George S. Ledyard wrote:
[snipsky] Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training, just as they are in most other areas of our lives. I see these issues play out every day in my dojo. And as Budo men and women we need to make an effort to deal with these things in a conscious, honorable fashion. This is far more important than if someone can crank a great nikkyo on his partner.
I would disagree about gender issues being HUGE in martial arts training. Genders issues are huge, in my lengthy experience, only in places that allow them to become huge. Usually we call those kinds of places "McDojos" and they indeed pander to a number of issues that aren't necessarily related to the presumed core art. There seems to be an element of perspective that Aikido (although other arts get into this issue as well) has been rightfully "adapted" and its goals shifted a little bit from the way O-Sensei did it because some people have taken it on themselves to decide what are important issues... issues that O-Sensei wasn't able to see with the clarity that they can.
I've seen the word "budo" used a lot lately, and frankly, after having seen innumerable dojo's during the course of my career, I have a lot of reservations about diluting the meaning of the term by painting everyone with a broad-brush use of it. When gender issues and other extraneous matters are "huge", they eclipse the "bu" part and it is no longer a "budo". We all know that many facets of the Aikido community are snickered at and we've all (hopefully) been to dojo's where we get the uncomfortable feeling that we're in the middle of some sort of role-playing episode with too-stylized and too-cooperative training. Any martial artist with an outside perspective from hard-practiced martial arts isn't going to go down the road of the reasonableness of having to address gender issues as a "huge" part of a martial art. The presumption that a bona fide student really interested in the martial arts should be forced in a dojo setting to deal with other peoples' political baggage is sort of staggering, IMO. Don't we first owe a duty to the martial art and to the real martial artists before we accept social issues as bona fide distractions?