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Old 03-17-2008, 01:21 PM   #1
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

This is kinda piggybacking off Ledyard Sensei's excellent Women and Everybody Else in Aikido thread:

I was looking over the high-ranking women list recently and was wondering: How many of these women are shihan? I know that Birankai has five female shihan (Coryl Crane, Lorraine DiAnne, Elizabeth Lynn, Gloria E. Nomura, and Kristina Varjan) - and some of these women have been teaching at seminars on a fairly regular basis. I just attended a seminar with DiAnne Sensei last weekend.

I also noticed that not only does the USAF have *no* female master instructors, very few of the female instructors are listed in the seminars page.

I don't know if it's just the USAF (doesn't appear to be an "Aikikai thing", since Birankai appears to be making strides in the "gender gap"), or if other Aikido federations also have a dearth of female master instructors. And if I recall correctly, isn't there at least one female shihan in Japan? I understand that "change takes time", but what exactly is being done to help bring it about?

Thoughts?

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:30 PM   #2
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Our most senior student under Imaizumi Sensei is Donna Carlson. She holds classes as Shin Budo Kai Honbu on saturdays.

Recently I read "women in aikido" by seigel, and what struck me the most was the distance so many of the women being interviewed put between themselves and the aikido world. I sense many of them get what they want out of it, evolve, and leave.

With so few females in the art relative to males, it always makes me sad when I see a female aikidoist move on.
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:54 PM   #3
ramenboy
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

hi jen

while the usaf doesn't list any women shihan, there are many of high rank who travel regularly and give seminars.

penny bernath, and jane ozeki, both 6th dan, shidoin and long time students of Yamada Sensei's come to mind.

also, keep in mind that just like the requirements for fukushidoin and shidoin may vary from one goup to another, so may requirements for shihan.
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:59 PM   #4
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Jerome Cervantes wrote: View Post
hi jen

while the usaf doesn't list any women shihan, there are many of high rank who travel regularly and give seminars.

penny bernath, and jane ozeki, both 6th dan, shidoin and long time students of Yamada Sensei's come to mind.

also, keep in mind that just like the requirements for fukushidoin and shidoin may vary from one goup to another, so may requirements for shihan.
Speaking of Penny Bernath and Jane Ozeki...why aren't either of them shihan by now? Haven't they been training just as long as some of their male counterparts?

(and I haven't been training as long as many of you, but I *have* picked up on a couple little things called "politics"...and sexism...)

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-17-2008, 02:15 PM   #5
ramenboy
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

sa, wakarimasen... (don't know)

but then again, maybe that's a question that, we, being a younger generation of aikido students shouldn't have to be concerned with...yet.

also... not even 5 years ago, a westerner being awarded the title 'shihan' was totally unheard of...
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Old 03-17-2008, 10:35 PM   #6
GaiaM
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

I would also love to see more female role-models in the aikido world.

However, I think we have to remember that there are many fewer women than men in aikido overall, so naturally there will be fewer female "master teachers". Also, many women leave aikido permanently or for a time to bear and raise children. Even if they don't leave altogether, I think this usually decreases the frequency and intensity with which they practice. And... there is also just the differences between men and women in general - I think more men are interested in pursuing a martial art all the way to the title of "shihan".

That having been said, I really value the interactions I have had with senior female senseis and hope to have many more!

___________
Gaia Marrs
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Old 03-18-2008, 02:27 AM   #7
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
This is kinda piggybacking off Ledyard Sensei's excellent Women and Everybody Else in Aikido thread:

I was looking over the high-ranking women list recently and was wondering: How many of these women are shihan? I know that Birankai has five female shihan (Coryl Crane, Lorraine DiAnne, Elizabeth Lynn, Gloria E. Nomura, and Kristina Varjan) - and some of these women have been teaching at seminars on a fairly regular basis. I just attended a seminar with DiAnne Sensei last weekend.

I also noticed that not only does the USAF have *no* female master instructors, very few of the female instructors are listed in the seminars page.

I don't know if it's just the USAF (doesn't appear to be an "Aikikai thing", since Birankai appears to be making strides in the "gender gap"), or if other Aikido federations also have a dearth of female master instructors. And if I recall correctly, isn't there at least one female shihan in Japan? I understand that "change takes time", but what exactly is being done to help bring it about?

Thoughts?
The ASU has quite a number of female 6th Dans:
Raso Hultgren, Patty Saotome, Wendy Whited, Robin Cooper, Yuki Hara, Sara Bluestone, Christine Jordan and Wendy Palmer (I don't think I am forgetting anyone). We don't have any 7th Dans, male or female, except Ikeda Sensei nor does Saotome Sensei use the Fukushidoin, Shidoin, Shihan designations as set up by the aikikai.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:30 AM   #8
Alex Megann
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Dee Chen in the UK is a shihan with the Birankai, though it's not clear whether that is the same as being an Aikikai Shihan.

Dee Chen

Alex
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:53 AM   #9
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The ASU has quite a number of female 6th Dans:
Raso Hultgren, Patty Saotome, Wendy Whited, Robin Cooper, Yuki Hara, Sara Bluestone, Christine Jordan and Wendy Palmer (I don't think I am forgetting anyone). We don't have any 7th Dans, male or female, except Ikeda Sensei nor does Saotome Sensei use the Fukushidoin, Shidoin, Shihan designations as set up by the aikikai.
Interesting...so are teaching licenses exclusive to Aikikai? Do other schools use them?

Lyle, I have a copy of "Women in Aikido", and also noticed how many of those women are no longer practicing Aikido for one reason or the other. I have also noticed that many folks in Aikido (in contrast to several other martial art practitioners) are simply unconcerned with tests and rank. And yes, women are generally more apt to take a break or stop training altogether if they have children...though on the flip side, why can't the man "take a break" from training to take care of the kids...but I digress.

As a woman, I enjoy opportunities to train with senior female instructors - especially because my dojo doesn't have any female blackbelts (yet). And I do think it is important for women to have role models in this *still* male-dominated martial art. Hopefully, more women will stay in the art and rise through the ranks.

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-18-2008, 01:14 PM   #10
aikidoc
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

We have two different types of shihan: organizational shihan (such as in the Birankai) and aikikai shihan. They may be different or they may be the same. The aikikai promotes to shihan and it seems the only ones in America that are shihan designated are 7th dan and above. Currently, there are no females I know of in the aikikai at 7th dan and since 1995 or 1997 (Seagal was one of the first) only a few males-more recently. Not true in Japan where many 6th dan are shihan as well. As to Japanese shihan there is one on staff at hombu to my knowledge, I believe this is the person although I may be wrong: Mariko Takamizo (I think Mariko is a female name but I could be wrong). I know the female shihan has done seminars outside of Japan in the past.
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Old 03-18-2008, 06:11 PM   #11
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Many men do stop training or at least limit their training when the kids arrive. I know I have. I always ask my son if it's ok for me to go train. But at 2, he thinks I'm going to a den of ninjas so usually it's cool on my scheduled nights.

Then again, the phrase "aikido widow" doesn't exist for nothin'!
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:01 PM   #12
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

My sensei happens to be one of the female ASU 6th dans Ledyard Sensei mentioned. She doesn't hold the title of shihan, but I consider her a master teacher.

Some day I hope to be as good an aikidoka as her on the mat, and as good of a human being as her in general. It is a privilege to be her student. That's all that matters to me.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:33 PM   #13
rob_liberti
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Where I train in Japan I know of a 7th dan who no one even calls sensei (and calling him sensei will get you a talking too). It's pretty arbitrary if you ask me.

I have very high regard for Rasso Hultgren sensei's teaching ability. Training with her one seminar was a real eye opener for me.

Lia Suzuki sensei is 5th dan. I like her aikido and ability to teach it. It is great and fun and difficult. Go find her or invite her to do a seminar at your dojo (but make sure you are in shape!).

Rob

ps. speaking of lists. I used to love this website:
http://www.martialinfo.com/contacts/initial.asp?lname=L
for a long time it had my name listed next to Jet Li. Hurray for alphabetical order. )

Last edited by rob_liberti : 03-19-2008 at 09:38 PM. Reason: humor
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:26 AM   #14
Stefan Stenudd
 
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Shihan in Aikikai

The Aikikai Foundation made clear rules for the appointment of shihan, a few years ago. An aikido federation with Hombu approval can apply for one of its members to be shihan, if that member has had 6 dan for at least six years.

I am sure that the Hombu/Aikikai Foundation will be very pleased to appoint more female shihan, if they receive such applications. But the initiative has to come from the federation to which the person belongs.

Last edited by Stefan Stenudd : 03-20-2008 at 09:28 AM.

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Old 03-23-2008, 07:36 PM   #15
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote: View Post
Lia Suzuki sensei is 5th dan. I like her aikido and ability to teach it. It is great and fun and difficult. Go find her or invite her to do a seminar at your dojo (but make sure you are in shape!).
I attended a seminar with Lia Sensei last November at Pennsylvania AKI. And yes...she's a very good teacher and thoroughly wore us out.

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:36 AM   #16
Bronson
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
...so are teaching licenses exclusive to Aikikai? Do other schools use them?
Seidokan Aikido is completely independent from the Aikikai and we have recently started using the Shihan, Shihan-dai, Shidoin, and Fukushidoin teaching titles. While we have no female Shihan we do have one female Shihan-dai, and she happens to be one of my instructors

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:06 AM   #17
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote: View Post
Seidokan Aikido is completely independent from the Aikikai and we have recently started using the Shihan, Shihan-dai, Shidoin, and Fukushidoin teaching titles. While we have no female Shihan we do have one female Shihan-dai, and she happens to be one of my instructors

Bronson
I found out that Mary Heiny Sensei recently promoted two of her senior students to 6th Dan. I added Kimberly Richardson Sensei and Joanne Veneziano Sensei to the list under Independents.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:39 AM   #18
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I found out that Mary Heiny Sensei recently promoted two of her senior students to 6th Dan. I added Kimberly Richardson Sensei and Joanne Veneziano Sensei to the list under Independents.
No disrespect to Heiny Sensei of course, but I thought instructors weren't allowed to promote others to the same rank they hold (i.e., a 6th dan promoting another to 6th dan)? Just wondering...

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:36 AM   #19
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
No disrespect to Heiny Sensei of course, but I thought instructors weren't allowed to promote others to the same rank they hold (i.e., a 6th dan promoting another to 6th dan)? Just wondering...
If you are independent, who is going to "allow" or "disallow"? Rank really has to do with credibility and Mary's is very high. Mary's teacher was Hikitsuchi Sensei, now deceased. For quite a long time she was not promoted as she had no affiliation. Saotome Sensei arranged for her to get 6th Dan, which in his day was Shihan and was all the credibility you needed.

Things are a bit different now... 6th Dan isn't what it was; there are lots and lots of them. But folks should be aware that there are the "old Rokudans" and the "new Rokudans". I am Rokudan but Mary is so far my senior that the ranks don't mean anything... I trained with Mary when I was a Nidan; she was Godan then.

A teacher reputation is what gives their rank credibility. For most people, if Mary says someone is 6th Dan, that's good enough for them. Would their ranks have more credibility if some authority in Japan, someone who had never even seen these two teachers, rubber stamped the promotion? I personally do not think so.

In the old days, rank was never the issue. It was "who is your teacher"? And "how long have you trained"? We could add now, "how long have you been teaching"? Mary has been teaching for longer than I have been training. The students she promoted have been training for well over 30 years and have taught for over 20. I don't think that having some additional over-seeing issuing authority makes that any more meaningful.

Mary got her "authority" the old fashioned way... she earned it.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:14 PM   #20
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If you are independent, who is going to "allow" or "disallow"? Rank really has to do with credibility and Mary's is very high. Mary's teacher was Hikitsuchi Sensei, now deceased. For quite a long time she was not promoted as she had no affiliation. Saotome Sensei arranged for her to get 6th Dan, which in his day was Shihan and was all the credibility you needed.

Things are a bit different now... 6th Dan isn't what it was; there are lots and lots of them. But folks should be aware that there are the "old Rokudans" and the "new Rokudans". I am Rokudan but Mary is so far my senior that the ranks don't mean anything... I trained with Mary when I was a Nidan; she was Godan then.

A teacher reputation is what gives their rank credibility. For most people, if Mary says someone is 6th Dan, that's good enough for them. Would their ranks have more credibility if some authority in Japan, someone who had never even seen these two teachers, rubber stamped the promotion? I personally do not think so.

In the old days, rank was never the issue. It was "who is your teacher"? And "how long have you trained"? We could add now, "how long have you been teaching"? Mary has been teaching for longer than I have been training. The students she promoted have been training for well over 30 years and have taught for over 20. I don't think that having some additional over-seeing issuing authority makes that any more meaningful.

Mary got her "authority" the old fashioned way... she earned it.
Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Ledyard. There is much about Aikido and its ranking system that I still don't understand yet.

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:26 PM   #21
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification, Mr. Ledyard. There is much about Aikido and its ranking system that I still don't understand yet.
hi Jennifer,

First thing to understand is that it is not monolithic. As in "aikido and it's ranking system" doesn't make much sense. There are too many different organizations, styles, teachers, dojo for it to make sense.

I tend to think of rank as a sign of an individual's connection to the specific instructor who granted it, and to a lesser degree, the lineage represented by that instructor's training history.

So I might take an unaffiliated rank very seriously, even though the actual lineage is rather dubious or hard to verify.

And someone's rank that is completely "legitimate" in terms of one of the major organizations, I might not take so seriously. After all, as Mike Sigman has occasionally noted, not every student that get's rank under an excellent instructor is excellent themselves.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-25-2008, 07:16 AM   #22
rob_liberti
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

What would be good is to have a list of principles with which you are ranked by go along with your rank.

I do have a feeling about where someone is when I know their rank and their organization - becuase I have a sense of what the valued principles are in many organizations at various levels.

When an unaffilited person reaches 6th dan, they might as well say they are 36th dan for all the good it does me in trying to get a sense of where they are comparitively.

If I ever go solo I'm going to tell people my rank is a googleplex or infinite plus 1 just to outshine the current doshu.

Rob
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Old 03-25-2008, 12:31 PM   #23
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote: View Post

If I ever go solo I'm going to tell people my rank is a googleplex or infinite plus 1 just to outshine the current doshu.

Rob
The McDojos already have that covered. You have Grandmasters, Great Grandmasters, soke, soke dai, soke ni dai, great soke grandmasters, sho dai soke, dai soke 10th dan, dai shi soke grandmaster, etc etc etc.

I'm waiting for the all coveted One Ring to appear to bind them all.
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Old 03-25-2008, 07:32 PM   #24
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You gotta do the Litchfield thing.

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
As a woman, I enjoy opportunities to train with senior female instructors
Then you could do worse than visit us at the Litchfield Hills Aikikai, founded by Laura Pavlick Sensei. She is both highly ranked and an extraordinarily good sensei, and I've been around the block enough to know that the two don't necessarily go hand in hand all of the time.

Avery Jenkins
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:38 AM   #25
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Re: Female shihan, or more accurately...lack thereof?

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Dee Chen in the UK is a shihan with the Birankai, though it's not clear whether that is the same as being an Aikikai Shihan.

Dee Chen

Alex
Dear Mr Megann,
I would suggest you check your facts before commenting on Dee Chen 6th dan Dan Shihan 's status.Chen Sensei received her Aikikai Shihan Certification in August 2007 in London.
The presentation was made by Chiba Sensei,8th dan Shihan, Technical Director ,Birankai International.
I also sent you a email to your dojo.Unfortunately the mail did not get through .
Yours Sincerely,
Joe Curran .6th dan President , British Birankai.
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