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-   -   Poll: Do you think women-only classes in aikido are a good idea? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2326)

AikiWeb System 08-11-2002 12:01 AM

AikiWeb Poll for the week of August 11, 2002:

Do you think women-only classes in aikido are a good idea?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes, and I'm male
  • Yes, and I'm female
  • No, and I'm male
  • No, and I'm female
Here are the current results.

DaveO 08-11-2002 05:22 AM

I don't personally feel they'd be a good idea for the simple reason that I don't see the point. I can see special classes for kids or older folks, or for those with special needs that require attention, but Aikido is about as 'equal opportunity' as you can get in MA - neither women nor men have any particular advantage, as far as I've seen.

Dave

TheProdigy 08-11-2002 08:11 AM

I voted yes. The reason being that some women are coming from abusive relationships and looking for a way to learn self-defense. It doesn't have to be just from abusive relationships, but in any case where men have abused and taken advantage of them to the point that they wouldn't be comfortable working with men on the mat. This allows them the opportunity to being training in a more comfortable environment to them (which is crucial to training). Over some time, I would expect that they would begin to join in with the regular classes, when they're ready.

This is how it was explained to me by my sensei.. and in fact, for a period of time we didn't have a women's class simply because all the women in it were also attending the regular class.

It's for those who need some healing before they can train with men. That's all. And I think depriving them of this great art because they aren't ready to work with men would be a very sad thing indeed.

-Jase

P.S. Before I was told this reason, I also thought the same... that it was a pointless gender-bias thing. Now I think otherwise.

Chuck Clark 08-11-2002 08:21 AM

We had a small group of women that had been victims of very traumatic violence done to them by men. If they had been put into a class with men right away it would have been tragic. We had a very good female instructor at the dojo that worked with them.

After about a year of working with each other and having my son (aged 14 at the time) enter the group at a time when they felt they could handle it, they gradually entered the regular mixed practice. As they got desensitized and then resensitized to having men around in the practice they all got to the point where they could function. Only one stayed for a few years, but all of them felt that their training was beneficial.

I think the training should be mixed as much as possible.

Regards,

lt-rentaroo 08-11-2002 09:49 AM

I voted no, and yes I understand how some women who have been involved in an abusive relationship could benefit/feel more comfortable in a learning environment free from men. However, if the time comes or a situation arises that requires her to confront another abusive man, will the female student who only trained with other female students be able to assert herself?

Also, what about men who come from abusive relationships? Some may scoff at the idea, but it happens. Should we have classes only for men who come from abused relationships?

I believe part of the healing process is to learn that not all men are bad. In order for this to occur, a female student would have to work with men who are not bad and are there to help the healing process.

Nacho_mx 08-11-2002 10:20 AM

I favor special classes only as a resource to get more people to try aikido. This goes for women, children, teenagers, and senior citizens, maybe up to 3rd kyu. (In the Aikikai 5th to 1st kyu ranking system). Then all people would be required to attend the general classes (open for everybody from the first day), regardless of gender, age, rank or skill.

Fminor 08-11-2002 10:27 AM

Usually I vote very easily to the questions in the polls.
Today it took me some time and thought to figure out what to vote for.
IMHO, this poll has a tricky question.
The thing that confused me the most is the term "good idea".
I wonder, would the question have the same results if I was to ask : "do you think women-only classes are a BAD idea" ?
I myself enjoy practicing with Aikidokas from both sexes, but it doesn't mean all women will feel comfortable doing that.
After all, Aikido does involve expanded physical contact.
"Good idea" or "Bad idea" should be decided according to the circumstances and the personality of the Aikidoka herself.
As mentioned before, there may be different reasons for women to choose training this way.
It's all in the eyes of the beholder.

Efrat

rachmass 08-11-2002 11:04 AM

This is a lame response just to see if the avatar I tried to load works ;) I am a computer lover, but not as fluent as I would like to be.

Although I see situations where a women's only class is called for (abuse victims comes to mind), this is truly a martial art where everyone should be able to train with everyone else.

Chuck Clark 08-11-2002 01:12 PM

Quote:

Louis A. Sharpe, Jr. (lt-rentaroo) wrote:
I voted no, and yes I understand how some women who have been involved in an abusive relationship could benefit/feel more comfortable in a learning environment free from men. However, if the time comes or a situation arises that requires her to confront another abusive man, will the female student who only trained with other female students be able to assert herself?

Also, what about men who come from abusive relationships? Some may scoff at the idea, but it happens. Should we have classes only for men who come from abused relationships?

I believe part of the healing process is to learn that not all men are bad. In order for this to occur, a female student would have to work with men who are not bad and are there to help the healing process.

Louis,

I agree, however, often the healing process must start from a more comfortable and protected situation. The desensitization and sensitization process must at some point, as you say, enable a person to confront and overcome their fear.

lt-rentaroo 08-11-2002 02:39 PM

Clark Sensei -

I agree with you as well, take care.

guest1234 08-11-2002 02:41 PM

We are all different, but for what it is worth, I've survived an abusive marriage, and I had no problems being in a mixed class from the beginning. OTOH, my first dojo was a very warm and supportive one, that emphasized caring for each other at all times. And I will admit, off the mat I really only felt comfortable at first talking to the other women.

Where I see a POSSIBLE need for women's classes is in dojos where a lot of students 'teach' their partners. I have only seen one female beginner tell others 'how' to do techniques, but I can no longer keep count of the many male beginners I've seen do this, often to female partners, and some men do this in their very first Aikido class. I guess many males assume a few extra inches of urethra makes them MA experts as a birthright. Anyway, this was not a problem for me in my first dojo, as 'mat instruction' was against the rules, but I've seen it confuse, frustrate and possibly even chase away other women in other dojos. Some time in a women-only class could help them learn the basics without some bozo with a birthright teaching them incorrect things. But if the real instructors were on their toes, and kept that from happening in the mixed classes, I don't think women need a separate class.

Deb Fisher 08-11-2002 02:52 PM

Colleen wrote:

"I have only seen one female beginner tell others 'how' to do techniques, but I can no longer keep count of the many male beginners I've seen do this, often to female partners, and some men do this in their very first Aikido class."

AMEN!

So perhaps it would be better to have a separate men's class, in which the basics of keeping ones' mouth shut and letting the partner train would be thoroughly covered in a supportive and understanding environment...

Just kidding.

Seriously, women's classes IMHO sound like a bad idea because obviously we have a lot to learn from eachother.

guest1234 08-11-2002 04:40 PM

I agree, in that I personally wouldn't use a women-only class, but then, by the time I ran into bozos, I knew enough Aikido to know that they were bozos (I have been extremely fortunate in my 'formative' months).

Beginners have great, sponge-like minds, eager and willing to soak up everything Aikido, and I have seen beginners of both genders get discouraged when just-barely-senior students 'teach' them things that are wrong, from rolls to technique, that they know they saw differently. Especially scary when someone who has terrible ukemi skills themselves decides to 'fix' a beginner's problem. Unfortuanately, those who seem to be the usual 'givers' of advice are male, and the receivers most often female...and when the female beginner gets fed up or discouraged by this garbage, she doesn't realize it is garbage, being too new to know a bozo when she sees one, so she leaves, and then the guys look around and say "hey, why don't we have more women in the dojo?"

rachmass 08-11-2002 04:49 PM

Colleen and Deb,

You are both right, I too have seen an incredible amount of "teaching" on the mat, typically by men. And yes, it does have an effect on women to a large extent (certainly not all women). I cannot tell you how many times I have trained at a seminar (in dojos where women wear hakama from the first time they step on the mat), where a man has automatically stuck out his hand to go first, and proceeded to tell me how to do something before I have even grabbed him. While it doesn't happen so much anymore (I think I've become a bit beligerent and cussed, and they can see it in my eyes), it still on occassion happens.

Womens classes wouldn't take care of that particular problem though, because I am sure some women would just take that role themselves. It is probably by in large, human nature.

cheers, Rachel

Chuck Clark 08-11-2002 06:24 PM

To Rachel, Colleen, and Deb,

I have also seen this quite a lot. It must come from our early gender modeling. Most men grow up learning from both Mom and Dad and most of the rest of society that men must look after women and take care of them. Of course this is slowly changing in certain areas of our society but will take a long, long time to filter out this sort of sexism.

One of my teachers and two of my respected sempai in my life have been very skillful, strong women. I also have great respect for women warriors / fighters. In SE Asia I spent some time around some Hmoung women that were some of the most disciplined, effective guerilla fighters I've ever seen. Many of the best snipers I have seen and heard of in the Viet Nam war were women. I would not want any of these people after me!

I applaud you all for standing up for yourself and helping to educate the guys you practice with.

The sort of behavior you describe doesn't happen in my dojo. I have several women in the dojo that will alter anyone's mistaken attitudes about who needs "extra help" to understand the teacher.

Regards,

guest1234 08-11-2002 10:00 PM

Thank you, Clark Sensei...I wish I knew how to make that neat 'bowing' thing that Kami sometimes puts in his posts...

Your dojo sounds like a very nice place to train :)

Joshua Livingston 08-12-2002 01:46 AM

I voted No. However, I wasn't thinking about a temporary women's class that would eventually blend in with the regular class.

Even with regular women, (meaning non-abuse survivors) I think this would be a good idea. The reason being is that I have taken martial arts for 13 (in dojo) years and have been to many different Dojo (had to move around a lot). In most cases, there were many more men than there were women and often no women at all. I think a big part of that is due to the fact that if you have no women at a Dojo it is hard to get some in, because you have to either have a group of women join, or a woman who doesn't mind being the only woman in the Dojo, and then another who doesn't mind being 1 of only 2.

I know that has to be a big barrier for a female to over come when they are the only female in a Dojo. I know that it would make me nervous as hell if I were the only male in a Dojo. I'm sure I would be the type to get used to it but then again I am an MA freak and most people are not.

It's hard to be a rookie at anything. It makes people very nervous when they are in an environment that they know nothing about, including how to act in it. On top of that you have to do things with your body that you never did before and for most Americans you have to get used to being in much closer contact with people than you are usually comfortable with. If you are an adult, it is even harder, because adults have most of the time gotten to a position where they know what's what in life and do not like to be in situations that make them feel like a little kid that doesn't know anything again. I've seen this discourage many adults and have told me that this was the reason (or something to that effect) that they did not join.

So there is a lot of stress involved for a woman who joins a Dojo with no other women. I think it would be a great idea to have an option of taking a women's only class until there are a good amount of women at the Dojo.

However, on the subject of battered women taking a private class because they want to learn to defend themselves; I don't think that would be a good idea because in most Aikido Dojo, the art is not self defense oriented and there are much better programs such as MADD that are designed specifically for those types of situation. There are however, exceptions where the Sensei knows what modifications should be made to conduct these types of classes, but IMO even if they think they know they should become certified by a legit organization just to make sure.

As for the male students giving unwanted advice: I've seen it done by both genders, and it is true that I see it more in men than I do women, however I also see a greater ratio of men in Dojo than I do women and If I counted how many didn't give advice I would come up with more men who don't than I would women who don't. But that doesn't really say anything, because like I said, I have seen a greater ratio of men in the Dojo. I think it is a mute point because people are so different depending on where they are and whom they are with.

I will say though that at seminars in Aikido (including 2 summer camps), I have only had 1 guy under Shodan tell me how to do something and I have had more women than I can remember tell me how it is. Doesn't really prove anything though.

MaylandL 08-12-2002 02:24 AM

Quote:

C.E. Clark (Chuck Clark) wrote:
To Rachel, Colleen, and Deb,

I have also seen this quite a lot. It must come from our early gender modeling. Most men grow up learning from both Mom and Dad and most of the rest of society that men must look after women and take care of them. Of course this is slowly changing in certain areas of our society but will take a long, long time to filter out this sort of sexism.

One of my teachers and two of my respected sempai in my life have been very skillful, strong women. ...

Hello to Rachel, Colleen and Deb.

I would agree with Mr Clark's comments and to some extent I have been guilty of some of the behaviour that's been commented on. Hopefully I'm a better Uke and Aikidoka now. And yes, Mr Clark's dojo sounds like a fun place to train.

In my very limited experience as an aikidoka (only 9 years) I have had the privilege of training with and been instructed by very experienced, skilled and knowledgeale women aikidoka (as well as men). I have certainly learnt a considerable amount from them. To have separate classes where separate classes are not necessary would, IMHO, restrict our opportunities to learn from each other and share in our mutual interest as aikidoka (irrespective of our gender).

As a side note, Mary Heiny Sensei was to conduct a seminar next week. Unfortunately its been cancelled. I was very much looking forward to her first visit to Perth and participating in her seminar. Hopefully she can come in the near future.

All the best for training :)

erikmenzel 08-12-2002 04:31 AM

Guys teaching
 
Just as a reaction and addition to the comment Colleen started.

I too have observed guys teaching more often than girls. In my observation they are often telling/teaching it wrong anyway, so they better shut up and train, but it probably takes a lot of experience to realize that.

I have also observed some other things that might be related to this isue. Note that these are just observations I made in class and are not ment as generalizations.
[list=1]
[*]People often ask a guy for advise, even when a more experienced girl is closer.
[*]The word/advise of a guy is better. (I have even encountered situations where the same advise as given before by one of our female sempai was accepted when sensei or one of the male sempai repeated it)
[*]People confuse physical size with experience. (I have seen absolute beginners ridicule the advise they got from on of our very small female sempai because the thought a small girl good be no good anyway. The same thing happens sometimes with people judging ukemi, ukemi done by a very big male is considered to be better and more spectacular then the same ukemi done by a small female).
[*]Girls tend to ask more, wanting more to be guided through the technique/exercise. (Yes some girls give me blisters on my ears from asking, unfortunately some guys do the same thing trying to explain something to me)
[*]Guys seem to work from the notion that they are doing it right. Girls seem to work from the notion that they are doing it wrong. (Guys often ask things like "this was good wasnt it" as where girls seem to ask "what am I doing wrong", often in situations where the questions arent important anyway.)
[*]A lot of the girls in class have no desire to act like the dominant male in the group. (Funny thing is that the ones that do leave our club and join a different almost all male club nearby, go figure)
[/list=1]

Just some observations.

rachmass 08-12-2002 05:35 AM

Thank you Mr. Clark, for your comments and observations. Also Mr. Knoops made some very good points about how women can often elicit this "teaching" by asking "what am I doing wrong?". I agree that this happens. This year at summer camp, I was asking the same thing quite a few times, and got a lot of help. Last year, I don't think I asked it once, and no one tried to "teach" me anything. This year at camp I was battleing a rotator cuff injury which is making me adjust my attacks as well as my ukemi. It comes through as weakness both to me and to my training partners. Maybe by next year, I will have learned to keep my elbows into my body enough not to hurt myself. I am going to do an experiment next seminar I go to, and make an effort to not ask anything like "was that right?" and see if I get any "advice" on the mat. It will be interesting to see.

Okay, this was all an aside from the womens only classes. :blush:

Brian H 08-12-2002 06:27 AM

My $.02

1) Equal means equal. Most of the women I know would be insulted if they were sent to a "special" class. Living in the Washington, D.C. area, visitors are not at all unusual (hardly a week goes by that someone doesn't drop by and practice with us while visiting or vactioning in DC). It would be very bad for a senior female visitor to be steered away to a "special" class.

2) Many (if not all) women enjoy tossing around men like cord wood. The other night a female student, who was literally half my size, was having a great time ripping me off my feet.

3) Most women, if they are attacked on the street (and sadly, in their own homes) are going to be attacked by men. Train like a fight, fight like you trained.

4) While spending a relaxing evening at the dojo with your male buddies just beating the snot out of each other is fun, women ARE just more interesting partners. In order to do a technique right on somebody half your size you actually have to do it right. Besides they are sneaky and always let you know when you are not paying attention to them. (This is NOT a veiled reference to Elise always punching the guys in the face!)

Bruce Baker 08-14-2002 12:35 PM

Opinion does equal truth
 
I am torn between the experiences of being cranked to the point of injury by women in karate, to being shyed away from by women in Aikido. Although the majority of voters on the poll, including myself, answered that a separate womens class is not the accepted norm, there are merits to gaining skill and confidence thru skills learned by women training with women ... and men training with men.

One obvious plus is the polarity issue that comes up when training to understand the variety of pressure points available when immitating an instuctor. The effectiveness of immitating the movements of an instructor by haveing men training with men, and women training with women, is that there is a better chance to feel the energy flow of your training partner when working in group situations. I know I have gone into this before, and if certain people do not have the capacity to immitate these techniques, they cry foul! That technique does not work! Well, it works if you practice, study, and understand how to activate it.

The other thing about the abuse issue, or the size of a woman being overcome by brute strength, strength becomes a deterent to proper training. If your practice is always being overcome by someone else's strength, how are you ever going to learn?

Of course, there are big guys, like me, who practice trying not to break peoples arms/ legs while giving the teacher the nod to come give added instruction to my partners who haveing trouble finding the basis of technique over strength in practice.

I don't approve of absolute training of men with men, or women with women, but in finding that certain inner feeling for energy exchange, the technique being stronger physical strength, and most men being less adept than women in the early stages of training ...

Men are somewhat hard headed, and it takes them a little longer to understand the physical, and mental mechanic's that makes strong Aikido.

Women, who are normally, physically small than most men, are always trying to use their mental prowess to overcome the physical strength, although there are cases of women who have great physical prowess too.

Be aware that good practice is a combination of helping each other, learning to take advantage of either weakness or a strength that creates a weakness ... and that intergender training advances both men and women to react to different movements.

Hey, guys. Think about it. In the context that everyone you know is a able to physically dominate you, that is ... without martial skills, you need a way to level the playing field. What would you do?

I think we need to approach more training with few more instructions than just "blend and harmonize", but that would be street fighting and not Aikido.

I am sure, some added street defense tricks would increase your confidence level to protect yourself, but as a practitioner of Aikido you would only use them to loosen up an attacker, never to hurt, injure, or kill.

Although, I could swear some women are trying to kill me when they have a fight with their boyfriend, husband, or whoever set them off before practice?

dekay 08-14-2002 01:43 PM

I think that if I was an abused female I wouldn't be looking for a MA that would be effective against another women I would look to train with opponents of all sizes and gender. There should be no difference with aikido of who attacks you and the final outcome. This is why I took up aikido.I personally do yoshinkan aikido and am taught to feel uke's balance.I have two top aikido female instructors in my dojo that have taught me more about feeeling than my chief instructor.I would say to any female scared of anybody, do aikido it gives you more confidence and self belief than any other martial art.

guest1234 08-14-2002 04:24 PM

Hi guys,

I think the point of female-only classes is not to MAKE females train there, but to let those that prefer only females train there...and like we've talked about, probably as a lead-in to the regular classes. So women would not be 'banished' :eek: against their will to it, and eventually those looking to it for self-defense against males will move on to the coed classes (I would hope).

For what it's worth, if I have a question about how I am doing a technique, I trying changing something each try/pay close attention to my partner's movement if it seems like they have it/and ask the instructor (unless I am partnered with my sensei); being 'raised' in a silent dojo I don't ask my partner. But that has never stopped the flow of incorrect or unwanted advice. Once a male on his first night kept telling me (laughingly incorrectly) how to do something, the instructor told him to stop, that (a) he was wrong and (b) I had plenty of years and knew what I was doing...as soon as he walked away, my partner resumed his 'teaching' :D I usually find the only way to silence nonsence is to use a value-added throw while they are in mid-sentence, but you can't rightly do that to a beginner.

memyselfandi 08-14-2002 10:00 PM

Quote:

I think that if I was an abused female I wouldn't be looking for a MA that would be effective against another women I would look to train with opponents of all sizes and gender.
Indeed that may be the ultimate goal, but to someone who has been physically abused, touching of any kind may be difficult. I can't imagine what it would be like to be attacked, even in a controlled situation (like in the dojo), by someone who is the same hight and build of an old abuser :( .

So yes, such a person would probably benefit from training "with opponents of all sizes and gender", but for their first time/month/year they would probably be better off in a class with all women.


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