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lenna
01-14-2005, 11:22 PM
I was just wondering how many of you all have a Female Sensei. Is it really common or not so much?

justinc
01-14-2005, 11:46 PM
I don't directly, but I do visit one reasonably regularly. I travel fairly regularly down to Monterey with work and call into Aikido of Monterey. Danielle Smith is the dojo-cho there that I train with. Within my own center, which offers multiple MA's, one of the two primary Hapkido teachers is a female, Susan Mix (5th Dan).

There's also a number of females high up in the California Aikido Association (Pat Hendricks, Cyndy Hyashi). At least in my experience, female martial arts instructors are reasonably common.

Williamross77
01-15-2005, 02:15 AM
My Direct teacher is Lynn Fabia Sensei, Founder of Society of Aikido Centers, She not only has tought me the fundmentals but has shown me how to incorporate my previous studies of Kung fu and kenpo into my KI. Ultimatly she leads me and does not "direct" me. she studied 20 years under our Sensei , Bill Sosa.

darin
01-15-2005, 12:13 PM
Since we are on the topic of women and aikido, what do people think about women only aikido classes?

DevinHammer
01-15-2005, 12:26 PM
At North Bay Aikido in Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay our dojo-cho is Linda Holiday sensei (godan). Occasionally there are women-only classes conducted. I've also trained with Danielle Smith and they are both fantastic teachers. Also, Mary Heiny sensei frequently visits, as she is this weekend. As I try to describe her to my friends outside of aikido, "She's one of those aikidoka who has truly tapped into 'the force'."

lenna
01-15-2005, 02:00 PM
As far as women only classes I don't think they are always important. maybe if you have a girl that is afraid to start because she is intimidated by the guys I would think that would be good reason to put one together. But only for a little while because i think it is good for you to practice with differently sized people. If there are different circumstances where someone would only go if there was a womens only class then it may be well worth it to have one.

Russ Qureshi
01-15-2005, 02:39 PM
Hey there,

I trained for ten years with Tama Nakashima sensei in Vancouver, Canada. Small in stature with a huge spirit that fills the dojo! I count myself very lucky to be able to say "she is my sensei".

Russ

Jeanne Shepard
01-15-2005, 02:52 PM
Since we are on the topic of women and aikido, what do people think about women only aikido classes?

How about men only ballet classes? Where I live, here in Seattle, the local ballet company and its school, started just such a thing, as they found out that men who might like to try it were intimidated by having women in their class.


I think it was a great idea!

Jeanne :p

Qatana
01-15-2005, 03:36 PM
Maybe as an introductory step, but women generally aren't attacked by other women, and eventually those men in that ballet class will probably have to learn how to lift women, so I think that mixed classes are more practical in the long run.
Then again, the only time I was ever physically assaulted by someone other than my ex was by a woman in a dance class...

Michael Young
01-15-2005, 04:11 PM
What about "men only" classes?....doesn't really sound all that appropriate to me, and neither do "women only" classes... As far as it being "more comfortable" or "easier" for someone to deal with, that is probably very true, but the difficulties of practice: i.e. dealing with others different from ourselves, our own shortcomings, complexities of techniques, physical hardships, etc... are what is necessary to make practice meaningful. It isn't dance class, it is a martial art.

My 2 cents

Mike

BTW addressing the original topic, my Sensei is not a woman, but I've had the opportunity to practice with many female Sensei's and have found them to be just as competent and with as much to offer as males. Aiki does not discriminate (based on sex at least ;) )

akiy
01-15-2005, 04:59 PM
Here's a poll I ran a while back:

"Do you think women-only classes in aikido are a good idea?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=126

-- Jun

bennettdjr
01-16-2005, 12:50 PM
Women only classes would be a bit pointless. By constantly training with the same person you become a bit relaxed. What would happen as well if a woman who only trained with other females was attacked by a male. I accept that she wouold more than likely ko the attacker but still.

Qatana
01-16-2005, 02:03 PM
constantly training with the same person you become a bit relaxed. .

What does this have to do with gender? I agree with the statement, thats why I like to go train in other dojo periodically, but what on earth does that have to do with women-only classes?

Don_Modesto
01-16-2005, 02:24 PM
How about men only ballet classes? Where I live, here in Seattle, the local ballet company and its school, started just such a thing, as they found out that men who might like to try it were intimidated by having women in their class.

Ha!

Thank you for this post. It made my day. (I love parity and we often hear about how women are uncomfortable training with men...)

mriehle
01-16-2005, 03:12 PM
How about classes which are not so much "women only" as "women oriented"?

At a dojo I once trained in, they did twice monthly (as I recall) classes to which only women were invited. But the class was taught by a male instructor and he'd bring along several of the biggest and most intimidating male black belts in the dojo to act as ukes.

The focus of the class was on attacks that women are more likely to face than men and the issues a woman has in facing those attacks (from a man) that a man might not have.

At the time I felt a little cheated, but later I realized that we (in the USA) live in a society where women kind of need the edge. Predators are often male and frequently prey on females. I, personally, resent the statistics on this since I am male and *not* a predator, but my resentment has nothing to do with the facts.

It was also pointed out to me that these women *did* need to work with these big guys as ukes and that they rarely got the opportunity in regular classes to do so. If they got nothing else out of it, they got that.

I don't have enough students to justify this, but I'd consider doing something like that.

Reg Robinson
01-17-2005, 12:51 AM
Although I'm new to Aikido, only 5 yrs. I am not knew to martial arts. I've had the honor of receiving Aikido instruction from two women, Sensei's Tama Nakashima, Vancouver B.C., & Mary Heiny. These two ladies Aikido is awesome. I am very grateful when I do get the opportunity to recieve instruction from them.

skyetide
01-17-2005, 07:13 AM
Since I am the only female at my dojo, it is good to go to seminars to train with other women. It is difficult sometimes not to see yourself reflected in a community. When I train with women yudansha, I can more clearly see myself at that rank. It’s not so much of an issue that I would feel compelled to be in a women’s only dojo or something. I think diversity of sexes, body types, ages, etc. in a group is a good thing. But I do value talking and training with other women to find similar experiences, etc.

I was just thinking the other day….does anyone know of any female shihan?

giriasis
01-17-2005, 07:40 AM
At my dojo, Penny Bernath teaches and I really do enjoy her classes. She does a great job of emphasizing fluidity of movement and diversity and variations of techniques.

I feel much like Tonya does about the "women only classes" question. It more of a matter of just seeing another woman there knowing that if she can reach the level of 5th dan (Penny) or even shodan, you can, too.

Lorriane DiAnne is Shihan, but I'm not sure if that's through Chiba Sensei's Birankai organization or with the Aikikai Hombu. Either way, she has incredibly powerful and centered technique.

I just wanted to add that sometimes being the only woman in the dojo can get lonely sometimes. It's not always a big deal for most women, but sometimes you just don't get the comaraderie with other women that the guys get with each other because simply there is no other woman there. I'm not the only woman in the dojo, but I've made an effort to introduce all the women to each other, now, there is that feeling and "us gals" can even have "locker room talk" ;) This is no call for women only classes but sometimes we are the majority or at least a significant minority in class. :D

lwoodcock
01-17-2005, 10:55 AM
I'm very fortunate to train with Alicia Billman-Cordero Sensei, godan, as often as I can. She's my sensei's sensei, and her aikido is beautiful. I'm pretty new to aikido, and I'm the only woman in my dojo, but I've never had the feeling that I'm out of place or that women can't or don't succeed in aikido. I think this is in large part due to the fact that my sensei was trained by a woman and because he has no preconceptions of gender, and his attitudes shape the dojo. He encourages us to train with Alice Sensei as much as possible, and we all learn a lot from her.

darin
01-17-2005, 11:15 AM
As far as women only classes I don't think they are always important. maybe if you have a girl that is afraid to start because she is intimidated by the guys I would think that would be good reason to put one together. But only for a little while because i think it is good for you to practice with differently sized people. If there are different circumstances where someone would only go if there was a womens only class then it may be well worth it to have one.

I agree with you. We are starting a women only aikido class soon. Basically getting them a chance to learn the basics without the pressure of training with and being hit on by men in the class. I think once they get to a confident level say after a month or two they will be willing to train with the guys. Its just that we haven't had much luck getting women to stay in our dojo.

Bronson
01-17-2005, 11:21 AM
Its just that we haven't had much luck getting women to stay in our dojo.

I think I may have found something in your post that might help.

...being hit on by men in the class.

Get the men who are trying to make moves on the women during class to knock it off and get back to training ;)

Bronson

mriehle
01-17-2005, 01:01 PM
being hit on by men in the class.

I feel I must echo Bronson's comments here.

It's one thing for relationships to develop in an Aikido dojo. You get enough people together of mixed gender and it's bound to happen. That's all part of that "being human" thing.

It's quite another for the men in the dojo to be hitting on the women during class.

The former is human nature, the latter is harassment. I do not go to Aikido to be harassed, I do not expect anyone else does, either.

If this is truly an issue at your dojo then either:

1) Your Sensei is unaware of the problem. If this is the case, he needs to be (gently) made aware. Often, the lack of awareness is because the perpetrators are intentionally screening their behaviour from him or her. Almost as though they know Sensei will not approve.

2) Sensei is aware and doing nothing about it. In this case your best option is to find another dojo.

But do try and be a little bit understanding of Sensei's position. It's a sensitive subject, really, that can get him or her into a lot of trouble through overreaction as well as through underreaction. For any issue like this, it's always best to have a talk with Sensei before making any decisions.

OTOH, if you're satisified that the culture of the dojo will not change any time soon, it's time to go. :disgust:

skyetide
01-17-2005, 01:43 PM
Basically getting them a chance to learn the basics without the pressure of training with and being hit on by men in the class. I think once they get to a confident level say after a month or two they will be willing to train with the guys.


Yikes! :eek: Luckily, the men in my dojo are all very professional.

I think the confidence issue is less a gender thing than personality. Any lack of confidence I have/had is just due to being frustrated when I don't meet my own goals or when I am comparing myself with someone with ten years more experience. I never felt a lack of confidence just because I was the only woman in class. Not all women are meek. Not all men are confident. I think any white belt would be somewhat humbled in the beginning and gain confidence after a month or two.

ali og
01-17-2005, 05:00 PM
How about classes which are not so much "women only" as "women oriented"?

At a dojo I once trained in, they did twice monthly (as I recall) classes to which only women were invited. But the class was taught by a male instructor and he'd bring along several of the biggest and most intimidating male black belts in the dojo to act as ukes.

The focus of the class was on attacks that women are more likely to face than men and the issues a woman has in facing those attacks (from a man) that a man might not have.
.

This is a neat idea and I think it would be very helpful either as a special workshop at a seminar or in the once/twice per month mode in a larger dojo, as you point out, Michael. This format would do two things - first, it might help women who are anxious about entering a martial art and two, it would meet the goals stated above. I also llike the fact that they brought the most intimidating upper ranked men for ukes - I like training with the bigger guys for the reason given above.

The "only" vs. "oriented" distinction is an effective one because ultimately, we all have to learn to deal with a variety of different bodies/energies, most especially women. It's good to learn to listen to everyone's energies.

And as for the "being hit on" issue, Bronson's point and the subsequent comments are very well taken. That's gotta go in the dojo...take it to the bar or wherever, but get it off the mat...

Jeanne Shepard
01-17-2005, 07:04 PM
What a great thread.

By the way, I'm sure Mary Heiney Sensei is a Shihan.

Jeanne

Don_Modesto
01-17-2005, 10:32 PM
....I was just thinking the other day….does anyone know of any female shihan?

....I'm sure Mary Heiney Sensei is a Shihan.


I don't watch such things closely, but I don't think so, unfortunately--Heiny is a terrific aikido teacher. The SHIHAN thing is not transparent. Non-Jpn "SHIHAN" have documentation, Hombu actually gives them papers saying that they are such. Interestingly, the famous Jpn SHIHAN don't have this paperwork. For Jp hands, this is very suspicious.

Chiba calls several of his students SHIHAN, including the above mentioned Lorriane DiAnne, but I don't think they've been so recognized by Hombu; I could be wrong. Other high-ranking women of my acquaintance who have made significant contributions (seminars, publications, etc.) to aikido are

Patty Saotome
Pat Hendricks
Susan Perry

I know I'm leaving many out. Sorry, but I hope this helps.

bennettdjr
01-18-2005, 12:16 PM
What prehaps i should have said was that women only classes would be as pointless as men only classes. If a women who only trained with females was attacked by a man, then would she be able to do the technique. Just as if a man was who only trained with males was attacked by a female would he be able to do the technique. The more varried your training is the better for you, or so i believe. Im sorry if ive offended anyone, i dont mean to.
dave

jonreading
01-18-2005, 02:41 PM
Wow... Tough question. Inherently, this is a complicated question that touches on many different points that are important to training. I know several females instructors, some of them good and some bad (just like us guys). I am always impressed by instructors that are knowledgeable, skilled, and capable of showing me why I chose Aikido as a martial art.

Think long and hard about why you wish to segrergate your class. Segregation reinforces that gender DOES make a difference in training (why else would you be doing it?). Separate but equal doesn't work. Eventually, both men and women will have to work with each other to train.

I have chosen to work with dojo that focus on physical training. There are certainly fewer women in those classes; but they are confident, competent, and capable of using aikido in their life and as self-defense. I have been to other classes whose women were unable to say the same thing. The instructor made a decision to focus training in a direction that suited serious training and physical excercise, with instruction falling on the martial roots of technique.

I am not against women only classes, but I firmly believe their is great potential to do more harm than good if not excerised with extreme caution. I believe exclusion is not a positive process in training. Many classes focus on aspects of training that are more suited to men (after all, martial arts was dominated by men for a very long time...); I think a better approach is to develop training focus and instruction that may be more accomodating to women. Give women a chance and I think they will impress you.

I would like to remind everyone that this is a sensitive topic. This topic rolls through gender issues, equality issues and training issues. The direction of the dojo and the decisions made by an instructor can have serious consequences, so please be patient if your dojo is moving slowly on this topic.

Finally, aikido is not the place for romance and dojo students should be aware of that fact. There is nothing wrong with student intimacy, but it stays off the mat.

Karen Wolek
01-18-2005, 03:03 PM
I have just been informed that Jane Ozeki (from NY Aikikai) was just elevated to shihan status. :)

Hanna B
01-18-2005, 05:06 PM
I was just thinking the other day….does anyone know of any female shihan?
Minegishi sensei.
http://www.aikido-chch.co.nz/images/shihan/minegishi/iriminagedemo.jpg

Don_Modesto
01-18-2005, 05:06 PM
I have just been informed that Jane Ozeki (from NY Aikikai) was just elevated to shihan status. :)

By Hombu? This New Years?

Karen Wolek
01-18-2005, 07:53 PM
By Hombu? This New Years?

I assume so. All my sensei said was that she had been elevated to shihan. Harvey Konigsberg, my part-time sensei, is now also officially a shihan.