Re: Women and Everybody Else in Aikido
Twice recently has this issue come up. I find it very interesting and educational. I respect Ledyard Sensei very much because he tends to have the same feelings towards many things as I. He is right, we should protect Aikido and make it better for those that come after us. That may mean weeding out problem students, that may mean weeding out bad instructors, that may mean weeding out poor dojo, but it can also mean improving how Aikido is passed on, and to whom it is passed on. Pretty tough to change the staus quo though...
I always start with "What is Aikido to the dojo you train in?" In my dojo, aikido is a martial art; I learn with greater emphasis on the principles of combat and training. Some dojos are not as physical, and create a greater sense of the budo of Aikido. When I interview prospects that I see are less interested in the physical aspects of aikido, I send to to a dojo that can satisfy that need. When I interview prospects that I see are more interested in the physical aspects of combat, I send them to a judo dojo or karate dojo that can satisfy that need. My job is to give students the best aikido for them, and if I can't do it I will find someone that can.
But that only addresses half the problem. We still have to improve how we pass Aikido on. I look at Patty Saotome Sensei as a great example of a solid martial artist that can demonstrate a wide range of appeal in aikido; it also happens that she is a women. I have seen some high ranking instructors that can't pull off this demonstration; they happen to be men and women. I think we need to continue to push a better instructional system to encourage and prepare all students, should they choose to become more involved in aikido oragnizations. Today's pioneers need to prepare towmorrow's leaders...
There is a swedish golfer that is a major tournament winner. This golfer is intimidating, inspiring and photogenic - a great catch for the press. This golfer is very knowledgeable about the sport and can be found in major golf magazines instructing better methods to drive, putt, chip, and play. This golfer is simply an all-around great role model that has invigorated golf. In 2003, this golfer missed the men's PGA Tour final cut by only four strokes. Her name? Annika Sörenstam.