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Old 03-14-2007, 02:55 PM   #14
Jim Sorrentino
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Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia, Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Washington, DC
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 247
Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Greetings All,

Penny Sablove-sensei (of Heart of San Francisco Aikido) and Linda Holiday-sensei (of Aikido of Santa Cruz) published a very helpful article on this subject in Aikido Today Magazine #45 (April/May 1996 --- Positive Outreach for Women in Aikido). Sablove and Holiday have a 10-point checklist:
1. I always make sure there are women teaching (and not just me).

2. I invite guest instructors to the dojo on a regular basis, and I make sure that there are women guest instructors.

3. At black belt exams, I often invite women to sit on the examining board. For kyu exams, I call women black belts to let them know they are invited to sit on the kyu exam board. In this way, there are women in visible authority positions.

4. I am careful to use both women and men as ukes.

5. I give Instructor Guidelines to people training in the dojo, one point of which is to be aware of gender balance when choosing ukes as well as to be careful to use gender-neutral language.

6. While teaching and working with people individually during class, I make sure that female students get roughly the same amount of my attention as male students.

7. I keep a lookout for beginning women partnered with men who are being intimidating or over-instructive. In these cases, I may go over and talk with the man, have everyone change partners, or perhaps address the whole class on the issue of respect.

8. I make it a practice to maintain faith in everyone's potential.

9. I remain aware that a woman on the mat may have experienced violence, either as an adult or as a child, at the hands of men, and that this may have a tremendous effect on how she approaches Aikido.

10. We have a women's class in the dojo about once a month.
The article also includes useful commentary on each of these guidelines. Most of the guidelines have been quite helpful to me in my own dojo, especially #8. It would be interesting to hear from Sablove-sensei and Holiday-sensei (and their students) about whether and how their views and approaches on this matter have changed over the past 11 years.

Jim Sorrentino
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