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Old 03-19-2012, 09:17 PM   #22
Tom Verhoeven
Dojo: Aikido Auvergne Kumano dojo
Location: Auvergne
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 295
Re: Differences between female & male practitioners

Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I think we are talking past each other....

The fact that men are stronger than women, on average, is a biological fact. Sorry, but it just is. Even the strongest women in the world -- elite weightlifters and powerlifters -- are not as strong as men their size.

My original point was that the stronger person has an advantage in martial situations. Every counterargument that you have made comes down to skill: if you are skillful enough, strength doesn't matter. Fine, I agree. Strength doesn't matter as much now as it did when I was a beginner. I expect it to matter less and less as I progress. But it still matters. Very few of us will ever reach a level where strength is completely irrelevant. In my experience, a lot of people make that claim who can't actually demonstrate it in practice.

As for your claim that strength-based counters "are not aikido." Who cares? If your technique didn't work, then it didn't work. You can fix your technique, or you can demonstrate through atemi or henka waza that the proposed counter was a bad idea. But if you can't do either of those things, that's your problem, not uke's. IMO, people are far too ready to blame "bad ukemi" for their own mediocrity.

Or rather, you keep changing the subject and/or your premisses.

You are not up to date with your biological facts.
It is not a biological fact that men are stronger then women. It is a cultural bias. Science has come up with a lot of new facts about this in recent years. And a few tests we could all do again ourselves. This is one of them: Choose 100 men and 100 women from the streets in your hometown. Let them join in a contest; use a large field and let them run 200 meters. Have a look who have won. If you are right and men are stronger then women, then we may expect that the men cross the line first and then a little later the women. But that does not happen. It never does. Scientists have done this test again and again and again choosing young people, adults, older people, children, athletes. Never do we see the men cross the finish line first and then later the women. Now you are bound to come up with the counter-argument that this is surely not the case with olympic athletes and the like. And at first glance there seems to be an exception there. The strongest woman does not get as strong as the strongest man. Power-lifting is a good example. The scientists looked at every sport that would give a measurable figure. So not with points like gymnastics or basketball, etc. But they looked at all the classic athletics, cycling, swimming, etc. The sports that would deliver a list with weights or distances or time. Almost always you would see that the fastest man was faster then the fastest woman, the strongest man stronger then the strongest woman, and so on. So that would proof your point would it not?
But, hold your horses for a minute, then the scientists took the lists with all the data of the men and the lists of all the women and compared them. And lo and behold; there emerged the same pattern! If the men are stronger then the women, we may expect to be able to put the list of the women athletes underneath the list of the men. They could not. A lot of the female athlete could outrun, outjump, etc many of the competing male athletes. So the two lists formed one mixed list, with men and woman randomly on it. Scientific Conclusion; overall men and women are just as fast, just as strong. And that is a biological fact that we see everywhere in nature.

My counter-argument was not just about skill. I was talking about skill, experience and understanding. If you lack those it will be difficult to apply Aiki. And yes it takes time to gain these three, in Aikido we are a beginner for a very long time. And in that period you will face many problems, Aikido can be very self-confrontational.But it does not help your progression much if you have partners that will resist your techniques all the time, that will force a counter by using muscle power or that will block your every move because they think you are doing it wrong.

Aiki overrides muscle power. Always, as it stands on a higher plain. The mistake that many aikidoka make is that as they find they cannot apply Aiki they start using muscular strength. But that is not progression. It will only take you more time to find and understand Aiki.

I am not blaming Uke anything. In itself you are right, Shite should not seek the blame for the mistakes he makes with aite.
But the thing is this (and I know you are not going to like it). Here in the West (I do not think it is much different in Europe or the U.S.or Canada, etc.) we practice a Japanese art. But at the same time we seem to be selective about what we take on board. Or we simply lack the knowledge.
In the traditional arts and crafts, and in Japan Aikido is considered one of them, it is the privilege of the very experienced aikidoka to experiment, to try things out and then as he fails to say to himself " I have to work harder at this" or " I have to go deeper" or "I have to seek a cleansing (misogi)" or something in that order. This has no real meaning for the beginner.
I carry the weight of that privilege, but not my beginner-students. If I do a technique wrong and my partner manages to counter, I may blame myself, I may investigate what I can do to improve or to change. But beginners do not have that privilege - it is their task to learn through what we would call mimesis. And if they come across a barrier it is the teacher's obligation to help take away the barrier and teach them how to avoid that barrier. Often enough that barrier is the use of too much strength. And yes, as a teacher I care about how I teach and about what I teach. I teach Aikido, I do not teach non-Aikido counters or -techniques (or baseball). It is obvious that you do not care about this. This approach has no meaning to you, I understand that. But I do care, it is important to me and my students..

It may take an aikidoka five years to become a shodan and then he is a beginner. It may take him another ten - twenty years or more before he is granted this privilege.

Aikido and muscle power do not match. It is like asking a ballerina to do powerlifting, which would be a terrible mistake.

I wish you all the best with your use of aikido, which ever way you wish to go with it.

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