PDA

View Full Version : Equitable?


Pages : [1] 2

Please visit our sponsor:
 

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


Mary Eastland
03-01-2005, 08:20 AM
I just checked out the list of instuctors for the Aiki Expo. There were 35 and only 2 of them were women. 2!!!!!!!. :crazy: :disgust:

Just had to get that off my chest.
Thanks.
Mary

rob_liberti
03-01-2005, 08:44 AM
What are your suggestions regarding how to recruit and retain women in aikido?

Rob

MikeE
03-01-2005, 08:51 AM
Once again, no one from Koichi Tohei Sensei's lineage either. A shame.

Pauliina Lievonen
03-01-2005, 08:51 AM
What are your suggestions regarding how to recruit and retain women in aikido?

Rob

Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo?

kvaak
Pauliina

akiy
03-01-2005, 09:17 AM
Once again, no one from Koichi Tohei Sensei's lineage either. A shame.
Shizuo Imaizumi sensei taught at last year's Aiki Expo. Although he is not connected with Ki Society, he trained for many years under Koichi Tohei sensei.

I think organizing an event such as the Aiki Expo is difficult to begin with, even without actively trying to meet all sorts of demands of organization, style, gender, and such. Having helped organized "cross-style" seminars such as the Aikido-L Seminars and the AikiWeb Workshop, I can only imagine the sensitive politics of who Stanley is able to invite and so forth. There are, I'm sure, limitations to his reach.

Nonetheless, I'm impressed (perhaps overwhelmed) by the number of instructors this year. I'm looking forward to seeing friends and training with the likes of Ushiro sensei, Kondo sensei, Tissier sensei, and others. It should once again be an interesting weekend...

In any case, you might want to post on the Aikido Journal website with your thoughts. I'm sure Stanley would be interested in hearing them; he's a very reasonable and approachable fellow from my experiences. I'm sure he'd welcome your thoughts.

-- Jun

SeiserL
03-01-2005, 09:41 AM
Hafta second Jun's advice. Please feel free to post suggestions at Aikido Jounral. I too have found Pranin Sensei very open to ideas. IMHO, he, like Jun here on Aiki Web, is trying to overcome politics and unite Aikido. Two people I bow to with great appreciation and respect for their efforts.

batemanb
03-01-2005, 09:43 AM
There's an old thread on AJ where Stan says that not everyone invited is able to attend, this may be for any number of reasons.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=121&highlight=invite

Although this was written when he was arranging the first Expo, it's probably safe to assume that some of it still applies now.

rgds

Bryan

Chris Li
03-01-2005, 11:06 AM
Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo?

kvaak
Pauliina

So you would advocate inviting instructors based upon their gender?

Best,

Chris

Mike Sigman
03-01-2005, 11:14 AM
Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo? How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

;)

Mike

Mary Eastland
03-01-2005, 12:15 PM
How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

;)

Mike
I think there are a lot of great women Aikido teachers. And who is best is up to the individual asked. However, Aikido is a martial art practiced by thousands of women. I wish that an effort could be made for more women to teach at big seminars.

And, yes I know that there are a thousand arguments and reasons why they have not been. But how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be if the "system" does not recognize what is lacking and work to fix it?

Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

It isn't a cute, winking matter to me.

Mary

bryce_montgomery
03-01-2005, 12:16 PM
Why does everything have to be prejudice?...What ever happened to the "harmony" through which aikido is a means to gain, and that we (as a human race) could cast off our sense of superiority of class, race, gender, religion, etc?...Just wondering...

Bryce

mj
03-01-2005, 12:19 PM
...Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

Mary

Indeed..and 2 out of 35 is far from equitable. Very far. :(

Mike Sigman
03-01-2005, 12:52 PM
I think there are a lot of great women Aikido teachers. And who is best is up to the individual asked. However, Aikido is a martial art practiced by thousands of women. I wish that an effort could be made for more women to teach at big seminars.

And, yes I know that there are a thousand arguments and reasons why they have not been. But how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be if the "system" does not recognize what is lacking and work to fix it?

Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

It isn't a cute, winking matter to me.

Mary That didn't really answer the question..."What does gender have to do with good Aikido?" And your question "how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be..." doesn't make any sense, if we're talking about "martial art". A martial art does not need a gender component to fulfill its definition.

Again.... what does gender have to do with good Aikido??????

:straightf This better? I only meant to be friendly, not get my ass chewed because of your personal mine-field of beliefs.

Mike

L. Camejo
03-01-2005, 12:52 PM
How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

Now that makes real sense in my opinion. Quality, not attempts to be overly PC as far as I'm concerned should be the requirement.

I think one of the primary things for a premier Aikido gathering like Aiki Expo should be quality of instruction and demonstration over anything else, as the event can easily become a benchmark for many who visit, of what "Aikido" is supposed to be all about, some of whom may not be aware of all the variances and peculiarities of the different methods of Aikido training.

If the majority of exceptional instructors were women I'd advocate there be more women than men there to maintain the level of quality to be honest. But again it comes down to the focus of one's program and aims when doing these sorts of expositions. I mean, this is the first year that someone from the Tomiki system is doing anything at the Expo as well, so I guess they are growing and learning as time goes along.

On the point of women in Aikido though, does anyone know what the actual ratio of male to female instructors is across all Aikido or in their own systems/organisations even? From how I see it the sheer ratio of all instructors of Aikido may have something to do with the pool that Stan Pranin can draw from to get to invite to Aiki Expo. And even then, it depends on who can make it to the event. There are a few variables imo. I'm not so sure if the ratio of male to female instructors in the world is not represented by the numbers represented at the Aiki Expo this year.

Then again, where does the lobbying stop? Similar to what Bryce said - when we have enough female instructors, will we then start asking why there are not enough african, hispanic, indian, christian, moslem, buddhist, hindu or [insert category here] instructors at the expo? To echo Mike above, what bearing does this actually have on our personal quality of training in good Aikido?

Personally I believe we must be the change we wish to see in the world.

Just some thoughts.
LC:ai::ki:

BC
03-01-2005, 01:00 PM
I also noticed that there are no instructors from the USAF. Just an observation...

akiy
03-01-2005, 01:05 PM
On the point of women in Aikido though, does anyone know what the actual ratio of male to female instructors is across all Aikido or in their own systems/organisations even?

Here's a poll I just took a few weeks ago:

"What gender is your chief instructor at your aikido dojo?"
http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=256

Not meant to be scientific nor representational, but at least, it's one statistic...

-- Jun

malsmith
03-01-2005, 01:09 PM
someone earlier said something along the lines of "what happend to the harmony" but to me harmony is balance and there is no balance in a room that has 33 male instructors and only 2 female.

but i do also agree that instructors should never be chosen because of gender... they should be chosen by their skills

but maybe women would be recognized for their skills in aikido if EVERYONE had the mentality that women could be as equally skilled as men.... then we would start to shine through and be noticed.

i think we can all admit that when someone says "an aikido master" we naturally picture a man in a hakama. but if these thoughts were changed to say that anywhere a man could be, a woman is just as likely to be there with him; then women would truly start to be equals--when we are equal in peoples brains not just saying that we are allowed to do anything a man can.

L. Camejo
03-01-2005, 01:12 PM
Thanks for the poll info Jun.

Even there the ratio is like 9 to 1 male to female (as far as votes go). I agree it's not scientific or anything, but at least it may give some idea as regards the gap we are dealing with in numbers and by extension, availability of female instructors.

LC:ai::ki:

Pauliina Lievonen
03-01-2005, 01:16 PM
So you would advocate inviting instructors based upon their gender?

Best,

Chris

Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors in the world, who go unrecognized, because they're female. Just humor me for a moment. In this case, since they aren't recognized as the excellent aikidoka they are, they wouldn't get invited based on their skills. Right?

Now whether or not one chooses to believe this is the case at this moment in the aikido world, is really the question I think. Apparently most people responding to this thread so far believe this not to be the case - there are only a couple female instructors invited, because there are so few that are good enough to choose from in the first place.

kvaak
Pauliina

Mike Sigman
03-01-2005, 01:37 PM
Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors in the world, who go unrecognized, because they're female. Just humor me for a moment. In this case, since they aren't recognized as the excellent aikidoka they are, they wouldn't get invited based on their skills. Right?

Now whether or not one chooses to believe this is the case at this moment in the aikido world, is really the question I think. Apparently most people responding to this thread so far believe this not to be the case - there are only a couple female instructors invited, because there are so few that are good enough to choose from in the first place. If you look at the numbers of men in Aikido, there are fewer of them, percentage wise, being chosen as high-level instructors. It is hard to become a high-level instructor because usually it takes skill to get a certain amount of rank (but not always, as most of us with years of experience know). Is it more important for a paying student to get the best possible instruction in Aikido, or should the excellence in training be diverted for social issues?

Frankly, most serious martial artists I know tend to avoid training facilities that are into social issues, no matter how important that issue may seem to someone not truly interested in the essence of martial arts. That's often a factor in why some schools put out good practitioners and why some schools develop a poor reputation for skills, BTW. Generally speaking, every female and every male I've seen with notable skills gets promoted. Seminar hosts invite people with known skills in order to draw seminar participants. I'm sure Stan Pranin would invite any Aikido instructor that is good, with whom people want to study, and who would come. Gender has nothing to do with good Aikido.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Bronson
03-01-2005, 03:16 PM
...there are only a couple female instructors invited, because there are so few that are good enough to choose from in the first place.

Actually we have no idea how many female instructors were invited, only that two agreed to attend.

Perhaps Stan Pranin should make available the list of all people invited to teach along with the list of those who accepted.

Bronson

Mary Eastland
03-01-2005, 04:03 PM
Stan Pranin said he invited others and they declined to come.

Mary

Janet Rosen
03-01-2005, 04:07 PM
Perhaps Stan Pranin should make available the list of all people invited to teach along with the list of those who accepted.
I don't really think that's anybody's business but his and the invitees who declined. Politics, health, family issues, etc are and should be private matters in this situation.
I worked with Jun on several aikido-l seminars including working up lists of instructors to invite.
The pool of high ranking instructors is numerically tilted towards men. From this pool, there may be many people representing one style of aikido. And in fact, many of the high ranking women I know of are within mainstream Aikikai Hombu--this may reflect my area of strongest knowledge or it may reflect an actual numerical concentration. Clearly in events such as aikido-l seminar, AikiExpo, etc, the primary focus is on presenting a variety of styles.
So its priorities.

Chris Li
03-01-2005, 05:06 PM
Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors in the world, who go unrecognized, because they're female. Just humor me for a moment. In this case, since they aren't recognized as the excellent aikidoka they are, they wouldn't get invited based on their skills. Right?

Now whether or not one chooses to believe this is the case at this moment in the aikido world, is really the question I think. Apparently most people responding to this thread so far believe this not to be the case - there are only a couple female instructors invited, because there are so few that are good enough to choose from in the first place.

kvaak
Pauliina

Well, no one said that there were so few that are good enough to choose from in the first place until you brought it up. There may be instructors out there who go unrecognized because they are female - that's really not Stan Pranin's problem, he has to choose instructors who will draw people to his event. In any case, there are plenty of unrecognized instructors who will never be invited to such an event - I bet that I could name twenty 6th and 7th dans that you have never heard of and are very fine instructors.

So once again - do you really think that the solution to gender-based discrimination is to choose instructors based upon their gender?

Best,

Chris

rob_liberti
03-01-2005, 05:24 PM
Look at the aikiwiki "people" section, and notice the ranks of the senior men versus the senior women.

How about:
- Build up everyone in your dojo regardless of race or gender.
- Invite the best aikido instructors you can regardless of race or gender.
- If female students get inspired and eventually become inspirational themselves then invite them to teach seminars commensurate with their level of inspiration.
- Figure out what the best practices are to recruit and retain women given the current numbers of available female role models.

OR heck, I'll play along: How many minorities? What is their representation? Any native Americans? (Give me a break. How does this help?)

Rob

NagaBaba
03-01-2005, 05:26 PM
There is any black instructor? WHAT!!!!! no black instructors???? No Native American instructors???????? No gay nor lesbian instructors?????? No orthodox Jewish instructors???

This is simply horrible!!! I can’t believe it, life is a b**ch and then you die!

mj
03-01-2005, 05:41 PM
There is any black instructor? WHAT!!!!! no black instructors???? No Native American instructors???????? No gay nor lesbian instructors?????? No orthodox Jewish instructors???

This is simply horrible!!! I can't believe it, life is a b**ch and then you die!
There can be black women...didn't you know?

There can be women native americans and jewish women and indeed lesbian women...and so on.

Let's not degenerate this into a silly 'political correctness' nonsense...it demeans and detracts.

I am uncomfortable with that statistic...I don't even go to 17.5 seminars a year and don't recall ever going to one hosted by a woman.

Mike Sigman
03-01-2005, 05:45 PM
There can be black women...didn't you know?

There can be women native americans and jewish women and indeed lesbian women...and so on.

Let's not degenerate this into a silly 'political correctness' nonsense...it demeans and detracts.

I am uncomfortable with that statistic...I don't even go to 17.5 seminars a year and don't recall ever going to one hosted by a woman. Given that you're so uncomfortable with that statistic, why DIDN'T you go to a seminar hosted by a woman??? I assume you chose the seminars that you went to?

Mike Sigman

mj
03-01-2005, 05:54 PM
Given that you're so uncomfortable with that statistic, why DIDN'T you go to a seminar hosted by a woman??? I assume you chose the seminars that you went to?

Mike Sigman
Yes you do.

Apart from that...I went to any seminar available (and any I missed were also by men.)

Adam Alexander
03-01-2005, 06:15 PM
If you've got such a bone about it, why don't you do your own demo and have it women only. How's that for Aikido? You'll no longer be trying to impose your ideology on others.

giriasis
03-01-2005, 07:06 PM
I think you guys need to take some chill pills. Stop, breath, and relax. Mary's question was no way hostile, BUT your responses are.

I read Mary's question as a great follow-up to George Ledyards article discussed in this recent thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=7447)

Need I need remind you Mr. Ledyards main point was that we need to support women instructors, go to their seminars and invite them to seminars?

Now, I'm sure Stanely has his reasons and more of it has to do with logistics, but I don't believe that this takes away the apparent disparity of representation of gender. Given that there are plenty of women instructors that could fill the bill. While their numbers are few we do need to do what we can to encourage their participation.

Also, what does gender have to do with aikido? Some one here just stated that maybe there would be more women instructors if rank was based less on skill. That is the problem -- Women instructors are not seen as skilled. While, yes, ideally, gender shouldn't matter, given the state of gender bias in our culture, and apparently on this board, but in reality, it does.

And once again I will point out that all the negative and hostile posters on this thread have proven my point that if a woman raises this issue then such a view is met with hostitlity on these forums. Why weren't you guys this hostile with George Ledyard?

Ledyard Sensei, where are you now? All the folks who supported Ledyard Sensei's column, where are you now? It's this kind of hostility that women can face every day in the workplace, home, and, yes, sometimes, even in the dojo. Until this reality changes, gender will continue to matter.

Chris Li
03-01-2005, 07:21 PM
Now, I'm sure Stanely has his reasons and more of it has to do with logistics, but I don't believe that this takes away the apparent disparity of representation of gender. Given that there are plenty of women instructors that could fill the bill. While their numbers are few we do need to do what we can to encourage their participation.

I still have the same question. Is the solution to the apparent disparity of representation of gender to introduce actual disparity in the selection of instructors - to select them on the basis of their gender?

For me, if someone invited me to teach based upon (even in part) my ethnic make-up, I'd turn them down flat. Now, in extreme cases (such as have existed in the past in the US) I can see the argument for extraordinary methods in order to remedy imbalances brought about by discriminatory actions, but does that extreme really exist in the Aikido world?

Best,

Chris

Don_Modesto
03-01-2005, 07:39 PM
There was similar angst a while back concerning this or that instructor/organization and it developed that Stanley had invited them and they had turned him down.

Don't know if that happened here, but absent some inside information, it seems a lot of sturm and drang...

God, how cool to have the present line-up PLUS Mary Heiny or Patty Saotome or ( Fill in the Blank) ______________ .

Rupert Atkinson
03-01-2005, 08:07 PM
So what is the suggestion? A quota of female teachers / a quota of teachers from various orgs / a quota of teachers from various minorities? I am not able to go, but if I were, I'd just want to train with some of the best, irrespective of who they were or where they were from.

Something like the AikiExpo is the result of the way orgs train / organise themselves. As such, the event itself cannot really be accountable for the top teachers produced by the various Aikido organisations.

Mike Sigman
03-01-2005, 08:48 PM
[snip] Given that there are plenty of women instructors that could fill the bill. While their numbers are few we do need to do what we can to encourage their participation. Why do we need to encourage anyone over anyone else in Aikido? Why not just do Aikido? Also, what does gender have to do with aikido? Some one here just stated that maybe there would be more women instructors if rank was based less on skill. That is the problem -- Women instructors are not seen as skilled. While, yes, ideally, gender shouldn't matter, given the state of gender bias in our culture, and apparently on this board, but in reality, it does. I don't think I'm gender-biased. I think the real problem is that I honestly don't care about gender and I care only about ability in the many things I am interested in. Some of the best people in some of my favorite pursuits happen to be women. What I think may be happening is that if I don't have a special concern for women (in the eyes of some women) then I am "hostile" toward women. Have you ever thought about the effects of having a chip on your shoulder? Can't we just Aikido along? And once again I will point out that all the negative and hostile posters on this thread have proven my point that if a woman raises this issue then such a view is met with hostitlity on these forums. Why weren't you guys this hostile with George Ledyard? Beccause George Ledyard didn't start an unfriendly thread intimating other people were in the wrong?????

Ledyard Sensei, where are you now? At a restaurant?

;)

Mike Sigman

Beholder
03-02-2005, 03:16 AM
Perhaps the problem is more insidious than just being a matter of the gender of the instructor; it's their own bias.

One time I was at a large seminar taught by a number of shihan. As it happens, there was one female teaching. The quality of all the teachers was, of course, excellent, and it was an great event. But... here is my observation. Almost half the people training on the mat (well over 200 in all, I think -- it was a large, international event) were women and yet, when picking uke out from the keen and willing participants, none of the first four instructors, including the woman, chose a single female uke.

Now, I am of the (mainstream?) opinion that gender really doesn't matter -- in fact it's one of the positive qualities of aikido -- and let's just get on with training (actually that's not quite true; I have found that dojo with women instructors are less likely to suffer from silly machismo issues, but hey). But on this occasion I was uncomfortable because statistically, picking uke time and again from an almost 50/50 pool, this was not a random result. I wasn't there gender-counting; but I became aware of this happening because there were women in our group who couldn't fail to notice. So when I see a thread like this one on aikiweb, asking what gives with the low number of women instructors, I sometimes think the pattern is more entrenched at the top than we would like to believe.

I was pleased that on this occasion it was my instructor who broke the pattern; not conciously, I'm sure -- he was just teaching aikido -- but simply by picking uke, and not applying a (subconcious?) bias.

Pauliina Lievonen
03-02-2005, 03:50 AM
- to select them on the basis of their gender?

Best,

Chris

Chris, I don't know what the reality of this really is - but are you sure this isn't what is partly happening now? Not specifically at the Expo, but in general.

BTW I didn't mean to say I thought the organizers of the Expo were not doing the best they could. I obviously don't know who they invited and who turned them down, for instance. Rob Liberti asked, in the second post on this thread: "What are your suggestions regarding how to recruit and retain women in aikido?" and I gave a quick answer to that. His question was a general one, and so was my answer.

I'm at home with a fever, might stay in bed for the rest of the day. Apologies if I don't get to responding any further.

kvaak
Pauliina

George S. Ledyard
03-02-2005, 04:00 AM
I think you guys need to take some chill pills. Stop, breath, and relax. Mary's question was no way hostile, BUT your responses are.

I read Mary's question as a great follow-up to George Ledyards article discussed in this recent thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=7447)

Need I need remind you Mr. Ledyards main point was that we need to support women instructors, go to their seminars and invite them to seminars?

Now, I'm sure Stanely has his reasons and more of it has to do with logistics, but I don't believe that this takes away the apparent disparity of representation of gender. Given that there are plenty of women instructors that could fill the bill. While their numbers are few we do need to do what we can to encourage their participation.

Also, what does gender have to do with aikido? Some one here just stated that maybe there would be more women instructors if rank was based less on skill. That is the problem -- Women instructors are not seen as skilled. While, yes, ideally, gender shouldn't matter, given the state of gender bias in our culture, and apparently on this board, but in reality, it does.

And once again I will point out that all the negative and hostile posters on this thread have proven my point that if a woman raises this issue then such a view is met with hostitlity on these forums. Why weren't you guys this hostile with George Ledyard?

Ledyard Sensei, where are you now? All the folks who supported Ledyard Sensei's column, where are you now? It's this kind of hostility that women can face every day in the workplace, home, and, yes, sometimes, even in the dojo. Until this reality changes, gender will continue to matter.

Of course gender matters. Gender issues inform every aspect of our lives. In the case of the Expo however, I don't fault Stan for who you don't see on the list. Stan has tried very hard to get as wide a representation as possible.

The organizations you don't see represented have declined to participate. Ask them why. If you don't see your organziation represented ask the powers that be why they don't wish to prtaicipate because I know Stan invited them.

I know Stan invited women who didn't accept. One of the factors that goes with supporting women teachers is having teachers who make it easy to support them. Some of the most prominent women instructors belong to organizations that refuse to participate in cross organizational training like the Expo so there's no chance they'll appear. Another factor is that the character of the event is of more interest to male practitioners than female. I know at least a half dozen female instructors of Godan and Rokudan rank and not a single one of them has evinced the least interest in attending the Expo. None of them read or subscribe to Aikido Journal either for that matter. I have recounted how much great inspiration I got from the previous Expos and yet not one of them has shown any interest. You can make your own conclusions as to why this is...

This isn't just an issue with women... there are plenty of men who have been invited and won't come. Perhaps they felt they should have been invited over some other person to whom they are senior, perhaps they belong to an organization which is too political to participate, the reasons in my opinion are petty and they remain the losers. The exposure gained by the participants in the previous Expos could not have been duplicated. Instructors no one was previously aware of had national prominence over night. No single Aikido organization could have offered that to it's instructors. Those of us who particpated benefitted tremendously and we owe Stan a huge debt. Those that chose to stay at home missed out; that's not Stan's fault.

The training was absolutely fantastic! I am seeing elements from various Expo classes percolating through the Aikido of my fellow instructors. Yet, there were people who only attended the classes taught by the teachers from their own styles. There were folks who taught who were happy to have different people from different styles in their classes but who never got on the mat in anyone else's classes.

I look at the Expo as a unique event that only could be put together by Stan Pranin; no other person in the world that I know of has the connections to do something like this. If we wish to have an Expo to participate in we need to support Stan, support Aikido Journal, ans support the event. Almost none of the female instructors whom I know personally have done that, for whatever reason. I applaud the particpation of Pat Hendricks Sensei, Kayla Feder Sensei, and the other female instructors who did participate in the past Expos. In fact Pat Hendricks in particular impressed me no end by not only conducting professional level demos and classes but by being willing to get on the mat and try out the classes of the various other teachers. I would like to see more women instructors willing to participate like that.

I think there are men who are willing to support women teachers but those women need to make themsleves available, to be willing to put themsleves forward in order for that to happen.

ruthmc
03-02-2005, 04:06 AM
when picking uke out from the keen and willing participants, none of the first four instructors, including the woman, chose a single female uke.
Is the bias in not picking female ukes based on the common perception that throwing a large man around looks more impressive at a demo? I recently had a conversation with a friend who often invites overseas instructors to teach seminars at his dojo. He told me that when these instructors first come here, they have to prove that their Aikido works, so they tend to demonstrate accordingly. Once they have proven that their Aikido works, they will pick anybody for uke, rather than only the large or strong men.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, instructors are having to prove themselves first before they can get through to students that they have something to teach. I think this is where the bias comes from - the student's perception rather than the instructor's preference.

Ruth

Beholder
03-02-2005, 04:43 AM
Is the bias in not picking female ukes based on the common perception that throwing a large man around looks more impressive at a demo?

Yes of course... and being over 6' myself, training in the Far East I have been used for such dramatic effect, especially at demonstrations :) Once, when I asked one tiny instructor why she'd specifically asked me to attend her Childrens Day demo the next day, she said, "because kids like to see foreigners... er... er... doing stuff...". Heheheh, what she meant was, "seeing big foreigners like you having seven shades shaken out of them" :)

So yes, you're right, the context in which this is happening does matter.

But I think my point about the bias still stands... at the seminar, it was teaching not demonstration (the demonstrations were at the end of the event), and even for things like tai-sabaki, with next to nothing going on, from the pool of 50/50 male/female participants, the choice of uke was unerringly consistent. Like I said, this went on too long to be down to chance; but I am willing to believe it was subconcious. Maybe that subconcious bias is indeed engendered by the issues you suggest.

Mike Sigman
03-02-2005, 07:59 AM
But I think my point about the bias still stands... at the seminar, it was teaching not demonstration (the demonstrations were at the end of the event), and even for things like tai-sabaki, with next to nothing going on, from the pool of 50/50 male/female participants, the choice of uke was unerringly consistent. Like I said, this went on too long to be down to chance; but I am willing to believe it was subconcious. Maybe that subconcious bias is indeed engendered by the issues you suggest. Well, to be fair, at gatherings where you don't know everyone, there is often a tendency to pick as Uke's the people who look like they're probably able to do ukemi well. So your eye looks around for the male victim... er, volunteer with obvious athleticity, etc,... not out of any subconscious desire to avoid women or the smaller, weaker males (remember, they're getting left out disproportionately, too), but out of a desire to pick someone out of a group of unknowns who can do ukemi and do it without getting injured. I.e., avoiding injury while making a clean teaching point is more on most peoples' minds, I suspect, than even considering gender equality and other side issues.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

SeiserL
03-02-2005, 09:03 AM
While I don't believe that Pranin Sensei need to answer, justify, rationalize,or explain himself, especially when its his own venue and risk, I did forward an FYI to him about this thread.

IMHO, knowing the person, answers the question.

See you at the Expo.

akiy
03-02-2005, 09:26 AM
Almost half the people training on the mat (well over 200 in all, I think -- it was a large, international event) were women and yet, when picking uke out from the keen and willing participants, none of the first four instructors, including the woman, chose a single female uke.
Perhaps not very related, but this reminds me of an episode that I heard about...

A friend of mine was conducting an aikido demonstration to the public a while back. During it, he first had his partner, a woman far smaller than he, throw him around to show that a small person could throw a large person. This got some good reactions from the crowd with clapping and such. Then they reversed roles to show that a small woman could take the falls, too. He said that the audience grew totally quiet; he later got feedback that people didn't like seeing a guy "beating up" on a smaller woman.

-- Jun

Brion Toss
03-02-2005, 10:08 AM
Hello all,
The original poster had good reason to be upset at the gender disparity for this event; if only two out of thirty-five instructors had been male, no amount of rationalizations re political divides, style differences, rank envy, etc. would have served to quiet the clamor over a gross distortion of gender parity. The only difference in the actual case is that the distortion is somewhat less gross. Two women out of thirty-five instructors is actually fairly radically enlightened, by some standards.
Given that, Mr. Pranin is pretty clearly not at fault here. I am sure he made every effort to have more even gender representation. The fact that what he ended up with was so lopsided has more to do, I am sure, with a larger social pattern.
Gender parity has, as someone noted, nothing to do with any martial art, per se. But we learn those arts as part of our lives. Those arts inform us, not just by how they teach us to throw or strike, but how they teach us to live. And to an unfortunate extent, every art, including our dearly beloved Aikido, tends to teach us that women matter much less than men. They teach us that by rate of promotion, choice of ukes, amount and quality of attention, and in many other ways.
One writer said, hey, let's all just be harmonious here. Fine, do you mean harmonious as in ignore the problem, or do you mean harmonious as in doing the hard, annoying, grueling , maybe even humiliating work that it takes to achieve harmony?
Another writer, with decidedly unharmonious saracasm, asked why not black, or Native American, etc. instructors. But this is a classic red herring, a matter of saying that I can't speak up about one inequality because there are other inequalities. It's just another way of avoiding the subject at hand.
Gender parity is an issue that affects, not the quality of Aikido as a martial art, but the quality of Aikido as a way of life, as a budo. If your response to the original letter was contemptuous, or dismissive, or distorting, if, as one person indicated, you believe that an expression of frustration equals an imposition of an ideology, then perhaps this subject is striking a little too close to home for you, else why the intensity of the response?
This issue will not go away because you rationalize its causes or nature, or because you decide it doesn't matter, or because you castigate those who raise it. The Aiki Expo (and I wish I could attend) sounds like a very effective way to break down political divides that inhibit the evolution and overall harmony of Aikido. It also sounds incredibly difficult and risky to put on, and I congratulate Mr. Pranin on perservering with it (I suspect that this issue seems mild compared to some of the ones he must deal with). So how about if those of you who are lucky enough to go, treat it, in part, as an exercise in gender attitude? How about if you work at participating, not as women or men, but as Aikidoka? It might be one step towards harmony.
Yours,
Brion Toss

rob_liberti
03-02-2005, 11:46 AM
Sorry, I had no idea that my words would be taken that way. My intention when I brought up the other inequalities was to highlight the fact that these ratios exist simply because there just weren't that many representatives of these aikidoka-minorities 25+ years ago when the current senior level instructors started out.

I tried to steer the conversation towards suggestions about improving the situation two times now. My opinion is that the bottom-line is that you fix this by getting so many women training that there is a good gender split for Aiki Expo 2025 or so. It seems that I am alone in my opinion so I'll stop.

Rob

mj
03-02-2005, 12:06 PM
Who is invited to teach at the Expo? Famous people.

How do you become famous? By teaching at the Expo.

The problem is not a paucity of good quality female instructors.

Ron Tisdale
03-02-2005, 12:53 PM
No Rob, you're not alone. More women, more minorities training means that eventually there will be more participating at the top levels. I don't think anyone will question that.

But here is one example, and I use them only as an example. I know personally of some really excellent women and minority instructors in the USAF. But the USAF (as someone already mentioned) is not participating...so those instructors are out of the pool right off the bat. Its not that they weren't invited (I'm almost positive on that), its that their leadership doesn't want to attend. That is in no way Stan's fault.

As for the reaction shown in this thread...I've seen it in varying degrees before on similar issues, and believe me, this is mild. Try posting something like this to Rec.martial-arts. :) The fact of the matter is, whether its women, or blacks, or anyone else...you point out disparities like this, there are a group of people who will punt it into the next block. Some of those people have some serious issues...and some of those people really just want to focus on the skills/art/item at hand. They aren't racist, or sexist...they just want to see the skills. If you lump the two groups together, you alienate some of the very allies you could make good use of. So when you bring up this type of observation, it pays to be thinking real hard about what it is you want to accomplish, and how your words will work to that end.

Ron

Mike Sigman
03-02-2005, 01:05 PM
[snip]....So when you bring up this type of observation, it pays to be thinking real hard about what it is you want to accomplish, and how your words will work to that end. I think this is the key to the whole subject matter, Ron.... "what do you want to accomplish?". And let's face it, there are actually a number of different beasts that are being called "Aikido". Superficially there is the pretense that "it's all Aikido", but if you look at what various people want to accomplish, it's obvious that some of the goals some practitioners have are by default going to exclude some of the goals other practitioners have in Aikido. So not everyone is really on the same page about what Aikido is and in what direction it should be headed.

To some people, Aikido is a "peace and harmony" New Age artifact and to some people it is a martial art they want to tune to effectiveness. Personally, I like to look at what O-Sensei did, what he taught, what skills he had, etc., and try to get to the core of them. I didn't notice that there was a great worry about "good Aikido" including the ideals of inclusivity, political correctness, etc., and therefore I feel these are distractions. If someone is good at Aikido or any other function, whether they're male or female, and they have reasonable personal hygiene, I'm willing to accept them for what they can do. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Bronson
03-02-2005, 01:30 PM
Perhaps Stan Pranin should make available the list of all people invited to teach along with the list of those who accepted.
I don't really think that's anybody's business but his and the invitees who declined. Politics, health, family issues, etc are and should be private matters in this situation.

Actually Janet I competely agree with you. It's difficult to tell that because I forgot to put the :rolleyes: smilie at the end of my sentence ;)

Bronson

rob_liberti
03-02-2005, 01:41 PM
Ron,

If I had my way, I would invite several female instructors each year. We don't have the funds to by flying people in, but I did invite a relatively local and highly skilled female instructor to come do a seminar at my dojo after spending an entire seminar taking her ukemi at someone else's dojo. She didn't even respond to my invitation. I inquired with friends in her dojo and they told me it was because my dojo was in the wrong organization. That could have been ideal given her proximity, and the excellent aikido she did. What I learned is that I can't even work towards adderssing the problem given the current politics. So, the only way to deal with the problem I can see is start from now on.

Mark,

"The problem is not a paucity of good quality female instructors." The problem would be a paucity of good quality female instructors who are as good quality as the current male senior level instructors. I can't name one female 7th degree black belt in the States or Japan, can you? No doubt there are excellent female aikido instructors, there just aren't very many who are senior to the majority of the senior level male instructors in year 2005.

Rob

NagaBaba
03-02-2005, 01:42 PM
I was thinking, 35 instructors is way too much. Ppl will be surly confused and all. On can't really learn from so many differenct approach. Even if you limit yourself to 10 is still too much.
Quantity or quality?

Ron Tisdale
03-02-2005, 01:49 PM
How would you know? Have you ever gone to an expo? Did you ever try to organize such an event? What is your opinion based on?

Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...

:)

akiy
03-02-2005, 01:55 PM
Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...
What I've done for the past two Expos is to "major" in one single instructor for the entire time. In other words, I went to as many classes that I could with one instructor for the entire weekend and then filled in the rest with others when that instructor was not teaching. I'll probably do the same this year, too...

-- Jun

rob_liberti
03-02-2005, 02:04 PM
The way I see it is that more women teaching and being visible in organizations will make Aikido more available to more and younger women.

Mary, I didn't want to call you on the carpet initially, but I'm starting to think it might be helpful:
1) Are you considering joining an organization to be a leader in this cause you have such passion for?

2) A few years back I attended a couple seminars with three relatively highly ranked female instructors hosted in the Springfield area, and I didn't meet you.

Rob

Stanley Pranin
03-02-2005, 02:14 PM
Greetings!

Lynn Seiser was kind enough to point out the existence of this thread on the subject of women instructors at Aiki Expo 2005. I have read every single post and I really appreciate all of the input that contributors have offered in this discussion. I have learned a great deal from reading all of your different opinions.

Putting on an event like the Expo has many consequences. One thing for sure, even though there may be a broad basis of support for such open events, you're sure to offend many people for very different reasons. You will invite too few or too many instructors. You will have too few minorities or not enough women or too many Japanese instructors. You will hold the event at the wrong time of year. You will charge too much for the event, and so on.

If you want to conduct an interesting experiment, try this. Post a message with the following title: "How I would organize an Aiki Expo." Go ahead and provide as much detail as you can. Where would you hold your Expo? At what time of year will it take place? How many instructors would you invite (don't forget to provide a list of names!)? How much admission will you charge? What will be the theme of your event?

Go ahead, write something up and then press the "Submit" button. That's when the fun will start!

Stanley Pranin
http://www.aikidojournal.com

P.S. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you all to attend Aiki Expo 2005 to be held May 27-29 in LA!

Bronson
03-02-2005, 02:24 PM
Having been involved in organizing largish (but much smaller than Aiki Expo) events I can say that it is a terrible, stressful, thankless, monstrous pain in the ass.

Although I've never been to Aiki Expo and probably won't go again this year, I appreciate the effort. Lord knows I wouldn't want to do it.

Bronson

Ron Tisdale
03-02-2005, 02:43 PM
A member of the local Aikido KenkyuKai group here in Phila. has been speaking to me about helping to put an embu together featuring a wide array of local instructors. The first hurdle we talked about was enlisting the support of the major organizations. To give a small idea of the groups that would need to be involved to be representative:

Yoshinkan (Doshinkan), Utada Sensei
Aikido KenkyuKai, Kirisawa Sensei, Lia Suzuki Sensei
USAF East, Smith Sensei, Waite Sensei, Tamaini Sensei, Jeff Bowden Sensei, Taleb Sensei
USAF West, Lyons Sensei
Ki Society (I only know one person in PA, and that is a member not the instructor), Pierce Sensei
Saotome Sensei's group, Goldberg Sensei
Independants (there are a lot, at least 3 that I know of)

And I've probably left out someone who might very well be offended...this is just who I can think of off the top of my head. Challenges:

Some of these groups may have had 'issues' in the past.

Some generally don't do outside events (even the yoshinkan until recently didn't go outside much).

What venue would be acceptable to all of the groups?

Would all of the goups do this for free? If there is a fee at the door, how much? How do you split any revenue?

How long do people demo for? Are there different time allotments for bigger groups? Higher ranked instructors?

How do you decide who goes when? (cross organzational rank issues, anyone?)

And I've probably just scratched the surface as far as issues are concerned. I don't know if this type of event will happen anytime soon, the closest was probably Utada Sensei's 25 anniversary, maybe the joint seminar between Utada and Ikeda Sensei. But it took a lot of work, money and sweat to pull those off...If this is even bigger, with a wider intended audience...I shudder just to think of the work it would take to do it well.

And I've only listed *one* female instructor, who actually spends most of her time on the west coast now...I believe there is another one in New Jersey, but for the life of me, I can't remember her name.
:(

RT

Mike Sigman
03-02-2005, 03:15 PM
[SNIP].. My Aikido has a lot to do with peace love dove stuff. It also has helped me transform from a woman who has been raped and beaten to who I am today. So don't give me any of that real thing stuff. :( Hmmmmm. Mary, I don't have any quarrel with what you personally want to do and I feel badly that you've undergone a very bad experience. But I think what O-Sensei did was "the real stuff" and that's more what I tend to focus on than women's issues, men's machismo, religiosity, etc. If you can present a logical and compelling case that what you do is "the real stuff", I'm anxious to listen. My hope for Aikido is that some day more women will be safe. The way I see it is that more women teaching and being visible in organizations will make Aikido more available to more and younger women. Do you consider Aikido as you do it a dependable means of self-defense?
Do women have to smiling and charming for you to listen to them? Sadly, I tend to treat women exactly as I do men and I have the same criteria for them as I do men. If they are strong, smart, and dependable I tend to like them. If anyone doesn't have much personal worth and character, I tend to avoid them. It pisses a lot of women off when I do that, I think. Some women want to be treated just like men..... but special. ;)

FWIW

Mike

rob_liberti
03-02-2005, 03:28 PM
Great idea Ron! I love AKI aikido. Lia Suzuki sensei is a wonderful aikido teacher. Please let me know when you are having your event. Maybe you should allow people to pre-order (require pre-pay) videos of the event and use that money to keep the price down for the participants.

Rob

Adam Alexander
03-02-2005, 03:32 PM
Regarding the "anger" that this thread has developed. For myself, I'm not angry. I just think it's sad that people, all races and the "fairer" gender, prefers to impose their ideology on others, rather than develop something of their own.

I just think that this is another situation where people feel that they have some sort of right to force others to succumb to their ideals. I don't think sexism or racism or right, but I don't see any reason to stop another from practicing it (unless it's a government body).

Whatever happened to freedom?

Ron Tisdale
03-02-2005, 03:39 PM
Hi Rob, Actually, its Steve Trinkle's idea...and it would be great if we could ever pull it off. But I think you can imagine the work involved... :)

I've learned a lot from my training with the AKI group...they are completely opposite the training I'm used to, and exactly the same :) Maybe the video idea (especially the pre-order part) could help in this! I'll think about that...

Ron

NagaBaba
03-02-2005, 03:59 PM
How would you know? Have you ever gone to an expo? Did you ever try to organize such an event? What is your opinion based on?

Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...

:)
Hi Ron,
Don't get too much excited ;)
I'm not talking here about superficial learning few tricks, I want to learn core of instructor transmission (even in this environement).
From my personal experience, I have big difficulty to switch from one style aikido to other. It takes me 2-3 hours of practice. I don't want to practice like in my home dojo. But with this number of instructors, it is virtually not possible.

but may be I'm not smart enough :)

ps. recently I found to benefit more from very small seminars.

Don_Modesto
03-02-2005, 04:14 PM
Hi, Szczepan ,

As always, enjoying your contributions...

I want to learn core of instructor transmission (even in this environement).
From my personal experience, I have big difficulty to switch from one style aikido to other. It takes me 2-3 hours of practice. I don't want to practice like in my home dojo. But with this number of instructors, it is virtually not possible.

but may be I'm not smart enough :)

Don't think so; just think you're you. That 'weak point' is also a strong point: variety gives perspective. My favorite reference here is Darwin who went outside of biology when he hit the wall there (to Adam Smith for 'survival of the fittest,' an concept from economics)

Chris Li
03-02-2005, 04:38 PM
Who is invited to teach at the Expo? Famous people.

How do you become famous? By teaching at the Expo.

The problem is not a paucity of good quality female instructors.

Has anyone really become famous by teaching at the expo? It's a very recently created event - this year's is only the third one. I think that you're attributing more influence to it than is due.

Best,

Chris

mj
03-02-2005, 04:42 PM
Has anyone really become famous by teaching at the expo? It's a very recently created event - this year's is only the third one. I think that you're attributing more influence to it than is due.

Best,

Chris
No, sorry my fault.

What I meant was:-

Who does Seminars...people who do Seminars.

The Expo is much appreciated.

Chuck.Gordon
03-02-2005, 06:44 PM
Equitability? (long ...)

Mary Eastland said:
>just checked out the list of instructors for the Aiki Expo. There were 35 and only 2 of >them were women. 2!!!!!!!. Just had to get that off my chest.

And several folks responded.

Some random comments from me about that:

Pauliina Lievonen asked:
>Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo?

(Waves at Pauliina)
Well, sound on the surface like a good idea. Aside from Stanley, does anyone here know who was invited, who declined, who had prior commitment, etc?

I was involved in the organization and execution of most of the aikido-l seminars (www.aikido-l.org) and can relate to Mary's question. In fact, it was asked of us (aikido-l sem organizers) more than once. The answer was almost always either: No women made themselves available to teach; or: The women we invited to teach declined for various reasons. Same answers to question about why we invited/didn't invite someone from XYZ organization.

Also consider the number of senior instructors who are female opposed to those who are male. Anybody have any statistics on what the range is? MAYBE, just maybe, the 2 out of whatever IS, indeed reflective of the gender dispersion amongst senior aikido teachers.

Mike Sigman said:
>How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does
>gender have to do with good Aikido?

Wow. Whatta concept. Umm ... nah, wouldn't work. It doesn't seem to favor anyone. No wait, it DOES favor someone! The Japanese male senior aikido teacher population! No, wait ... that's a minority ... DOH! I'm confused now. Fortunately, that's familiar territory.

(Winks at Mike)

Mary Eastland said:
>I think there are a lot of great women Aikido teachers.

Probably. How many of them are in the range that Stanley is seeking to fill the bill at the expo? Quick count, I can name about a handful of fairly senior female teachers. There are probably a good many more coming up through the ranks, but what were Stanley's criteria for selecting instructors for the expo? I have no clue, but I suspect he's looking for folks with fairly extensive experience, senior-ranked, recognized expertise ...

Yes, budo is male-dominated. Mainly because it's mostly men who DO budo.

Why don't more women do budo? No clue. I do know that my dojo has always been woman-friendly, and often our student population was close to or more than 50 percent female.

What did I do to attract more women than the average? Nothing. I teach without regard to gender, have had (and still do) a woman as my assistant (she's teaching classes while I'm in the US for a month).

My experience has been a bit out of the norm, but I ain't complaining. Women in the dojo is a good thing.

However, if a women was interested in what I have to teach solely because there were several women in the dojo, or WASN'T interested in training with me because there were FEW women in my dojo, then I suspect I wouldn't want her in my dojo anyway. Same-same for men. I don't care what the gender-balance is on my mat, I care about having students with whom I can continue the flow from my teachers to them. Nothing else -- let me reiterate this: NOTHING else matters. Not gender, not race, not religion, not number of limbs, not any. thing. else.

I don't care if I have women in my class or not. Nor would I care one whit if I had all women (a situation that has occurred in the past, BTW).

I only care about transmitting the art. I suspect Stanley is thinking along the same lines, but he can speak for himself on that.

I've asked my wife to chime in on this thread as well. She's got strong opinions on the subject, not necessarily the same as mine.

Mary also said:
>But how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be if the "system"
>does not recognize what is lacking and work to fix it?

Who says it's not? Why isn't it? Who said it's supposed to be something different than exactly what it is?

>Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

I cannot disagree with this more. If women want to do aikido- or any budo - more power to them. It's not my job to make sure they come into the dojo, watch, decide to join, show up regularly, work through the system, aspire to and learn to teach, take wing and fly to their own dojo with a loyal following of other women. Not my job.

My job is simple: transmit the art. I don't even accept men with whom I don't think I can share that mission.

Mike Sigman asked:

>What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

IMNSHO: Nothing.

Mal Smith said:
>"what happened to the harmony" but to me harmony is balance and there is no balance in
>a room that has 33 male instructors and only 2 female.

Why? Would you rather see a balanced card of 15 seniors and 15 juniors who were selected not because of their skill, years of experience and creditability, but because they filled a quota?

Pauliina Lievonen said:
>Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors

Great exercise in wishful thinking. How does it relate to reality? How many female shihans are there in the aikido world?

It's not unreasonable to say that the budo world is heavily slanted towards males. Why? Well, at one time, it was because budo was a man's club. Nowadays, especially in the west, that's not necessarily the unwavering truth it once was.

More women than ever before are pursuing budo (and many more are doing 'budo light' in some form (Tae Bo anyone) or another. In 20 years, what will the gender distribution be in the senior ranks? No clue. But I would posit from personal experience of being involved in budo for 30+ years that there WILL be more women doing budo and more women in senior positions then than there are now -- just as there are far more now than there were 20 years ago and WAY more than 50 years ago and ... you get the idea.

>there are only a couple female instructors invited

We don't know that. We don't know how many were -invited- ... we only know that only two accepted, could make the commitment, etc.

Anne Marie Giri said:
>... main point was that we need to support women instructors, go to their seminars and invite them to seminars?

Cool. I'm all for that. However, it doesn't address the issue here. The issue could be boiled down to this: "It's my dojo/clinic/seminar, I'll invite any teacher I feel can provide the instruction and environment I want to cultivate."

Mary apparently feels that the choices were made to deliberately or through omission exclude women. I say, if the instruction offered is good, it doesn’t matter whether the teacher is male or female.

If a woman wants to do more to support women in budo, then she will, IMHO, attend the seminar regardless of who's teacher, learn what she can, incorporate it, keep moving forward and someday, when offered the chance, step up to teach herownself.

That's all I see here.

> Women instructors are not seen as skilled.

By whom? I don't see things that way. Nor do I care whether a good teacher is male of female. However, I have been in seminars taught by women that I wish I'd never paid money for (men, too), and I've had women as guests in my dojo who simply amazed me -- but NOT because they were women, but because their budo was excellent. Period.

George S. Ledyard said:
>Of course gender matters

Sorry George. I disagree (not the first time ... I know). Gender does NOT matter in budo. What maters is the transmission of the art. Period. All else is gravy.

>...impressed me no end by not only conducting professional level demos and classes but
>by being willing to get on the mat and try out the classes of the various other
>teachers. I would like to see more women instructors willing to participate like that.

With THIS, I couldn't agree more. You've hit the nail on the head.

OK, this has been beaten to death time and again. Ya'll can go back to bickering and whining if that suits ya. Me, I'm gonna keep doing what I do, regardless of the gender of those involved.

Sigh.

Chuck

Mike Sigman
03-02-2005, 09:32 PM
Equitability? (long ...) [snip] >>purses lips. makes note to self... "cannot compete with a post of this length." sigh<<

George S. Ledyard
03-03-2005, 05:14 AM
George S. Ledyard said:
>Of course gender matters

Sorry George. I disagree (not the first time ... I know). Gender does NOT matter in budo. What maters is the transmission of the art. Period. All else is gravy.

Actually, "transmission" of the art is only "important" to the Sensei and the small number of people who are going to go the distance and take their training to the highest level.

The rest of the folks, by far the majority, are training for other reasons than to get the "transmission" so to speak. They have no expectation of teaching or running their own dojos. They are training for their own satisfaction and the same issues that effect their lives every day effect their training in the dojo. Aikido would be empty of meaning for most people if it didn't help them deal with the day by day issues that matter to them. Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training, just as they are in most other areas of our lives. I see these issues play out every day in my dojo. And as Budo men and women we need to make an effort to deal with these things in a conscious, honorable fashion. This is far more important than if someone can crank a great nikkyo on his partner.

rob_liberti
03-03-2005, 07:54 AM
Sensei George,

It is my understanding that Osensei asked that we spread aikido to the world. I agree that means to all people not just men or Japanese, etc... However, I cannot accept that he would have meant to spread just the surface level nonsense so people can sweat a little and feel good and go home in hopes that one or two students in a dojo will get inspired to take it further than average.

I feel that we need to figure out what the road blocks in aikido are -that we have any control over- preventing the typical "client" from being a "student". We have an obligation to remove them. If getting more female teachers in focus will help inspire a female student from getting a sense of gender issues that make her want to quit or just become another client, then we should do everything we can to address that issue. I suppose the main thing is to figure out what the biggest road blocks are first, prioritize them, announce them, and start implementing changes based on client/student feedback. That's basically my current plan.

I cannot accept that I am supposed to just produce a bunch of clients who are just there to have a good time or get away from the house, etc... They showed up looking and desiring change. Our job as teachers is to continually support that desire towards michi.

Rob

PeterR
03-03-2005, 08:20 AM
The old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind.

I think the only thing a sensei is obligated to do is make a path available for those who wish to follow it. If others are getting something else out of it who's to complain.

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 09:00 AM
[snipsky] Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training, just as they are in most other areas of our lives. I see these issues play out every day in my dojo. And as Budo men and women we need to make an effort to deal with these things in a conscious, honorable fashion. This is far more important than if someone can crank a great nikkyo on his partner.
I would disagree about gender issues being HUGE in martial arts training. Genders issues are huge, in my lengthy experience, only in places that allow them to become huge. Usually we call those kinds of places "McDojos" and they indeed pander to a number of issues that aren't necessarily related to the presumed core art. There seems to be an element of perspective that Aikido (although other arts get into this issue as well) has been rightfully "adapted" and its goals shifted a little bit from the way O-Sensei did it because some people have taken it on themselves to decide what are important issues... issues that O-Sensei wasn't able to see with the clarity that they can. ;)

I've seen the word "budo" used a lot lately, and frankly, after having seen innumerable dojo's during the course of my career, I have a lot of reservations about diluting the meaning of the term by painting everyone with a broad-brush use of it. When gender issues and other extraneous matters are "huge", they eclipse the "bu" part and it is no longer a "budo". We all know that many facets of the Aikido community are snickered at and we've all (hopefully) been to dojo's where we get the uncomfortable feeling that we're in the middle of some sort of role-playing episode with too-stylized and too-cooperative training. Any martial artist with an outside perspective from hard-practiced martial arts isn't going to go down the road of the reasonableness of having to address gender issues as a "huge" part of a martial art. The presumption that a bona fide student really interested in the martial arts should be forced in a dojo setting to deal with other peoples' political baggage is sort of staggering, IMO. Don't we first owe a duty to the martial art and to the real martial artists before we accept social issues as bona fide distractions? :cool:

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Carrie
03-03-2005, 09:01 AM
Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.
Mary

Though I’m just a beginner, I’ve had experience with 2 dojos. One sizeable, and the other quite small. In my beginners class there were about 15 men and 2 women. From my experience everyone was welcomed and encouraged warmly and equally. I assumed the ratio of men to women was one that occurred organically; influenced by external factors rather than by anything taking place within the dojo.

From this woman’s standpoint, it was, and still can be, scary. And that’s part of the reason I train….to gain a sense of personal power in ‘aggressive’ situations (or perhaps more appropriately to LOSE the sense of helplessness in those situations) and to experience a safe and healthy resolution to same. For me, if anything, * I* am the one that sells myself short on the mat with thoughts like ‘Oh c’mon, I cannot possibly move this great big guy.’ And it’s the men in my class that encourage and push me hard enough to get past those self-limiting thoughts. Their nonchalant refusal to accept my occasional ‘you expect a girl to do THAT?’ attitude is something I am very grateful for, and one of the main reasons I wind up doing things I never thought I could.

When I feel at a disadvantage, or that something is extra challenging as a result of having smaller hands, being shorter, etc, Sensei shows me how to correct or adjust my technique to achieve the desired result. And on the flip side, sometimes being short seems to be pretty advantageous.

My experience, thankfully, has been that my Sensei and the men I train with treat me no differently than anyone else. That’s something that I took for granted as the way things should be. I have never been made to feel less than equal by anyone in the dojo.

Carrie

Brion Toss
03-03-2005, 10:42 AM
Hi again,
I agree with Ledyard Sensei that gender issues are huge in martial arts, and take exception to the idea that to acknowledge this is necessarily to pander to extraneous or distracting details. Issues of age, speed, strength, reach, peripheral vision, tactics, strategy, conditioned response (good and bad), psychology, cultural perceptions, and geometry are also huge in martial arts, and any remotely useful, coherent martial art will take all of those factors, and more, into account, making provisions and allowances for them in the greater context of the art. Gender issues might not seem as relevant as some of the above items, but even leaving aside the matter of social and personal imbalance for the moment, let's look at two other aspects, one technical and one spiritual.
On the technical side, a woman of the same height and weight as a man will usually have a lower CG, less upper body strength, and have other differences due to body structure; she will do the technique differently, sometimes a lot differently. If you are interested in "transmission" of the art, you will need to address how it can be expressed by women practitioners. In the same way, of course, you will need to make acknowledgement of, and adjustments for, people who are very tall, very short, short-fingered, etc. Is that pandering? Is that "imposing an ideology" on others?
On the spiritual side, several posters have talked about how they were just interested in teaching what Osensei taught. And they seem to imply that all he taught was technique. As I understand it, however, he thought he was teaching "a way to reconcile the world", with the technical stuff being an adjunct to the central, spiritual message. If you try to separate the two, you tend to get arguments like some of the ones above, with lovely little snipes like "McDojo" aimed at anyone who stands up for something besides technical proficiency. Actually, I have the impression that Osensei maintained his technique was so powerful because, not in spite of, his attention to spiritual, ethical, and moral matters.
Back in the 60's, when I was first studying Aikido, some of my radical college friends were fond of spouting ridiculous, meant-to-be-stirring slogans. One of my favorites was, "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." Right. A wise old friend, on hearing this, calmly pointed out, "Actually, it's better to live on your feet."
In the current discussion, we seem to be splitting into two camps, with technical pitted against spiritual. Perhaps this is inevitable at times, in an art that, in my view, seeks to reconcile the world. The difficult truth, as is its wont, lies somewhere between.
I have been in dojos whose brand of Aikido could best be described as interpretive dance, but without the martial applicability. And I've been in dojos that were so preposterone-driven that I felt lucky to escape intact. I don't think that either type was doing Aikido. Most dojo's that I have practiced in addressed, as a given, the difficult paradox of a martial art that purports to be about peace. The gender aspect currently under discussion is, I think, essential to achieving peace. In saying this, I utterly understand that many people feel otherwise. Just an opinion.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 11:16 AM
Hi again,
I agree with Ledyard Sensei that gender issues are huge in martial arts, and take exception to the idea that to acknowledge this is necessarily to pander to extraneous or distracting details. OK, but you also strongly took the side of complaining about gender parity, earlier on: "The original poster had good reason to be upset at the gender disparity for this event; if only two out of thirty-five instructors had been male, no amount of rationalizations re political divides, style differences, rank envy, etc. would have served to quiet the clamor over a gross distortion of gender parity." Issues of age, speed, strength, reach, peripheral vision, tactics, strategy, conditioned response (good and bad), psychology, cultural perceptions, and geometry are also huge in martial arts, and any remotely useful, coherent martial art will take all of those factors, and more, into account, making provisions and allowances for them in the greater context of the art. Actually, when most realistic-thinking people begin an endeavour, they consider whether they can acceptably perform in a given setting, not whether the endeavour and serious practitioners can be molded to suit their way of thinking and doing things. This should be particularly true of martial arts. If I am too old to practice a martial art with the average young-buck crowd of martial artists, for instance, that is something I need to consider and deal with... not them. Speaking of which, a good friend of mine who has been in Aikido since Noah was a gokyu, noted that Aikido is on a downward trend since its peak. Classes are smaller and the average age is noticeably older nowadays; not to mention the number of out-of-shape practitioners has increased. Do you think some of the "issue-driven" points we're talking about may have had a hand in the ongoing change? On the technical side, a woman of the same height and weight as a man will usually have a lower CG, less upper body strength, and have other differences due to body structure; she will do the technique differently, sometimes a lot differently. If you are interested in "transmission" of the art, you will need to address how it can be expressed by women practitioners. In the same way, of course, you will need to make acknowledgement of, and adjustments for, people who are very tall, very short, short-fingered, etc. Is that pandering? Is that "imposing an ideology" on others? Why aren't those considerations mainly the worries of the people who are affected? Isn't my own height, build, level of aggression, pain tolerance, etc., something that I need to deal with through my practice, not what others have to constantly consider before that make any move or statement? A dojo needs to practice Aikido (or any other art) in a correct manner and in a fair manner. Period. IMO. On the spiritual side, several posters have talked about how they were just interested in teaching what Osensei taught. And they seem to imply that all he taught was technique. As I understand it, however, he thought he was teaching "a way to reconcile the world", with the technical stuff being an adjunct to the central, spiritual message. If you try to separate the two, you tend to get arguments like some of the ones above, with lovely little snipes like "McDojo" aimed at anyone who stands up for something besides technical proficiency. Actually, I have the impression that Osensei maintained his technique was so powerful because, not in spite of, his attention to spiritual, ethical, and moral matters. Leaving O-Sensei's personal religion aside, his implication of "spiritual" and "harmony" appears to be more in the way the world actually functions, not a call for world peace and New Age spirituality. The same infatuation for the beauty of "Ki", "not resisting", etc., the way all things work together once you understand the basic mechanics, etc., is found in a number of other martial arts in Asia. I.e., you are presenting your impression of what O-Sensei was saying, but it may miss the implications of what he was actually saying. (Here I caveat a bit that what O-Sensei said as he became very old may not be totally germane to what he said earlier. Sort of like when he gave a 10th dan in Aikido to a female dancer, etc.). My point is that no one said Aikido is only about technique... but no one is going to accept a glib and superficial New Age interpretation of what O-Sensei said, either. ;)

Yours in Harmony,

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-03-2005, 01:17 PM
The old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind.

I think the only thing a sensei is obligated to do is make a path available for those who wish to follow it. If others are getting something else out of it who's to complain.

No one should complain -- UNLESS those others who are getting something else out of practice start interfering with the people in the dojo who would like to be following the path provided to them by the sensei. Then the teacher should feel obligated to do something about it.

Heck, I agree that gender disparity can be a major issue. I've actually been implementing plans to address it and make it better for the future. I just don't think complaining about it without contributing any ideas about how to improve the situation gets us anywhere new.

Rob

Brion Toss
03-03-2005, 01:27 PM
Hello,
In response to Mike Sigman's thoughtful response, I'll take your points in order.
First, I consider gross gender disparity non-extraneous, and I believe that addressing said disparity need not constitute pandering (def: "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.") Far from it, I believe that addressing it can be good for the art.
Next, I began practicing when the earth was still cooling, and my own physical abilities were somewhat less limited than they are now. Nevertheless, I clearly remember my sensei making specific admonitions to us, as individuals as well as a group, to take each others' abilities into account. That way we could practice safely together, and dial up the intensity where appropriate. Granted, this can easily degrade into a "hey, take it easy big fella" dojo environment. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. But I think your contention here is a bit of a straw dog; it doesn't have to be that way.
And yes, you had better take other people's abilities and limitations into account, if you expect to practice with them. I neither said nor implied you have to consider "every move or statement," but you do have to consider some moves and statements, if you truly hope to practice "in a fair manner and a correct manner."
Finally, I don't believe I ever mentioned "world peace", let alone "New Age spirituality", let alone "a glib and superficial New Age interpretation of what Osensei said..." I spoke in general terms about the importance of harmony, and mentioned the "reconcile the world" quote. Not in any detail, nor with any intent at detail — this didn't seem like the place for that — but only to get across the idea that there might be something to the thread subject. What I DID say, and what you seem to imply agreement with in your last lines, is that Aikido is not just about technique. The only question remaining then, is what else is it about, and to what extent?
Carrie Sutton's letter seems to describe the kind of dojo I like, where people can rise to levels that they might not have otherwise, in an environment where they are expected to surpass themselves, but not forced to. I hope I'm reading it accurately.
Please bear in mind that I have no intention of imposing my preferences, ideals, or glib interpretations on anybody; I am engaging in a discussion.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 01:58 PM
Hello,
In response to Mike Sigman's thoughtful response, I'll take your points in order.
First, I consider gross gender disparity non-extraneous, and I believe that addressing said disparity need not constitute pandering (def: "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.") Far from it, I believe that addressing it can be good for the art. Well of course you're entitled to your beliefs. I can't remember the topic being addressed in any reputable Aikido books, though. Next, I began practicing when the earth was still cooling, and my own physical abilities were somewhat less limited than they are now. Nevertheless, I clearly remember my sensei making specific admonitions to us, as individuals as well as a group, to take each others' abilities into account. When I started Aikido, we had to make our own water during the breaks by combining Hydrogen and Oxygen. And unless your teacher was O-Sensei, I'm not sure how the admonition you mentioned is particularly germane. ;) What I DID say, and what you seem to imply agreement with in your last lines, is that Aikido is not just about technique. The only question remaining then, is what else is it about, and to what extent? It's also about timing, Ki, Kokyu, and a few other things. However, all of those things are mentioned in the credible Aikido books, etc. Gender parity seems to be an issue that is being artificially introduced as a concern in some branches of Aikido. :cool:

Regards,

Mike Sigman

E.D. Gordon
03-03-2005, 04:06 PM
Now that makes real sense in my opinion. Quality, not attempts to be overly PC as far as I'm concerned should be the requirement.

What exactly is PC about women instructors?
I guarantee you that I can get away with instructing things men get in trouble for teaching. *grin*

Before I jump into this one, I have to say that I am only sounding like a feminist because I am trying to be an egalitarian.

I would like for gender to be completely invisible. Okay, vive la difference and all that. I LIKE being female, and I like men.

If this makes me more acceptable to you, shame on you.
Imagine me as Tank Girl. With a crush on your wife.

Thus framed, I begin:

I do not agree that women need special treatment at all. All we need is a chance to prove ourselves.

http://www.ejmas.com/jalt/jaltframe.htm
http://www.ejmas.com/proceedings/procindex.htm second paragraph, many good articles about gender history & interaction.

Sometimes you don't "get" the chance. Gotta take it.
Furthermore, for those willing to "prove it" those who don't give you that little chance, lose.
This is what instructors have to realize.
Females have to realize that they can do anything. I work with soldiers, many of whom are far more physically sturdy than I, and I have a lifetime of manual labor, budo, animal handling and a culture which discounts women as either mere brood mares or decor.

I don't even have words to describe the strength, physical, spiritual, and emotional, of the women I meet who are involved with the Army. Whether they are under fire, in command, holding down the fort at home or POW (Shoshanna Johnson!), they are self-possessed, adaptable, powerful and perceptive.

I'm not so sure if the ratio of male to female instructors in the world is not represented by the numbers represented at the Aiki Expo this year.

It probably is.
Why is that? Is it really a failing, or possibly a lack of interest in our passive, consumerist society of women in taking responsibility for themselves instead of "renting" power?
We don't need to rent any damn thing. We've got it right here.


Then again, where does the lobbying stop? Similar to what Bryce said - when we have enough female instructors, will we then start asking why there are not enough african, hispanic, indian, christian, moslem, buddhist, hindu or [insert category here] instructors at the expo? To echo Mike above, what bearing does this actually have on our personal quality of training in good Aikido?


Women are all of the above. Not a subgroup. Just people.
And, none. Should be none. Should be a NON-ISSUE.
However, on both sides, can you see a problem here?

What about the men who want so badly to be midwives? Quilters? Dancers? Professional gymnasts, or nurses? Teachers?
Men who are artists?
Now, you (Americans mostly) are saying to yourself, yeah, gay men.
NOT NECESSARILY.

Just like female soldiers aren't necessarily gay.
And who cares anyway? The British army happily recruits alternative sexual orientations. Whose business is it, in business, who you XXXX, or want to XXXX? Never mind that the US Army lives in the bloody Stone Age. Don't ask, don't tell, WHAT exactly?


Personally I believe we must be the change we wish to see in the world.


Sometimes, we just have to make it happen.
Are we so frightened of our own gender and its interaction?
Life is sexually transmitted, after all. Without it, we cease to exist. So get over it, already.

MLE

Chuck.Gordon
03-03-2005, 04:47 PM
The old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind.

I think the only thing a sensei is obligated to do is make a path available for those who wish to follow it. If others are getting something else out of it who's to complain.

Peter, that bears repeating.

Good on ya.

Chuck

E.D. Gordon
03-03-2005, 04:55 PM
Why do we need to encourage anyone over anyone else in Aikido? Why not just do Aikido?

Teachers used to be mostly male. In public school.. look at salaries. Look at nursing.

What I think may be happening is that if I don't have a special concern for women (in the eyes of some women) then I am "hostile" toward women.

This is the worst problem. People with "issues" inflicting these issues on things better dealt with by considering the " greater good". Hostility never works. Facts do. Honest opinion, sharing, generosity. Let's try that.

Beccause George Ledyard didn't start an unfriendly thread intimating other people were in the wrong?????


Looking for a dominant male to defend a feminist issue is a pretty fatal flaw. We can do it ourselves, thanks. George gets the politics, thank goodness. But he does not LIVE them. Those of us who DO, this is OUR fight.

Those who do not watch and listen, lose it.
They lose the women who care about budo.
We'll go do koryu, thanks. They need support, and they know it.

MLE

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 05:13 PM
Teachers used to be mostly male. In public school.. look at salaries. Look at nursing. Men used to be the ones that worked themselves into an early grave supporting women and children. I.e., we can state these social issues so that one side looks "bad" and the other "victimized" if we choose our phraseology, can't we? What has this got to do with Aikido, Karate, Jiujutsu, BJJ, etc.? Nothing unless you try to make it an issue. There will always be more men than women in the martial arts, car racing, rock-climbing, white-water kayaking, and so forth. There will always be more women than men in K-12 teaching positions, nursing, motherhood, quilting, and so on. C'est la vie. What's it got to do with Aikido or the martial arts that we need to "do something about it"? Nothing really. ;) This is the worst problem. People with "issues" inflicting these issues on things better dealt with by considering the " greater good". Hostility never works. Facts do. Honest opinion, sharing, generosity. Let's try that. Honestly, Emily, O-Sensei didn't give a rip about gender parity in Aikido. I don't know of a single martial art whose founder did worry about gender parity. It's like trombone playing... just do it. ;) Looking for a dominant male to defend a feminist issue is a pretty fatal flaw. We can do it ourselves, thanks. George gets the politics, thank goodness. But he does not LIVE them. Those of us who DO, this is OUR fight. Is this a challenge to combat?????? :D Those who do not watch and listen, lose it.
They lose the women who care about budo.
We'll go do koryu, thanks. They need support, and they know it. Just out of curiosity, what do you suggest for "support", Emily? Before you stated that you were an "egalitarian". So am I. I hope you're not suggesting that "we should treat women exactly like men, only a little better". ;) Let's treat 'em like Aikidoists (or whatever martial arts) and let them be responsible for their own successes. Meantime, let's focus on the martial arts and not the social issues, IMO.

Regards,

Mike

E.D. Gordon
03-03-2005, 05:30 PM
Actually, "transmission" of the art is only "important" to the Sensei and the small number of people who are going to go the distance and take their training to the highest level.

As Gordon sensei's uchideshi, and, in fact, a Gordon by marriage, I must answer..

I have never been so challenged in a dojo, and I have trained in many, Wing Tsun to Daito ryu to Kodokan judo. Nishio. Jiyushinkai, Seidokan, etc, ad nauseum.. Only 12 years, whatever that means. I am not sure of all I am transmitting, but it is an interesting composite.


The rest of the folks, by far the majority, are training for other reasons than to get the "transmission" so to speak.


Is there another reason? I have told my sensei, on many occasions, I am no soldier, I am no contact fighter, what can I give you? I will never be any of these things, but he deems me of good enough character to do it. I still don't understand why, but I must expand into that role. I teach soldiers, chaplains, security guys, medics... I must, for me, and for them. I have no choice. Quit, and give up what love. No thanks. Can't quit sanity as I know it.


They have no expectation of teaching or running their own dojos. They are training for their own satisfaction and the same issues that effect their lives every day effect their training in the dojo.


No such luck.
My own satisfaction means little. Our student's willingness to leave the room, or not, means so much more.

Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training,

Why? Why? an art which offers advantage over the opponent, regardless size or strength, should be able to back it up. Otherwise, just be a boy's club, like football or politics.

Obviously, I don't find that cr@p acceptable, either. Not in my Very Real World.

Get over it
Get over it
Get over it

and work together.

Or give up this aiki harmony thing altogether, and admit that it's a passive-aggressive grudgefest.

MLE
female sitting on the teachers' side, with males looking at me and not noticing the diff, AFAIK,and as far as they know. I just teach.

charron
03-03-2005, 05:51 PM
I think that the reason there are so many more good male instructors than female today is because ofr a sexual discrimination. Most martial arts in the past were practiced mostly by men. Some arts were practiced mostly by women. Aikido was developed by a man, in a martial art that was practiced predominantly by men. Yes O'Sensie did have women in his classes, but even tehn looking at old films you see very few women. Aikido is an art that as long as you keeep practicing, you'll keep on getting better. There are still many more men than women who have been practicing and teaching and getting bettter every year. There are some very good women Aikido practicioners. When it comes to seminars, then it really boils down to Who will come. You start by invidting the most knowlegable, and work your way down until you have enough people to fill the even. It would be more of a disservice to deliberately split the menu 50/50 jsut to be politically correct.

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 06:06 PM
I think that the reason there are so many more good male instructors than female today is because ofr a sexual discrimination. . Those devils!!! I'll bet that's why there's more men than women in the NFL too!!! :freaky:

Mike

raul rodrigo
03-03-2005, 06:10 PM
If you were to mount an Expo type event in my country, you would get the same result: 9 of the top 10 instructors would be men. There would be one woman. She is also the most senior and most skilled of them all. (She happens to be my first sensei.) But the numerical disparity would remain the same: 9:1. I don't see that as a problem, or think that she herself would see that as a problem. Its just a fact: she is the best, and there is no other woman here who is anywhere near her level of skill.

Given that situation, if we were to rearrange the composition of an Expo's teaching staff just to meet PC quota considerations seems pretty silly to me.Some women yudansha want equality in rank? Then they have to earn it, just as my sensei did.

R

George S. Ledyard
03-03-2005, 07:51 PM
Honestly, Emily, O-Sensei didn't give a rip about gender parity in Aikido. I don't know of a single martial art whose founder did worry about gender parity. It's like trombone playing... just do it. ;) Is this a challenge to combat??????

Not that I am disagreement with you but I would point out that virtually every Founder of a Martial Arts system lived in a country which is heavily male dominated in which women are completely subservient to men. These issues are only today starting to come up in many of these countries. We are far ahead in the West in terms of dealing with these issues or even considering them issues at all.

O-Sensei had one close female deshi in the thirties when many of the Aikido greats were training (Kunigoshi, Takako). Whereas, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki etc. ended up as Aikido teachers and were the Founders of their own styles of Aikido, she ended up as a teacher of flower arrangement, I believe. How much did societal expectations play in that I wonder? As far as I understand from her description of the training, O-Sensei didn't treat her any differently on the mat than he did the boys. Yet, in the end she ends up doing an art which is much more socially acceptable for women and the boys stayed in the martial arts... I don't think that was accidental. No, we are the generation which has to tackle these issues, those that went before never did.

Mike Sigman
03-03-2005, 08:33 PM
Not that I am disagreement with you but I would point out that virtually every Founder of a Martial Arts system lived in a country which is heavily male dominated in which women are completely subservient to men. These issues are only today starting to come up in many of these countries. We are far ahead in the West in terms of dealing with these issues or even considering them issues at all. Where do you want to start approaching reality and dismiss this "male dominance" silliness? Do you deny all of human society has been "male dominated" back to the caveman because evolutionarily the survival strategy that worked for humans was for the males to dominate, provide, and fight for the family while the female devoted herself basically to different duties as part of the survival strategy? Where do you draw the line and begin to recognize that you're watching evolution (societal and biological) in gradual action and not "evil intentions by males"? This trendy view of males as the bad boys and females as the victims needs to be curtailed... it certainly doesn't belong in a dojo, no matter how much one's peers approve of whatever particular social wailing is going on at the moment. :) O-Sensei had one close female deshi in the thirties when many of the Aikido greats were training (Kunigoshi, Takako). Whereas, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki etc. ended up as Aikido teachers and were the Founders of their own styles of Aikido, she ended up as a teacher of flower arrangement, I believe. How much did societal expectations play in that I wonder? Who knows and who cares? People have to learn to accept some parts of life and society as things that happened due to a number of factors and not dwell on it. Change it towards fairness, but stop the blame pointing OR the angst-derived guilt complexes. Any number of things that man did on his way to where we are now are fiercely condemned, but to not recognize that we go through steps as a necessary part of change is silly. As far as I understand from her description of the training, O-Sensei didn't treat her any differently on the mat than he did the boys. Yet, in the end she ends up doing an art which is much more socially acceptable for women and the boys stayed in the martial arts... I don't think that was accidental. No, we are the generation which has to tackle these issues, those that went before never did. But you don't honestly know why she chose to do what she did, do you? Are you really going to make an assumption only because it assists your case of "men is bad guys and we gots to do something about it"? O-Sensei did just right... he taught her Aikido and the rest was beyond his control. He did his job, it seems and didn't bother with the current judgements of society as an issue which needed to be dealt with in the dojo. But maybe we're smarter nowadays and do better Aikido? :cool:

FWIW

Mike Sigman

GaiaM
03-04-2005, 09:35 AM
Well, to be fair, at gatherings where you don't know everyone, there is often a tendency to pick as Uke's the people who look like they're probably able to do ukemi well. So your eye looks around for the male victim... er, volunteer with obvious athleticity, etc,... not out of any subconscious desire to avoid women or the smaller, weaker males (remember, they're getting left out disproportionately, too), but out of a desire to pick someone out of a group of unknowns who can do ukemi and do it without getting injured. I.e., avoiding injury while making a clean teaching point is more on most peoples' minds, I suspect, than even considering gender equality and other side issues

While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutly no sense.

My two cents to the general picture: I agree with the folks that say the best way to get more women involved is for women to decide to be involved. I don't want to be chosen for special priveleges or invitations based on my gender but I am inspired by strong female presences in the aikido world. As I gain more influcene in my aikido community, I plan to encourage and hopefully inspire more women to participate, but equally so for men. I think we should acknowlege the desire to see more women on the mat and teaching and then we should all just get out there and train with each other, regardless of gender, race or anything else.

Gaia

SeiserL
03-04-2005, 09:54 AM
Interesting thread. Compliments and appreciation to all.

So lets say we show up at the Dojo to train and there is disparity in numbers, anyway you want to slice it. Do we accept it, enter and blend with it, and train anyway? Or, do we refuse to train, boycott, and publicly criticize the Sensei in an attempt to get them to run their Dojo the way we think they should?

If it bothers us, what can we personally do about it?

If Aikido does not meet the wants or needs of a certain group of people, do we change the art, or accept that it doesn't meet their need and get back to our own training?

IMHO, while Aikido is available for everyone, it is not for everyone because they choose not to participate. That is their choice and I need to accept it.

I find that I learn something from everyone I train with because my technique must become flexible to adapt to their abilities. I trained with a great man down in San Diego, CA at an Ikeda Sensei seminar. He had the courage and heart to be on the mat despite metal in his legs that prevented him from taking falls. He said others would not work with him because he couldn't fall. His size and strength made him a great training partner to learn the subtle magic Ikeda Sensei does in taking balance. He will forever be a part of my Aikido.

IMHO, a lot of anxiety, depression and wasted energy is expended by resisting what is instead of entering and blending with it. The world is not going to be the way I want it to be. It doesn't call me up and ask for my directions or even input. I don't blame my technique on the uke's attack. I personally don't improve that way. Its by looking at my own part of the dance that I learn to redirect and change the dance. I don't change other people, but they might just change in response to what I do.

Sounds like we need to practice more.

He bow, puts the soapbox away (temporarily), and resumes training.

L. Camejo
03-04-2005, 10:41 AM
My two cents to the general picture: I agree with the folks that say the best way to get more women involved is for women to decide to be involved. I don't want to be chosen for special priveleges or invitations based on my gender but I am inspired by strong female presences in the aikido world. As I gain more influcene in my aikido community, I plan to encourage and hopefully inspire more women to participate, but equally so for men. I think we should acknowlege the desire to see more women on the mat and teaching and then we should all just get out there and train with each other, regardless of gender, race or anything else.

Very well said Gaia.

What exactly is PC about women instructors?
There is nothing PC about women instructors, they are just that - Instructors - no need to qualify imho. It's just that the attempt to create an artificial sense of equitable numbers to satisfy a requirement that really has nothing to do with quality Aikido training is what is the problem imho. But this has been indicated by others as well.

I do not agree that women need special treatment at all. All we need is a chance to prove ourselves.
Exactly. I think this whole issue is a numbers game really. It's not that women are any worse or better than men on a general level in Aikido, but I think that the numbers of women who do martial arts in general (whatever their reasons may be) is what is affecting the possible pool of instructors that can be tapped for things like the Expo. If we want more women to be involved they have to get involved and I don't see any armed guards at the dojo doors stopping them from entering.:) As Peter said, it is the Sensei's job to make the path available , up to you to walk it imo. From my experience the opportunity to walk the path is often proposed equally to all who enter the door, so it's not even a matter of getting a chance to prove oneself as a woman so much imho - the chance is already there, it's up to our female colleagues to get on the mat and use it.

Why is that? Is it really a failing, or possibly a lack of interest in our passive, consumerist society of women in taking responsibility for themselves instead of "renting" power?
We don't need to rent any damn thing. We've got it right here.
Agreed. Though it depends on what you define as power. To many, it's not found in Aikido whether male or female. Maybe this is part of why there are not as many women being drawn to the "empowerment" if any, experienced through Aikido training. Just a thought. A lot of women I know don't do Aikido because they either hate the idea of falling all the time or want to hit something and look good throwing a kick instead of a person. A matter of preference imho.


Quote:
Then again, where does the lobbying stop? Similar to what Bryce said - when we have enough female instructors, will we then start asking why there are not enough african, hispanic, indian, christian, moslem, buddhist, hindu or [insert category here] instructors at the expo? To echo Mike above, what bearing does this actually have on our personal quality of training in good Aikido?

Women are all of the above. Not a subgroup. Just people.
And, none. Should be none. Should be a NON-ISSUE.
However, on both sides, can you see a problem here?
I believe where we make something an issue it becomes an issue. If Jews and Arabs can train Aikido in peace in the middle east as part of the Aiki-Extensions program, it shows that only people who make things an issue have issues. In my dojo, the gender situation is a non-issue, as well as the other stuff that I mentioned above, when you walk in the door you are simply an Aikido student, nothing else is assumed. It depends on the people involved imho. From my experience there are folks who look at things and see points of division and there are those who look and see points of unification. I tend to fall into the latter group. The day we have the ratio reversed in favour of women I don't think it will affect my training at all.

The use of the Military is a good parallel to this argument I think, Does anyone have statistics of which armed force in the world have the most women on active duty in active combat capacities (not support forces mind you) and what the ratio is from women to men in this area? I personally think it comes down to there are just not as many women who are interested in martial arts training (much less Aikido), as there are men and this has something to do with social norms and a host of other factors including women (as well as men) who just don't like or are not attracted to the idea of MA training. My wife is one of them actually. It's her choice, I don't force her to train in Aikido, she seems to like Tae Bo and Mortal Kombat :cool: .

As many long time instructors here may know - many come in the door but very few may stick it through and even fewer to become an instructor, regardless of gender.

To quote Rodney King - "Can't we all just get along?" :D
LC:ai::ki:

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 10:41 AM
IMHO, a lot of anxiety, depression and wasted energy is expended by resisting what is instead of entering and blending with it. The world is not going to be the way I want it to be. It doesn't call me up and ask for my directions or even input. I don't blame my technique on the uke's attack. I personally don't improve that way. Its by looking at my own part of the dance that I learn to redirect and change the dance. I don't change other people, but they might just change in response to what I do. I think a more succinct summary of my suggestion not to mix "gender parity" or other things in the dojo goes like this:
When you're practicing Aikido or any other martial art, the idea is to remain "centered" at all times; i.e., you shouldn't be off-balance either physically or mentally or you're easy to throw and your technique may not be too good. If your head is wrapped around social issues, pop psychology, worrying whether someone is "victimizing" you, worrying about your place in the pecking order, playing a role-game about "blending", etc., you may be in the sort of off-balance situation I'm talking about. My suggestion was that leaving the extraneous out of the dojo is probably best, if someone is interested in doing a martial art.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 10:48 AM
While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutely no sense. Since you quoted from a post of mine in order to make this comment, let me point out that I wasn't suggesting strong-brute Uke's or "the most connected" ukemi's, either one. I was suggesting that many demonstraters will try to use the most athletic person, least likely to get injured, so that the teaching point can be made without incident or distraction. Sometimes that's a female, but statistically it's not, as most people with experience would probably agree.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 11:47 AM
The use of the Military is a good parallel to this argument I think, Does anyone have statistics of which armed force in the world have the most women on active duty in active combat capacities (not support forces mind you) and what the ratio is from women to men in this area? I saw an interesting interview of an Israeli officer where the reporter asked pretty much the same question. The Israeli's don't use women in combat, apparently. What the officer said was essentially, "We will leave that sort of social experimentation to you Americans; we are fighting a real war for our survival here." Makes you stop and think. Many of the "pressing social concerns" we have are actually the products of a rich, somewhat decadent society with too much discretionary time and money, perhaps. If life was harder, maybe we'd have less time to complain? If we trained harder we wouldn't have time to devote to so many other issues?

Along those same lines, I just got off the phone with a long-time friend who has done Aikido at least 35 years and he just made the comment that he doesn't know a single native Japanese instructor that really thinks Americans will ever devote the time and energy to really be good at Aikido.... interesting and troubling thought. ;)

Mike

rob_liberti
03-04-2005, 12:12 PM
Out of 35 people invited, not a single kyu gai (beginner) asked to teach. How is that equitable?! Or am I just being silly (in a hopefully very pointed way...)

You address the gender problem by preserving the dojo as the spiritual oasis it should be. You make sure each student knows you believe in their ability to progress and that you support them. You disallow people disrespecting each other for any reason. You create a feeling of trust where the students feel they can give you feedback when something is not right. You enourage feedback amoung all of the members. This art is about intimacy - people should know what you think. If what you think is not acceptable for the dojo you need to change or leave. Other little factors - completely disallow directly pushing, pulling, lifting, cranking, threatening, or ignoring your partner. Find the best teachers available and learn from all of them. Run your dojo that way for 25 years, and you might find a few more women at the top ranks.

Rob

GaiaM
03-04-2005, 12:49 PM
Gaia Thurston-Shaine wrote:
While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutely no sense.

Since you quoted from a post of mine in order to make this comment, let me point out that I wasn't suggesting strong-brute Uke's or "the most connected" ukemi's, either one. I was suggesting that many demonstraters will try to use the most athletic person, least likely to get injured, so that the teaching point can be made without incident or distraction. Sometimes that's a female, but statistically it's not, as most people with experience would probably agree.


When I say "most connected ukemi" I expect that this is the most important aspect of ukemi, especially in a seminar situation when the instructor might not know the ukes they call up. Someone who is able to follow and stay connected no matter what the technique or style is going to be the best uke for the job.

I would disagree that a male is more likely to have good ukemi or be less likely to be injured or "distract from the lesson". In fact, I believe that the often more connected, looser, less "muscle-bound" (stereotype) ukemi of many females is less likely to cause injury to anyone.

Perhaps I have had unusual experiences, but I have seen seminar instructors choose a broad variety of ukes, generally starting with ones they know, then watching the class and picking ukes based on the ability and characteristics they observe. I have been called up for ukemi in many seminars, as a kyu-ranked female, sometimes by instructors I have never meant. I can only assume that they saw something in my ukemi that caused them to make this choice.

lrohde
03-04-2005, 12:57 PM
This is my first post here, so I hope it will be helpful and not seen in the wrong light. I'm trying to add something which I think is missing thus far in the discussion, and that is why this subject does matter so much in a dojo. In fact, one could almost say, especially in a dojo. I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo. The point I wish to make, and hope you will try to understand, is how important it is for many women to see other women in aikido- those who have come through the same difficulties and become better people for it.

When I began practicing aikido, there were no women of any rank in the dojo. I found aikido to be a wonderful thing, but it was difficult to realize that I seemed to be the only one going through a kind of emotional struggle. I sought out anything I could read about women in aikido, or women in any martial art, and this helped me tremendously. I realized that all these women had experienced the same things as I was feeling. One of the best things I ever did was attend a seminar with a female sensei. Unfortunately, this opportunity does not come around often, because it inspired me with a wonderful confidence in myself and my aikido. This woman has become one of my role models, and someone whom I greatly admire.

One of the classes I attend is taught at a university, where every few months we have brand new students of aikido. I have noticed that often the female students will look to me first (as someone who looks like she might know a little) for help and for a partner. It is much more comfortable for them to have another woman present. It seems to me that the dojo should be a place where we are comfortable, and where we all seek to help each other. If students wish to learn, I think it is the responsibility of everyone in the dojo to encourage them and extend their "aikido love." It is precisely because everyone needs encouragement that we need women to be visible in aikido.

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 01:06 PM
When I say "most connected ukemi" I expect that this is the most important aspect of ukemi, especially in a seminar situation when the instructor might not know the ukes they call up. Someone who is able to follow and stay connected no matter what the technique or style is going to be the best uke for the job. Whereas I can envision situations in which I agree with you, I can also picture situations where I don't necessarily agree with you. For instance, I have met a number of people, both male and female but too many of them female, who do "beautiful ukemi", very "smoothe" and pleasing to the eye, particularly when complemented by a nicely-cut hakama of just the right length. :p Some people consider that good ukemi and I just shrug. Another situation is in which you have a demonstrator who is vigorously applying reverses and cuts that require straight-in drops to the mat, over the reverse arm, etc. In that case, a degree of athleticism is required by uke or Nage is going to have to hold back on his technique to allow time for the "most-connected ukemi" to gather itself. ;) I would disagree that a male is more likely to have good ukemi or be less likely to be injured or "distract from the lesson". In fact, I believe that the often more connected, looser, less "muscle-bound" (stereotype) ukemi of many females is less likely to cause injury to anyone. Possibly you're right; possibly I am. However, I can picture too many past instances of harshly applied technique which I have seldom seen applied to women the way they are to men. Not to say some women couldn't handle them, just that most would probably avoid them, exactly as MOST small-framed, not-too-athletic men would prefer to avoid those techniques. Fair enough? Perhaps I have had unusual experiences, but I have seen seminar instructors choose a broad variety of ukes, generally starting with ones they know, then watching the class and picking ukes based on the ability and characteristics they observe. I have been called up for ukemi in many seminars, as a kyu-ranked female, sometimes by instructors I have never meant. I can only assume that they saw something in my ukemi that caused them to make this choice. OK. I've never met you. Who knows from where you're speaking, exactly? You could be the goddess of ukemi, for all I know. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 01:17 PM
This is my first post here, so I hope it will be helpful and not seen in the wrong light. Just post and don't worry about what other people think... any opinions based on reason and experience are as good as anyone's here. :) I'm trying to add something which I think is missing thus far in the discussion, and that is why this subject does matter so much in a dojo. In fact, one could almost say, especially in a dojo. I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo. The point I wish to make, and hope you will try to understand, is how important it is for many women to see other women in aikido- those who have come through the same difficulties and become better people for it. I see your point. You are talking about an aspect of Aikido, as you've experienced it, which is good for women and their self-esteem. The question is "should dojo's spend more time focused on things that are good for women's self-esteem or should they focus on the people who are devoted to learning pure Aikido", I think. If students wish to learn, I think it is the responsibility of everyone in the dojo to encourage them and extend their "aikido love." It is precisely because everyone needs encouragement that we need women to be visible in aikido. "Aikido love"?!?!?!?!? My martial arts practiced will be encouraged if there are women visible? Me personally??? :cool:

FWIW

Mike

Chris Li
03-04-2005, 01:59 PM
Along those same lines, I just got off the phone with a long-time friend who has done Aikido at least 35 years and he just made the comment that he doesn't know a single native Japanese instructor that really thinks Americans will ever devote the time and energy to really be good at Aikido.... interesting and troubling thought. ;)

Mike

Japanese racism - unfortunately it's not that uncommon. I've spent years training in both the US and Japan, and if there's any difference it's that training in the US tends to be more committed.

Best,

Chris

rob_liberti
03-04-2005, 02:07 PM
No Mike, you would need to be encouraged by what encourages you. Her point is that what encourages you might not encourage beginner female aikido students and they should get to be encouraged AS WELL.

All, Paulina and Mary made this same valid point as this person. (IMO) Namely, that the more women they see, especially in the upper end, the more encouraged the new (and not-so-new) female aikido students will be. While it is certainly a valid point, I don't think it is so valid that we should try to make the Aiki Expo equitable by inviting people with less ability than the 33 men who accepted the invitations.

If there were an all female sensei aikido seminar anywhere near me, I'd go. However, and let's be honest, if they were all 5th and 6th degree black belts and it happend to be at the same time Endo sensei (at 8th degree black belt) was doing a seminar about the same distance away - I'd go see the more senior instructor. Wouldn't you?

Here is another idea. I agree that women instructors should get more exposure. What if someone started a non-profit that people donated to, which could be used exclusively to defray the cost of flying in and paying senior female instuctors for doing seminars? Does the "passion" for this cause t extend all the way to the checkbook?

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 02:17 PM
Japanese racism - unfortunately it's not that uncommon. I've spent years training in both the US and Japan, and if there's any difference it's that training in the US tends to be more committed. Heh. :D I wish I had the brass to forward your comment to him... he is the liberal's liberal and even wrote for one of the liberal radio shows. However, I dasn't. The word "racism" applied to him might make him apoplectic. ;)

In a way, though, he wasn't comparing Japanese practice to US practice.... he was commenting on the attitude of Japanese instructors toward US students. I've been out of the big picture for a while, so my views may not be totally current, but I know a little of what he says has an element of truth to it. I've seen and heard some of the attitudes and some of the long-term Japanese certainly appear to have gotten tired of the preponderance of New Age among Aikido ranks.

However, I was just passing his thought along because I had just gotten off the phone and was intrigued that he would say that. I should have let sleeping dogs lie. My bad.

Mike

rob_liberti
03-04-2005, 02:24 PM
Mike - As a side issue, I could introduce your friend to a couple native Japanese instructors who actually prefer training the foreigners because they are so dedicated to have flown all the way to Japan and live there out of their desire to learn budo.

Rob

Chris Li
03-04-2005, 02:36 PM
Heh. :D I wish I had the brass to forward your comment to him... he is the liberal's liberal and even wrote for one of the liberal radio shows. However, I dasn't. The word "racism" applied to him might make him apoplectic. ;)

Japanese racism can be subtle compared to the racism that you find in the US, but it's quite common - even among "liberal" Japanese.

In a way, though, he wasn't comparing Japanese practice to US practice.... he was commenting on the attitude of Japanese instructors toward US students. I've been out of the big picture for a while, so my views may not be totally current, but I know a little of what he says has an element of truth to it. I've seen and heard some of the attitudes and some of the long-term Japanese certainly appear to have gotten tired of the preponderance of New Age among Aikido ranks.

Like Rob, I know a number of senior Japanese instructors who think differently. There is a lot of new age stuff in US Aikido (there's some weird folks in Japan, too, for that matter), but that's evidence that Aikido is alive and growing in the US, as opposed to the stagnancy that you see many places in Japan.

Best,

Chris

E.D. Gordon
03-04-2005, 02:38 PM
Those devils!!! I'll bet that's why there's more men than women in the NFL too!!! :freaky:

Mike

Who in their right mind wants ANYTHING to do with commercial sports?

Wait, that's another thread.. are more women in their right minds?

(Not this one!
LOL!!)

MLE

Pauliina Lievonen
03-04-2005, 02:47 PM
While it is certainly a valid point, I don't think it is so valid that we should try to make the Aiki Expo equitable by inviting people with less ability than the 33 men who accepted the invitations.

Actually I completely agree with this.

If there were an all female sensei aikido seminar anywhere near me, I'd go. However, and let's be honest, if they were all 5th and 6th degree black belts and it happend to be at the same time Endo sensei (at 8th degree black belt) was doing a seminar about the same distance away - I'd go see the more senior instructor. Wouldn't you?

Depends. We have Minegishi sensei (6th dan IIRC) coming in a few weeks, and that's where I'm going to be, I don't care who else might be giving seminars at the same time. :)

kvaak
Pauliina

rob_liberti
03-04-2005, 02:52 PM
Okay, fair enough.

What about Minegishi sensei has captivated you? Do you think it would be possible for a male instructor to capticate you in the same way or in a different and/or stronger way? Just curious... - Rob

Pauliina Lievonen
03-04-2005, 03:39 PM
Okay, fair enough.

What about Minegishi sensei has captivated you? Do you think it would be possible for a male instructor to capticate you in the same way or in a different and/or stronger way? Just curious... - Rob

Her spirit. It lights up the room. :) And yes, I've met one male instructor who had the same kind of ...charisma... ("uitstraling", translation anyone?). I've also seen other instructors who are impressive in other ways...my teacher's teacher, Terry Ezra sensei, is very different.

It does have something to do with her being a woman, too, though. I hadn't thought that it would matter, but the first time Minegishi sensei gave a seminar here two years ago, I was surprised to find that I did feel encouraged just by seeing her do her stuff. It's funny, I train in a dojo with an almost 50/50 male/female ratio. I never felt that there was anything I couldn't do, provided I trained enough. Still, that seminar made me feel that aikido really was for me, too.

The experience was so strong for me because it wasn't something I thought I even needed.

All that said, if Minegishi sensei's aikido hadn't been ...convincing... it wouldn't have meant a great deal.

kvaak
Pauliina

Carrie
03-04-2005, 03:46 PM
I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo.

This is very interesting to me….I experienced these same fears and discomforts, but I never made the assumption that having another woman around would help ease them. I just figured it was how * I * felt, and that having the courage to train would facilitate resolving those fears. Though I assumed everyone at some time has to work through things -- be it fear, anxiety, ego, pride, whatever -- I also assumed that no one else would ever come to the mat with my precise mix of ‘stuff'. S'truth, I won't be exactly the same the next time I train as I was last night.

It's impossible to deny that our sexes will influence our experience. How can it not? But so does a gajillion (to use the technical term) other things unique to each person. From height to eyesight to the way we approach life -- which is a reflection of our past experience in its entirety. But I'm not thinking about any of that stuff when I'm training - not thinking about being a woman, or why I think this way or that. When I train I'm just me, reacting to my environment to the best of my ability.

Would it be nice if there were other women in my dojo? Yes, of course. But I also think it would be nice if there were more men. I often consider how people come to Aikido as opposed to other MA's, and figure that there are a myriad of reasons, hopefully with a nice ‘bell curve middle' of similarity. No where in my reasons will you find ‘Cause I'm a girl.' Deciding to train is just that - a decision - and I think if it's something important to you - you will find your way to a dojo and have at it.

Please know I am not in any way discounting anyone's struggles with fear. What I'm doing a rather bad job of saying is… that I think it's more important to focus on ourselves as individuals involved in a common endeavor, regardless of differentiating factors that might not only cloud our reasons for training, but tend to form ‘factions'. Some men, some women, all Aikidoka.

I think often, on and off the mat, of O'Sensei saying ‘Aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting yourself.' And that is the crux of the matter for me…..and what I find myself thinking of, no matter who my partner is.

(Don't know if any of that will make any sense to anyone but me...I hate when that happens, <g>)

Carrie

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 03:54 PM
Who in their right mind wants ANYTHING to do with commercial sports? The ones who are making many millions of dollars at it? You classist rogue, you. ;)

Mike

Kent Enfield
03-04-2005, 04:04 PM
O-Sensei had one close female deshi in the thirties when many of the Aikido greats were training (Kunigoshi, Takako). Whereas, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki etc. ended up as Aikido teachers and were the Founders of their own styles of Aikido, she ended up as a teacher of flower arrangement, I believe.Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 04:05 PM
Mike - As a side issue, I could introduce your friend to a couple native Japanese instructors who actually prefer training the foreigners because they are so dedicated to have flown all the way to Japan and live there out of their desire to learn budo. Oh, I agree... I said I thought he was painting with too broad a brush. Still, I take his meaning in general. Both Taiji and Aikido can be a bit wearing with the high-percentage of wannabelieves. Check out this clip of pseudo-taichi'ers if you want to feel a little better about what goes on in Aikido:

http://www.roxburytaichiacademy.com/video/Kenetic%20bb.wmv

;)

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 04:08 PM
I think often, on and off the mat, of O'Sensei saying ‘Aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting yourself.' Bingo. Perfect, Carrie.

Mike

giriasis
03-04-2005, 06:21 PM
Wow, a lot has been posted since I was last here,and I'm really glad to see a much more thoughtful discussion going on. It was really a flame fest there at first.

Chris,

A while back you asked me a question regarding the apparent disparity of instructors at the AikiExpo. To answer the question you have to look at Mr. Pranin intent selecting his instructors. Mr. Pranin responded and stated that he invited those instructors that he could and some due to time contsraints and political ones could not be available. Thus, I don't believe that there is any malice on his part. But we still have to look at where this disparity comes from, and as many already pointed out it has more to do with the actual number of women in aikido than anything else. Since, there is no actual discrimination on Mr. Pranin's part, no, he should not be required to meet certain quotas (like some institutions must as a result of a pattern and practice of discrimination).

To others, that keep insisting gender isn't an issue. It think the more thoughtful discusion for AND against such a proposition shows that it IS an issue. Now, the question really is, "how much of an issue is gender for women." For me, it is only one factor among many that affects my training. For others, it will be a hugh issue especially if they have been victimes of assault/ battery (sexual or otherwise). Just getting on the mat with other men can be really hard. Many victims of sexual assault don't even like to be touched. So given this, training with men will be very difficult. For others it will play a role, but won't be dominant. For me, it has been really helpful to have a higher ranked woman on the mat. For me, that's Penny Bernath, who's a 5th dan and well respected within our organization. We also have other dan ranked women in the dojo, and when I first started training in the dojo, just seeing them there, training and training at higher levels was enought to me to see and to realize that I can do the hard stuff.

Also, for me and from what I noticed for the other women in the dojo, it's really important to have men in the dojo who really don't treat you like a potential date, just a "flower" or "weeping willow", or that you'll never "get it". It's great to train with these guys because they really take the effort to help you learn to do the technique to them and they get thrilled to see you throw them down, and down hard. They're not patronizing and don't really treat you different other than that you might have sucky ukemi, but not because you're a woman.

But sometimes crappy things even happen in the best dojos. While practicing kokyudosa some idiot decided to grab my breasts as if they were a play thing. He promptly had my fist in his face as a result. Right after class, the first person told was the senior ranking WOMAN on the mat, who then told me to tell our sensei -- who took care of the problem, btw.

When I said women need "support", what I meant was that then need someone to talk to if something happens, and it doesn't have to be something so obviously wrong as the above incident. It means not dismissing her question (a great example of dismissing someone's concern is illustrated by many of the initial responders in this thread), but addressing it. It also means you keep the guy locker room talk in the locker room. It also means, just being there and training with her, instead of training with the next guy on the mat. Helping her learn to throw you...just being a decent training partner.

Finally, when I asked "where's George" I wasn't calling on a man to come defend me, but sometimes their words, with the same words can dispel hostitily...and IT DID. Remember what I said before Emily..."only Nixon, can go to China."

As to those calling on me to do something...oh, I have been. I just don't have to tell YOU about it. I'm all about action, too. There's a lot I'm doing to help other women. A woman who steps into a dojo, is already taking a hugh step because they are stepping out of cultural norms and stepping into a new world. It is culturally acceptable to "do Tae Bo" but not necessarily so to do a rough and tumble martial art. It can be darn scary just to start aikido, whichever gender, but to step into a dojo, with all men CAN BE rather daunting for some women. So, yeah, it's really nice to see that there are high level women instructors out there, and some women are not as fortunate as I am to have one in their own dojo.

Mike Sigman
03-04-2005, 06:49 PM
Wow, a lot has been posted since I was last here,and I'm really glad to see a much more thoughtful discussion going on. It was really a flame fest there at first. I just looked back.... I didn't see a "flame fest". Can you point out where there was a flame fest versus a discussion with different people expressing different views than your own? Since, there is no actual discrimination on Mr. Pranin's part, no, he should not be required to meet certain quotas (like some institutions must as a result of a pattern and practice of discrimination). I must have missed this one. I wasn't aware that some institutions were forced to meet quotas. Can you point me to which ones? Thanks. To others, that keep insisting gender isn't an issue. It think the more thoughtful discusion for AND against such a proposition shows that it IS an issue. Now, the question really is, "how much of an issue is gender for women." For me, it is only one factor among many that affects my training. For others, it will be a hugh issue especially if they have been victimes of assault/ battery (sexual or otherwise). Just getting on the mat with other men can be really hard. Many victims of sexual assault don't even like to be touched. So given this, training with men will be very difficult. For others it will play a role, but won't be dominant. For me, it has been really helpful to have a higher ranked woman on the mat. For me, that's Penny Bernath, who's a 5th dan and well respected within our organization. Say hi to Penny for me. I trained with her when we were both starting out in the mid-70's. Aside from that, I hope there's a focus on Aikido in your dojo and not a lot of tangents like "sexual awareness"... the conversation in the thread is really at the point where O-Sensei's admonition to worry about changing yourself and not changing others has been made. Do you think men should be trained at the dojo to be more aware of women's special needs? But sometimes crappy things even happen in the best dojos. Granted, they do. Sometimes they're started by men and sometimes it's women doing the trouble-making, flirting, etc. Hopefully we needn't get into a lengthy discussion cataloguing evils done by either side. ;)
When I said women need "support", what I meant was that then need someone to talk to if something happens, and it doesn't have to be something so obviously wrong as the above incident. It means not dismissing her question (a great example of dismissing someone's concern is illustrated by many of the initial responders in this thread), but addressing it. That's a rather gratuitous mischaracterization of the people who don't take your view of the issue, isn't it? Finally, when I asked "where's George" I wasn't calling on a man to come defend me, but sometimes their words, with the same words can dispel hostitily...and IT DID. Remember what I said before Emily..."only Nixon, can go to China." What "hostility" are you talking about exactly?As to those calling on me to do something...oh, I have been. I just don't have to tell YOU about it. I'm all about action, too. (snipsky) It is culturally acceptable to "do Tae Bo" but not necessarily so to do a rough and tumble martial art. You do a "rough and tumble martial art"? Do you consider Aikido a "rough and tumble" martial art, seriously?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

ruthmc
03-05-2005, 03:41 AM
IMHO, while Aikido is available for everyone, it is not for everyone because they choose not to participate. That is their choice and I need to accept it.
So, in order to learn Aikido, one has to participate.

In order to participate, the dojo has to accept the student and the members of the dojo have to be willing to train with that student.

When this doesn't happen, due to the fact that some men (and even some women!) will not train with a student because she's female, is it really that student's choice that she cannot participate?

In my experience, participation has not always been solely my choice, so I don't agree that Aikido is available for everyone - although it certainly ought to be!

Ruth (also enjoying this discussion :) )

George S. Ledyard
03-05-2005, 05:13 AM
Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?

Please... I am not "dissing" any other arts here. Just making a point. If you know anything about how the Japanese cultural expectations work you know that there are areas in which women are expected to participate and areas where they're not. Very much the way it was not long ago here when women were encouraged o be teachers but were actively discouraged from attending medical school.

As for how many of the deshi don't become Aikido teachers... these days it would be hard to say because there are so many of them but in those days, the number of close deshi was very small and most of them became prominent teachers and / or founders of their own styles. This wasn't just any student, she was part of the inner circle of serious students who acted as "companions" when O-Sensei travelled, etc. She was also the one who did the line drawings for O-Sensei's book on Aiki Budo.

It's not like I am making this up... I've read just about everything in English on Aikido and if you look at the published information about the history of the art it's just a boys club. Yet if you dig a bit deeper you find that there were a number of teachers whose wives trained as well and these women were instrumental in running things around the dojo and supporting the younger uchi deshi etc. You will find occasional references to how important these women were in supporting their dojos in the myriad interviews of prominent Senseis done by Stan Pranin over the years. Every once in a while you get one of the teachers talking about how the wives of their teachers took such good care of them when they were just young uchi deshi.
But there is never any mention of them as Aikidoka even though many of them trained seriously.

Anyway, there are plenty of dojos in the west where things are much the same. Men and women may be training together but if you look at who is at the top of the heap rank-wise it's a small group of senior men. You'll find a number of women there, who have the same number of years on the mat, who often are running virtually every aspect of dojo operations including teaching classes, but who are a dan rank back from the top men.

As I stated before, I think things are far better in this regard in the states than many other places. There are a good number of very senior women who are attaining top rank and teaching, not just in their own dojos, but on the seminar circuit where they can influence a very wide group of people. It is these role models who are vitally important for the next generation of female instructors coming along. It is also through their influence that many males will not view Aikido as just the "boys club". In my own case I have trained from the very start of my Aikido career with some incredible women. Raso Hultgren Sensei (Missoula Aikikai) was one of my first instructors along with Megan Reisel and Sarah Bluestone (three of the five yudansha who moved to Washington, DC to help Saotome Sensei open his dojo there were women). Patty Saotome Sensei and I have been going toe to toe on the mat for going on thirty years. I spent over five years training at Mary Heiny's dojo in Seattle. I've been classmates with Linda Holiday Sensei, Joanne Veneziano Sensei, Kimberly Richardson Sensei every one of whom has her own school. So I think my own training has been uniquely affected by powerful Aikido women. It is from them and my own students and friends that I have taken my awareness of some of the issues facing women who train seriously in Aikido. Despite some comments to the contrary, I didn't concoct the issues I've written about women in Aikido out of thin air.

Mike Sigman
03-05-2005, 09:58 AM
Anyway, there are plenty of dojos in the west where things are much the same. Men and women may be training together but if you look at who is at the top of the heap rank-wise it's a small group of senior men. You'll find a number of women there, who have the same number of years on the mat, who often are running virtually every aspect of dojo operations including teaching classes, but who are a dan rank back from the top men. Well, let's be fair and take a look at the problem. In most dojo's anywhere in the world, a "small group of senior men" are on top of the heap AND they're the best and most experienced teachers in the dojo who are most qualified to be in upper positions. I.e., if you're looking for something wrong with a "small group of senior men" being in charge, you need to acknowledge that there's usually something justified and logical about the occurrence, as well. [BTW, I'm not so naive that I don't also recognize the strong "herd bull" mentality I've seen in some male-dominated dojo's...it poisons the atmosphere and I avoid those dojo's and the women who galdly play along it] Another point to note is that pound for pound, there's probably more women in positions of power in Aikido dojo's than in dojo's of any other martial art in the West. Again, that has a good side and a bad side.

In a way, I feel like you're pointing at a problem that's been allowed to develop.... i.e., "assorted dojo politics".... and you're saying, "we have a problem that we need to deal with by using politics". I know many, many people that have left Aikido because of dojo politics. My suggestion, once again, is that every effort be made to get away from politics and favor good, honest martial arts over any perceived societal worries. Politics and political correctness don't belong in a dojo and they are the bane of today's Aikido.

A good, effective martial art and a good teacher usually develops a good school that draws good students. A poor martial art, mediocre teacher, etc., loses the good students over time and leaves the mediocre ones.... it works like a filter. After a while, a school or martial art with preponderantly mediocre (or New Age) people gets way off track and becomes involved in side issues that are more important to the dojo than honest and demonstrable martial arts. The surest sign of this happening is when too many of the people in a school or style are convinced they are doing "The Real Thing" (tm) while everyone outside the school or style is snickering. Look at that video clip of totally bogus Taiji that I posted.... that sort of stuff only develops in a style where everyone is kidding each other about "spirituality", "One with the Universe", etc., and the majority of "insiders" are going along with it, not daring to comment on the absurdity. Doing politically acceptable BS is an excuse for not really doing a martial art.

Insofar as women in dojo's who are "running virtually every aspect of dojo operations", let me say that Aikido is indeed famous for the number of dojo's that are run by "dojo momma's". In some cases, these people are saints and they deserve all the gratitude in the world. But in too many other cases, "dojo momma's" are setting a very political tone and can help poison the atmosphere in a dojo. Once I learned how dojo momma's actually ran dojo's, I began to spot them and deliberately avoid them when I visited dojo's away from home.... I just wanted to practice martial arts and not be forced to undergo a political indoctrination as part of the process.

Notice that a couple of times the discussion in this thread was attempted to be limited by applying the terms "hostile", "flame fest", etc..... those are deliberate control techniques and the very fact that they're used in an attempt to limit a public discussion shows you that the writers think it's acceptable to do so within their Aikido dojo community, so why not do it in a public discussion. Would I visit the dojo's of some of the writers of these controlling remarks? No. I do martial arts, not social visitation.

All that being said, I stand on the position that humans, the world, society, etc., are complex issues that we can't fix in the dojo while we're really learning the art.... so let's leave all the baggage at the door. And maybe get rid of some of the baggage that has been allowed to be brought in. Just my opinion, FWIW.

Regards,

Mike (donning his Nomex Keiko Gi) Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-05-2005, 10:42 AM
There are a good number of very senior women who are attaining top rank and teaching, not just in their own dojos, but on the seminar circuit where they can influence a very wide group of people. It is these role models who are vitally important for the next generation of female instructors coming along. It is also through their influence that many males will not view Aikido as just the "boys club". In my own case I have trained from the very start of my Aikido career with some incredible women. Raso Hultgren Sensei (Missoula Aikikai) was one of my first instructors along with Megan Reisel and Sarah Bluestone (three of the five yudansha who moved to Washington, DC to help Saotome Sensei open his dojo there were women). Patty Saotome Sensei and I have been going toe to toe on the mat for going on thirty years. I spent over five years training at Mary Heiny's dojo in Seattle. I've been classmates with Linda Holiday Sensei, Joanne Veneziano Sensei, Kimberly Richardson Sensei every one of whom has her own school. So I think my own training has been uniquely affected by powerful Aikido women. Reading the above, I was struck by the usual sense of "lost without a handhold" I get in some of these female-oriented discussions. Let me use the example of white-water kayaking (which I've done longer than I've done Aikido or any other single martial art). There are women that compete in white-water competitions and some of them can kick my butt because they're skilled and they practice daily, etc., etc. However, there are a lot of women kayakers who are "good in comparison to most women but middle-of-the-road in comparison to most men in a given river town". When we get to holding competitions that involve the mediocre women and the announcers are proclaiming how great are their skills, etc., I start feeling queasy. There's an artificialness and dishonesty about publicly stating something that most of us in the kayak community know isn't true and it somehow soils (some of us, not all) our reputation and love of the sport to have this sort of BS go on.... even though "it's for a good cause, championing women". Worse yet, there is something really wrong about recognizing a medium level of skills for one gender while ignoring the same skills in another group of earnest practitioners. It's called gender bias.

I know or have seen some of the "incredible women" you just named, George. Some of them are pretty good. Some of them are given more press than equally-skilled men because they are women and there again seems to be that idea of "it's OK if we distort the truth a little bit since it's for a good cause." Hey..... if it's a man or a woman that's got something I can learn, I'm for 'em. If Aikido is going to become a vehicle for over-hyping women because "it's the right thing to do", I'm going to start feeling queasy. Let's recognize the really good women and start having them at Aiki Expo's and let's encourage everyone to do and be the best they can. But let's leave all the street shoes at the entrance to the dojo, eh? ;)

FWIW

Mike Sigman

E.D. Gordon
03-05-2005, 02:18 PM
Men used to be the ones that worked themselves into an early grave supporting women and children.

Women do it too, now.. Yay. :(


I.e., we can state these social issues so that one side looks "bad" and the other "victimized" if we choose our phraseology, can't we?


Yep. Got my point nicely.


Honestly, Emily, O-Sensei didn't give a rip about gender parity in Aikido. I don't know of a single martial art whose founder did worry about gender parity.


I know. I've read Draeger, Stevens, Amdur, Saotome, Mol, et cetera ad nauseam. (Wasn't there for the hydrogen splitting. Came in after the hydrogen had been split up... )

A non-issue. I'm actually fine with it being a non-issue.. *sigh*
No, really.. it's supposed to be my point, but I'm not doing a great job of getting that across, obviously.

I started out in my aikido training seeking a certain female teacher I had met, a really promising sensei. I wanted to return to aikido after a hiatus, and went looking for her. When I got to the dojo, I found out on my first day that she was six months dead, of breast cancer. I spent my first class blinking back tears, and renegotiating my committment to training.
I remember the point in my training where I "settled for men". It's in my journal.
The women's dojo in town did a style of karate that killed my wonky knees, so they weren't an option.
Thus the title of my paper, half in jest, "Putting up with Men".
I came to love my male teachers (or hate them, as the moment required) and make a further iteration of my understanding that people are just people.
I, too, have survived abuse. I had to go through my black fear and rage and resentment. It took a while before I was really safe to train with, if someone scared me.. I was really a little crazy... I kept a tight leash on that monster, but my training was what taught me to ride it.

I would be egotistical to imply that abuse made me special. It happens far too often, too subtly, to be exceptional. To too many people. I think that it is what draws many to the martial arts, and that the best case scenario is that they regain their own power enough to grant it back to others, even at risk of harm to themselves. It can be beautiful, but it is terrifying to even begin.

I'm not suggesting that training is a replacement for psychotherapy, I got that too. It just helped me in a very kinesthetic way, to learn to walk directly into my fear, and look behind me.
I could not have done it without the men who got me there.


It's like trombone playing... just do it. ;) Is this a challenge to combat?????? :D Just out of curiosity, what do you suggest for "support", Emily? Before you stated that you were an "egalitarian". So am I. I hope you're not suggesting that "we should treat women exactly like men, only a little better". ;)


:yuck: (for trombones too! ;) )
Support for the art, whateveritis, by training.
Teachers supporting the art by, perhaps, developing better filters for applicants. Willingness to begin lower down the scale. More and more, men have no physical skills, but in recent history, women were the ones relegated to chairs for tasks, instead of fields. With many exceptions.

A lot of what we see as a "lack" of women in budo, is in fact, a result (symptom?) of social attitudes and issues. Our dojo has been 70-30 on occasion, more women. But mostly, I'm like Tigger.. I'm the only one.

I know, I know, I never bought the social crap.. but I grew up in a society which permitted me to survive, without buying it. Previous generations did not have that luxury, particularly the non-rich.

Someone mentioned aikido as a "rough and tumble" martial art. Well, comparatively, mostly, not really. Some styles truly are, and some in a good way, and some not. I rather like aikido's elegance and the ability to, if not transcend violence, at least keep it focussed on both personal interaction and the greater good.

My personal theory is that aikido is a "gateway drug" to the world of martial arts, and thus I don't mind if it has a genteel face. It has a good heart to back that up.

What martial art has more women in it than aikido?
It would be an interesting thing to look at.
(if you count Tae Bo, I will be sick at you.. )

MLE
(single combat: bubble guns at 10 paces.. ;) )
ps: I skied today, and didn't even fall down once! Yay!!

E.D. Gordon
03-05-2005, 02:21 PM
Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?

If we ever end up living in Japan, I really want to learn ikebana.

MLE
(whose sumi-e teacher told her, "maybe you should just do birds!"

E.D. Gordon
03-05-2005, 02:51 PM
Greetings!
If you want to conduct an interesting experiment, try this. Post a message with the following title: "How I would organize an Aiki Expo." Go ahead and provide as much detail as you can. Where would you hold your Expo? At what time of year will it take place? How many instructors would you invite (don't forget to provide a list of names!)? How much admission will you charge? What will be the theme of your event?


As the primary organizer of the 3rd somewhat annual (was it the 3rd??) Aikido-L Seminar, my motto is still: Never Again.
I had organized little things here and there, but that was insane. Fortunately all I had to to was wave a hand, and angels appeared to do my bidding ;-D . ORGANIZING them was the trick.

Planning a wedding at the same time was probably extra credit stupid, but it was fun and perfect.


P.S. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you all to attend Aiki Expo 2005 to be held May 27-29 in LA!

I've wanted to go every year.
One of these years, I will. Having moved to Germany kind of complicates things.

Hang in there Stan. I hope you have great help, and that your name goes down in the Guinness book of World Records as, perhaps, least appreciated budo historian? Should go somewhere next to the thankless job of Aikiweb maintainer and creator..

I guess the question is, how many instructors do you ask, and how many show? Of these, how many are female?

Other seminar planners? As members of the Aikido-L seminar planning committee for several years, I asked, as did Janet and others, for female instructors, nominated them, were seconded by all and sundry, only to be told they couldn't make it. It wasn't for lack of trying.

MLE

E.D. Gordon
03-05-2005, 03:11 PM
Politics and political correctness don't belong in a dojo and they are the bane of today's Aikido.


I recently found myself in the position of introducing someone I really like and respect to the world of Aikido.
It was a real challenge to try to illuminate the politics and the possibilities of the art.
Fortunately, Rolfers have politix too, and I could make analogies.

The surest sign of this happening is when too many of the people in a school or style are convinced they are doing "The Real Thing"

AAAACK! Run Away! Run Away!!


Doing politically acceptable BS is an excuse for not really doing a martial art.


I just couldn't delete that last line. I liked it too much.

MLE

Mike Sigman
03-05-2005, 03:33 PM
I remember the point in my training where I "settled for men". It's in my journal. Your standards are lower than mine. I only tolerate real experts. ;) I, too, have survived abuse. I had to go through my black fear and rage and resentment. It took a while before I was really safe to train with, if someone scared me.. I was really a little crazy... I kept a tight leash on that monster, but my training was what taught me to ride it. There's a part of me that rejects these comments on abuse because I realize what my berserker part does when provoked to an emotional response. Comments on personal abuse play to those emotions, Emily. It's wrong, abuse, but the more detached part of me also recognizes that without the sex drive being so strong, the species would have difficulty surviving in extreme cases. I.e., no matter what laws we pass and how much we try to make everyone sympathetic, rape and abuse is going to happen simply because we are human animals. Period. Not that I wouldn't maim or kill someone I caught abusing a woman. I'm not suggesting that training is a replacement for psychotherapy, ... (snip) Why don't we be totally honest and admit that for a LOT of people, Aikido and various "martial arts" are indeed psychotherapy, Emily? If we don't recognize that, we are deluding ourselves.A lot of what we see as a "lack" of women in budo, is in fact, a result (symptom?) of social attitudes and issues. (snipsky) .. Actually, if you go look in a singles bar for the proportion of men to women, you'll probably realize that the breeding urge, not society, is what drives the issue. If you go look in your local bookstore for the section on Women, "How to Attract Men", "Baby Journal", Cosmopolitan, "Women's Issues" and so on, you'll realize that the breeding urge still exerts its strong hand. The sex drive is second only to the survival urge, Emily... let's give it its due and not blame everything on nasty ole "society" and "Men". ;) My personal theory is that aikido is a "gateway drug" to the world of martial arts, and thus I don't mind if it has a genteel face. It has a good heart to back that up. I absolutely agree. (single combat: bubble guns at 10 paces.. ;) )
ps: I skied today, and didn't even fall down once! Yay!! I live in Colorado, Emily. I'm typing from 9,500 feet in my Silveton house... skiing is like breathing to me. ;)

FWIW

Mike

giriasis
03-05-2005, 05:52 PM
I just looked back.... I didn't see a "flame fest". Can you point out where there was a flame fest versus a discussion with different people expressing different views than your own?

Start with Page One and Read...Most of the initial responders just jumped down Mary's back for her questions, they started with "why not start your own aikido expo" to your "what does gender have to do with aikido" and it degraded on down to there. It wasn't just one response, but the volume of them. If you read further, I noticed that Mary attempted to defend herself, but deleted them out of frustration. Obviously she got fed up and left. Actually, I know she did. And she has since thanked me for speaking up. No one was calling her names like in a true flame war, but the posts responding to hers very much dismissed her questions, skipping any real dialog. No one took the effort to understand her perspective, her view or reasoning for asking what she did. Rather they all just jumped to conclusions--mainly that she was out to bash Stanley Pranin and the AikiExpo. In fact, she was attempting to create a dialog about gender disparity in aikido.

Here's an example from one your posts:

"This better? I only meant to be friendly, not get my ass chewed because of your personal mine-field of beliefs."

Yes, I find such comments "hostile", then the conversation on Page 2 following Szecepan's typically absurd "troll-like" statements.

I must have missed this one. Yep.

I wasn't aware that some institutions were forced to meet quotas. Can you point me to which ones? Thanks. I wish I could point you to the specific case cites of U.S. cases on employment discrimination. They do exist and I'm not pulling them from out of thin air. Basically, the law directs courts to allow for actual recruitment of say women or minorities (which ever group that was being discriminated agains) if a pattern and practice of discrimination has been proven in court. The institution (governent office, business affecting commerce) is required to hire "x" many persons of the specific category to make up for past wrongs. It's a legal doctrine. I don't have time to teach you employment discrimination law. Yes, I'm an attorney.

Say hi to Penny for me. I trained with her when we were both starting out in the mid-70's. Aside from that, I hope there's a focus on Aikido in your dojo and not a lot of tangents like "sexual awareness"... Florida Aikikai is hardly known for being "lovely dovey" or new agey. Penny's classes would torture most who are not used to dynamic physical training. Peter's class are all about training hard, too. So are the other instructors, no "indoctrination" to worry about. However, we do have a strong female presence in the dojo and no one is forced into "sexual awareness" tangents. They just have to train with Penny, Leida, Janet, Gerry, Me, or any of the other women in the dojo, we definently make our presence known. And it's not by "flirting on the mat". What's not acceptable in our dojo is overt sexual come-on like groping a woman's breasts (or a man's penis for that manner, although I'm not aware of such a problem in the dojo). What is a key principle espoused by Peter is that you train at your uke's level of skill, that you train with everyone no matter the rank.

the conversation in the thread is really at the point where O-Sensei's admonition to worry about changing yourself and not changing others has been made. I'm not forcing my view on you, I'm just asking you to consider them...hopefully so you can learn something from my perspective as a woman in aikido so you can learn that sometimes things are not always as good for us as you might think it is.

Do you think men should be trained at the dojo to be more aware of women's special needs? Granted, they do. I think men just need to be more aware that they should treat women with respect. Treating someone with respect is not treating someone with "special needs". I'm not disabled -- mentally or physically. I'm just a different gender and sometimes male hormones have a way of getting in the way of my training. Sometimes they're started by men and sometimes it's women doing the trouble-making, flirting, etc. Hopefully we needn't get into a lengthy discussion cataloguing evils done by either side. ;) Actually, I do not believe in creating a matriarchal paradigm to counteract the evils of the patriarchal paradigm of Western society because the resultant effect with bring about another set of problems. I'm about people interacting and working together with decency and respect as we, each as individuals, make up society and through acting with decency, respect, and, gasp, tolerance towards one another, society will grow and improve. "Society" is not evil in my book. Dysfunctional perhaps, but not evil. That's a rather gratuitous mischaracterization of the people who don't take your view of the issue, isn't it? Jumping to conclusions there aren't you? You're assuming I take an "us v. them" paradign. I don't, it's "us and them". Or rather just "us." We're in this together, men and women, but I think some men forget that there are women, too.

What "hostility" are you talking about exactly? Um...hostility doesn't have to be foul language or name calling...but rather...a condescending tone. Hostility is jumping to conclusions and assuming the initial poster doesn't know what they are talking about, it's not taking the time to understand that person. And when that person shares her (or even his) experiences, they are told they are not relevant to the practice of aikido.

You Do a "rough and tumble martial art"? Have you ever trained at Florida Aikikai? Quite a few in my dojo profess to put the "harm back in harmony". And, don't make the mistake of calling Penny a "flower" either. We do tumble around a lot, at least half the class, it's call U-K-E-M-I, and taking hard breakfalls is pretty darn rough to me so are some of my training partners. They don't let me get away with anything, and they help me throw their 6'2", 220 pound bodies to the mat.

Do you consider Aikido a "rough and tumble" martial art, seriously? Aikido is that easy for you? Do you just sit in class and meditate? Do you not take ukemi? seriously? You tap out early and not sweat? Seriously? Sounds like you train differently at your dojo. Not everyone has the same experience you know.

Notice that a couple of times the discussion in this thread was attempted to be limited by applying the terms "hostile", "flame fest", etc..... those are deliberate control techniques and the very fact that they're used in an attempt to limit a public discussion shows you that the writers think it's acceptable to do so within their Aikido dojo community, so why not do it in a public discussion. Would I visit the dojo's of some of the writers of these controlling remarks? No. I do martial arts, not social visitation.

Actually, if you go back and read my posts you'll realize I qualified my posts. I'm very careful not to speak in absolutes. Also, I was attempting to complement the later posts for actually having a positive and constructive dialog. Posts such as "well, why don't you start your own AikiExpo" or "what about other minorities" or "what does gender have to do with aikido" were not constructive. Sure you can say what you want, but so can I, thus is the nature of the internet. I never said you couldn't post, but I will speak up with I think someone is inappropriately being attacked.

Also, why do you jump to such conclusions that I'm trying to limit "public discussion" I'm not a moderator on this board, and I can't stop you from posting anything. I don't even run my own dojo so I can't limit what is spoken there, either. I'm just pointing out that, yes, you and others, were being insensitive to a member of this board and such insensitivity is an example of how some women are treated in some dojos. I hope you don't really treat women like this in your dojo. I certainly wouldn't train there if you do.

The only kind of action controlled in my dojo is overt acts like groping of breasts. Is that really acceptable in your dojo? Are you saying that such things should not be prohibited? Are you saying that a female student should not feel free to talk to her sensei about any potential problems on the mat? I really, really hope not. Because that is all I'm advocating--that a woman should feel free to train in a dojo without the threat of overt sexual advances and should feel free to discuss any potential problems with her sensei. I'm also advocating that if a women in your dojo comes to you and says, "I think I have a problem with Mr. X " that you hear her out, try and come to an understanding to the situation, and help her to resolve it if she can do so on her own and step in if needed to as her sensei. That's all...and that's not a lot. That's not restricting your free speech. That is what I call treating someone with basic diginity and respect.

And all we do in my dojo is Aikido. The social visitation just happens afterwards.

mj
03-05-2005, 06:07 PM
.I have been with my partner (she tells me) nigh on 20 years....so compromise is my natural reaction.

Kent Enfield
03-05-2005, 07:06 PM
Please... I am not "dissing" any other arts here. Just making a point.And I completely failed to make mine: that a single example isn't enough to draw a conclusion from. Without knowing why she didn't become an aikido instructor, the single example isn't evidence of sexism (which I have no trouble believing).

Mike Sigman
03-05-2005, 07:10 PM
Start with Page One and Read...Most of the initial responders just jumped down Mary's back for her questions, they started with "why not start your own aikido expo" to your "what does gender have to do with aikido" and it degraded on down to there. It wasn't just one response, but the volume of them. If you read further, I noticed that Mary attempted to defend herself, but deleted them out of frustration. Obviously she got fed up and left. Actually, I know she did. And she has since thanked me for speaking up. No one was calling her names like in a true flame war, but the posts responding to hers very much dismissed her questions, skipping any real dialog. No one took the effort to understand her perspective, her view or reasoning for asking what she did. Rather they all just jumped to conclusions--mainly that she was out to bash Stanley Pranin and the AikiExpo. In fact, she was attempting to create a dialog about gender disparity in aikido. Hmmmmmm. I don't think you did Mary a favor by mentioning her bailing out. Mary started a dialogue and she got various ideas in reply; none of them were particularly harsh and most of all none of them were personal attacks directed at her. People reacted to her idea. Some agreed and some disagreed. You appear to to want to take disagreement with Mary's or your ideas as some sort of personal attack... or at least to portray it as such.(snip some subjective and histrionic calls about what is "hostile") I wish I could point you to the specific case cites of U.S. cases on employment discrimination. They do exist and I'm not pulling them from out of thin air. Basically, the law directs courts to allow for actual recruitment of say women or minorities (which ever group that was being discriminated agains) if a pattern and practice of discrimination has been proven in court. The institution (governent office, business affecting commerce) is required to hire "x" many persons of the specific category to make up for past wrongs. It's a legal doctrine. I don't have time to teach you employment discrimination law. Yes, I'm an attorney. So show me in case law the quotas you asserted. There are no required quotas that I know of. (snip widely scattered remarks). Have you ever trained at Florida Aikikai? Quite a few in my dojo profess to put the "harm back in harmony". And, don't make the mistake of calling Penny a "flower" either. We do tumble around a lot, at least half the class, it's call U-K-E-M-I, and taking hard breakfalls is pretty darn rough to me so are some of my training partners. They don't let me get away with anything, and they help me throw their 6'2", 220 pound bodies to the mat.

Aikido is that easy for you? Do you just sit in class and meditate? Do you not take ukemi? seriously? You tap out early and not sweat? Seriously? Sounds like you train differently at your dojo. Not everyone has the same experience you know. Is it necessary for you to speculate out loud about me personally? I'm sure that if I came to your dojo and offered you my wrist you would work it out vigorously and try to cause me pain if I didn't cooperate. Sweat beads my brow with just the thought of the agony! How's that? Have you ever been "rough and tumble" enough to be in a real fight, though? ;) Sure you can say what you want, but so can I, thus is the nature of the internet. I never said you couldn't post, but I will speak up with I think someone is inappropriately being attacked. Fine. We're in agreement. My point was that wailing "hostile" if you're really understanding of what a dialogue is seems contradictory. Perhaps if you simply counter someone's point, as in friendly debate? :) I'm just pointing out that, yes, you and others, were being insensitive to a member of this board and such insensitivity is an example of how some women are treated in some dojos. I hope you don't really treat women like this in your dojo. I certainly wouldn't train there if you do. Please... you're being insensitive and I don't know whether to vomit or to faint. Wait... someone else already said that. ;) You probably wouldn't like to train with me, Anne Marie.... sadly, I'm not very much into cooperative martial training, but I tend to be friendly and I'll give you the first Tsuki. :cool: The only kind of action controlled in my dojo is overt acts like groping of breasts. Is that really acceptable in your dojo? Are you saying that such things should not be prohibited? Are you saying that a female student should not feel free to talk to her sensei about any potential problems on the mat? I really, really hope not. It's pretty childish to pretend I said or implied anything of the sort. Regardless, the point is that people disagreeing with you or Mary are not "hostile" ... while your point MAY be the more valid, dragging it to the personal level when people disagree with you is unwarranted. But as you said, it's the internet and you get to see all kinds of characters and hear all sorts of views.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-05-2005, 08:08 PM
Well, I'm late to this party, and I'll forget about throwing my POV into the mix. I'll just ditto Carrie. But I do want to adress this...

I'm not disabled -- mentally or physically. I'm just a different gender and sometimes male hormones have a way of getting in the way of my training.

I consider all realistic elements - even male hormones - to be part of my training...

Lorien Lowe
03-06-2005, 02:35 AM
[QUOTE=Mike Sigman]Please... you're being insensitive and I don't know whether to vomit or to faint.... You probably wouldn't like to train with me, Anne Marie.... sadly, I'm not very much into cooperative martial training, but I tend to be friendly and I'll give you the first Tsuki.
(end quote)

The prosecution can rest.
This is exactly the condesending tone that people have been referring to, Mike. The only times you responded thoughtfully and politely was when you were responding to a man.

-LK

ruthmc
03-06-2005, 03:30 AM
There's a part of me that rejects these comments on abuse because I realize what my berserker part does when provoked to an emotional response. Comments on personal abuse play to those emotions, Emily. It's wrong, abuse, but the more detached part of me also recognizes that without the sex drive being so strong, the species would have difficulty surviving in extreme cases. I.e., no matter what laws we pass and how much we try to make everyone sympathetic, rape and abuse is going to happen simply because we are human animals. Period. Not that I wouldn't maim or kill someone I caught abusing a woman.
What exactly does the sex drive have to do with rape and abuse? Violent crimes are carried out because the perpetrator is acting out his rage in a damaging physical way.

Animals do not rape and abuse on the whole, as it is a profoundly unnatural thing to do. Female animals are instinctively driven to protect themselves and their offspring, and to mate to continue their line. Male animals compete with one another for the females, but the female still has to accept the male before mating takes place.

There is no excuse for the rape and abuse of females by males in human society. It is a twisted form of domination and cannot be 'excused' by claiming that it is some kind of natural sexual behaviour - it isn't! :grr:

I sincerely hope that this is not what you meant in your post, but I have responded as it sounded a lot like this was what you meant. Please feel free to clarify if I have misunderstood your opinion here.

Ruth

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 09:30 AM
What exactly does the sex drive have to do with rape and abuse? Violent crimes are carried out because the perpetrator is acting out his rage in a damaging physical way. Because rape is a sex act and castration seems to limit it drastically? Do we need to go off-topic like this? I think everyone spotted this as a "victim" thread at the start and everyone has pretty much tried to keep the responses fairly light-hearted and bland.
Animals do not rape and abuse on the whole, as it is a profoundly unnatural thing to do. Female animals are instinctively driven to protect themselves and their offspring, and to mate to continue their line. Male animals compete with one another for the females, but the female still has to accept the male before mating takes place.]

There is no excuse for the rape and abuse of females by males in human society. It is a twisted form of domination and cannot be 'excused' by claiming that it is some kind of natural sexual behaviour - it isn't! :grr: I don't want to play the victim game where you're allowed to be insulting and personal and anything I say will just be construed among the victims as further proof that they were right. Pass. If you want to examine personalities, think a minute about how this whole men versus women topic came up and look at the people supporting it. Notice that my stance has been that it doesn't belong in the martial arts. Notice the attempts to turn unsympathetic discussion into immediate character discussion. I assure you that if it were males pulling this sort of superficial baloney I would be much harsher and more direct, in case you're wondering why I won't play "screaming monkies" with you. ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 09:40 AM
[QUOTE=Mike Sigman]Please... you're being insensitive and I don't know whether to vomit or to faint.... You probably wouldn't like to train with me, Anne Marie.... sadly, I'm not very much into cooperative martial training, but I tend to be friendly and I'll give you the first Tsuki.
(end quote)

The prosecution can rest.
This is exactly the condesending tone that people have been referring to, Mike. The only times you responded thoughtfully and politely was when you were responding to a man. If I'd been responding to a man, I'd have been a lot less tolerant of the assumptive and insulting speculations about me, my character, and my martial arts. If you'll re-check it, I think you'll find that I'm polite to the polite and thoughtful and that I'll banter rather that retort in kind to insultingly personal remarks. If you have something to contribute to the discussion other than this one personal off-topic attack, why don't you do so?

At the moment, none of the people supporting the idea that there should be special consideration for women in Aikido or the martial arts has been able to come up with a logically compelling reason or a reason based on tradition in the martial arts to support their idea. Now it looks like the next tack is to take the "victim" idea a little further and, ignoring the fact that I responded to insult with only banter, attempt to start a side issue. Why are you doing this, if I may ask? You're acting exactly like a female caricature that you would object to. How about a journey back into the topic at hand?

Regards,

Mike Sigman

ruthmc
03-06-2005, 10:06 AM
Do we need to go off-topic like this
You're the person who introduced rape into the thread in the first place!

I don't want to play the victim game where you're allowed to be insulting and personal and anything I say will just be construed among the victims as further proof that they were right.
I wasn't being insulting and personal. I was merely asking if my interpretation of your opinion on this subject was correct, and exercising my right to disagree with you. If you see polite disagreement as insulting and personal, that's your problem buddy :D

I assure you that if it were males pulling this sort of superficial baloney I would be much harsher and more direct, in case you're wondering why I won't play "screaming monkies" with you. ;)
I don't understand a) what you mean by this or b) what it has to do with my post in response to yours?

<polite disagreement>
If you do believe that rape is a sex act, then I disagree with you completely. It is an act of aggressive violence. Castration removes the physical ability to carry out this act, but it does not remove the mindset that would permit a man to be violent towards a woman.
</polite disagreement>

Ruth

Chuck.Gordon
03-06-2005, 11:07 AM
Violent crimes are carried out because the perpetrator is acting out his rage in a damaging physical way.


Heya Ruth!

I have to disagree with you a bit in some aspects, though you're spot on in that statement. Rape and sexual abuse often have very little do do with sex. They're about power and domination (of an unwilling victim).


Animals do not rape and abuse on the whole, as it is a profoundly unnatural thing to do.


This often crops up as a sort of Conventional Wisdom, but from my understanding of behavioral studies, rape, bullying and other forms of sexual violence are far more common in the anumal world than we'd like to believe. We like to think that the animal world is pure and idyllic, but the fact is that most wild animals live short, brutal lives, full of pain and hunger and messy deaths.

, but the female still has to accept the male before mating takes place.


Again, this is sort of a CW view. Yes, in mamy cases this is the pattern, but not all, and certainly not enough for it to represent the wider reality of their lives.


There is no excuse for the rape and abuse of females by males in human society.


Agreed. Development of a code of ethical behavior, and enforcement of that code, is what separates us from animals, for the most part (although some recent studies are leading animal behaviorists to think that ethise are more widespread i the anuimal world than has been perceived before ... they're more like us than we think).


Chuck

mj
03-06-2005, 11:30 AM
If I'd been responding to a man, I'd have been a lot less tolerant You're acting exactly like a female caricature I think everyone spotted this as a "victim" thread at the start Have you ever been "rough and tumble" enough to be in a real fight, though?
It's borderline trolling and I am getting a bit sick of his know-it-all, sarcastic and in fact chauvinistic attitude which I can assure you is not representative of males in this thread or indeed AikiWeb in general.

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 12:08 PM
<polite disagreement>
If you do believe that rape is a sex act, then I disagree with you completely. It is an act of aggressive violence. Castration removes the physical ability to carry out this act, but it does not remove the mindset that would permit a man to be violent towards a woman.
Hmmmmm... this is a lot different than your first post with it's "Grrr" face, Ruth. Rape is a sex act by definition. SOME rapes are related to the "rage" and "domination" that you mention (so is feminism, BTW, in its worst cases), but not all rapes are the product of rage and domination, as its trendy to believe in certain circles. Think for instance of army troops invading or liberating a country. Often there is wholesale rape (monkies do this too, BTW) by the troops... it is not from "rage and domination", it is because they are males with a strong sex drive and they can get away with it. A lot of civil rape cases are the same thing, Ruth. To try to pigeonhole rape as purely "rage and domination" is superficial and inaccurate. Horny men (and women) are opportunistic, as well.

See? We can discuss this without mentioning personalities? :)

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 12:15 PM
It's borderline trolling and I am getting a bit sick of his know-it-all, sarcastic and in fact chauvinistic attitude which I can assure you is not representative of males in this thread or indeed AikiWeb in general. Jun? This is the third thread he's inserted this kind of junk in. How long should I tolerate it before I really respond? :cool:

Mike

Chuck.Gordon
03-06-2005, 12:24 PM
Finally, when I asked "where's George" I wasn't calling on a man to come defend me, but sometimes their words, with the same words can dispel hostitily...and IT DID. Remember what I said before Emily..."only Nixon, can go to China."


I'm sorry if I said anything which upset you, but you know it was not directed at you personally, and I'm not sure why you might have thought that it was.

Here is what I was going on about:
I am actually pretty torqued off that despite my continual attempts to discuss the disparities, inequalities, and treatment of women in aikido particularly, no one bothers to talk much about it unless someone like George L brings it up. I mean, WTF? Why is it ignored unless someone with status brings it up????

Now, George can't help his gender any more than I can, and he has hung around and survived and gotten his rank and I can only respect that. I'm glad he brought it up. Very happy.

For people like Pat Hendrix, Mary Heiny, Chikako Bryner, it obviously isn't an issue, or they wouldn't be doing what they are doing. Maybe it was, but things have changed.
It isn't an issue for me as an assistant instructor, and if it is an issue for a student, then they don't need to be in our dojo. My mantra about "not an issue" is a goal.

Additionally:
Taking things personally, or going anywhere near ad hominem level, is the end of intelligent and fruitful discussion.

So, let's go back to looking at solutions.
This is what I'm talking about, to quit dwelling on "this is unfair, and that is unfair", and dig up the root of the problem. I may have contributed to that, but it was a bad idea. I can change course.

It's not easy, to be a woman walking into a dojo. It's not easy to do something different. Even within that something different, people can be very subtly prejudiced and hurtful about the slightly different from that thing that someone else might do. I have experienced it in some very subtle and hurtful ways that I don't care to participate in any more. Fortunately, I have never really fit in, and have ceased to care. My trail is mine to blaze, and no one else's.

I propose that we..
Talk about the women who have influenced us and our training some more. Talk about how we as women learned to accept the idea that we could become powerful, and the world would not end.
Talk about how men and women can grow, from training together. I repaired some serious trust problems in myself, by learning to trust my male training partners.

The danger women can do to each other is far greater than anything a man can do. This is why Disney's Mulan pissed me off. No female references. All of her social validation came from males.

I have truly enjoyed the women I have trained with at The Dojo, and despite certain situational and social handicaps, we have supported each other regardless. No one who was accepted, left because they wanted to leave. More like moves and life changes and demands.

I have really had to change my preconceptions about how things are, and should be, to evolve and survive in budo. This is what we need to share, to help our sisters along. Our brothers, too.

To paraphrase Janet Rosen: we are just human beings in male or female bodies..

MLE
(on Chuck's account, for the moment)

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 12:24 PM
Development of a code of ethical behavior, and enforcement of that code, is what separates us from animals, for the most part (although some recent studies are leading animal behaviorists to think that ethise are more widespread i the anuimal world than has been perceived before ... they're more like us than we think). There's a good book called "The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence" by Michael P. Ghiglieri (he was a protege of Jane Goodall). Although some of the material is getting a bit dated, it's still the most comprehensive coverage of the spectrum of issues. The "rage and domination" stuff is actually about as passe' as the "testosterone poisoned" stuff we saw from the feminists for a while. Let's face it.... humankind is essentially driven by the same urges as any large primate, and opportunistic taking of what's not yours is typical in the animal world. Anyone who thinks man is far removed from animals hasn't been in combat or in the penal system. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 12:38 PM
To paraphrase Janet Rosen: we are just human beings in male or female bodies. Sadly, that's true, but I think a more apt comment is that we're all animals (basically monkies), whether male or female, under the skin. Although some aspects of socio-psychology were pushed to the bunkum limit, the basic science of socio-biology tends to hold pretty true. A lot of our actions, wants, needs, and desires are built-in artifacts of the basic human survival strategies. We can recognize this, though, and change what small percentage we can, through society outside of the dojo.

One of the things Aikido or other martial arts should teach you is to roll with the fall, get up, get ready for the next attack. Life isn't easy. Crying about a fall won't fix anything. ;)

FWIW

Mike

Chuck.Gordon
03-06-2005, 12:42 PM
The prosecution can rest.
This is exactly the condesending tone that people have been referring to, Mike. The only times you responded thoughtfully and politely was when you were responding to a man.
-LK

Trial by jury involves a selection process. It's not exactly a self nomination thing.

I don't really have a problem with Mike S, myself. He's stirring, but if you stir, and shtuff comes up, don't blame the stirrer. It just means there's some shtuff in the water.. which means you have to blame those swimming in it.

He's been picking on me, but it feels friendly, like a dojomate who has decided that I'm "worth it" testing what I've got. I am in no way offended, in fact, I am sort of flattered and amused.

There is a diff between malicious endangerment, and raising the bar. At this point, we're just at the latter, and more politely and tolerantly than others who have entered the fray, in terms of Mike Sigman.

Challenging questions are OK. If a concept cannot be challenged, and must be protected like a glass bubble, it's not much good in the real world. Something that can be kicked around, evolved and improved, is. It's called critical thinking, and while it's not exactly in vogue in the US any more, 49% of us still practice it.

No more ad hominem.
This isn't a presidential election, and this crowd is no idiot electorate.

We can actually talk about issues, here.

Otherwise, it's just another Passive Aggressive Grudgematch (TM).

MLE
(female, BTW, despite hubby's signature... )

Mike Sigman
03-06-2005, 12:59 PM
He's been picking on me, but it feels friendly, like a dojomate who has decided that I'm "worth it" testing what I've got. I am in no way offended, in fact, I am sort of flattered and amused.

There is a diff between malicious endangerment, and raising the bar. At this point, we're just at the latter, and more politely and tolerantly than others who have entered the fray, in terms of Mike Sigman. If people, including me, make assertive statements in public they should expect to have them challenged factually. When the only answer someone can make involves speculating about the other person's character, then it beomes a waste of time and insults everyone's intelligence, IMO. But you're right... I can see from your words immediately that you're a real person with a good heart and worth respect...not just some role-player. And yes, I'm using typical barracks humor (which is a little blunt for some people). Most of my comments should be read as casual "...but what about this part..." questions; I really don't get too emotionally involved in internet discussions. That would be losing my center. ;) We can actually talk about issues, here. Voila'! :)

Mike

giriasis
03-06-2005, 01:31 PM
It's borderline trolling and I am getting a bit sick of his know-it-all, sarcastic and in fact chauvinistic attitude which I can assure you is not representative of males in this thread or indeed AikiWeb in general.

Mark, thank you for speaking up. Of course , I don't think most men are like this who can so easily and blantanly dismiss a woman's point of view, especially when we are talking about "women's issues". Most of the men I train with are pretty damn cool and I'll continue training with them. Those of you who are cool, I value more than you can believe. And, it's you who are welcoming and non-intimidating on the mat, and will always be appreciated.

Emily stated:
Here is what I was going on about:
I am actually pretty torqued off that despite my continual attempts to discuss the disparities, inequalities, and treatment of women in aikido particularly, no one bothers to talk much about it unless someone like George L brings it up. I mean, WTF? Why is it ignored unless someone with status brings it up????

Thanks for the clarification. If I sounded upset, well, it's because that I'm rather appalled about the blatant sexism and righteousness that has been demonstrated by a few on this thread.

Actually, I've noticed that when I strongly voice my opinions and comments that I don't get ignored but rather get labeled a "reactionary victim" and therefore what I say is meaningless. But if was more middle of the road, then, yes, my opinions would have been ignored. It's sad that in this day and age, and in the U.S. that a veiw can be held that a man's opinions will mean more than any woman -- even when it is directly related to a woman's experience in aikido. That gets a "WTF?" in my book.

Emily wrote--
Additionally:
Taking things personally, or going anywhere near ad hominem level, is the end of intelligent and fruitful discussion.

You're so very right. It's time to tenkan and take the discussion elsewhere.

What I do agree with is that the whole "gender issue" gets blown out of proportion. I mentioned before, that it's not really a hugh issue for me and it's just one extra thing I have deal with among many. I do my own part to help newbies, and when the rare woman steps into the dojo breaching cultural barriers I do what I can to help her feel welcomed and supported. I'm just as supportive to new guys, but I've noticed that most of them could careless about receiving nurturing support. However, men are not breaching cultural barriers by starting a martial art. That's is acceptable for men to do. It has not been for women. (However as society continues to evolve and women get more involved in sports and even contact sports like boxing and even hockey and football then I think we'll see more women walking into a dojo.) It's unfortunate that some of the posters here don't get that, and I think it's very possible for a man to understand that even if he is not a woman. Men face the same kind of barriers when entering the fields of nursing, teaching, and as "at-home-caregivers" (stay at home dads) or any other field dominated by women. They deserve the same support as well in such fields.

The women I admire most include Penny Bernath and Lorraine DiAnne to just name a couple. I believe they both have faced problems related to their gender but on the whole that it's not really a big issue. I agree. It's not a big issue, but it does come into play when someone doesn't want to throw me hard because of my gender or they try to hit on me in some obnoxious way. But I'm fortunate to train in a positive environment for all people, regardless of gender. I'm fortunate to know I can go to my sensei and ask for his advice, and I'm fortunate to have higher ranking women in the dojo. However, some women don't have this in their dojos. For me, seeing a higher ranking woman on the mat isn't really about rectifing gender disparaties, but just having the comfort of knowing another women as walked this path before me. That's it really.

In regard to apparent gender disparities, I also agree that they will be rectified in time. I'm an attorney, twenty to thirty years ago it was really rare that a woman would go to law school. Now, close to half of those enrolled in law school are women, but we are still not half of those as partners in law firms. However, slowly we are breaking barriers and moving up the ranks, so to speak. Some women started their own lawfirms, other will stay within. Eventually, there will no longer be a glass ceiling.

I see aikido as the same. At the last USAF--Winter Camp, I would harbor to guess that I saw about 35-40% women on the mat at any given time. Of course those teaching where not women, but rather our shihan (Yamada, Shibata, Sugano), however, there are quite a few women within our organization who are 6th and 5th dan, which is high-ranking for us. The Women In Aikido videos was a great way to recognize some of these women's accomplishments. The USAF has more than 10 high ranking women than what was presented in the video. They were just ten among the high ranking women in our organization. Lorraine DiAnne, a shihan now, gives regular seminars as often as Peter Bernath, Donovan Waite, Clyde Takeguchi, Claude Berthiaume or Harvey Konisberg. Penny would give more but she is the head of Early Child Development Department at a local university, but she still gives a couple of seminars a year. Also, I know she is now a member of the USAF Board of Governors.

Times change and organizations change, we have to give it time I agree, but it won't change if we don't sometimes rock the boat a little or stir the pot to keep it from burning the food.

mj
03-06-2005, 01:48 PM
Jun? This is the third thread he's inserted this kind of junk in. How long should I tolerate it before I really respond? :cool:

Mike
What's the matter Mike can't you stand up for yourself? wink wink

Lorien Lowe
03-06-2005, 06:58 PM
Emily wrote, "Trial by jury involves a selection process. It's not exactly a self nomination thing."

Okay. I should have said, "The prosecution can rest, imnsho."

Emily again: "Challenging questions are OK. If a concept cannot be challenged, and must be protected like a glass bubble, it's not much good in the real world. Something that can be kicked around, evolved and improved, is. It's called critical thinking, and while it's not exactly in vogue in the US any more, 49% of us still practice it."

Thanks for the giggle there at the end.
What made me finally snarl publically (after following this thread for several days) was neither critical thinking nor raising the bar. I saw a single argument - that supporting women instructors was not traditional - combined with a lot of insinuation that the women being responded to are being crybabies, have aikido that won't stand up in a tough dojo, and/or take floppy, weak ukemi with poor attacks. A woman said that she liked having senior women around to when she got grabbed on the mat, and she was accused of playing the vitctim card. Even worse, it was implied that women should learn to put up with being molested because it's natural. Yes, we are primates, but we are also human; I'd like to think that we have more potential than 'eat, grow, and reproduce.' Why are we practicing aikido, if we're nothing but monkeys?

Okay. Per an earlier plea by Emily, a change of topic:

Kayla Feder Sensei came up to the dojo I train at last year for a seminar, and it was wonderful. The ab warmups were *awful* (in a good way), and we're still working on some of the ukemi techniques she showed us. I also loved having the opportunity to listen in on her discussions with our dojo-cho at the post-seminar potluck.

I'm also indebted to my female sempai for giving me the example of women who are feminine but not weak, good martial artists but not masculine, and also for showing me how to put a nikkyo on someone with wrists twice as big as mine.

-LK

rob_liberti
03-06-2005, 11:20 PM
Lorien Lowe - your post (145) was a perfect summary of the problems with the thread. I wish you would put the same effort into summarizing and clarifing the points of view expressed on this thread that would actually help attact, retain, and encourage females to train aikido. You seem to have excellent aptitude and insight.

Anne Marie Giri, you are probably a wonderful aikido person, but my BS detector is maxed out by some of your words. In regard to the initial post of this thread, you said: "In fact, she was attempting to create a dialog about gender disparity in aikido." Wow, I thought she was saying something controversial and accusitory - wanting to just get it off her chest like she said. Most of the follow up posters had to work extra hard to drive towards something positive.

Also, if you're going to call Mike on the carpet for defending subtle and covert hostility, fine but he expresed his opinions in an open and honest way. You, and others, use the tactic of pre-labeling anyone who says a certain thing as "bad" in order to manipulate the discussion. I find that to be sneaky and dishonest - and, ironically, it is done in a subtle and covertly hostile way.

Rob

Peter Goldsbury
03-07-2005, 03:25 AM
I just checked out the list of instuctors for the Aiki Expo. There were 35 and only 2 of them were women. 2!!!!!!!. :crazy: :disgust:

Just had to get that off my chest.
Thanks.
Mary

Interesting thread, both for the original observation (see above) and for the subsequent thread drift.

It is clearly a sensitive topic, calling for sensitivity of expression as well as thinking. I think there are two main issues in the thread, that can be summarized in two questions. They are not the same questions and I think that they have to be answered differently.

Why are there so few women instructors at Aiki Expo 2005?
Why are there so few women instructors in Aikido generally?

Notice that I have suggested by the two questions that this is what Mary Eastland had in mind by making her original observation. Of course, one might argue that her intention was obvious, but from the way the thread developed, it might have been better to have stated the obvious at the beginning.

Only Stanley Pranin can give a definite answer to the first question. However, I suspect that there are relatively few women shihans/instructors that fit the parameters that Stan has decided for Aiki Expo.

Stanley Pranin and I have been friends for many years and I know very well the political problems he has encountered in inviting aikido instructors to Aiki Expo.

One important point, at least from my understanding of the political issues involved, is that Aiki Expo is not restricted to aikido. To put this in another way, anyone who believes that aikido training at the present time is best enriched by some very serious cross-training will find Aiki Expo an opportunity not to be missed. There is nothing else like it\anywhere in the world. However, those who do not believe this will find Aiki Expo of limited appeal.

As such, in my opinion Stan is making a statement in organizing the Aiki Expo\and I applaud him for this, but this will clearly affect those potential participants, especially shihans with a public persona, who believe that aikido is a 'complete' martial art and that the inheritance they have received from the Founder does not really need to be supplemented by anything else.

Thus, in my opinion, if you compare the statement that Stan is making, which is like a call for a return to the earlier martial values that spurred the Founder himself, when he created the art, the question of gender balance among the instructors, in particular the aikido instructors, is one question among many others\at the moment.

As things settle down and Aiki Expo becomes an essential part of the aiki(do) calendar, not just in the US, but also throughout the world\including Japan, the event might well become a kind of beacon for gender issues in aikido, as well as issues relating to the effectiveness of aikido as a postwar Japanese martial art. In this respect the US will lead, in the sense that there will be many more high-ranking instructors of both sexes in the US whom Stan can invite than elsewhere.

In other words, Aiki Expo is being held in the US, where gender issues have received much more attention\and action, than in other countries, Japan, for example. Japan is still in the Stone Age regarding gender equality\and aikido is no exception here. This leads to the second question.

Why so few women instructors in Aikido generally?
Because this is the way aikido has worked so far, since it is dominated by Japanese cultural values.

I think this issue of gender equality is perceived differently outside the US and Europe and it will not do simply to impose alien cultural values. Like Chris Li, I am aware that as a culture Japan is sexist and racist in ways that offends long-term residents like myself. But these are cultural values that will not change on purely rational grounds. I am hopeful that they will change, but the change will not come purely as a result of rational argument on a US/western model.

I have received requests for support from aikido groups in the Middle East, including Iran and Iraq. The requests have come from the leaders of aikido groups who are invariably male. I have no idea how many women practise aikido in Iran, even whether they are allowed to, but the Iranian aikidoists I have had contact with want to make a federation and gain international recognition. This means that they can obtain government recognition and financial support. Iran is one nation among a huge swathe of the world where aikido has hardly penetrated: the Middle East, China, India, and much of Africa.

I cannot speak for other organizations, but the way that the Aikikai has guided the expansion of aikido after World War II has been to create organizations based on national culture, rather like airlines tend to be national flag carriers. Thus many local aikido organizations are very proud of the fact that they are practicing aikido, but in a way that reflects the values of the national culture. For the Japanese, this supposedly harmonious blending of values is another piece of evidence that their brand of einternationalizationf supposedly 'works', in the same way that their overseas aid supposedly eworks'. However, I do not believe this is true.

Nevertheless, in this situation, even to raise the gender issue requires much understanding of the values of the target culture. It is best to enter through their door and bring them out through yours. Otherwise minds will be closed from the outset.

Best regards to all,

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 08:56 AM
I think this issue of gender equality is perceived differently outside the US and Europe and it will not do simply to impose alien cultural values. Like Chris Li, I am aware that as a culture Japan is sexist and racist in ways that offends long-term residents like myself. But these are cultural values that will not change on purely rational grounds. I am hopeful that they will change, but the change will not come purely as a result of rational argument on a US/western model. It's interesting how strong the consensus is in so many westerners that "our values are the correct ones and we need to impose them on other cultures so that they will be 'up to snuff'". :cool: Japanese cultural values borrow a lot from the Chinese (although the approaches to gender are somewhat different) and China is the longest surviving agrarian civilization the world has ever seen. I.e.,.... their "values" may have some positive contribution to the success and stability of the culture in toto. In other words, although in each phase of existence we have felt strongly that our "current values" were the best in the world and we should foist them on everyone to their benefit, maybe we should question our values as much as we question everyone else's. Caution in dealing with other tribes, races, "outsiders", etc., is a survival trait, not a whim of the ignorant. Perhaps there is a compromise between perfection, as we see it, and the "backward" mores of other cultures that in actuality will work out to be the best for all?

FWIW

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 09:05 AM
Mike Sigmun wrote:Often there is wholesale rape (monkies do this too, BTW) by the troops... it is not from "rage and domination", it is because they are males with a strong sex drive and they can get away with it. A lot of civil rape cases are the same thing, Ruth. To try to pigeonhole rape as purely "rage and domination" is superficial and inaccurate. Horny men (and women) are opportunistic, as well.Mike, how is it that you are the authority on this? Do you have experience in rape councilling? Do you treat or interview rapists? Maybe you've headed a research project on the subject? Just speculating from your interpretation of a book? I truly want to know your experience here. Maybe you do know more than those of us who have been on the receiving end, but you'll have to convince me of that.

And also from Mike:Sadly, that's true, but I think a more apt comment is that we're all animals (basically monkies), whether male or female, under the skin.Funny, I think we are spiritual beings who live in human bodies. Or even human animals *who have evolved to have a spiritual nature*, if you prefer to look at it from that angle. I don't think that matters. As someone said, why else would we practice Aikido? But why are you ignoring our non-aminal components when commenting on this?

In your most recent post (148), are you saying that chauvanism is possibly for the best of all?? I can't quite figure out the point... Please clarify.

I won't dig up the quote from way before, but someone said that it will take 100 years for women to gain equality without the help of men. I wonder then, why is it that we need their help if we are indeed equal? I find that I'm as strong as I think I am. I need no man to bestow eqality on me. It is my birthright whether they think so or not. I believe that if we all live our lives impeccably, with *real* humility (not the fake kind), compassion, and keep our swords of judgement razor sharp, no one can deny our power.

Are we equal or do we need special consideration? This is a contradiction I am seeing a lot in this thread and elsewhere. I'd like to think about this and find a way toward our own power without demeaning those around us in the process.

MLE on Chuck Gordon's account:I propose that we..
Talk about the women who have influenced us and our training some more. Talk about how we as women learned to accept the idea that we could become powerful, and the world would not end.
Talk about how men and women can grow, from training together. I repaired some serious trust problems in myself, by learning to trust my male training partners.Great idea! I'll go:
Beth Frankl taught the first class I participated in. I miss her terribly. She was inspirational to me as she expresses (what I feel is) true female power. I had never felt anything like that much power that wasn't "rough around the edges", or else domineering masked as power. Beth, if you're reading this, please come train with us again!

Raso Hultgren Sensei. I've trained with her only twice. Over after-seminar-dinner, she talked about her early experiences and singlehandedly got me over that hump of hating training - when you begin to have some skill, so people start trying to *yank* on you instead of actual hard training... You girls know what I mean... But I saw then that I could find my way through that stuff.

I've actually made more progress personally through my training with men. Aikido men have fundamentally changed my understanding of myself.

I'll write about my first experience meeting Gleason Sensei. I came to the dojo at 22 as a terrified beated-down. well. child basically. I watched the class that night and had no idea how to process what I'd seen. I felt his rather powerful energy dominating the room. I watched him teach with tremendous control. I sensed *absolutely no abuse* there, and I was baffled. How can a man express power without hurting anyone?! Well, I went home and held myself for 3 days before I could go back and train. Sounds dramatic, but I had to redefine my whole life experience with this new understanding.

That was my first real step toward finding *my* power. I don't feel I need other women (though it is nice to share experiences), and I don't need men's help. I need me. I need to dig real deep to the parts of me that were buried by all my abusers.

I soon heard from some senior women all about the chauvanism in the dojo and how Sensei didn't give equal effort to women. This piqued my interest, seeing as I'd never met anyone LESS chauvanistic in my life. So I watched. I spent a couple of years noting the comments and situations my seniors were complaining about. All the while I never had these issues with him. And guess wat I saw... I saw Sensei using poeple for ukemi who would best demontrate a certain aspect he was trying to point out. I saw that the ratio of female uke used during classes, while not 50/50, were always roughly representative of the make-up of the class. I saw that Sensei neither noticed nor cared about gender while training. But I also saw that he felt people's energy and level of sincerity, and was drawn to those who displayed enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I saw that he rather ignored pockets of sour feeling on the mat (unless there was a problem that needed addressing). It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more indignant those senior women were becoming, the more Sensei gave them room to work out their bad feeling. Then, of course, the more they felt righteously indignant at being ignored. He also, BTW, ignores men who disturb the wa. I make a point to tap into my spirit (even at the times it feels broken) and just be myself on the mat, and have never experienced this from him. So I know the problem was not chauvanism.

Gleason Sensei told me once when I was really frustrated that people who need Aikido most are the ones who find it. That served to shatter a weird delusion I was suffering under. I went to Aikido thinking it would attract only respectful, thoughtful people - like a safe haven from abusers. But my main reason for wanting to train was to grow and become my whole self - to find my power. How could I have ever achieved those things if I only even ran across wonderful perfectly respectful parners? I'd have no training. I'm learning to trust myself, and I have no need to put all my faith in those around me. This buys me time to get to know whether they deserve my trust or not.

Aikido is a powerful path into yourself. I don't always feel comfortable on that journey. In fact, I'm usually not. But I've learned that that's when I'm growing the most. I now apreciate the times when I don't like my training partners. My ego is letting go then. And that's the point for me.

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 09:22 AM
Mike Sigman wrote:Mike, how is it that you are the authority on this? Do you have experience in rape councilling? Do you treat or interview rapists? Maybe you've headed a research project on the subject? Just speculating from your interpretation of book? I truly want to know your experience here. Maybe you do know more than those of us who have been on the receiving end, but you'll have to convince me of that. Hi Sunny:

Hmmmm. My comment was that not all rapes (which are by definition sexual acts) are the result of "rage" and "domination", even though it's trendy to say that. There are plenty of texts you can source that will say the same thing. Other than that comment, I neither pretended to be an expert in rape counselling nor did I claim to be an "authority". :) And also from Mike:Funny, I think we are spiritual beings who live in human bodies. Or even human animals *who have evolved to have a spiritual nature*, if you prefer to look at it from that angle. I have no problems with you having a different belief system than I do, Sunny. If you want to convince me that your belief in spirituality is correct, though, and that we're not just animals, you'll need to show me some sort of proof. Reading this thread I don't see a lot of "spirituality", but I see a lot of power struggles and attempts to force "the correct way of thinking" on others. ;) I hope your idea of equality allows me to have a different perspective than you do.

All the Best.

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 09:43 AM
I hope your idea of equality allows me to have a different perspective than you do.Of course it does. But your using such an authoritative tone speaks volumes about your attitude. You are stating with implied certainty that rape is a sexual thing and not rageful or dominating. Like, how do you know that saying it is an act of rage is nothing more than "trendy" and has no merit? You seem to leave no room for being wrong. Your lack of experience with spirituality doesn't mean it doesn't exsist, it means you've never experienced it. Your lack of understanding about rape simply means you have not experienced that either. (I'm assuming here that you are not a rapist...) Book are great. People make theories and we read them and see if their theories ring true for us or not. But seeing as we all have different experiences to draw from, we won't all see things your way.

My little one just woke up... So I have to leave this where it is...

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 09:58 AM
Quote by Mike Sigman:
Often there is wholesale rape (monkies do this too, BTW) by the troops... it is not from "rage and domination", it is because they are males with a strong sex drive and they can get away with it. A lot of civil rape cases are the same thing, Ruth. To try to pigeonhole rape as purely "rage and domination" is superficial and inaccurate. Horny men (and women) are opportunistic, as well.

Sunny Liberti replied:
Mike, how is it that you are the authority on this? Do you have experience in rape councilling? Do you treat or interview rapists? Maybe you've headed a research project on the subject? Just speculating from your interpretation of a book? I truly want to know your experience here. Maybe you do know more than those of us who have been on the receiving end, but you'll have to convince me of that.

Just to lay this old saw about rape being only about "rage" and "domination" to rest, here's a quote. If one gets away from the popular self-reinforcing feedback of pop-psychology, there are a lot of credible sources mentioning what should be common sense: there are a variety of causes for most things that happen. People truly interested in the topic, and not just wanting to emote about it, should do some research. Truth is what helps dispel onerous behaviour. Not telling the truth, with the excuse that it's "for a good cause", is one of the most hypocritical and detrimental approaches to progress:

http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/200/violence.html#Rape

The fact that rape is - always, by definition, and by its very nature -
violent, does not meant that it cannot be other things as well. The "rape
isn't about sex, it's about violence" cliché sets up a false dichotomy,
which assumes that rape is "about" either violence or sex - it cannot be
"about" both. This formulation adopts the Essentialist perspective and
assumes that there is one and only one way of looking at rape; that there is
an inner concrete or objective "essence" contained by rape - violence - that
manifests itself to all reasonable and unbiased observers under any and all
circumstances. BUT: We need to consider the subjectivity of the Rapist.

Violence and sex are fused. There is something erotic and sexually exciting
about inflicting violence upon women

Rape is instrumental. It allows men to gain sexual access to otherwise
unattainable women.

Rape is "recreation and adventure" "the element of danger" makes rape "all
the more exciting"

SO: Rapists, as with every other behavioral category, make up a mixed
motivational bag, and violence does not represent the primary motive of all
of them - even though they always engage in a violent act when they rape.
THUS: The act is always violent, though the motive need not be.
SO: We must examine how rape is seen, defined and judged by audiences.

A CONTINUUM OF JUDGEMENTS
exclusive - (SCULLY AND MAROLLA)-

inclusive - radical feminist - all intercourse between men and women,
however consensual it may appear, represents an assault, an act of
aggression, an invasion, a violation - RAPE.

moderately exclusive - held by sexual and sex and gender-role
traditionalists and conservatives - "Nice girls don't get raped." If women
don't engage in all these sexually provocative activities, they won't bring
on men's sexual attention in the first place. Most Americans hold this view
and will blame woman for a sexual attack against her. They restrict their
notion of what rape is to a relatively narrow set of acts.

moderately inclusive - held by sexual and sex and gender-role liberals.
Men have no right to force women to do anything sexual; if they do, its
rape. This position is held by a minority of the American public.

Three Crucial Audiences:
1. The General Public
2. The CJS, including the police
3. The victims of rape.

Conclusions

Societal values don't support violence, but do support male dominance.
Extreme-->rape.
We expect men to take the initiative, be aggressive.
Female autonomy is devalued. Double standard.
This context provides the "raw material," rape is 'just' an extreme version
of socially approved forms of interaction.

Peter Goldsbury
03-07-2005, 10:07 AM
It's interesting how strong the consensus is in so many westerners that "our values are the correct ones and we need to impose them on other cultures so that they will be 'up to snuff'". :cool: In other words, although in each phase of existence we have felt strongly that our "current values" were the best in the world and we should foist them on everyone to their benefit, maybe we should question our values as much as we question everyone else's.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

I am sure you are right. Living in Japan for 25 years now has forced me to question my 'western' cultural values on many occasions and I am much less ready to argue from a 'western' standpoint in my classes. On the other hand they are values and questioning them is a serious matter. Doing this is easier, though no less painful, if you live in another culture.

Best,

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 10:07 AM
Of course it does. But your using such an authoritative tone speaks volumes about your attitude. I speak "authoritatively" only when I'm on basic and easily proven ground. The "rage and domination" stuff is far out-of-date and is called a "cliche'' in the source I quoted.... there are MANY sources saying the same thing. You are stating with implied certainty that rape is a sexual thing and not rageful or dominating. I did NOT state that. Sometimes rape is from things like rage and domination; my cavil was against the assertion that it is ALWAYS from rage and domination. Your lack of experience with spirituality doesn't mean it doesn't exsist, it means you've never experienced it. I've also never seen a flying pig, so by your logic I can't say they don't exist? ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 10:17 AM
Mike, your excerpt states that rape is necessisarily violent. Sorry, but duh. Earlier you made the assuption that since castration limits rape, that rape is inherently sexual. As if the defect is somewhere in the balls. Castration certainly limits the eunich's ability to manifest his violence by sexual means, but castration certainly doesn't heal him of his desire to inflict harm.

my cavil was against the assertion that it is ALWAYS from rage and domination.
From your ecerpt:
SO: Rapists, as with every other behavioral category, make up a mixed
motivational bag, and violence does not represent the primary motive of all
of them - even though they always engage in a violent act when they rape.
THUS: The act is always violent, though the motive need not be.

How does one rationalize inflicting violent on another if not that they decide it's OK to dominate them?

No one argues that rape is sexual by nature. The means by which a man inflicts violence a woman is less important to us than the fact the he *wants to inflict violence us*. But the desire to harm women for one's own gratification is pathological. Whatever the motivation. Just like we would likely all agree that the desire to cut off someone's hand for a souvenir is wack! Doesn't really matter why.

Not telling the truth, with the excuse that it's "for a good cause", is one of the most hypocritical and detrimental approaches to progress:Agreed. Why are you the keeper of all things true?

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 10:28 AM
Why are you the keeper of all things true? I think that's gratuitous, Sunny. Let's just move on and see if we can get back to Aikido.

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-07-2005, 10:29 AM
Your lack of experience with spirituality doesn't mean it doesn't exsist, it means you've never experienced it.

I've also never seen a flying pig, so by your logic I can't say they don't exist?

This is not a logical conclusion. You can SAY anything you want. You'll just have trouble convincing a reasonable person that something doesn't exist based on your lack of experience. I've never been to Durango - I wouldn't say it doesn't exist. Also, why do you think you cannot put a pig in an airplane? I know that is kind of a joke, but maybe it is telling. Isn't it possible that you just aren't looking in the right places for spirituality? I mean a bunch of people today and throughout history seem to think they found it (whereas there are not so many accounts of pigs being launched from catapults like in the Monty Python movie).

So, about aikido....

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 10:31 AM
I've also never seen a flying pig, so by your logic I can't say they don't exist?And by your logic I should be able to explain what it's like to play in the NFL...

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 11:21 AM
This is not a logical conclusion. Sorry, Rob, but it IS a logical conclusion. The point is that basing your argument on trying to make your opponent prove a negative is absurd. I can't make an assertion and validate it by saying "you can't prove I'm wrong". If someone wants to insist on or posit "spirituality" as existing, they need to prove their case in some manner, not tell the other person he's wrong because he can't prove the negative.

FWIW

Mike

ruthmc
03-07-2005, 12:46 PM
Just to lay this old saw about rape being only about "rage" and "domination" to rest, here's a quote.

Violence and sex are fused. There is something erotic and sexually exciting about inflicting violence upon women

Rape is instrumental. It allows men to gain sexual access to otherwise unattainable women.

Rape is "recreation and adventure" "the element of danger" makes rape "all the more exciting"
If any man believes any of the above, he's a danger to the public. It's sick and twisted thinking (or often lack of thinking). Rape during military attacks (which you mentioned earlier) occurs due to group mentality, lack of thinking, and shifting of blame. It is equally pathological and sick.

I agree with Sunny that any man who thinks that rape is a form of sexual gratification and has nothing to do with violence and domination is pathological - the woman is always hurt and dominated. Part of what makes us human is the ability to see how our actions are affecting others. It's called "Theory of Mind". Some apes have a degree of this also. A man who rapes a woman knows he is hurting and dominating her - he has just given himself permission to do that - so whatever else may (or may not) be going through his mind is irrelevant when it comes to judging him for committing this crime.

The "men can't help it when it comes to their sexual urges" argument was disproven a very long time ago, and I'm disgusted that anybody would even hint to this in the 21st century :disgust:

Ruth

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 01:44 PM
If any man believes any of the above, he's a danger to the public. Rather than so much emoting and gnashing of teeth, why don't you go read the page for which I gave the URL? Your ability to wilfully misunderstand the commentary is amazing.

I'm really getting a little tired of the conversation. There's obviously some few whose cause celebre' is the battle between the sexes and think that it excuses obnoxious behaviour. Frankly, I and a number of others left the last dojo I attended regularly because of this constant focus on women, women's power, changing throws so women could tolerate them better, having to avoid conflict by constantly choosing our words so as not to "offend", listening to crap about how Aikido is really "the dance of souls", etc. Granted, a valid topic is that society is undergoing change and "equality" is something to watch out for, but an equally valid topic is why Aikido's name sinks further into the mire the more dojo's and practitioners are forced into extraneous dialogues about extraneous issues.

It's hard for any person to get "good" at a martial art. It's harder still for smaller and less athletic people to really be "good", as a general rule. All you can do is work harder to get there .... carping and whining and devolving to personalities would be a sorry thing for men to do and it's a sorry thing for women to do, as well. There are no passes or excuses for this sort of antagonism. And I don't think I'm alone in this view, by a long shot. :straightf

FWIW

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-07-2005, 01:59 PM
It's hard for any person to get "good" at a martial art. It's harder still for smaller and less athletic people to really be "good", as a general rule.Mike, honestly! Smaller people have a harder time getting "good" at martial arts?! I guess all the Asians are out... I apreciate my dojo and fellow aikidoka more and more...

Anyone want to add something useful to the discussion anymore? Or should I just stop bothering to check up on this thread...?

OOPS!!! This is Sunny!! I posted before I realized that I'm signed in on Rob's account! SORRY for the mix-up!!!!

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 02:06 PM
Mike, honestly! Smaller people have a harder time getting "good" at martial arts?! I guess all the Asians are out... I apreciate my dojo and fellow aikidoka more and more...

Anyone want to add something useful to the discussion anymore? Or should I just stop bothering to check up on this thread...? I said "smaller and less athletic" as in "smaller-framed people who are not overly-athletic". You're obviously doing the "deliberately misread in order to have grounds for dissent" now. Let's just drop it if you can't read with the benefit of the doubt or assume that someone's intent may be misread by you.

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-07-2005, 02:17 PM
The point is that basing your argument on trying to make your opponent prove a negative is absurd. I can't make an assertion and validate it by saying "you can't prove I'm wrong". If someone wants to insist on or posit "spirituality" as existing, they need to prove their case in some manner, not tell the other person he's wrong because he can't prove the negative.

Mike, I find most of your posts logical. I like that you are willing to say something and try to defend it. I also like that you know an aweful lot about moving your body in a coordinated way. All that is fine. But, everyone makes mistakes, and I think you made one here. Of course, no one can prove a negative. Up to that part is logical enough. I just don't agree with the conclusion you jumped to from there. I would conclude from that situation that neither side could know - not that one side is right (which is a much more logical conclusion based on the lack of facts on both sides). If you can't see that then my guess is that you are blinded to the overall logic by your desire to win a point.

I agree that we shouldn't hide facts to support a cause. I just don't agree that you are standing on as firm a footing as you seem to think.

In my opinion, you mis-interpreted what was written in those citations. My interpretation is that a rape is taking advantage of someone in a sexual way. I agree with you that some rape can be without rage or violence (because I an considering the cases of statatory rape and/or date-rape drugs rapes).

The issue is that in every one of those situations - regardless of how it was manifested - the person who is taking advantage somehow came to the conclusion that this action is OK to do to someone else. Mike, these people are wacko enough. As a self-appointed representative of society, I'd like to ask you to not support their delusional thinking. For people training internal martial arts based on intimacy, it should be abundantly obvious that it's never okay to do that to another person.

So, back to aikido. Has anyone - through their aikido / internal martial arts training - developed a higher degree of sensitivity towards other people's body and psycological fears - such that they are able to really help those people work through their issues? I find this kind of true acceptance one of the main values of the social interaction we get in the dojo. My thougths are that this is the kind of thing we need to do to help all of the people in the dojo process and get beyond a lot of road-clocks so we can get the ukemi to be safe at otherwise dangerous degrees of intensity - and actaully get to some good hard training (in a safe way!).

Rob

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 02:27 PM
The point is that basing your argument on trying to make your opponent prove a negative is absurd. I can't make an assertion and validate it by saying "you can't prove I'm wrong".
Where have I tried to make you prove a negative? I have disagreed with your interpretation of data, challenged your statements of opinion as absolutes, and I have even asked about your expertise in this area. You have addressed none of these. Don't see where I asked you for proof of a negative.

I have also carefully maintained that my words, opinions, and feelings are based on my experiences - ones you clearly don't share.

If you didn't mean smaller people, then why did you say smaller?? If by saying "smaller-framed people who are not overly-athletic" you meant less-muscular - and one could easily infer from the topic at hand that you specifically meant women - my words still apply.

Ron Tisdale
03-07-2005, 02:45 PM
Hi Rob,

As a self-appointed representative of society, I'd like to ask you to not support their delusional thinking.

I'm not sure Mike is supporting their thinking...I think he is questioning the some of the assumptions made by 'polical correctness' and the various generalizations that typically go along with it.

For people training internal martial arts based on intimacy, it should be abundantly obvious that it's never okay to do that to another person.

Now I *know* that Mike did not say that it is sometimes ok to rape another person...

Ron

rob_liberti
03-07-2005, 02:57 PM
Fair enough Ron. I didn't mean to suggest he was saying: Go out there and rape a girl! I give you my permission.

I was saying that these wacko people who take advantage of others have enough excuses, lets not give them more.

I don't care about being politically correct. I think I'm pretty far from that. I won't allow all kinds of non-sense to go on in my dojo. No one may nurse a child on the mat while I'm teaching class. No one is allowed to train in the middle of my mat past the 1st trimester of pregnancy - or allowed to strap a newborn to the outside of their dogi for that matter. They can train off to the side if someone is both willing and able to train with them safely - to my judgment. I've had all kinds of crazy people try to argue this with me before. The bottom line is that I don't care what the rules of society say, we give up a lot of those rights to train in a dojo. For instance even if a women has a permit to carry a gun - she may not go onto my mat packing heat. You just give up rights to train safely with me - that's all and I don't care who likes it really.

My point is that logic is logic, and we should continue to use it no matter how much we want to win. Otherwise you cannot discuss anything and get anywhere.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-07-2005, 03:34 PM
:) Agreed....

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 04:03 PM
As a self-appointed representative of society, I'd like to ask you to not support their delusional thinking.

WTF?????? I just showed that rape is not always about "rage and dominance" and by giving sources to prove my point, you think I'm supporting delusional thinking??????????? I can give sources from sociology (which I did) and all I get back is pop PC psychology? I give up.

Mike

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 04:07 PM
Well, not trying to beat a dead horse here, but to say that an action is simply "animal behavior", or something like that, bears with it an inhereht excuse. We all accept that animal behavior is what it is without expectation of conscience or moral thought. We don't impugne a lion for killing a gazelle. To place that line of thinking in the domain of sexual assault is certainly implying very strongly that it is normal behavior beyond reproach. If he didn't mean that, he should not have said it.

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 04:24 PM
Of course, no one can prove a negative. Up to that part is logical enough. I just don't agree with the conclusion you jumped to from there. Then Rob, show the existence of spirituality. I didn't posit it, so if you're supporting the idea, show tangible, objective evidence. Don't put it on me that spirituality exists but that it's "outside my experience".... that's shifting the onus to me, which is the same as asking me to prove a negative. So win your point by showing tangible and objective evidence of spirituality. Don't murmur about me being wrong until you can do that. :)
So, back to aikido. Has anyone - through their aikido / internal martial arts training - developed a higher degree of sensitivity towards other people's body and psycological fears - such that they are able to really help those people work through their issues? I find this kind of true acceptance one of the main values of the social interaction we get in the dojo. My thougths are that this is the kind of thing we need to do to help all of the people in the dojo process and get beyond a lot of road-clocks so we can get the ukemi to be safe at otherwise dangerous degrees of intensity - and actaully get to some good hard training (in a safe way!). So Rob.... is that part of Aikido or part of something else? Why would practicing Aikido, as opposed to practicing anything else, cause you to "develop a higher degree of sensitivity towards other peoples' body and psychological fear"? Will Aikido also cure warts? (Sorry, couldn't resist..... the debbil made me do it :) ) I.e., your question assumes that Aikido does certain things and asks people for their experiences with those certain things, but it's certainly a valid question first of all if Aikido really does those things anymore than any other practice. The thrust of my questions is still, "is this a bona fide concern in real, traditional Aikido?". ;)

I asked a question on another thread that I have asked in a number of other martial arts "variants". For Aikido, I'd ask this: Morihei Ueshiba taught a fundamental martial-art/philosophy with certain inclusions.... he called that art "Aikido". If you change what is in the art, that's fine, but why would you take the name of Ueshiba's art and apply it to your own? Of course, I couldn't win that argument because common usage would overwhelm me, but you see the point I'm making. If you love an art, you're indicating some loyalty to it and its principles; if you distort an art from what the founder meant, without permission from the Doshu, are you showing love of the art or arrogant disregard for the art? It's an interesting question, isn't it? ;)

Regards,

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 04:26 PM
Well, not trying to beat a dead horse here, but to say that an action is simply "animal behavior", or something like that, bears with it an inhereht excuse. We all accept that animal behavior is what it is without expectation of conscience or moral thought. We don't impugne a lion for killing a gazelle. To place that line of thinking in the domain of sexual assault is certainly implying very strongly that it is normal behavior beyond reproach. If he didn't mean that, he should not have said it. You just built a strawman argument based on the idea that I was saying rape was OK, Sunny. It's offensive.

Mike Sigman

RonRagusa
03-07-2005, 05:12 PM
[Rob wrote:
"I don't care about being politically correct. I think I'm pretty far from that. I won't allow all kinds of non-sense to go on in my dojo. No one may nurse a child on the mat while I'm teaching class. No one is allowed to train in the middle of my mat past the 1st trimester of pregnancy - or allowed to strap a newborn to the outside of their dogi for that matter. They can train off to the side if someone is both willing and able to train with them safely - to my judgment. I've had all kinds of crazy people try to argue this with me before. The bottom line is that I don't care what the rules of society say, we give up a lot of those rights to train in a dojo."

This just goes to show what is some folk's "nonsense" brings other folks joy. I have one child who trains with me that started training in the womb. Her mother practiced almost until she delivered. After her daughter was born we passed her through the lines taking turns holding her so her mother could train. They are both still with me. The child will test for 5th kyu at our spring seminar and the mom is now a third Dan.

My dojo is very woman friendly and it's perfectly okay for someone to nurse her baby off to the side of the mat. How could that possibly hurt a thing?

I'm not "crazy" and have no interest in trying to swing you over to my point of view.

Ron Ragusa
:ai: :ki: :do:

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 05:33 PM
This just goes to show what is some folk's "nonsense" brings other folks joy. I have one child who trains with me that started training in the womb. Her mother practiced almost until she delivered. After her daughter was born we passed her through the lines taking turns holding her so her mother could train. They are both still with me. The child will test for 5th kyu at our spring seminar and the mom is now a third Dan.

My dojo is very woman friendly and it's perfectly okay for someone to nurse her baby off to the side of the mat. How could that possibly hurt a thing?

I'm not "crazy" and have no interest in trying to swing you over to my point of view. I honestly don't have any emotional investment in what people do or say or believe, Ron. Of course, what you allow in your dojo is not what O-Sensei would have tolerated in a dojo, but that's between you and him... you're using the name of his martial art, it seems. However, my actual point in even writing was to note that you publicly claim that yours is an "independent dojo" and that your instructors are black-belts certified by you. That's fine, too. But what I think you should have publicly noted is that you are partners with Mary Eastland, who started this whole thread of concern about women in Aikido. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking this, but it's what I would have done.

All the Best.

Mike Sigman

L. Camejo
03-07-2005, 05:51 PM
So, back to aikido. Has anyone - through their aikido / internal martial arts training - developed a higher degree of sensitivity towards other people's body and psycological fears - such that they are able to really help those people work through their issues?

Hey Rob,

I wouldn't say that I developed any sensitivity to people's "fears" in particular, but certain elements of my Aikido study has helped me to be more precise (almost impeccably so) in how I observe and detect subtle aspects of verbal language, body language, behavioural change, physical and emotional tension etc. in my partners. To me it is a very important part of Aikido's training system, since (to me) Aikido is about creating the most effective responses to different conflict situations and scenarios via an understanding of the energies involved in the conflict. Thus, I have found that being aware of subtle vagaries in my partner or attacker has helped not only in finding weaknesses to apply effective technique, but also to find precise ways of helping those who have issues (in and out of the dojo). My personal take is that the same tactics used to take balance can be used to restore it and this applies to psychological as well as physical situations. It goes further to the ladies in my class who may have certain problems and issues training with members who are predominantly male and who may sometimes act inappropriately. What I do is try to locate the core issue in all the individuals involved and then bring them to understand and move past it by appreciating the essence of their dojo mate's perception of their actions. This helps folks to get along very well in our dojo, gender equality is pretty much a non-issue and women are not put off by training even though they see some very hard training and ukemi going on. I appeal to their more evolved human sides in a sense, for both males and females.:)

I find this kind of true acceptance one of the main values of the social interaction we get in the dojo.
Well the social interaction is unavoidable since one trains with different partners, but to me the lessons are part of becoming better at Aikido and not even a result of the social interaction so much, since to be better at Aikido (at least in my dojo) your "radar" or your sensitivity to everything that is going on in your environment and with your partner before during and after his/her attack should be able to detect as much information as possible so you can react and move appropriately to complete effective technique.

I understand the intimidation many women may feel walking into a martial arts dojo. What I have found to be helpful to my female students is encouraging them to read literature on Aikido that helps prepare their mind so that they understand the methods and norms behind the training and then equate many things in the practice to things that may be simple to them depending on their occupation, past training etc. (all of which I get on registration). I take a similar method to folks who start Aikido from other MA, I use my cross training or knowledge of those arts to help explain Aikido in a language that makes things appear not as strange and alien to the person.

As far as Ueshiba M.'s Aikido goes, I think the only person who actually did that was Ueshiba M. himself and it died with him. Due to the creative, adaptive nature of Aikido I think the observer effect tends to affect it a lot more than other "rigidly structured and standardized" methods such as Kodokan Judo for example. One only has to look at the many interpretations of "Aikido" from the beginning with Ueshiba M.'s deshi. As such, though one learns the basic form and principle from his/her instructor the Aikido done by that person will be an expression of that person and no one else. This is a manifestation of Shu Ha Ri also. This also refers to women and Aikido since due to some physiological differences that are a constant in the species between male and female (such as Centre of Gravity etc.) there will be differences in how some things need to be taught and how they will be executed. This however should not be an issue in training if one can appreciate the various manifestations of certain principles based on internal and external conditions.

Just my 2 cents. Helping to get stuff back on track. :cool:
LC:ai::ki:

RonRagusa
03-07-2005, 05:58 PM
Well Mike, I don't remember addressing anything to you in my post but since you brought it up... Mary and I have been married for 10 years, not that it's your or anyone else's business.

And yes, even though I'm independent now I spent 25 years under the instruction of Shuji Maruyama Sensei founder of the Kokikai School of Aikido. In choosing to use the name Aikido to describe my art I do so not without credentials.

Furthermore since O-Sensei has passed on how I run my dojo is undoubtedly of no interest to him.

One more thing - Mary's original post was intended to express a feeling and carried with it no expectations, implications or agendas. The vast womanly conspiracy to turn Aikido into a new age dance you dreamed up was in reaction to someone merely venting.

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 05:59 PM
I understand the intimidation many women may feel walking into a martial arts dojo. I wonder how many males, walking into a dojo for the first time, haven't felt "intimidated" (I think "apprehensive" is a better word for what people are trying to say). The idea that males never feel "intimidated", get all their jobs without trying, are never poor and downcast, is something of a myth in so many cases.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 06:03 PM
Well Mike, I don't remember addressing anything to you in my post but since you brought it up... Mary and I have been married for 10 years, not that it's your or anyone else's business.

And yes, even though I'm independent now I spent 25 years under the instruction of Shuji Maruyama Sensei founder of the Kokikai School of Aikido. In choosing to use the name Aikido to describe my art I do so not without credentials.

Furthermore since O-Sensei has passed on how I run my dojo is undoubtedly of no interest to him.

One more thing - Mary's original post was intended to express a feeling and carried with it no expectations, implications or agendas. The vast womanly conspiracy to turn Aikido into a new age dance you dreamed up was in reaction to someone merely venting.
I was just expressing a feeling, Ron, that it looks better to keep things out front. In a public forum. If I don't want anyone to comment, on topic, to what I say, I won't say it in a public forum.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 07:41 PM
You just built a strawman argument based on the idea that I was saying rape was OK, Sunny. It's offensive.No, I said that to say that rape is animal behavior HEAVILY IMPLIES that it is acceptable.

You are not a stupid man, Mike. You knew exactly what you were doing.

Mike Sigman
03-07-2005, 07:52 PM
No, I said that to say that rape is animal behavior HEAVILY IMPLIES that it is acceptable.

You are not a stupid man, Mike. You knew exactly what you were doing. You need to learn to quit while you're behind. When you attribute a thought or statement to someone because you interpret another thing *at your whim* as "heavily implies", then it's simply intellectual dishonesty. I was not implying something was "acceptable" because animals do it.... I was saying that instead of the very simplistic characterization of rape as "rage and domination" there's more complexity to it than that. What you've done is take my statement of complexity and use it to say essentially that I am condoning rape. That is completely dishonest. Use those sorts of tactics on someone else, please. Have someone explain it to you.

Mike Sigman

rob_liberti
03-07-2005, 09:03 PM
Ron,

You would be *crazy* to try to demand that I let someone train while pregnant in *my* dojo. If you want to do that in your dojo - good luck to you.

Mike,
Take a deep breath, relax, and try to follow along. When neither side can prove or disprove a point it would be just plain illogical to conclude that one side MUST be right and the other wrong. I'm not looking to provoke you. How about trying not to get all upset that you cannot convince me to agree with faulty logic. I thought about trying to re-explain some of my other points, but I actually feel that I explained them all well enough already. If it's really not working for you, and you honestly want further explanation, let me know and I'll PM you or email you, but I won't bug everyone else.

About the body to body communication of intimate martial arts, I think Osensei could feel these things in his partners. His martial art is very natural, and so is communication on that level. Larry, great post. I can feel the body-fear people have when they are taking ukemi just around their limit to do so. I used to mis-interpret this and think the person was challenging me and blast through it. That was a non-ideal situation. Others sense this and back off too much. The trick I have found it is back off just the tiniest bit in power and keep the power right there (like the momentu of the power and drama level) so that the uke can work through their body fear. Building a better uke, builds better overall aikido. I think that is part of the original aikido by the founder. Otherwise, it would be just a big filtering process.

Rob

sunny liberti
03-07-2005, 09:58 PM
Mike, if you start by rereading post 150, you'll find that the only one requiring proof of anything is you. I have seen you assert that your position is "on basic and easily proven ground". But your one source is someone else's *opinion* that you seem to misinterpret, and then pass off that misinterpretation as fact.

There have been plenty of attempts at bringing this thread back to aikido. Anytime we make progress toward that end, you are the one derailing it once again - even when you promised you'd quit. Can you resist the urge to get the last quibble at any cost?

If you actually want to have an aikido related contribution, I'd be interested in your take on how it is that both Rob and Larry - who train in completely different systems - have similar experiences perceiveing and relating to body-fear in others. It seems if many people are training at that level of perception, maybe we'll make some progress in increasing the numbers of women in aikido. Any thoughts?

L. Camejo
03-08-2005, 08:23 AM
I can feel the body-fear people have when they are taking ukemi just around their limit to do so. I used to mis-interpret this and think the person was challenging me and blast through it. That was a non-ideal situation. Others sense this and back off too much. The trick I have found it is back off just the tiniest bit in power and keep the power right there (like the momentu of the power and drama level) so that the uke can work through their body fear.

Great post Rob. I tended to fall into the latter group of backing off too much at first, mainly not to injure any of my students in the event they unwittingly reacted in a self destructive manner to the technique. However, since exploring the concept of this sort of communication I am able to do it like you indicated above and maintain things at the level where Uke is still challenged but not scared into fearing for one's safety. In fact a good Tori/Nage always knows how his Uke is reacting to the technique as one should feel that slight tension in Uke when the fear response sets in. Over time though this turns into a confidence response as you feel them relaxing into the technique and the Ukemi more as you slowly increase the intensity. From my experience as far as the Ukemi part goes, I have found the fears I get from women about falling to be not very different to the fears I get from guys who come from striking arts who may have never practiced falling. It is the fear of the unknown.

Building a better uke, builds better overall aikido. I think that is part of the original aikido by the founder. Otherwise, it would be just a big filtering process.

I think so. It is through our work as Uke that we start to understand half of the communication that occurs during the process of a technique. It is also the gateway through which one begins to understand the dynamics of effective kaeshiwaza. The better the Uke the better the Tori in most cases. Even in resistance training it occurs, there came a point where during resistance randori neither my Instructor nor I could get off a clean technique since we instinctively knew each other's movements after training together for so many years, even though I was (and still am) not very near his technical ability, it was just that we knew each other's movements so well that we instinctively made things a stalemate.

I think listening on all levels is important in training and how we interpret what we hear from the ladies in class, the tough guys, the intimidated ones or the extroverted ones etc. can help Instructors and students alike to create an environment where each is comfortable to train within his/her own paradigm, yet be willing to explore beyond and challenge some of the norms that may have been a hindrance in the past to their development.

Just my 2 cents.
LC:ai::ki:

rob_liberti
03-08-2005, 08:50 AM
I developed my ability to listen by basically deciding to not use my arms muscles to do anything besides extend/retract, twist, and maintain light connection. I refused to resist *anything* for about 3 years as uke. I took such a beating though - luckily I had a fairly well conditioned and young body! Eventually, I learned to feel things very directly. My perception improved to the point that I wasn't getting suprised by how my teacher threw me. He is not one of those guys that you can get too used to because his technique continues to evolve so rapidly. About 2 or 3 times a year I could jam him up somewhere, and watching him instantly adapt and adjust (and smile) while he threw me or let me run into his palm-heel, etc. was incredibly valuable.

I realise that many women don't have too many other options, as they simply don't in general have matching upper body strength. My goal on this is to make sure that everyone in the dojo is on board with the approach towards developing full body movements. Hopefully the new females - well really everyone - who don't (can't) use their arm muscles primarily see that they actually have an advantage in training. I just had to set things up such that no one was abused for their tempory weaknesses while they are developing their skill. (It would be just about as unfair, as starting a new person out in slow tai-chi and then having people run up and push them over at full speed. Everyone thinks the same thing, try that again in 10-15 years. I'm hoping to get my folks feeling more solid closer to 10 years instead of 15 years.

Larry, when you do competitions, do the beginners participate cross gender? Is there a situation where some strong beginner just over powers a weaker beginner with arm and upper-body strength?

Rob

Brion Toss
03-08-2005, 06:33 PM
Hello all,
Quite the thread, this, yes? It has drifted around a bit, but also gone to some places that got my attention and/or infuriated me. Either one I take as a sign of something worth paying attention to. I'm hoping it would be appropriate to offer a brief summing up of things thus far. Not to presume that everyone is through with whatever the thread has become, but as a way to comment on the total, if only for my own clarity.
So, what started out as an exasperated exclamation seems quickly to have jelled into two questions: Is there gender disparity in Aikido; and would such a disparity actually have anything intrinsic to do with the art.
The responses seem to fall into yes/yes, yes/no, and yes/oh, maybe, with the most of the more, um, interesting responses around the first two. For my part, thanks to the yes/yes group for saying so clearly and passionately why said disparity matters, and how it seems to them to be intrinsic to the health, or lack of health, of the art. Or that's how I took their posts as a whole.
Thanks also to the yes/no's, mostly in the person of Mr. Sigman, for presenting an utterly different perspective, and for demonstrating that I am still vulnerable to red herrings. As a yes/yes myself, I'd love it if the conversation were more, dare I say equitable?, but it has been thought-provoking.
And thanks to the yes/oh, I don't know's for a kinder, gentler take on things; judging by the volume rate, and intensity of all posts, this clearly is an issue that matters a lot to at least some people, and cooler heads are priceless in such circumstances.
Now, like I said, people may wish to carry on here, but I think that another thread has been running through this one: what is Aikido, anyway? Mr. Sigman has repeatedly said things to the effect that we should just practice this martial art and leave all our baggage at the door. Sounds easy, but doesn't define terms nearly enough for me to derive meaning. Others have intimated emotional or spiritual or intellectual considerations about why they practice. Are such considerations part of this art? If so, are they demonstrably consistent with the Founder's art? If not, why? And does it matter? Are we all just practicing our own version of Aikido, or is there something sufficiently clear, formal, and intrinsic that we can all relate to?
I don't know the answer to any of those questions, but I am about to make a major life passage and Start A Thread about them. Look for it in 'Spiritual.'
Yours,
Brion Toss

PeterR
03-08-2005, 07:06 PM
If there is should Aikido change because of it?

wxyzabc
03-08-2005, 07:14 PM
Hya guys

Sounds like S. Pranin has done a wonderful job in arranging great Expos...we should just enjoy, not seek to critize what may not be "perfect".

Lee

SeiserL
03-08-2005, 11:23 PM
IMHO,
Yes, Pranin Sensei has done a wonderful job with the Expo. See you there.
Yes, I believe there is disparity in the world, not just Aikido.
No, the art shouldn't change, we should.

And in my not so humble professional opinion based on twenty-eight years of clinical experience with rapist and rape victims, while it is a sexual behavior, rape is all about power and control.

L. Camejo
03-09-2005, 08:36 AM
Larry, when you do competitions, do the beginners participate cross gender?

In large competitions there is a separate category for men and women in the shiai part and there can be mixed team events for the enbu or demonstration part of the competition. When we have little internal dojo comps. for practice it's all mixed up since the numbers are not there to have a separate category for females. However, as far as I know, beginners are generally not allowed to compete at all, though they may engage in resistance randori, which is the method used to train for shiai.

Is there a situation where some strong beginner just over powers a weaker beginner with arm and upper-body strength?
There will always be situations where some try to use excessive upper body muscle to apply "technique" but basically this is not encouraged at all whether in shiai or in training. Because of the resistance based practice however, one quickly learns how to utilise this excessive muscle approach to relax and let it aid in one's kuzushi and technique, so in a sense it becomes quickly counter productive to those who try to use it. This helps keep the scales pretty well balanced as long as one focuses on the aspects of correct technique and not trying to react to a musclebound attack with his/her own muscular and mental tension. This is also the premise of shiai.

LC:ai::ki:

Bronson
03-09-2005, 09:38 PM
Why would practicing Aikido, as opposed to practicing anything else, cause you to "develop a higher degree of sensitivity towards other peoples' body and psychological fear"?

Well Mike, I think you are just being argumentative here. Rob never said we could learn something in Aikido that we couldn't learn somewhere else.

Has anyone - through their aikido / internal martial arts training - developed a higher degree of sensitivity towards other people's body and psycological fears - such that they are able to really help those people work through their issues?

Asking "why aikido as opposed to anything else..." in response to this question would be like Rob asking if anybody has ever gone 100mph in a Honda Civic and you saying that lots of cars can go 100mph. True, but not an answer to what was asked.

My answer to Rob is yes. I believe that my aikido practice has helped me develop in these ways. The reason I believe it was aikido that helped me is that aikido is what I practice. If I did JKD, BJJ, played bridge, or checkers I might say those things helped me...but I don't practice those things, I practice aikido.

Bronson

rob_liberti
03-09-2005, 10:02 PM
Hi Bronson,

I think you can learn these things doing BJJ as well.

I don't really know, When you mature while training aikido, it is not easy to determine what maturity progress came from training aikido as opposed to just being around for a while longer.

I'm not sure I could have developed any additional perception to people playing checkers. I think you need to actually touch the person. (Again, I really don't *know* this, but that's my guess.)

The question is, how to you best develop the students to percieve this stuff - to increase the level of safety - to ultimately make these ancillary issues become nonissues and let us focus on aikido.

Thanks,
Rob

RonRagusa
03-09-2005, 10:11 PM
Rob Liberti wrote:
Has anyone - through their aikido / internal martial arts training - developed a higher degree of sensitivity towards other people's body and psycological fears - such that they are able to really help those people work through their issues?

I can think of several students that have benefited greatly from my awareness of their body fear. Before Aikido I wasn't aware that such a thing existed. How could anyone be afraid of their own body?

One of my students in particular was so tense on the mat when she first started I thought she would snap in two when thrown. Mary and I have paid special attention to her and little by little she has begun to relax and become more at home with herself. The transformation in this student has been remarkable.

Bronson
03-09-2005, 10:31 PM
I don't really know, When you mature while training aikido, it is not easy to determine what maturity progress came from training aikido as opposed to just being around for a while longer.

We are complicated. I'm not sure it's possible to KNOW exactly which specific aspect of our life has given us anything. Everything about us informs and shapes everything else. Because I can't KNOW I chose to use the word BELIEVE.

I believe that my aikido practice has helped me develop in these ways.

I can't say for sure that I wouldn't have learned these things anyway, but I can look at my past and decide for myself that without something to guide me this way I wouldn't have made it here. It just so happens that the "something" in my case was aikido.

I'm not sure I could have developed any additional perception to people playing checkers. I think you need to actually touch the person. (Again, I really don't *know* this, but that's my guess.)

It was meant to be a light hearted example ;) but as I think about it some of the better poker players I know are phenomenal "readers" of people. I'm sure that if there are people out there playing checkers at a high level they are reading their opponents :D

Bronson

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 08:42 AM
I took it as a light-hearted example, but the poker idea occured to me too. It is a valuable insight for me. The difference there is that poker players read people but they put up a big mask to not be read themselves. I think aikido people should be working towards removing the masks. If there is something there you don't want people to see- change. That's the point of the art. That builds better people. Akido is cool because you can test your progress in dropping your ego because we get to try tomove/respond/react very spontaneously with ego-free movement. (I think the body makes a lot more progress than the mind initially, then then it's all in your mind.)

Rob

happysod
03-10-2005, 08:56 AM
I think aikido people should be working towards removing the masks Rob, (with nod to Bronson's gambling habits) I have to disagree with your removal of masks - when I'm attacking or defending, the last thing I intend to do is introduce any "tells" to aid my partner in anticipating the attack/defense, so in effect I do like the poker folks do and attempt a mask, only in this case it's an all over body suit - or am I missing the point again?

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 09:07 AM
Hi Ian,

Good point. I know what you mean. I have seen some people who open their eyes much wided than normal before they swing their sword at you. It's a little strange really - but a bit common.

But, isn't this a matter of being level-appropriate? I don't want to suprise the new people. There is enough distractions. First, you show them with totaly clarity what is happening, and elongate it and slow it down if necessary. Then as the drama, speed, intensity, and randomness of the attacks increase (in a level appropriate way) the nage should have developed good enough perception to deal with this (or optimally be just on the edge of their current ability) while training.

I agree that any good uke worth their salt, will not telegraph their attack (beyond what is level-appropriate) . From the nage side, I'd say there is no where to hide - so enter.

Rob

L. Camejo
03-10-2005, 09:16 AM
Rob, (with nod to Bronson's gambling habits) I have to disagree with your removal of masks - when I'm attacking or defending, the last thing I intend to do is introduce any "tells" to aid my partner in anticipating the attack/defense, so in effect I do like the poker folks do and attempt a mask, only in this case it's an all over body suit - or am I missing the point again?

I can agree here with Ian also.

Sometime ago I had an Aikido instructor from another system visiting for some months and he trained with us for a while. He is accustomed to entering hanmi/kamae before attacking or receiving an attack. We try to do all technique without any sort of "telegraphing" so he'd attack and I'd go from "unmoving, hands down, sitting duck, mugamae stance" to "sudden entry, blur and it's all over". By being very relaxed and taking a neutral stance up to a split second before moving, the attacker would have absolutely no indication regarding what was coming next, so it would be difficult to provide resistance or counter without some sort of response guided by tactile sensitivity (that sensitivity issue comes up again:)). My instructor pal could only smile at the simplicity of it, since one sort of fell for it so easily, even after having seen it a few times.

Personally, I believe deception is a very important part of applying Aiki strategy effectively. Even before the attack is made we are leading the attacker to do what we want him to and not what works best for him, without him realising it until too late. But this is just my take.;)
LC:ai::ki:

rob_liberti
03-10-2005, 09:31 AM
Good post. I greatly disliked the "hamni all the time" rule. My current teacher doesn't play by those rules and I am very happy. I can see the value in it for starting out - as there is enough to worry about. But I see moving to get the feeling of a technique as much more fundimental than what others typically see as fundimental so I think it is just a bad rule with good intentions.

I do like the situation where we expect uke to grow into a highly reactive uke. I'd say that has a lot more martial value (in teaching uke how to take care of themselve in teh moment of fully committed attack) than many of the silly wrist locks. Again, you have to build people in such a way that they work through their body-fears so they can be highly reactive.

This process gets fun in setting people up. I like messing with people's tracking system. Entering a bit but with strong communicative intention and then turning just enough and at just the right moment is a great skill to develop. Doing aikido starting from a completely stopped position as Larry suggested is something I haven't experiemented on in a long time. We used to do that with should grabs. My take is that this is something to work on after your entrance is realyl good - but I'm from a movement oriented point of view.

Rob

mj
03-10-2005, 01:02 PM
Rob (although I am contributing to the thread drift, apologies all)

I am not entirely sure that Larry is talking about a static positition in mugamae, although he may well be.

My reading is that he is talking about allowing a good attack/being receptive and being open for it. As to hanmi it is a great tool but should not be deified. Of course hanmi does the opposite of mugamae, hanmi tries to close all openings.

Any grappler or thrower will tell you how insane it is to leave your front foot out in front of your body. However as I say, hanmi is a good tool just not ...always appropriate.

L. Camejo
03-10-2005, 01:42 PM
Hi Rob and MJ,

You are both correct actually.:)

The idea is to use mugamae in a way that the attacker "thinks" you are not moving or rooted to the spot (or unable to move), giving him that little extra confidence to really dedicate the attack among other things. However in mind and in slight body changes I am moving all the time but it is not made too obvious to the attacker. It's like playing dead, waiting for or creating that precise moment to move in, presenting an easy target, but ready to react at an instant when the opening presents itself with the incoming attack. So it can occur in both static and moving situations, similar to what Rob said about entering a bit then turning at the last moment. I think it goes back to the Yin/Yang concept about stillness being pregnant with potential for movement or something of the sort. It's like a cat about to pounce on its prey in a sense.

Hope this helps.

I see we may have some thread drift occuring here.:)
LC:ai::ki:

Chuck.Gordon
03-10-2005, 04:38 PM
Mike, if you start by rereading post 150, you'll find that the only one requiring proof of anything is you.

I find it interesting, that people who so readily demonize the acceptability of rape, will so eagerly verbally gang-bang someone they simply disagree with, intellectually.

I don't know Mike from Eve, so I'm not sure what the big sticking point was. Challenging questions. So? Lots of PAGP (passive-aggressive game-playing) was actually a big more incriminating. If a person can't stay centered in verbal randori, no chance of it happening in a physical realm.

Rob and Larry - who train in completely different systems - have similar experiences perceiveing and relating to body-fear in others. It seems if many people are training at that level of perception, maybe we'll make some progress in increasing the numbers of women in aikido. Any thoughts?

I now train in an eclectic system of jujutsu, kempo and weapons. It reminds me of nothing so much as what Shoji Nishio Shihan put together, but a bit more direct and efficient. We have koryu roots, and gendai ones as well.

I was frightened to death at first, and made plans to go and train with the Jiyushinkai. But I tried it, and I stuck with it, and it agrees with me. At times we have had 70-30 male-female attendance.

As far as I know, there are no other female teachers in this system.

My heroines include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, our local provost marshal, several women on the aikido mailing list, and no prominent senior women in that art. There's just not enough exposure. Budo in Texas is a minefield.. and while I found many instructors in aikido to admire, none of them really spoke to me in terms of being my "personal icon". Maybe I just don't do icons.

Changes will not be brought about by whining for favors or politicizing.
Changes will be brought about by training sincerely and being genuine, by exploring history, both understanding and ignoring politics, and blazing the trail to the future.

http://www.ejmas.com/proceedings/GSJSA03dolan.htm

MLE
www.the-dojo.com
www.katsujin.com

Lorien Lowe
03-11-2005, 01:29 AM
Emily wrote, "If a person can't stay centered in verbal randori, no chance of it happening in a physical realm."


I have to disagree with you on this one, Emily. Personally I'm much more comfortable sparring physically than verbally. It's a lot harder for people to lie or be specious with nonverbal communication.

Lorien Lowe
03-11-2005, 01:49 AM
Recently our dojo lost one of our brown belts, a young woman, because we are too 'sexist, racist, feudal, backwards, and undemocratic (etc.)' for her to continue training there. Those of us who remain can do little but shake our heads at her (what the heck does democracy have to do with training in a martial art?).

One of the many things that attracted me to this dojo in the first place, and that keeps me there, is the hard-line egalitarianism set by Sensei. Everyone is expected to train at the same level, everyone is held to the same standards, and everyone is expected to take care of their own bodies. These were the exact things, however, that drove a different woman away.

If we want to 'attract and retain women,' we are going to have to acknowledge that different women want different things and start by deciding whom we want to attract. However, if the dojo-cho refuses to admit that some aspects of training are different for men and women, I'm willing to bet fifty rolls that they won't get many women at all. Only once in the five or so years that I've been training has Sensei had to say anything about harassment, but on that occasion (as, I am told, happened once or twice before I came as well) he made it blindingly clear that it would not be tolerated. That attitude is clearly felt in the atmosphere of the dojo, and I think it's a prerequisite for most women regardless of their training goals.
Caveat: I'm only one gal, not 'most,' and all of the above is mnsho.

-LK

ruthmc
03-11-2005, 04:47 AM
Recently our dojo lost one of our brown belts, a young woman, because we are too 'sexist, racist, feudal, backwards, and undemocratic (etc.)' for her to continue training there. Those of us who remain can do little but shake our heads at her (what the heck does democracy have to do with training in a martial art?).
So that's what she said.... I suspect that what she meant was that she didn't feel included.

Democracy (as it is understood in the west) has nothing to do with training in an eastern martial art, and unless one can get one's head around this, it is easy to feel excluded from the dojo system. I think that it can be more difficult for women to find their way in the martial arts dojo, as the process is inherently better understood by men. This is why it is so important for women to help other women find their way - we have a duty of care to our kohai sisters to help them to understand and feel part of the system.

(These are just my observations after training in a variety of Aikido dojo for 13+ years)

I'm sorry to hear that your dojo has lost a student, and I hope that you will all gain some positive learning from the experience. :)

Ruth

Pauliina Lievonen
03-11-2005, 05:46 AM
Recently our dojo lost one of our brown belts, a young woman, because we are too 'sexist, racist, feudal, backwards, and undemocratic (etc.)' for her to continue training there. Those of us who remain can do little but shake our heads at her (what the heck does democracy have to do with training in a martial art?).

One of the many things that attracted me to this dojo in the first place, and that keeps me there, is the hard-line egalitarianism set by Sensei. Everyone is expected to train at the same level, everyone is held to the same standards, and everyone is expected to take care of their own bodies. These were the exact things, however, that drove a different woman away.
Goes to show how different reality can seem from different people's viewpoint. Makes it difficult to discuss a topic like this.

However, if the dojo-cho refuses to admit that some aspects of training are different for men and women, I'm willing to bet fifty rolls that they won't get many women at all.
I 'm going to have to ask my teacher about this because this made me really curious about his views. We have about 50% women in the dojo, but if you ask me, there isn't any difference made in the training. OTOH that could be just how I perceive things and not true at all. I'm going to do a little poll at the dojo I think.

kvaak
Pauliina

sunny liberti
03-12-2005, 09:34 AM
Wow! Excellent posts, girls! It took 9 pages for us to get here, but I'm really glad we stuck it out!!If we want to 'attract and retain women,' we are going to have to acknowledge that different women want different things and start by deciding whom we want to attract. However, if the dojo-cho refuses to admit that some aspects of training are different for men and women, I'm willing to bet fifty rolls that they won't get many women at all.I think that it can be more difficult for women to find their way in the martial arts dojo, as the process is inherently better understood by men.Great points!!!

Dojo culture formed in a world entirely foreign to western female upbringing. A lot of what goes on and is required of us (what we must accomplish) is in direct opposition to behavior expected of me pre-training - for example, by my parents or in school. I think we begin training with our experiences of being told to always defer to elders and not bother anyone with our problems, etc... When we see the way things work in a dojo we may naturally assume the respect required of us is the repressive kind that we have worked so hard to buck. There are likely many more women who could be excellent students, but quit over this misunderstanding. Only few of us are willing or able to overcome this obstacle.

I think in general, different things make us feel respected than what makes men feel respected. Since dojo life was set up by and for men, it makes sense that it encourages them in their "native language". Perhaps the men feel we are "fragile" and "weak" when women complain only about feeling left out, because they understand that to mean we are complaining about feeling disrespected from hard training. We in turn get insulted at the idea that we can't handle hard training... And so it goes...

Sorry my points are not articulated very well this morning. Some people have a way with words, and others, well, not... have... way...

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 10:07 AM
Wow! Excellent posts, girls! It took 9 pages for us to get here, but I'm really glad we stuck it out!!Great points!!!

Dojo culture formed in a world entirely foreign to western female upbringing. A lot of what goes on and is required of us (what we must accomplish) is in direct opposition to behavior expected of me pre-training - for example, by my parents or in school. I think we begin training with our experiences of being told to always defer to elders and not bother anyone with our problems, etc... When we see the way things work in a dojo we may naturally assume the respect required of us is the repressive kind that we have worked so hard to buck. There are likely many more women who could be excellent students, but quit over this misunderstanding. Only few of us are willing or able to overcome this obstacle.

I think in general, different things make us feel respected than what makes men feel respected. Since dojo life was set up by and for men, it makes sense that it encourages them in their "native language". Perhaps the men feel we are "fragile" and "weak" when women complain only about feeling left out, because they understand that to mean we are complaining about feeling disrespected from hard training. We in turn get insulted at the idea that we can't handle hard training... And so it goes...With all due respect, it sounds like you guys have been singled out for vicitmization by your parents, schools, men, dojo's, etc., your whole lives. I hadn't realized it was that bad. How about this as a practical solution to the constant problems you're pointing out. Why not form an all-female dojo? ALL the problems that other people have foisted on you will then be circumvented:

You can train just as hard as you want.

You can have only female visiting instructors.

Women will make their Aikido-dojo behaviour conform with what's most comfortable for women.

There will be no sexual banter that is offensive.

Since women won't feel fear about going into an all-female dojo, they will undoubtedly flock in untold numbers, thus assuring the financial survival of the dojo and the ability to put out women instructors equal or better to men instructors.

The dojo's will be more spiritual and full of harmony.

Child-rearing should be no problem because there's always women handy who can hold your baby while you do a smoothe roll.

The more I think of it, the better I like it. Is there already an all-female dojo someplace (probably like in Washington State, Oregon, Massachusetts or California, I would assume) ? I'd be interested to hear how they're doing, if there is such a place.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

SeiserL
03-12-2005, 11:45 AM
(I usually don't do this, but ...)

IMHO, sarcasm is for the ignorant and arrogant, but this is a public unmoderated forum and everyone does have a right to their own personal opinion and means of expressing it.

But, somewhere a mother, wife, sister, or girlfriend has my condolences.

If we needed proof that sexist views are alive and well in America, we have removed all trace of doubt and respect. But, thank you for illustrating the belief system that prevents things from being equitable.

(My wife would be glad I wrote this, but I will probably wished I had just stepped off the line of attack instead of into it, bowed respectfully, and left well enough alone.)

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 02:38 PM
(I usually don't do this, but ...)

IMHO, sarcasm is for the ignorant and arrogant, Strange coincidence... that' s exactly what I think about psychology, Lynn. It's the non-science thats membership has become a laughingstock for its ultra-liberal orientation. "Ultra-liberal" meaning similar to "Ultra-Right in that it is "not centered" in my opinion. ;) But, somewhere a mother, wife, sister, or girlfriend has my condolences.

If we needed proof that sexist views are alive and well in America, we have removed all trace of doubt and respect. But, thank you for illustrating the belief system that prevents things from being equitable. Let's review quickly what Sunny said:

'When we see the way things work in a dojo we may naturally assume the respect required of us is the repressive kind that we have worked so hard to buck. There are likely many more women who could be excellent students, but quit over this misunderstanding. Only few of us are willing or able to overcome this obstacle.

I think in general, different things make us feel respected than what makes men feel respected. Since dojo life was set up by and for men, it makes sense that it encourages them in their "native language". Perhaps the men feel we are "fragile" and "weak" when women complain only about feeling left out, because they understand that to mean we are complaining about feeling disrespected from hard training. We in turn get insulted at the idea that we can't handle hard training... And so it goes...'

So why you didn't offer any condolences about that obliquely negative attack on men, Lynn (and it wasn't even "tonge-in-cheek" the way mine was)? I'll tell you why. It's because you're in the California cultural belief-system that it's alright for a "victim" to complain and be insulting, through a series of posts, because she's just "venting" and rightfully so, in your opinion. So you took umbrage at my satire and thought it worth the oblique shot of offering condolences to a wife, mother, girlfriend, etc. Frankly, all those people would think you're a flake, Lynn, and wouldn't want your condolences. The rest of the world is not necessarily a fan of pop-psychology a la California. :) (My wife would be glad I wrote this, but I will probably wished I had just stepped off the line of attack instead of into it, bowed respectfully, and left well enough alone.) True, but I admire you for finally doing something, after all these years I've watched you post, that took a little testosterone. Congratulations.

Although what I wrote was obviously tongue-in-cheek as a response to a continued sexist rant by actually only 2 or 3 people, there's a bit of reality behind what Sunny said AND behind what I said. There are SOME dojo's where there are problems about gender, but for the most part there are more problems in the dojo's where women (and sometimes men) have a chip on their shoulder. Sunny has a chip on her shoulder, obviously, and refuses to address the fact that in most dojo's everything is at an acceptable level. She just whines and bickers about the injustice of it all. I actually know of two dojo's that were started as all-female dojo's (I'm sure there's more, but I only personally knew about 2). They didn't last. The bickering and cat-fighting ended them pretty quickly. Not to mention there was no great response and joining by women. So my comment is again, "get back to Aikido and leave the extraneous issues out of it", because there are problems everywhere that can distract. Gender problems exist on both sides. Check 'em at the door. If you're good, show it. :straightf

FWIW

Mike

SeiserL
03-12-2005, 04:17 PM
Sorry Mike,

Since you publicly dish it out so well, I thought you could probable take it. So much for things that are equitable.

Since we don't know each other, lets not take it too personally or seriously, or waste a lot of other's time testing testosterone. You, no doubt, win in that area.

I hope you and yours are safe, healthy, and happy. I, and mine, are.

And now, as you suggest, back to just training.

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 04:37 PM
Sorry Mike,

Since you publicly dish it out so well, I thought you could probable take it. So much for things that are equitable. Sorry, Lynn, I don't look at it like that. You attacked me unprovoked and I threw you. I.e., I just flowed with your personally unprovoked attack. If you had posted something in different tone or on a different topic, I'd have responded in kind. When you "dish out" comments about someone's wife, mother, girlfriend, etc., why on earth would you think a martial artist is going to roll over and turn the other cheek? :) Since we don't know each other, lets not take it too personally or seriously, or waste a lot of other's time testing testosterone. You, no doubt, win in that area. You're absolutely misreading me if you think my returning a tit for tat reflects me taking things personally, Lynn. Do you get angry when Uke attacks you, then? Perhaps you turn and walk away in your dojo when Uke attacks??? ;)

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Lorien Lowe
03-12-2005, 06:17 PM
Viva California!
Viva California!
Viva California!
:) :) :)

-LK
p.s. in written english, plural nouns do not generally have apostrophes (ie, 'those dojos' is correct, 'those dojo's' is not).

Lorien Lowe
03-12-2005, 06:21 PM
And 'English' should have been capitalized. :)

-LK

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 06:23 PM
Viva California!
Viva California!
Viva California!
:) :) :) Some of my best friends are Californians. ;) p.s. in written english, plural nouns do not generally have apostrophes (ie, 'those dojos' is correct, 'those dojo's' is not). Maybe so. "Dojo" is English? ;)

Mike

SeiserL
03-12-2005, 06:23 PM
Lynn. Do you get angry when Uke attacks you, then? Perhaps you turn and walk away in your dojo when Uke attacks??? ;)

If you take commenting on your statements as an unprovoked attack, then yes, I offered my personal observation on your unprovoked attacks. I disagreed.

I don't take this seriously or personally enough to feel thrown (or even off balanced), get angry, or feel attacked. It was the response I have come to expect.There is no real threat here.

And yes, as a matter of fact, I do walk away from things that are a waste of my time. Its called wisdom, common sense, and good manners.

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 06:24 PM
And 'English' should have been capitalized. :) I knew what you meant and didn't want to nitpick.

Regards,

Mike

RonRagusa
03-12-2005, 06:35 PM
....When we see the way things work in a dojo we may naturally assume the respect required of us is the repressive kind that we have worked so hard to buck....

When respect is demanded in the dojo it is most likely of the repressive variety. It's the instructor's responsibility to earn your respect, and then continually work to keep it.

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 06:38 PM
If you take commenting on your statements as an unprovoked attack, then yes, I offered my personal observation on your unprovoked attacks. I disagreed. You are a gem of passive-aggressive behaviour, Lynn. I don't take this seriously or personally enough to feel thrown (or even off balanced), get angry, or feel attacked. It was the response I have come to expect.There is no real threat here.

And yes, as a matter of fact, I do walk away from things that are a waste of my time. Its called wisdom, common sense, and good manners. In my experience, most of the "psychologists" and "therapists" I have encountered are people with personal problems that they act out by advising others on how to act and think. You're no different, IMO. I'm not going along with the babble-speak, Lynn, but I appreciate that you have found a wonderful community within which to interact and you're in just about the ultimate location, as well. Congratulations.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

CaseyD
03-12-2005, 06:52 PM
Hmm.. What was this thread about again? The number of women invited to teach at a seminar. It has been noted that there are a lot more high ranked men than women in aikido. So, the ratio of men to women instructors would appear obvious. Im guessing that at the heart of this thread is the old " woman in a man's world" thing that many women must feel in life.
As a guy I'd just like to say that I like practicing with different people, and some of the women in my dojo are awesome, both to practice with and as teachers.

Mike Sigman
03-12-2005, 06:54 PM
Lynn Seiser, PhD
SandanTenshinkai Aikido/Kali JKD
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training." Train well. KWATZ! Incidentally, Lynn, now that you've interposed yourself into the thread, could you explain to me how you can have the body mechanics of the Ki and Kokyu of Aikido while maintaining the body mechanics of Jeet Kune Do? It's a physical curiosity to me.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

SeiserL
03-12-2005, 07:25 PM
how you can have the body mechanics of the Ki and Kokyu of Aikido while maintaining the body mechanics of Jeet Kune Do? It's a physical curiosity to me.

That has been curious for me too. But that's an entirely different thread.

Lorien Lowe
03-12-2005, 08:44 PM
I 'm going to have to ask my teacher about this because this made me really curious about his views. We have about 50% women in the dojo, but if you ask me, there isn't any difference made in the training. OTOH that could be just how I perceive things and not true at all. I'm going to do a little poll at the dojo I think.

For fear of adding those fifty rolls to my already grueling pre-test regimen, I should clarify my meaning.

I've trained for five years, and only once during that time has Sensei ever said anything specifically regarding women. It was in the middle of a speech about something else, and he was using it as a simile - but basically he said that it is completely unacceptable for men to take advantage of women on the mat, to turn training into some sort of rub-and-touch fest, and he wouldn't allow it. *
I think that his attitude shows in the general atmosphere of the dojo, even though it is almost never explicitely mentioned. Even though some women have had issues with the style of training, I've never heard of anyone who didn't feel as though the dojo was a safe place where that type of behavior didn't happen (at least not from reqular members). _That_ is what I mean by a dojo-cho who understands the issues.

-LK
*There's a dojo legend wherein Sensei physically threw a student out of the dojo, whom he found out had been routinely harassing a teenage girl after class. I don't know if it's true or not.

Jeffrey A. Fong
03-12-2005, 11:14 PM
A most curious experience following this (and other threads). There's a fine line between an honest, energetic debate of the topic and conflict for the sake of same. I see some have difficulty with this concept. Thanks and congratulations to those who''ve managed to keep this on topic and above character assasination.

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 09:29 AM
Ron Ragusa,
Well, I'm sure we see things closer than it appears on this thread, but I can assure you that the dojos where Sunny trains do not require any special respect for the teacher. I took her point to mean more that men and women have learned to percieve different things as respectful. (I should probably ask her!)

Mike, I agree with Lynn that you are taking differing opinions as personal attacks on you. In my opinion, you were contributing so wonderfully to the Ki and kokyu threads. No one is chiming in to support your views in this thread.

I am disappointed that you have time to post after almost every other person posts, and yet when I asked you some good questions on another thread about conditioning, and training, and strategy - you told me you didn't have time. Please follow your own advice and stop wasting time on this thread and stick to contributing positively to aikido in those other discussions.

I will choose to follow your advice and not waste any more time quibbling with you on topics that don't contribute positively towards aikido and encourage others to do the same.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 09:58 AM
Mike, I agree with Lynn that you are taking differing opinions as personal attacks on you. In my opinion, you were contributing so wonderfully to the Ki and kokyu threads. No one is chiming in to support your views in this thread. Er, not publicly, Rob. Just as *publicly* a lot of people on this list never say much about this list, but go look at how many websites mention things like "aiki-fruits", etc. What you've just done is continue on, once again, with the personal discussions instead of the topic discussions, while adding in the sort of appeal-to-authority tactic, "no support for your side". I actually have had some pretty hilarious support on the side. ;) I am disappointed that you have time to post after almost every other person posts, and yet when I asked you some good questions on another thread about conditioning, and training, and strategy - you told me you didn't have time. Please follow your own advice and stop wasting time on this thread and stick to contributing positively to aikido in those other discussions. Your disappointment with me aside, go back and look, Rob. I'll bet that I have contributed more substantive how-to's (valid one's, at that) about real Ki and Kokyu than any other person on the forum.... stuff I *wish* someone had told me years ago in order that I wouldn't waste so much time. And from some of the private discussions ongoing, it's apparently helping some of the very few that are really interested. What you want are extensions of those ideas when it's already apparent from many of your posts that you don't understand those basics yet, Rob. No offense meant. Since I have a lot of years of experience in typing out how to do those things and I know also from that experience that I've wasted countless hours because no one was able to use the information, I'm simply not going to make that error again in wasting the typing time.

And incidentally, I spend a lot of time working on the computer doing projects and research.... so when I check my email every now and then and see a post from QiJing, AikiWeb, and other places, I'll goof off for those few minutes as a time-killer and quick break.I will choose to follow your advice and not waste any more time quibbling with you on topics that don't contribute positively towards aikido and encourage others to do the same. Good. This tendency to go to personality discussions by the same people who keep talking about "higher purposes" and "harmony" has already set off a lot of bells to some of us. Passive-Aggressive behavior is NOT the same thing as "noble higher purposes"; it's hypocrisy. Let's avoid slamming others while pretending we're aloof from it and not really doing it, please.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

sunny liberti
03-15-2005, 10:00 AM
Sunny has a chip on her shoulder, obviously, and refuses to address the fact that in most dojo's everything is at an acceptable level. She just whines and bickers about the injustice of it all.Quoi?

Are you actually *reading* these posts?

Nevermind, don't bother to answer. I don't actually care. Besides, it's abundantly clear to everyone here that you intentionally misinterpret anything you can in order to incite and inflame. You are not worth any further effort. Good luck in your training efforts.

And yes, Rob explained my point better than I did... Thank you!

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 10:38 AM
Mike, here are facts. You have contributed more substantive how-to's (valid one's, at that) about real Ki and Kokyu than any other person I have seen. I do sincerely thank you for that, yet again. My point is that even if I am too thick-headed to get it,
1) this is a forum, and other less thick headed people might get it AND continue to help me get it
2) it seems to me that it would have been a better usage of your time, as I'm actually trying to understand your thoughts about ki and kokyu, as opposed to spending your time instead trying to convince people about your opinions on rape for amusement purposes.

Rob

Mike Sigman
03-15-2005, 01:54 PM
it seems to me that it would have been a better usage of your time, as I'm actually trying to understand your thoughts about ki and kokyu, as opposed to spending your time instead trying to convince people about your opinions on rape for amusement purposes. "Amusement"? I dislike passive-aggressive behavior, Rob. That got me into the discussion. How did we continue on, once more, with a discussion about me, BTW? I thought you were going to deal with Aikido and skip the personalities?

Mike

rob_liberti
03-15-2005, 03:16 PM
Passive-aggressive? My behavior has been nothing short of active-assertive.

I stated "for amusement purposes" because you wrote:

I actually have had some pretty hilarious support on the side. ;)

But yes, continuing on with aikido... One way to encourage more females in the dojo is to not derail their discussions about how to make things better for them.

Hugs,
Rob

wendyrowe
03-16-2005, 03:32 AM
The meat of the discussion in this thread has been very interesting, and makes me wonder whether I'm a) living in the right state, b) oblivious, or c) just really lucky: so far, I don't think I've run into any sort of gender bias or harrassment of any sort in any of the four dojos -- aikido, karate, jujitsu -- I've trained in or several I've visited. (Well, since visits last just a day or two, it might be harder to notice something subtle there.) I would certainly notice if someone was touching me inappropriately, so I know that hasn't happened. My two main dojos (aikido and karate) both make me feel very comfortable and don't treat women any differently than men. Same goes for the karate/taiji dojo I go to fairly often.

I probably have a pretty thick skin, since I'm an electrical engineer from the era 20 years ago when the male:female ratio in the field was worse than 10:1. But it's not THAT thick -- small slights from casual encounters I can ignore, but if I faced it regularly from dojo mates I'm sure I'd notice it. I have definitely seen and recognized bias and harrassment in "real life," so I know it exists and it makes sense that it would be in some dojos, too. I'm guessing it must be the tone set by the sensei: if he treats women the same as everyone else, others are more likely to; and if someone is out of line, a good sensei (meaning observant and right-thinking) would correct or remove that person. I never witnessed such a correction/removal in the dojos where I train, but it might have happened while I wasn't there.

As for makeup of the dojo, it's true that having women in it makes it easier for other women to feel comfortable joining. I'm glad to be doing my part to help the ratio. In karate, I coach the kids' classes (which are about 50-50; even the teen classes are close to that) and it's obvious that the girls identify with me -- the male teachers are great and the girls learn just fine from them, but it always helps to have a role model.

But much as I want women in the dojos and teaching at seminars, I would hate any sort of reverse discrimination -- this goes for the martial arts world as well as the engineering world, and in fact all aspects of my life. I would HATE not knowing whether I got a promotion/position because I was good enough or because I was filling someone's quota. I want all the males to know that I got where I am because I'm as good as they are. I've definitely felt at times in the engineering world (college and jobs) that some of my male colleagues are sizing me up deciding whether I was a quota-filler or not, and if I hadn't been very sure of myself it would have made me feel awful to face that doubt.

rob_liberti
03-16-2005, 08:16 AM
Hi Wendy. I did the Engineering thing too and I totally agree with you!

I don't think the quota filler thing happens too often in aikido. Although, I have seen the teacher's wife/girlfriend get promoted without ever really having anyone really challenge them to the level that other people of that rank were challenged in class. (I think that can be said about the current Doshu to some degree. I mean no disrespect, but honestly, some people are put up on a pedastol whethere they want to be there or not. It is unfortunate for them really.)

From a dojo's perspective, the choice of how you approach learning/teaching aikido is major factor to attracting women (and of course men). Generally, the white belt people are expected to do crude approximations of the waza where turning up the intesity results in yanking and cranking people around AND all challenges to poor technique are met with semi-controlled atemi. Conversely, there are also many teaching approaches where the people are very safe but they never/rarely take it up a notch as far as intensity and drama. I'd imagine that it would be hard for new females (and males for that matter) to have the faith in such aikido to work in a more stressful situation. So, I think that the main issue from a dojo's perspective is that you have to develop everyone towards using incredibly soft yet powerful technique such that everyone can work out as hard as their common denominator of ability allows. The result of getting someone to the ground _at any cost_ needs to be disallowed until a rank that can handle that kind of thing safely - like sandan+.

As far as society contributors, the main thing I can relate to as far as new women to the dojo are concerned is that every class is kind of like the Sadee Hawkings dance for a new female student. This is because most junuior members of the dojo are expected to seek out the seniors for help. In a dojo that is predominately male, that is just not what society has told them is normal.

Also when a senior male tries to continue working out with a new female student or just gives her any encouragement, I have noticed through the years that that genuine *martial* interest or interest in helping the dojo prosper with new students is almost always misinterpretted as sexual interest. Who can blame the new female students. They probably have been hit on by guys since they were 13 or so. Also, there are guys in dojos who do hit on every female that walks in the door. That one is difficult to to deal with as the teacher. In one case, who the heck am I to tell people not to date, but in the other case, the dojo is a safe place where you should not have to worry about that. And, that kind of thing would never happen while I was in ear shot, so I wouldn't know.

I actually had a weird backlash problem with this once. At one point in my training, I joined a dojo that had several female students who were senior to me. I asked some seniors to work with me after class and I got the same feeling from them you get when you ask someone out who is clearly not interested. I picked up on that pretty quickly and stoped asking that person. It took me a while to see that just the female seniors where like that with me - but it was most of them. I really wasn't trying to date them, and I didn't know how to fix the problem, so I didn't ask them to work out with me after class. I thought I might win them over by training with good energy and commitment but it always seemed they just barely tolorated me. That was a bit creepy and weird. Althought, I never had that experience in any other dojo - I imagine this is a manifestation of the the kind of creepy stuff that goes on below the surface level. I don't know how to make things better because it seems like it takes trust in open and honest communication that people might just not have when they first walk in the door.

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-16-2005, 08:44 AM
Hi Wendy,

As an African-American, I can definately identify with your post. I've had people in business situations bring what you mention up right to my face. Personally, I think what Mike was saying kind of fits with this...That might be part of why he reacted as he did; if the attitude around the endeavor (what ever it may be) is about skill, then no one wonders about these other things. If the attitude is about more general attempts at gender norming, or race norming, or what ever other social engineering you might have in mind, then people will always wonder what the heck is really going on. And I should add that that doubt cuts both ways...I wasted a bit of time myself with that.

All I can say is...how ever anyone gets the job, the slot at the expo, whatever...make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Do your very best. That's the only way to remove doubt once it creeps in. I'm sure that the two women performing at the expo will leave no doubt in anyone's mind.

Best,
Ron

Mike Sigman
03-16-2005, 08:48 AM
The meat of the discussion in this thread has been very interesting, and makes me wonder whether I'm a) living in the right state, b) oblivious, or c) just really lucky: so far, I don't think I've run into any sort of gender bias or harrassment of any sort in any of the four dojos -- aikido, karate, jujitsu -- I've trained in or several I've visited. Sounds like you're probably just competent and don't have a chip on your shoulder. Nice post. We ALL run into various "discriminations" occasionally in life.... if that's the way we want to look at it.

FWIW

Mike

Bill Danosky
03-16-2005, 11:09 AM
I didn't read through the entire thread, so forgive me if I'm echoing someone else's sentiments. This issue with female instructors may be beyond the typical guy's ability to understand- Having been married for almost twenty years, I only grasp that there are a few things I don't grasp.

If you think about this in terms of doctors, many women prefer to see a female doctor, with somewhat less regard to the respective skill levels.

Without personally having a preference for male or female teachers, I do understand that it might be important to a female student because some of the differences in perspective and instruction would be more relevant to women.

I feel very fortunate to have an awesome and amazing female Sensei and excellent male Shihan at my dojo. I receive very different perspectives on identical techniques from my different teachers and I am sure that we all do better Aikido as a result.

Rather than imagining that the ratio of teachers is skewed by some conspiracy, my belief is that where most men rise to the top of their field by dominating it, this dominance is not a characteristic of women unless they are highly inspired. IMHO, this makes Aikido a natural match for many women, but I'm not surprised to see that most of the thousands of female Aikidoka are content to practice individually, rather than being motivated to influence the art at large.

Remember- this is all "IMHO"!

rob_liberti
03-16-2005, 12:33 PM
It seems both Sunny while logged into my account from home and I while logged into my account elsewhere agree that you made excellent points, Bill!

I was thinking more about wendy's post, and it occurs to me that engineers always seem to want more of a meritocracy. I think the issue for the teacher is to make sure we make it clear that merit in training while not yanking people around - especially new people - has more merit than say bringing the person to the ground at any cost.

How to we communicate that to the dojo in the most effective way?

Interesting point of view Ron, do you have trouble attacting african americans to your dojo?

Rob

Ron Tisdale
03-16-2005, 01:33 PM
Well, in one dojo I trained at regularly there were about 3 of us in 8 years or so, two of us stuck.

In another dojo, it is fed from Temple University in North Phila. (the instructor teaches Aikido for the university and is on staff there), so there is a good source of African American students there. Also, when this instructor first started some 30 years ago, he didn't have the dojo he has now...and it certainly wasn't in the same type of neighborhood... :)

I don't believe either instructor made or makes a point of 'recruiting' African Americans. Because of the demographics where the dojo is located, you see a good mix of people...some male, some female, some black, some white, some yellow (more or less on the colors). The point is, everyone gets treated the same...there isn't one test for me and another for someone else based on race. I guess gender can be a little trickier with testing...but I know the 3rd dan who is a woman is tough as nails, and has very soft feeling but effective technique. I don't feel like she is doing a poor women's imitation of men doing aikido...she is quite outstanding in her own right.

Ron

Mary Eastland
03-16-2005, 01:49 PM
Wow....just a little rant brought about a long and varied thread.

I have been thinking about this thread for a while. It seems that this thread just like in the dojo is a microcosm of the bigger picture. I think some people judge everyone's circumstances through the filter of their own experience. And I am more than a little surprised by some of the nasties.

My point about men helping women in Aikido was not about having women being promoted because they are women. I think we all agreed that there is a patriarchal structure in Aikido. So maybe like how people who were free helped abolish slavery ; a good example of what I am trying to say would be how African Americans in the United States needed to be free. If they had to wait until they could free themselves it would have taken a very long time. But people who knew that slavery was wrong helped and so slavery was abolished sooner than it would have been if they hadn't have helped.

So my thought is that women could use some help.........I have plenty of help in my dojo. When I started training my children were small and they were welcome to play away from the mat. Now that they are grown I still remember what it was like to need to train with small children. So our dojo is supportive to parents with children.

We don't focus on just the young, athletic male who is easiest to train and we feel that everyone can do Aikido. That is how we encourage women, children and the not so young to feel at home in Aikido.

I find the references to "mcdojo and such" to be sad. There are many ways to become stronger and enlightened.

And to Rob....about your question as to why I don't go to seminars taught by women.....the honest answer is that I am not interested in training in other styles. I find it quite uncomfortable and awkward.

And lastly I apologize to anyone who took my initial rant personally.......... it was not meant that way.....it was more at the structure of Aikido.........and really at the structure of the world.

Mary

rob_liberti
03-16-2005, 02:11 PM
Hi Mary,

Thanks for posting. I agree that we should not focus on any students based on their gender/youth. What did you find most helpful at your dojo?

Lastly, as a relatively long time female aikidoka, who has expressed passion for the issue(s), what do you feel your responsbility is/should be - if any - towards improving the structure of aikido? Just curious.

Thanks,
Rob

Mary Eastland
03-16-2005, 03:29 PM
[QUOTE=Rob Liberti]Hi Mary,

Thanks for posting. I agree that we should not focus on any students based on their gender/youth. What did you find most helpful at your dojo?"

Well, when I started training several of the men were very helpful and encouraging. (I had a really hard time rolling at first.) Some other men were impatient and judgmental with me because at first I was an awkward uke. At our present dojo everyone is encouraged to do their best. We try to use everyone as demonstration ukes and to accept that what is one person's best is another's just okay.

Rob wrote:
"Lastly, as a relatively long time female aikidoka, who has expressed passion for the issue(s), what do you feel your responsibility is/should be - if any - towards improving the structure of aikido? Just curious."

That is a good question. As an independent dojo we are pretty much outside the "structure" of Aikido. My goal is to help keep our organization on the track it is on now. We are at least 60% women because our our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.

Mary

mj
03-16-2005, 05:09 PM
... our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.

Mary
What we aspire to :)

Bill Danosky
03-16-2005, 10:34 PM
As an independent dojo we are pretty much outside the "structure" of Aikido. My goal is to help keep our organization on the track it is on now. We are at least 60% women because our our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.
Mary

That's good to hear you say. I can't remember who said above that you have to be the change you want to take place in the world, but it was a great quote.

All those sufragettes won their rights by being inspired and rising up to surmount their problems. It looks like you are on your way to doing something about yours.

Congratulations, Mary.
Bill

PS: I hope you're planning to include male Aikidoka in your future endeavors. ?

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 07:46 AM
When you say "organization" to you mean just the sinlge "independant dojo"?

Bill, I'm positive they are just fine to men. I think that maybe the crux of the topic - that it doesn't have to be good for just one gender at the expense of the other. Of course there are extremes both ways, and I'm sure it's much more favorable towards the gender of the primary person trying to facilite the learning atmosphere - which is more often men. I think my point is that it's just difficult for a male to facilitate what is best for all without getting apporpriate feedback - and that feedback is not easy to get. The new people have not no trust with you established, and the old timers can be quite jaded by their past exterienced - even from other dojos.

I do appreciate the curage and perseverance of those who continued to try to help me (and others) understand what can be done to improve things for all dispite a seemingly new form of technological terrets.

Rob

Mary Eastland
03-17-2005, 08:53 AM
[QUOTE=Rob Liberti]When you say "organization" to you mean just the sinlge "independant dojo"?

Nope, we have 3 dojos at the moment with another pending in Troy. :)

Last nights class had 6 males and 6 females. We appreciate men, too. ;)
Mir

rob_liberti
03-17-2005, 11:11 AM
Interesting. Great. Well, you can have good influence in your small organization, although I would love to see you get past your awkard feelings about training elsewhere and continue to support females in aikido on a larger scale.

Rob

Bill Danosky
03-17-2005, 04:32 PM
Ditto for me. I think Aikido worldwide is splintered enough. We should all be at least moving toward unifying.

wendyrowe
03-17-2005, 08:37 PM
I hope I'm not opening up a can of worms here, but I'm just wondering. Three men responded favorably to my previous post (#230), but no women have commented either way. That could be because they have nothing new to add, or because they don't like all or some of my post but don't want to call me out about it. Please PM me if you have feedback you don't want to post. Thanks!

Lorien Lowe
03-18-2005, 03:17 AM
Hi Wendy -
I haven't been online for a couple of days, or I might have responded without being prompted.

I wouldn't want any rank that I thought was given to me just because I'm a woman. Nor would I be happy if I thought that rank was being withheld because I'm a woman. I don't think that either of those things happen where I train, but I'm cynical enough to believe that they do happen at other dojos.

The dojo is such an important part of my life that it borders on the sacred for me, and part of that is *because* of the treatment I get there - based on the time that I devote, and the skill that I show, and on my attitude, and not on the way I dress or on how well I meet or do not meet stereotyped gender roles. The dojo is a haven away from that bs. I may still have to tell a new guy, 'Don't miss me,' five or ten times before he'll give me an honest attack or atemi, but the folks that have been training with me know that I've been trained to get my face (or knees, or whatever) out of the way just like everyone else.

I recognize that providing this type of haven is not the primary purpose of an aikido dojo - or maybe not even a purpose at all so much as a happy side-effect of honest training. To be honest, I'm not sure if that kind of atmosphere *can* be produced on purpose.

On a different tack, I also teach kids - for some odd reason, nearly all of my students (and all of the ones in the class that I teach solo) right now are boys. The boys don't seem to notice one way or another that I'm female*, wheras in the past some of the girls I've taught developed a form of hero-worship to the point that I almost think someone else would make a better teacher for them.

-LK
*Once I caught someone saying, 'girls are wierd,' or something typically boyish along that line. When I loudly cleared my throat, he looked startled and then said, 'you don't count.'

mj
03-18-2005, 06:08 AM
... When I loudly cleared my throat, he looked startled and then said, 'you don't count.'
Hah! :D

ruthmc
03-18-2005, 07:56 AM
I actually had a weird backlash problem with this once. At one point in my training, I joined a dojo that had several female students who were senior to me. I asked some seniors to work with me after class and I got the same feeling from them you get when you ask someone out who is clearly not interested. I picked up on that pretty quickly and stoped asking that person. It took me a while to see that just the female seniors where like that with me - but it was most of them. I really wasn't trying to date them, and I didn't know how to fix the problem, so I didn't ask them to work out with me after class. I thought I might win them over by training with good energy and commitment but it always seemed they just barely tolorated me. That was a bit creepy and weird.
Hi Rob,
Yes - very weird indeed! If a student asked me for help with their training, I would always assume that they wanted help with their Aikido. If they were looking for a date, I guess they'd ask to meet in a bar or something... :D

Maybe these women just hadn't made the distinction between dating and helping a fellow student very clearly in their minds. From what I've read here, it seems that this problem does crop up occasionally in various dojo, with both men and women. It's a shame. All we can do is to be as clear as we can in our intention when asking for help, and to be equally clear when giving assistance to others.

Ruth

Lorien Lowe
03-19-2005, 11:04 PM
I think it's safe to assume that most of the women here feel that their *own* dojos are fairly equitable, or they wouldn't be practicing there. However, have any of you encountered sexist attitudes (not including in relative beginners who haven't learned any better yet) at other dojos? This is not a rhetorical question; I'd like to hear from people no matter what the answer.

-LK