Lisa Rohde wrote:
I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo.
This is very interesting to me….I experienced these same fears and discomforts, but I never made the assumption that having another woman around would help ease them. I just figured it was how * I * felt, and that having the courage to train would facilitate resolving those fears. Though I assumed everyone at some time has to work through things -- be it fear, anxiety, ego, pride, whatever -- I also assumed that no one else would ever come to the mat with my precise mix of ‘stuff'. S'truth, I won't be exactly the same the next time I train as I was last night.
It's impossible to deny that our sexes will influence our experience. How can it not? But so does a gajillion (to use the technical term) other things unique to each person. From height to eyesight to the way we approach life -- which is a reflection of our past experience in its entirety. But I'm not thinking about any of that stuff when I'm training - not thinking about being a woman, or why I think this way or that. When I train I'm just me, reacting to my environment to the best of my ability.
Would it be nice if there were other women in my dojo? Yes, of course. But I also think it would be nice if there were more men. I often consider how people come to Aikido as opposed to other MA's, and figure that there are a myriad of reasons, hopefully with a nice ‘bell curve middle' of similarity. No where in my reasons will you find ‘Cause I'm a girl.' Deciding to train is just that - a decision - and I think if it's something important to you - you will find your way to a dojo and have at it.
Please know I am not in any way discounting anyone's struggles with fear. What I'm doing a rather bad job of saying is… that I think it's more important to focus on ourselves as individuals involved in a common endeavor, regardless of differentiating factors that might not only cloud our reasons for training, but tend to form ‘factions'. Some men, some women, all Aikidoka.
I think often, on and off the mat, of O'Sensei saying ‘Aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting yourself.' And that is the crux of the matter for me…..and what I find myself thinking of, no matter who my partner is.
(Don't know if any of that will make any sense to anyone but me...I hate when that happens, <g>)