I have received a good number of private e-mails concerning my recent post as well as a couple lively mentions here right out loud on this string. Allow me to explain, and I hope you will be patient.
My choice to close the dojo to women students was not entered into lightly, as anyone must imagine. The decision came more from my desire to give the students something which has disappeared in this world. Exclusivity.
A half century ago my family would take to the woods each hunting season and spend a week at our lodge. My grandfather, father, uncles and cousins, brothers, dogs, (yes, a few of those were female) would gather and survive without female interference in a ritual that is still evoked when the autumn leaves fall.
In this place of guns and men, fishing rods and bourbon, the smell of old leather and flannel, fine machine oil and wet dogs; this place taught many young men how to be men.
I am not speaking of a redneck hunt camp but a place where men wiped off their boots, hung up their coat and hats, emptied their ash trays and washed their drink glass before turning in. It was a place where I could wake in the early dark to snuggle in a little deeper with my labrador retriever and smell the wood smoke and coffee and bacon cooking on the black iron stove. My grandfather would tug the covers and tell me to get going.
The men played cards at night after the hunting and I never heard vulgarity unless it happened in jokes, and men never discussed their wives good or bad. It wasn't done.
It was a place for men.
During the rest of the year we would box golden gloves down at the Boys Club, and there were no women there, then. We would swim at the YMCA and as I recall we didn't even wear trunks because it was a place for men. Later when I served our country in Viet Nam it never occured to us that women would someday have to share the horrors of combat, but now they do.
My father took me to study judo and karate at the police accademy and of course the only women officers were meter maids. That's changed too.
I don't think having a place where you can go to get away from the world is such a bad thing and sometimes men just like to get away from things. Getting away from the women has always been a part of most real men's lives. Sorry, but there it is.
I offer the guys a place to come train, meditate, throw pottery, study and develop orchids, work bamboo, and simply garden. We offer archery, woodworking, wood carving and sometimes basic construction. We have raised a hog and butchered it and gone off shotgunning for quail. If I listed all the Aikido shihans who have shot a gun on this property, trained here, drank a beer or two here, and relaxed here you would be very surprised.
So I have a place of men, by men, and for men.
They wipe their feet, and clean up their own mess. Women come visit on occassion and Patty Saotome has taught here as well as a nice lady from Montreal named Donna. We have a couple events a year and wives and kids are required to attend if possible.
The rest of the time it is for the men. They train hard, drink an occasional adult beverage and never discuss their wives.
And as for legality, or some depressed guy, or someone who doesn't understand what his digestive track is made for...well, they can go train at your dojo. I think thats fine.
Aikido is a big world and what we do here works for us. My students have made me proud and continue to do so, and they accept women students, of course. We feel blessed.
Oh, and one last thing. If you do not have a Master's degree, it is difficult to get accepted here to train as well. Oh jeez, here we go...