Re: Differences between female & male practitioners
I don't know Tomiki aikido, and I don't know how aikido competitions are organised, but this article raised a BIG QUESTION MARK for me:
If, as we all are supposed to think,
a) female aikido is NOT different from male aikido at an advanced level
b) strength does not make a difference,
then WHY is there a women's randori and a men's randori?
If we can all attain the same skills, regardless from sex & age, there should only be ONE randori. If a women never wins, then this would simply mean that we are not so good. Maybe because there are not so many women taking Tomiki aikido, maybe because there are not so many women interested in competition, but maybe also because we simply don't reach the same level of skill...but IF a woman wins a mixed randori, then she would know that she is REALLY the best, and not ONLY the best woman.
It reminds me of chess competition. Everyone would agree (or, if he doesn't, gets labeled as a chauvinist) that women have the same intellectual capacities as men. So WHY on earth is there a separate chess competition for men and women? This is very, very insulting. What is even worse, is the fact that if there were not, the world champions still would only be men....
Concerning the soft attacks and soft defenses many people think are appropriate to apply on women - I think this is also an issue of getting the appropriate answer to your attack. When a woman (or a slender/ frail/ shy guy) attacks like a butterfly, she wouldn't get some thundering direct irimi nage as an answer. If she or he is a beginner and attacks like a berserk, you'd still take the berserk down as gently as you can. If you train with someone you don't know at a seminar, you'd start more gently and speed up after a time if you think it is possible.
But beginners, also the small and frail ones, get more confident after a time. Maybe it takes more time for many women, and less time for many men. We had one of those butterfly uke girls, who, after being promoted to 4th kyu, discovered that she could attack, that she could resist, and that she could take a fall. Everyone treated her very gently before, but now as she changed her attitude, her partners also treat her differently, taking her more seriously.