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Old 03-15-2004, 12:14 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Women in Aikido

William Westdyke wrote:
Go George! I can follow what you're saying about O' Sensei being as strong or as good as he could be at any age. That is such a good example to follow, in any aspect of a persons life.

Ok maybe I should open a new thread for this one but I'm gonna open a can of worms here. Ive been practicing Aikido for 6 years now at 3 different dojos. Needless to say I have practiced with a lot of women some of whom are very accomplished martial artists. (Including my current instructor who is a 5th dan.) BUT...

I practice different with women! I am far less intense, far smoother with my attacks, and I'm far easier to throw. This isn't because I don't respect their abilities. It is because I want to help them have a good practice and don't want to hurt anyone. We all know that accidents happen on the mat. A block is missed or a step, and someone gets hit. I have even hit my sensei on occasion (softly of course). It only takes once for a 200 pound 6 foot guy, giving two black eyes and close to a broken nose to an accomplished female martial artist (who asked for a really committed attack), before you start tempering your attacks. Not only do people start being afraid of someone who can't moderate their attacks for women children and smaller people in general, but they very quickly stop liking them. This leads to being smoother about the attacks. Smooth attacks are much easier to catch and therefor less accidents happen.

I practice different with guys my size because I don't want it to be easy for anyone. I hit harder and faster, and I am less smooth in my attacks, sometimes even letting them "track" my target. This is because I know if I hit one of them they will just shrug it off or worst case scenario walk away for a second then come back for more. I also resist more because they have the ability to counter my strength with their own.

Which leads to resisting women less. I resist much less with women, children and smaller people because often they can't move there bodies into a position to throw me without my consent. There are a few women in my school who are small enough they couldn't tenkan out of a single wrist grab if I didn't want then to. How useful, or perhaps more importantly, how fun would a practice be for them then? Consideration of Nage (ability, strength, safety) is one of the prime concerns for an Uke, just as the opposite is true.

So, let it be said I am much more careful in how I uke for a smaller person. I say smaller person because I don't want it classified as just women. Ok, so the cats out of the bag. Comments?

Ducking under cover,

Sounds like you are being a good uke to me... It is important to be an uke that helps raise the level of the nage. For some that may mean "no mercy", I hit you as fast as I can, and will reverse you if you give me the slightest opening. I expect the same back. In my experience tha number of people that you train with in this fashion is very small. I have maybe a half dozen people scattered around the country that I would train with this way.

Most of the time you adjust what you do to the partner to one degree or another. This can be to protect him, to allow him enough success to progress, or it can even be to protect yourslef because you don't trust the partner enough to really expose yourself.

The issue of women in training is more complex because it all ties into the roles that we have inherited. It's not just as simple as the smaller male issue.

Most of the women I have trained with have had to deal with the "Men don't respect us issue". The problem is what is meant by respect. I had one acquaintance at a summer camp get a very bad repuatation because he was too rough with the women. The problem was, from my standpoint, that he was simply not posessed of any finesse and was training with them the way he trained with everybody.

On the other hand I have also had conversations with my female acquaintances in which they bemoaned the fact that the men wouldn't train seriously with them. I figure if you can solve this problem, then you are ready for Opra and should get rich with the next relationship book because I don't think anyone has solved this one.

Individuals of course do reach their own solutions... One of my closest female Aikido friends said, "I am sick and tired of all these women whining about getting respect on the mat! Throw the sucker on the ground and then he'll respect you." While appreciating her spunk it does need to be appreciated that this solution doesn't work for everybody.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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