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Jennifer Yabut 05-10-2008 08:10 PM

Starting an all-women's class
 
Today after practice, a few of us discussed having an all-women class at our dojo. It would be a bare-basics beginners class, held twice a week. The highest-ranking woman (who is a 1st kyu) will teach the classes, and I also offered to help. We also talked about making flyers with a questionnaire. One, to get a consensus of which time of the day to have class, and also to promote these classes to the public at large.

Has anyone else ever taught an all-women class? How did you promote it, and how successful were the classes?

JW 05-10-2008 11:13 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Hi, although I have no personal experience with such a class, a dojo here in San Francisco periodically does something nearly identical to your idea, so I thought I'd mention it. www.heartaikido.com is the URL of the dojo if you want to get in contact with them.
Good luck with the class!
--JW

Michael Varin 05-11-2008 07:57 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

tuturuhan 05-11-2008 08:23 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Michael Varin wrote: (Post 206013)
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

I as an old man have taught "all women's classes" for differentiation purposes, conceptual/theoretical purposes and ultimately for utilitarian purposes.

During various periods in martial arts history, there have been times when the distinctions between Male/external/muscular and Female/internal/fine motor movement were quite clear. Women practiced among themselves to refine techniques that were akin to their natural qualities as women.

The study of Nagigata is dominated by female practitioners. In Chinese martial arts is the story of Wing Chun and how it was founded by a female monk. Tai Chi Chuan and Aikido have a greater following of women than karate and tae kwon do.

I personally have taught "all women's classes" mainly to cull the "female attributes for fighting. Softness, sensitivity, rhythm, detailed focus, fine motor movement and deception to name a few. I have taught them first with the "Fan" as weapon and than the "Hidden Knife" to accentuate the "Yin/Female".

Today, 99% of the classes teach "equality" in techniques. The truth is that equality is a falsehood. In general, there does exist female positive traits that are "less seen" in men. Yet, because of equality they are not brought to the forefront. As such, most women never really learn to defend themselves.

But, in the second week of practice...I put a knife (A Female Weapon) into the hands of my woman student. I emphasize that until the last moment they must keep their blade hidden. I tell them "go in close...remember what the spider said to the fly". They learn quickly that it doesn't matter if their opponent is 6 ft 3 inches and made of muscle. With the knife they have learned to look deep into themselves and see their "power".

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Chris Li 05-11-2008 08:56 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Michael Varin wrote: (Post 206013)
Just curious...

What's the purpose of a women only class?

A relevant thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2608

Best,

Chris

Jennifer Yabut 05-11-2008 09:25 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 206017)

I actually read through that whole thread some time ago. One of the reasons why we were discussing having a women-only class was to attract more stay-at-home moms or those who home-school their kids. As I mentioned earlier, it's more like a "intro to Aikido" summer course, and considerably less intense than the regular basic and mixed classes. Not everyone is into the "big throws" or "big ukemi", and some folks may even get turned off by that stuff. Hopefully, some of these new students will choose to stay and continue to train in the other classes.

jennifer paige smith 05-11-2008 10:19 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
I've taught and attended womens only classes since the beginning of my aikido career. Some with the teacher from Heart of the Mission Aikido whose link is provided in an above post.
Without opening an entire on-slaught of conversations about gender politics,etc.etc.etc......(snoorrrrrrre) , so please, let's not go that far, I will point out that many, if not most, dojo have nothing even close to strong womens enrollment.
These are broad sweeps of the brush and there are exceptions, but there are diminishing numbers of women practicing in many long-time dojo and the number of women coming to aikido and staying is pretty slim, too.
The dojo where I first trained and was a member of for many years has a strong womens showing,relatively. As does Heart of the Mission Aikido, as do all of the dojo in Heart of the Mission's 'friends' links. All of those dojo provide womens only classes and put awareness and attention to the presence of women in the school. They also offer beginning classes where a male and female student co-teach. This awareness brings about support. When we see people like ourselves we feel welcome. It is simple human nature. So gender politics aside the proof is in the pudding: THE WOMENS NUMBERS ARE HIGHER IN THE SCHOOLS WHO PROVIDE THESE CLASSES. Not that the schools don't have things to work out and not that other schools don't have strong womens showing. It's simply a matter of observation and asking the women 'did you enjoy that class?' and thy say 'yes' and they continue to train.
I'm coming up on 20 years in Aikido and I know I've been supported by this community approach.
In general, I support teaching classes with intentionality where a gap exists, be it male,female,racial,class, or culture. If you see a gap fill it with loving intention and good training.
Bueno.

bkedelen 05-11-2008 11:55 PM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

Chris Li 05-12-2008 12:02 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Jennifer Yabut wrote: (Post 206019)
I actually read through that whole thread some time ago. One of the reasons why we were discussing having a women-only class was to attract more stay-at-home moms or those who home-school their kids. As I mentioned earlier, it's more like a "intro to Aikido" summer course, and considerably less intense than the regular basic and mixed classes. Not everyone is into the "big throws" or "big ukemi", and some folks may even get turned off by that stuff. Hopefully, some of these new students will choose to stay and continue to train in the other classes.

Then why not call it an "Intro to Aikido" summer course instead of a woman's class?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li 05-12-2008 12:06 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Jennifer Smith wrote: (Post 206023)
I've taught and attended womens only classes since the beginning of my aikido career. Some with the teacher from Heart of the Mission Aikido whose link is provided in an above post.
Without opening an entire on-slaught of conversations about gender politics,etc.etc.etc......(snoorrrrrrre) , so please, let's not go that far, I will point out that many, if not most, dojo have nothing even close to strong womens enrollment.
These are broad sweeps of the brush and there are exceptions, but there are diminishing numbers of women practicing in many long-time dojo and the number of women coming to aikido and staying is pretty slim, too.
The dojo where I first trained and was a member of for many years has a strong womens showing,relatively. As does Heart of the Mission Aikido, as do all of the dojo in Heart of the Mission's 'friends' links. All of those dojo provide womens only classes and put awareness and attention to the presence of women in the school. They also offer beginning classes where a male and female student co-teach. This awareness brings about support. When we see people like ourselves we feel welcome. It is simple human nature. So gender politics aside the proof is in the pudding: THE WOMENS NUMBERS ARE HIGHER IN THE SCHOOLS WHO PROVIDE THESE CLASSES. Not that the schools don't have things to work out and not that other schools don't have strong womens showing. It's simply a matter of observation and asking the women 'did you enjoy that class?' and thy say 'yes' and they continue to train.
I'm coming up on 20 years in Aikido and I know I've been supported by this community approach.
In general, I support teaching classes with intentionality where a gap exists, be it male,female,racial,class, or culture. If you see a gap fill it with loving intention and good training.
Bueno.

Well, you know what the say about good intentions and the road to hell :).

There are even fewer African-Americans in Aikido then there are women, but I wouldn't support racially exclusive classes either, even if it did increase enrollment. Maybe I just don't believe that the end justifies the means.

Being encouraging and supportive, on the other hand, sounds good to me...

Best,

Chris

Chris Li 05-12-2008 12:19 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Benjamin Edelen wrote: (Post 206029)
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

As I recall, Sokaku Takeda usually carried a knife hidden inside his kimono, and he never seemed very female to me. The naginata was traditionally taught to men (and still is in many koryu schools) - it didn't start being used by women until later on in the Tokugawa era and then caught on with women as "Atarashii Naginata" in modern times. I don't think it had much to do with body mechanics.

If women have such different body mechanics then it would only make it more imperative that they trained with men - since they would need to learn to deal with the different body mechanics employed by male attackers. Are there many self defense classes for women that have them focusing on female attackers?

I'm still waiting for the "short skinny guy's class" so that I can focus on my unique body mechanics :).

Best,

Chris

Ron Tisdale 05-12-2008 06:53 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
What is "Nagigata"?

Best,
Ron

Mary Turner 05-12-2008 07:17 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Thank you Jennifer, well said.

I would welcome an all-female class, but I would be all alone.
Recently, we had a woman and teen daughter observe our class, and I spoke with them, trying to encourage them to join. One of our yudansha walked over, clapped me on the back and said, "Watch us throw Mary all over the place tonight and slap her around!"

They didn't come back.

I don't think he meant to be threatening, but a lot of men simply don't get a woman's perspective.

SmilingNage 05-12-2008 07:29 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
It is a incomplete sentence Ron.

It is like Nagi gata go home because he left his dogi there or Nagi gata go to practice because his ukemi is no good.

I think it would be a good idea to have a women's type introductory class to peek the interest of possible female students. They still need to be integrated into co ed class to help further their skills. We all need the challenge of different sized ukes and nages to help promote our depth of understanding and application(s) of technique.

aikishrine 05-12-2008 07:47 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
First off where's the harmony in an exclusive class like this?
Secondly how do women get the proper effect of working with people of all sizes and strength, if only working with woman.

I understand the idea of this, however i have found that the women who stay with AIKIDO and train for long periods of time have become quite good, and they work well with men. I would put their AIKIDO right up there with any man in my dojo at the same level as they are.

Please forgive me for stepping on any toes.

tuturuhan 05-12-2008 07:52 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Benjamin Edelen wrote: (Post 206029)
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
What about a knife makes it a female weapon?

In Taoist thought, everything is catogorized as Yin/female and Yang/female.

If the knife were large and imposing it would be seen as Yang/male. If the knife is "deep, black and hidden" it is seen as female.

As such, the right hand is seen as male and the left hand is seen as female. The right had is at 100% strength. The left hand is at 80% strength. Nonetheless the left hand has strength.

Likewise, the left/female hand is 100% senstitive vs. the right hand which is only at 80% sensitivity.

In female martial arts, the concentration is on rhythm, sensitivity, detail, and deception. NOW, CAN MEN and should they learn female martial arts?

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

jennifer paige smith 05-12-2008 08:17 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 206032)
Well, you know what the say about good intentions and the road to hell :).

There are even fewer African-Americans in Aikido then there are women, but I wouldn't support racially exclusive classes either, even if it did increase enrollment. Maybe I just don't believe that the end justifies the means.

Being encouraging and supportive, on the other hand, sounds good to me...

Best,

Chris



Well,I''ve ben enjoying my road to hell and I hope you have some fun on yours, too.

jennifer paige smith 05-12-2008 08:42 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Mary Turner wrote: (Post 206046)
Thank you Jennifer, well said.

I would welcome an all-female class, but I would be all alone.
Recently, we had a woman and teen daughter observe our class, and I spoke with them, trying to encourage them to join. One of our yudansha walked over, clapped me on the back and said, "Watch us throw Mary all over the place tonight and slap her around!"

They didn't come back.

I don't think he meant to be threatening, but a lot of men simply don't get a woman's perspective.

Thanks. It's really about opening the whole heart of ourselves and our dojo ( which is a reflection of our 'selves') and extending with courage.

BTW, I didn't realize you were located in Chapel Hill. I've wanted to visit C H and I wondered if there was a dojo. I guess I got my answer.

Peter Goldsbury 05-12-2008 10:04 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Hello Jennifer,

I think we should live and let live, in the sense that classes offered should match the needs of the dojo, but there might be an issue in the dojo. I do not know: only you know the possible issues.

Way, way back, when I was a student at New England Aikikai in the 1970s, long before Kanai Sensei had his stroke, some of the women formed a women-only dojo. This was quite divisive, because the men somehow felt hard done by. The women were quite happy for the young males to take spectacular ukemi, in demonstrations designed to show how effective aikido was for women, but then excluded the men from taking the same ukemi in the womens-only dojo. The dojo did not last very long.

Of course, one could argue that the issues were not the same then. The goal-posts were not the same for men and women. I am not sure about this. It might have been true in Boston as a whole, but was certainly not supposed to be true in the NE Aikikai. In view of what O Sensei stated in his discourses, I think it should not have been necessary for separate sex training. But then we learned that the Aikikai Hombu had been running women's-only classes for years, but which were all taught by young, sexy male instructors (though the youth and the sex element was probably not stressed too much).

Here in Hiroshima, it would be unthinkable to run women's-only classes. For a start, half the dojo population is female anyway and one of the three instructors is female (a 4th dan, whose 5th dan husband is also a dojo instructor). The mat space is big enough to divide the dojo into separate training spaces. We have a hard core who attend every class and the numbers are half-and-half male and female. But we never divide the class according to sex differences. Sometimes the yudansha are at one end and the beginners are at the other end (special ukemi training) with the rest in the middle.

Actually, I am hoping that my very first yudansha will be female. She is divorced, runs a restaurant, and has a teenage son with severe problems (perhaps autism). So he comes and sits at the side while his mother practices. Actually, she is one of the best advertisers for our dojo and about half the students we have, practice because they know her or have been recommended by her.

So I would never split my own dojo according to sex differences. If I did, I think it would destroy the dojo. But I can also remember my Boston experience and think that perhaps the reason why there was a demand for a women's only class ( = run only by women with men totally excluded) was bad dojo management.

I think you have to trust your own instincts here.

Best wishes,

PAG

Jennifer Yabut 05-12-2008 10:32 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Christopher Li wrote: (Post 206031)
Then why not call it an "Intro to Aikido" summer course instead of a woman's class?

Best,

Chris

Because we are trying to increase the number of female students, and quite a few women had been scared off by the intensity of the "normal" classes. Of course the goal is to hopefully integrate some of them into the other classes, but a few may be perfectly happy with the "lighter" side of Aikido. It's only two classes out of the week; it's not like we're trying to form a brand-new "women only" dojo or whatnot - which I agree doesn't benefit anyone.

Janet Rosen 05-12-2008 10:34 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
My understanding - which may be wrong - is that naginata was felt do be a good home defense weapon for women when men were away at battle? Kinda like a shotgun behind the cabin door?

Anyhow, my take has always been I want as many types of training partners as possible. But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

tuturuhan 05-12-2008 10:55 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Like Vibrations and Discordant Sounds.

Build it and they will come. People will meet and bond given "likekind". But, expect repulsion from those who cannot or will not change their frequencies.

Someone mentioned "sexual attraction". I always tell my men students "Why are you spending so much time with me...if you want to meet women? Instead, you should be taking ballroom dance, preferably salsa dancing." Likewise, I tell them that the great masters of recent times have all been incredible dancers. (Bruce Lee was cha cha champion of Hong Kong circa 1962)

It's not surprizing that "we" see more men in the martial arts than women. Most of the martial arts are male oriented in terms of physicality, intellect and spirituality. They do not make the distinction between Yin and Yang.

Likewise, they do not understand the ability to interact. How many men can actually lead well in the Tango. In fact, how many can dance at all? This is what "men" can learn from women.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Jennifer Yabut 05-12-2008 11:09 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 206085)
Anyhow, my take has always been I want as many types of training partners as possible. But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

Exactly. It's only a summer-long (probably about six weeks) course. When I first started Aikido, I was far more comfortable working with other women, though I did work with many of the big guys as well. Now I usually take on the biggest guys on the mat to make sure my technique actually works. ;)

Chris Li 05-12-2008 11:40 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Janet Rosen wrote: (Post 206085)
But if there are women who might need a woman's only short term beginners class in order to initially get onto the mat, seems like no harm done.

Maybe, maybe not. My feeling is that there is an inherent destructive quality in dividing people into sub-groups based on immutable (or near-immutable) characteristics such as gender, race or religion - enough so that it ought not to be done without a compelling reason.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li 05-12-2008 11:41 AM

Re: Starting an all-women's class
 
Quote:

Jennifer Yabut wrote: (Post 206083)
Because we are trying to increase the number of female students, and quite a few women had been scared off by the intensity of the "normal" classes. Of course the goal is to hopefully integrate some of them into the other classes, but a few may be perfectly happy with the "lighter" side of Aikido. It's only two classes out of the week; it's not like we're trying to form a brand-new "women only" dojo or whatnot - which I agree doesn't benefit anyone.

If regular classes are too intimidating then beginner's classes are a great option, but why would you want to purposely recruit students merely because of their gender?

Best,

Chris


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