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Old 12-05-2011, 10:34 PM   #1
"Kai Lynn"
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Post On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Hello.

First off, let me say that I understand sexism comes in varying ranges. As of late I have been starting to understand something one of my dear friends once said. "The most hurtful type of racism is the subtle. Obvious stuff you can deal with. But its the little things that eat at you and slowly you start to wonder if they are truly there."

Over all, I'm a good dojo. We have an on and off campus dojo and both I am my boyfriend are officers for the school club. We are also the same kyu rank.

The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.

There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:41 PM   #2
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Being at a dojo with female black belts helps enormously. At my first dojo, the beginners' classes were co-taught by a married couple, so male beginners tended to learn appropriate respect from the very beginning. You might look around to see if there are other dojos in the area with a more balanced demographic. Whether you ultimately decide to make a change or not, seeing different perspectives can help you figure out what your expectations should be.

Men and women are different. They learn differently, and they come to training with different physical characteristics and different social conditioning. Good teachers recognize that, and try to give all their students the kind of attention they need to succeed.

Katherine
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:42 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

In my experience, the dojocho/chief instructor sets the tone and others will fall in line. Yes, there will always be one or two guys who think we are fragile - OTOH I find there are always one or two guys who don't understand that a very slender wrist will have tendons easily damaged if their usual hamfistedness isn't attenuated, and in both extremes, simple polite, friendly communication works.

In most of the dojos I've trained in, folks really are treated the same - size or awareness of individual quirks or disabilities play much larger role than gender.

We do have one evening class that tends to get a good number of young men (16-22) and I'm often the only woman that evening, and old enough to be their grandma. So I've asked the instructor to use me as demo uke at least sometimes each class so they can see I'm not a porcelain doll. It works. So you may want to quietly ask the instructor - maybe as a question about how he perceives your readiness to take that role and if there is anything you can focus on improving in order to do so.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:37 PM   #4
"Mali"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.
Well, I'm personally of two minds on this one. I'm used to being the only female in the dojo, or at least one of the few. Now that I have started Aikido, however, it seems we are close to a 50/50 split on men vs women. The difference is that a lot of the women ARE more fragile, weaker, and generally difficult to deal with when they are uke. I don't feel as though I am doing the techniques correctly, but they are taking the falls anyway. I generally prefer to partner with someone who not only has more experience, but also more size and strength because I feel like I *get* the technique much better..

That being said, the first few dojo classes I went to, I ran into this issue, but as the guys realized I wouldn't just 'give' them the techniques they relaxed in to working with me. If I were you, I'd probably try to talk about it with your Sensei. At our dojo we make sure that everyone has a two different partners for every technique and we make it a priority to work with someone different every single technique as well, if possible.

The gi is terrible though, I'm totally with you on that. I'm currently debating on whether or not I want to spent 40 bucks on just the gi pants from the Century line for women.

Finally, as for the guys coming out of the locker rooms laughing, well, it's what they do. It's easy to assume they are deliberately leaving you out, but I'm sure it's just a case of men not noticing what is going on around them. Either that, or I just have exceptional male students that I work with regularly that have already been beaten up by enough girls that they're used to it by now.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:00 AM   #5
LinTal
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

When I started I was the only female too, I definitely noticed a subtle difference. I found, though, that since I was the only one in a certain category that it freed me up from ego issues and competition - both for myself and my training partner. Since then I've noticed that I get injured at the joints easier if the others try to crank on the power, but that fact seems to improve feedback for my technique and my training partner's external awareness. As more girls have joined I have definitely noticed a different social conditioning, but the ones that last develop a tenacity that balances that.

That aside, it's okay if there's a difference as long as it's healthy. If not, leave or change the place. If so then stay and deal with it. My 2c.

The world changes when you do.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:47 AM   #6
philipsmith
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

As a male instructor I don't think that in many dojos it's overt sexism.
Men and women are different (I'm glad to say) each with their strengths and weaknesses. The problem is usually, however, one of the male ego. many men feel threatened by a competent, assertive female. My own student a mother of two in her early 30's is often accused of being too strong or aggressive when we visit other dojos.
She's neither - just a good Aikidoka.
Interestingly she has started taking my class when I'm away and her biggest supporters are a 6' 3" ex-karateka and a 280lb ex body builder (both Aikido Sandan). When I got back from my last trip they both took great delight in telling me a) what good classes she'd taken and b) how a visiting Nidan had rather a shock when taking ukeme.

I guess what I'm saying is don't be too hard on us poor men. Some of us fell threatened by successful women showing up our weaknesses!
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:13 AM   #7
Hanna B
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
In my experience, the dojocho/chief instructor sets the tone and others will fall in line.
Yes. If the people teaching assume women are fragile little things, at least until proven otherwise, all the others will follow.

Actually I think it's quite naturally that women and men are treated differently in the aikido dojo. We don't treat the sexes the same in normal life. That's in our culture. It follows into the dojo. But if everyone involved knows that we should strive at treating the sexes the same on the mat - that does not mean treating all individuals the same - that's a major breakthrough.


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People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.
I'm not a big fan of rankings... but this is a good reason to have them. If you didn't have a rank, everybody would probably act like if pretty much all the guys were your seniors. Now rank is something official, making side stepping more difficult.

Being the only one in "the other locker room" isn't always fun. That's for sure. Probably your best option is finding another dojo, where you won't be the only woman.

You could do a little investigating without making hard decisions beforehand. Cut down on training at your regular dojo, or take a little leave (if people ask, you just don't have the time, or you have other priorities at the moment). Visit other dojos. Watch classes, then try training a class if it looks like fun. If a little bit of dojo hopping makes you decide your old place isn't too bad after all, that's also a good outcome.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:58 AM   #8
"Kai Lynn"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Thank you for all the responses so far- its nice to hear from other Aikidoka females and of course from the male Aikidoka about this.

To address the responses in a random matter I'll start with Hanna B. I'm not interested in finding another dojo. Our area has 2 and I am at the one that fits me better; the point of this post was trying to cheer myself up by reminding me that there are other chicks out there trudging through it alone. And as Janet made me aware, I have the added benefit of being classifed (by most) as a young, tough female.

As for Mali, the notion that females are weaker when it comes ukemi is something that irks me. I'm a biomedical engineering student, so I have a pretty decent grasp of anatomy. Basically it comes down to it, males are stronger but females are more flexible- meaning injuries in the same sport are about even. However, females injures are usually knee and hip related while males take out their groins and upper body.

What I have noticed as someone who has played contact sports her entire life is that females without a history of sports tend to be very meek due to social conditioning when it comes to physical stuff while males without a history of sports, again, tend to be more reckless when it comes to physical stuff. When I watch white belts, I try to give the shy ones (which tend to be all the females we get) a bit more encouragement and explain the body mechanics that keep things safe. Now if I could only figure out how to get them to stick. X)

I'm with you on the partnering with the higher ranked person thing though. My BF has dubbed me a 'black belt chaser' because when it comes to partnering up I head straight for a sandan or godan when I can. They help a lot. The few female yudasha I've worked with at seminars proved to teach me just as much as the men, even though most where tiny compared to me.

Also its not the pants that bother me as much (I have drawstring waistline ones in a 5 from JK.) A 4 top fits me better but there still is the problem of .7 hip to waist ratio. So I'm considering getting a female top from Century.

kewms, out of over more than a dozen black belts (which oddly enough is half of our dojo) only one is female. She is older and has been out for the last year or so due to a combo knee/ back injury. I miss her, if in part because I got to watch someone who was barely 4 feet take down 6'5" men like they were nothing. In the short time with her, I had learned a lot.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:58 AM   #9
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

For a long time, I was the only (or one of a couple) females in my dojo. I never had an issue being the only one. I actually embraced it. I loved rolling around with the guys and I took advantage of having the changing room all to myself. In fact, when other females did come, I was a bit pouty because I had to remember how to share. Most people in my dojo were either 1st kyu or above or near beginners like me, so the rank issue never really came into play. Sensei was using me for ukemi after training a few months (previously took aikijitsu for 8 years) and that may have made a difference. A lot of guys loved to really toss me about because they knew I could take care of myself. If someone was being too gentle, sensei would tell them I could take care of myself and not to worry. Maybe broaching ukemi with your sensei wouldn't be a bad thing.... just depends on their personality and how receptive they are to feedback. Best of luck.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:19 AM   #10
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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kewms, out of over more than a dozen black belts (which oddly enough is half of our dojo) only one is female. She is older and has been out for the last year or so due to a combo knee/ back injury. I miss her, if in part because I got to watch someone who was barely 4 feet take down 6'5" men like they were nothing. In the short time with her, I had learned a lot.
One of the most intimidating people I know in aikido is a sempai of mine from my old dojo. Well under five feet, barely 100 pounds fully dressed, but a spirit two or three times that size. I want to be her when I grow up.

Katherine
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:21 AM   #11
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
A lot of guys loved to really toss me about because they knew I could take care of myself. If someone was being too gentle, sensei would tell them I could take care of myself and not to worry. Maybe broaching ukemi with your sensei wouldn't be a bad thing.... just depends on their personality and how receptive they are to feedback. Best of luck.
This really does help. My teacher regularly encourages junior people to go all out when training with yudansha -- male or female -- we wouldn't be yudansha if we couldn't take care of ourselves. And that in turn shows more junior people -- male or female -- the standard they're trying to reach.

Katherine
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:18 AM   #12
LinTal
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
This really does help. My teacher regularly encourages junior people to go all out when training with yudansha -- male or female -- we wouldn't be yudansha if we couldn't take care of ourselves. And that in turn shows more junior people -- male or female -- the standard they're trying to reach.

Katherine
Agreed! Maybe this might also show the other students (as if you weren't already ) you're willing to play the game in their language. Couldn't hurt, to have that greater exposure, chat to your sensei?

The world changes when you do.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:43 AM   #13
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Hello.

First off, let me say that I understand sexism comes in varying ranges. As of late I have been starting to understand something one of my dear friends once said. "The most hurtful type of racism is the subtle. Obvious stuff you can deal with. But its the little things that eat at you and slowly you start to wonder if they are truly there."

Over all, I'm a good dojo. We have an on and off campus dojo and both I am my boyfriend are officers for the school club. We are also the same kyu rank.

The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.

There's also the isolation. I hate when sensei tells everyone to find a partner of their size- I feel like everyone runs away from me. I hate how the males come out of the locker rooms laughing while I dressed out alone. I hate how techniques assume a male body. [Randomly] I also hate my frickin' gi. Thing is made for a guy- I have .7 waist and the thing feels like wearing at tent.

It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.

Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.
The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank. If you feel that ppl don't respect you, you have to work twice or ten times harder, instead of looking for hypothetical sexism. I'll give you example of my wife. For reasons due to work schedule she practice judo in the class, where she is only one woman, all guys are much stronger and 40-50 lb heavier than her, all of them with strong competition background. For first 4 years she couldn't throw anybody even ONCE. The same was for ground work and submissions. In judo the rules are very clear; your technique is not effective so nobody will jump by himself to take a fall.

But she persisted, worked twice hard than anybody in the class, and few years later she can sometimes be successful. The result is that whenever she enters to the dojo, everybody, top world competitors from national team welcome her friendly and show a lot of respect.

Such hard work heals you from imaginary problems and put you back to the real world.

Nagababa

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Old 12-08-2011, 11:57 AM   #14
LinTal
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

@NagaBaba. To be fair, sexism is a valid concern in any predominantly single-gendered activity, particularly in aikido since it can be so physical. It can quite likely be either real or not. If so, it can be either unconscious or conscious, overt or covert. If not, it can be either perceived, assumed or non-present. Bit hard to judge which one it is as an outsider with just a blurb to go off. We may well be able to rule out several options though. In any case, showing and developing persistence and strength of character couldn't be a bad thing - for any situation in or out of the dojo.

Last edited by LinTal : 12-08-2011 at 12:01 PM.

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Old 12-08-2011, 01:20 PM   #15
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
It grates on me. Most of the time I just tell myself I need to be better, to train harder, to put in more hours at home to smooth away rough edges and to work on reflecting on the lessons more.
If you do basically like where you are, and don't want to leave there, then that's probably your best approach, IMO. It can be hard to stop worrying about what others think of you and whether they respect you or not, but to some extent the more you can stop caring about anyone else and just try to be good, the more they WILL eventually respect you more. (And regardless of whether they do or not, you'll get more out of the training, IMO).

E.g., the 'frailty' thing - guys, for the most part, at least nice well-brought-up-non-psycho ones, have been taught all their lives not to beat up women and that being respectful of them means not using physical force against them. That's a GOOD thing.

However, yes, it does get in the way in the dojo sometimes, and they need to be learn better or rather learn better judgment on when such behaviour is good and when it's just cheating you out of good training. They also need to learn through time and experience that you aren't as frail as they are afraid you are (and IMO it's fear of being responsible for injuring someone as often as it is genuine patronizingness - not that that doesn't ever exist too).

Best advice I can think of for that is to get good enough, in techniques and at ukemi, that eventually it speaks for itself. Also it helps once you have a few people willing to go less 'easy' on you. After a bit the others watch and start to see that nothing bad is happening.

(This is useful at seminars -- if I'm in a line with a bunch of strangers where everyone is going frustratingly easy on me, occasionally I have gone and searched out someone from my dojo -- bonus points if it's someone big and 'scary-looking' -- and let them smash me around a few times. After the initial shock passes (OMG he's going to kill her! LOL) the strangers relax and start treating me more normally).
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:26 PM   #16
Eva Antonia
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Hi,

I'm Belgian resident but thanks to my work had already the opportunity to train in some other countries, like Turkey, Aserbaidjan, Hungary or Côte d'Ivoire (this evening I missed training in Göteborg by some minutes ). Generally women are a minority, but I rarely got the impression that there is a sexism problem. Maybe that is due to the fact that I am, although thin, rather tall and strong, and don't have fear of any sort of ukemi. But then in my dojo there is only one other female who is like me, and all the others more or less REQUIRE soft and "female" treatment.

We have some four girls in their late teens and the same amount of boys. All of them are very skinny, have very thin wrists, and already due to their weight and lack of technique are easy to throw. BUT the girls attack softer, they are afraid of being hurt; for techniques ending with sankyo, nikkyo or something that could require a breakfall they always chose those partners of whom they are sure that they treat them gently. I always thought that I was of the gentle sort until one of these girls shrinked back with real terror from me when I bowed to her for some sankyo technique. I did not observe this behaviour in even one single of the boys.

So it wouldn't be so surprising if men get a prejudice against women if so many women behave this way, both wanting to be equal and emancipated and still requiring special treatment for female frailty. I am rather surprised and appreciate very much that most men still are able to differentiate between women who are as capable and as committed as themselves and the others who are just asking implicitly for getting away with some "aikido light". But for that you need at least to practice with the woman in question to find out what kind of spirit she is.

Then sometimes I get surprised at myself at underestimating some of the women with the soft approach. Once it happened at a seminar in Brussels that there was a small, very beautiful brown girl with a blue hakama and a long black ponytail, who paired up with me. She had this feathery touch and I thought it would be one of the "don't hurt me, please" girls. But then she was absolutely brilliant, took me down without that I even realised how she did it...after the seminar I found out that she was a 4th dan from Peru...That tought me a lesson in not always judging according to appearances.

I also know the problem with the waist of the gi. I just resolve it by tying the gi on the hip bones. They are much wider than the waist, and still there is more width below where the articulations of the thighs are, so nothing falls down. I suppose people who are too fat to tie the gi around their waist do the same. And then you can bind the belt and the hakame in the waist, so there is one knot less if the gi is 10 cm more downwards, which is another advantage.

Best regards,

Eva
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:53 PM   #17
Shadowfax
 
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

All I can say is I am very lucky in the dojo I am training in. We have quite a few females in the dojo including two Sandans (one of whom co-owns the place) and one, about to be, Nidan. Of the kyu rank students training regularly in the dojo I am most senior at the moment and we have one other female student. And we also regularly have Mary Heiny Sensei come to us to teach class and I get semi-private lessons with her. And Kayla Feder sensei regularly teaches a seminar within easy driving distance ,so I get to see her as well. I get lots of really amazing female aikidoka to train with.

All of the instructors in my dojo use me often for ukemi, as has Heiny sensei, and I tend to be a favorite for the guys when we are working on the really interesting unbalancing and connection exercises Ikeda sensei teaches, because I'm not easy to move. I have only a very few times sensed any attitude from a male student that seemed to be condescending and not from any regular student in the dojo, and they soon got over it.

My teachers are very interested in encouraging female martial artists.

Yes the gi fit is not perfect ,for me the issue is the chest but its not really a problem that my limited sewing skills cant manage. ( I have the rater pricey preference for Piranha Gear Karate Gi) And yes there are times when I am the only female student in class,(heck there are times when I am the ONLY student in class) but generally when the boys are laughing in the changing room I am siting with sensei having some sort of fascinating ongoing conversation about aikido.

I hope at least my post can encourage you in that not all dojo have the issues you face and there are indeed places where women are not so in the minority or stuck feeling a bit left out or out of place.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:17 PM   #18
"Kai Lynn"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank. If you feel that ppl don't respect you, you have to work twice or ten times harder, instead of looking for hypothetical sexism.

Such hard work heals you from imaginary problems and put you back to the real world.
I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism. I currently train at all the session both on and off campus; my BF and I are 'constants' as my sensei puts it. Last time I missed a class was in June when I had strep throat. We also spend copious amounts of time together outside of class working on kata and techinique. And no, we don't play around in class; hell, we are more vicious attackers with each other than anyone else.

I've been a high achiever all my life; one of my problems is a 'nagging' voice though. I might berate myself for not working hard enough but that doesn't mean I am lazy.

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
And Kayla Feder sensei regularly teaches a seminar within easy driving distance ,so I get to see her as well. I get lots of really amazing female aikidoka to train with.

I hope at least my post can encourage you in that not all dojo have the issues you face and there are indeed places where women are not so in the minority or stuck feeling a bit left out or out of place.
I loved all the clips of Feder's work. She seems to be a very amazing woman and I'd love to train with her if I am ever on that side of the coast. And thanks- the post did help. ^^
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:35 PM   #19
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
And yes there are times when I am the only female student in class,(heck there are times when I am the ONLY student in class) but generally when the boys are laughing in the changing room I am siting with sensei having some sort of fascinating ongoing conversation about aikido.
Heh. This reminds me of a story about Madeline Albright, former US ambassador to the United Nations. She used to host a monthly lunch for female ambassadors. But of course good relations with the US ambassador are important for many countries, and so there were complaints that she was showing unfair favoritism. Her reply was that any country that wished to appoint a female ambassador could do so, and thereby earn itself an invitation.

What's true of female yudansha is even more true of female instructors and chief instructors. They are good for the attitude of the dojo as a whole.

Katherine
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:48 PM   #20
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Eva Röben wrote: View Post
We have some four girls in their late teens and the same amount of boys. All of them are very skinny, have very thin wrists, and already due to their weight and lack of technique are easy to throw. BUT the girls attack softer, they are afraid of being hurt; for techniques ending with sankyo, nikkyo or something that could require a breakfall they always chose those partners of whom they are sure that they treat them gently. I always thought that I was of the gentle sort until one of these girls shrinked back with real terror from me when I bowed to her for some sankyo technique. I did not observe this behaviour in even one single of the boys.
We had a 4th kyu test at the dojo last night. It went well: the person testing showed good technique with good energy. This resulted in the person taking ukemi -- who was female -- flying around a bit, making solid contact with the mat, etc. Which was fine: she's a brown belt and the ukemi required was well within her ability.

But there was a female beginner watching the test who winced and cringed and muttered under her breath. To her credit, she didn't flee in terror, but she clearly has some work to do before she'll be comfortable in that role.

Katherine
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Old 12-08-2011, 07:26 PM   #21
hughrbeyer
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
One of the most intimidating people I know in aikido is a sempai of mine from my old dojo. Well under five feet, barely 100 pounds fully dressed, but a spirit two or three times that size. I want to be her when I grow up.
Short blond hair? Blows through you like a freight train? Yeah, I know her.

I think there's no question that to get equal treatment you'll have to be more aggressive. One of the first female managers I worked with (early '80s) was in a management meeting which consisted of a bunch of men and her. At a particularly contentious point in the meeting, the men suddenly called a bathroom break and disappeared into the men's room. She hopped to her feet and followed them in. They freaked, but she said, "No way you're working out some private agreement in front of the urinals. I'm not leaving until you do."

You probably don't need to invade the men's changing room, but maybe you need to put more of yourself into attacks and making sure your technique is effective when you're nage. The idea of talking to your sensei offline about what you need to do to be a useful uke for him is a good one. Telling your partner outright things like, "Stop holding back on that throw, I need practice taking the breakfall out of it" is good too.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:41 PM   #22
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Telling your partner outright things like, "Stop holding back on that throw, I need practice taking the breakfall out of it" is good too.
There have been times when I have outright told training partners that they are not doing me any good by going easy on me. We women need to be able to handle being treated rough and be able to still be able to think and act under those circumstances. We can't learn how to handle that unless we train against it. Having a bunch of big strong guys to train against is really a gift. After all it's not often that a woman gets attacked by another woman in a way that is a real threat. But it is not at all unusual for a woman to be pushed around by a man.
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Old 12-08-2011, 08:53 PM   #23
hughrbeyer
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

And speaking as a guy who has been known to be bullheaded on occasion, I'd appreciate being told how you want to train, verbally or otherwise. The woman Katherine mentioned upthread, if I have the right one, never leaves you in any doubt that she's ready to take whatever you dish.

Conversely, being a meathead, I tend to worry about overpowering someone who is substantially smaller and lighter than me. Often, I'll take it as an opportunity to work on sensitivity and on dropping the muscle and tension that are so hard to get rid of with a stronger opponent. That's fine for me, but if you're wishing I'd just treat you like one of the guys it's not so good for you. So be explicit. Don't expect that they should just know what you want.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:00 PM   #24
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
And speaking as a guy who has been known to be bullheaded on occasion, I'd appreciate being told how you want to train, verbally or otherwise. The woman Katherine mentioned upthread, if I have the right one, never leaves you in any doubt that she's ready to take whatever you dish.
I think you might be thinking of someone else.... The woman I was thinking of (Beth F.) had dark hair and may have been before your time. Same idea, though. She put me under the mat a couple of times...

Edit: On further reflection, I think I do know who you mean. Sounds like she's really come into her own the last few years. Yay!

But in any case... in my own experience, I've found that guys generally get the picture pretty fast once I attack them.

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 12-08-2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:40 PM   #25
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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That's fine for me, but if you're wishing I'd just treat you like one of the guys it's not so good for you.
I've always hated that phrase. I don't think of it as wanting to be treated 'like a guy'. I think of it as wanting to be treated like ME, and not like some imaginary woman someone assumes I ought to be like... (sorry, this thread is just making me philosophical -- I know no offense was meant).

Anyway, I do know what you mean and think it's a good point. People can't read minds and if they aren't sure they often err on the side of caution.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 12-08-2011 at 09:50 PM.
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