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Old 03-09-2005, 10:54 AM   #1
Alex Watts
Location: Gateshead
Join Date: Feb 2005
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United Kingdom
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Gay Aikido People? Northern UK

Hi all, I would like some help please.

I would like to start a martial art for the purpose of self defence and after some research I have decided aikido is best suited to me as I am not a big strong guy. I live in the North East of England and so am looking for a club in the area.

My concern is this: I am gay and while I don't flaunt my sexuality, I do not hide it either. I don't mince around dressed all in pink being camp or anything silly like that, but if someone asks me for example if I have a girlfriend, I will tell them I am gay.

What I would like to know is:

1. Are there any all gay aikido clubs?
2. Is my sexuality a problem in learning Aikido with regards to other students?
3. Are there any local clubs where my sexuality won't be an issue?
4. Are there any openly gay Aikido people I can chat with here to find out their experiences?

Any help will be much appreciated.
Alex
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:16 AM   #2
Greg Jennings
Dojo: S&G BJJ
Location: Springboro, OH
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,125
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Alex,

I don't know about your local aikido clubs. Here is some advice...

1. You may not see short-term success in aikido as a self-defense.
2. My experience is that the aikido community is open and and accepting. It's all about coming together on the mat to train. To paraphrase someone "No sex on the mat, please".
3. Go for it and have fun.

Best regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:21 AM   #3
TheWonderKid
Dojo: Memorial University Aikido Club
Location: St John's, Newfoundland
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 49
Canada
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Why would your sexual orientation be an issue? The way I see it, you're a person just like anyone else, whether you're gay or not shouldn't make any difference. The same way it shouldn't make any difference what faith/gender/race/etc you are.

Being gay isn't who you are, it's a component of it. Do you worry about anything else that makes up who you are? Perhaps you don't like football are fear being discriminated against because of that?

But seriously, I'm not trying to negate your problem or anything, but anyone with an open mind shouldn't take issue with it. And I've found those who practice Aikido often have open minds. If not, would you really want to practice with them?

While I admittedly may not have always always had an open mind about the issue of sexual orientation, I have since come to see the error of my ways and am the better for it.

Just my two cents.
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Old 03-09-2005, 11:28 AM   #4
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Alex Watts wrote:
My concern is this: I am gay and while I don't flaunt my sexuality, I do not hide it either.
What do you mean that you "do not hide it"? I have difficulty understanding how anyone should get a clue what your sexual proclivities are or my sexual proclivities are in a dojo unless there's an effort to make sure people know what those sexual proclivities are. Why not just appear to be "gender neutral" as everyone claims they are for (often lying through their teeth, of course) and practice? If you're gender neutral and not trying to signal your particular proclivities or availability, I can't see where it would cause you or other people in a dojo to be apprehensive one way or the other.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-09-2005, 12:18 PM   #5
Carrie
Location: Florida
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

I think what Alex means (forgive me Alex, if I'm incorrect), is that he doesn't make an effort to conceal who he is - as most of us don't.

It would be nearly impossible not to get to know more about someone as you continue to train with them. Just by being in intimate physical contact with our training partners we learn what techniques they feel comfortable with, those that they resist, strengths, weaknesses, etc. In casual conversation wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, pets, etc may be mentioned. And there is no reason why Alex should have to be anything but upfront about who he is. If someone assumed I was a lesbian and asked if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them I'm straight. Why should it be any different for Alex?

And I do not see how anyone can be 'gender neutral' on the mat. We are who we are. If I take an elbow in the breast, it's gonna hurt presumably more than it would a guy. And I'm willing to bet that there is no such thing as gender neutrality when a guy gets bumped in the stones.....

When I'm training with someone I'm not worried about what sex they are, what their marital status is, if they like dogs better than cats, what they had for lunch, etc etc. I take them at face value and expect them to do the same.

Go to a dojo, watch a class. Talk to the students and the Sensei. I don't think it will be difficult for you to find a place where you will be accepted and welcomed. Why wouldn't you be?

Carrie
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Old 03-09-2005, 12:31 PM   #6
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

I trained with a guy for 4 years who was gay. He didn't mention it, and neither did I. I didn't care. One day, he told me with this big dramatic pause for my reaction, and I almost think I disappointed him. I really didn't care. I think no sexual acts in the dojo is a fine rule. I don't care too much about that either, but we should make people feel comfortable in the dojo.

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 12:44 PM   #7
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

I honestly don't know what the sexual orientation of most of the people at my dojo is, apart from the ones with partners who also train, and a couple of people who have become closer friends and who I subsequently have learned more personal stuff about.

I can understand that it could be something that seems an obstacle, especially if you've had bad experiences in the past, and/or if you have an idea of martial arts being a very macho environment maybe. I'd say the chances are that it's not going to be an issue though.

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 03-09-2005, 12:44 PM   #8
Mike Sigman
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Carrie Sutton wrote:
I think what Alex means (forgive me Alex, if I'm incorrect), is that he doesn't make an effort to conceal who he is - as most of us don't.
Well, I understand that, but surely you don't casually mention the type of sex you prefer in the boudoir, do you? I have certainly never mentioned my sexual proclivities in the dojo (well, except a few whispers when I have them pinned ... er, forget I said that ) and the point I'm making is that most people in a dojo would never know whether I was gay or straight.
Quote:
It would be nearly impossible not to get to know more about someone as you continue to train with them. Just by being in intimate physical contact with our training partners we learn what techniques they feel comfortable with, those that they resist, strengths, weaknesses, etc. In casual conversation wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, pets, etc may be mentioned. And there is no reason why Alex should have to be anything but upfront about who he is. If someone assumed I was a lesbian and asked if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them I'm straight. Why should it be any different for Alex?
Never mind that... what are you wearing right now? (Sorry. That's sort of an "in" joke on RMA and I couldn't resist -- just being "up front about who I am")
Quote:
And I do not see how anyone can be 'gender neutral' on the mat. We are who we are. If I take an elbow in the breast, it's gonna hurt presumably more than it would a guy. And I'm willing to bet that there is no such thing as gender neutrality when a guy gets bumped in the stones.....
We're not talking about gender, though.. we're talking about sexual preferences. If he feels comfortable after a while with someone he meets at the dojo and for some reason thinks his sexual preferences are a good conversation, fine. But the point is that if he's just going to try a dojo or two to see if he likes them and the training, I fail to see why his sexual bent is germane. IMO, of course.

Mike
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:24 PM   #9
Carrie
Location: Florida
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Well now, we're talking about 2 completely different things, aren't we? A statement of sexual orientation (being gay or straight) is not quite comparative to expressing specific affinities (i.e. how ya like it). And well you know it (or should, <g>).

I doubt Alex has any intentions of walking into the dojo and announcing with much fanfare 'Hey, I'm gay!' I just think he wants to feel a bit more comfortable about walking into the place and being accepted, whether they ever get to know him or not.

For that matter, Alex, I was apprehensive about going to my first class too, though my fear was because I'm a woman, and I was kinda scared of having some big manly man grabbing me. Like most fears, it was unfounded, and I wouldn't have learned that if I hadn't just 'bucked up' and walked through the door.

Carrie

And P.S. Mike, I'm wearing what any self-respecting woman is wearing when asked that question......a snowsuit, ski cap and moon boots. <g>
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:37 PM   #10
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

In Florida? You must be so hot. - Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:39 PM   #11
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Carrie Sutton wrote:
Well now, we're talking about 2 completely different things, aren't we? A statement of sexual orientation (being gay or straight) is not quite comparative to expressing specific affinities (i.e. how ya like it). And well you know it (or should, <g>).
Depends. Some people are "proper oriented" and don't want to hear about sex, sexual orientation, feminism, machismo, etc. I try to accomodate them by not giving a clue about my personal predilections. I.e., my general point is that these things don't become issues unless you make them issues... and the dojo is the place to check your issues, if nothing else, out of respect for the people who a seriously focusing on their training. There's a bit of arrogance in the Aikido, Taiji, and a few other "arts" where some of the 'practitioners' think it's their right to force their issues onto the people who simply don't care. It acts, as I've said, like a filtering process... after a while, a lot of people in those types of "martial arts" get tired and depart, leaving a majority of "issues" people as the dominant forces and it takes away from the art, IMO. I.e., it ultimately degrades the art into something else.
Quote:
I doubt Alex has any intentions of walking into the dojo and announcing with much fanfare 'Hey, I'm gay!' I just think he wants to feel a bit more comfortable about walking into the place and being accepted, whether they ever get to know him or not.
If no one knows, and they don't unless he declares it in some manner, I fail to see logically how he is going to be "uncomfortable" about being gay. Is that clearer?
Quote:
For that matter, Alex, I was apprehensive about going to my first class too, though my fear was because I'm a woman, and I was kinda scared of having some big manly man grabbing me. Like most fears, it was unfounded, and I wouldn't have learned that if I hadn't just 'bucked up' and walked through the door.
Guess what? EVERYONE feels like that. Life is hard, ain't it?
Quote:
And P.S. Mike, I'm wearing what any self-respecting woman is wearing when asked that question......a snowsuit, ski cap and moon boots. <g>
Self-respecting men wear those, too, you sexist rascal.

Mike
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:53 PM   #12
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Guess what? EVERYONE feels like that.
No sir, not everyone feels like that. I'd say that is more a parenting and cultural issue. It didn't even occur to me to be afraid about walking into my first dojo. I was just excited and tried to do my best. A lot of time has gone by and it hasn't changed.

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:02 PM   #13
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
No sir, not everyone feels like that. I'd say that is more a parenting and cultural issue. It didn't even occur to me to be afraid about walking into my first dojo. I was just excited and tried to do my best. A lot of time has gone by and it hasn't changed.
It's a rare person who isn't "apprehensive", the main word I was replying to, Rob. Everyone has some degree of apprehension.... well, except for you of course.

Mike
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:10 PM   #14
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Well I can't argue with that. I think I was more apprehensive when I went to get my last hair cut, but fine, silly point conceded.

Alex, please go join a dojo, and train aikido.

Rob
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:45 PM   #15
Carrie
Location: Florida
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
In Florida? You must be so hot. - Rob
LOL, Ok, maybe I fibbed a * little* bit about the attire. Actually temp is 63 in Key West, and after having been here for several years, that has become chilly to me. I rather like being that spoiled temp-wise.
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Old 03-09-2005, 03:04 PM   #16
Aikiscott
Dojo: Central Coast Aikikai
Location: Gosford
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 65
Australia
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Hi Alex
I won't get hung up on the Gay issue as I think it is irrelevant but I'll answer the other question, though I think you will be lucky to find an all Gay Aikido dojo but who knows, I have heard of All female Dojos before.
Here are some links

British Aikikai
http://www.britishaikikai.co.uk/dojo...East%20England

British Aikido Board
http://www.bab.org.uk/club_directory/county.html

British Aikido Federation
http://www.bafonline.org.uk/baf/bafdojos.html

Hope it helps and good luck with your search.
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Old 03-09-2005, 03:52 PM   #17
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
Location: Sheffield, UK
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
but if someone asks me for example if I have a girlfriend, I will tell them I am gay.
Mike, for your info, this is one of the first "getting to know you" questions you'll be asked in this part of the world, I guess people are more reserved in your neck of the woods. We usually have beer waza together after training, and we like to get to know the people we train with. That involves talking about our partners/kids/homelife/dates etc. (This is especially true in the North East, where people are generally a bit more gregarious than your average english folks.)
No way is Alex's sexuality going to be a secret unless he lies to people pretty much as soon as he meets them, and who wants to do that?

Quote:
Alex Watts wrote:
1. Are there any all gay aikido clubs?
Not in the UK that I know of.

Quote:
2. Is my sexuality a problem in learning Aikido with regards to other students?
I would certainly hope not, and see no reason why it should be, though I guess your chances of meeting the odd bigot are about the same as they are anywhere else.

Quote:
3. Are there any local clubs where my sexuality won't be an issue?
Again, I would sincerely hope it won't be an issue at any of them, but not knowing the clubs in your area I can't say for sure. Maybe there'll be a poster from your part of the woods who can recommend a club.

HTH
Best of luck.

Sean
x
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:04 PM   #18
Mike Sigman
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Sean Orchard wrote:
I would certainly hope not, and see no reason why it should be, though I guess your chances of meeting the odd bigot are about the same as they are anywhere else.
Actually, I'm sort of live and let live, although actually I need to stipulate a lot of that is because I just don't get emotionally invested in extraneous political issues... and a lot of people get indignant that I don't share their emotions and personal politics, both from the Left and from the Right. As part of not getting involved (or keeping my "center" in a number of ways), I don't allow myself to slap someone with derogatory terms, whether it's their sexual preferences or personal choice of ethics, religion, etc. Labelling someone who doesn't agree with your beliefs a "bigot" is along the lines of what I mean. But hey, if that's who you are, you should make yourself known, I guess.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:05 PM   #19
Alex Watts
Location: Gateshead
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the replys, I didnt expect so many, though I had hoped for at leat 1 gay aikido person to talk to me :-(

Maybe I didnt write my 1st message very well. My point is that while I do not have an "I AM GAY" tattoo on my head for everyone to see, if someone asks me if I have a girlfriend, I am not going to lie or pretend to be straight as I do not believe my sexuality is anything to be ashamed of.

My other concerns are that if I am training and making techniques on aikido people, that maybe some people wouldnt want me to touch them or whatever because I am gay (this type of thing does happen, especially in the north east which is quite a 'macho' place to be).

Hmmm but still no1 has recomendeda dojo to me :-(

Thanks
Alex
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:38 PM   #20
jss
Location: Rotterdam
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

I don't think the training part of aikido is going to be a problem. If someone has a problem with your homosexuality, I suggest a friendly converstation that leads to the conclusion not to train with one another. And since I'd guess (but who am I to say?) that would be a minority of the total number of aikidokas, you'll be fine.
There might be another problem: the locker room and showering part. Unless of course men and women do this together at your dojo, some guys may get uncomfortable. There probably is a solution for this too, but it will be a bit more difficult, I think.
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Old 03-09-2005, 05:18 PM   #21
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Hi Alex,

There is a gay Ju-Jitsu club in Brighton, geography wise I know this doesn't help I know, but thought it might be of interest.

I know of several gay aikidoka who tell me it has rarely been an issue, though martial arts have a reputation for conservatism, (trannie tendencies of dan grades aside).

There's a good BAF club in Newcastle that's friendly, chief instructor Ian McClarrence. They'll bash you mind, but not on account of being queer

Take care mate,
Mark
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Old 03-09-2005, 05:25 PM   #22
Mike Sigman
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote:
There might be another problem: the locker room and showering part. Unless of course men and women do this together at your dojo, some guys may get uncomfortable. There probably is a solution for this too, but it will be a bit more difficult, I think.
Ah, here I must note that I am all for gender parity and only having a single shower room, purely in line with the idea that we are all equal on the mat. I'm certain that Carrie and Pauliina are with me on this one! Sexual preference should have no effect on who showers with whom in the locker room, since it doesn't matter.

Mike
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Old 03-09-2005, 08:43 PM   #23
Jerry Miller
 
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Us the Search Function to find a Dojo. There is at least one dojo around.

Jerry Miller
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Old 03-09-2005, 10:15 PM   #24
wxyzabc
Location: Japan
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England
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

Alex

I dont reckon your sexuality is a big deal as long as you stay focussed and go to the dojo purely to practice mate.

Your worries about some men not wanting to train with you due to being gay are at this point unneccessary...you have to go and see what its like. If the worst situation arises where you do experience some unthinking negativity, then well, thats the time to be concerned or think about finding another dojo.

I would like to think that you will be warmly welcomed by everyone, and I`m sure you will...also dont forget that every dojo will have its fair share of female participants who will definitely welcome a male training partner who doesn`t have the usual thoughts crossing his mind.

All the best

Lee
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Old 03-10-2005, 01:00 AM   #25
Hardware
 
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Re: Gay Aikido People? NORTHEN UK

If you join a well run Aikido dojo, any issues regarding your sexuality should only arise if you make them issues. Anyone training there with a good outlook on Aikido (and life in general) really shouldn't give a hoot what you do behind closed doors.

Don't hide who you are, but don't flaunt it. Straight people don't march into a new dojo and proudly announce, "I'm heterosexual." In this day and age you can't really assume people are straight either.

There were some other threads here about the pseudo-sexuality of Aikido (closeness in perfomring pins, submission, etc) and relationships do blossom (someone fell in love with their sensei) but in all reality, Aikido is no more linked to sex than it is any other facet of the human situation, (food, politics, race, etc).

Find a dojo you like. Train there. As you get to know the people there, some may deduce you're gay. Some may not. Who cares?
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