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Old 10-22-2005, 10:23 PM   #1
Jay Vigilla
Location: California
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Women in the dojo

I am a tweny-something training at a university dojo. I have been training there for the past few years and have seen two changes that I wonder if there is a correlation: Fewer women continue to train and the men that stay are more interested in using their strength than learning technique.

Now, we could chaulk this up to the way we college aged folk are currently told by the media how we should act (reference MTV for the socialization) but has anyone noticed a similar reaction happening in their dojos? Does anyone think it is a possible action reaction? Could this be due to a popularity spike in the main stream media with juijitsu and the more "hard art" style grappling?

The reason I ask is that I feel as though there should be a better mix of body types to train with, qualities of movement, and outlooks on what we do on and off the mat. THough some men are capable of being sensitive, they do not know the femal experience and cannot account for their point of view or physicality. I also fear that the women that do not choose to continue will not get a chance to learn and hone the self-defense aspects.
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Old 10-23-2005, 12:36 AM   #2
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
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Re: Women in the dojo

A few years isn't a lot to base a hypothesis on. When I started five years ago, we had a maybe 40%-60% ratio of women to men; then all but one of our female yudansha moved out of the area or quit training, and many of our kyu women left as well; two years ago, I was frequently the only woman in the class. Now we frequently have classes where women outnumber men, sometimes 80%-20% even. It just varies, I think, especially in college towns (as is mine).

LK
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Old 10-23-2005, 04:46 AM   #3
rachmass
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Re: Women in the dojo

Think it is likely just the life cycle of the dojo and that you will see the ebb and flow of women if you base it on a longer period of time. I practice in two dojos; one of them has 3 women out of 30 members, and the other is about 40% of the general population. The one with 10% at one time had over 50%, but is in a phase where there just are not many (maybe a turn off for a woman who comes to watch to see so few women on hte mat, don't really know). Go to seminars and you typically see between 30-40% of the participants female...
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:12 AM   #4
ad_adrian
 
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Re: Women in the dojo

chick's rule in the dojo they make it that much mor einteresting
there is a topic fairly like this some where else inthe boards
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Old 10-23-2005, 09:17 AM   #5
3girls
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Re: Women in the dojo

Why not? what difference does it make? Having 3 daughters I have developed a unique perspective with regards to females. I see my role as a father to develop 3 women who can do all things and be anything they chose this includes aikido to piano to academics. women may have less "muscular strength" however their true physical & mental strength far out ways most men i know....me included. We do not have a kids program at our dojo which I wish we had but I do train them with my limited knowledge of aikido so when they are of age to join they will be able to jump in. I believe they will become great aikidoka which will only help them to become great women
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:18 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Women in the dojo

Quote:
Adrian Stuart wrote:
chick's rule in the dojo they make it that much mor einteresting
um I'm not sure whether to answer this, as I'm a 50 yr old woman, not a juvenile poultry...but I'm SO glad we serve a function for you.

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 10-23-2005 at 07:19 PM. Reason: revise language

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Old 10-23-2005, 07:57 PM   #7
aikigirl10
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Re: Women in the dojo

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
um I'm not sure whether to answer this, as I'm a 50 yr old woman, not a juvenile poultry...but I'm SO glad we serve a function for you.
LOL
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Old 10-24-2005, 09:43 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: Women in the dojo

I've trained in quite a few different clubs, and in certain of these clubs for quite a long time. To a very large extent the atmosphere of the club is determined by the trainees, and the trainess you appeal to is in turn decided by the instructor (and the atmosphere of the club). I am always keen to get a good selection of male/female and old/young in the club, although it can be difficult.

Young men are strong and aggressive, and therefore their aikido tends to be like this naturally. Of course the style being taught may influence the types of character who wish to train as well.

IMO there is nothing wrong with using plenty of force in an aikido technique, as long as the uke is unable to resist this force! Hard and soft are both incorrect. IMO blending is not about being weak or gentle, it is about acheiving a technique such that minimum resistance is met. Although obviously safety considerations dictate the application of force the the dojo.

As an analogy; if someone is running, we may be able to unbalance them by a very forceful push directly against them, or we could 'simulate' it with them jogging and we gently push directly against them, however both are wrong. We can achieve our desired result from a gentle or hard push from the side - a gentle push requires less energy, but a hard push sends them flying further. The 2nd is good aikido, either way, whereas the first is just muscle or pretending.

I agree with your point and I think it is essential for women doing self-defence to have strong men who could normally intimidate them, since it allows them to realise just how powerful some men are, but also how to deal with this power. I think there is alot of responsibility on the instructor to ensure that the training is appropriate for individuals so they can become the best aikidoka that they, personally, can become. At the beginning there should be allowances for small/weak/frightened people, such that they can eventually overcome these limitations; surely that is what aikido is about?

What first intrigued me about aikido is that I was one of these young strong men, but a female nidan of 7 1/2 stone could throw me around like I was a leaf. Loose your females and you'll never have the good high grade female role-models and the beginning females will always look weaker than their male counter-parts! (excusing the generalisation)

Last edited by ian : 10-24-2005 at 09:53 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-24-2005, 11:10 AM   #9
senshincenter
 
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Re: Women in the dojo

First, I wish to say how great I thought Ian's post was -- I think everyone and anyone would do well to read it. Thanks Ian.



I too think that there is something to the whole ebb and flow of membership numbers and gender breakdowns. However, I also feel that there are indeed cultural influences that help determine why one type of dojo membership lends itself toward one segment of society or toward another AND ALSO what percentage range their ebb and flow happens to fall within. In conjunction with ebb and flow, there are energies that a dojo can have that lure female (ebb and flow) percentages of 40%-60% on a regular basis, with an equal drop out rate to that of males, or that can only lure a percentage range from 10%-30% with a much higher drop out rate to that of males.

When it comes to female membership, in my experience, while most men like to think that it is because their dojo is too rough, hardcore, and/or martial, that they have ebb and flow between ten to thirty percent female members in their dojo, the actual reason is often quite different. In my experience, more than anything else, spiritual immaturity is what has one dojo's female membership ebb and flow percentage between 10%-30%. Allow me to explain…

In short: The male species is plagued by cultural and hormonal pressures to alienate himself -- both from others and from himself. The height of these pressures, generally come to males between the age of 16 to (let's say) 45 years old (some feel it younger, some can feel it later). At these points in a male's life, he is not only greatly plagued by his habitual/instinctual responses to fear, pride, and ignorance, but in many cultures (because male perspectives/experience comes to determine so much of modern culture), such habitual responses are often supported socially. It is this latter part that females often do not get to "enjoy" -- this even though they have their own habitual/instinctual responses to fear, pride, and ignorance.

This means that a male will and can (i.e. it's acceptable; makes sense) act in a way that is very much in disaccord with spiritual maturity (which is measured by how much we have reconciled our fear, our pride, and our ignorance). It also means that a male will and can act in conflict with the higher ideals of Aikido (which are all marked by the spiritual maturity of a man -- Osensei -- which means a man that has overcome both his instinctual and cultural pressures to practice alienation). Nevertheless, thus, a male will and can be acting in a way that is very much in accord with what his inner nature (i.e. spiritual immaturity) is telling him and also what his culture (which supports that spiritual immaturity) tells him he should do and be.

The issue here with this type of spiritual immaturity is that it is alienating by nature. It is divisive. It seeks to separate and to isolate. It draws lines, makes sides, boundaries and borders, lives off difference and otherness, etc. This is what fear, pride, and ignorance do, and this is why the reconciliation of these things leads us, as it did for Osensei, to a sense of universal community, union, oneness, etc. Women then are easy to alienate oneself from when no such reconciliation is being sought after -- as women thus appear to be different in so many ways to men that are in this stage of their life/spiritual journey. However, it is not just women; often the old and the young are also alienated from; or even particular social, racial, and/or economic divisiveness can be used to practice the same forms of alienation.

When a dojo's male population is more supporting of a reconciliation of fear, pride, and ignorance, and less supporting of spiritual immaturity (which for males is what is often supported instinctually and culturally and which therefore more often representative of dojo), a dojo will come more to reflect the whole of one's population setting. In a real Budo dojo, it will cultivate such reconciliation mainly through martial means -- which means one can be and will be extremely martial, hardcore, etc., and still have ebb and flow that represents one's general population percentages (40%-60% female).

dmv

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 10-24-2005, 01:39 PM   #10
crbateman
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Re: Women in the dojo

I'll pass on an interesting observation made to me some time ago by a female training partner.

"A man will continue to train, even if only partially dedicated, but a woman will give it up unless she can be comfortably, totally committed."

I don't know to this day whether I agree with that statement, but I must admit she has a point.
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Old 10-24-2005, 01:53 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Women in the dojo

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
"A man will continue to train, even if only partially dedicated, but a woman will give it up unless she can be comfortably, totally committed."
Nope, assuming one can define and differentiate degrees of "commitment," I probably know as many "partly dedicated" women as men, proportionate to their numbers.

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-24-2005, 03:29 PM   #12
crbateman
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Re: Women in the dojo

Janet, do you mean you know these women in Aikido, or just know them. My friend did not say that partly dedicated women did not exist, but just that they don't stick with Aikido. Or maybe you and she just didn't know the same women.
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Old 10-24-2005, 04:57 PM   #13
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Women in the dojo

I do know quite a few "partly dedicated women" in aikido, FWIW. On the other hand, I also know a few dojo where to train as a woman I'd have to be quite dedicated to stick around at all.

I told David's post to a dojomate after class tonight and we got to thinking...there are other lines of divisoion besides male-female (well of course!). In our dojo, the "other kind of people" are the what someone once called tiger cubs...young aggressive men. We don't have them. It's not as immediately obvious as not having women in the dojo, because it still leaves, all women of course, and quite a few men, in fact we have pretty much a steady 50/50 men/women ratio. It's still a divide, though.

On the other hand, our teacher's teacher's dojo maybe doesn't have quite that many women as far as I can tell. But the diversity of people is far greater than in our dojo, there are old men and women, children, athletic people and some with serious health problems.

I think ultimately the composition of a dojo population is up to how the sensei treats their students. Enthusiastic students can manage to invite friends to try aikido, but whether or not people stick to it will i think be very much influenced by how the teacher treats them.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 10-24-2005, 05:30 PM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: Women in the dojo

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
Janet, do you mean you know these women in Aikido, or just know them. My friend did not say that partly dedicated women did not exist, but just that they don't stick with Aikido. Or maybe you and she just didn't know the same women.
Hi, Clark, sorry for ambiguity; most definitely I mean in aikido training.

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 10-24-2005 at 05:32 PM. Reason: first answer too cranky :-)

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Old 10-24-2005, 06:33 PM   #15
aikigirl10
Dojo: Aikido of Ashland
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Re: Women in the dojo

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
I'll pass on an interesting observation made to me some time ago by a female training partner.

"A man will continue to train, even if only partially dedicated, but a woman will give it up unless she can be comfortably, totally committed."

I don't know to this day whether I agree with that statement, but I must admit she has a point.
I think thats dumb. This definitely can go both ways. It has nothing to do with gender just different personality traits.
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:29 PM   #16
Lan Powers
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Re: Women in the dojo

It would be a valid point I think, to consider the area where the dojo is located as well.
Here in deepest west Texas, there is a (probably) differant mind set to the general consensus of public out-look.
Perhaps this is stronger here in the "Good-Ole-Boy" area where I live and train.
We have few if any ladies here in training. Pity. We need the diversity.
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:32 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Women in the dojo

Lan, from time to time I get to Austin to visit my sister, but usually it is a quick fly in/out -- lucky if I get to train w/ Ross Robertson right in town -- but if I'm ever doing it by car I'll make sure to time the drive through to come by and visit!

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-24-2005, 10:55 PM   #18
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Women in the dojo

In the more aggressive dojos I've been to, there tends to be fewer women. The culture of an area does definately play a key role in this too. I really like Ian's post and think it sums up my thoughts on this topic pretty well. Regarding dedication, I've seen people come and go in a dojo and sometimes they come back but usually they don't, if they haven't already trained for a few years. I can't see any trend based on gender for this...and in fact, considering the dojo I've got the most time in is always predominated by men, I've seen far more men quit than women...but that's probably not really saying much.
Personally, when training was the top priority in my life, I often prefered training with 2 particular women sempai. One was very gentle and taught me much about good ukemi; the other was very VERY tough and taught me to apply the principle of irimi better (and to get the hell out of the way consequently). So there you have a pretty full range of Aikido style just within the only two women who were training at the dojo at that time. To me this says that while the trend is for women to shy away from martial arts in general, those that study them represent equally diverse qualities and personalities.
Before I babble on any more...take care all,
Matt

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Old 10-25-2005, 03:31 AM   #19
crbateman
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Re: Women in the dojo

Based on the replies, I guess this really does vary from place to place, although I must admit that I have known many guys who have reached Shodan, or even higher, who could basically take Aikido or leave it, but I have seen few women stick with it past 4th kyu without being really into it. Maybe the gals just know better when to tough it out, and when to call it a day... I dunno. I do know that I admire the grit displayed by those women I've met who have "made it" in Aikido. I wish I had more of that type of determination.
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