a few thoughts.
wow. a few of my favorite topics. hope ya dont mind if i take this time to vent some ideas out here. first, as far as women go, there is still a giant leap that must be taken in the aikido world as far as women are concerned. yes, due to our society, women, especially beginners, are treated as being much more fragile than men. for some, as men make up a good portion of martial arts schools in general, this may be a good way to start out so as not to discourage them into thinking, hey this is a rough and tough guy thing and cause them to leave. however, as women progress, i believe there is a much greater sense of respect that must be shown towards them that is currently not present. the simplest reason i will say is this. i believe women's potential as an aikidoist will not be reached if we continue to treat them differently on the mat. in its truest form, the techniques of aikido are most effective with fluid and completely relaxed motions. i think we all know this as this is the thing stressed most by o'sensei...that strength was NOT necessary. in our society, men grow up and create this inherit reaction to dangerous situations and really any physical activity with strength and often aggression. call it growing up with a sense that stength is most important or from trying to fit a macho point of view...whatever is, it is quite obvious for many men how hard it is when first starting aikido. most men when in a confrontation can clearly be seen having all their energy rise up to their shoulders and chest and all their muscles tense. most women however have not developed this automatic response. yes, they too get scared and certain reactions to stressful and physically exerting situations are similar. but in no way are they so quick to have all their energy fly to wrong areas (as far as aikido is concerned). therefore, if everyone was treated and taught as equals, i believe that women would and are much better and quicker to learn how to return to their center and keep their energy focused and their body relaxed. i just think that discrimination may be getting in the way of letting them truly develop their abilities. Also. as far as ukemi is concerned. ERIK, at the beginning you may not want to jump in and ram everyone in the face/chest/wherever, to avoid anyone passing judgment on you too quickly. however, once you get to know the people you are training with fairly well and they see you're serious about training, i highly suggest that you do hit them. keep in mind it does not have to be hard. a slow attack can still have an incredible amount of energy and be focused and get the point across if you make contact. but the fact is this; first, it is hard enough in aikido to practice the same techinique and not realize how prepared your body is since it is dealing with the same attack over and over again. there is always a certain amount of assumption and safety in knowing what attack is coming that takes away from the "reality" or even the effectiveness of your practice. so a good focused attack not only will be more realistic as far as what your nage may one day have to deal with to save their life (worse case scenario),but it will also help them by teaching them what it is really like to deal with the different kinds of energy, rather than having some kind uke dance around to make their technique look good. plus, when training with experienced yudansha, it is my opinion that having the technique performed well when you are giving a truly dedicated attack teaches you more about the technique than when you yourself are nage. oh, quick note, do not start attacking faster than you can take the ukemi for. you attack fast, your nage will expect you to be able to adjust to whatever he does at the same speed. so, when you start to feel comfortable, start giving slow focused attacks and as your ukemi imporves increase the speed but stay focused. if your nage, regardless of whether they are higher or lower rank is busy standing around, looking at the clock, or simply if they do not make the correct move, feel free to follow through and make that ontact. wake em the hell up. if they start hitting you when they are uke just to "get back at you" cause they think you're just being rough or if they ask you what the hell you're doing, you tell them hey, you either feel some slight impact here and learn to do the technique correctly, or you wait till theres a knife in this fist on the street or someone whos gonna follow up that punch with many more. hoenstly, if they agrgue past that, feel free to kindly bow and walk away to find someone else who really wants to train. ok. nuff for now. happy training all