PDA

View Full Version : Differences between female & male practitioners


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


ani
03-15-2012, 10:23 AM
Hi all,

I'm a female practicing aikido for about 2 years now. When I first started training, all the senpei in my dojo were very nice and gentle to me. But I wasn't aware of that, until that one guy joined us from other dojo. He was very rough, I almost cried when he threw and pinned me with no mercy when I first partnered up with him back when I was a 7th kyu. I disliked his aikido, because I thought aikido was supposed to be soft. But my boyfriend (who doesn't practice aikido) encourage me to practice with him more because he knew that the reason I take aikido lessons is to learn how to self defense. That guy was the kind of guy I will need to protect myself in the street. My boyfriend was right. So, I deliberately practiced with him more often. I thought if I could survive his attack, I would have a better chance surviving attacks in the street. But, he soon moved, and left us.

After that, many of other people in my dojo noticed that I've become stronger, maybe using more muscles (One student even told me I've got more ki, which I believed was muscles only). They liked it, and I liked it too. Because before that, I totally thought there should be absolutely no muscles in aikido techniques as it was advertised (my interpretation of their ads :P).

So, a few months ago, the difference between female and male practitioners' skill level started to bug me. I don't know if it is appropriate for me to judge them, but I feel the difference between a nidan female's throw and a shodan male's throw. I don't know if it is because men just get the physical advantage over women in combat or what, their techniques are just better (in my view) than women. So, I kind of think that the ads saying that "everyone can practice aikido" is just to attract more students.

Because my goal is to learn self defense, I like to practice more with rough male students, doesn't matter if they're white or black belt. However, since I'm tiny in size, most students in my dojo are very gentle to me, they don't want to hurt me. But this is hindering my progress. I think it is a waste of time dancing with people on the mat. But, it might be hard for nice people (both men and women) to be rough to me.

Recently, I started training with new beginners. There are several girls and one guy. I was very gentle with the girls, but almost in full strength to the guy. My sensei warmed me to be mindful that he was just a white belt when he saw that. I'm not trying to make excuse for myself, but I feel like my full strength was just right for him, because of our size difference. My question is that, am I wasting my time and the time of those girls by dancing with them? Am I helping the guy when I treat him like my level? I'm just a low level blue belt. I felt that if your partner give you their full strength, you learn more from them than if they lower their levels to yours.

What do you guys think?

P.S. as for the safety of beginner ukes, I thought instructors need to do more in this area. Also, I think people treat me gentle because my attacks are weak, I want more instruction on how to be a better uke, but feel like sensei's are putting more focus on nage's role...:( Usually instructions for nage are very specific, like step to the right, turn to the left, but for uke, it's only "keep your energy forward, honest attack, something like that, which is very difficult to understand, at least for me)

Dazzler
03-15-2012, 10:40 AM
Hi

Skill wise I dont see a major difference. Skill is skill whether its male or females. What I see with beginners is a compensation for lack of skill by use of muscles.

Generally....and only generally as I know at least one female on this forum who is stronger than me...guys are stronger so find it easier to compensate for lack of skill.

If you are now finding beginner girls weak.....help them ....don't avoid them...just as others have helped you.

Regards

D

ani
03-15-2012, 10:51 AM
If you are now finding beginner girls weak.....help them ....don't avoid them...just as others have helped you.


Please tell me how?? I'm confused because of what I feel about skills and muscles. I don't like to see grand and beautiful skills which cannot withstand a muscle.

Janet Rosen
03-15-2012, 10:56 AM
You are asking good questions.
"ki" or proper use of structure and energy in aikido is NOT the same as developing the strength to muscle through techniques. There are many dojos that give lip service to softness and relaxation while in fact encouraging students to muscle through technique.
For instance, to move the new young white belt guy, applying more muscle force to make him move wouldn't be my goal because this would be training the wrong things into my body. My goal would be to find the proper structure and angles that let me take his balance. I might not always be successful in getting him to move, but it is where the training needs to be.
In terms of how you approach each student, see if you can get beyond your own gender ideas and individualize to each person's level: there are women who being athletes or working in the craft trades or simply by disposition are tough and bouncy regardless of size and there are men who are unathletic or slow or prone to easy injury because of being very stiff. One size doesn't fit all :-)

Malicat
03-15-2012, 11:11 AM
Please tell me how?? I'm confused because of what I feel about skills and muscles.

Kokyu Nage is the best example I can think of this. With a beginner, you want to help them with positioning, but you also want to make sure they are doing the technique correctly. I frequently see people trying the throw as a "clothesline" instead of doing it correctly. So when you get thrown improperly, don't fall, show them the difference between straight across and muscle vs the correct up and roll down position of the arm which is a skill. That being said, you also don't want to discourage new students, so make sure that you show them what they are doing incorrectly and help them to fix it.

Just remember that going easy on someone, regardless if you are doing it because of size or gender, is inevitably going to just teach them bad habits and give them a false sense of confidence. One of the high school club kids I work out with is barely 5 ft tall, and very blonde and petite. I really enjoy working out with her because she does the techniques beautifully, and you can really feel her throws. And she got that way because of students ignoring the fact that she is a small female. Granted, I also like working next to her because I love seeing her throw guys twice her size. :)

--Ashley

Dazzler
03-15-2012, 11:12 AM
Please tell me how?? I'm confused because of what I feel about skills and muscles. I don't like to see grand and beautiful skills which cannot withstand a muscle.

You have beginner girls with grand and beautiful skills? You are lucky.

I already told you how.

Train with them.

If they are weaker than you...focus on correct movement.

When you train with people stronger than you...focus on correct movement.

In time the muscling really won't matter such a big deal.

ewolput
03-15-2012, 11:17 AM
Some years ago, my daughter wrote an article for AikiJournal about female aikido:

The 4th International Tomiki Aikido Tournament: The Ladies (2001)

by Gitte Wolput

article she wrote for Aikido Journal

“Girl Power,” the phrase that was popularized in the late 1990’s is an idea that combined power with female pride. The way the feminine “mystique” became the female physique. That’s exactly what we saw at the 2001 International Aikido Festival, held on October 27- 28, 2001, at the Maishima Arena in Osaka. Next to the male competitors, approximately 100 women from Japan, the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, the USA, Australia, and other nations participated in this important Tomiki Aikido event. In both kata and randori competitions the ladies seemed to be alive and kicking. What made this women’s competition special? Can we speak of progress (on both quality and quantity) in women’s competition compared to the previous tournaments? What were the main differences between the male and female competitors? And what are the strengths of Miki Kawamura, the winner of the women’s individual randori competition, and runner-up Fumika Yamazaki?

In his welcome speech, Nariyama Shihan spoke of this tournament as a landmark tournament. First because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kenji Tomiki Shihan, the founder of competitive aikido. Secondly, because this was the first international tournament of the new millennium. With each successive international competition, there were increases in the numbers of participants, participating countries and the levels of performance. This progress was also visible in the women’s section of the tournament. At the 1st International Aikido tournament, in 1989, there were no female participants in the randori competitions, only in kata. If we compare this with the number of women in the randori section this year, we can certainly speak of an increase.

In his speech, Nariyama Shihan spurred us all to keep in mind Tomiki Shihan’s precept of “Waza no shinri wa hitotsu,” which basically means “The truth is in the technique”. According to people who were there at the previous festivals, technique itself seems to have improved. Taking in account that in the randori competition there is no division based on weight, it was remarkable that weight and physical strength didn’t seem to be of determining influence in the women’s division. Technique, speed and fitness seemed to be the most important factors in winning. These strengths were visible with Miki Kawamura, the winner of the woman’s individual randori competition. Her tsukiari especially was so quick that it was almost unavoidable. She passed all the heavy-weights, including the strong runnerup Fumika Yamazaki. Women also put their stamp upon the kata competition. Together with Steven Evans, Abi Bown from the UK performed an excellent goshin no kata that yielded them first price.

This was not the case if we compare the male competitors with the female ones. What were the main differences? Referee Eddy Wolput, who judged both types of matches, has an interesting view on this matter. He speaks of typical “male characteristics,” like short powerful explosions, and typical “female characteristics,” such as perseverance, in aikido. Everyone has both characteristics, but the amount one has of each differs. The ideal is a balanced condition between both. To illustrate, he recalls his first class with Oba Sensei in 1979. What attracted his attention was the fact that Oba Sensei instructed him to always take turns with male and female partners. Mixing seemed vital to learn and practice all the characteristics of aikido. It was noteworthy that the ladies showed a good balance between male and female characteristics in the women’s randori competitions, while, in the men’s competition, male characteristics dominated. This can be explained by the fact that many female competitors trained a lot with male aikidoka, but the reverse wasn’t always possible. Statistically, this could be a logical consequence of the fact that in many dojo female aikidoka are still a minority. Also, the public noticed differences between men and women, but it seems difficult to name these differences.

How can we explain those differences? A biological contribution to these male-female differences can be found in the differences in anatomy, hormones, and brain organization and functioning. Next to this biologically created gender differences, are the socially created ones. Gender roles have an important influence on all of us. Environmental events and conditions shape our behavior and thinking. In his book *Judo Inside Out*, Geof Gleeson reserved a chapter in his book, “The Psychology of Competition,”** on the influence of coaches (environmental factor) on judoka. It is likely that both biological and social factors have implications on the way aikido is performed and for the differences between male and female competitors. Which one has the biggest influence on this matter is a matter of debate. But let’s keep in mind the words of Ben Weider in *Pumping Iron II* (1985): “Women are women, men are men, there’s a difference and thank God for the difference.”

ani
03-15-2012, 12:27 PM
You have beginner girls with grand and beautiful skills? You are lucky.


Sorry for being rude and ignorant, but I was talking about black belts females there. (I am thinking about my future down the road.)

Thanks for your advice. I know just to continue practice is the key here. Just wanted to talk about some thoughts. :)

ani
03-15-2012, 12:40 PM
Thank you for sharing the article, Eddy. :)

Marc Abrams
03-15-2012, 12:48 PM
Amy:

I would suggest that the manner in which you are perceiving things does not necessarily lead one to any greater understandings and directions. I think that we need to be mindful and respectful of the varying needs and desires of those with whom we train with. When we have a good understanding of what our training partners are looking for in their own Aikido training, it gives us a good idea as to how to approach training with them. As an uke, I am serving in the role as the teacher. I view my role as keeping the nage on the edge of success & failure so as to experience what is necessary to be successful in executing a technique. When I am serving in the role as the nage, I expect my uke to attack sincerely and safely and push my ability to execute techniques based upon the areas that I am actively working on.

This training paradigm does not have to create the perception that we need to train differently based upon gender, size, strength, experience, etc.. For you, working with the "thug" served a specific purpose for you that others might not seek. Some women might not want to learn how to play with "thugs." Some men might want to experience what it might be like to not have to rely on the predominant use muscular force to execute techniques. The list becomes endless. The process of connecting with our partners though understanding is part of an overall Aikido goal (my opinion). Look beyond the obvious differences in our training partners and look at what each of them is seeking to accomplish and direct your training with them in a manner that seeks to accomplish their goals and yours.

Marc Abrams

ani
03-15-2012, 03:33 PM
I think that we need to be mindful and respectful of the varying needs and desires of those with whom we train with.
Marc Abrams

Thank you very much for your advice. I agree with your opinion. But how do we know what others' goals are? Do we ask them off the mat or do we guess and make judgement based on their styles? I don't really talk to members in my dojo....(My fault.)

Marc Abrams
03-15-2012, 03:36 PM
Thank you very much for your advice. I agree with your opinion. But how do we know what others' goals are? Do we ask them off the mat or do we guess and make judgement based on their styles? I don't really talk to members in my dojo....(My fault.)

Amy:

I encourage a dialogue between all students in my dojo (and with myself as well). Verbal feedback during waza practice can be a valuable tool for identifying patterns in ourselves that we are not aware of. More importantly, a dojo should be a functional community, as opposed to a gym where you go in, work out and leave.

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

phitruong
03-15-2012, 03:39 PM
Do we ask them off the mat or do we guess and make judgement based on their styles? I don't really talk to members in my dojo....(My fault.)

isn't aikido about connection? and isn't communication a way to connect? why not just ask, "how do you want it?" me, i like my eggs over easy, with a side of bacon and a couple links of sausage and buttered toasts; and coffee with cream and sugar, lots of cream and sugar, actually, just a few drops of coffee in lots of cream and sugar would be fine. :)

ani
03-15-2012, 04:38 PM
isn't aikido about connection? and isn't communication a way to connect? why not just ask, "how do you want it?" me, i like my eggs over easy, with a side of bacon and a couple links of sausage and buttered toasts; and coffee with cream and sugar, lots of cream and sugar, actually, just a few drops of coffee in lots of cream and sugar would be fine. :)

Yes, you're right. But am I thinking too much as a blue belt? I mean, I'm not a good uke yet, not a good nage either. Can't really control myself must of the time. Maybe I should be quiet and practice. But I will try to talk to the new girls and the new guy what they want. I hope I'll won't waste their time practicing with me... :)

Hanna B
03-15-2012, 04:50 PM
You have written a very thought provoking post, Amy.

Women getting treated with "silk gloves" and mainly/only learning the softer part of the art is very, very common. And it is a problem for women who really want to learn the full art.


Recently, I started training with new beginners. There are several girls and one guy. I was very gentle with the girls, but almost in full strength to the guy. My sensei warmed me to be mindful that he was just a white belt when he saw that. I'm not trying to make excuse for myself, but I feel like my full strength was just right for him, because of our size difference. My question is that, am I wasting my time and the time of those girls by dancing with them? Am I helping the guy when I treat him like my level? I'm just a low level blue belt. I felt that if your partner give you their full strength, you learn more from them than if they lower their levels to yours.

You are probably doing what your sempai have done. But it would have been better for your learning if your dojo mates hadn't been so overprotecting, right?

So if you want to help those girls, you should treat them the same as the guys. Beginners of both sexes should be treated as beginners. Just how that is done depends of the pedagogic set used by your teacher and your dojo.

You are really insightful to see this. Most people don't. You have the potential to change your dojo to become a better place for women to practise in, than what it currently is. Congratulations, and good luck!

ani
03-15-2012, 05:34 PM
Women getting treated with "silk gloves" and mainly/only learning the softer part of the art is very, very common. And it is a problem for women who really want to learn the full art.


Thank you very much Hanna!!!! This is my main concern in my post. Thank you so much for understanding me~~~

I'm not sure if I will bring changes to my dojo for the girls, but there are several senpei doing a great job in that. They are giving us lots of help, and treat us very seriously. :)

robin_jet_alt
03-15-2012, 05:48 PM
I agree with what others have said, but I just want to add... Please train at my dojo! I'm sick of treating people with silk gloves regardless of their gender.

odudog
03-15-2012, 07:41 PM
You have to talk to your partner during practice that you want it harder or softer. Your partner doesn't know what you want until you tell them. This is especially true for people not of your dojo. At a testing a while ago, we had several dojos come over. I was doing iriminage with a female black belt from another dojo. I did it very gently. Yet she still complained about how I grabbed her neck. She told me not to do that again, which I didn't. But now I wasn't practicing. However, when it was her turn to practice, I noticed that she was now being rough with me! Pay back! I thought to myself "you gotta be kidding", but I just laughed internally. If I had practiced with a female black belt from my dojo, then there would have been no problem for she knows what is coming her way and I know just how much to tone it down yet still practice and not dance. So most guys will tone it down with until you tell them to go harder. That brute took the opposite approach by going full bore until you tell him to tone it down.

Mary Eastland
03-15-2012, 08:04 PM
I don't look at differences in gender but of experience.

Some people are more athletic than others.

Each uke brings a new experience. I enjoy each uke for who they are and what they bring. If I am feeling disappointment or frustration, I need to look within.

I work at being the best uke I can be. I attack at an appropriate speed and with appropriate force for the ukemi that I can take and that my nage can deal with.

In my dojo I encourage people to use their words. If something is too fast or hurts, the person should say so. Grunting or whining is not okay. Say what you mean and say it soon.

Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Janet Rosen
03-15-2012, 09:48 PM
Yes, you're right. But am I thinking too much as a blue belt? I mean, I'm not a good uke yet, not a good nage either. Can't really control myself must of the time. Maybe I should be quiet and practice. But I will try to talk to the new girls and the new guy what they want. I hope I'll won't waste their time practicing with me... :)

As newbies they may not really be able to really articulate goals. But it is certainly within the norm for uke to ask if the last attack was too fast, too slow, too hard, too soft or just right :)

Once your partner has some experience, a very good question to ask is: would you like feedback on how it feels, or do you just want to keep going and work on figuring it out as you go?

Janet Rosen
03-15-2012, 09:55 PM
I was doing iriminage with a female black belt from another dojo. I did it very gently. Yet she still complained about how I grabbed her neck. She told me not to do that again, which I didn't. But now I wasn't practicing. However, when it was her turn to practice, I noticed that she was now being rough with me! Pay back! I thought to myself "you gotta be kidding", but I just laughed internally.

I recently had an opposite experience while visiting a dojo for a seminar. I partnered with a young man less experienced than me for iriminage. I learned the variation many yrs ago of cradling uke's head toward my opposite shoulder (vs. grabbing the neck) and it has become my default version as for my body type and movement pattern is seems to "fit" best.
He became visibly tense and upset and let me know this was not the way to do it and he didn't want to have his head manipulated as he didn't want to be injured.
I was momentarily taken aback, murmured that it was a standard way but I certainly could and would do it another way. I switched to the neck grab.
I had a negative reaction inside BUT I knew that was MY issue, not his, so I made sure when the instructor clapped and we bowed out to specifically thank him for communicating so clearly.

jackie adams
03-15-2012, 10:17 PM
Soon I will be facing this issue from the side of a sensei. Do we or should we treat gender differently? Some people do want to be treated differently, others don't. Some of those verbalize it, some don't. Then you have people who will treat the opposite sex different regardless of the requests of others. It might be tempting to discuss the extremes treatment, I avoid that line of discussion because those people are removed from the dojo. Added to the mix is individual expectations of how either gender wishes to be approached, or how they wish to be treated. In Aikido we attack people from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, that are from all over the world and put them into one place and they experience an unique contact and intimacy. It can't be expected that none of them will be familiar with the dojo environment or each others genders customs. A picture of gender reality of incoming students that will stock the dojo ranks. There are the experienced students some of which will only acclimate to a point of the dojo culture. They are dictated by their background gender customs and cultural expectation. In the end, some experienced students suppose to uphold dojo gender customs don't, their up bringing dictates over riding the dojo's view of an utopian gender world of equality; harmony, blending. You will always have a sex dissatisfied because you can never fully have a utopia of the sexes, blending the sexes as one.

Not painting a dystopian picture, but you will always have differences because of the sexes are different and that means needs and expectations are wholly different based on biology. A force that can't be defeated. My solution is to separate the sexes in their own classes, only to bring them together occasional for the benefit of each other's practice. Will it work, I think so. Because the sexes naturally do separate on their own. History tells us it is far too difficult to bring the sexes together, other then for that occasional intimacy, where there is harmony and blending. In my new school, I will be going with nature, and not against it. That is my idea.

hughrbeyer
03-15-2012, 10:30 PM
Random late-night, post-practice thoughts:

Mike, hate to say it, but if that black belt said you were grabbing her neck too hard in irimi nage you were almost certainly screwing up the technique, and it has nothing to do with wimpy vs. "realistic" practice. You were just wrong (and it's a common error). Tell her thank you the next time you see her.

Like Mary said, use words. Perfectly fine to say, "Can you give me that attack a little faster? I want to try it at speed." Or, "Go ahead and throw me for real. You don't have to hold back."

Jackie, let us know how that works out for you. I'd say that in the US, after what, 30 years of Title 9, the difference in gender expectations are way less than you think. The distinction is less gender than what people want out of their practice. I'm still thinking of the lovely young lady who I will swear picked me up to shoulder height in a tenchi nage before burying me in the mat. Would you deprive me of an experience like that?

jackie adams
03-15-2012, 11:53 PM
Random late-night, post-practice thoughts:

Mike, hate to say it, but if that black belt said you were grabbing her neck too hard in irimi nage you were almost certainly screwing up the technique, and it has nothing to do with wimpy vs. "realistic" practice. You were just wrong (and it's a common error). Tell her thank you the next time you see her.

Like Mary said, use words. Perfectly fine to say, "Can you give me that attack a little faster? I want to try it at speed." Or, "Go ahead and throw me for real. You don't have to hold back."

Jackie, let us know how that works out for you. I'd say that in the US, after what, 30 years of Title 9, the difference in gender expectations are way less than you think. The distinction is less gender than what people want out of their practice. I'm still thinking of the lovely young lady who I will swear picked me up to shoulder height in a tenchi nage before burying me in the mat. Would you deprive me of an experience like that?

I sure will. I am betting there will be less issues, people will be more comfortable when the sexes have their own class. When the sexes do come together it is more advantageous experience for women. It feels good, in the terms you laid out, to throw a 220 lbs 6'3 guy. How much benefit does the guy get from that experience? It isn't going to as much as the female. That has me thinking in part for the idea the occasional meeting of the sexes for practice. I am looking at possibly once a month class for those who want to do it. Women feel less intimated and a whole lots of other things when men are around. There are lots of women only actives for women. Men have their groups too. I don't see both sexes running in open arms to each other. Because of my observation I don't want go against that pushing together men and women. Am figuring why force a situation upon people that they are uncomfortable with that situation. They aren't going to stay, they won't tell their friends about it if the dojo is an uncomfortable place to be for them. I want to provide them an environment they are comfortable in. That is my idea, it seems naive am sure. It's going to be a learning curve of hard knocks. I have to keep a finger of the pulse of society. I hope it works.

Michael Hackett
03-16-2012, 12:46 AM
I try to take care of my training partners, regardless of gender. If they are fairly new, I will try to practice at their level and make sure I'm not throwing too hard or too softly unless they tell me differently. I trained last night with a senior who told me before we engaged that he didn't want to take any breakfalls because his hip was hurting him and he wanted to take care. I scaled back my technique to make sure he'd be there tomorrow evening for class. Gender is largely irrelevant in my view, but respect and care for my partners is paramount.

Janet Rosen
03-16-2012, 12:59 AM
Soon I will be facing this issue from the side of a sensei...You will always have a sex dissatisfied because you can never fully have a utopia of the sexes, blending the sexes as one.... My solution is to separate the sexes in their own classes, only to bring them together occasional for the benefit of each other's practice. Will it work, I think so. Because the sexes naturally do separate on their own

You will always have a sex (sic) - gender that is - dissatisfied - HOW? In what sense can this be? Genders "naturally do separate"? Not in the world I live in...be it work, social life, family, close friends, acquaintances, grocery clerks, whatever, I have never had gender make a difference in who I associate with and I don't see it for most of the people superficial or intimate with whom I associate in most of these quotidian interactions.

I for one would never choose to train only with women any more than I would train only with tall people, one armed people, or Chicanos. Makes absolutely no sense to me. Humanity is humanity.
And in a martial arts context, the wider the variety of training partners, the better. Bring them on! :)

Eva Antonia
03-16-2012, 04:04 AM
Dear all,

I don't know Tomiki aikido, and I don't know how aikido competitions are organised, but this article raised a BIG QUESTION MARK for me:

If, as we all are supposed to think,
a) female aikido is NOT different from male aikido at an advanced level
b) strength does not make a difference,

then WHY is there a women's randori and a men's randori?
If we can all attain the same skills, regardless from sex & age, there should only be ONE randori. If a women never wins, then this would simply mean that we are not so good. Maybe because there are not so many women taking Tomiki aikido, maybe because there are not so many women interested in competition, but maybe also because we simply don't reach the same level of skill...but IF a woman wins a mixed randori, then she would know that she is REALLY the best, and not ONLY the best woman.

It reminds me of chess competition. Everyone would agree (or, if he doesn't, gets labeled as a chauvinist) that women have the same intellectual capacities as men. So WHY on earth is there a separate chess competition for men and women? This is very, very insulting. What is even worse, is the fact that if there were not, the world champions still would only be men....

Concerning the soft attacks and soft defenses many people think are appropriate to apply on women - I think this is also an issue of getting the appropriate answer to your attack. When a woman (or a slender/ frail/ shy guy) attacks like a butterfly, she wouldn't get some thundering direct irimi nage as an answer. If she or he is a beginner and attacks like a berserk, you'd still take the berserk down as gently as you can. If you train with someone you don't know at a seminar, you'd start more gently and speed up after a time if you think it is possible.

But beginners, also the small and frail ones, get more confident after a time. Maybe it takes more time for many women, and less time for many men. We had one of those butterfly uke girls, who, after being promoted to 4th kyu, discovered that she could attack, that she could resist, and that she could take a fall. Everyone treated her very gently before, but now as she changed her attitude, her partners also treat her differently, taking her more seriously.

Best regards,

Eva

Hanna B
03-16-2012, 04:15 AM
You will always have a sex dissatisfied because you can never fully have a utopia of the sexes, blending the sexes as one.

Not painting a dystopian picture, but you will always have differences because of the sexes are different and that means needs and expectations are wholly different based on biology. A force that can't be defeated. My solution is to separate the sexes in their own classes, only to bring them together occasional for the benefit of each other's practice.

You will always have students dissatisfied.

If you teach one way, more men then women will be dissatisfied. If you teach another, the other way around.

One way of teaching and approaching training will appeal young people. Other ways will be more suitable for older students.

Some ways will appeal to people who want physical work out, who don't think training is training unless they feel exhausted after class. Other types of training will have appeal to technique geeks, who can linger on technical details forever and completely ignore fitness issues.

By all means, do create your two kinds of classes. But if you label them "for women" and "for men" -- or "people under 45" and "people over 45" - you will loose all those students who would have liked the other class better...

As people already have said, the difference in the sexes is not as big as we tend to think. But we always enhance it, someteims even create it, by silk gloving the women and sometimes having more "macho" expectations on the males.

When this discussion comes up there's always the guys who say "oh, but the women WANT it more delicate, it is obvious from how they attack". But they seldom ask themselves who really got the delicate ball rolling - if they possibly had a part in it, too.

I would certainly never join a dojo that has separate women's classes because a male teacher think we are so different. The odds are I won't learn much there. You'll keep the sissies... those who want to learn will go elsewhere. OTOH there are plenty of reasons for doing aikido. Wanting to learn is just one of them. So if your sissy women's classes will pay your rent *shrug*

Alic
03-16-2012, 04:50 AM
I would hate to have to be seperated from my fellow female Aikidoka's. They bring the testosterone level in my sausageparty dojo down a few pegs. It's really nice when you're partner is totally focused on getting the technique right, rather than forcing you to the ground regardless of how they do so.

Observing female Aikidoka's will help you figure out how to properly train. I've noticed several things our girls do that has helped me better my own techniques (such as how pulling the arm in shihonage is useless - you push instead). I feel that with some of the guys, it's just a wrestling match on most days, and not very productive. Only way we can tell we're doing it wrong is if sensei tells us or we're too tired to use brute force. With girls, they generally can't force it, so they'll quickly develop all the right concepts and techniques to make their Aikido work. I feel that this is real Aikido. If we try to muscle people around, then we might as well go learn another martial art.

The problem is, the girls tend to be held back by years and years of BS telling them to be meek and afraid of pain and violence of all forms. I like a girl that can punch a would-be rapist out with a smile (come on, I can't be the only one), and I hate the fact that some the girls I meet would tell me horror stories of guys dragging them by the wrist and they're just too afriad to even resist. Don't be afraid, and don't take it! If you don't like to have other people force their will onto you, then do something about it like I did: train Aikido seriously and become stronger, so that you can have a say even with unreasonable people!

So, in regards to OP, I will slam a girl into the tatami as hard and fast as she want it (hey wait... :o)

ewolput
03-16-2012, 05:01 AM
Dear all,

I don't know Tomiki aikido, and I don't know how aikido competitions are organised, but this article raised a BIG QUESTION MARK for me:

If, as we all are supposed to think,
a) female aikido is NOT different from male aikido at an advanced level
b) strength does not make a difference,

then WHY is there a women's randori and a men's randori?
If we can all attain the same skills, regardless from sex & age, there should only be ONE randori. If a women never wins, then this would simply mean that we are not so good. Maybe because there are not so many women taking Tomiki aikido, maybe because there are not so many women interested in competition, but maybe also because we simply don't reach the same level of skill...but IF a woman wins a mixed randori, then she would know that she is REALLY the best, and not ONLY the best woman.

Best regards,

Eva

First I would like to apologize if you feel offended. In Tomiki Aikido we have a great respect for the skill of women but there is a difference between men and women.

What is the difference between male and female tennis? Have a good look.
What is the difference between male and female judo competition?
In general women cannot win a match from men! Why? Because we know this from experience. Of course there are women who can compete very well and win from men. But when you reach the top level players, men will win. We can elaborate on why men will win in gereral, but I think this thread is not about competition.
BTW many women are very competitive :-) from our experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP6Toa617RY
Competition in Tomiki's Aikido is only a small part what we do in our training. And the purpose is to test your ego. If you enter a competition for winning you will lose, even if you win the match.
If you lose your match, but you had the chance to apply a perfect waza, you win even if you lose the match.
The difference between male and female aikido at a high level is also present. The body of a man and women is different, so the physical expression will be different. But if you talk about "aiki", this is a different story, because we talk about manipulating energie and the relationship between yn and yo. And other people can elaborate about this item much better.

Eddy

Marc Abrams
03-16-2012, 07:42 AM
Imaizumi Sensei's first student, Donna Carlson, is one of the unknown, female pioneers of Aikido in the US. She is in her mid seventies. She still trains. Many years ago, I nicknamed her the Dojo Dominatrix . Regardless of how much testosterone the guys feel like they need to display, she can shut their techniques down in a NYC second. She will complain about how sore she feels and when you attack her, you suddenly find yourself on the ground.

I seek her out, every time I am there. I have learned so much from her and still do. People who take the mistaken approach to thinking that gender is major criteria in martial arts effectiveness have a lot to learn. It never ceases to amaze me how many men will not work with her, or Sensei's wife (who also can crush you) because of their "delicate egos."

We are all different. The degree to which we allow those differences to limit our training, is the degree to which we will inhibit our learning. It is more important to me to work well with my partners so that we both learn, rather than become hung up on the stuff that really does not help our training all that much.

Marc Abrams

ani
03-16-2012, 08:39 AM
We had one of those butterfly uke girls, who, after being promoted to 4th kyu, discovered that she could attack, that she could resist, and that she could take a fall. Everyone treated her very gently before, but now as she changed her attitude, her partners also treat her differently, taking her more seriously.


I loved your response, Eva. I wish I could learn more about how to attack and resist, and fall. I agree that it is my fault that others treat me very gently because I usually give them intimidated looks when I don't know how to fall, especially break falls. I'm working on putting a poker face on when practicing.

Shadowfax
03-16-2012, 08:53 AM
I don't think there is any real gender issue. Some women like to train harder and some men are frail and can't handle rough play. Especially in the early days of training. In my dojo we have a nice mix of guys and gals and there is definitely no different treatment between males and females. Each individual is given what they need for their individual training. You really do not want to handle a brand new person up to your more advanced level be they a guy or a girl. If you want to play a bit harder ask your seniors, don't expect it form your juniors. And don't be afraid to tell the boys that they are not doing you any favors by going easy on you because of your being a girl.

Remember that just as much as girls are conditioned never to be violent never to hit never to fight back so boys are also conditioned never to hit a girl or be rough with a girl and doing so even in the dojo is not always easy for them.

I like to be thrown fast and pinned hard sometimes. No one in my dojo has a problem with fulfilling that request. Others in my dojo require gentler handling. I don't have a problem with that either.

Hanna B
03-16-2012, 09:34 AM
In my experience there's a difference between dojos that have a stable and fairly large portion of female practitioners, say 25-30%. There gender quickly stops mattering so much. Some newbies behave strangely towards women but after a while in a dojo which lots of female dojo mates and some female teachers (some of which very good, definately not appointed for "equality reasons") they too forget about thinking so much about gender.

But in a dojo where the women are few and even fewer stay, this stage is not reached. As a result, you are always "female aikidoka" first and foremost. Not "an aikidoka".

lbb
03-16-2012, 10:38 AM
We are all different. The degree to which we allow those differences to limit our training, is the degree to which we will inhibit our learning. It is more important to me to work well with my partners so that we both learn, rather than become hung up on the stuff that really does not help our training all that much.

Short version: what he said.

Long version:
"If men situations as real, they are real in their consequences." - from sociology, the Thomas theorem. This is the theorem that underlies the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are convinced that your training partner, by virtue of his or her gender, will have certain predispositions, you will train in such a way that encourages them to act within those predispositions. Maybe you're completely wrong. Maybe you're at least partly right. But by reinforcing a predisposition, you're making it harder for your partner to behave any other way. You are, in part, creating a reality that supports your beliefs, and limiting your partner's ability to be anything else.

It's very hard to get people to understand just how limiting this is, unless they've been on the receiving end of it. When you labor under the restrictions of other people's belief in your (in)ability, it's like running a race with an invisible 40-pound sack of sand on your back. Some, a few, are perceptive, can see its effects and extrapolate its existence even if they don't feel it themselves. Most people will deny that that sack of sand exists. Then your "limitations" get explained as a natural inferiority. It's sort of soft-sell bigotry.

Dan Rubin
03-16-2012, 12:18 PM
Amy

the reason I take aikido lessons is to learn how to self defense.

I think this is a big part of your problem. The teaching in a traditional aikido dojo is not oriented toward modern street self-defense. Therefore, there's a disconnect between the aikido you are trying to perform and the aikido your instructor is teaching. In a sense, you and your partners are practicing different martial arts. No wonder you're frustrated.

jackie adams
03-16-2012, 12:30 PM
I hear what everyone is saying, and being opened minded and I am not foolish to readily dismiss anyone's opinion. Let's face it, am new to this looking for what is best for the students. I figure from the feedback I get surveying people I know, having a finger on the pulse of society it might be useful to have separated classes because biologically, physically and psychologically there is a difference between the sexes. Having a finger on Aikido's community is also important to me. Factually, there are less women in Aikido. I read though some of the threads here that discuss the low numbers of women participating in Aikido to give me insight as why that occurs. I have read other discussion from the voices of other women in regard to the upside and downside of Aikido for them.

One of the yoga places have only men and women yoga. The local commercial gyms have classes that target men and women separately. There are lots of women only clubs in town, the self defense shooting gun club for women is very popular. There are several successful all women martial arts classes and self defense programs too doing well.

From all that I see a pattern emerging, women and men want different things from their activities and don't necessarily want to mix gender. I would be foolish to over look what these things say about society. After all, I want to give my students an experience they are comfortable in. I don't want women feeling uncomfortable joining my school, especially if they have had a previous bad experience with men. I don't want women feeling as if they will experience a threat of sexual harassment, sexism or insults, and if those injustices happen to occur, they feel powerless with no voice. I certainly don't 't want them to think they will end up being bullied/dominated by men. If a woman feels she can wheel all that testosterone coming off new students or other students. I am not a sensei who is going to restrict a women from men or her power to choose what is best for her.

I guess then it will be depend on the make up of the students. Depending on their personalities and needs,how they feel can allow me to navigate a decision to offer different class for women and men, or not. I am going to separate the ages and have limits on age. There will be kids classes with age limits. Adult classes will exist too. That is a good rule of thumb, a good standard as well.

Thank you everyone for your opinions.

lbb
03-16-2012, 01:09 PM
I figure from the feedback I get surveying people I know, having a finger on the pulse of society it might be useful to have separated classes because biologically, physically and psychologically there is a difference between the sexes.

Hi Jackie,

I think people are reacting to two things in that assertion:

1)It's a generalization that might be useful in some situations, but is a lot less useful (and sometimes actively harmful) in situations that always come down to the individual, such as aikido training. A generalization about what women or men are like is bound to fail frequently on the individual level; therefore, while it might possibly be a valid generalization, is it really helpful as a basis for teaching aikido?

2)Generalizations like this have a long history of being used proscriptively and with an agenda, rather than with some intelligence, sensitivity, awareness and an honest and sincere wish to provide all people with an equal opportunity to learn. Think of the results of generalizations like "black people can't swim well" and "women and girls aren't good at math". Now think of being a person who had to struggle to get the opportunity to learn that isn't being afforded to you because someone believes that generalization.

One of the yoga places have only men and women yoga. The local commercial gyms have classes that target men and women separately. There are lots of women only clubs in town, the self defense shooting gun club for women is very popular. There are several successful all women martial arts classes and self defense programs too doing well.

From all that I see a pattern emerging, women and men want different things from their activities and don't necessarily want to mix gender.

I disagree that this conclusion follows from those observations. But if women and men do indeed not want to mix gender, why is that?

Mind you, I'm not arguing against separate classes. I'm saying that if separate classes are created for the wrong set of reasons or because of incorrect assumptions, the effort to produce a better learning environment for the students will painfully backfire.

I would be foolish to over look what these things say about society. After all, I want to give my students an experience they are comfortable in. I don't want women feeling uncomfortable joining my school, especially if they have had a previous bad experience with men. I don't want women feeling as if they will experience a threat of sexual harassment, sexism or insults, and if those injustices happen to occur, they feel powerless with no voice. I certainly don't 't want them to think they will end up being bullied/dominated by men. If a woman feels she can wheel all that testosterone coming off new students or other students. I am not a sensei who is going to restrict a women from men or her power to choose what is best for her.

Not sure what "wheel" means here, but if your school reeks of testosterone, doesn't it make sense to fix that problem rather than accommodate it and indulge it? If you create a class for women because you accept that "boys will be boys", and what boys will be is a bunch of mindless hormone-driven lunkheads, is anyone better off, or has the problem just been fed and strengthened?

Janet Rosen
03-16-2012, 01:49 PM
We have one class per wk that has ended up sort of randomly being mostly fit fast young men (teens to early 20s). As a middle aged woman I love dropping in on it at least a couple if times a month and early on asked the instructor to use me as demo uke part of the time. They get to see that I am not that fragile even though I have a couple of adaptations I ask them to make and they get to trsin with someone insisting on slow precise rechnique

Shadowfax
03-16-2012, 01:52 PM
he way I see it, women fought long and hard to be given the right to be treated as equals. And what is being suggested here is that some would like to throw away what was won by all of that work...

Zoe S Toth
03-16-2012, 01:57 PM
When I first started training, all the senpei in my dojo were very nice and gentle to me. But I wasn't aware of that, until that one guy joined us from other dojo.

However, since I'm tiny in size, most students in my dojo are very gentle to me, they don't want to hurt me. But this is hindering my progress. I think it is a waste of time dancing with people on the mat.

Recently, I started training with new beginners. There are several girls and one guy. I was very gentle with the girls, but almost in full strength to the guy.

P.S. as for the safety of beginner ukes, I thought instructors need to do more in this area.

First off, as a blue belt (usually 4th or 5th kyu in most places I've trained) you should not be blaming you sensei for you inability to work with newcomers. That is something you have to develop and yes, it is very hard to figure out!

Now, the basic problem I see here is this: You are whining that people don't throw you hard because you are female YET you to the same other woman. You think that behavior hurts women (lessens their technique/ makes it less of a self-defense class) yet you willing do it to others. Seems like hypocrisy to me.

I'm avoiding the 'are woman as good as men' argument completely; its bs and I am not going to give it credit by arguing against it.

On the training aspect, I have a lot of experience as a female athlete and aikidoka so I'll speak there. First off, if you want people to throw you hard, attack hard. A LOT of ukemi is how much energy you put into; that being said people can be malicious and make you take a breakfall. Usually the later is considered 'being rough' and is what females feel they are missing.

I've found a very, very simple solution to this problem. You want thrown hard? Well, make people realize your attack is real and they have to deal with you or they will get hurt. Yes, that can be an easy recipe for an injury so start off slow. Learn to punch. Not just theoretically, I mean find a punching bag and lay into it.

When it comes to training newbies, I obviously do not suggest you punch them in the face at full force. Judge them by their size and personality more than gender. Boys and girls that don't come in knowing how to punch get a crash course with me for example. But they all get reminded if I could start harvesting organs from them. (My main thing I try to install is not to lean over someone you just threw. I kick very well after playing soccer for years; I'm sure other attackers can too.)

Sure I'm rough as hell on the new kids- I'm that way with everyone and I want the same back. At the same time, I'm very social and always make sure to tell them after class that they did well (if they did) or at least worked hard. And it makes me proud when a Sensei complements them on having their hands active on day one and they can say, "She showed me that."

I feel like I am helping them out rather than handicapping them by their gender.

Malicat
03-16-2012, 02:15 PM
One of the yoga places have only men and women yoga. The local commercial gyms have classes that target men and women separately. There are lots of women only clubs in town, the self defense shooting gun club for women is very popular. There are several successful all women martial arts classes and self defense programs too doing well.

I am honestly shocked at this idea. As for the women's only clubs, I have seen the so called self defense courses offered at our local Y, and I personally find them to be a horrible idea all around. Most of what I see is a couple hours a week for a month and a lot of women with a very high level of unfounded confidence that will quickly crumble if they ever actually need to fight their way out of a situation. And while I'm not sure what martial arts schools have martial arts for women only, I'd be very curious to see that lineage.

Aikido, in my understanding, is a long term study of self improvement, physically, martially, and spiritually. All of these are linked, and I can not be a good Aikidoka and work only on physical self improvement without also martial and spiritual self improvement. Martially, if the only people I am practiced at defending against are women, how on earth am I going to learn how to adapt a technique to that 6"5" 300 lb rapist who actually means to hurt me? Spiritually, we are all the same. If I deliberately exclude contact with half the human race, spiritual self improvement turns into self delusion. And as far as physically goes, no, I'm not in competition with any of the men I train with, but if my only goal is to get buff, I'm better off running laps and lifting weights solo anyway.

As far as the female comfort zone goes, personally I think women should spend more time around the men in my organization at least. Knowing that there are decent men out in the world who are kind and would do anything if you need assistance is just as important as knowing how to break the wrist of the scumbag who just pulled a knife on you.

Just my .02. :)

--Ashley

Mary Eastland
03-16-2012, 02:41 PM
I try to take care of my training partners, regardless of gender. If they are fairly new, I will try to practice at their level and make sure I'm not throwing too hard or too softly unless they tell me differently. I trained last night with a senior who told me before we engaged that he didn't want to take any breakfalls because his hip was hurting him and he wanted to take care. I scaled back my technique to make sure he'd be there tomorrow evening for class. Gender is largely irrelevant in my view, but respect and care for my partners is paramount.

I love this...thank you, Michael.

jackie adams
03-16-2012, 02:49 PM
I think this will be my last post here, I need now to focus on some important details before I officially open my doors within the next few months. I am excited to say the least.

For those who feel there are generalization in play, and taking it levels ridiculously beyond what my concerns are, like to the level of racism, I offer you this. Separating races as suggested isn't what I am doing, that is flat out offensive. I don't feel one race is superior or inferior to another hence against mixing races.

The objective of my school is to offer a women only classes not because women are inferior to men. That too is equalling offensive. My mission is to run a successful school base on my business success. For a number of years, the simple key to my success was to offer the customer what they wanted. Understand the target market. Observe the market trends. Deliver the good or service that the customer wants. Nothing else. Why reinvent the wheel and make the learning curve any steeper than it should be.

My daughter is a professional educator, who started out in secondary teaching, and moved to shaping education by earning a Ph.D in education offers a valuable insight into learning. Ae proper learning environment is key to success. Years in the dojo tells me often the importance of a good learning environment has on learning and progression of skill sets.

If women will learn Aikido better without men around then that is what I will offer. My dojo will offer separate classes for both men and women. Research shows the benefit of having women's only classes. if it is something women want. Further research in psychology and education tells us women have differences in approach to learning, learning itself, and requirements of learning than men. Just as any other goods or service. I do consider a mixed adult class, fully aware there is no such thing as androgyny. Even if I do pretend androgyny does exists, the students will shatter my rose colored glasses in a heart beat.

The demand of society, as a market is what will dictate my dojo offering women or men's classes. No different then the model fitness centers follow. Having separate class is a matter of economics 101. I must cater to the market. It is no different than having kids and adult classes, more variety and diversity offered to fit the needs of the customer /new and potential students. I am confident, I am on the right track. My dojo will be a success with my current philosophy and model. One based on the research, and models of other like business success having the same philosophy and model.

I see no reason not to give people choice in where they train, in midst of other schools not providing choice and flexibility. I am not comfortable with the stringent attitude of some sensei's that boarder on dictatorship. Fact of the matter is, a dojo is a business. Debts need to be met to provide the students with a good place to train.

Tagging on one last thought. My society is a consumer society, we want choices. Top business know there is a difference between men and women, business from everything form personal items, foods, to cars. Why they know this, why is there products that target men and women with different products or labeled products? It is because decades of market research tells them so. As well as any business with a past product history tells them so.

Lots of strong pointers favor offering separate gender classes. I am going with the research and proven models. I am aware of other concerns and criticism in not offering a singular class for both sexes. When it comes to offering to the public a diverse Aikido school, those concern and criticism issues don't stand as important.

I will be glad to answer any questions related to my new school.

Janet Rosen
03-16-2012, 03:17 PM
Good luck on your Dojo Business.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-16-2012, 03:28 PM
If women will learn Aikido better without men around then that is what I will offer. My dojo will offer separate classes for both men and women. Research shows the benefit of having women's only classes. .

Would you mind to provide citations of said research?

jackie adams
03-16-2012, 03:49 PM
Thank you, I feel confident in using a business model for my school vs. other models. The value of the school will not be measure on a monetary scale. I will retain the Aikido philosophy that has made Aikido popular. I will retain many of the Japanese qualities that make Aikido as a martial art attractive. Having enough money the value will being in the success of the dojo. A dojo that will offer the community to enjoy Aikido. To benefit from the experiences Aikido offers.

The other thing is I will be charging a nominal monthly fee enough to keep the preverbal lights on. Free classes, for some reason, have less value than classes who charge. Also, charging a nominal monthly fee based on a use propriety model, where the take an active part in keep the doors open gives them a sense of ownership as well as stewardship. My interest in opening a school is not for personal financial gain as some would suspect. The amount of income Aikido Senseis get from professionally teaching is not enough for me to take it as a serious income.

jackie adams
03-16-2012, 03:58 PM
Would you mind to provide citations of said research?

Yes, talk to successful marketing firms, and business, go to their luncheons and other events.Check out business college courses. Talk to local business owners. Use Google. Take the view of a new entrepreneur in looking for recourses to help you. That is what I did. There is a sea of resources and research out there to help you. Am not a scholar, so I didn't keep track of all the books and material I also read on marketing and successful business practices over the years. There are lots of good books on marketing and advertising out there, too many to mention. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-16-2012, 04:09 PM
Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

You've been very helpful.

Mary Eastland
03-16-2012, 04:11 PM
If we separated our classes by sex...Ron wouldn't get to train nearly as much as I would get to train. ;o)

RonRagusa
03-16-2012, 04:13 PM
If we separated our classes by sex...Ron wouldn't get to train nearly as much as I would get to train. ;o)

:(

Hanna B
03-16-2012, 04:56 PM
I do believe you could have a market for your product, Jackie. Whether or not your model will produce female aikido practitioners who become good at aikido is another issue entirely.

Do come back and give us reports in 6 months, a year, and two years!

Lyle Laizure
03-16-2012, 05:05 PM
I treat male and female the same. Standards for grading are the same for male and female in all dojo to my knowledge. I am sure there is a minimum standard held by the sensei so there will always be discrepencies from shodan to shodan etc, whether you compare male vs. male or male vs. female.

As for the safety issue mentioned. You should never practice beyond the ability of your uke. That being said; most students of kyu grade lack the skillset necessary to make that judgement. For the safety of everyone involved I believe you should begin practice with someone slowly and develop a feeling for the individual.

I do not believe it is about strength. I have practiced with a lot of folks, most if not all are much smaller and weaker than I but when the technique is done properly it is easy to overcome my size and strength.

Ultimately you really need to defer to your sensei for guidance with these matters. After all it is his/her responsibility to keep everyone safe.

Hanna B
03-16-2012, 05:10 PM
I know of one karate dojo that have separate karate classes for women, partly geared at immigrant groups where the girls would not be allowed to train with men. They are successful - they do have a market, and I think they train pretty good karateka (not that I can really judge).

They do have a female yudansha teaching some (not all) of these classes - and she's GOOD. I'd think that's a necessary ingredient (one of many) to make that concept work.

Tom Verhoeven
03-16-2012, 09:14 PM
So this was not a discussion on differences between female & male practitioners after all, but rather a market-inquiry to get a feel of the response if gender separate classes in Aikido were to be introduced.
A dojo is here presented as a business. Aikido has become a product. The student a consumer. And society a market.
We do live in a consumer society. And that consumer society has brought a lot of damage, distress and suffering to the world. Rather then going along with this doctrine (it is not philosophy ! ) of the world as a marketplace I feel that sincere aikidoka should consider the originally thoughts and goals of the founder, Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei. What always has attracted me to Aikido was his philosophy (not a doctrine !) of bringing a change to the world. Of giving people a renewed sense of joy and happiness. Spring has arrived here in the Auvergne and that gives everyone a feel of renewed vibrant energy. Practicing Aikido should feel like this, was O Sensei's often heard remark.
A consumer society approach to Aikido will smother this wonderful feeling of being alive and being able to connect to one another. As it will smother all true arts and spiritual disciplines. All that remains is the urge to have success, power and money. That is what the consumer society is about after all.
But it is not what Aikido is about...or should be about.

Tom Verhoeven

odudog
03-16-2012, 11:28 PM
Random late-night, post-practice thoughts:

Mike, hate to say it, but if that black belt said you were grabbing her neck too hard in irimi nage you were almost certainly screwing up the technique, and it has nothing to do with wimpy vs. "realistic" practice. You were just wrong (and it's a common error). Tell her thank you the next time you see her.


Just the opposite. I didn't grab her neck hard. I put my hand on it but barely squeezed on purpose. I came no where close to my normal practice. She now moved during the technique because she knew that was expected of her rather than me making her move. I am also a black belt.

jackie adams
03-16-2012, 11:47 PM
@Hanna, yes I will give reports. Thanks.

@Tom. I will not be running a business dojo. I support what you are saying. The dojo fees will be in the range of $20-$30 a month, or less depending on how many students I have and the needs of the dojo. The dojo will be set up in a proprietary manner. Everyone contributes to the dojo, by handling operations and maintenance, plus all other affairs. People who have a sense of ownership have a greater personal responsibility to the welfare of the dojo.

The average Aikido dojo in my area charges in the range of $80-$110 per month. Then there are fees for promotions, rank, seminars often making the student wonder if they are being nickel and dimed. Unlike other schools, there will be no school fees. Students will have to collectively pay for and obtain dojo supplies which they will manage themselves. My job is to teach. I am projecting my out of pocket costs will be very high the first couple of years. Then I am projecting that there will be times I will be supplementing the dojo when the students fall short. Money I don't plan on recouping.

robin_jet_alt
03-17-2012, 12:48 AM
Just the opposite. I didn't grab her neck hard. I put my hand on it but barely squeezed on purpose. I came no where close to my normal practice. She now moved during the technique because she knew that was expected of her rather than me making her move. I am also a black belt.

This is something that we can't judge because we aren't there and we can't feel it. Sometimes people grab too hard without realizing it and without trying to. Some people have strong reactions to actually being thrown. Believe it or not, some people get to black belt without ever being genuinely thrown, and it is a real shock to them to have their balance taken. Anyway, we can't know which one it was, so there is no point being critical one way or the other.

Tom Verhoeven
03-17-2012, 08:21 AM
@Tom. I will not be running a business dojo. I support what you are saying. The dojo fees will be in the range of $20-$30 a month, or less depending on how many students I have and the needs of the dojo. The dojo will be set up in a proprietary manner. Everyone contributes to the dojo, by handling operations and maintenance, plus all other affairs. People who have a sense of ownership have a greater personal responsibility to the welfare of the dojo.

The average Aikido dojo in my area charges in the range of $80-$110 per month. Then there are fees for promotions, rank, seminars often making the student wonder if they are being nickel and dimed. Unlike other schools, there will be no school fees. Students will have to collectively pay for and obtain dojo supplies which they will manage themselves. My job is to teach. I am projecting my out of pocket costs will be very high the first couple of years. Then I am projecting that there will be times I will be supplementing the dojo when the students fall short. Money I don't plan on recouping.

Jacky,
You presented your approach to starting a dojo as a business in concordance with consumer society doctrine. That you want to charge less to your future students only fits the same doctrine. It is the same argument that the local supermarket-manager gives me.

The discussion here was whether there are differences between female and male practitioners in Aikido. There are many reasons why we need to think about this.

But your sole argument was that from a modern day business point of view there should be separate classes for female practitioners as your consumers "want" this.

That does not really contribute to the discussion.

The general point I was trying to make before is that by setting up a dojo to fit the consumer society our whole starting point is wrong. Rather we should set up dojo that in the course of time may change consumer society. So we should not look for what the consumer wants, but what the student needs. That makes the difference between a shop and a true Aikido dojo.

Tom

Shadowfax
03-17-2012, 08:32 AM
So this was not a discussion on differences between female & male practitioners after all, but rather a market-inquiry to get a feel of the response if gender separate classes in Aikido were to be introduced.
A dojo is here presented as a business. Aikido has become a product. The student a consumer. And society a market.


No it really wasn't. Jackie is not the OP and the first post was a different discussion altogether. However I do agree with you as far as a dojo really should not be a commercial based thing. It just seems really wrong to me. OTOH as Jackie's posts progress it looks less and less like what she wants to do really is a business venture at all and I suspect that her model is going to run into some problems. The business model is about finding ways to make a profit. Her thoughts seem more and more towards an aikido version of joining the local YMCA. It just seems wrong to me but to each his/her own. She might not be taken seriously by the aikido community but perhaps her "business" might appeal to a number of people.

The thing is this is a discussion that has happened in my dojo a few times. If you start offering a class just for women and another just for men, then you start getting people who want a class just for handicapped and just for Jewish and just for gays etc...(not targeting any specific community just tossing out examples) and so on and so forth. Who is going to teach all of these classes? If one is running a dojo and only planning to make ends meet with the dues and out of pocket then teacher must have a day job.


My other question to you Jackie is this. You have been training in aikido for 10 years. So my guess is that you are somewhere in around shodan or nidan. California has many fine dojo run by individuals who have much more experience so it is not like there is a lack of places for people to go and train. What has influenced you to decide to open a dojo of your own rather than to continue to train and grow under a more senior and experienced teacher?

Hanna B
03-17-2012, 09:43 AM
No it really wasn't. Jackie is not the OP and the first post was a different discussion altogether.

These threads always seem to change subject, don't they. At least this one hasn't deviated into hoards of men speaking about how wonderful the small but significant differences between the sexes are.. extremely tiresome, once you've seen it a couple of times. That this hasn't (yet) happened here I think is probably due to the extremely thoughtful original post. Most people who post here regarding their problems in their dojo don't really ponder on both his/her own actions and those of others in the same way.


OTOH as Jackie's posts progress it looks less and less like what she wants to do really is a business venture at all and I suspect that her model is going to run into some problems.


I'm quite sure Jackie isn't a woman. A woman who started separate women's classes would have talked quite differently about it. If I'm wrong I will be very surprised.

kewms
03-17-2012, 11:28 AM
My solution is to separate the sexes in their own classes, only to bring them together occasional for the benefit of each other's practice. Will it work, I think so. Because the sexes naturally do separate on their own. History tells us it is far too difficult to bring the sexes together, other then for that occasional intimacy, where there is harmony and blending. In my new school, I will be going with nature, and not against it. That is my idea.

Honestly? I think that's a terrible idea.

In my experience, new male students are too reliant on strength, particularly upper body strength. New female students are too reluctant to connect. Because their strengths and weaknesses are complementary, men and women can see the things they need to work on modeled by the other gender. Separating them deprives both genders of this experience.

It's also a terrible idea from a martial perspective. If a woman ever needs to use her aikido skills in self-defense, it is almost certain that the attacker will be male and bigger than she is. By not exposing your female students to this sort of attacker in a controlled environment, you are doing them a serious disservice.

Katherine

kewms
03-17-2012, 11:37 AM
If, as we all are supposed to think,
a) female aikido is NOT different from male aikido at an advanced level
b) strength does not make a difference,


Anyone who thinks strength doesn't make a difference needs to train with stronger people.

At equal skill levels, the stronger person will win. That's just physics.

With that said, some of the most intimidating people I know in aikido are small women. They make up for their diminutive size with tremendous skill and enormous spirit. Small women absolutely can develop excellent aikido.

But so can men. Which is why competitions are and should be segregated. Judo has weight classes, too, for the same reason.

Katherine

kewms
03-17-2012, 11:39 AM
Sorry for being rude and ignorant, but I was talking about black belts females there. (I am thinking about my future down the road.)

The black belt females I'm familiar with are completely capable of dealing with strong attacks. Why wouldn't they be?

Katherine

Keith Larman
03-17-2012, 12:40 PM
For me a real eye opening experience was offering to do a class that integrated intermediate adults with advanced kids. The idea being to push the kids who had "outgrown" kids classes (size, strength, ability) and were no longer advancing as well with adults who tend to try to over power. The adults had to adjust "down" a bit while the kids had to step up. Add in to the mix the fact that I've got males and females as well with all the various cultural/size/strength differences already outlined in this thread.

Bottom line for me is that I came to realize even more that learning Aikido (as I understand it) requires both learning to deal with attackers across the spectrum but also to learn to take ukemi from others across the spectrum as well.

No, nobody cranks the kids. But they learn just how subtle technique can work when they can't just hammer them. They also learn that a small kid can sometimes manage to do amazing things when the timing is right. And they learn that power sometimes means something very different from just muscular strength and/or size.

Last night I had the class working with bokken. I got out a couple shinai and had them work on a particularly difficult movement that ends with a cut. This particular one was where you leap in to perform a yokomen then allow the end of the cut to turn around to face the other direction. Getting all the parts correct is very difficult. Usually what happens in the kata is that the cut is anemic and would be totally ineffective. It is tough to get the flow, movement and power all correct and retain good cutting form. So allowing them to try the cut hitting a shinai to verify the power and solidity is there was the way to give them feedback. The kids with a lot of experience in proper form actually were able to give a more solid and hence powerful cut than the ones with less. Regardless of size.

If the goal is a non-threatening place where people only train within their comfort zone, by all means segregate students. If the goal is to push students outside that zone and teach them to deal with more and more (or oddly enough maybe smaller and smaller), within reason it is a good idea to embrace the variety...

Just mho.

Eva Antonia
03-17-2012, 01:34 PM
Hello,

I'd never, ever go to a dojo with segregated training. I just don't put myself into the drawer where they lock the frail, fearful females.

BUT I absolutely support the idea of separate beginner classes for women. Those women who have some qualms, who are afraid of being smashed on the tatami or get their wrists broken, why shouldn't they START comfortably? Once they gain more confidence, they would WANT to pass to the mixed class anyway. Until they don't get this confidence, why not let them in their cosy biotope?

I have seen several dojos that offer women's classes, both in Azerbaijan and in Turkey. and it was exactly with this idea. Help the women surpass the initial timidity barrier. It worked there, because the dojos are big enough to find enough women beginners without self confidence. In our small Belgian dojo, it would be one or two women per year, so it wouldn't be very sustainable...

And I don't think it is a sin to plan a dojo like a start-up business. This doesn't automatically mean you want to sell coloured belts. But still you would wish to have enough students, not only to pay the rent, but also to advance with the training and have some diversity. So where is the problem in doing a market research? It's only the word "marked" that has this vile, capitalist sound, but knowing what you do before starting is simply common sense.

Have a nice week-end!

Eva

Tom Verhoeven
03-17-2012, 01:51 PM
Anyone who thinks strength doesn't make a difference needs to train with stronger people.

At equal skill levels, the stronger person will win. That's just physics.

With that said, some of the most intimidating people I know in aikido are small women. They make up for their diminutive size with tremendous skill and enormous spirit. Small women absolutely can develop excellent aikido.

But so can men. Which is why competitions are and should be segregated. Judo has weight classes, too, for the same reason.

Katherine

I am trying to come up with a situation where strenght does make a difference, but for now I cannot think of one.

At equal skill levels the stronger person will win? Really? It is an argument that I have heard men use before. But I do not think that this is true in sports competition or in nature for that matter. It certainly is not true in war or in a fight. And it is most certainly not true in Aikido or in Budo in general.

Over the past decades I have come across many women who where better skilled in Aikido then the men that they trained with on a daily basis. Perhaps because as science tells us, women have better developed coordination skills, while men (especially young men) trust their muscle power to get the job done. In Aikido that trust in muscle power will bring a limit with it in progression.

Having said that; Aikido is not about winning or about competition. It is more about personal growth and that is something that cannot be measured or compared with someone else. Aikido is really a path equally suited for both men and women.

It just hit me; dead weight lifting contests, that is were strength could make the difference!

Tom

kewms
03-17-2012, 02:03 PM
At equal skill levels the stronger person will win? Really? It is an argument that I have heard men use before. But I do not think that this is true in sports competition or in nature for that matter. It certainly is not true in war or in a fight. And it is most certainly not true in Aikido or in Budo in general.

Over the past decades I have come across many women who where better skilled in Aikido then the men that they trained with on a daily basis. Perhaps because as science tells us, women have better developed coordination skills, while men (especially young men) trust their muscle power to get the job done. In Aikido that trust in muscle power will bring a limit with it in progression.

Note that I said *equal* skill levels. Sure, women can be more skillful than men, and therefore can make up for their strength deficit. But combat sports have weight classes for a reason.

Consider ikkyo. Nage is taking uke down to the mat, and for a moment is standing between uke's arm and uke's body. There are men who are strong enough to pick me up, with one arm, from that position. How could that kind of strength *not* be an advantage?

Katherine

jackie adams
03-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Hello again to everyone,

It was asked of me to cite some references to the things I have learned over the years that has shaped my view on the differences in training men and women. At the time, I wasn't able to pull anything up off hand to cite because my research wasn't a scholarly one. My travels where an adventure into knowledge, a tactile learn by doing approach. Just like Aikido is. Unable to help the person asking for more information, made me a bit uncomfortable. Why? Because I like helping others, and I couldn't help.

Being Monday morning I did a bit of web searching as I tried to remember some of the important things I read up on over the years that would be useful. In a few minutes of searching, lo and behold I found something wonderful that I could cite. A word of warning I am not sure if I had read this author before, or if this is the first time.The point of the article and the information it gives matches with my thinking on training. You can't use the same teaching approach for both sexes. That being a fact, it would make sense to provide learning environments attentive to each sex base on how they learn.

Male and Female Differences Dan Hodgins, Coordinator Early Childhood Education http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/Hodgins1.pdf

I know some are going to object. I would like to see the counter argument showing it isn't true many more women feel comfortable going into a class with another female (or male/friend or husband) friend then alone. More women joining an Aikido class for the first time can feel intimidated being the only female in a class of men. A class when surveyed by many woman come to the conclusion she would be uncomfortable in that class. Because it is mostly male students, if not all, even if there is a female instructor. Here we have a situation where a woman needs a class that fits her learning style, and yet has no choice to join a class of men - there are no classes for her learning style. Why should she have to make that choice? Why isn't there a class for her that understands how she learns best?

The class structure I am setting up isn't going to be inflexible. Recognizing some students learn best under mixed gender classes is very much important. I will run 3 adult classes a week. A general class mixing both men and women, if they want. A women's and men's only classes for those who want it. Then the kids classes separate from the adults. The challenge I see upon the horizon is I will be facing the establish orthodox training philosophies of others. There is a difference in the way women and men learn. My opinion is by recognizing there are different training and learning needs between the sexes it increases student learning and success. Students regardless of sex when in classes that fit them and their needs they are happier and learn better. That is why I will offer the 3 classes.

I need to get back to work for now, hoping in the future I can share more.

Shadowfax
03-19-2012, 03:23 PM
There is a difference in the way women and men learn. .

What are those differences? I have not been under the impression that learning style is gender specific. I ,for instance, am a kinesthetic learner with a bit of reading. Another woman I know is more visual and yet another is an audio learner. I believe males also fit these various learning styles.

A good teacher will help a student to find their best learning style and help them to make use of it within the parameters of the class.

lbb
03-19-2012, 03:33 PM
The point of the article and the information it gives matches with my thinking on training. You can't use the same teaching approach for both sexes. That being a fact, it would make sense to provide learning environments attentive to each sex base on how they learn.

My interpretation of the article was that it's based on statistical observations of male and female subjects, generally and within a structured academic learning context. The age range implied is preschool through adolescence. I'm not sure that there are implications for how men and women learn aikido.

I know some are going to object. I would like to see the counter argument showing it isn't true many more women feel comfortable going into a class with another female (or male/friend or husband) friend then alone.

I'm assuming that you mean your argument, since the article doesn't make arguments. I don't think the burden of proof is really on the rest of the world here, to be honest. Nor is it on you to prove your argument (although in the statement above, I think you've departed from your original argument, substituting "going to a class with a friend of either gender vs. going alone" for "going to an all-women class vs. going to a mixed-gender class"). If you want to use your belief as the basis for how you structure your classes, that's your prerogative. I think, though, that you might consider the limitations of the marketing adage "All you have to do is get them through the door." Like many other marketing adages, it's just not so. I can easily believe that many women with no prior martial arts experience would feel more comfortable with the idea of an all-women class, simply because most women are socialized to be uncomfortable with physical contact with a man who they're not in a close relationship with. But what happens then? I guess the idea is that gradually, these women develop enough confidence to cross over and train with men? Or do you intend to maintain a dual track perpetually? And if so, what happens to your students when they train outside your dojo?

More women joining an Aikido class for the first time can feel intimidated being the only female in a class of men. A class when surveyed by many woman come to the conclusion she would be uncomfortable in that class. Because it is mostly male students, if not all, even if there is a female instructor.

Really? I'd be interested to see the details of such a survey, methodology, etc. My guess would have been that many women would find the idea of training with men uncomfortable or intimidating. But when they observe a class, they would see that the reality is different: that partner practice is not a sexual situation, that bullying doesn't happen, etc.

Here we have a situation where a woman needs a class that fits her learning style, and yet has no choice to join a class of men - there are no classes for her learning style. Why should she have to make that choice? Why isn't there a class for her that understands how she learns best?

Again, you're equating gender with learning style, as if the two are indivisible and monolithic. The article you cited spoke of tendencies, not absolutes. Furthermore, it spoke of differences without attempting to quantify them, and certainly didn't state that they're diametrically opposed or incapable of being addressed within the same learning context. If you look at Kolb's learning styles, you'll see IMO much more radical differences in learning style than those described in the article -- give a teacher a class with five doers and five thinkers, and you're talking about a real challenge! And yet in order to teach aikido, a sensei must teach successfully to all four types.

The class structure I am setting up isn't going to be inflexible. Recognizing some students learn best under mixed gender classes is very much important. I will run 3 adult classes a week. A general class mixing both men and women, if they want. A women's and men's only classes for those who want it. Then the kids classes separate from the adults. The challenge I see upon the horizon is I will be facing the establish orthodox training philosophies of others. There is a difference in the way women and men learn.

A women's class isn't particularly unorthodox, they're pretty common. Our dojo used to have one, although it doesn't any more. Of the women who took the class, I think one part weren't going to continue training long-term no matter what (the usual attrition rate), one part were going to continue training no matter what (and did train in the mixed classes), and one part hid out in the women's class because of a perceived difference between those and the mixed classes. In fact, it may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the women's class became the refuge of a few very tentative people who created this idea in their heads that this class would be easier, simpler, not do hard ukemi, etc. Ukemi is hard, and working to improve your ukemi is hard, and this class gave these people a place where they felt comfortable -- because as you know, when someone just can't do good ukemi, you have no choice but to take it easy on them. A comfortable place is one thing, but a place where you can learn is not always comfortable. For a while, these tentative people made up enough of the students in the women's class that the class had to be easy just so people wouldn't get hurt -- but it couldn't last, and didn't. We don't have a women's class any more, but all those people had left before we got to that point.

There is a difference in the way women and men learn. My opinion is by recognizing there are different training and learning needs between the sexes it increases student learning and success.

So, what is the difference, as relevant to an aikido dojo? Put succinctly, what are the different training and learning needs of a women vs. a man?

akiy
03-19-2012, 04:07 PM
Moderator's note: the posts regarding "Countering Ikkyo with Strength" has been moved here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21024

-- Jun

phitruong
03-19-2012, 04:45 PM
you folks are still here trying to figure out the differences between male and female? you folks never played doctor when you were kids? i noticed right away the differences the first time on the mat. for one thing, the females, in general, are better looking. sorry, but most of you blokes are kinda not very remotely attractive. then there is the smell. the females smell better too, all around.

personally, i don't think much about the differences when it comes to martial arts. i guess growing up in a country where women were encouraged to take up arms and be at the front-line, sort of taking the issues of male and female in martial arts or combat, out of my view. it also helped when the girls there didn't play with barbie dolls, but preferred to kick kent's ass and took him prisoner. ever wonder why we men rather went to war instead of staying behind and deal with the women? just observe for a moment the conversation, one night, in an unspecified tent, of Gengis Khan horde.

GK (Gengis Khan): ok, did you all made a good excuses to sneak out of your tents?
Horde leaders: yes, GK.
Matthew "the camel": the wives kept asking me about when i would be back. i need to get back early; otherwise, they will be really mad.
Horde leaders: me too. me too.
GK: OK. you are a bunch of spineless women!
Horde leaders: GK, you sneaked out too!
GK: Don't make me go over there and kick your asses!
Chris "the fallen": you have no idea what it likes with them! just the other day, my second wife asked me about about... her wrapping dress. she asked me if i liked the color. i said "yes". then she said "i don't seem to be enthusiast about it" that i hated the color. then she went tearful on me!
GK and Horde: sheesh! sorry man, that's tough break. we all have been there. pass the man the wine skin!
Marc "the brute": that's nothing! my third wife asked me about if she's fat!
Horde: *gasp" what did you say?
Marc "the brute": i said i love her whatever shape she in.
Horde: *collectively shaking head of impending doom*
Marc "the brute": she went all pouty and crying and weeping and the rest of wives joined her! i wanted to kill something badly so i went out and milked the goats!
GK: cheer up man! here, drink some wine from my wine skin!
John "the hacker": that's nothing. the other day, my first wife asked me if i know what day is this? i could barely remembered my own manhood if it wasn't attach to me and she asked me the day? it turned out it was our anniversary where we wed over the pile of dead bodies from that looting by the yellow river. and i forgot to steal some flowers for her! *sobbing* it was so bad i had to sleep in the tent with her for a couple of days.
Horde: that ain't bad!
John: and talked about feelings! *sobbing*
Horde: *collective gasp NO NOT FEELING!"
GK: OK. that does it! so we are all agree that we will take the horde to the southern plain and sweeping across the world to be away from the women folks, right?
Horde: RIGHT!!!
GK; here is the plan. we will gather up the clans and sneak out early in the morning, before the women wake up around noon.
Horde: what excuse do we use?
GK: gone fishing!
Horde: but we are in the middle of the damn desert!
GK: right, we will go until we can find a place to fish! i heard of this place called hawaii. we should heading in that direction.

and there rest is history!

*for the longer version of the meeting notes, i might post it at a later time* :D

LinTal
03-19-2012, 05:11 PM
Ah, so *that's* what happened!!

Phi, you just made my day. :D

Hanna B
03-19-2012, 05:15 PM
Male and Female Differences Dan Hodgins, Coordinator Early Childhood Education http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/Hodgins1.pdf

That isn't exactly a piece of scientific work. Who's this Dan Hodgins who wrote it? I fail to find any scientific articles from him on the brain (searching Pubmed, the relevant database for medical research). Your PDF file says he's a "Coordinator Early Childhood Education", OK. His sources? He doesn't state. Could be popular books like "Men Are From Venus and Women From Alpha Centauri", or whatever.

The text certainly isn't scientific. Talking about differences between two groups is completely irrelevant unless you also state
1) how big these differences are. Numbers, percentages, graphs and tables in an article makes it less appealing for a quick glance, but a lot more informative. This article hardly mentions any numbers at all.
2) how big the variation is within the groups in question (in this case male and female).

Let's say, for instance, that men on average is better than women in the task X. Wow, we have gender differences! Women truly are from Alpha Centauri!

We get closer, and see that on average they are 15% better at X. That's a difference - but it's not huge. This kind of data will be interesting to scientists but it doesn't have a huge impact in normal live.

However we're not satisfied with that either. We check for the variation within the groups - and that proves to be far far bigger than 15%. Some men are more than 100% better at X that others. Some women are much better than some other women - and some women are a hell of a lot better than some men. Actually, as much as 30% of the women are better at X than the average male.

This is how data on gender differences in the brain typically look when you come closer. Which the popular books seldom say.

By all means, create your class system and test it, I'd like to hear how it went! But I very much doubt that you have any science behind it. Not any biological/medical, at least.

Rob Watson
03-19-2012, 05:16 PM
I know some are going to object. I would like to see the counter argument showing it isn't true many more women feel comfortable going into a class with another female (or male/friend or husband) friend then alone. More women joining an Aikido class for the first time can feel intimidated being the only female in a class of men. A class when surveyed by many woman come to the conclusion she would be uncomfortable in that class. Because it is mostly male students, if not all, even if there is a female instructor. Here we have a situation where a woman needs a class that fits her learning style, and yet has no choice to join a class of men - there are no classes for her learning style. Why should she have to make that choice? Why isn't there a class for her that understands how she learns best?

We used to have a womens class but it didn't work out. The more experienced women didn't show as they didn't get a decent enough training out of it. Guess they knew they would be attacked by men (if it ever came to that) so that is what they wanted to train.

I always figured we already have a beginners class for the beginners. Beginners get paired with seniors. We basically do a 'regular' class but concentrate more on basics. Same as the 'regular' classes. Anything else seems kind of misleading - want to know what training is like then come to any class and see.

EVERYONE is different big/little, old/young etc. One aikido to bind them all. The student must bend to fit the class - not the other way around.

I've seen more men come a few times and quit than have women. Maybe less women come in the first place but those that do tend to stay more often.

Hanna B
03-19-2012, 05:57 PM
My first budo dojo was a karate club which at the time offered one women's only beginner class and one regular beginner class. I chose the mixed one. Why? There might have been something about the weekdays being better for me - I'm not sure. But I do remember that the women's class was just 1 hour short, while the regular class was 1,5. Also, the women's class was mixing in a bit of aerobics, if I remember the descriptions correctly, which should take time away from the actual karate. So I wondered "how are we supposed to learn the same as the guys, in less than 2/3 of the time?"

Today I would have chosen the women's class, for one reason only: it had the better teacher. The regular beginner class was taught by a bunch of different people, of various levels and skills, but the woman doing the women's class was the only competition champion in the dojo - she was in the national team in kumite. That group must have been a lot smaller as well. The regular beginner's groups were amazing large at this time - at least 40 people, maybe 50-60. So if she was any good at teaching, maybe actually the girls in the women's group learned as much as the men on 2/3 of the time.

However the club dropped the women's classes after some time. I'm not sure why.

Shadowfax
03-19-2012, 08:43 PM
I will run 3 adult classes a week. A general class mixing both men and women, if they want. A women's and men's only classes for those who want it. Then the kids classes separate from the adults.

Of those classes a woman who only wants to train with women and a man who only wants to train with men, and the children, each can only train once a week. Based on that program at most a dedicated student can only train in your dojo two days a week and at that they have to drop their phobia about training with the other sex if they want to train more. What happens when someone wants to train more than 1-2 times a week as do most serious students? That isn't really even a useful program if someone is only in it for the exercise. Two days a week is bare minimum for one to be able to progress as it is.

When I first entered the dojo I was scared and worried and very uncomfortable training with anyone and men in particular. But I also realized that the reason I was there was to work on those issues and the only way to work on them was to face them head on in a controlled environment with skilled teachers to help me.

Now I am very fortunate that there are currently several woman of various ranks form Sandan and co-head of the dojo all the way down to a beginner who started a month ago. Having other women in the dojo to support and help is a good thing. But I have to say that it has actually been the male instructors and students who have really been the most help to me in learning that I can be ok and in control while interacting with a male. A woman who really has a problem with this is never going to get there training with only women.

I also will be interested to hear updates on how things progress once this program begins.

jackie adams
03-19-2012, 10:52 PM
It's evening and my intuition kicked in telling me to read some of the responses. One concern I noticed amid the responses relates to the link I posted. Many people mentioned it. The link I given was because a member was asking me if I could cite something. Because I can't remember everything I read. I found a link that sampled some of the areas I have read about in the differences men and women. I have read things not only in the field of education, but other areas too that say men and women learn differently. These areas are in sports, medicine, and science that say there is a difference in women and men. If a person cares to do so, they could Google it.

It has been a busy Monday, am tired. It is time to turn off the computer and relax with glass of wine. Good night.

Hanna B
03-20-2012, 04:31 AM
It's evening and my intuition kicked in telling me to read some of the responses. One concern I noticed amid the responses relates to the link I posted. Many people mentioned it. The link I given was because a member was asking me if I could cite something. Because I can't remember everything I read. I found a link that sampled some of the areas I have read about in the differences men and women. I have read things not only in the field of education, but other areas too that say men and women learn differently. These areas are in sports, medicine, and science that say there is a difference in women and men. If a person cares to do so, they could Google it.

It has been a busy Monday, am tired. It is time to turn off the computer and relax with glass of wine. Good night.


So you googled and you found what you wanted to find... good for you.

There are plenty of pages saying plenty of silly things, inluding pages about what science says. See my remark regarding how "there are differences between the group" might hold on group level and still be a worthless statement when it comes to the individual.

There is bad research. There also is lots of sensible research being over-interpreted in various ways.

BTW, there is reserch showing that women learn math as well as men do IF they live in countries where people don't have this belief that men are better at math - a very fine example of how prejudice becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. I can dig the original articles out for anyone who is interested.

Malicat
03-20-2012, 06:03 AM
BTW, there is reserch showing that women learn math as well as men do IF they live in countries where people don't have this belief that men are better at math - a very fine example of how prejudice becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. I can dig the original articles out for anyone who is interested.

I love the math thing. :) Over here, we are on an A-F grading scale, and I always made A's in every subject except for math. I made B's and C's in math, and everyone told me that was fine, because girls are no good at math. After starting back in school as an adult, I had a teacher who didn't believe that, and reinforced that women and men are the same in math. I finished his class last semester with an almost perfect average, and got a perfect score on the final exam. I'm taking him again this semester, and I am ahead of the entire class in calculus now. Turns out I'm great with math, I just needed someone who believed in me first.

--Ashley

Hanna B
03-20-2012, 06:42 AM
I think women-only groups might sometimes be a good idea with a female teacher, but more seldom with a male. The act of separating the sexes in a male-dominated activity risks telling the women they are "vulnerable" and need extra attention before they are fit for mixed class - but a good female teacher however can show that this is not a concern.

OTOH, unless the female teachers's time is unlimited, letting the women teach women-only classes will deprive the men of female teachers. And since one of the obstacles is the men you train with treating you like a frail little thing... nothing cures that in a man as taking ukemi for a woman who is truly good. Men who have female teachers seldom express that it's "complicated" training with women.

In some schools/preschools they separate the kids according to sex for some classes, a couple of times a week. The idea is that when you mix the boys and girls they will be busy acting their sex, following expectations - the boys will be loud and expect the nice and calm girls to hand them the things they need, maybe even to tidy up after them. When separating the sexes for a class the boys calm down and the girls can occupy more space. Having made that experience is hopefully something the kids can bring to mixed situations also. Whether or not there are any pedagogic research on the results of this I don't know.

I find that interesting, but I'm not saying this is a good model for an aikido dojo. Besides the complicated schedule this would create in an aikido dojo these are kids, not grownups. Also, in school there are roughly the same number of boys and girls. Learning how to be one of the few women in a male dominated environment is different.

jackie adams
03-20-2012, 07:19 AM
Good morning to everyone.

I am open minded and willing to read what someone finds if they post it here about the difference between men and women. Let me tell you, am the first to say I don't know everything. Thinking of my self as a perpetual student is always a good thing. Subscribing to the saying that not everything on the internet is true, is true for me too. My mission is to due the best by my students by being the best teacher I can be. Taking teaching seriously by understanding the needs of the students is paramount to me. Understanding how to teach which includes the differences in how all students learn and identifying their needs, is always a good rule of thumb. I am not going to assume I can teach just because I have some experience and knowledge in Aikido. I don't think that is a good approach. I am open to reading suggestions.

Have a good day.

Demetrio Cereijo
03-20-2012, 07:21 AM
Hello again to everyone,

It was asked of me to cite some references to the things I have learned over the years that has shaped my view on the differences in training men and women. At the time, I wasn't able to pull anything up off hand to cite because my research wasn't a scholarly one. My travels where an adventure into knowledge, a tactile learn by doing approach. Just like Aikido is. Unable to help the person asking for more information, made me a bit uncomfortable. Why? Because I like helping others, and I couldn't help.


I like helping others too.

Have you ever heard of "confirmation bias (http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~mckenzie/nickersonConfirmationBias.pdf)"?

lbb
03-20-2012, 07:43 AM
Hi Jackie,

If you're looking for reading, just google Kolb and learning styles -- there's plenty there. In my experience, being trained as a coach in two sports, I encountered this model both times (I've also encountered it in classroom-based teacher training in subjects ranging from high-school-level math to various types of technology). I've found it to be very helpful -- but, as my instructors emphasized, the usefulness of any such model depends on the insight that it gives to you, the teacher, into what you're actually observing in your students. It becomes a lot less helpful when used to label students and make assumptions about their capabilities, because it limits them. You might assess your student as a natural thinker-type learner, and you might have a great method for teaching your subject to a thinker-type learner -- but ultimately, the most successful learners employ strategies of all types. People don't really benefit from scenarios that constantly play to their strengths and keep them within their comfort zone -- it reinforces their current strategies, beliefs, approaches, ways of looking at the world. They become more rigid, less flexible, and less able to deal with a situation that isn't so accommodating.

I don't think that having separate-gender classes instantly creates this kind of ossified learning, and I don't think that it's necessarily a bad idea, but my reasons for doing it would be different than yours. You've repeatedly cited differences in learning styles as the reason for creating separate classes, but in my experience, there are deeper differences in learning styles that are not gender-based. It makes no sense to me to believe that such differences can be accommodated within a single class, but gender-based learning differences merit separate classes.

TheAikidoka
03-20-2012, 08:18 AM
Hi Amy,
Forgive me if I go over some things that have already been noted, as I have not read all post.

The way I see it is, it really is not about wether men are stronger than women or vice versa(this is soo possible), but to lead the beginner to an understanding of superior inner strength as apposed to physical muscle strength. And this should be taught from the outset as basic fundamental Waza,, as body movement, we controll our opponent through body movement and not muscular strength.

For example, the other day I asked the strongest Aikidoka in our dojo, to take hold of my wrist in the basic hold of gyaku hanmi katate dori, with the absolute intent of not letting me to be able to move him. To hold my body spellbound as it were, so that my mind would be stolen by his strength and his full intent.
I simply could not move my uke an inch, could not even begin to move into a technique it was too painfully on my wrist, I could not move at all, I was completely defeated in mind and body.

But, not in spirit, and this is the key to Ki, Osensei clearly states in a few Doka, "take no thought for the enemy whatsoever, just step in and cut." or words to similar effect. now I had the same uke take hold of my other wrist in the same manner as my other hand was completely numb. I applied no thought for the enemy, just concentrated fully and conciously on my own breath (this is where true power resides), I simply raised my own hand in an upward motion, similar to the raising of sword, but with a hint of entering into the opponent with my hand.
It happened so quickly even I was surprised, I broke his grip as if it were nothing. as if his strength simply did not matter one bit. this was not competition or testing, but sincere act of training in the way.
I bowed and thanked my partner honestly, for helping me understand the way of non-resistance. not to deny the strength of my opponent, just don't think about it too much, and train in the basics of Aiki.

Yes beginners are to be treated kindly, they have had little to no training in Aikido, you have. give them the tools to receive a technique fully, so you do not have to pull your technique. also teach beginners to give a full honest attack to those who know what they are doing, and then if that person gets hit, there is another lesson learned..... Should have got out of the way.

For yourself, if you feel that you teacher is skipping some fundamentals of Aikido, and concentrating, far too much with the execution of technique, then you may need to think about going to a different instructor. for the one who only thinks about defeating and destroying, throwing or pinning the enemy, is completely missing the way of harmony.
Aikido takes into account both sides of the coin, Uke and Tori must be trained in equal measure in each others role, because they are of the same ONE COIN!

Train in this spirit and harmonious interaction (technique), no matter how hard your opponent/s attack, you will be able to remain centred and deal with the situation.

in Budo

Andy B

Hanna B
03-20-2012, 08:21 AM
Slightly off topic, or at least on a tangent...

A male aikido teacher, who we may call Jack, ran a dojo for many years together with a female teacher of equal rank. He told me about a student of theirs who went to some kind of coaching seminar for sports/martial arts. The teachers at the seminar talked about female and male leadership styles, listing features of each leadership style on separate sides of the whiteboard. The student said "It matches perfectly! How I recognise these two styles - only this is Jack and that is Joan."

It was my impression that he truly cherished that story.

TheAikidoka
03-20-2012, 08:43 AM
Slightly off topic, or at least on a tangent...

A male aikido teacher, who we may call Jack, ran a dojo for many years together with a female teacher of equal rank. He told me about a student of theirs who went to some kind of coaching seminar for sports/martial arts. The teachers at the seminar talked about female and male leadership styles, listing features of each leadership style on separate sides of the whiteboard. The student said "It matches perfectly! How I recognise these two styles - only this is Jack and that is Joan."

It was my impression that he truly cherished that story.

I love this story, it's like describing the opposites of uke tori, teacher student, male female, wright wrong, good and bad, up and down left and right, Ki aikido or yoshinkan aikido, good teacher bad teacher.

in the end what is left, are only students of the way, any distinction is only semantics, and each one is born of the other, and they indeed compliment each other perfectly and in harmony.

It is only the ego that makes you believe one is more virtuous than the other.

In Budo

Andy B

lbb
03-20-2012, 09:08 AM
I love this story, it's like describing the opposites of uke tori, teacher student, male female, wright wrong, good and bad, up and down left and right, Ki aikido or yoshinkan aikido, good teacher bad teacher.

Male and female are not opposites -- not even close to it. Perhaps that's where everyone is going wrong.

TheAikidoka
03-20-2012, 09:49 AM
Male and female are not opposites -- not even close to it. Perhaps that's where everyone is going wrong.

Totally agreed Mary, that is exactly what I ment In my last post. I am not that great with words sorry :)

Andy B

ani
03-20-2012, 09:03 PM
Thank you very much Andy !! I really appreciate your sharing of the experience. However I'm afraid it'll take me 10 years to trully understand it. :) But, roughly I think I get the idea that spirit + ki will beat muscle. Right?

Because I posted this post, people think my dojo is not good enough, but it is not that actually. It's just that I don't really talk to Sensei and other senpai, so my progress has been slow. It's my personality problem. Just want to let people know I like all the people in my dojo. :D

TheAikidoka
03-21-2012, 03:10 PM
Thank you very much Andy !! I really appreciate your sharing of the experience. However I'm afraid it'll take me 10 years to trully understand it. :) But, roughly I think I get the idea that spirit + ki will beat muscle. Right?

Because I posted this post, people think my dojo is not good enough, but it is not that actually. It's just that I don't really talk to Sensei and other senpai, so my progress has been slow. It's my personality problem. Just want to let people know I like all the people in my dojo. :D

Hi Amy,
I do not think your dojo is not good enough from what you wrote here :) Impossible, so it is to make a judgement on that unless I had been there. :)

It should never be about wether you like them or not. Its about what you are training for, its about how your are trained, its about you feeling that this dojo will get you where you think you should be headed.

Awareness, if I could teach anybody anything it qwould be awareness. Because we cannot change things for the better nothing that we are not aware of.

When you let gravity do its job of draining and pulling to earth all the stress and tension in your body that serves no useful purpose, you realise too, that too much muscle tension or tensing, also serves no useful purpose. What are you left with? Ki flow, you can experience this now - not in ten years :) , if you just let gravity do its job! Try it out, let me know what you felt, Aikido is all about feeling, not knowing inteluctually something. You end up knowing it in your body. :)

In Budo

Andy B

lars beyer
03-23-2012, 05:26 AM
Hi all,

I'm a female practicing aikido for about 2 years now. When I first started training, all the senpei in my dojo were very nice and gentle to me. But I wasn't aware of that, until that one guy joined us from other dojo. He was very rough, I almost cried when he threw and pinned me with no mercy when I first partnered up with him back when I was a 7th kyu. I disliked his aikido, because I thought aikido was supposed to be soft. But my boyfriend (who doesn't practice aikido) encourage me to practice with him more because he knew that the reason I take aikido lessons is to learn how to self defense. That guy was the kind of guy I will need to protect myself in the street. My boyfriend was right. So, I deliberately practiced with him more often. I thought if I could survive his attack, I would have a better chance surviving attacks in the street. But, he soon moved, and left us.

After that, many of other people in my dojo noticed that I've become stronger, maybe using more muscles (One student even told me I've got more ki, which I believed was muscles only). They liked it, and I liked it too. Because before that, I totally thought there should be absolutely no muscles in aikido techniques as it was advertised (my interpretation of their ads :P).

So, a few months ago, the difference between female and male practitioners' skill level started to bug me. I don't know if it is appropriate for me to judge them, but I feel the difference between a nidan female's throw and a shodan male's throw. I don't know if it is because men just get the physical advantage over women in combat or what, their techniques are just better (in my view) than women. So, I kind of think that the ads saying that "everyone can practice aikido" is just to attract more students.

Because my goal is to learn self defense, I like to practice more with rough male students, doesn't matter if they're white or black belt. However, since I'm tiny in size, most students in my dojo are very gentle to me, they don't want to hurt me. But this is hindering my progress. I think it is a waste of time dancing with people on the mat. But, it might be hard for nice people (both men and women) to be rough to me.

Recently, I started training with new beginners. There are several girls and one guy. I was very gentle with the girls, but almost in full strength to the guy. My sensei warmed me to be mindful that he was just a white belt when he saw that. I'm not trying to make excuse for myself, but I feel like my full strength was just right for him, because of our size difference. My question is that, am I wasting my time and the time of those girls by dancing with them? Am I helping the guy when I treat him like my level? I'm just a low level blue belt. I felt that if your partner give you their full strength, you learn more from them than if they lower their levels to yours.

What do you guys think?

P.S. as for the safety of beginner ukes, I thought instructors need to do more in this area. Also, I think people treat me gentle because my attacks are weak, I want more instruction on how to be a better uke, but feel like sensei's are putting more focus on nage's role...:( Usually instructions for nage are very specific, like step to the right, turn to the left, but for uke, it's only "keep your energy forward, honest attack, something like that, which is very difficult to understand, at least for me)

Hi Amy Fong

A woman I know started aikido recently in the same dojo I practise. She is becoming good quite rapidly I must say, even she is not in her teens anymore :) and we have discussed some of the issues you are talking about.

A good amount of female students in the dojo makes for a balanced training invironment and many female students learn the techniques faster than males I think. When a technique is executed correctly a small female can be very powerfull and I believe sometimes female beginners are not aware of this or forget it in the heat of practise.
The same goes with some male students.. and somewhere in this process I believe it can become a little confusing.. especially for women but also for some males..
But anyway sometimes people forget that there is another person attached to the recieving end of the technique,
not by evil intent but just like that.. this happens sometimes and should offcourse be avoided.

Have a nice day
Lars