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Old 05-27-2008, 08:08 PM   #126
Jennifer Yabut
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Asim Hanif wrote: View Post
Hi Lori/All,
of course I can't speak to their specific situation but I know that dojo pretty well. I've trained there a good amount of time over the years. I believe I even trained with Jennifer at a recent seminar in MD. My impression of some of the senior male aikidoka in that dojo is they are an energetic bunch not necessarily 'rough' as a group. But of course, I'm not there regularly.
You were also at Jane Ozeki's seminar? Not sure if I remember you or not.

In case I haven't made myself clear, I really *like* where I train, and I like most all the folks I train with - male and female. But unfortunately, we've had problems keeping female students (like many other dojos), and we're simply trying remedy this.

And to address your other post, have you ever seen the "Holding Up Half the Sky" video? DiAnne, Ozeki, and eight other high-ranked female instructors are featured in that video. Something that DiAnne said during her interview struck me. She talked about how she *didn't* have any female role models when she first started training, and how she wasn't looking to be a "role model" herself - but it just happened. Others in that video talked about how important it is for women to have female role models to look up to.

Over the past year, I've had the opportunity to attend seminars held by female instructors (Lia Suzuki, Lorraine DiAnne, Jane Ozeki, Barbara Britton, Julia Freedgood, and Fiona Blyth). I really wish that more female instructors would do seminars, but as Ozeki pointed out to me recently, most of them have day jobs (she's a full-time teacher and only teaches one class a week at NY Aikikai), and there aren't many female full-time instructors. However, if today's female students continue to be exposed to these high-ranking women, maybe *some* of them *will* be inspired enough to stay in Aikido for the long run. Women generally *do* have a harder way to go with their training, and it *does* help knowing that others have traveled that same path and became successful.

Which leads back to the original intent of these classes...getting more women to come through the door. What happens from there is entirely up to them...

"The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." - Miyamoto Musashi
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Old 05-27-2008, 11:21 PM   #127
AsimHanif
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Hi Jennifer.
The implied question in my earlier post was ‘did not having a substantial female presence have an impact on their own training'…not whether or not having female role models is good. Of course it's always encouraging to see others you can relate to that serve to inspire. But I could only imagine that as a woman, training with a Paul Sylvain or a Bruce Bookman would push you in any number of ways; just as I make efforts to train with those who are bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced than me.

The attraction to aikido for me was….aikido itself. Many times I was the only person of color in a dojo and at times I was not treated well. The people I bonded with were not necessarily people who ‘looked' like me but people who shared similar experiences.

In my dojo we have a good cross section of people, which I'm most proud of. They all train for different reasons and it's great to see them guide new people coming in. At the same time we don't sugar coat what we do or how we train. We may not be the place for everyone…that's fine with us. For us it's not about the numbers, it's about the training…period. In any event, I believe the dojo members create the environment that make PEOPLE feel welcome or not.

So with regards to various promos to get in a certain demographic through the doors…like the old saying goes…"you can lead a horse to water….."

Yes, I was at Capital. Jane O Sensei was great. And much success on whatever course of action you choose.

Asim
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Old 05-28-2008, 11:21 PM   #128
barbaraknapp
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Hi
someone may have already said this, if so I apologize - I don't have time to read the whole thread! I have trained in womens classes and started one (more than one? I can't remember), and thought I would pass on some things I learned -
- a women's class sometimes sets up more problems than it solves. If it is going to make bad feelings in the dojo it isn't worth it. Everybody's training will suffer.
- If the dojo is very supportive of women's training, you probably don't need a women's class: if it is not, a women's class probably will create problems.
- I am also not sure women's classes are really all that good for the women in them. Better ways to do it might be to offer classes at times more women can come, or offer a babysitter during class. You might end up with a class that is mostly women.
- Finally, I believe women take our cue from what we see happening to women who have been around awhile at the dojo. If there are strong women getting promoted to higher ranks, teaching, taking ukemi at demonstrations, and enjoying themselves, then we feel safe. If there are not...a women's class won't help.
on the whole, I don't think its a good idea.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:08 PM   #129
Enrique Antonio Reyes
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

We once planned to introduce an all women's class but apparently my partners have a more commercialized idea of the class so eventually I had to beg off. They said that (as physical trainers) women like choreography...so you might want to incorporate more dynamic exercises in the warm-ups...just a thought.

Iking
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Old 10-09-2008, 02:20 PM   #130
AnniN
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I'd just like to add my humble opinion as well:

I myself probably wouldn't be tempted by an all-womens class... Probably because I enjoy training with men, if I can do a technique on them it means it's really working Plus, I myself enjoy the traditional martial arts atmosphere in the dojo and would not want to change it to a more-appealing-to-women direction. I also dish out "watch us slam the crap out of her"-type humor quite often (I can't remember who posted that or the exact words, but anyway...) I also enjoy slamming the crap out of guys

I've never had any issues with bullying or disrespect or anything like that. Everyone in our dojo is absolutely wonderful and I am good friends with all of them. everyone is polite and respects each other, its as if I had a lot of brothers and uncles

But I do understand that some women might feel intimidated by martial arts (whatever the reason, training with men or the fear of it being hard and painful or whatever). I also understand that it's not about segregation or discrimination or sexism...So I think the idea of a women's intro class a could be good way to encourage women who might at first feel awkward. I think offering this option would be a good way to build their confidence a little so they'll feel more comfortable in a mixed class... of course, there are probably many women like myself to whom training with big guys has never been an issue
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Old 01-02-2009, 04:14 PM   #131
Jacqueline von Arb
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I am a bit afraid, though, that it would be teaching these women 'aikido with a crutch' - and getting rid of the crutch could be harder than blending in from the start.

But by all means, Jennifer, as long as the intention is to funnel the students into main student body - go ahead and give it a try. Who are we to say it won't work at your dojo? (please come back and tell us how it went! we might be the ones to learn something from your experience!)

Jacqueline

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Old 01-02-2009, 04:23 PM   #132
Jacqueline von Arb
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I just had a couple of ideas of alternatives (that could apply to all beginners, not only one demographic) - I haven't seen these mentioned or practiced anywhere, so I'd love to hear if any dojo has tried this:

- add or replace a half-hour of the (co-ed) beginners or introductory weeks (before or after keiko) to also introduce the principles of aikido (lecture or discussion) - not only the on-mat techniques. I'll bet ladies will do just as well as their male counterparts in discussing these and perhaps the confidence will trickle unto the mats?

or

- introduce the concept of mentorship to the dojo:
assign a more advanced student to each of the new beginners. As in other mentorships, women should mentor other women, and men should mentor men. Also, it would perhaps be a good idea to establish a do's and don'ts of mentorship (what makes a good mentor), and/or a list of topics to cover during the mentorship period (lasting as long as the introductory class until the beginner feels confortable). Some newbies won't need a mentor for long, and that's ok too.

I see great benefits for the advanced students in awareness (taking part in establishing what the list should be, f.ex.), taking ownership in the responsibility to ensure the welcome, safe-feeling and integration of newbies, and getting to practice relational aikido in addition to techniques in the process.

As for the feasibility of those 2 alternatives? Has anyone tried anything like it?

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Old 05-11-2009, 02:10 PM   #133
Phil Van Treese
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Smile Re: Starting an all-women's class

Good idea if there are enough women who would like it. I guess some women feel intimidated by working out with a bunch of guys. I have 1 lady in my aikido class that just walked in one day and said teach me aikido. She's been with us ever since and loves working with the guys. When I asked her why she walked into a "all male dojo" she simply said that she needed to practise on us so if she would ever get jumped, she could take care of herself. Her words exactly. She is an instructor's dream. Absorbs everything, always gives 125% and leaves class smiling. She is a real trooper!!!!
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:02 PM   #134
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Jennifer,

Did you start the class?

Did it last?

Were you happy with the results?

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:29 AM   #135
Arashi Kumomura
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I was about to respond with a bunch of personal suggestions before I realized how old this thread was.

But, I'll throw in a couple of pennies, anyway.

I think starting an all-female introductory class could be a good idea. It does limit the practitioners and it does segregate, but it also encourages people to start something new, and in this case, that new thing is Aikido.

Ultimately, it would be best to practice among people of all shapes and sizes. This wouldn't be achieved by forming a female-only school, but those serious enough to continue training would most likely seek a more advanced dojo and thus meet a wider variety of partners.

There are a lot of people who won't join a dojo or martial art because of their supposed "intensity" (so I assume), more so when speaking about women. I think this intimidation is decreased when the class in question is an all-female class and it introduces them to a world they may otherwise never see.

I'm also curious as to how the classes went. Let us know if you're around, Jennifer.
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Old 05-30-2009, 12:59 PM   #136
dalen7
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Sounds cool, hope the best in your endeavor.

From my experience I can say we have had 2 women total since i have been at the local dojo. One was there for about 6 months and disappeared. The other one comes in once in a few months, may come a couple of times and another long break.]

And the daughter dojo is made up of kids, with 3 teenagers, one of them female, an older man, and an adult woman. From the times I have been there the adult woman has not shown up often, but the teenage girl has.

I dont know, but the environment isnt quite right for female students in our dojo...not saying that cant change, but there would have to be some adjustments...which led me to consider what I would do if I had a dojo...

First I would definitely consider having a class for anyone [male or female] who dont want the roughed up MMA feel. Then I would have a separate class for those who want to pound on each other and work out each others joints till they dont function properly. [just kidding, but the point is there.]

Ultimately it would be nice to have both classes combined, at least to create softness and awareness in the rougher classes - and help some the softer classes to go beyond the fluidity to truly applying of the body mechanics on larger people till they feel it. [a lot of the time a lady will put a move on a guy and he will go down for the heck of it..or even men with men...Ive seen it with the latter a lot - sometimes, I will resist until they figure out it isnt ballet and there is a reason Ill go down or not. [actually I would like to take ballet, I think it would help my aikido...those guys/gals have strong legs!]

At the end, each dojo will figure out what they need, the vibe will draw or push people away. [I would hope to be open enough to draw both crowds, but we will see..Im still 'new' at this.

Again, good luck!

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
Just saw this was older post...need to start looking at the time stamp.

Last edited by dalen7 : 05-30-2009 at 01:04 PM.

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 05-30-2009, 01:48 PM   #137
Linda Eskin
 
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

We were just having an informal discussion of this today at the dojo. I was sitting out the class with an injury, and I brought 2 guests, 1 woman, 1 man, to check out Aikido & my dojo. One of the 2 women (out of 8 students) participating in the class happened to mention while we were chatting that it would be nice to get more women into the school.

I understand the desire to attract more women to the school, and to Aikido, but the ratio isn't a distraction/issue for me. As one who has been into ham radio, flying, mechanical engineering, and programming I'm used the being the only woman in the room/company/class. The female friend I brought is of a similar temperament. We would probably not even notice "oh, hey, look... I'm the only woman here," unless someone pointed it out. We're used to ratios of 100:1. Hey, shorter lines for the ladies' room! ;-)

Regarding the idea of a women-only class, I don't like it. I would be put off by seeing that at a dojo, for several reasons. I would wonder why women are separated from the "normal" classes - are they not welcome, or capable? I'd worry about what I'd be missing by being in what I would assume would be a watered-down, lower-expectation class. I don't want to learn "Women's Aikido" for the same reason I would never by a "Lady's Tool Kit." The assumption is that it's not quite the real thing.

That said, I think the problem could be addressed by simply renaming the class, and including men. I know men (moreso than women) who are not interested in Aikido because they don't want to get hurt being thrown around, and who are probably intimidated by the idea of being awkward beginners around a bunch of hardcore jocks. ;-) Men and women with these concerns could be "brought into the fold" through a class called something like "A Non-threatening Introduction to Aikido," or "Aikido - Breath and Blending," or whatever.

When I was in college there was a physics class that didn't require math. It was about the principles and ideas - not the calculations. It wasn't called "Physics for Women" (horrors), it was called "Physics for Poets." I'm sure it attracted lots of women, and probably also men, and the name wasn't offensive or exclusive. I think the same idea could be applied to an Aikido class, with better results.

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 05-31-2009, 03:43 PM   #138
kartoffelngeist
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I've been considering this for a while with kendo. First off, it's a university club, so there are a lot of people about who are potentially interested in starting something new,
A lot of women/girls I've spoken to about it won't go along for the simple reason that there aren't enough girls there. I know a lot who say they would come along if one of their (female) friends went with them. As soon as they come in to the dojo, they see a bunch of men smacking each other about, and most are put off by this atmosphere.
So I've been wondering for a while about having a female only class, probably just as a one off. It has nothing to do with any great ideology, just that girls don't always feel comfortable in a male dominated atmosphere, especially one which seems aggressive (which it's really not).

Maybe the context of a university club is slightly different, but I think the idea's good.
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:00 AM   #139
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Chris, I understand where you're coming from, but I completely agree with and support Jennifer's ideas.

I am a 43year old Mom, a 5'4" girly girl with no prior m.a. experience before Aikido. I would never have had the nerve to walk into a dojo and hop onto the mat with 6 or 8 guys who towered over me. Way too intimidating. The only way I started Aikido was to join in kids' classes with my son, and only then with lots of playful prodding from his Sensei, whom I trusted.

After a month or two of getting my feet wet with the kids, I began to take beginner's classes. Then I began to take advanced classes. Now I routinely walk into the dojo to train with 6 or 8 guys who tower over me, and I am grateful because I know that if I don't get the technique right, it won't work. I get a lot out of my training.

I'm sorry, but of course there are gender politics involved, as well as physiology. Most women are shorter than most men, and they generally have less upper body strength. Women are still socially conditioned to be more passive/submissive, while men are still conditioned to be more aggressive. Of course these are generalizations, but they are generalizations based on current reality.

I love my dojo brothers dearly, but I do get sick of being the only woman on Monday nights sometimes. Geez, it'd just be nice to have someone to chat with in the dressing room! I think there are a lot of women who could really derive great satisfaction from Aikido, and who could contribute greatly to the art, but they might need a bit more accommodation, encouragement, and nurturing in order to give it a serious go. Offering all women's classes are a great idea toward achieving that end.

Where imbalance exists, it might take some effort directed towards swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction in order to achieve harmony.

My 2 cents as a beginner who might easily have never begun, but who is so glad that she did.

Good luck with your efforts, Jennifer!
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:32 AM   #140
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Sorry for the double-post - but I just realized how very old this thread is! lol - Maybe a good idea to check the date before I post next time.

I'm still interested in the idea of all-womens classses, and how that has gone for others. It's something I have mused about repeatedly as a way to introduce more women to Aikido.

If you're out there: Barbara, I'd like to know the specifics of how bad feelings were created in the dojo by having an all-womens class? What kind of bad feelings and why? It seems to me that if it would work towards the end of getting more people into the dojo, that the class would be a good thing for the dojo. Were there issues about who was using the mat when? Did the guys feel discriminated against? What happened?

I suppose I came far too late to this party, but the subject still interests me; so if anyone else has info or experiences that haven't already been covered in the existing six pages...please enlighten me! Thank You.
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:06 PM   #141
Trish Greene
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I must have been blessed, I started out as the only women in the dojo several years ago and have never had an issue working out with the guys. I only had one case where a kokyo throw banged up my nose a bit ( I am short! He forgot to adjust for height!) but other then that, no real injuries to speak and no "uncomfortable" male/female issues!

There are a lot of ladies who work out at the dojo now! However I have taken about a 4 month break but am looking to get back on the mat soon.

"Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all living things."

Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:47 PM   #142
lbb
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Anita Dacanay wrote: View Post
If you're out there: Barbara, I'd like to know the specifics of how bad feelings were created in the dojo by having an all-womens class? What kind of bad feelings and why? It seems to me that if it would work towards the end of getting more people into the dojo, that the class would be a good thing for the dojo. Were there issues about who was using the mat when? Did the guys feel discriminated against? What happened?
Not Barbara, but here's my observations. IME, almost all men get a little bit weird about a women's class...not necessarily what I'd call "bad feelings", but just...weird. Like, they can't keep from making remarks about being "excluded", even in a joking way...or they ask "So what do you DO anyway?" (oh, we sit around and TALK ABOUT YOU). I don't know, the whole thing seems to have some weird fascination for them, which I sort of understand intellectually and sort of don't get at all. We had no problems with any men seriously alleging discrimination or getting cranky and complainy about it, and they were all supportive of it...but with the majority of the men, this weird thing would still show up from time to time, like they regarded it as somehow strange and alien. No, guys, it's just women doing aikido, that's all.
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Old 03-03-2010, 11:59 AM   #143
Eric Winters
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

I think it depends on the focus of the women's training class. I think it is great to get women more comfortable with training in a MA but after 6 months and if the focus is self defense then they should definitely be in the general class training with men. This is very important because most women get attacked by men. If the focus is not self defense then more power to ya. In the dojos I have been in the men did not have a problem training with women. Probably because I have had three women teachers (Pat Hendricks, Linda Holiday and Kayla Fader)

Best,

Eric Winters
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:20 PM   #144
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Mary - thank you for responding to my query. The "weird" feelings as you describe them seem as though they would be pretty easy to handle. The "bad" feelings that Barbara described seem a bit more intense/difficult than that.

Eric, I agree that women should practice with men from a martial standpoint. But the other side of that coin is that women who have actually been abused or assaulted by men in the past might be able to get a great deal from the practice of Aikido, but may be the very ones who aren't too excited about hopping onto the mat with a bunch of guys they don't know.

I know that one of the gifts I am receiving from Aikido is developing a sense of "owning" my own body and my own energy. A woman who has felt violated/small/weak stands to gain a huge benefit from what Aikido can offer. But only if she is willing to confront her own fear, and only if she has a totally safe and supportive environment in which to confront those fears. For some women that might mean an all-women's class.

P.S. Eric, I was lucky enough to take a class from Kayla Feder recently. She's an inspiration for sure!
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Old 03-05-2010, 08:29 AM   #145
lbb
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Hi Anita: "weird" may even be overstating the case...maybe "puzzling" is a better word, as in, it's a puzzling reaction. It was more a reaction of curiosity, like there had to be something different about a women's class! And of course, there is a difference -- that men aren't present -- but what does that imply about how the class is different? I don't think there is a valid generalization, honestly -- it all comes down to specific situations.

I also wonder if the reaction I'm talking about is nothing more than sincerely well-meaning men asking themselves if they are the source of a problem. I wonder if a women's class makes these men ask themselves if they're doing something to make it difficult or challenging for women to train. In the case of the men I'm thinking of, I'd say the answer is, "No, not really" -- but I can understand how asking yourself that question would not be a comfortable thing.
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Old 03-05-2010, 10:45 AM   #146
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Heh, none of the GOOD questions are comfortable.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:34 PM   #147
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Mary, I understand what you are saying, and I think it is clear from the responses in this thread that the very idea of a women's class sparks a lot of questioning and some discomfort for a lot of people. All the more reason why I think it is an important discussion.

Ron - I tend to agree!
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:05 PM   #148
phitruong
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Heh, none of the GOOD questions are comfortable.

Best,
Ron
you meant "no good questions are comfortable"

personally, i am very comfortable with uncomfortable questions and you should too, for example,

are you good or evil? answer: yes
are you a man or a woman? answer: yes
are you wearing skirt or pant? answer: yes
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:02 PM   #149
Barbara Knapp
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Hi Anita,
Its been awhile, and I can't find my original post, but I think I meant just about what you and Mary have described - just imagine how you might feel if some men decided to take a class night to have a class where men could just train with each other and not have to deal with women. Losing a night, feeling excluded, feeling put down perhaps...even if it were not because " some men are afraid of (don't like) women" which might not be an easy thing to hear and accept. (I do understand there is a difference between the two situations, you don't have to tell me.) I think all-women's classes can be valuable. They were for me when I started. I am wary of them because I have come to believe that anything that creates divisions in a dojo that is avoidable is best avoided. That would include failing to invite everybody around when going out after class, it doesn't have to be something deep: but that's another topic. Starting a women's class because women at a dojo are already uncomfortable is I think problematic - and makes more discomfort in the long run. Starting one to help women who are afraid to start make a beginning might be a good idea, if the whole dojo is in support of it and it doesn't become a separate track long term. But in any case different situations call for different solutions, and my experience may not apply to your situation at all.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:44 PM   #150
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Re: Starting an all-women's class

Quote:
Barbara Knapp wrote: View Post
Starting a women's class because women at a dojo are already uncomfortable is I think problematic - and makes more discomfort in the long run.
I can think of several reasons why women already at a dojo might be uncomfortable training in classes with men...but honestly, I can't think of any reasons that would best be addressed by a women's class.
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