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Old 07-24-2002, 06:14 AM   #32
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Atypical Experience

Well, I have to say that my own experience has been fairly atypical in that right from the very start of my training I trained with a whole group of strong women. So it is hard for me to identify with people who even think of women in the dojo as an issue.

When I started in the DC dojo under Saotome Sensei there were five yudansha who had moved there to help him open the dojo. Three of the five were women. Raso Hultgren now runs her own dojo in Missoula, MT. Megan Reisel later ran a dojo in the LA area. Sarah Bluestine still trains at the DC dojo. The two guys are out of Aikido now.

Shortly after the dojo opened we had Linda Holliday (then Hultgren) come to train for a while. She is now the Chief instructor of Aikido of Santa Cruz.

Patty (Saotome, though she wasn't married to Sensei at that point) arrived when the dojo was open under a year. She is now a 6th Dan and and one of the top instructors in the ASU.

Then I got transferred to the Seattle area by my company. Saotome Sensei told me to train with Mary Heiny Sensei (now 6th Dan) whom he had known in Japan. That dojo had a majority of women in the senior ranks. Pam Cooper, Kimberly Richardson, and Joanne Veneziano all run their own schools now and all came out of that dojo.

When I started my own place half of my most senior folks were women. I must say that I couldn't have done what I did with that dojo without their support. Lee Crawford Sensei (my Assisant chief Instructor) and Martha Levenson Sensei both run their own schools now.

Not only were none of these women "problems" in the various schools I have mentioned but rather in every case they were the mainstays of those schools both in terms of caring for those schools and in terms of modeling solid training. In the few cases where there were problems in training it was more likely to be caused by "macho" guys lacking control over their testosterone as any kind of problem with issues of the females in the dojo. There is no common thread which ties their practices together as "Women's" in fact Patty Saotome Sensei would probably bounce you around but good for suggesting such a thing.

Now one can have an obnoxious student of either sex in a dojo and it can cause problems. But it has been my experience that when men are complaining about women in the dojo it isn't the women who are the problem.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 07-24-2002 at 06:19 AM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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