I'm a female practicing aikido for about 2 years now. When I first started training, all the senpei in my dojo were very nice and gentle to me. But I wasn't aware of that, until that one guy joined us from other dojo. He was very rough, I almost cried when he threw and pinned me with no mercy when I first partnered up with him back when I was a 7th kyu. I disliked his aikido, because I thought aikido was supposed to be soft. But my boyfriend (who doesn't practice aikido) encourage me to practice with him more because he knew that the reason I take aikido lessons is to learn how to self defense. That guy was the kind of guy I will need to protect myself in the street. My boyfriend was right. So, I deliberately practiced with him more often. I thought if I could survive his attack, I would have a better chance surviving attacks in the street. But, he soon moved, and left us.
After that, many of other people in my dojo noticed that I've become stronger, maybe using more muscles (One student even told me I've got more ki, which I believed was muscles only). They liked it, and I liked it too. Because before that, I totally thought there should be absolutely no muscles in aikido techniques as it was advertised (my interpretation of their ads :P).
So, a few months ago, the difference between female and male practitioners' skill level started to bug me. I don't know if it is appropriate for me to judge them, but I feel the difference between a nidan female's throw and a shodan male's throw. I don't know if it is because men just get the physical advantage over women in combat or what, their techniques are just better (in my view) than women. So, I kind of think that the ads saying that "everyone can practice aikido" is just to attract more students.
Because my goal is to learn self defense, I like to practice more with rough male students, doesn't matter if they're white or black belt. However, since I'm tiny in size, most students in my dojo are very gentle to me, they don't want to hurt me. But this is hindering my progress. I think it is a waste of time dancing with people on the mat. But, it might be hard for nice people (both men and women) to be rough to me.
Recently, I started training with new beginners. There are several girls and one guy. I was very gentle with the girls, but almost in full strength to the guy. My sensei warmed me to be mindful that he was just a white belt when he saw that. I'm not trying to make excuse for myself, but I feel like my full strength was just right for him, because of our size difference. My question is that, am I wasting my time and the time of those girls by dancing with them? Am I helping the guy when I treat him like my level? I'm just a low level blue belt. I felt that if your partner give you their full strength, you learn more from them than if they lower their levels to yours.
What do you guys think?
P.S. as for the safety of beginner ukes, I thought instructors need to do more in this area. Also, I think people treat me gentle because my attacks are weak, I want more instruction on how to be a better uke, but feel like sensei's are putting more focus on nage's role...
Usually instructions for nage are very specific, like step to the right, turn to the left, but for uke, it's only "keep your energy forward, honest attack, something like that, which is very difficult to understand, at least for me)