Re: Starting an all-women's class
I just finished skimming through this thread and found it very interesting. My dojo has a self-defense class for women one night a week. It is not an aikido class but more of a street level self defense. The other nights of the week, the classes are broken up into a kids aikido class and an adult aikido class. My sensei does not breakout the beginners. His theory is that the older members teach the younger members, you learn by teaching.
I am (by far) the oldest female practitioner at the dojo. We have several teenage girls that do practice with us. When these teenage girls first started out in the dojo, I would practice with them until they got comfortable working in a mixed gender environment. I would work with them on the move, then pass them over to one of "the big guys" so that they can perform the move on them.
The reason I make sure that they work with the big guys? Because most likely the big guys will be more representative of who would be attacking them on the street. It is an empowering moment for the young ladies and usually gets them excited about continuing on.
I have a set of girls who has been working out with me for about 4 months now. They are finally breaking out of their beginner tentative mode and are now really giving the guys heck and taking ukemi all the while giggling their goofy heads off!!