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Old 02-06-2012, 12:39 PM   #76
Krystal Locke
Location: Phoenix, Oregon
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

For xmas, along with two very lovely and perfect aikido gear bags made by our own multi-talented Janet Rosen, I got my girlfriend a pink belt for her gi. She was bemused. Said she'd wear it when she gets a hakama. She brought it to the dojo to mark her dressing room territory.

I told sensei about it, and he told her to wear it for that class. It looked fantastic on her, she wore it well, and it irritated the uptight guy with the brand new godan. BONUS!

Sensei wants to borrow it next time he goes out to teach a seminar. So, next time you go see some dude teaching for the weekend, if he's got a pink belt on, you'll know who I train with.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:40 PM   #77
Janet Rosen
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

LOL!!! Off the original topic but related to the pink belt and confounding expectations...
Some yrs ago for part of an art exhibit plus some antiwar demos I bought on EBay a pink ammo belt and loaded it with...oh and they fit perfectly!...O.B. tampons.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:59 PM   #78
LinTal
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

That is... AWESOME!!!

The world changes when you do.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:24 PM   #79
Malicat
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
LOL!!! Off the original topic but related to the pink belt and confounding expectations...
Some yrs ago for part of an art exhibit plus some antiwar demos I bought on EBay a pink ammo belt and loaded it with...oh and they fit perfectly!...O.B. tampons.
I am in awe... So far the worst I have done is use an actual SWAT tactical bag for overnight trips and vacations to hold all my toiletries. The magazine holders fit deodorant perfectly, and it's heavy enough that if something spills inside, it won't leak out to the rest of the suitcase.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:08 AM   #80
Carrie Campbell
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

My suggestions for becoming a better (and more regularly asked) uke:

1) Pay attention to ukes you want to move like, and copy their motion, connection, and energy.
2) Practice ukemi deliberately and repeatedly.

This is, essentially, what has worked for me.

*For those of you that prefer the concise version, please avoid my second post. For those of you that need more detail, read the expanded version to follow.

Last edited by Carrie Campbell : 02-08-2012 at 10:19 AM.

Just thoughts of a student
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:15 AM   #81
Carrie Campbell
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

"Kai Lynn",

First, you are not alone. As you can see from the responses to your original post, there are many aikidoka across the world that care and are willing to provide support and advice for improvement, or to answer or discuss some of the many questions that overwhelm and baffle us as aikido students, and some of these helpful aikidoka happen to be female, like you and like me. 

I don't often contribute to discussions, as I am also just a student. However, this particular question seems very pertinent to my own experiences and aikido journey, and since I was able to work through it and I don't see many similar experiences currently being shared, I feel obligated to "speak." I apologize in advance for the length and will try to at least organize the post.

After reading your question and everyone's posts, I see a situation similar to my own a few years ago and several good suggestions for improvement. I'll start with the suggestions I liked best, and then share with you what I did to reverse the roles and become a regular demonstration uke for Sensei.

OTHER POSTS

Several posters recommended speaking to Sensei about your concerns in one way or another. If you are comfortable addressing the topic directly with Sensei, I like the approach someone mentioned of telling him you want to work on your ukemi, and asking what he'd recommend. Along these lines, I also like Lorien's idea of
Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote: View Post
asking Sensei to throw you around for a few minutes after each class.
As she explains in her post, benefits would include practice and guidance for you, and familiarity for him throwing you. Five minutes of ukemi with Sensei would also provide some serious opportunities for increasing ukemi endurance.

From your description, I agree with Mark in that I don't see it as "overt gender-bias," and can't speak to any particular reason you, as an individual, would be called as uke less often than your classmates. Regardless, just like in aikido itself, it's perhaps easier to focus on changing oneself and affecting one's own movement, and then see what happens to others around, than it is to try to change someone else.

PERSONAL UKEMI STORY

Personally, when I noticed I wasn't being selected as uke for practice, I saw it as an individual issue for me. I decided there must be something about ukemi I'm personally missing or could change. I chose a nonverbal remedy option to begin my ukemi improvement plan. I began to watch Sensei's favorite ukes, especially the people called repeatedly by both local and visiting instructors. I practiced with them whenever I could, and tried to see what it is that they did as uke. What was their connection and energy like? How did they move and react? And as I improved, I began to be called more as uke for demonstrations during practice first and then later at seminars.

Before practice, I would loosen up and make sure I was "round" and relaxed, and practice rolling. During practice, I tried to be aware of my ukemi as uke. This included trying to stay as connected as possible for as long as possible and trying to provide that "right amount" of initial and continued energy flow from your center to your partner's center. After a few months, and some ukemi adjustments here and there, Sensei apparently noticed some kind of improvement and I began to be included regularly in the rotation of Sensei's ukes during practice.

At one point in my practice, I was particularly frustrated with my technique and lack of aikido knowledge, ability, and improvement overall. I then decided that rather than try to improve everything at once, I needed to focus on one smaller goal, and of the two general choices of improving as uke or as nage, ukemi is something I was ready to learn, while good technique continued to elude me. I started asking senior students for extra advice and suggestions (such as aikiweb), especially whenever I found ukemi from a particular technique awkward. [If ukemi was awkward, maybe I was doing something wrong. How is a more natural way or safer way to fall? Sensei's uke didn't seem fazed at all; what did he do instead? ]

Two pieces of advice from sempai were (1) "practice ukemi to improve ukemi" because practice makes…well… better, and (2) to improve endurance, add extra conditioning, such as running. So, I started asking Sensei or a senior student for extra ukemi after class, and began running outside of class to increase my endurance for ukemi. When I began, one minute with Sensei was all I could handle before my legs refused to support me properly. This gradually increased to about five minutes, going all out. Longer than five minutes would require me to pace myself. Over the next one to two years, I also became a fairly regular seminar uke, for one particular instructor. I believe it helped to be able to get several reps shown in a short amount of time.

[Note, however, ukemi can also be expected to be very very slow, depending on your partner's familiarity with technique and what he or she is focusing on, whether you are injured and practicing on your own, or if Sensei is showing something and talking at length about the different steps as you go along. For a somewhat humorous example: "Uke should be really uncomfortable about here. You should have one hand here and one hand here. Keep your elbows down. Bend your knees. Notice uke's back foot, how she's on her toes and her foot is coming off the ground; that's a good sign. Not here, but here. Watch how uke hops… Now all you have to do is pivot/shift weight/let go and uke falls (…greatfully)."]

I am by no means an expert, and have so very much to improve. However, if anything from my journey thus far helps you in yours, you are welcome to it. I am very thankful to some of the folks from aikiweb who have donated their time to help me, especially with ukemi advice both online and in person. I hope you find the community you are looking for as well.
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:44 PM   #82
Krystal Locke
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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.
What do you mean by that?
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Old 02-10-2012, 08:52 PM   #83
hughrbeyer
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I'm no tank, but I do enjoy working with strong, fast attacks. If you are smaller, slighter, and more diffident on the mat, I will worry about whether an overly aggressive approach will scare you away. That's not only women, and certainly not all women, but it does describe some women. With them, I'm likely to start out with lighter and slower attacks until I get a clear signal that something more vigorous would be welcome. That doesn't mean I don't get real training in--I just focus on sensitivity and really really dropping all tension and muscle from the technique. So if my partner in such a situation wants something more challenging from me, they have to be clear that they want it.

Clear? It's really just what happens with any pair on the mat--you figure out mutually what the other person can give you and what you're going to do with it.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:49 PM   #84
Keith Larman
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Well, I can only speak for myself. There are some females in our dojo, but they're not in the majority. In the classes I teach I have about 30-40% females usually so my classes are a bit more balanced. My rule for myself and for students when I'm teaching is that they should give the attack that is up to the level of their partner. I don't care if you're male, female, neutered, 12 years old, 68, or from Mars. Initially if you have an uke you're unfamiliar with you work carefully until you find where they're at and what intensity they can handle. And you train appropriately to push them to get better.

I knew one your woman who pushed me to work more forcefully with her. She crumbled under one attack once when I tried to push her the way she asked. Yes, she got bruised, but got back up and said "let me try again". Fine. Then she crushed me...

Works for me.

And I've had big, brutish looking guys who get freaked out at even the smallest bit of real contact.

Yes, I will be careful with a smaller, thinner woman student I'm not familiar with. But I'll be equally careful with a smaller, thinner male student I'm not familiar with. Whatever they're up to is fine with me. I'm just there to train and learn. More bodies to toss around the better...

So yeah, I'm careful with smaller women. And kids. And smaller men. Cause I'm a big guy. And if I'm training with you and you want more intensity, just ask. It's sometimes hard to know how much a new training partner can take or is willing to work with. Regardless of your gender.

Sure, some treat you differently because you're female. But don't assume that the fact that you're being treated differently is necessarily because you're female... I don't want to hurt anyone I'm training with unnecessarily. And it can be tough to know how much to push someone you've not trained with much or with someone who doesn't give you feedback that they want a harder, stronger attack.

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Old 02-10-2012, 11:41 PM   #85
Janet Rosen
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Good post, Keith.
It really depends. I've got some arthritis issues but they tend to pose more of a problem for me as nage than as uke - as uke I tend to attack at the speed and intensity I feel I can handle throughout the technique, and as a partner and I get to know each other, I will get more intense and while my rolls or falls look nonstandard I am pretty bouncy.
OTOH I have incredible thin wrists and it is easier than most big young guys know to really compress and damage tendons with a simple grip when there is no fat or flesh around them.
So yeah, every body is different.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 02-11-2012, 07:21 AM   #86
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

In our dojo only about 20% of the students is female.

When I divide the students in male/female and beginners/advanced students, female beginners seem to stand out for being more afraid of hurting themselves and others.
Lacking ukemi skills seems to have a much bigger impact on female beginners than on male beginners. It's obvious that they feel more apprehensive when training intensity rises, so their training partners handle them with more care.
I don't sense this apprehensivess in advanced females at all. They handle themselves very well under pressure. And the smaller they are, the more they make up for this by confidence, suppleness, speed, superior body movement and good ukemi.

I think this is related to Carrie Campbell's post #81 about ukemi skills making the difference, rather than gender. But in my experience, male beginners seem to pick up ukemi skills quicker than female beginners. Perhaps this has something to do with gender difference in risk perception?

P.S.: My observations are based on a small sample group, so I don't know if it applies in general.
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Old 02-11-2012, 05:44 PM   #87
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
I think this is related to Carrie Campbell's post #81 about ukemi skills making the difference, rather than gender. But in my experience, male beginners seem to pick up ukemi skills quicker than female beginners. Perhaps this has something to do with gender difference in risk perception?
Also gender differences in past experiences. Girls are not generally encouraged to participate in contact sports or even in physical horseplay, while boys are.

Katherine
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:51 AM   #88
Alic
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

We have quite a few girls in our dojo, and I can understand what you mean. The girls don't strike hard as the boys do and their breakfall isn't quite good... I wish we had a female yudansha to be a role model for them to aspire to, and teach them the ropes from a female perspective (and decrease the testosterone levels in this sausage fest). As we didn't have any females for quite some time, this is a big improvement, but I still hold out hope for a female blackbelt to sudden join us (anybody interested in teaching Yoshinkan Aikido in Vancouver?).

I personally treat them just the same as the boys, striking the same strength, giving good technique and pins. They are here to learn a budo, so you are disrespecting their resolve if you show them any less. Now, you should treat both sexes in a gentle manner, and get their permission before getting rough and hard, just out of respect for their body and health, but of course if a girl were to ask me to strike with all my force, I would do as asked.

Keith Taylor sensei is really good on this aspect too, as he regularly throws the girls around just the same as the boys, to let them feel the true technique as it is (so as long as it's within the acceptable ukemi level).

Now, I just need to go out and recruit some more girls
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:12 PM   #89
Malicat
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Also gender differences in past experiences. Girls are not generally encouraged to participate in contact sports or even in physical horseplay, while boys are.

Katherine
I think you hit the nail on the head there Katherine. Studying a martial art isn't feminine. I used to joke with my Sensei when I was a teenager that I couldn't get a date because of his training and the confidence he gave me. And I wouldn't sacrifice it for anything. But it's not common for women to feel that way, even now. Taking a self defense class at a local gym is acceptable, but actually training to fight is unacceptable in the world of what is proper for women.

And if we do try to learn to fight, we run into some men at the best dojos who don't want to throw us or hit us. Not because they're bad teachers or because they are sexist, but because they believe it's never ok to hit a woman. We run into other men at the worst dojos that either want to throw us harder just because they feel like we don't have the right to be there because of our gender, or view us as useful only as potential dates who won't complain about how much time they spend training. And we run into the average every day man who has no desire to train in a martial art, and treat us like aliens because the idea of a woman training to fight is anathema to them. And the worst of the worst who use nasty homophobic slurs because they can't deal with a woman who can take care of herself.

So, for all you guys who go easy on the girls in dojo, please don't. We know you have the best intentions. But going easy on us will make us worse martial artists, not better. And if we ever actually need to use our training, that false confidence will crumble in the face of a rapist who isn't going to go down easy. Take into consideration our size, yes, but the same way you would take into consideration the size of a man. And remember that from birth, we are told over and over again that we need, above all, to be nice. To compromise, to sacrifice our own desire for the good of someone else.

So when you train us just like one of the guys, you are giving us more than your knowledge and experience. You are helping to break down years of that garbage. Years of being told that we always need to smile and pretend everything is ok. And years of being told that we will turn into single crazy cat-women who can't get a husband because men don't like women who are confident and can take care of themselves.

So, I finish off by being grateful for my Sensei, when he throws me hard enough to crack my back,, and trusts me enough to know that I will jump back up smiling, but also gently applies nikkyo because he knows the arthritis is really bad in both my wrists. And most of all, I'm grateful to women like Janet Rosen and the other women both on Aikiweb and in my own style of Aikido who remind me that I'm not the only crazy chick who passionately values everything I can learn from Aikido, both in self-defense and in my personal and spiritual worldview.

--Ashley
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:38 AM   #90
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

The advantage for women, in my opinion, is that they understand that they lack strength in comparison to most ukes. This is also the same weakness for the men in that they will use strength and fail to learn proper technique.

I entered my dojo when it had women in the upper kyu ranks. I even chose one as my personal sempai for test preparation, even though she is easily thirty pounds lighter. We have a couple of females at the brown belt level in both the kids and adult classes. Recently, one of the adults earned her first dan.

At dinner that night, my toast to her was that she gave a new meaning to the sexist comment, 'fight like a girl'. It will now mean, 'to use good form with conviction'.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:09 PM   #91
"Kai Lynn"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Hello everyone,

I'm the original poster for this topic. I want to thank you for all the advice and comments you gave me. Over the last three months, we have had some subtle changes at the dojo which has impacted my life greatly.

First, I have found help. Although I'm not comfortable talking to our Sensei, one of his blackbelts has been a great help to me. He's been helping me with my ukemi a little at a time. He's become the person I ask a lot of questions to; mainly because I don't feel he is going to belittle me for asking.

Secondly, a female dan has returned. She's brightened up the dojo and is a real leader to the younger girls, especially myself. She's been helping me work on koshi and other techinques that she feels take advantage of a female's build. My boyfriend is a bit jealous- something that made me laugh so hard! The concept of a male feeling excluded in a dojo by females is almost laudable.

Finally, I have been called up for ukemi a lot more or the last month and a half. My boyfriend got sick for two weeks and I got called up in his place. Even since he's returned I have noticed I still get called up. I also feel better about my ukemi- especially my breakfalls.

Thanks for all your help.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:45 PM   #92
Janet Rosen
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

And thank you for the update. Funny how sometimes with Tincture of Time things just work out....

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-16-2012, 03:18 PM   #93
"Ayu"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Hi "Lynn",

(I should have post my first post here!!) didn't know about this anonymous forum!! :P

I know how you feel. Because I'm in a similar situation, but a lot better because the dojo I train in has female black belts and female instructors. Most people are very nice and respectful to me. I'm small and new, and weak. I don't get called for ukemi very often by some teachers. But I don't really care about this, because I would rather sit and watch the techniques being shown.

It seems to me that you're not happy about this aikido training, or at least you don't feel respected while doing it. I'd like to know what your boyfriend says about this situation. And are you considering quitting? I just feel like we should not waste our money and time on something that makes us unhappy. But, maybe no pain no gain. I don't know. I'm confused too. I'm thinking about quitting myself.....Sorry, couldn't help. But just want to let you know, you're not alone.
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:43 PM   #94
Linda Eskin
 
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I'm glad things are working out for "Kai Lynn".

Brava, Ashley Hemsath, for everything you said. Dead on.

"Ayu," all the things you said sounded pretty positive, but then you said you were thinking about quitting. Are you having gender-related problems at your dojo?

I am lucky to be in a very balanced dojo. Not quite 50/50, but everyone trains together very well.

It's hard to know, when you are a beginner, how to take it when people are "too gentle" with you. I started at age 46, and was quite out of shape. Add age, fitness level, and being a newbie together, and you've got all kinds of good reasons for not training full out, and rightly so. I don't think any of what I experienced at first was due to being a woman. That said, there were a few people who didn't baby me at all, and I really enjoyed training with them. Now nobody babies me (yes, they train appropriate to my level, they don't try to kill me). :-)

The changing room thing is awkward. We usually have at least several women, and several men, in each class, so it's less like getting sent away by yourself after class is over. But there have been a few times I've been the only woman in class. I'm usually not even aware of that until I go to change. It is a lonely feeling. I've seen it go the other way, too, where there's only one guy in class, and he's off by himself afterward. One thing that helps that situation, and was the case in both our old location and the current one, is that the changing rooms are not accoustically isolated from each other. We can talk back and forth. It takes a little louder voice, but you can carry on a conversation somewhat, and hear what's being said. If I were designing a dojo, I'd be sure it worked this way. Maybe with just a couple of layers of fabric serving as a wall, or part of a wall. It's a minor thing, but it helps. In any case, the separation is not personal, whichever way it goes.

Linda Eskin - Facebook | My AikiBlog

"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:31 AM   #95
"dontwantousemyname"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Well,

I am happy that the original poster found some level of resolution. I am a woman in an aikido dojo, and i don't mind the gentler treatment that i receive. for the most part the guys are quite respectful and helpful to me.
I get really, really annoyed by the ragga-muffins, or mysogenist men who think that every woman who appears in the dojo is available for their sexual conquest. But, I can handle that, with a simple "No" and "I don't create problems where I don't have to". that usually does the trick. BUT then you have the possessive women in the dojo who think that all the dojo men belong to them.

The issues I do have as a female martial artist are:

1. Sensei's who allow women to execute/demonstrate horrible technique. (AND gives them a pat on the back, saying "Good"). It's not freaking good. I have to train with the person and it hurts my training and is demeaning and patronizing to the woman. We all may not be bruce lee, but we are not all minnie pearl either.

2. Collectively, we women need to come into the dojo with a spirit of training in Martial Arts; not dance (so emphasizing looking good and smooth is the point), or socializing so much so that those of us who want to train are interrupted.

3. Just my opinion, there is a high ranking aikoka who has a series of Youtube video demonstrations, called "women in skirts". How in the heck are we supposed to be taken seriously, with things like that out there?

I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.

I'm also sure that this happens in other Martial arts as well. It's just that Aikido is so prone to unknowing teachers, or taking advantage of people who want to become japanese monks, we women seem to get the short end of the stick.
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Old 03-27-2012, 07:18 PM   #96
Malicat
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Well,

I am happy that the original poster found some level of resolution. I am a woman in an aikido dojo, and i don't mind the gentler treatment that i receive. for the most part the guys are quite respectful and helpful to me.
I get really, really annoyed by the ragga-muffins, or mysogenist men who think that every woman who appears in the dojo is available for their sexual conquest. But, I can handle that, with a simple "No" and "I don't create problems where I don't have to". that usually does the trick. BUT then you have the possessive women in the dojo who think that all the dojo men belong to them.

The issues I do have as a female martial artist are:

1. Sensei's who allow women to execute/demonstrate horrible technique. (AND gives them a pat on the back, saying "Good"). It's not freaking good. I have to train with the person and it hurts my training and is demeaning and patronizing to the woman. We all may not be bruce lee, but we are not all minnie pearl either.
... Ok, when someone is a beginner, I understand having the uke "help" the technique move along a bit so the beginner knows what it is supposed to feel like, and then step up the intensity as the beginner progresses, but I would have deep concerns about a sensei who had a female demonstrate a technique to a class who wasn't top notch at what she was doing.

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
2. Collectively, we women need to come into the dojo with a spirit of training in Martial Arts; not dance (so emphasizing looking good and smooth is the point), or socializing so much so that those of us who want to train are interrupted.
Well, collectively I expect all of the Aikidoka I train with to have a spirit of Aiki. No dancing for women, and no weightlifting bragging from the men. We are here together to learn something both martial and spiritual, and I expect a certain base level of respect and desire for a common goal from everyone I train with.

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
3. Just my opinion, there is a high ranking aikoka who has a series of Youtube video demonstrations, called "women in skirts". How in the heck are we supposed to be taken seriously, with things like that out there?
By being yourself. You can't control what other people do, just as anyone with any brains won't judge you based on what someone else does. And if anyone thinks all female Aikidoka are just cute little girls playing at martial arts, I would be happy to assist them in blending with the mat. Otherwise, leave it alone. And if someone mentions it, I would only respond with, "I am not familiar with their dojo or training, and that isn't what I do. Would you like to visit a class with my sensei?"

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.

I'm also sure that this happens in other Martial arts as well. It's just that Aikido is so prone to unknowing teachers, or taking advantage of people who want to become japanese monks, we women seem to get the short end of the stick.
What exactly does training like a dude entail? While the yudansha in the two dojos I train in are all men, there are quite a few female yudansha in our organization, and the classes I attend are generally 50/50 in terms of gender. My Sensei's classes are a bit slower and more relaxed than my Shihan's classes, but that's a function of how they teach, not of the gender make up of the classes.

--Ashley
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:30 AM   #97
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I don't want to train like a dude, but I do want to train seriously and enjoy it. I do want to learn the martial aspects of Aikido, not dance.
.
so you don't want to train like a dude, but want to be treated like another dude, yet looking different than any other dude as long as you can do like a dude.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:25 PM   #98
"dontwanttousemyname"
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Smile Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
so you don't want to train like a dude, but want to be treated like another dude, yet looking different than any other dude as long as you can do like a dude.
cute....the girl in me had to respond
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:33 PM   #99
"dontwanttousemyname"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
... Ok, when someone is a beginner, I understand having the uke "help" the technique move along a bit so the beginner knows what it is supposed to feel like, and then step up the intensity as the beginner progresses, but I would have deep concerns about a sensei who had a female demonstrate a technique to a class who wasn't top notch at what she was doing.

I do have deep concerns...It seems to me that he is protecting his business and dojo profitabilitiy. Over this summer, I will decide whether or not to leave and train somewhere else. Fortunately, I have a lot of quality choices available.

Well, collectively I expect all of the Aikidoka I train with to have a spirit of Aiki. No dancing for women, and no weightlifting bragging from the men. We are here together to learn something both martial and spiritual, and I expect a certain base level of respect and desire for a common goal from everyone I train with.

By being yourself. You can't control what other people do, just as anyone with any brains won't judge you based on what someone else does. And if anyone thinks all female Aikidoka are just cute little girls playing at martial arts, I would be happy to assist them in blending with the mat. Otherwise, leave it alone. And if someone mentions it, I would only respond with, "I am not familiar with their dojo or training, and that isn't what I do. Would you like to visit a class with my sensei?"

What exactly does training like a dude entail? While the yudansha in the two dojos I train in are all men, there are quite a few female yudansha in our organization, and the classes I attend are generally 50/50 in terms of gender. My Sensei's classes are a bit slower and more relaxed than my Shihan's classes, but that's a function of how they teach, not of the gender make up of the classes.

--Ashley
I agree with you totally.

what i meant when i said training like a dude, is that i don't want to be a "ruffian" or try to muscle through the techniques to prove how strong i am, as many men in my dojo do. also, i don't want to train as though my body is not that of a woman. we have different bodies; as a former athlete, i've seen many a woman have ending, traumatic injuries (mostly knee and achillies tendon) because they move in ways that are not conducive to the way many of our bodies are built.

i had some very "manly men" in my dojo in mind (smiling) who i see get into ridiculous aikido-rumbles all the time, to prove what works and doesn't to themselves.

before you say it, yes men have those injuries too... (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:16 PM   #100
Malicat
Dojo: Sei-Ryo, Flat Rock, NC
Location: Hendersonville, NC
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I agree with you totally.

what i meant when i said training like a dude, is that i don't want to be a "ruffian" or try to muscle through the techniques to prove how strong i am, as many men in my dojo do. also, i don't want to train as though my body is not that of a woman. we have different bodies; as a former athlete, i've seen many a woman have ending, traumatic injuries (mostly knee and achillies tendon) because they move in ways that are not conducive to the way many of our bodies are built.

i had some very "manly men" in my dojo in mind (smiling) who i see get into ridiculous aikido-rumbles all the time, to prove what works and doesn't to themselves.

before you say it, yes men have those injuries too... (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.
Ah ha! hehe, yeah, I'm actually totally with you on the guy thing to a degree. Both my Sensei and Shihan are very clear on the fact that if you can feel yourself "muscling" the technique, you are doing it incorrectly. However, the guys do tend to get extra rough with each other randomly for no reason, but we don't refer to it as training, more like wrestling. And I like to refer to the guys being rough and dumb for no good reason as suffering from "Testosterone Poisoning." I think that happens anywhere guys get together in a martial environment... just need to make sure it doesn't actually translate over into real training.

--Ashley
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