Re: Differences between female & male practitioners
I would suggest that the manner in which you are perceiving things does not necessarily lead one to any greater understandings and directions. I think that we need to be mindful and respectful of the varying needs and desires of those with whom we train with. When we have a good understanding of what our training partners are looking for in their own Aikido training, it gives us a good idea as to how to approach training with them. As an uke, I am serving in the role as the teacher. I view my role as keeping the nage on the edge of success & failure so as to experience what is necessary to be successful in executing a technique. When I am serving in the role as the nage, I expect my uke to attack sincerely and safely and push my ability to execute techniques based upon the areas that I am actively working on.
This training paradigm does not have to create the perception that we need to train differently based upon gender, size, strength, experience, etc.. For you, working with the "thug" served a specific purpose for you that others might not seek. Some women might not want to learn how to play with "thugs." Some men might want to experience what it might be like to not have to rely on the predominant use muscular force to execute techniques. The list becomes endless. The process of connecting with our partners though understanding is part of an overall Aikido goal (my opinion). Look beyond the obvious differences in our training partners and look at what each of them is seeking to accomplish and direct your training with them in a manner that seeks to accomplish their goals and yours.