well. [reminds me of the scene from the 2nd Harry Potter film where Harrys arm goes all gooey] :)

Wouldn't mind a bit more flexibility in my wrist...

Diana Frese
01-22-2012, 01:29 PM
Jo napot, Dalen. Hello again Selin, just sending along a nikyo story. I was always careful to make sure people worked on their nikyo at our little YMCA dojo. One time I said, it works on me but it won't work on Harvey. Then I was at NYAikikai, my old school for a day while picking up work at my dad's office to do back here and I was in a group of three and Harvey arrived and got changed, and all the time the other two forgot to cycle me back into the group. Finally he was sitting next to me and bowed and it was nikyo. After I couldn't nikyo him I told him what I had told my students and then I told them that I went to NYA and my nikyo didn't work on Harvey either.

Just a funny nikyo story for those who like them:)

pezalinski
01-22-2012, 03:42 PM
After reviewing this thread, I have one question to ask: I know of many master instructors who happen to be famale, but why don't we have more women recognized as Shihans?
:confused:

kewms
01-22-2012, 10:01 PM
After reviewing this thread, I have one question to ask: I know of many master instructors who happen to be famale, but why don't we have more women recognized as Shihans?
:confused:

Think about the historical origins and current leadership of aikido for a minute. What do you think the reason is?

Katherine

Cady Goldfield
01-22-2012, 10:25 PM
Think about the historical origins and current leadership of aikido for a minute. What do you think the reason is?

Katherine

Case in point, albeit from judo but no less telling:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keiko_Fukuda

Note that Ms. Fukuda, the last surviving student of Jigoro Kano, was awarded her 10th dan rank not by the (Japanese) Kodokan, but by an American judo association. Her male contemporaries in Japan had long before received both their Kodokan 9th dan (Ms. Fukuda did not receive hers from the Kodokan until 2006) and their 10th dan ranks. I wonder whether the Kodokan will relent and award her the 10th dan. She will be 99 in a few months!

BEleanor
01-23-2012, 09:28 AM
Hi,

Why are there apparently no women posting to "voices of experience" on this forum? (am I missing some woman who is? I don't think so.) I know you are out there.

B

George S. Ledyard
01-23-2012, 10:30 AM
Hi,

Why are there apparently no women posting to "voices of experience" on this forum? (am I missing some woman who is? I don't think so.) I know you are out there.

B

I have talked to many of my senior (Rokudan level) female friends about posting on-line and virtually none of them post. The normal level of contention on the forums that is at least tolerable for many of the guys simply is of no interst whatever to my women friends. I know for a fact that some of them do read posts occasionally, but the attitude that this is a "debate" rather than a shared "discussion" that seems to be common to many, if not most, threads is of zero interest to them. At least that's the feedback I have gotten. I am really glad that there are more women posting regularly now. Having women who are teachers like Mary Eastland participating is even particularly important.

But I think that, per the original discussion, the martial arts world has largely been the "boy's club". It has always been difficult for owmen to have the same degree of respect and recognition accorded to the men. Aikido has always been quite a bit better in this respect but, given that it's a Japanese art, it's still never been unbiased, even here. The women who have fought their way to some level of recognition, rank wise and as teachers often do not seem terribly inclined to place themselves in a position of vulnerability in an environement that doesn't seem "safe". A male dominated internet forum in which there is quite a bit of uncivil, disrespective communication taking place does not qualify as "safe". It's risky for anyone to participate in these discussions... I think it's not surprising that folks have never had the benefit of "entitlement" and have had to fight for the respect they have gotten wouldn't volutarily put themselves on the firing line simply as something to do i their spare time.

I think that if we guys could get our act together about how we communicate on the forums, we might be able to persuade some of these amazing teachers to particpate. But we've got a ways to go before that happens I think.

Steven
01-23-2012, 10:56 AM
I'm not sure how y'all do it, but the yudansha around here are already wearing skirts... how much more feminine do they need to get? ;)

--Ashley

Well, my last name is Miranda, a female given name. I'll admit, I'm in touch with my feminine side. Having three daughters plays a part too. :D

sakumeikan
01-23-2012, 05:36 PM
Well, my last name is Miranda, a female given name. I'll admit, I'm in touch with my feminine side. Having three daughters plays a part too. :D

Hi Steven,
Miranda was in films a mermaid[played by Glynis Johns .Her measurements were 34 /22/ 5 dollars a k/g. Carmen Miranda was the lady with the tooty fruity hat-one of my all time favorite actresses.
I think its good to be in touch with a less macho side of your personality.I marvel at how my granddaughter aged 5 can get her own way with just a look in her eyes.She really knows how to charm you .True Aikido at such an early age.cheers, joe

BEleanor
01-23-2012, 10:49 PM
I have talked to many of my senior (Rokudan level) female friends about posting on-line and virtually none of them post.

Does one need to be rokudan to post on VOE? That would certainly narrow the field considerably. I know there are at least a couple of women posting on aikiweb regularly who have trained 20+ years, and who I believe teach..just wondering why they don't post on that forum, since I thought that 20 years of training was the bar.

The normal level of contention on the forums that is at least tolerable for many of the guys simply is of no interst whatever to my women friends.

I certainly respect that choice. I know quite a few men making it as well - most (all?) of the men in aikido I personally know, actually.

In response to the original post, based on my middle level experience: there are dojos where you will find all the support and respect you need. If you have to make do at one that is less than optimal, focus on your training, and go to a lot of seminars. Do not waste time or breath trying to get anyone to change, or even thinking too much about it. Developing some awareness of how someone might feel who is dressing alone and listening to laughter she is not invited to share is part of their practice, not yours.

My two cents, because I think it would be well for women who have been around the block to show up and be counted.

Thanks

B

Lorien Lowe
01-29-2012, 01:11 AM
wrt. the OP, I would suggest asking Sensei to throw you around for a few minutes after each class. It would serve the double purpose of making your ukemi better and getting him used to throwing you more, thus mitigating the problem from two possible directions (if not from all possible directions).

I've had the guys ask what the gals were all giggling about as we get dressed in our dressing room more than once. :) You might help to solve the problem yourself just by hanging in there, and thus becoming the inspiration for young women to follow in your footsteps.

wrt dogis:
http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Uniforms/Womens_Uniforms.aspx
OMG PINK WTF?!

Malicat
01-29-2012, 09:00 AM
wrt dogis:
http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Uniforms/Womens_Uniforms.aspx
OMG PINK WTF?!

I am as horrified about pink gis as you are Lorien. For some reason companies decided that to make something for a woman, it had to be pink. And then when that didn't sell things as quickly as they had hoped, they turned around and made the products "support" breast cancer research and attempted to guilt us into purchasing pink stuff. (On a side note, the amount of money donated for pink items is so small, you are better off purchasing the regular version of the item and donating the price difference directly) It's a pink conspiracy and I will have none of it! I will admit a healthy bit of envy on wushu uniforms though, especially since I saw a purple and black one I loved. :(

--Ashley

George S. Ledyard
01-29-2012, 10:19 AM
I am as horrified about pink gis as you are Lorien. For some reason companies decided that to make something for a woman, it had to be pink. And then when that didn't sell things as quickly as they had hoped, they turned around and made the products "support" breast cancer research and attempted to guilt us into purchasing pink stuff. (On a side note, the amount of money donated for pink items is so small, you are better off purchasing the regular version of the item and donating the price difference directly) It's a pink conspiracy and I will have none of it! I will admit a healthy bit of envy on wushu uniforms though, especially since I saw a purple and black one I loved. :(

--Ashley

Frankly, from a fashion standpoint, one that I always look at as a former Men's Wear Buyer, I have to say I am totally jealous of the hakamas worn by the late Moses Powell Sensei's Sanuces Ryu folks. African prints are quite simply wat more fashion forward than our black and blue hakamas. They are totally cool... But Sensei would croak if I wore one...
Moses Powell
(http://www.myspace.com/sadiqwarriorarts/photos/27091108)

Janet Rosen
01-29-2012, 12:28 PM
Frankly, from a fashion standpoint, one that I always look at as a former Men's Wear Buyer, I have to say I am totally jealous of the hakamas worn by the late Moses Powell Sensei's Sanuces Ryu folks. African prints are quite simply wat more fashion forward than our black and blue hakamas. They are totally cool... But Sensei would croak if I wore one...
Moses Powell
(http://www.myspace.com/sadiqwarriorarts/photos/27091108)

LOL! I used to say I wanted to do a series based on couture like an oversized, tailored gabardine hakama a la Claude Montana, a New Look hakama a la Dior, a short braid-edged hakama in boucle a la Chanel, etc....:)

George S. Ledyard
01-30-2012, 12:02 PM
LOL! I used to say I wanted to do a series based on couture like an oversized, tailored gabardine hakama a la Claude Montana, a New Look hakama a la Dior, a short braid-edged hakama in boucle a la Chanel, etc....:)

I figure that, if we can't have better Aikido than our teachers, why not at least look better...

Tyson Walters
01-30-2012, 03:47 PM
I hope this is not going to far off of the original topic... but if you need a funky (visually funky) gi... well then this just might fit the bill.

http://happykimonos.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=3892221

:D

Janet Rosen
01-30-2012, 04:14 PM
I hope this is not going to far off of the original topic... but if you need a funky (visually funky) gi... well then this just might fit the bill.

http://happykimonos.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=3892221

:D

Oh dear me...even here in Mendopia....this is Just. Too. Much.

danj
01-30-2012, 07:19 PM
At the other end of the spectrum I have seen a very nice 'TAP OR SNAP' printed down the full length of gi pants on some MMA chaps at a collegiate event, got a somewhat nervous laugh out of me ;)

Malicat
01-30-2012, 07:22 PM
I hope this is not going to far off of the original topic... but if you need a funky (visually funky) gi... well then this just might fit the bill.

http://happykimonos.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=3892221

:D

That would almost be worth purchasing just to see the look on my Sensei's face. :) To be fair though, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to wear it to class...

--Ashley

susanmarie
01-30-2012, 10:32 PM
That would almost be worth purchasing just to see the look on my Sensei's face. :) To be fair though, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to wear it to class...

--Ashley

Oh my -- ditto to both of those.

Krystal Locke
02-06-2012, 01:39 PM
For xmas, along with two very lovely and perfect aikido gear bags made by our own multi-talented Janet Rosen, I got my girlfriend a pink belt for her gi. She was bemused. Said she'd wear it when she gets a hakama. She brought it to the dojo to mark her dressing room territory.

I told sensei about it, and he told her to wear it for that class. It looked fantastic on her, she wore it well, and it irritated the uptight guy with the brand new godan. BONUS!

Sensei wants to borrow it next time he goes out to teach a seminar. So, next time you go see some dude teaching for the weekend, if he's got a pink belt on, you'll know who I train with.

Janet Rosen
02-06-2012, 03:40 PM
LOL!!! Off the original topic but related to the pink belt and confounding expectations...
Some yrs ago for part of an art exhibit plus some antiwar demos I bought on EBay a pink ammo belt and loaded it with...oh and they fit perfectly!...O.B. tampons.

LinTal
02-06-2012, 07:59 PM
That is... AWESOME!!! :p

Malicat
02-06-2012, 08:24 PM
LOL!!! Off the original topic but related to the pink belt and confounding expectations...
Some yrs ago for part of an art exhibit plus some antiwar demos I bought on EBay a pink ammo belt and loaded it with...oh and they fit perfectly!...O.B. tampons.

I am in awe... :) So far the worst I have done is use an actual SWAT tactical bag for overnight trips and vacations to hold all my toiletries. The magazine holders fit deodorant perfectly, and it's heavy enough that if something spills inside, it won't leak out to the rest of the suitcase.

Carrie Campbell
02-08-2012, 11:08 AM
My suggestions for becoming a better (and more regularly asked) uke:

1) Pay attention to ukes you want to move like, and copy their motion, connection, and energy.
2) Practice ukemi deliberately and repeatedly.

This is, essentially, what has worked for me.

*For those of you that prefer the concise version, please avoid my second post. For those of you that need more detail, read the expanded version to follow.

Carrie Campbell
02-08-2012, 11:15 AM
"Kai Lynn",

First, you are not alone. As you can see from the responses to your original post, there are many aikidoka across the world that care and are willing to provide support and advice for improvement, or to answer or discuss some of the many questions that overwhelm and baffle us as aikido students, and some of these helpful aikidoka happen to be female, like you and like me. 

I don't often contribute to discussions, as I am also just a student. However, this particular question seems very pertinent to my own experiences and aikido journey, and since I was able to work through it and I don't see many similar experiences currently being shared, I feel obligated to "speak." I apologize in advance for the length and will try to at least organize the post.

After reading your question and everyone's posts, I see a situation similar to my own a few years ago and several good suggestions for improvement. I'll start with the suggestions I liked best, and then share with you what I did to reverse the roles and become a regular demonstration uke for Sensei.

OTHER POSTS

Several posters recommended speaking to Sensei about your concerns in one way or another. If you are comfortable addressing the topic directly with Sensei, I like the approach someone mentioned of telling him you want to work on your ukemi, and asking what he'd recommend. Along these lines, I also like Lorien's idea of asking Sensei to throw you around for a few minutes after each class. As she explains in her post, benefits would include practice and guidance for you, and familiarity for him throwing you. Five minutes of ukemi with Sensei would also provide some serious opportunities for increasing ukemi endurance.

From your description, I agree with Mark in that I don't see it as "overt gender-bias," and can't speak to any particular reason you, as an individual, would be called as uke less often than your classmates. Regardless, just like in aikido itself, it's perhaps easier to focus on changing oneself and affecting one's own movement, and then see what happens to others around, than it is to try to change someone else.

PERSONAL UKEMI STORY

Personally, when I noticed I wasn't being selected as uke for practice, I saw it as an individual issue for me. I decided there must be something about ukemi I'm personally missing or could change. I chose a nonverbal remedy option to begin my ukemi improvement plan. I began to watch Sensei's favorite ukes, especially the people called repeatedly by both local and visiting instructors. I practiced with them whenever I could, and tried to see what it is that they did as uke. What was their connection and energy like? How did they move and react? And as I improved, I began to be called more as uke for demonstrations during practice first and then later at seminars.

Before practice, I would loosen up and make sure I was "round" and relaxed, and practice rolling. During practice, I tried to be aware of my ukemi as uke. This included trying to stay as connected as possible for as long as possible and trying to provide that "right amount" of initial and continued energy flow from your center to your partner's center. After a few months, and some ukemi adjustments here and there, Sensei apparently noticed some kind of improvement and I began to be included regularly in the rotation of Sensei's ukes during practice.

At one point in my practice, I was particularly frustrated with my technique and lack of aikido knowledge, ability, and improvement overall. I then decided that rather than try to improve everything at once, I needed to focus on one smaller goal, and of the two general choices of improving as uke or as nage, ukemi is something I was ready to learn, while good technique continued to elude me. I started asking senior students for extra advice and suggestions (such as aikiweb), especially whenever I found ukemi from a particular technique awkward. [If ukemi was awkward, maybe I was doing something wrong. How is a more natural way or safer way to fall? Sensei's uke didn't seem fazed at all; what did he do instead? ]

Two pieces of advice from sempai were (1) "practice ukemi to improve ukemi" because practice makes…well… better, and (2) to improve endurance, add extra conditioning, such as running. So, I started asking Sensei or a senior student for extra ukemi after class, and began running outside of class to increase my endurance for ukemi. When I began, one minute with Sensei was all I could handle before my legs refused to support me properly. This gradually increased to about five minutes, going all out. Longer than five minutes would require me to pace myself. Over the next one to two years, I also became a fairly regular seminar uke, for one particular instructor. I believe it helped to be able to get several reps shown in a short amount of time.

[Note, however, ukemi can also be expected to be very very slow, depending on your partner's familiarity with technique and what he or she is focusing on, whether you are injured and practicing on your own, or if Sensei is showing something and talking at length about the different steps as you go along. For a somewhat humorous example: "Uke should be really uncomfortable about here. You should have one hand here and one hand here. Keep your elbows down. Bend your knees. Notice uke's back foot, how she's on her toes and her foot is coming off the ground; that's a good sign. Not here, but here. Watch how uke hops… Now all you have to do is pivot/shift weight/let go and uke falls (…greatfully)."]

I am by no means an expert, and have so very much to improve. However, if anything from my journey thus far helps you in yours, you are welcome to it. I am very thankful to some of the folks from aikiweb who have donated their time to help me, especially with ukemi advice both online and in person. I hope you find the community you are looking for as well.

Krystal Locke
02-10-2012, 01:44 PM
That's fine for me, but if you're wishing I'd just treat you like one of the guys it's not so good for you.

What do you mean by that?

hughrbeyer
02-10-2012, 09:52 PM
I'm no tank, but I do enjoy working with strong, fast attacks. If you are smaller, slighter, and more diffident on the mat, I will worry about whether an overly aggressive approach will scare you away. That's not only women, and certainly not all women, but it does describe some women. With them, I'm likely to start out with lighter and slower attacks until I get a clear signal that something more vigorous would be welcome. That doesn't mean I don't get real training in--I just focus on sensitivity and really really dropping all tension and muscle from the technique. So if my partner in such a situation wants something more challenging from me, they have to be clear that they want it.

Clear? It's really just what happens with any pair on the mat--you figure out mutually what the other person can give you and what you're going to do with it.

Keith Larman
02-10-2012, 11:49 PM
Well, I can only speak for myself. There are some females in our dojo, but they're not in the majority. In the classes I teach I have about 30-40% females usually so my classes are a bit more balanced. My rule for myself and for students when I'm teaching is that they should give the attack that is up to the level of their partner. I don't care if you're male, female, neutered, 12 years old, 68, or from Mars. Initially if you have an uke you're unfamiliar with you work carefully until you find where they're at and what intensity they can handle. And you train appropriately to push them to get better.

I knew one your woman who pushed me to work more forcefully with her. She crumbled under one attack once when I tried to push her the way she asked. Yes, she got bruised, but got back up and said "let me try again". Fine. Then she crushed me...

Works for me.

And I've had big, brutish looking guys who get freaked out at even the smallest bit of real contact.

Yes, I will be careful with a smaller, thinner woman student I'm not familiar with. But I'll be equally careful with a smaller, thinner male student I'm not familiar with. Whatever they're up to is fine with me. I'm just there to train and learn. More bodies to toss around the better...

So yeah, I'm careful with smaller women. And kids. And smaller men. Cause I'm a big guy. And if I'm training with you and you want more intensity, just ask. It's sometimes hard to know how much a new training partner can take or is willing to work with. Regardless of your gender.

Sure, some treat you differently because you're female. But don't assume that the fact that you're being treated differently is necessarily because you're female... I don't want to hurt anyone I'm training with unnecessarily. And it can be tough to know how much to push someone you've not trained with much or with someone who doesn't give you feedback that they want a harder, stronger attack.

Janet Rosen
02-11-2012, 12:41 AM
Good post, Keith.
It really depends. I've got some arthritis issues but they tend to pose more of a problem for me as nage than as uke - as uke I tend to attack at the speed and intensity I feel I can handle throughout the technique, and as a partner and I get to know each other, I will get more intense and while my rolls or falls look nonstandard I am pretty bouncy.
OTOH I have incredible thin wrists and it is easier than most big young guys know to really compress and damage tendons with a simple grip when there is no fat or flesh around them.
So yeah, every body is different.

Dave de Vos
02-11-2012, 08:21 AM
In our dojo only about 20% of the students is female.

When I divide the students in male/female and beginners/advanced students, female beginners seem to stand out for being more afraid of hurting themselves and others.
Lacking ukemi skills seems to have a much bigger impact on female beginners than on male beginners. It's obvious that they feel more apprehensive when training intensity rises, so their training partners handle them with more care.
I don't sense this apprehensivess in advanced females at all. They handle themselves very well under pressure. And the smaller they are, the more they make up for this by confidence, suppleness, speed, superior body movement and good ukemi.

I think this is related to Carrie Campbell's post #81 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=302697&postcount=81) about ukemi skills making the difference, rather than gender. But in my experience, male beginners seem to pick up ukemi skills quicker than female beginners. Perhaps this has something to do with gender difference in risk perception?

P.S.: My observations are based on a small sample group, so I don't know if it applies in general.

kewms
02-11-2012, 06:44 PM
I think this is related to Carrie Campbell's post #81 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=302697&postcount=81) about ukemi skills making the difference, rather than gender. But in my experience, male beginners seem to pick up ukemi skills quicker than female beginners. Perhaps this has something to do with gender difference in risk perception?

Also gender differences in past experiences. Girls are not generally encouraged to participate in contact sports or even in physical horseplay, while boys are.

Katherine

Alic
02-12-2012, 03:51 AM
We have quite a few girls in our dojo, and I can understand what you mean. The girls don't strike hard as the boys do and their breakfall isn't quite good... I wish we had a female yudansha to be a role model for them to aspire to, and teach them the ropes from a female perspective (and decrease the testosterone levels in this sausage fest). As we didn't have any females for quite some time, this is a big improvement, but I still hold out hope for a female blackbelt to sudden join us (anybody interested in teaching Yoshinkan Aikido in Vancouver?).

I personally treat them just the same as the boys, striking the same strength, giving good technique and pins. They are here to learn a budo, so you are disrespecting their resolve if you show them any less. Now, you should treat both sexes in a gentle manner, and get their permission before getting rough and hard, just out of respect for their body and health, but of course if a girl were to ask me to strike with all my force, I would do as asked.

Keith Taylor sensei is really good on this aspect too, as he regularly throws the girls around just the same as the boys, to let them feel the true technique as it is (so as long as it's within the acceptable ukemi level).

Now, I just need to go out and recruit some more girls :)

Malicat
02-12-2012, 11:12 PM
Also gender differences in past experiences. Girls are not generally encouraged to participate in contact sports or even in physical horseplay, while boys are.

Katherine

I think you hit the nail on the head there Katherine. Studying a martial art isn't feminine. I used to joke with my Sensei when I was a teenager that I couldn't get a date because of his training and the confidence he gave me. And I wouldn't sacrifice it for anything. But it's not common for women to feel that way, even now. Taking a self defense class at a local gym is acceptable, but actually training to fight is unacceptable in the world of what is proper for women.

And if we do try to learn to fight, we run into some men at the best dojos who don't want to throw us or hit us. Not because they're bad teachers or because they are sexist, but because they believe it's never ok to hit a woman. We run into other men at the worst dojos that either want to throw us harder just because they feel like we don't have the right to be there because of our gender, or view us as useful only as potential dates who won't complain about how much time they spend training. And we run into the average every day man who has no desire to train in a martial art, and treat us like aliens because the idea of a woman training to fight is anathema to them. And the worst of the worst who use nasty homophobic slurs because they can't deal with a woman who can take care of herself.

So, for all you guys who go easy on the girls in dojo, please don't. We know you have the best intentions. But going easy on us will make us worse martial artists, not better. And if we ever actually need to use our training, that false confidence will crumble in the face of a rapist who isn't going to go down easy. Take into consideration our size, yes, but the same way you would take into consideration the size of a man. And remember that from birth, we are told over and over again that we need, above all, to be nice. To compromise, to sacrifice our own desire for the good of someone else.

So when you train us just like one of the guys, you are giving us more than your knowledge and experience. You are helping to break down years of that garbage. Years of being told that we always need to smile and pretend everything is ok. And years of being told that we will turn into single crazy cat-women who can't get a husband because men don't like women who are confident and can take care of themselves.

So, I finish off by being grateful for my Sensei, when he throws me hard enough to crack my back,, and trusts me enough to know that I will jump back up smiling, but also gently applies nikkyo because he knows the arthritis is really bad in both my wrists. And most of all, I'm grateful to women like Janet Rosen and the other women both on Aikiweb and in my own style of Aikido who remind me that I'm not the only crazy chick who passionately values everything I can learn from Aikido, both in self-defense and in my personal and spiritual worldview.

--Ashley

Akeman1963
02-22-2012, 10:38 AM
The advantage for women, in my opinion, is that they understand that they lack strength in comparison to most ukes. This is also the same weakness for the men in that they will use strength and fail to learn proper technique.

I entered my dojo when it had women in the upper kyu ranks. I even chose one as my personal sempai for test preparation, even though she is easily thirty pounds lighter. We have a couple of females at the brown belt level in both the kids and adult classes. Recently, one of the adults earned her first dan.

At dinner that night, my toast to her was that she gave a new meaning to the sexist comment, 'fight like a girl'. It will now mean, 'to use good form with conviction'.

Kai Lynn
03-10-2012, 10:09 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm the original poster for this topic. I want to thank you for all the advice and comments you gave me. Over the last three months, we have had some subtle changes at the dojo which has impacted my life greatly.

First, I have found help. Although I'm not comfortable talking to our Sensei, one of his blackbelts has been a great help to me. He's been helping me with my ukemi a little at a time. He's become the person I ask a lot of questions to; mainly because I don't feel he is going to belittle me for asking.

Secondly, a female dan has returned. She's brightened up the dojo and is a real leader to the younger girls, especially myself. She's been helping me work on koshi and other techinques that she feels take advantage of a female's build. My boyfriend is a bit jealous- something that made me laugh so hard! The concept of a male feeling excluded in a dojo by females is almost laudable.

Finally, I have been called up for ukemi a lot more or the last month and a half. My boyfriend got sick for two weeks and I got called up in his place. Even since he's returned I have noticed I still get called up. I also feel better about my ukemi- especially my breakfalls.

Thanks for all your help.

Janet Rosen
03-10-2012, 11:45 PM
And thank you for the update. Funny how sometimes with Tincture of Time things just work out....

Ayu
03-16-2012, 04:18 PM
Hi "Lynn",

(I should have post my first post here!!) didn't know about this anonymous forum!! :P

I know how you feel. Because I'm in a similar situation, but a lot better because the dojo I train in has female black belts and female instructors. Most people are very nice and respectful to me. I'm small and new, and weak. I don't get called for ukemi very often by some teachers. But I don't really care about this, because I would rather sit and watch the techniques being shown.

It seems to me that you're not happy about this aikido training, or at least you don't feel respected while doing it. I'd like to know what your boyfriend says about this situation. And are you considering quitting? I just feel like we should not waste our money and time on something that makes us unhappy. But, maybe no pain no gain. I don't know. I'm confused too. I'm thinking about quitting myself.....Sorry, couldn't help. But just want to let you know, you're not alone. :)

Linda Eskin
03-17-2012, 04:43 PM
I'm glad things are working out for "Kai Lynn".

Brava, Ashley Hemsath, for everything you said. Dead on.

"Ayu," all the things you said sounded pretty positive, but then you said you were thinking about quitting. Are you having gender-related problems at your dojo?

I am lucky to be in a very balanced dojo. Not quite 50/50, but everyone trains together very well.

It's hard to know, when you are a beginner, how to take it when people are "too gentle" with you. I started at age 46, and was quite out of shape. Add age, fitness level, and being a newbie together, and you've got all kinds of good reasons for not training full out, and rightly so. I don't think any of what I experienced at first was due to being a woman. That said, there were a few people who didn't baby me at all, and I really enjoyed training with them. Now nobody babies me (yes, they train appropriate to my level, they don't try to kill me). :-)

The changing room thing is awkward. We usually have at least several women, and several men, in each class, so it's less like getting sent away by yourself after class is over. But there have been a few times I've been the only woman in class. I'm usually not even aware of that until I go to change. It is a lonely feeling. I've seen it go the other way, too, where there's only one guy in class, and he's off by himself afterward. One thing that helps that situation, and was the case in both our old location and the current one, is that the changing rooms are not accoustically isolated from each other. We can talk back and forth. It takes a little louder voice, but you can carry on a conversation somewhat, and hear what's being said. If I were designing a dojo, I'd be sure it worked this way. Maybe with just a couple of layers of fabric serving as a wall, or part of a wall. It's a minor thing, but it helps. In any case, the separation is not personal, whichever way it goes.

dontwantousemyname
03-27-2012, 05:31 AM
Well,

I am happy that the original poster found some level of resolution. I am a woman in an aikido dojo, and i don't mind the gentler treatment that i receive. for the most part the guys are quite respectful and helpful to me.
I get really, really annoyed by the ragga-muffins, or mysogenist men who think that every woman who appears in the dojo is available for their sexual conquest. But, I can handle that, with a simple "No" and "I don't create problems where I don't have to". that usually does the trick. BUT then you have the possessive women in the dojo who think that all the dojo men belong to them.

The issues I do have as a female martial artist are:

1. Sensei's who allow women to execute/demonstrate horrible technique. (AND gives them a pat on the back, saying "Good"). It's not freaking good. I have to train with the person and it hurts my training and is demeaning and patronizing to the woman. We all may not be bruce lee, but we are not all minnie pearl either.

2. Collectively, we women need to come into the dojo with a spirit of training in Martial Arts; not dance (so emphasizing looking good and smooth is the point), or socializing so much so that those of us who want to train are interrupted.

3. Just my opinion, there is a high ranking aikoka who has a series of Youtube video demonstrations, called "women in skirts". How in the heck are we supposed to be taken seriously, with things like that out there?

I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.

I'm also sure that this happens in other Martial arts as well. It's just that Aikido is so prone to unknowing teachers, or taking advantage of people who want to become japanese monks, we women seem to get the short end of the stick.

Malicat
03-27-2012, 08:18 PM
Well,

I am happy that the original poster found some level of resolution. I am a woman in an aikido dojo, and i don't mind the gentler treatment that i receive. for the most part the guys are quite respectful and helpful to me.
I get really, really annoyed by the ragga-muffins, or mysogenist men who think that every woman who appears in the dojo is available for their sexual conquest. But, I can handle that, with a simple "No" and "I don't create problems where I don't have to". that usually does the trick. BUT then you have the possessive women in the dojo who think that all the dojo men belong to them.

The issues I do have as a female martial artist are:

1. Sensei's who allow women to execute/demonstrate horrible technique. (AND gives them a pat on the back, saying "Good"). It's not freaking good. I have to train with the person and it hurts my training and is demeaning and patronizing to the woman. We all may not be bruce lee, but we are not all minnie pearl either.


... Ok, when someone is a beginner, I understand having the uke "help" the technique move along a bit so the beginner knows what it is supposed to feel like, and then step up the intensity as the beginner progresses, but I would have deep concerns about a sensei who had a female demonstrate a technique to a class who wasn't top notch at what she was doing.

2. Collectively, we women need to come into the dojo with a spirit of training in Martial Arts; not dance (so emphasizing looking good and smooth is the point), or socializing so much so that those of us who want to train are interrupted.

Well, collectively I expect all of the Aikidoka I train with to have a spirit of Aiki. No dancing for women, and no weightlifting bragging from the men. We are here together to learn something both martial and spiritual, and I expect a certain base level of respect and desire for a common goal from everyone I train with.

3. Just my opinion, there is a high ranking aikoka who has a series of Youtube video demonstrations, called "women in skirts". How in the heck are we supposed to be taken seriously, with things like that out there?

By being yourself. You can't control what other people do, just as anyone with any brains won't judge you based on what someone else does. And if anyone thinks all female Aikidoka are just cute little girls playing at martial arts, I would be happy to assist them in blending with the mat. :) Otherwise, leave it alone. And if someone mentions it, I would only respond with, "I am not familiar with their dojo or training, and that isn't what I do. Would you like to visit a class with my sensei?"

I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.

I'm also sure that this happens in other Martial arts as well. It's just that Aikido is so prone to unknowing teachers, or taking advantage of people who want to become japanese monks, we women seem to get the short end of the stick.

What exactly does training like a dude entail? While the yudansha in the two dojos I train in are all men, there are quite a few female yudansha in our organization, and the classes I attend are generally 50/50 in terms of gender. My Sensei's classes are a bit slower and more relaxed than my Shihan's classes, but that's a function of how they teach, not of the gender make up of the classes.

--Ashley

phitruong
03-28-2012, 08:30 AM
I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.
.

so you don't want to train like a dude, but want to be treated like another dude, yet looking different than any other dude as long as you can do like a dude. :)

dontwanttousemyname
04-12-2012, 10:25 PM
so you don't want to train like a dude, but want to be treated like another dude, yet looking different than any other dude as long as you can do like a dude. :)

cute....the girl in me had to respond

dontwanttousemyname
04-12-2012, 10:33 PM
... Ok, when someone is a beginner, I understand having the uke "help" the technique move along a bit so the beginner knows what it is supposed to feel like, and then step up the intensity as the beginner progresses, but I would have deep concerns about a sensei who had a female demonstrate a technique to a class who wasn't top notch at what she was doing.

I do have deep concerns...It seems to me that he is protecting his business and dojo profitabilitiy. Over this summer, I will decide whether or not to leave and train somewhere else. Fortunately, I have a lot of quality choices available.

Well, collectively I expect all of the Aikidoka I train with to have a spirit of Aiki. No dancing for women, and no weightlifting bragging from the men. We are here together to learn something both martial and spiritual, and I expect a certain base level of respect and desire for a common goal from everyone I train with.

By being yourself. You can't control what other people do, just as anyone with any brains won't judge you based on what someone else does. And if anyone thinks all female Aikidoka are just cute little girls playing at martial arts, I would be happy to assist them in blending with the mat. :) Otherwise, leave it alone. And if someone mentions it, I would only respond with, "I am not familiar with their dojo or training, and that isn't what I do. Would you like to visit a class with my sensei?"

What exactly does training like a dude entail? While the yudansha in the two dojos I train in are all men, there are quite a few female yudansha in our organization, and the classes I attend are generally 50/50 in terms of gender. My Sensei's classes are a bit slower and more relaxed than my Shihan's classes, but that's a function of how they teach, not of the gender make up of the classes.

--Ashley

I agree with you totally.

what i meant when i said training like a dude, is that i don't want to be a "ruffian" or try to muscle through the techniques to prove how strong i am, as many men in my dojo do. also, i don't want to train as though my body is not that of a woman. we have different bodies; as a former athlete, i've seen many a woman have ending, traumatic injuries (mostly knee and achillies tendon) because they move in ways that are not conducive to the way many of our bodies are built.

i had some very "manly men" in my dojo in mind (smiling) who i see get into ridiculous aikido-rumbles all the time, to prove what works and doesn't to themselves.

before you say it, yes men have those injuries too...:) (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.

Malicat
04-13-2012, 03:16 PM
I agree with you totally.

what i meant when i said training like a dude, is that i don't want to be a "ruffian" or try to muscle through the techniques to prove how strong i am, as many men in my dojo do. also, i don't want to train as though my body is not that of a woman. we have different bodies; as a former athlete, i've seen many a woman have ending, traumatic injuries (mostly knee and achillies tendon) because they move in ways that are not conducive to the way many of our bodies are built.

i had some very "manly men" in my dojo in mind (smiling) who i see get into ridiculous aikido-rumbles all the time, to prove what works and doesn't to themselves.

before you say it, yes men have those injuries too...:) (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.

Ah ha! hehe, yeah, I'm actually totally with you on the guy thing to a degree. Both my Sensei and Shihan are very clear on the fact that if you can feel yourself "muscling" the technique, you are doing it incorrectly. However, the guys do tend to get extra rough with each other randomly for no reason, but we don't refer to it as training, more like wrestling. And I like to refer to the guys being rough and dumb for no good reason as suffering from "Testosterone Poisoning." I think that happens anywhere guys get together in a martial environment... just need to make sure it doesn't actually translate over into real training. :)

--Ashley

lbb
04-17-2012, 08:46 AM
before you say it, yes men have those injuries too...:) (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.

I don't think that we, categorically, have anything (strengths, weaknesses, skills or color preferences) -- and the more that we, the human species, keep thinking "men are like this and women are like that, men are good at this and women are good at that", the more we limit what we -- as men, women, individuals and as a species -- are capable of.

Meggy Gurova
04-25-2012, 03:55 AM
Hi Lynn,
I´m happy things are getting better for you. When I first read your first posting I was surprized because it was something I could have written 11 years ago!
It´s sad some things doesn´t change. But at the same time I´m glad to see improvement of the thinking of the people that write answers. Of course not the same people :) but still that shows me we are going in the right direction!
I can´t share my experience how I resolved my problem because of my 11 years of training I have moved around and changed around 10 dojos including one dojo of my own.
I have seen that moving to a new dojo is like starting a new job or something else where you have to make a new impression. I had to show everybody including the sensei how I should be treated.
In different dojos there are different ways of choosing uke. Some teachers use everybody once, others everybody from the advanced once, others use their favorites and other unfortunately only male favorites. You can not change a person and the same goes to teachers. You can not change their way of teaching and choosing ukes. But of course you can increase the times being uke by learning more about ukemi and all the other things people mentioned as advise in this thread.
I started trining in Sweden and there you have white belt until you get your hakama at 3 kyu and then black belt and hakama. On my first seminars I cloud observe how after the sensei showing the technique people fast choose partner and being a female white belt I was last to be chosen. Of course the black belts goes first, then the hakamas then the males then the females of the whites. Of course when I got my hakama I was not the last to be chosen and so on... It´s so sad :( :mad:
Many thanks for the inspiring replies in this thread!

Meggy Gurova
04-25-2012, 04:02 AM
People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.

Oh yeah :D
after 11 years of training there are still male newbes that are eager to show me how to do the techniques...

sakumeikan
04-25-2012, 05:20 AM
For xmas, along with two very lovely and perfect aikido gear bags made by our own multi-talented Janet Rosen, I got my girlfriend a pink belt for her gi. She was bemused. Said she'd wear it when she gets a hakama. She brought it to the dojo to mark her dressing room territory.

I told sensei about it, and he told her to wear it for that class. It looked fantastic on her, she wore it well, and it irritated the uptight guy with the brand new godan. BONUS!

Sensei wants to borrow it next time he goes out to teach a seminar. So, next time you go see some dude teaching for the weekend, if he's got a pink belt on, you'll know who I train with.

Dear Krystal/Janet,
Order me a gross of the Pink obi.Any lilac ones?Wearing a natty coloured belt might have me modelling on a catwalk in Paris?I picked the two colours since both highlight my receding silver locks.
Black obi/blue /black hakama /white gi are so retro , slightly boring/reminiscent of Chairman Mao and his pals, do'nt you think??? cheers, Joseph and his Amazing Off White Gi.-the musical.

Hanna B
04-25-2012, 01:17 PM
People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.

*nod*

I recognise that. And it got me thinking.

So if there were no ranks. Then maybe a male would be assumed to have seniority over the femal unless she's super-duper-obvious very superior?

What if that's how it actually works in real world. At least in some aspects and areas of life.

(Hi Meggy!)

lbb
04-25-2012, 03:03 PM
So if there were no ranks. Then maybe a male would be assumed to have seniority over the femal unless she's super-duper-obvious very superior?

What if that's how it actually works in real world. At least in some aspects and areas of life.

In my experience, this is true in a number of areas where there's a stereotype of gender-associated abilities. In technology, this was and is still true -- I used to say to friends that a man claims he's an expert in TCP/IP if he can tell you what the letters stand for, while a woman isn't considered an expert unless she can quote the RFC and tell you the packet format of every protocol in the stack. In other martial arts, I've seen beginner men instruct senior women, disparage their competencies -- the "huh, well that wouldn't work in a REAL fight" is perhaps the most frequent retort to being on the receiving end of an effective technique (with the subtext, "...and of course, since I'm male, I know how to fight!"). These are also the same guys that can never resist wandering over to the heavy bag and punching it as hard as they can. Then we get to see how stone-faced they can be, and how fast a wrist can swell up.

Summary: there's definitely a strong positive correlation between believing a lot of silly crap about other people and their abilities, and believing a lot of silly crap about yourself and your abilities.

chubbycubbysmash
04-25-2012, 08:02 PM
Wow, this is an interesting thread... I really enjoyed reading a lot of the responses because I've often noticed a difference.

I'm currently the only female practitioner at my dojo, and for the most part, I find that people are much more delicate with me, and are better at being sensitive uke when they're my partner than when they are other's. I get used as an example based on my size and gender a LOT, which can be annoying at times but I think its good the sensei at our school are very focused on being sensitive uke and nage. Most of the time I hear:

'She's short, so you need to bend your knees more. Otherwise you're not actually doing the technique, you're just pulling her around..'
'Because she's so light, it's easy to pull her around with force rather than technique, so you need to be careful not to just use force.'
'I like practicing with her because I have to be sensitive to how I'm actually doing the technique because it's easier to make her fall with force alone.'

When it comes to doing more ukemi centric techniques, I often help demonstrate because I can follow very well. But when it's for real demonstrations that the men want to, I guess you can call it 'show off', they will always pick the biggest and the strongest person who falls the loudest because I think they think it looks cool. I don't mind so much, as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses--I wouldn't use a screwdriver to try and hammer in a nail.

And then on the flip side, the sensei would often tell me 'you need to get the technique down precise, because you will never win with force alone.' 'It's harder on you because you're a girl and you don't have the muscle to back it up, so you will have to get the technique down pat so no one will be able to question your rank or skill.'

It's hard, when you're held to a different standard, and often it frustrates me. It's so easy for someone to stop my technique if I'm not in the absolute correct position, and sometimes they do it on purpose but I wouldn't be able to stop them for the life of me because they would just add more muscle. I guess what bothers me most is my own limitations, not how others treat me.

Anyway, I thought this topic was really awesome, and brought to light the differences that exist between men and women, especially in martial arts.

Anony Mouse
05-07-2012, 09:57 AM
From my experiences as a woman who trained in a couple of all male schools, I think that how men train with and treat women really depends on the personality and atmosphere of the particular school and the individual men who are attracted to that atmosphere. Also, and I think this is true of women too in their own way, men can act differently as individuals than they do as a pack. You know, the pack mentality. Guys who treat a woman decently when they're outside a group can act very differently when surrounded by other guys.

One school I trained at for several years was like a boys club. They were safe to train with for the most part, but when it came to the before class and after class chitchat or any kind of camaraderie they completely blew me off. Even the instructor who normally was very nice to me when no one else was around would change totally when surrounded by his guys. They would lock eyes with each other and talk talk talk right past, around and through me and never included me in their conversations. But if I didn't sit right there and listen, if I started packing up my gi and gear to head home after class, they got mad at me and said I wasn't being sociable! I thought at first that it was because I was a noob and that in time I would be included. But that never happened and after a couple of years things were the same.

It was crazy and very hurtful. Eventually and unfortunately, instead of confronting it head on I let it affect my attitude and training. My relationship to the instructor, students and school went into a downward spiral. I didn't know how to address that at the time though now I have more insight and would handle it differently. I'm not as timid now as I was then and I would have been more forthright with them about what was going on with us.
Maybe we could have worked it out, maybe not. But at least I would have tried without forcing myself to be someone I'm not. But back then I just let my feelings get hurt and that would make them even angrier. They eventually implied I should leave because I wasn't a good fit with them. From their point of view I was the badguy disrupting the harmony of the school. I was sad but what could I do? I really liked the training, but at the time I thought it would be futile to try to change the opinons of men who at heart resented having their sacred space invaded by a woman who could not make herself be like a man to fit in.

Another school was entirely different. It also was all men and I was the sole woman, but they were much more inclusive. People actually said hello, how are you, before class! The whole atmosphere was devoid of drama. Everyone just wanted to train and after class chat generally focused on training and friendly banter that included anyone who wanted to contribute. As a noob I politely kept quiet and listened to all their stories. But as time went by and I was a regular, they started including me in the conversations. We didn't have to be buddies, but their inclusiveness has made me feel like a legitimate member of the school and a respected classmate. I am still training at that school and have found in it a sanctuary where I can work hard and improve my aikido and myself without any drama and personality games. And I am always mindful to reach out to newcomers so they too will feel welcome. A little compassion and friendliness go a long way!

passingthrough
05-15-2012, 04:49 AM
I found this a very interesting thread to read as I have concerns about joining my local dojo, but I appear to have them for different reasons. I will be brand new to aikido although have formerly trained in judo where I was the only female in an all male group. I am hoping my breakfalls come in handy as my experience of judo was that the men really didn't go easy on you just for being a girl. I am pretty sure I hit the mats at high speed a good few dozen times a lesson and there was almost a queue for me as a partner. Why? Because I was light, fast moving and more flexible and hence trickier to pin. Most of the blackbelts saw that as a commodity and were happy to train with me. I had to get technique more accurate on them as most of the men were around twice my weight and brute force wasn't an option. Several of them commented that they had to concentrate on throwing me with more precision as I started to find that the harder I was thrown by some men the more time I had to think of a better way to land or roll to take back control.

Judo is not aikido. I get that. I didn't like the competitive nature of judo and the obsession with progression. Being the only girl in my local group and one of 4 in my region made gradings difficult, but I was happy to just learn technique rather than get a rainbow of waist accessorites.

The group that I had joined had problems which is why I stopped going. Problems? There's only so much a girl can take of men who only ask to partner so that they get to grapple with them and try make sexual remarks. Men twice my age regularly made comments like "bet you like getting pinned" which I really didn't need. I also suffered from brand new males trying to teach me technique. I'm all for the theory that even the wisest master can learn from the new student, but it was patronising machismo at its worst. I tried to bring it up with senior members and was literally told to "man up". No joke. It was apparent that simple communication couldn't fix the issue so I left and intended to find a new class. Life got in the way of that happening and in the interim I have met someone who enjoyed aikido and from his description it's the martial art I was actually looking for. Interestingly my local dojo is comprised of only 10 members (all male) and when I phoned the sensei to enquire he was over the moon that a female wanted to join the class as "there's so much everyone can learn from women".

Ah, breakfalls. How I've missed you.....