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Old 03-16-2007, 03:34 PM   #51
Erik Calderon
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Has anyone thought of hiring a marketing consultant and tailoring a marketing campaign that will attract women?

I know that when I opened my dojo, my marketing campaign was directed towards married men in the range of 30 - 35 years of age.

www.shinkikan.com
aikido shinkikan

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Old 03-16-2007, 04:47 PM   #52
jennyvanwest
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Roman Kremianski wrote: View Post
How many women Aikidoka do you know would pay $500 to go to an Aikido summer camp where they'll get completely destroyed for 6 hours a day?
Ummmm...me? If I ever had $500 all at the same time that wasn't spoken for. I'm going to spend a precious $100 next week to get "completely destroyed" for an entire long weekend I could otherwise be spending with my family. I'll probably come home exhausted & covered with bruises having thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, unable to shut up about aikido, much to the amusement of my husband and young sons.

May you meet lots more women like me on the mat!
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Old 03-16-2007, 10:32 PM   #53
giriasis
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

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Roman Kremianski wrote: View Post
Would you shell out half a grand of your own money and miss a week of work to willingly go to a place that would make you miserable?
Yup. And the registration fee is usually more than half a grand and add the plane fare and you'll be close to a grand. I'm planning on doing it this year. (Week long USAF Summer Camp) It will be the first time I'll be able to go, and I'm pretty darn certain I won't be the only woman there. Of course, I get to use my vacation time to go. One of the benefits of having a great job.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 03-17-2007, 03:13 AM   #54
Tinyboy344
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(
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Old 03-17-2007, 05:29 PM   #55
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Anne Marie Giri: Very cool! I was told it's mostly a guy's thing, but more women like you should attend! (If at all, I dunno how many usually show up)
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Old 03-17-2007, 07:34 PM   #56
giriasis
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Roman Kremianski wrote: View Post
Anne Marie Giri: Very cool! I was told it's mostly a guy's thing, but more women like you should attend! (If at all, I dunno how many usually show up)
Well, Roman, I know that at least at the USAF Winter Camp, that there are quite a few women around 33% are female in attendance. And there are women of all skill levels from unranked kyu to 6th dan. I don't know about summer camp. After I attend this year. I'll let you know. Men are still in the majority no doubt.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:15 PM   #57
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Well, I based my guess on my own dojo. We all attend the USAF Summer camp too (At Colgate University right?), but out of our whole dojo, maybe 1 women comes! That's sorta what gave me the impression that maybe alot of women don't like going to summer camps and just doing Aikido with guys all day long...

Anyway, I'll be attending for the first time this year too (was too broke to go to any of the previous ones) so might cya on the mat!

Last edited by Roman Kremianski : 03-17-2007 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:32 PM   #58
giriasis
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Roman Kremianski wrote: View Post
Well, I based my guess on my own dojo. We all attend the USAF Summer camp too (At Colgate University right?), but out of our whole dojo, maybe 1 women comes! That's sorta what gave me the impression that maybe alot of women don't like going to summer camps and just doing Aikido with guys all day long...

Anyway, I'll be attending for the first time this year too (was too broke to go to any of the previous ones) so might cya on the mat!
Well, we should definently meet up and train together. I don't think it's male or female thing for not going. It's just a matter of time and money just like they guys. A lot people from my dojo just don't go to the big seminars or travel. I'm one of the few people from my dojo that does travel to seminars. I guess a lot of guys don't like to go.

Actually knowing that most dojo don't have a high percentage of women in the dojo I'm often pleasantly surprised to see a strong minority of attendee at the bigger seminars are female. I noticed this to with the Yudansha seminar in Chicago as well.

Quote:
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(
Well considering the number of dojo that don't have a majority of aikidodoka that are women then that would be kind of hard to do. What is nice to see is at least one or two dan ranked women in the school. What is really nice is to find a dojo run or co-run by a woman aikidoka. It doesn't have to be a majority, but the thinking is "if she can do it, then I can, too." I know when I first started it was nice to have at least one other woman on the mat, but then again I also like being the only woman on the mat at times so I could getting to train with all the big burly guys.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:54 PM   #59
Don
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

We have had women come and go and we always ponder that question. Here is what I think (my own opinions not an official dojo postion) after having observed this phenomenon for 14 years.

Aikido takes a longer time to master than some other martial arts it seems, unless perhaps you are offering multiple classes every day of the week. This tends to discourage both men and women.

Many people, men and women, drop out because they can't master the forward roll. Thanks to a suggestion by, I believe it was Ann Marie girl on this board, after years of trying different techniques to teach rolling, I have found an almost guaranteed way to teach forward rolls. It hasn't failed since I started it. But unfortunately up to that point it seems that women had a harder time because of their smaller musculature in mastering the forward roll. But as I said, both men and women drop out because of difficulties with ukemi.

Now, this next idea is totally from a guys perspective looking in at this problem, so it could be way off base. As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women. These guys may or may not have a smelly gi, bad breath, or lack control. All of these things combined with being in close contact to your partner might make some women uncomfortable.

We only have one woman currently. I think she is in it for the long haul. Interestingly she is Japanese. I have asked her how we could attract more women. She really doesn't know. There are just lots of things out there for people to do. And if aikido takes a long time to master, and people want instant gratification, the culture may just be working against us. We have these discussions from time to time about holding women's self defense seminars. I tend to not like to do these things, and generally defer from participating. Why? Because I have been training in akikido for 14 years now (and another 2 if you count the 2 years in high school) I train to find the blend AND to find the martial application, (which frequently may not be the way you finish the technique in the dojo) I am EXTREMELY reluctant to try and teach ANYONE, man or woman, some of this in an afternoon seminar. First if someone tries a technique in a real encounter, I would wager money that it will not work because they haven't internalized the tecnique, they get an adrenaline dump, and they will most likely end up getting hurt or worse. And besides these things seem to not attract a lot of women.
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Old 03-17-2007, 09:23 PM   #60
jennyvanwest
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote: View Post
Quote:
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women? Where would that dojo be? Not in South O.C. =(
Well considering the number of dojo that don't have a majority of aikidodoka that are women then that would be kind of hard to do. What is nice to see is at least one or two dan ranked women in the school. What is really nice is to find a dojo run or co-run by a woman aikidoka. It doesn't have to be a majority, but the thinking is "if she can do it, then I can, too." I know when I first started it was nice to have at least one other woman on the mat, but then again I also like being the only woman on the mat at times so I could getting to train with all the big burly guys.
Ditto! It was not a deterrent for me to show up for the intro and have it be mostly men. In fact, I enjoy being one of the only women. But seeing a few women out there and knowing there was a woman teaching part of the time during the week made a difference.

Don, thanks for sharing these observations. In particular the very simple fact that "there are just a lot of things out there for people to do."

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
Now, this next idea is totally from a guys perspective looking in at this problem, so it could be way off base. As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women. These guys may or may not have a smelly gi, bad breath, or lack control. All of these things combined with being in close contact to your partner might make some women uncomfortable.
Just personally, this doesn't bother me. I don't smell so great either when I sweat. Having spent a lot of time contra dancing over the years I'm used to guys sweating on me. It's just part of the price for all that fun.
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Old 03-18-2007, 12:21 PM   #61
Qatana
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

" As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy, just because of the lack of women."

Yeah, most heterosexual guys I know would vastly prefer getting up close and personal with men than women.

sarcasm button "on full"

Q
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Old 03-18-2007, 04:04 PM   #62
Don
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Jo: Well, I hope that shot over the bow was in jest. Surely you are not seriously suggesting that you can't see this as a potential problem, but like I said, its a guy's perspective trying to solve this problem.

When I am instructing I am extremely concious of how other male students interact with female students and how I interact with them. One would like to think that everyone on the mat is there to just learn the aikido, and for the most part that is true. But it is incredibly easy to find oneself inadvertently getting in a position where the other person if they are a woman is uncomfortable with the contact. Even worse, and fortunately I have never had to deal with this situation is where a student intentionally tries to take advantage of the closeness of contact between a male and female student.

Two cases in point, either of which could have resulted in a nasty situation. One time when I was training with a 3rd kyu who happened to be a woman, we were doing koshi's. I was uke, and like I had done a thousand time before, as I prepared to be thrown, I reaced over to grab the front of nage's gi. Well, on a male that is not a problem. But you can guess what happened in this case....I was very embarassed and apologized. Fortunately, this woman was not at all put off by it or angry. It was just something that happens from time to time she joked.....

In the other instance, I was instructing, and we had one relatively new woman at the time, and my plan for the lesson was to work ikkyo from a prone position. Now of course that requires that one person be lying on their back and another be on top of the person attacking their face. No one was getting it and so I pulled this woman over and carefully told her I wanted to use her to illustrate a point, because she was smaller than the other students. I suppose I could have just said " So and so, come over here..." and just did the illustration. But, I didn't want to presume, so I asked.

I think if you presume in today's environment, you open yourself to situations that you may never have intended to get into but did.

So, I think its always possible that there are women who feel uncomfortable with the close contact. Heck, what if the woman I had used for the prone illustration of technique had been a victim of rape. She might have been really uncomfortable in that situation, and if I had not the presence of mind to ask, could have created a lot of harm. As it was it was all okay.
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Old 03-18-2007, 04:20 PM   #63
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
I reaced over to grab the front of nage's gi. Well, on a male that is not a problem. But you can guess what happened in this case...
Oh man, I did this millions of times on a female friend (by accident mind you) through a strike while passing under for uchi kaitenage. You're not alone.
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Old 03-18-2007, 05:08 PM   #64
sefie
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

I do agree that the very close physical proximity thing (and the obvious consequences of the sweat and smell ) can put females off, it IS an essential part of martial arts. You can't throw or hold someone properly at arm's length!

But if we want to actually try to find ways of attracting women to aikido, and not just complain about what turns women away. Not all women are wilting flowers, able to be knocked over by the sheer aura of testosterone that surrounds the dojo (at least, as long as it's not summer! ). I'm as squicky about wet wrists or necks, but someone's encouraging me to "just throw him", or to emphasise the positive side of things ("you're stronger than just a bit of moisture!") instead of "oh, eeeeeeeeeeeeeew", then I feel better about learning and want to overcome my intial reaction rather than give in to it.

Ledyard-sensei made a really good point about using positive reinforcement in a non-patronising way. What was that song about R-E-S-P-E-C-T?
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Old 03-18-2007, 07:36 PM   #65
Amelia Smith
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

For me, inappropriate contact is more a matter of attitude than a question of what touches what. There's a world of difference between accidental contact with breasts (for example) which can't be avoided in the long haul, and intentional groping.
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Old 03-18-2007, 08:04 PM   #66
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
So, I think its always possible that there are women who feel uncomfortable with the close contact. Heck, what if the woman I had used for the prone illustration of technique had been a victim of rape. She might have been really uncomfortable in that situation, and if I had not the presence of mind to ask, could have created a lot of harm. As it was it was all okay.
I think this sort of sensitivity is SO important. Unfortunately so many women have experienced rape or sexual abuse of some sort either as adults or children, and practice of martial arts can be instrumental in overcoming the effects, when practiced in a supportive environment.

Quote:
Amelia Smith wrote: View Post
For me, inappropriate contact is more a matter of attitude than a question of what touches what. There's a world of difference between accidental contact with breasts (for example) which can't be avoided in the long haul, and intentional groping.
I totally agree. I think most women can tell the difference.
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Old 03-18-2007, 09:03 PM   #67
Qatana
 
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

When I was dancing I had to be lifted by many partners. I don't give a damn where their hands are if I am eight feet in the air and there is a choice between getting my boob grabbed by accident or being dropped on a hard-wood floor.
I don't see why it should be any different in the dojo.

And Don, do you know what the word "sarcasm" means?

Q
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:35 PM   #68
Don
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Sarcasm: A sharp and sometimes satirical utterance that depends for its effect on bitter or caustic language and is designed to cut or give pain. (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary).

Have a nice day out there in California....I know I'll have one here in Charlotte.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:12 PM   #69
Basia Halliop
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Women will look for dojos with majority of aikidokas are women?
Nah... what I meant more was that the really extreme opposite situation (no women at all) may affect the people who are really 'trying something new' and may really like it once they start. If you walk in the first time and there are 10 men and no women, you might notice it and you might need to be feeling more adventurous to try it then a random guy walking into the same room might need. If you had already done a lot of sports or already thought you would like it it would be less likely to put you off. And it doesn't have to be a majority or anything (on the contrary, I think there's an advantage to getting to practice with lots of people bigger than you). It just does make it a bit easier if you aren't the only one, and the more you have, the less you will get only the already adventurous women...

But barring that, just having people act welcoming and treating each person as an individual and not making a huge deal of it is probably even more important.

Thinking of my experience in electrical engineering (about 25% women in undergrad, a bit less now in graduate), many of my best mentors have been men, and I have no problem being a TA and having a bunch of guys only 3-4 years younger than me calling me 'miss' or 'ma'm' However, that was all things I was used to being one of the top students in since elementary school, plus I had the family background where it was taken for granted -- someone with a different background might have been put off or might never have tried it enough to realize they liked it and that it was OK to like it.

I wouldn't worry if your numbers aren't actually equal, I agree that's not really the point. But I do think it's a factor that influences many women, whether consciously or unconsciously.
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:14 PM   #70
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Erik Calderon wrote: View Post
Has anyone thought of hiring a marketing consultant and tailoring a marketing campaign that will attract women?
Erik, I think this is an excellent point, well worth wrapping into the general picture of drawing in new members.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:52 AM   #71
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

I'll third what Amelia said. If you notice yourself squashing something intimate, say 'sorry' and keep on training. If you're training intensely, you probably won't notice.
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Old 03-21-2007, 06:35 AM   #72
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

We have a page on our website dedicated to women.... treat the darlings with lots of respect, but equally.... Could do with more of 'em as its a good leveler when the blokes get put on their backsides and say "cor flamin 'eck love take it easy!"
Still, things might change!
Tony
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:59 PM   #73
Tracy Van Zandt
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
But as I said, both men and women drop out because of difficulties with ukemi.
Speaking as a new (6 months) female student who is struggling with those damn forward rolls... I can definitely see your point.
I have wondered, though, if women may have an easier time with ukemi in some respects -- since we are generally smaller, and more flexible, and I would imagine are therefore less likely to get hurt. Every time I do a truly terrible fall, I am very happy that there's not a lot of weight coming down on whatever body part I mistakenly landed on.

Quote:
Don McConnell wrote: View Post
As opposed to say karate or another striking art, aikido requires close proximity to your partner and most of the time that is going to be a guy
I think this may be an issue for some people, but it depends mostly on the attitude of the particular guy you're training with. I am totally comfortable with the guys at my dojo, because it's very clear that we're there to train, and if they have any other sorts of thoughts they hide them well

I just don't think you're ever going to get a high percentage of women in *any* martial art, but it seems that Aikido is more suited to women in general. I did a few months of karate years ago, and quickly reached a point where I realized that I could never be all that good at it -- no matter how much I trained, I could get stronger and have better technique, but there was no way I could get around simply not having enough mass to put behind a strike. I would never have a chance against someone twice my size, which I found very frustrating, and was part of the reason I quit. At least in Aikido there's some small amount of hope

As for how to attract female students -- a big factor for me has been that the senior student in our (new and very small) dojo is a woman who very obviously kicks ass. Both she and our sensei clearly have the attitude that the women can do anything the guys can do, which I have found very encouraging as a beginner.
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:34 PM   #74
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

i'm going to summarize some major points women have posted so far: to be fair, i will only mention replies that i have seen at least twice in this thread.

1) I, as a woman, will feel more comfortable seeing a female senior student(s), or a female that is very good in Aikido.

my response: why do you have to be convinced that women can excel in Aikido, in order to think that you can? this is an insecurity that you have to overcome, and has nothing to do with how male students treat you.

i'll bet you $1 that excellent female Aikidoka have confident in their own self's, and were never bothered by the number of men in class. they didn't declare that men should respect them, they earned their respect. remember that Aikido is about defeating yourself, and you're not going to do that by looking at others.

2) more females should teach

my response: i refuse to be part of a dojo that is going to wrap itself up in politics. the issue of women's and minorities' rights is political (voting, salary, EEO, etc). a dojo is a place that is run by one person, rooted in Japanese culture. they don't hire people, and it's not a democracy: there's no bill of rights, no constitution. save all that stuff for the workforce. a dojo is a place where people go to "get away", and to better themselves. there should be no quota.

3) men's "other" intentions:

my response:yes, it happens. i'm embarassed to be associated with men in this respect. men are pigs, and dogs should stop licking themselves, but neither fact is going to change. if you want to practice Aikido with men you will run into the occasional idiot.

all i can ask is that you give us the benefit of the doubt and walk into class with an empty cup every day. most men are there to learn Aikido: there's plenty of places to meet women, and most male Aikidoka know this.

4) advertising geared towards women

my response: this, i can agree with.. i support it very much, because it's the polar opposite of what i mentioned in 2). instead of saying "more women should be allowed to teach", we should increase the probability of having female teachers by increasing the number of women.
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Old 03-21-2007, 03:14 PM   #75
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Attracting / keeping women members at a dojo

I agree with Luc. IMO, we're in a dojo to train in and learn a discipline, and there should be no politics concerning a "quota" either for students or instructors of any given gender or other factor.

At the same time, there are naturally going to be matters that occur due to gender, even if it is something as basic as self-consciousness during physical contact. I like to think that as adults, we can resolve such issues in such a way that no one is offended or humiliated.

That there are jerks who cause problems is a given in any human environment. I'd think that they would be dealt with on the spot in the same manner that one would deal with a student who has bad hygiene (see the "Anonymus" forum for the thread on stinky keiko gi...). Gender is but one of many human conditions that we all have to learn to live with.

The basic thought here is that there is no room for patronizing behavior in a dojo. By the same token, while it's nice for women to have role models to "look up to" in an art, I don't see why such a model should be exclusively of the same gender. I'd like to be able to look up to anyone whose skill I admire, and set my sights high to attain that level of excellence for myself.

Last edited by Cady Goldfield : 03-21-2007 at 03:16 PM.
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