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Unregistered
03-14-2003, 08:15 AM
Now, that I have your attention... ;)
It's probably not as extreme as that, but I wanted to throw out the possibility and get as much input as I can.

I'm one of only two women in a dojo which is generally comprised of all men. She and I started training around the same time, about two and a half months ago, and our big pet peeve is that we feel that sometimes, we're just not being taken seriously. I know, you're thinking, "well, that's just because you're beginners"; but let me just explain further.

Specifically, when it comes to a lot of techniques that involve a joint pin or lock (ie. ikkyo, nikkyo, etc.) a lot of the guys in the dojo will plain out say that whereas they can "be tougher on the other guys", they're afraid of hurting me and the other woman.

We don't typically get this from the other two beginners (who are male); most likely because they, like us, are still learning how to get techniques down pat and haven't yet learned to control the amount of pain they inflict. But the most disturbing thing is that our Sensei will sometimes say this, which makes me wonder whether it's just that he and the other senior guys are being kind to us because they're sincerely worried or whether they just believe that we can't handle it like the other guys. The fact is, we don't see anyone saying this to the other two male beginners.

The jist of it is, she and I feel that we can handle as much pain as everyone else (if not more---hey, we're women: we have higher pain thresholds), and deserve the same quality of training that results from the more serious and strong attacks our male counterparts are subject to.

Anyone have any comments? I know one of these days, I'll just have to find the time to go early and try to catch my sensei alone and broach the subject, as he's really non-responsive though he's online and doesn't answer his e-messages (which is pretty annoying, especially since I call attention to them at the dojo and still haven't received a response---someone needs to teach him some 'Netiquette. ;)

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 08:34 AM
Chances are they are just treating you like beginners and having some compassion, since they can't take a chance that you can handle the technique without someone getting injured. Taking some of these 'crank-ons' can require quite a bit of conditioning first. Be thankful, there will probably come a time when they show you no mercy.

DavidEllard
03-14-2003, 08:49 AM
At the risk of generalising we tend to find girls pick up Aikido quicker than boys. The reasons two possible reasons we see are: they are less likely to try to power through tequniques using strength and they seem more comfortable using their centre.

It is quite possible people are being gentle with you cos you are female, but then again it might be because your dojo isn't familiar with female practioners so don't know how to deal with them, or even because the other people training there are sexist - whether consciously or not.

You are probably in the best position to tell if people are being sexist - what is thier behaviour like of the mat - do they ever appear sexist there? if so they are more likely to be sexist on the mat. If they treat you as an equal and with respect off - they are more likely to do the same on.

A couple of side notes:

We have an issue within our training group because all our sensei's and senior people are male finding... 'role-models' for number of female low grades we have. We are trying to get them to come to a camp in norway with us in the summer so they can see some *really* good aikidoka who just happen to be female.

From the sounds of it i doubt you have any senior females within your training group - I'm sure things would be different if there were

(oh - and for a final note - don't be too anxious to experience the pain - depending the style you learn it is quite possible to train hard and well, with no pain ... even on nikkyo!)

Qatana
03-14-2003, 08:58 AM
There are six women in our dojo, three of them shodan or higher.Trust me, they get treated exactly like the men.

Everybody is very gentle with beginners tho now I've been there three months some are starting to make it just a little "harder".They will know when...

happysod
03-14-2003, 09:31 AM
Bit confused, if you're saying your sensei refers to your gender specifically rather than your status as a beginner, then yes there's a problem, a big problem. Despite irreverant randomn aikidokas, most dojos are very heirachical and the mannerisms and attitudes of the sensei will be adopted by the more personality-challenged members of the dojo. Gender shouldn't count at any stage, as the old joke goes, "there's no sex on the mat"...

If, however, the references for "gentleness" are all towards your beginner status, I'd suggest you just enjoy the feeling of calm before the storm.

Hope you get things sorted

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 09:46 AM
Hi,

When I first started training theere was an uneven ratio of women to men and some men would be more gentle on the women.

Funny thing is that the sensei was a woman and every once in a while her uke would hold back on her, and she'd scold him for it. It's not like she wanted her male students to be rough, just engaging. She was a godan.

it might be because your dojo isn't familiar with female practioners so don't know how to deal with them, or even because the other people training there are sexist - whether consciously or not.
I'm not in the poster's dojo, but David suggests something that I have seen more than once.
We have an issue within our training group because all our sensei's and senior people are male finding... 'role-models' for number of female low grades we have. We are trying to get them to come to a camp in norway with us in the summer so they can see some *really* good aikidoka who just happen to be female.
David: you may find that if any of those new women are strong enough to not require that their role model be female, they'll mature to be a pretty good role model down the line. Of course there are other ingredients, but having the ability to see men as legitimate role models as well might be a good thing.

DavidEllard
03-14-2003, 10:12 AM
Very True.

No disrespect was meant.

But a couple of the ladies i'm thinking of are my friends our of class, and when we've talked they've often said they see the lack of any senior women within our organisation, the lack of any women teachers, as giving them the percpetion that aikido is more of a male pursuit. I think in any activity although it is possible to break new ground it is easy and more comforting if there are people you can look at.

The Endo Shihan course we went to recently helped - for there was a good mix of sexes at all levels on the mat.

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 10:38 AM
Strange to read about all that gentleness and sexism, I thought nothing like that happens in aikido. There are seven women in my group and about twenty men and noone ever treated us somehow different, whether any of us was a beginner (like me) or not. Otherwise I wouldn't have so large bruises on my wrists. :) And if sometimes I am treated not so hard it is because of the lack of skills, not me being female. For example, nobody tries to throw me in very earnest yet, cause I can't make a normal ukemi. But every training the throws become a bit harder and the time soon comes when there will be no difference between me and the others in this. And if sudenly some guy has strange ideas about women+aikido, the rest, including women will be really surprised. Sensei (he's male)most of all I guess. We are not asexual at all, we once talked about it and it turned out that women prefer to work in pairs with men what I find quite natural. Don't know about guys' preferences but they enjoy female presence in dojo, allways glad to see us what I find natural too. Sensei once said it is more interesting when there are many of us at the training. Quite agree. But the sexism as you wrote about it - no, never. Fortunately. :)

rogercmarks
03-14-2003, 11:22 AM
My wife considers me more of a Feminist than she is, which perhaps in itself is sexist (on her part?). However, in spite of all my philosophical belief in the precept that there are no male of female Akidoka, only Akidoka, I have to admit that reality kicks in. I rationalise this as 'Biological Imperative' and if I don't do my duty by my female uke and maybe hold back that little bit or, as uke, am a tad wimpish when attacking a female nage that is just how it is. In my defence, I offer the excuse that I will also moderate my practice with those I perceive as physically weaker or less able. I however do not automatically judge that a female is per se weaker or less able - I have been disabused of this a long time ago!

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 11:45 AM
Being the only female student, or the only even moderately advanced female student in the dojo can get lonely, even if the guys are completely supportive and cool. I've been in that sitch for most of my time training. OTO, it's not THAT bad. Also, I got attitude from certain guys as a beginner but that doesn't happen now!

beanchild
03-14-2003, 11:46 AM
best thing to do is talk to your sensai about folks taking it too easy; just before or after class might work. i know that many times my sensai has good reasons for things that he says or even jokes that he makes. unless there is a definite problem, like you feel your training is suffering, stick things out a bit longer. when the guys feel comfortable working with you both, they'll probably take things up a notch.

btw, i'm a female aikidoka if you wondered. been studying for almost 3 yrs.

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 12:45 PM
If they want to show compassion, let them. Better than someone trying to prove how “weak” you are. Time proves how strong you are (see Jo's post).

Let the guys work through their fears of hurting you. Often, their fears of themselves (and your smaller body) are LEGITIMATE. Over time, their fear will decrease as both yours and their skill increases. They, too, are learning to control their bodies.

There is no need to prove you can "handle as much pain as everyone else". (ego, ego, ego and, uh, why?).

People take you seriously when you stay and train. Trying to prove you are serious about training proves nothing but that you are serious about proving you are serious.

I am…

Female w/ about 10 years experience in a rather large dojo.

Paul Klembeck
03-14-2003, 02:00 PM
Another possibility to consider is the "meatyness" factor. I am always a little wary of using much force on people with small bones and wrists, at least until I have trained with them enough to be sure their ukemi skills are advanced enough to keep them safe. While there is no gender motivation in this, women tend to have smaller wrists than males, so there is a correllation with using less power on women beginners than male beginners. Having always had women teachers in every dojo I have trained at, I have good reason to know women are as strong as men, and except for beginners with slender wrists, I treat them the same.

Paul Klembeck

Unregistered
03-14-2003, 02:33 PM
Original poster here. Thanks everyone for all your input. Although I had long since personally resolved to simply train hard despite whatever treatment I receive, I still appreciate hearing others' perspectives and experiences on the matter.

As for the following response:
There is no need to prove you can "handle as much pain as everyone else". (ego, ego, ego and, uh, why?).
I'm afraid you missed the point. Or perhaps I simply did not articulate my meaning well enough. I was quoting the other female aikidoka in the context of the sentiment that we weren't feeling like we were being treated equally compared to how the other two male beginners were being treated.

We have been exposed to a great deal of rhetoric on the part of our sensei in which he has stressed time and time again that other students must not simply "take easy falls" for us (beginners as a whole) and if they grab our wrists, for example, it should be as tight as they can. This was on the premise that the more serious the attack, the higher the quality of training, as it is a scenario which has more realism behind it. I strongly agree with this concept, which is why I found it so disturbing that many disregard it.

To put things further in context (as these conditions were implied in other posts), the other female beginner is a large-boned, physically strong woman, and though I myself am rather petite, I am the same size and stature as one of the male beginners. The other male beginner is tall, and lanky. So, as Yoda said, "Size matters not," in this case, as none of us, save perhaps the other female beginner, is particularly "meaty" as one poster considered earlier on.

Thanks again for all your help!

Unregistered
03-15-2003, 12:58 PM
From my first karate class, I learned I had better act tougher than the guys if they were not to treat me like I was made of china. Sad but true.

I have seen dojo environments where women were not supposed to actually learn anything. It was hopeless to get people to throw you for more advanced ukemi, etc. I eventually left this place.

Part of it might be possible to sort out by talking about it, though. Your instructor might be not very used to teaching women, new to the situation and not knowing how to handle it. Talk to him, both of you together, and explain that you want no special treatment or comments because of your sex.

If the instructor does not learn to handle female students, neither will the dojo as a whole.

Unregistered
03-15-2003, 05:18 PM
I have a sneaking suspicion that the originator of this thread is one of my students. If so, I have the following to say:

I do have genuine concerns about the safety of my new female students. They are smaller and weaker than my male students and I am trying to take that into account when dealing with them. I don't intend to be sexist, so please don't harbour any thoughts to the contrary. Typically, women have not remained in the dojo for long, usually because they find things too rough. I am trying to do what I can to change this, so I may, in an attempt to do so, be erring too far in the opposite extreme. Please bear with me while I work this all out.

Arianah
03-15-2003, 06:21 PM
Well, I guess since I'm female, it's my duty to chime in here. :rolleyes:

My first day of class, I showed up, looked around, and saw only one other woman in the room. It didn't phase me when she left, and piles of new men came, leaving me the lone woman. Sure, I was thrown much more gently than the other (male) beginners, and every time I was thrown with any force, I was asked if I was ok. But I just kept training, learning how to take harder falls, and soon joking with people, telling them with a big grin, "You know, I won't break if you really throw me!" It took a little time, but I was soon rolling with the boys, slammed to the mat with the best of them.

Was it sexism? I think that's getting a bit extreme. Maybe a little frustrating, but not malicious. If you just train, and let people know that you can take a bit more than they're dishing out, I'm sure they'll be happy to comply. If someone's grabbing your wrist like it's made of glass, don't get offended. Offer a smile and say, "C'mon! Attack me!" This doesn't mean you have to start proving yourself to them, just letting them know how you want to train. Just keep training and it will probably work itself out.

And try not to take it too seriously. ;)

Sarah

Arianah
03-15-2003, 06:29 PM
They are smaller and weaker than my male students ...
Not necessarily...

Sarah

Crimson
03-16-2003, 12:05 AM
Ok from a male perspective we were always breed not to injure women. well this may flo over on to the mats. and if all else fails just tell them not to go easy on you.

Laurent Veillat
03-16-2003, 08:17 AM
Hi!

thisquestion about sexism in a dojo seems weard to me. The answer is in the word Ai: union ki: energy(kind of) do: way;

if guys are kind to you maybe it's because your the kind type.

The other question is: why do you practice aikido? To hurt yourself? To be bruised by other aikidoka? Male or not?

As I've read up there, there is no sexes on the tatamis.

Cool! practice it!

In case thre are real macho guys in your dojo, move!

I've practice many years and found kind people of both sexes on the tatamis, and mad people too! I rekon mad women are exceptions.

Hope you don't feel hurt by my roughness.

Unregistered
03-16-2003, 12:10 PM
I have a sneaking suspicion that the originator of this thread is one of my students. If so, I have the following to say:

I do have genuine concerns about the safety of my new female students. They are smaller and weaker than my male students and I am trying to take that into account when dealing with them. I don't intend to be sexist, so please don't harbour any thoughts to the contrary. Typically, women have not remained in the dojo for long, usually because they find things too rough. I am trying to do what I can to change this, so I may, in an attempt to do so, be erring too far in the opposite extreme. Please bear with me while I work this all out.
With all due respect, perhaps the women don't stay because of the sexist attitude. And it is sexist---you are assuming the women beginners don't have ukemi skills equal to the male beginners, or your concern would be about BEGINNERS, not WOMEN. The women MIGHT be smaller (I don't know, often there are small males in class as well), but usually the smaller folks are more flexible, more quick and responsive, and so better able to receive techniques. If it was because they were small, you would be saying (and your students would be saying) "I am taking it easy on you because you are a small beginner". The fact that you (and your students) instead say "girl/female/etc" as a reason to take it easy reveals the sexist undertone to the thought process.

Sara M
03-16-2003, 02:16 PM
in my dojo, im the only female except for a friend who has just started to study. Im sure she'll say the same, when I say there is no sexist actions at all on the mat. However thinking about it... i guess it could have been because i train with so many guys... but on my grading, i was put with another female, and i was in no way as hard on her, as i would have been if i was partnered up with a guy... I never even thought about it that way before, and i consider myself to be completely non-sexist!...

Unregistered
03-16-2003, 04:40 PM
Original poster here again. Looks like I'll have to do this in a couple of separate posts, as things are getting a little misunderstood...

First of all, I want to sincerely thank all of the female respondents to my post (Maxine, Sarah, Sara, and all the other females who have chosen to remain anonymous):

I truly appreciate the honesty with which you've shared your personal experiences with us, and though I myself am no stranger to "the Old Boys Club" in other aspects of my life (education, occupation, etc.) aside from Aikido, your words of encouragement are still just as inspiring to me! All the best to you in your future endeavours, both on and off the mat.

Now on to...

Unregistered
03-16-2003, 08:25 PM
I have a sneaking suspicion that the originator of this thread is one of my students. If so, I have the following to say:

I do have genuine concerns about the safety of my new female students. They are smaller and weaker than my male students and I am trying to take that into account when dealing with them. I don't intend to be sexist, so please don't harbour any thoughts to the contrary. Typically, women have not remained in the dojo for long, usually because they find things too rough. I am trying to do what I can to change this, so I may, in an attempt to do so, be erring too far in the opposite extreme. Please bear with me while I work this all out.
Well, I'm all for the theoretical game, so here goes:

If you are in fact my instructor, there are a couple of things that I believe you need to seriously consider for your own sake, not only as a teacher, but simply as a person:

First of all, I strongly disbelieve that this situation is one which is entirely your own responsibility to "work this all out" on your own. The dynamics between individuals, like interaction in Aikido training (dare I use the analogy), involves a certain level of understanding on the part of all parties involved. In other words, this situation involves me as well, and as a unique individual, I cannot simply "bear with you" while I get lumped into the "Category= Female" for you to decide on your own what to do with me.

Women in the past may have left your dojo because they found things "too rough", as you say. I can see that this must have happened enough times for you to now question whether or not the level of training you have offered is too extreme. Regardless, you still cannot ultimately assume that this training will be too hard for all women.

Perhaps if you spent more time trying to get to know your individual students on a deeper level, you would find that where some of us may be lacking in physical strength, we make up for it tenfold in strength of will, mind, and spirit---all things of which you yourself preach as even more important in Aikido than physical strength alone.

Perhaps if you bothered once in a while to respond to my messages (thus showing me respect and acknowledgment and opening yourself to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you may learn something valuable from discourse with another) you would begin to know me no longer as merely another small, female body in a white gi. You would know me as others know me: as a relentless and determined person who is not afraid to rise to any challenge. You would know exactly how resolute I am in my training, and how seriously I consider it a lifelong commitment. You would know just how much I truly respect you, and that I am more than happy with the "rough" training you put us through because I love how you constantly give me the opportunity to push myself to be the best I can be. And finally, you would know that the last thing I want is for this opportunity to be taken away from me just because you've convinced yourself that I can't handle it.

I understand your concerns for our safety, but to a certain extent, because we are adults, you must put your trust in our own self-knowledge and ability to determine our own limits, communicate to you if we are uncomfortable with anything, and take responsibility for our own decisions be they right or wrong. And the only way you can rest assured that we are in fact communicating this to you is by being open and responsive to us.

Which is truly a shame, because if you really are my sensei, chances are you won't even read this message at all.

-----

"In just refusing to retreat from something one gains the strength of two men." ---Hagakure - The Book of the Samurai

Unregistered
03-16-2003, 08:44 PM
With all due respect, perhaps the women don't stay because of the sexist attitude. And it is sexist---you are assuming the women beginners don't have ukemi skills equal to the male beginners, or your concern would be about BEGINNERS, not WOMEN. The women MIGHT be smaller (I don't know, often there are small males in class as well), but usually the smaller folks are more flexible, more quick and responsive, and so better able to receive techniques. If it was because they were small, you would be saying (and your students would be saying) "I am taking it easy on you because you are a small beginner". The fact that you (and your students) instead say "girl/female/etc" as a reason to take it easy reveals the sexist undertone to the thought process.
Just thought I'd clear things up a bit. This poster is extrapolating towards things that I did not say at all. Please, whoever you are, re-read my original post.

1. I never insisted that my situation was definitively based upon sexism. I merely threw it out as a possibility and wanted to hear others' responses to this.

2. I don't believe we have to get as politically-correct as you suggest with having to distinctly say all the time "I am taking it easy on you because you are a small beginner". This gets a little silly after a while. I believe the actual problem lies in a lack of communication and understanding in general.

3. You misunderstood what I described my sensei and senior students as saying: They never once referred to being afraid of hurting girls/females in general, as you inferred. What I said was that they would say this referring to me and the other female aikidoka specifically. For example, "I'm afraid of going too hard on you and ____." It was because this was never said to the other two beginners (who are male) that there seemed to be an unfair distinction.

As much as I appreciate the supportive words, I simply cannot stand by them if they do not speak the truth. Thanks though.

Edward
03-16-2003, 09:43 PM
This thread reminds me of one of our female instructors. When I went easy on her, she accused me of being sexist and asked me no to let hold back. Then when I practiced normally with her, she accused me of trying to kill her and not being respectful of her being a Lady!!!!!! Of course when she throws students, it is always with such unnecessary brutality, as if she's trying to prove something.

Even though a few ladies at our dojo prefer us not to be especially soft with them, most however do request to be thrown gently.

Conclusion, accept your femininity and be natural. You're not supposed to become Red Sonja by joining an aikido class.

jducusin
03-17-2003, 12:35 AM
This thread reminds me of one of our female instructors. When I went easy on her, she accused me of being sexist and asked me no to let hold back. Then when I practiced normally with her, she accused me of trying to kill her and not being respectful of her being a Lady!!!!!! Of course when she throws students, it is always with such unnecessary brutality, as if she's trying to prove something.

Even though a few ladies at our dojo prefer us not to be especially soft with them, most however do request to be thrown gently.

Conclusion, accept your femininity and be natural. You're not supposed to become Red Sonja by joining an aikido class.
As a woman---nay, as a human being---I take great offense to this.

It may never have occured to Edward that there have always been women out there who are perfectly comfortable with who they are "naturally" and yet are not necessarily "feminine", just as there have always been men who are, also by nature, not particularly "masculine". Just like all human beings, there are women (and men) who are naturally predisposed to being a "Red Sonja" or conversely, a "June Cleaver", or even a mixture of these in as many combinations as there are distinct individuals.

I resent being told to fit the role that you imply I must. I for one, take joy in being a woman and all the things that this brings, but I have never considered myself to be particularly feminine. So for you to say that being anything but feminine is unnatural for a woman sets unrealistic expectations for me and all other women who are simply being themselves.

I also find it amusing to think about: why it is that when you hear about a man throwing someone with "unnecessary brutality", he's merely considered a macho jerk. But when a woman does the same thing, "of course...she's trying to prove something." Sorry Edward, let's face it: some women are just jerks.

Whoops! Looks like I had something to prove there. And whaddya know...I did!

Sincerely,

Jamie the Jerk (aka Flamebait :D )

Edward
03-17-2003, 03:27 AM
Hi Jamie!

I meant to say that if you are not naturally predisposed to become a Red Sonja, then aikido class will not make you one.

I have been asked sometimes by obviously very frail and fragile women to throw them hard (obviously I was taking care not to injure them). I think sometimes people over estimate their own abilities. However, I didn't comply to the request because it's up to me to judge the ukemi skill and physical endurance of my uke.

I am sure that if we practice together, I would naturally throw you hard, and I am sure you would do the same to me :)

Peter Goldsbury
03-17-2003, 07:20 AM
My own feeling is that everyone should loosen up a bit.

In my own dojo we have a good mix of men and women, covering a wide age range. The youngest are high school students, of both sexes, and the oldest are housewives and grandfathers. My instructor colleagues are a husband and wife team who have the same rank (4th dan).

So the dojo members are a good section of Japanese society in general and there is also a balance in the instruction. We have a guiding principle that all three instructors teach equally often, so no instructor teaches more than twice in succession. And it works.

If I think of extremes among the students, there is a very 'petite' Japanese housewife and a very tall, strong young man, who is not Japanese and who is young enough to be her son. We have no 'sexual' problems at all and I think everybody trains equally 'hard'.

The only difference I have noticed in training with Hiroshima University students over 20 years (not in my own dojo) is that ukemi is slightly different, and I think this is probably based on a physiognomy sanctified by the culture. The boys/men like to display their prowess, but the girls/women tend to hide their prowess, which (actually) is just as good as that of the boys, but is exhibited less often. I would be interested to hear from other instructors about this (Mr Ledyard?).

Otherwise, in my opinion aikido training should be completely 'sexless'.

Best regards

Unregistered
03-17-2003, 07:52 AM
Hi Jamie!

I meant to say that if you are not naturally predisposed to become a Red Sonja, then aikido class will not make you one.

I have been asked sometimes by obviously very frail and fragile women to throw them hard (obviously I was taking care not to injure them). I think sometimes people over estimate their own abilities. However, I didn't comply to the request because it's up to me to judge the ukemi skill and physical endurance of my uke.
Edward, you are certainly entitled to your own judgment and discretion on such matters. What I disagreed with was the assertion that all women by nature are feminine, as you said in your "Conclusion."
I am sure that if we practice together, I would naturally throw you hard, and I am sure you would do the same to me :)
Thanks for the kind words, Edward, and I do appreciate the sentiment behind them. But for the record, I am not one of those women who throw hard (I am still a beginner, after all), but am merely alluding that there may be women who do whose reasons for doing so go beyond simply the stereotypical reason of "having something to prove".

jducusin
03-17-2003, 07:58 AM
Teehee...that's what happens when you've got your hackles up and are so eager to respond---I totally forgot to log in for the day! :P

Jonathan
03-17-2003, 11:24 AM
Hmmm...There are so many "Anonymous Users" on this thread that I'm not sure to whom to respond.

Well, let me respond to the following:
In other words, this situation involves me as well, and as a unique individual, I cannot simply "bear with you" while I get lumped into the "Category= Female" for you to decide on your own what to do with me.
Insofar as I am the chief instructor at NWA, it falls to me in that capacity to make the final decisions regarding many aspects of the dojo. This doesn't mean that I don't consult others who are directly involved, but it does mean that, ultimately, I am solely responsible to institute changes in dojo training or policy. In this sense, it is "up to me" to deal with this problem.

You seem to have been stewing over this sexist stuff for awhile, J.G., which is a shame, because I think it could have been dealt with relatively easily some time ago if you'd said something directly to me when you first noticed it.
Women in the past may have left your dojo because they found things "too rough", as you say. I can see that this must have happened enough times for you to now question whether or not the level of training you have offered is too extreme. Regardless, you still cannot ultimately assume that this training will be too hard for all women.
Yes, you're right. At the same time, however, I cannot completely ignore what has happened with the women who have attempted training at NWA before you.
Perhaps if you spent more time trying to get to know your individual students on a deeper level, you would find that where some of us may be lacking in physical strength, we make up for it tenfold in strength of will, mind, and spirit
Getting to know my students on a deeper level is something that I wait for them to initiate. It has been my experience that many students are quite content simply to come to the dojo to train without any particular personal link to me beyond that of student to teacher. I'm more than happy to delve deeper into the life and character of a student if they wish and to disclose more of whom I am to them as well. Keep in mind, though, that people do not form relationships at the same rate. I, for instance, am not an extroverted or gregarious person and so take more time to connect with others.
Perhaps if you bothered once in a while to respond to my messages (thus showing me respect and acknowledgment and opening yourself to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you may learn something valuable from discourse with another) you would begin to know me no longer as merely another small, female body in a white gi.
Well, J.G., (if this is indeed who I'm writing to) my not responding to your messages on this forum is, as I said to you in person, more a consequence of having very little time to spend on the net than anything else. Certainly, it has nothing to do with thinking that I can learn nothing of value from you or anyone else. I do not hold you in contempt or low regard, so please don't continue to think otherwise.
And finally, you would know that the last thing I want is for this opportunity to be taken away from me just because you've convinced yourself that I can't handle it.
Make no mistake, I am determined to make of each of my students the best they can possibly be. I will do all that I can to foster excellence in all of my students regardless of their gender. You needn't be concerned that I will remove this opportunity for excellence from you because you're female.
you must put your trust in our own self-knowledge and ability to determine our own limits, communicate to you if we are uncomfortable with anything, and take responsibility for our own decisions be they right or wrong. And the only way you can rest assured that we are in fact communicating this to you is by being open and responsive to us.
I am not sure what "open and responsive" means to you, exactly. I have never made myself purposely unapproachable. And, as you say, J.G., my students are all adults and should be able to speak up if and when they feel they need to. I have never discouraged anyone in the dojo from doing otherwise. In fact, I have counselled many of my students to be very clear about what is okay for them in training and what is not. However, they still often don't speak up and so my trust in their "self-awareness" or their capacity to express that awareness is rather thin.

Anyway, thanks for speaking your mind. I would have preferred a different circumstance in which to have this exchange, but better here than not at all.

See you on the mats, J.G.!

Ron Tisdale
03-17-2003, 12:36 PM
J.G.,

I think you have a gem of an instructor. I can almost guaruntee that I would not have responded as well to being "called on the carpet" on the net in this fashion. The fact that your instructor did respond so well, speaks volumes, as well as the fact that they look at things like why the female students had such a high rate of dropping out. I hope you appreciate what you have...

Ron Tisdale

Jonathan
03-17-2003, 01:16 PM
I should say, I think, that I wrote my last post without looking at the other posts on page two first. My apologies, if this created confusion for anyone.

Lyle Bogin
03-17-2003, 01:54 PM
Couldn't this problem be solved by simple non-compliance? For example, if you think ninkyo isn't being applied on you with enough "respect", just stand there and act bored. You'll more than likely get the respect you desire.

jxa127
03-17-2003, 02:11 PM
Hi all,

I have a quick question: what's the big deal with being thrown hard? I work so I can perform ukemi quickly and smoothly. I work so I can take falls without injury. But I simply hate hard falls.

Hard falls, to me, are ones where nage provides extra acceleration after I've already lost my balance and am falling. That's just annoying. Is that what people are talking about here?

Actually, I tend to find that hard falls are a problem with beginners more than with experienced people. Beginners sometimes seem to be thinking, "Oops, there he goes, I'd better complete this throw."

Another way to look at hard throws is like this: a couple of years ago, a simple forward roll was neither simple, nor much of a forward roll for me. I did okay with side falls or back falls, but I dreaded rolling. At that time in my development, a forward roll would have been a hard throw.

Maybe the problem isn't a lack of hard falls (which would make me happy), but an overabundance of soft falls (which can be really annoying). A couple of summers ago, I attended an Aikido Association of America summer camp near Chicago. On the second day, we were working on shihonage. I was paired with a pretty high-ranking black belt. At that time, I'd been training for about two years. We'd go through the attack, and then the guy would very carefully coach me on how to fall down to a gentle back fall.

Now I'm a big guy with reasonably good ukemi skills. Even at that time, I was pretty darned good at taking break falls, so I felt that being thrown so gently was a bit of an insult. To be fair, the guy throwing me didn't know me or my skill level. On the other hand, he didn't ask either.

I can see how if something similar is happening to the original poster, she could find it insulting too.

Regards,

-Drew

Unregistered
03-17-2003, 02:17 PM
I guess it's time to bite the bullet.
Insofar as I am the chief instructor at NWA, it falls to me in that capacity to make the final decisions regarding many aspects of the dojo. This doesn't mean that I don't consult others who are directly involved, but it does mean that, ultimately, I am solely responsible to institute changes in dojo training or policy. In this sense, it is "up to me" to deal with this problem.
Thank-you for explaining this to me---I now have a better understanding of what you meant and sincerely respect this and the responsibility that you have taken upon yourself for the good of others.


You seem to have been stewing over this sexist stuff for awhile, J.G., which is a shame, because I think it could have been dealt with relatively easily some time ago if you'd said something directly to me when you first noticed it.
On the contrary, no, I haven't been "stewing over this sexist stuff for awhile" in the least. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to jump to conclusions about these things, so I decided to post anonymously to simply throw this out as a mere possibility and to see what other peoples' experiences with this sort of thing have been. I never wanted it to be taken to this extreme at all.


I would have preferred a different circumstance in which to have this exchange, but better here than not at all.
As would I. I didn't, however, want to make a mountain out of a molehill (as this has undoubtedly become) and so sat back, waited, and observed first. After reading some of the responses to my original post, I actually wrote that I had intended to speak to you about this at the next chance I got. But here we are now, which is fine by me too :)


Yes, you're right. At the same time, however, I cannot completely ignore what has happened with the women who have attempted training at NWA before you.
This is understandable, so long as you keep yourself open to other perspectives and possibilities as well.
Well, J.G., (if this is indeed who I'm writing to) my not responding to your messages on this forum is, as I said to you in person, more a consequence of having very little time to spend on the net than anything else. Certainly, it has nothing to do with thinking that I can learn nothing of value from you or anyone else. I do not hold you in contempt or low regard, so please don't continue to think otherwise.
I certainly won't, and thank-you. And I do admit, that if there was anything I was "stewing over", this was it. I had responded to a post of yours on something that I considered (particularly because of the nature of my volunteer work) extremely important to me and was feeling as though it was being disregarded. I am glad to know that it was not and that you do in fact respect my opinion.
Make no mistake, I am determined to make of each of my students the best they can possibly be. I will do all that I can to foster excellence in all of my students regardless of their gender. You needn't be concerned that I will remove this opportunity for excellence from you because you're female.
I'm glad to hear it.
I have counselled many of my students to be very clear about what is okay for them in training and what is not. However, they still often don't speak up and so my trust in their "self-awareness" or their capacity to express that awareness is rather thin.

I am sorry to hear that you have had this experience. I guess I'm just overly optimistic.

I give you my sincere thanks for the way you've handled this, and have responded to my concerns. You have been open and honest, and it has not gone unappreciated.

This said, I also want to clarify something that I think got misconstrued along the way (probably because I didn't express it well enough): that the issues I brought up are more around certain senior students who consistently have a tendency to go really easy on me and the other female in the dojo, and were not meant to be centred solely around your behaviour.
See you on the mats, J.G.!
See you tonight! Just don't call me "J.G." again. I feel like I'm about to be hunted down by that guy in "Memento" or something. :D

jducusin
03-17-2003, 02:18 PM
Argh! First I can't log out properly, then I can't log in---what the heck's up with this today?

jducusin
03-17-2003, 02:24 PM
J.G.,

I think you have a gem of an instructor. I can almost guaruntee that I would not have responded as well to being "called on the carpet" on the net in this fashion. The fact that your instructor did respond so well, speaks volumes, as well as the fact that they look at things like why the female students had such a high rate of dropping out. I hope you appreciate what you have...

Ron Tisdale
You are absolutely right, Ron. He is. And I have a great deal of respect for him. Which is one of the reasons why I enjoy training as hard as I do and am extremely grateful for what he does. Please don't think that I don't appreciate this because I decided to voice a contrary opinion.

Lan Powers
03-17-2003, 06:52 PM
Bravo!!

So much of the time you see quite , err, contentious posts from one individual to another. But here, issue addressed, issue solved.

Confirmation of the aiki spirit in short.

Domo Arrigatto (probably misspelled, but sincere)

Lan

Unregistered
03-18-2003, 06:47 AM
Hi there.

I figure I should chime in here as well, though the gamut has pretty much been run.

I suppose I'm on the side of "wait for it, it'll come." I'm male, and I'd say for the first six months nobody really tride to throw me all that hard. The ikkyo, nikkyo, etc. were not applied with too much force - just enough to know that the technique was being applied correctly.

Then I became more comfortable with my ukemi, and proved that I wasn't going to run if people started applying things with more force.

So, from the sounds of things, it's probably more about proving yourself than it is about you being female. It may take 3 months. It may take 7 years. Have no fear, you will get techniques applied and throws performed quickly and powerfully when you can handle it.

Of course, if you feel you can handle it now, say so. I haven't met anyone yet who really hesitates if their uke askes them to procede.