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Old 05-14-2008, 02:48 PM   #76
misogi
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Hi Ron,

I don't have time right now to go back and quote "negative" comments. It just appeared that some folk thought that this was some segregratory, descriminatory agenda-based mission. Let it be said that this is not the case and I did not feel this from your posts. I find your approach very constructive.

The reason why I find it interesting that they are mainly from men is that there is no way that a man can truly understand what it is like to be the only (or one of few) female on the mat. As a woman in the martial arts it is *usually* the case that you are in the minority, *usually* the case that you are weaker, often the case that you are confronted with someone much bigger, stronger and more advanced, often the case that some guy wants to prove himself by intimidating or hurting a woman, (the same guy does the same with other guys sometimes too, but as a female it is much more overpowering, and often incredibly intimidating - I don't think guys appreciate the power of the male/female dynamic when physical aggression is involved - and here I mean *aggression* in it's negative sense. This is usually only the case with beginners. As people get to know the dojo, it's members and is able to sort the wheat out from the chaff, these issues tend to disappear - often along with the newest female member...

I understand that Aikido does not require great strength. This is one of the main reasons why I love it so. However, when starting out, it is not easy to understand what you are doing and why.

I don't necessarily believe women only classes to be the answer to the problem. A beginners class will always have a mix - be it of genders, body types, personalities, physical ability...The point is that we are trying to make it a comfortable space for women to *start* - to let them get a feel, in an environment where they may raise any issues they might have about working with the opposite sex, how to deal with Sempai who may be rough, hitting on them, difficult to work with etc. I know these are issues in all dojo, and I also know that separation may not be the answer and must be short lived.
Again, this doesn't sit with me very comfortably.
But as a woman who has visited many dojo, trained with both sexes, and been thrown very hard and treated very roughly by guys (and a few females too!), I feel this is something worth offering to women who have never been exposed to the martial arts and may feel less capable than their male counterparts...

The horse has been well and truly beaten!!

Let's keep talkin'

Peace

If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.- Chinese adage
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:01 PM   #77
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Oh, and I just read back through the thread, and I should note that some men in the discussion have stated they agree with this idea, and other men have said that it concerns them...not that it shouldn't happen.

I see that not all the women responded so differently either. So I really am currious about the idea that *men* are commenting *negatively*. It gives the impression that the segregation is already beginning...if you see what I mean.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:05 PM   #78
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

If you want more women on the mat teach Muay Thai or kickboxing. The Muay Thai class at our multi-art facility is bristling with female students and more are joining every week. And the guys in that class are HUGE.

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 05-14-2008, 06:34 PM   #79
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Nice post again, Judith! Thanks for the honest answer. I do appreciate you taking the time.

By the way, I've trained at your dojo (if it is Henry Smith Sensei's dojo), and I must admit I have a hard time imagining people intimidating others while he is around! I think he would put short shrift to that kind of behavior, promptly!

You've got a good teacher.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:35 PM   #80
Chris Li
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Judith McSpadden wrote: View Post
The reason why I find it interesting that they are mainly from men is that there is no way that a man can truly understand what it is like to be the only (or one of few) female on the mat.
Here's a line of reasoning that is often brought up in these type of discussions, and seems to be intended to squelch discussion by anybody outside of the group in question.

I've never really bought into this argument - if I can't truly understand you because I'm male, then it follows that you can't truly understand me because you're female. Now, if you can't truly understand me then how do you know what I do or don't understand?

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2008, 06:46 PM   #81
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Oh, and I just read back through the thread, and I should note that some men in the discussion have stated they agree with this idea, and other men have said that it concerns them...not that it shouldn't happen.

I see that not all the women responded so differently either. So I really am currious about the idea that *men* are commenting *negatively*. It gives the impression that the segregation is already beginning...if you see what I mean.

Best,
Ron
IMO, even terms like segregation and exclusion have negative connotations to the very real need being expressed here. Defining this opportunity in a positive light "womanspace" or "yin-time" could better define the project. Woman to woman discussions (mentoring) in a real-time environment is a very necessary part of female group dynamics- especially when the new environment is dominated by male metaphor, signs and symbols. It just does not have the same magic whenin mixed groups.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:57 PM   #82
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

[quote=Christopher Li;206458

I've never really bought into this argument - if I can't truly understand you because I'm male, then it follows that you can't truly understand me because you're female. Now, if you can't truly understand me then how do you know what I do or don't understand?

Best,

Chris[/QUOTE]

I learned the answer to this one and will say it as Many women are just too polite to post it.

"Because your (the man's) actions show you have no clue that you are creating an intrusive and discomforting feeling in me - a sense of being violated- Violation can be very subtle as well as overt.

I am a male. If I have not answered "on point" please correct me on thread or in PM.

Chris
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:58 PM   #83
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Woman to woman discussions (mentoring) in a real-time environment is a very necessary part of female group dynamics- especially when the new environment is dominated by male metaphor, signs and symbols. It just does not have the same magic whenin mixed groups.
That makes sense to me on some levels. My fiance works in a mostly male field and office. She could really use a female mentor...unfortunately, there really isn't one available. I hear about this frustration often.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:53 PM   #84
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
That makes sense to me on some levels. My fiance works in a mostly male field and office. She could really use a female mentor...unfortunately, there really isn't one available. I hear about this frustration often.
I guess I don't understand the need for a same sex mentor. I was educated in a field dominated by women and consequently there are women that I look to for mentorship in that field. Also, one of my main aikido influences is a woman. I would think it is more important to find a person who is good at what they do for a mentor and gender/race/religion/etc be damned.

I'm still having a hard timing understanding how we can fix sexism with more sexism.

Bronson (perhaps I'm just simple)

"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 05-14-2008, 08:46 PM   #85
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Thumbs up Re: Starting an all-women's class

Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train. Women are neither being prevented from taking the other classes nor are they being forced to take the women's only class. Judith and Jennifer, am I correct in assuming that you are not replacing classes already in existence where male dojo members would lose an opportunity to train? And there are additional intro classes offered as well in which anyone can join? It would be sexism to start a women's only dojo. It would be segregation to force all women to only take the women's only class. It would be reverse discrimination to take away classes from the men so that there can be separate women's class. What I see is that they are creating a women's only class in an effort to make up for gender disparity in their dojo. I also do not see them saying you can not create a special men's only class either. But, men are not the ones on the receiving end of the inequality - the women are. This is a rational solution to a perceived inequality.

My suggestion to both Jennifer and Judith is to fully invest in it and see what works out. More power to you.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:48 PM   #86
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Judith,

I am not sure if you read my other post. I strongly feel that only a small number of women are interested in a martial art. Because of that it makes it very difficult to attract and keep women in a martial art. We of course are speaking Aikido. One of the more women friendly arts, I think.

By far and wide martial art dojos will have more men then women, 10/90 women to men ratio, in class. Because it is hard to attract and maintain a class for women. Allot of thought has to go into redesigning the class to focus away for the benefits and interests of men.

I find it remarkable of women who are in martial arts because it isn't something they are drawn to. Women are drawn to the benefits of exercise, and have a unrelenting drive to accomplish their goals. Aikido doesn't offer the same benefits of exercise or interest. Yet another hurdle to a women's class.

Tae Bo was brilliant. It is the model for getting women into martial arts. It fused martial arts into an exercise program. A great first introductory handshake into the martial arts. From there once women reach their goal then they can move into a more martial arts class.

I don't think the reason women overall or is the underpinning reason why they don't join a martial arts class is because of some jerk guy. That is a general surface reason. Women deal with jerks allot in their lives. I think the deeper reason is the natural disinterest into a male activity, much the same way men are not interest in learning how to build up their Kegel muscles.

To start and have a successful women's class it has to be done differently then the classic martial arts class approach. It has to be done in a way that will interest women and benefit women for women to be attracted to the class. Women are not interested nor see the benefits in taking something designed for men.

Last edited by Buck : 05-14-2008 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:50 PM   #87
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Chris Parkerson wrote: View Post
I learned the answer to this one and will say it as Many women are just too polite to post it.

"Because your (the man's) actions show you have no clue that you are creating an intrusive and discomforting feeling in me - a sense of being violated- Violation can be very subtle as well as overt.

I am a male. If I have not answered "on point" please correct me on thread or in PM.

Chris
The above only works if you assume that someone who "understands" you will never make you uncomfortable.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2008, 08:55 PM   #88
Chris Li
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote: View Post
Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train.
So it would be OK if someone created a whites only class as long as people of color had other classes that were available to them?

I thought that argument had been more or less settled in the 1950's...

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2008, 09:00 PM   #89
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I am reading the sexism element that has come into play. Do you mix men with women if you redesign the class toward womens interest? Solution, I feel is an intro class that is a martial art exercise class then work them into a more classical martial arts class. Get women comfortable with martial arts. If you are willing, I think more success would come of it if the regular martial arts class focused on a mix of both men and womens interest. But that is hard, as it breaks tradition and you no longer have a classical martial arts Aikido class.

I don't think starting a womens class is an easy thing to do.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:06 PM   #90
Chris Li
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
I am reading the sexism element that has come into play. Do you mix men with women if you redesign the class toward womens interest? Solution, I feel is an intro class that is a martial art exercise class then work them into a more classical martial arts class. Get women comfortable with martial arts. If you are willing, I think more success would come of it if the regular martial arts class focused on a mix of both men and womens interest. But that is hard, as it breaks tradition and you no longer have a classical martial arts Aikido class.
Questions of income aside (although I know that can be important), I generally feel that it is a bad idea to change your training to accommodate sales and marketing concerns. You never please everybody, and you end up compromising your own training.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2008, 09:26 PM   #91
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
So it would be OK if someone created a whites only class as long as people of color had other classes that were available to them?

I thought that argument had been more or less settled in the 1950's...

Best,

Chris
First, please read my post in total and consider it as my entire point.

And, yes, it would be okay to create a class for whites if the whites were in the minority in a situation in order to offset the racial disparity in the particular dojo. And, so long as that class did not take away the current training opportunities of the African Americans.

And no, that argument was not more or less settled in the 1950's. The solution only BEGAN in the 1950's and continued on into the 1970's and beyond. There is a lot of other case law that followed that to address the issue of discrimination. And this is NOT the segregation of the 1950's. Women are not being forced to train exclusively in the women's classes and not being allowed to train with the men. And, men are not being forced to train in men's only classes and not being allowed to train with the women. That would be what Brown v. Board of Education ended. This is not what is going on here.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:32 PM   #92
Chris Li
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote: View Post
And, yes, it would be okay to create a class for whites if the whites were in the minority in a situation in order to offset the racial disparity in the particular dojo. And, so long as that class did not take away the current training opportunities of the African Americans.
And that's what I'm disagreeing with - saying that forming an exclusive group is OK because you're in the minority just perpetuates the problem.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2008, 10:08 PM   #93
dragonteeth
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Questions of income aside (although I know that can be important), I generally feel that it is a bad idea to change your training to accommodate sales and marketing concerns. You never please everybody, and you end up compromising your own training.
You know, I could be wrong, but I never got the impression anywhere along the line that this was a money making concern. I got the strong feeling that these women really love aikido, and they are trying to find a way to reduce the barriers that exist within their particular environment which keep new female practitioners from discovering this wonderful art.

Having thought about this a little while, I can see this from two different perspectives. You can look at it from the segregation standpoint, equating it with racial segregation which understandably has very negative connotations. Or you can look at it from the same standpoint that gives us children's classes. Again, some would find that objectionable because it equates women with children, and we certainly are not.

But when you get past the socially created mental barriers those two ideas bring with them and truly get to the core of what they are trying to do, maybe it changes a little bit. Why do we have kids classes? Because their joints can't handle full bore practice, and because they think and learn differently than adults. Nevertheless, we hold them anyway because we feel that starting kids in martial arts is a good thing, and because we want to build a foundation with these individuals who are the future of aikido.

When Judith posted her initial piece, I really started to see this picture differently than I had originally. If this happened to be a girls class just for the sake of being a girls class, I'm not sure I would feel as supportive. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. They have a legitimate reason for wanting to have a separate beginners class supported by the comments of women who have left the class. They want to reach an unreached demographic to give them a better picture of what aikido is about than what some of these women apparently see in the regular class. Once they get a taste of it (and become aiki-addicts like the rest of us) dealing with the boys may not seem such a big deal after all, especially if they are gradually introduced through joint classes or selected visiting male instructors and uke.

And going out on a limb with a big target on my back, yes, I could support either an all male or a single race class IF and only if it served a similar purpose, and if the object was to eventually integrate the students into the regular dojo. My very first dojo as a kid was in a very poor city neighborhood church, taught on a volunteer basis, and set up as an outreach mission to bring something positive to the kids in that neighborhood. I got to see and experience first hand the changes that martial arts practice can bring to a kid's life. Sometimes it's worth deviating from the norm to bring something as positive as aikido into someone's life, and I think these ladies may very well be justified in what they're trying to do.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:02 AM   #94
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote: View Post
Because, it's not sexism. Men are not being prevented from training in the dojo as there are many classes available to them to train. Women are neither being prevented from taking the other classes nor are they being forced to take the women's only class. Judith and Jennifer, am I correct in assuming that you are not replacing classes already in existence where male dojo members would lose an opportunity to train? And there are additional intro classes offered as well in which anyone can join?
Thank you, Anne Marie. I think you spelled out the true issue at hand more eloquently than I did.

In case I wasn't clear in my initial post, the proposed women's classes would be *in addition* to the already-existing classes. Our dojo recently started two noontime classes which are open to *everyone*. We discussed having the two women's classes *alternating* with the other noontime classes.

And yes...we're also privately discussing having another "intro" class (both men and women) to compliment the beginners classes.

Chris Li...I respect your opinion; however, with all due respect, I don't think you'll ever *really* understand or appreciate the challenges women face in the martial arts. I've had my share of getting hit on and bullying - and some of my male counterparts simply don't understand how...damaging...that crap can be to a woman's psyche. Especially when the offender in question is supposed to be a "teacher".

If I can do something to help more women feel comfortable training in a male-dominated environment, then what is the harm in that? Remember that the goal is to integrate these women into the regular classes...not to keep them permanently segregated. And also keep in mind they have a CHOICE to take these classes or not.

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:26 AM   #95
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Jennifer Yabut wrote: View Post
Chris Li...I respect your opinion; however, with all due respect, I don't think you'll ever *really* understand or appreciate the challenges women face in the martial arts. I've had my share of getting hit on and bullying - and some of my male counterparts simply don't understand how...damaging...that crap can be to a woman's psyche. Especially when the offender in question is supposed to be a "teacher".
Well, if I can't *really* understand you then the same must go for you *really* understanding me, and if that's true then you really have no idea what I understand right? As far as I'm concerned, the "you don't *really* understand" argument is basically an attempt to deny that someone else can have a legitimate opinion that disagrees with your own experience.

In any case, I never disagreed with gender separated classes - what I said was that there ought to be a compelling reason for separating the classes or else the damage outweighs the benefits. I'm sorry, but feeling "more comfortable" or trying to increase the gender or race balance in a group that is already fairly well integrated just doesn't seem to meet the bar for me.

Now that may be different than your opinion, but I think that it's a legitimate point of view.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-15-2008, 01:49 AM   #96
Nafis Zahir
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote: View Post
Where is the fury that the all men's classes threads endured?
You're not going to see it. Men don't mind when women want or have a women's only class. We don't feel left out or think that it's unfair. No matter what the reason they want to do it is, we either encourage them or leave them alone.

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Old 05-15-2008, 05:25 AM   #97
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I think the most benefit for women who are a bit timid about trying out Aikido is to have a separate womens beginner class. When they build up their confidence and technique then go and join the main class. Essentially getting into the main class and training with other women and men should be their goal otherwise they might get too comfortable only training with women and that might distort the reality of martial arts (taking care of ones self).
So I support the womens only class for beginners but after that join the others.
p.s. I think alot has to do with the sensei too. If the sensei is good and makes sure nobody is being a bit of a brute then there shouldn't really be a need for a womens only class anyway. The Sensei's I have had were great at making sure everyone respected and looked after each other. Once you get pretty good then you can mutually push each a other a bit more.
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:27 AM   #98
Michael Hackett
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

A friend of mine, a female nidan karateka, teaches at a local dojo and noticed that few women were attending classes for any period of time. She now teaches a "cardio-kickboxing" class a few times a week and it is mostly attended (at least from what I've seen) by women, although a few men work out with her too. That seems to have been a successful introduction to open classes. I've noted a fairly equal demographic when I've visited the regular karate classes. Their school seems to be a fairly rough 'n tumble school with quite a bit of throwing and joint locks in addition to the kata training and kicking and punching stuff karate folks do.

Michael
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Old 05-15-2008, 09:46 AM   #99
misogi
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Anne Marie and Lori - you get the picture and I appreciate your insight - thanks!

Phillip - I understand what you are saying, but we just want to attract people to Aikido. I, as a woman, like the routine and hate cardio-exercise classes. I understand a lot of women enjoy the attractive package of aerobics, kicksersise, legs tums and bums...there are plenty of gyms and clubs offering that. We will be offering Aikido

Chris Li - I would never assume to understand you

Ron - Henry Smith Sensei is indeed a man who will not tolerate any ungentlemanly behavior - but alas, it still comes to pass. Thanks for your encouragement.

Peace

If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.- Chinese adage
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:19 AM   #100
dragonteeth
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Oh great. Now I have this vision of aiki-robics stuck in my head...a group of people in powder blue gi and pink hakama with circa-1980s style terry sweat bands, white Reebok tabi boots and leg warmers doing jo kata at a furious pace to Kanye West's "Stronger."

Thanks!
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