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Old 10-16-2006, 08:24 AM   #126
Mike Sigman
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
If the question is about effectiveness, let's all just get guns. It's what the cops do, and they're the ones with their asses on the line irl.
Cops also take self-defense and/or martial arts.

I think the long-term point gets back once again to the idea of whether someone can insert their ideas about "diversity", "universal love", "gender equality", etc., into a cooperative "dance" (not my word, but one I've actually heard used as in "Aikido is the dance of the soulds") and really call it "Aikido".

Effectiveness? Would you agree that someone has to have at least some amount of "effectiveness", body skills, etc., before they can really claim to be doing Aikido to any reasonable degree? The point Isaac seems to be looking at (I don't want to put words in his mouth) is that he wants to be effective in a martial art and therefore he's going by the more direct route, foresaking other peoples' perceived goals in Aikido of "gender diversity", etc., because those things are extraneous to the core martial art.

The interesting part to me is seeing what appears to be very obviously trendy goals tacked on top of supposedly "traditional Aikido" and then hammering someone who doesn't appreciate the importance of the beliefs of some others. I.e., this idea of trying to get people to conform to some "socially acceptable" ideas sort of tickles me. I try to picture telling my sensei on Okinawa that my sorry efforts in the class would have been excusable if I had been able to convince him that "gender diversity" was important to me learning the real stuff. It's an interesting visual scene. He wouldn't have taught me and probably would have encouraged me to go to some dojo where they were more interested in something other than the real art.

As I said, "to each his own". Perhaps that's better than berating someone for not conforming to trendily popular concepts?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:13 PM   #127
Gwion
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

It seems to me that Aikido is about unity, so any idea of separation of anything, whether it be nage and uke, black and white, adult and child, japanese and american, men and women, is against the spirit of aikido, and the principle of the universe, that all is ultimately one. You can find all sorts of quotes to this effect in Ueshiba Sensei's dialogues.
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:32 PM   #128
Mike Sigman
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

Quote:
Wayne Wilson wrote:
It seems to me that Aikido is about unity, so any idea of separation of anything, whether it be nage and uke, black and white, adult and child, japanese and american, men and women, is against the spirit of aikido, and the principle of the universe, that all is ultimately one. You can find all sorts of quotes to this effect in Ueshiba Sensei's dialogues.
Could you lay a couple of the "unity" quotes on me? I'm not sure what you're talking about. If you're referring to the Chinese cosmology, which seeks for working without resistance to the natural laws of the universe (sometimes misappropriately translated as "universal harmony"), that's not what it means.

If anything, one of the common mistakes made by wannabe-spiritual-types is the the idea that there is a purely yin approach to life which precludes personal frictions, meat-eating, etc. The actual idea is that there is and always will be a dichotomy in all things and that we should always seek a balance. I.e., there are male and female roles and physiology... the idea is not to artificially represent that there are no differences, but to learn to live with the appropriateness of that division. There is no admonition, as another example, to only eat vegetables ... a balanced diet and a balance in everything is considered harmonious. The idea of ascetic extremes is avoided in the purer cosmology.

If some women want to train together without men, fine. If some men want to train together without women, fine. But one's life on the whole should include both men and women in a natural accord. Interestingly enough, probably none of us modern types would be tolerant of the highly limited role that women played in the early cultures where all this Asian spirituality evolved. So to argue about what spirituality and equality demand, based on the ancient ideas of "harmony", etc., is a little bit humorous.

My opinion, FWIW

Mike
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:43 PM   #129
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

good stuff Mike, philosophically I agree. The big catch to me though is that we as people define for ourselves through various paradigms, filters, and experiences what we consider to be "balanced".

for example, meat eating. Some may consider it to be a norm and in balance. Others may consider it to be an aberration and not normal.

I do agree, for example, if everyone stopped eating meat today, that we would have a huge problem and things would be out of balance for quite a while and may cause huge problems.

At the same token, I have not eaten meat for almost 7 years now. I consider myself to be more at balance and healthier than when I did.

So, I think balance can be a matter of perspective and is multi-echeloned and not so simplistic meaning that there is one definition of balance that is right for all.

Theoretically, macroscopically there is only one "balance", however microscopically, there are multitudes of definitions and "right ways" that feed into that macroscopic view.

Another good example is killing. I don't hunt because of spiritual/religious reasons. However, here in Germany, I recognize the need for hunting as deer have no natural predators and need to be kept in balance. So, what is right for me, is not right for Germany.

If I did eat meat, I would not have a problem eating venison from these deer that were killed compassionately and for a greater good. I would, however have a problem with livestock raised solely for the production of meat in a system that marginalizes their live and exploits them to make a profit.

Anyway, some more thoughts on the subject of harmony and yin/yang.
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:07 PM   #130
Mike Sigman
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
good stuff Mike, philosophically I agree. The big catch to me though is that we as people define for ourselves through various paradigms, filters, and experiences what we consider to be "balanced".
Sure. I agree, Kevin. And if you look at "people", i.e., the plural, there are some people that eat mainly meat, some that eat vegetables only, etc., but on the whole there is a balance that essentially evolved among the people on this planet in which both meat and plants are eaten.

Similarly, there are people who prefer male-only interaction and people who prefer women-only... but on the whole, there is a male-female interaction that was determined long before our current theories of "what is the right thing to do" and, for the most part, that evolved relationship isn't going to go away. In fact, many of the customs and traditions of humans aren't going to be legislated or moralised out of existence because they derive from fundamental human traits. The "balance" that is talked about is the frictionless recognition and peaceful accord with those things which humans "naturally" do. Forcing some sort of artificial "harmony" on Isaac is actually a very unnatural thing to do, BTW.

On the other hand, trying to force other people to conform to the way we do things is pretty much typical pack and tribal social behavior. We just dress it up as religion and political correctness and "spiritual" and pretend it's something much more elevated than it really is.

By the way... I'll be in Berlin this weekend, if you're anywhere around.

Mike
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Old 10-20-2006, 09:39 PM   #131
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I think the long-term point gets back once again to the idea of whether someone can insert their ideas about "diversity", "universal love", "gender equality", etc., into a cooperative "dance" ...and really call it "Aikido".
Effectiveness? Would you agree that someone has to have at least some amount of "effectiveness", body skills, etc., before they can really claim to be doing Aikido to any reasonable degree?
Whoa, who said anything about dance? Who said anything about universal love?
The distinction we were talking about was very hard aikido that only the biggest, strongest people could participate in, vs. aikido that women and average-size or smaller men could do. Are you implying that the latter is wishy-washy, fake aikido?
Personally, I think that there is a continuum between aiki-fruity and aiki-thug. Most people train somewhere in-between, and the fact that they aren't on the farthest end of the thug scale does not mean that they are not martial or not effective. Maybe they couldn't survive a fight in a cage with some very big, extreme martial artist who really wanted to kill them, but the average aikidoist of any gender probably isn't too concerned with that. I don't think that people who train somewhere in the middle of the spectrum are dumbing down aikido.
And, sure, for those who want to prepare for when they're attacked on the street by a roving band of ninjas - fine. Let them train together. But let them not claim that their aikido is the only true aikido, that their aikido is more 'realistic,' or that anyone who does anything else is somehow failing the founder. For those who aren't training at the high-ultra-martial-god level but want to exclude certian people anyway, let them not claim that they're doing it because the people whom they exclude can't handle it, or that a dojo which excludes women is necessarily better/more martial/more real than a dojo which does not.
Let those senseis who do exclude women just because they feel like it acknowledge that they are excluding people who want to train and who could train if they had the opportunity, and not try to dress it up as anything other than a boys' club with an aikido theme.

all, of course, imnsho.

-LK
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Old 10-21-2006, 12:50 AM   #132
Mike Sigman
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
Let them train together. But let them not claim that their aikido is the only true aikido, that their aikido is more 'realistic,' or that anyone who does anything else is somehow failing the founder. For those who aren't training at the high-ultra-martial-god level but want to exclude certian people anyway, let them not claim that they're doing it because the people whom they exclude can't handle it, or that a dojo which excludes women is necessarily better/more martial/more real than a dojo which does not.
Let those senseis who do exclude women just because they feel like it acknowledge that they are excluding people who want to train and who could train if they had the opportunity, and not try to dress it up as anything other than a boys' club with an aikido theme.
Let the edicts be obeyed!!!

Mike
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Old 10-21-2006, 01:33 AM   #133
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

I said it all humbly, in case you didn't notice.

-LK
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Old 10-21-2006, 08:15 AM   #134
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Men and Women Training Together

I find this thread somehow funny, as there are many opinions thrown together and few ones really respond to the others.

1.) If you do not want to have bad students, the only way is to reject everyone.
2.) If you do not want to miss the best ones, do not reject anyone.
3.) If you think you are a good aikido teacher, select by viewing there skills, efforts, etc. and not by any prejudice (gender alone might be one of the worst). Of course we are all not perfect ...

And now it is starting to get less simple:

4.) If you do not want to get your students disturbed by other students, which are somehow different. the best idea is to get them used to those. Only the second best choice is to exclude those.
5.) If you take sponsors' (public) money, you have to enter compromises or reject that support.
6.) If you want to protect good (religious?) habit or discourage bad habit (e.g. sexual harassment?), you might offer special classes, if there is enough space, time, and energy. Nevertheless there might be good arguments, that the effect is quite the opposite.

7.) As member of your social environment, you should not exclude any student with valid interest in training, who has no other possibility to train.

8.) But as you are not responsible for all your social environment, you might reject them, if you can only offer classes to those by violating your interests or valid interests of your other students.

I cannot offer a simple solution.
If people feel uncomfortable to practice with the other gender, I can understand. There are hundreds of reasons, few good ones and many ridiculous ones. My personal opinion is that your first task to get beyond those feelings, which in general is a task for martial artists - not to ignore, but to prudently deal with fear, hunger, exhaustion, tiredness and any other natural or educated reaction. And just change sides once again: I have not seen any dojo, where they start to fast for a week or do not sleep for 3 days before the first lesson - or start ukemi classes by falling down 5 meters (on a soft mat).

There is still much to say, but for the moments that is enough to think about.

Take care

Dirk
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