Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo
I found this a very interesting thread to read as I have concerns about joining my local dojo, but I appear to have them for different reasons. I will be brand new to aikido although have formerly trained in judo where I was the only female in an all male group. I am hoping my breakfalls come in handy as my experience of judo was that the men really didn't go easy on you just for being a girl. I am pretty sure I hit the mats at high speed a good few dozen times a lesson and there was almost a queue for me as a partner. Why? Because I was light, fast moving and more flexible and hence trickier to pin. Most of the blackbelts saw that as a commodity and were happy to train with me. I had to get technique more accurate on them as most of the men were around twice my weight and brute force wasn't an option. Several of them commented that they had to concentrate on throwing me with more precision as I started to find that the harder I was thrown by some men the more time I had to think of a better way to land or roll to take back control.
Judo is not aikido. I get that. I didn't like the competitive nature of judo and the obsession with progression. Being the only girl in my local group and one of 4 in my region made gradings difficult, but I was happy to just learn technique rather than get a rainbow of waist accessorites.
The group that I had joined had problems which is why I stopped going. Problems? There's only so much a girl can take of men who only ask to partner so that they get to grapple with them and try make sexual remarks. Men twice my age regularly made comments like "bet you like getting pinned" which I really didn't need. I also suffered from brand new males trying to teach me technique. I'm all for the theory that even the wisest master can learn from the new student, but it was patronising machismo at its worst. I tried to bring it up with senior members and was literally told to "man up". No joke. It was apparent that simple communication couldn't fix the issue so I left and intended to find a new class. Life got in the way of that happening and in the interim I have met someone who enjoyed aikido and from his description it's the martial art I was actually looking for. Interestingly my local dojo is comprised of only 10 members (all male) and when I phoned the sensei to enquire he was over the moon that a female wanted to join the class as "there's so much everyone can learn from women".
Ah, breakfalls. How I've missed you.....