Below is the timeline of events concerning the gender equity petition in the USAF. Please note that a number of USAF members have stated that these issues have been brought up and discussed previously, in both public and private venues, within the USAF for a number of years.
For reference -
Yoshimitsu Yamada's public letter concerning his response to the petitioners at the New York Aikikai: https://www.facebook.com/aikidosange...type=3&theater
The petition for gender equity in the USAF: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...3FYvQ/viewform
The official USAF response: http://usafaikidonews.com/a-statemen...ors-10-3-2019/
Discussion on the Reddit Aikido group: https://www.reddit.com/r/aikido/comm..._the_petition/
“We are posting this timeline for clarity, as a reference point for discussion, and to hopefully answer faqs.
September 14, 2019: The Petition to Support Women in the United States Aikido Federation is released publicly. In the interest of transparency, it is immediately sent to key figures in the leadership of the USAF.
September 18, 2019: Coalition drafts and emails a letter to Yamada Sensei requesting the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the petition with himself and members of the board.
September 22, 2019: [Redacted] sends a letter to USAF dojocho informing them of the petition.
September 23, 2019: [Redacted] sends letter to USAF dojocho suggesting that 1) The Originators of the petition (will refer to from this point on as the “Coalition”) are claiming to represent the leadership of the USAF. See letter from Sept. 22 and 2) The Originators of the petition have not reached out to USAF leadership. See letter from Sept.18.
September 24, 2019: [Redacted] meets with Yamada Sensei per his request. Members of the Coalition ask [Redacted] to record the meeting for clarity and accuracy and because members of the Coalition have agreed to work together to make decisions about their process/progress. We understand no reasonable expectation by Yamada Sensei of privacy for this meeting. The meeting is held in New York Aikikai, two other people are present in the meeting itself, and other’s voices can clearly be heard in the background, indicating that anyone passing by could also easily hear the discussion occurring in the meeting itself.
September 24, 2019: [Redacted] is expelled from NYA during this meeting for her participation in the Coalition.
September 24, 2019: A representative of the USAF is sent to talk with [Redacted]. This representative asserts that the proper way to address these concerns are to write to the USAF Board of Directors, not to Yamada Sensei, and that the petition itself was considered very hurtful.
September 27, 2019: [redacted is] fired from teaching at NYA for sharing the petition.
September 27, 2019: Yamada Sensei sends an email to [Redacted] informing her that he knows that she recorded their meeting and that he is very angry.
September 28, 2019: The Coalition drafts a letter to be emailed directly to the Board of Directors, as per the instructions given by USAF leadership. Via text and phone conversation, we are referred to the USAF code of conduct for procedural guidelines, which are: “Members may report any alleged harmful conduct or violation of this Code of Conduct to the USAF Board by notifying the Director of Operations or any individual Board member in writing.” There is no contact information given on this page. On the Board of Directors page, there are no emails or other direct contact info given. Only websites, with no indication of to whom outreach via those websites would be directed.
September 28, 2019: Emailed a letter to Board of Directors via email (privately obtained) for [Redacted], Secretary of the Board of Directors.
September 29, 2019: [Redacted] meets with Yamada Sensei per his request. [Redacted] accompanies. [Redacted], [Redacted], and [Redacted] are also present. Meeting is openly recorded by [Redacted], and a copy of the recording is offered to and subsequently shared with [Redacted]. During this meeting the Coalition agrees to [Redacted’s] request to alter its name (from “USAF Women’s Coalition” to “Independent Coalition of USAF Women”) to avoid potential confusion about the source of the petition. It is agreed that [Redacted’s] will schedule a meeting for Coalition members to meet with board members. There has been subsequent back and forth communication regarding scheduling, but as of yet no meeting is scheduled.
September 30, 2019: Yamada Sensei posts letter in NYA regarding the petition and consequences for members.
October 3, 2019: [redacted is] expelled from NYA.
October 3, 2019: USAF posts a public statement responding point-by-point, to the requests made by the petition. There is no mention of a forthcoming meeting with the coalition, nor of the two members of the USAF who have been expelled from NYA.
October 5, 2019: [redacted] attempts to practice at another dojo but was informed by the dojo cho that they have been given instructions not to allow her to do so.“
Edited To Add 2: Letter to Yamada Sensei: Dear Yamada Sensei, Greetings. Hoping that your late summer trip to Japan is going well. Enclosed is a letter that we wanted to get to you as quickly as possible.
Yamada Sensei, from the earliest days of the New York Aikikai, many of your students have been women Aikidoka. You have trained us well and rigorously for more than 50 years, and many of these women have gone on to train other women and men in the Aikido that we all love. It is this love for Aikido, and our love for you that holds us to be members of your organization, the United States Aikido Federation.
Over the years, through your great efforts, the USAF has grown. As this growth expanded, and your male and female students began to teach, and open more dojos, the women in the USAF began to notice that they were not being represented in the growing structure of the organization. Women began to hear disrespectful comments which diminished their training and teaching efforts. Women began to notice that there were far fewer women than men teaching in USAF seminars. Women began to feel that they were not being given the same opportunities for advancement as instructors. And women did not see themselves represented in sufficient numbers on the Board of Directors, and not at all on the Technical Committee.
Over the years, women have spoken up as individuals to various members of the Board and Technical Committee and others, only to be dismissed. Others are afraid to speak up at all, and some have left the USAF. However, this subject of gender equity in the USAF is important for both women and men. Our world is complex and filled with stressors. The Martial Art of Aikido, offers ways for people of all genders to live in harmony with one another, to build community, to train body, mind and spirit.
A group of USAF women recently got together to share thoughts, and decided to petition you and the board to open-mindedly look at the roles of women in the USAF. This petition was created out of love…for you…for Aikido…for each other. It has been shared, and as it gained extensive support with both women and men practitioners, we decided it was time to petition you and the board for your support. We hope that you will read the petition and see that we are seeking an ongoing dialogue addressing why women have less of a presence in the USAF than our numbers suggest and what can be done about this. We live in a time of changing social mores. We want to ensure that the USAF stays vital and flexible, so we can better nurture and grow this beautiful art we love.
Thank you for listening. We look forward to meeting with you and the board for presentation of the petition and discussion. Perhaps such a meeting can take place at the Winter Seminar in November?
With deepest respect and love,
The USAF Women’s Coalition