Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo
Wow, this is an interesting thread... I really enjoyed reading a lot of the responses because I've often noticed a difference.
I'm currently the only female practitioner at my dojo, and for the most part, I find that people are much more delicate with me, and are better at being sensitive uke when they're my partner than when they are other's. I get used as an example based on my size and gender a LOT, which can be annoying at times but I think its good the sensei at our school are very focused on being sensitive uke and nage. Most of the time I hear:
'She's short, so you need to bend your knees more. Otherwise you're not actually doing the technique, you're just pulling her around..'
'Because she's so light, it's easy to pull her around with force rather than technique, so you need to be careful not to just use force.'
'I like practicing with her because I have to be sensitive to how I'm actually doing the technique because it's easier to make her fall with force alone.'
When it comes to doing more ukemi centric techniques, I often help demonstrate because I can follow very well. But when it's for real demonstrations that the men want to, I guess you can call it 'show off', they will always pick the biggest and the strongest person who falls the loudest because I think they think it looks cool. I don't mind so much, as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses--I wouldn't use a screwdriver to try and hammer in a nail.
And then on the flip side, the sensei would often tell me 'you need to get the technique down precise, because you will never win with force alone.' 'It's harder on you because you're a girl and you don't have the muscle to back it up, so you will have to get the technique down pat so no one will be able to question your rank or skill.'
It's hard, when you're held to a different standard, and often it frustrates me. It's so easy for someone to stop my technique if I'm not in the absolute correct position, and sometimes they do it on purpose but I wouldn't be able to stop them for the life of me because they would just add more muscle. I guess what bothers me most is my own limitations, not how others treat me.
Anyway, I thought this topic was really awesome, and brought to light the differences that exist between men and women, especially in martial arts.