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Old 05-13-2008, 06:12 PM   #67
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 950
Re: Starting an all-women's class

Some info that might help with starting a women's class

I don't know if this counts but I was once involved in a company safety program some years ago. It was because of company saving money on their insurance. It was also because several woman were attacked in the parking lot not real serious, a drunk panhandler and an ex-boyfriend. It was this combination that got the program started. The program essentially was a low impact women self defense using basic Aikido, watered down basic Aikido and principles to be more exact. Added to that was the run of the mill awareness strategies. The program was volunteer and not mandatory. The program failed. It failed because of the lack of interest by women. Here is the scoop in my opinion there are allot of similarities.

1. The PR didn't scare the women into taking the idea of safety seriously. For PC reasons as being a company the program was headed by a women, I assisted and there was another woman martial artist there too. Two women play major roles, me the guy played the pin cushion role. Only a handful of woman ever showed up for the program.

2. Women doubted it allot, and questioned the information allot, and seemed to undermine the program. It seemed talking self-awareness hit buttons of insecurity, vulnerability, or other emotional and psychological sensitivities. Then when moving to actual hands on lessons of the class had compounded and reinforced those feelings.

3. I felt women where not interested in the physical lessons, they liked the power from the wazas, but they didn't really get hooked. They didn't have the interest or see the value. I don't think it was something they didn't find interesting. Example, say you go into a woman's high fashion clothing store and announce free memberships to a gym or self-defense class. The gym will win everytime. Do the same thing in a discount clothing store where there is a variety of women. More women in their 50s and up would take the self-defense class. All the other women would be headed for the gym.

There are the three major reason why the program failed. We can say the program taught by women was a martial arts class. Women in the company class didn't feel it was important to learn self defense. It didn't matter if men were around so they could say they felt intimidated by men.

I can say it is very hard to get a healthy long term class going that focuses intensely and sticks to learning martial arts traditionally and the way most are still taught.

For women there has to be a mix. Women are multi-taskers and multi-learners. Just ask any fitness instructor, women need to have their interest levels routinely piqued to maintain interest. Women are bored by the same routine. You have to have routine change on several levels and often. So if you are going to do a class I think you would need to calculate that in.

In college, I dated a Persian women who referred to herself as such. We came back from studying and I dropped her off at home. As I left, she was attempted to be mugged outside her front door. When the police arrived, the mugger was beaten seriously and taken to the hospital. My date didn't have a scratch. The 5'6'' 125lbs women took down a 6'4'' 30 year old ex-con on parole.

Point is, women can be tough fighters. They raise their women differently were she is from then here. I didn't by the idea that women are inferior after hearing that. I think the program would have been very successful with women like that.

I firmly say that a martial arts class like Aikido, is set up for men's interests and for men. To be successful at a women's class you have to redesign training and practice to keep women interested. Your approach has to be different too as the goals. And how to teach to be different appealing to women's interest. Gradually teaching like at first as a dance , a girls night out event or fitness class then in time move to a more physical hands on class. It could include allot more women. You can't do it like a typical martial arts class that is and has been geared toward men. Stay aware from the traditional martial arts class atmosphere. Feed into and tap into women's interest.

I think you see low numbers in the dojo, and Aikido enjoys higher numbers of women, because the approach doesn't appeal to the average women who is looking to find better fitness and weight loss. I recommend to keep it always fresh, the benefits target women's interest and needs, don't do a traditional martial arts atmosphere and you might be very successful.
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