Re: Training: Separate the Sexes?
Mixing the original topic with some of the later discussion about gender differences. In the 70s when I was training in judo, and a run-of-the-mill ikkyu, I used to practice with a woman who was perhaps the best ikkyu woman in the region. To complete a throw was a piece of cake, the difficult thing was to complete the throw without breaking her. When she flew in at top speed for her attacks, it wasn't quite slow motion, but it was slower than any of the nikyu and sankyu with whom I practiced. However, we did train together.
Occasionally when practicing with women now, and more so with mudansha, I find that SOME, not all, seem to want to prove something when they're throwing me, and the ukemi is harder than with most of the men I'm practicing with. I don't particularly dial back my practice very much because at my age it's pretty dialled back as it is, but in initial practice with a non-yundansha woman, I do check at first to see how much she can handle.
Others have mentioned the different responses to and amounts of testosterone. Others have mentioned that in many sports the men don't compete against the women. I believe that in many of the shooting sports, women could very well compete against men, because what is required is concentration, focus, and "controlled non-movement". However, in most "performance" sports (performance against a tape-measure, stop watch, scale (lifting), team-game sports, or combative sports, women are significantly behind men in their ability. In my sport, rowing, we happen to have in our training centre the fastest male and the fastest female individuals in the world on the Concept 2 rowing machine - each holds the current world record for 2000 m on a machine (and each is or was the world or Olympic champion in a boat, as well) - those world records are approximately 55 seconds apart.
The men race against other men, the women race against other women. The fastest woman is faster than some "club" competitive men, but the fastest of each of the sexes in all of the boat classes in international rowing, are about a minute different in time over 2000 m.
Training together - in Aikido? Sure - all for it. Competing? Good thing we don't have competition in Aikido. Are there problems? In most of the dojo I've been to, no. Does that mean there are no problems? Of course not - some people will take ill advantage of their positions of power, some people"accidentally" put their hands where they don't have to, and I hope that the reputations they gain have a tendency to empty their dojo before too many are hurt. It's abominable that people would take advantage of their power or of the intimacy of the contact in Aikido, but it happens, and we are poorer for it.