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Old 12-08-2011, 09:43 PM   #26
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism.
It doesn't necessarily mean the sexism isn't real, but sometimes the cure is the same anyway. Not always -- some things are better fought by confronting them directly. But other times the best is to pursue your own goals relentlessly and let others think or not think what they may.
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:25 PM   #27
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
Actually I think it's quite naturally that women and men are treated differently in the aikido dojo. We don't treat the sexes the same in normal life. That's in our culture.
Then it's NOT natural, it's cultural. As a great many reprehensible practices are also cultural, I don't think the fact that something is a cultural practice means that it's good, right, or not subject to question or challenge.
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:27 PM   #28
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
The respect must be earned; it is not automatically attached to any particular rank.
And is disrespect the same? Or is it automatic, if one is of the wrong gender?

Can't have it both ways...
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Old 12-09-2011, 03:32 PM   #29
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
It doesn't necessarily mean the sexism isn't real, but sometimes the cure is the same anyway.
The cure for what, though? That's where this thread has wandered off. Many suggestions are being made, but which problem are they solving, exactly?
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:08 PM   #30
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I can only speak to my own comment, but I meant the two problems of the effect other people's lack of respect has on you personally, and the actual lack of respect itself.

In my experience both are SOMETIMES (not always) dealt with well by ignoring other people and going for your own goals (in this case working as hard as you can to be as good as you can -- not specifically 'to gain people's respect', but just to be good. Though it may have the side effect of gaining people's respect, sometimes more effectively than more direct measures of insisting on respect).

Of course it depends what the actual problems are, how they are affecting you, how much they're practically blocking you from achieving your goals, all kinds of things....
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:16 PM   #31
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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That's where this thread has wandered off. Many suggestions are being made, but which problem are they solving, exactly?
Wandered off from where, though, exactly? I wasn't aware anyone was actually trying to 'solve' someone's 'problem'. I thought we were just having a conversation and sharing thoughts and experiences.

As per the original post:
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Anyone else out there feel that way? I'm curious.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:18 PM   #32
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
I can only speak to my own comment, but I meant the two problems of the effect other people's lack of respect has on you personally, and the actual lack of respect itself.
The context was Szczepan's response to OP, which began as follows:

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

OP responded:

"I understand I did not put much detail in my original post, but its rather odd you assume that I'm not working hard rather than the chance there could be sexism."

So, that raises the question: just what are we curing, anyway? And doesn't that hinge on whether the sexism in question is real or, as Szczepan put it, "hypothetical"? In the general sense, I'm sure the problem could be defined as "crappy training experience", but the cure depends on the cause.

I'm of two minds about the advice to ignore other people and go for your own goals. On the one hand, you can't force a bigot to abandon his stupid bigotries. On the other hand, just how much aikido can you do while "ignoring other people"? Partner practice is essential, and if your dojo is full of people who won't be good partners to you, for whatever reason, you can't exactly "go for your own goals" in that situation.

There's also the consideration of whether it makes sense to accept such a situation and stay in it. If you're a woman living in a world where every aikido dojo is sexist, and you want to train, you might as well suck up the bullshit ripoff hypocritical twice-the-work-for-half-the-credit crap at your present dojo as anywhere else. But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:27 AM   #33
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?
/salutes such sentiments, with the flag of your choice rippling in the background.
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Old 12-10-2011, 07:40 AM   #34
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?
hey, those bullshits are good shits. great for roses, nice blossoms and prickly thorns.

"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 12-10-2011, 07:07 PM   #35
Basia Halliop
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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I'm of two minds about the advice to ignore other people and go for your own goals. On the one hand, you can't force a bigot to abandon his stupid bigotries. On the other hand, just how much aikido can you do while "ignoring other people"? Partner practice is essential, and if your dojo is full of people who won't be good partners to you, for whatever reason, you can't exactly "go for your own goals" in that situation.
That's why I said sometimes... The biggest time ignoring other people's ATTITUDES (not other people) is likely to help you, IMO, is when the problems they are posing aren't really practical, but psychological, e.g., when you start believing them, or when you feel like you want those people to admire you.

Quote:
There's also the consideration of whether it makes sense to accept such a situation and stay in it. If you're a woman living in a world where every aikido dojo is sexist, and you want to train, you might as well suck up the bullshit ripoff hypocritical twice-the-work-for-half-the-credit crap at your present dojo as anywhere else. But we don't live in such a world, and there are plenty of dojos that aren't like that. Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?
Well sure, but she said that she had no intention of leaving and basically liked where she was. From that I took it that she wanted to stay and deal with it and that she was more venting than anything.

Quote:
Given that that's the case, is the best advice to knuckle under and accept the situation -- or is it to ease on down the road to somewhere where you can train without that bullshit on your back?
FWIW, I don't think anyone should 'knuckle under and accept the situation', though I suppose I can see how what I said would sound like that. By all means keep trying to change things, especially things that are in your way (and of course that includes changing dojos if that's what's in your way or if it serves you better) -- but know at the same time that their opinions don't matter.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 12-10-2011 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:03 AM   #36
susanmarie
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example. People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank. And most of all, people act like I am going to break. Hilarious really, since I'm just as tall as the average man with a muscular build; I'm not skinny in the least.
You know your dojo better than I, but with specific respect to the ukemi, you may get somewhere by asking, respectfully, "I noticed that you tend to call other people a lot more than you call me for ukemi. What do I need to do to improve my ukemi so that I can be called up more?"

Again, with regards to the "acting like you're going to break", you may have good results by saying "I'd like to work on taking falls from a little harder throw; would you mind?"
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:00 PM   #37
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Susan Ficken wrote: View Post
Again, with regards to the "acting like you're going to break", you may have good results by saying "I'd like to work on taking falls from a little harder throw; would you mind?"
It can also help to point out that being indecisive about the throw actually makes the ukemi more difficult. The throw doesn't need to be "hard," but it does need to be firm.

Katherine
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Old 12-11-2011, 04:16 PM   #38
Hanna B
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Then it's NOT natural, it's cultural. As a great many reprehensible practices are also cultural, I don't think the fact that something is a cultural practice means that it's good, right, or not subject to question or challenge.
We're digressing... but it is natural to have a culture. "Natural" does not equal "good". Not having any cultural patterns affecting our actions would be... impossible. Artificial.

I'm just saying it isn't strange that these things happen.
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:10 PM   #39
lbb
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Well sure, but she said that she had no intention of leaving and basically liked where she was. From that I took it that she wanted to stay and deal with it and that she was more venting than anything.
That's true, and I think that this thread has provided a lot of good, practical strategies for dealing with it. None from me! My senseis are married, he's a rokudan, she's a yondan, and they have three daughters and no sons. So, women aren't exactly marginalized in our dojo
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Old 12-12-2011, 12:51 PM   #40
Michael Neal
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I am not sure how guys laughing together coming out of the dressing room is somehow sexist, is it possible you are being ultra sensitive?
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:10 PM   #41
Janet Rosen
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
It can also help to point out that being indecisive about the throw actually makes the ukemi more difficult. The throw doesn't need to be "hard," but it does need to be firm.

Katherine
VERY true. The first time I did a perfect breakfall was because I was put there. No fear, no pressure, just....there....

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:23 PM   #42
RoisinPitman
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I am the female founder of my own dojo (1987) in Jersey, Channel Islands and currently hold the rank of Godan. I have quite a few females in the club and the guys treat them with respect as aikidoka and as people. Maybe they think that the 'nasty, horrible' woman at the head of the class might deal with them accordingly.

None of my girls have any problems training with the men.
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Old 12-12-2011, 04:14 PM   #43
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
VERY true. The first time I did a perfect breakfall was because I was put there. No fear, no pressure, just....there....
Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine
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Old 12-12-2011, 04:15 PM   #44
kewms
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Michael Neal wrote: View Post
I am not sure how guys laughing together coming out of the dressing room is somehow sexist, is it possible you are being ultra sensitive?
It's not sexist, but it can cause one to feel left out and isolated. I think that's what the OP had in mind.

Katherine
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Old 12-12-2011, 04:30 PM   #45
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine
ya know uke can choose what kind of fall they take a large part of the time. Iv'e shocked the snot out of my training partners on more than one occasion by taking a breakfall out of his throw rather than the expected roll. My particular favorite is to take them off of the end of the jo, in jo tori kokyunage.

We don't really do a lot of breakfall practice in my dojo but I enjoy taking a few now and then so I just go ahead and take them. Of course when I want that I go find a training partner that I know will thrown me with a lot of energy.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:28 AM   #46
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Which reminds me of a vicious circle that can happen with ukemi. Nage throws me in a way that doesn't require a breakfall, so I don't breakfall. This causes nage to conclude (incorrectly) that I *can't* breakfall. Which causes nage to throw me as if he's afraid I'll break. And so my ukemi looks tentative because I'm not sure where nage is trying to send me. Which makes nage's throws even more tentative... Sigh...

Katherine
I ca'e see where is a problem? Ask Nake to throw you for breakfall and that's it. So simple.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:50 AM   #47
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote:
The thing is though, we get treated a hell of a lot differently. Our experience isn't that much different (he has a few months on me) yet I get treated with a lot less...respect I dare say. I'm rarely called up for ukemi for example.
That is another illusion. Respect is not displayed by calling up for ukemi. It is some kind of the myth created artificially may be for political reasons.
On fact some ppl are NOT called up for ukemi, cos instructor is not able to throw them!!!

We should not even use term 'taking ukemi', instead we should use 'attacking instructor'. These tow terms representing two very different particular states of mind. First one is a caracteristic for 'trained uke' whose goal is to show in good light instructor. That of course has nothing to do with Budo.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:34 PM   #48
phitruong
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

being the only male in the mostly male dojo, i don't feel sexist; although, i do feel sexyist at time.
*queue music
i am too sexy for my gi
too sexy for my gi
too sexy that it hurts.
i am ....

now with feeling*

back to the regular schedule of gender differential treatment

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 12-15-2011, 07:03 AM   #49
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Phi, are you the only person in your dojo?....to bad all that good stuff goes to waste.

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Old 01-19-2012, 02:16 PM   #50
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

This is an article I wrote back in 2005. I think it's relevant...

Quote:
Martial arts have traditionally been the domain of the strong male. Despite the stories of mythic woman warriors who rode with the boys and fought alongside them as equals and even superiors, this was always the exception rather than the rule. Samurai women were taught to protect themselves and their families yet how many of us can name any of these fighting women? No, it's pretty much a boys club and the few females who get let in are the ones able to play as the boys do.
There are probably more women doing Aikido on a percentage basis than any other martial art, although that would be just a guess, I have never seen figures on this. Despite their wide participation, which goes back to the early days in the 1930's in Aikido's development, women are notoriously absent from positions of prominence in Aikido. I know of no female instructors who have regularly taught at the Aikikai Honbu Dojo. In it's hard to find any woman acting in the capacity of dojo cho in Japan, regardless of what organization one is referring to.
The contribution of the wives of the prominent instructors are sometimes alluded to when the Shihan recount their young days as uchideshi but then only in reference to their caretaking roles even though many of these wives trained as well. One almost never hears reference to women in terms of their skill on the mat.
Not until one leaves Japan does one encounter significant female presence in the ranks of those teaching the art. But even overseas, the leadership of virtually all Aikido organizations is almost entirely male. Woman may have significant responsibility, and in fact be indispensable to the various organizations, but their efforts are largely in support of the male leadership of these organizations.
I believe that Aikido should be different. I think that few would maintain that its raison d'etre is imparting fighting skills to the public yet we continuously use a performance standard which places, not just women, but the less athletic, and the elderly of both sexes at a disadvantage when compared with the young male practitioners of the art.
Recently a book on Aikido appeared in which the author, a senior Aikido practitioner, stated that any fourth kyu male in his dojo could take any woman in Aikido in a fight. The sheer lack of sensitivity it took to make such a statement tends to hide the fact that it also shows a complete misunderstanding of what Aikido is all about.
First of all, Aikido is not a combat art as normally taught. The techniques of our art are derived from a system which was taught to members of the samurai class and only make real sense when considered, not as a comprehensive empty-hand fighting system, but as part of a wider system which assumed that both the practitioner and his enemy were armed. When the equalizing effects of weaponry is removed as a factor, a distinct advantage is had by the student who is more physically powerful and can over power his adversary. This advantage exists until the opponent reaches a very high level of technical skill at which time attempts to use that type of physical power would no longer have any advantage but would rather be a detriment to the strong but not as skilled practitioner. If one were to look at Aikido from a true combat standpoint in which the practitioners were armed there would be a great equalizing factor between men and women and pure physical power would be secondary to smooth and quick movement and an understanding of openings.
Since normal practice of Aikido is done empty handed (unless one is doing actual weapons training), a distinct advantage is had by those of larger stature and more aggressive disposition in terms of overcoming their partners. The problem here is, of course, that Aikido isn't primarily about overcoming one's partner. Masakatsu Agatsu is the term the Founder used to describe the point of Aikido training. "True Victory is Self Victory" is clearly not about how to defeat some outside enemy but rather it's about dealing with our own internal demons. When O-Sensei said Aikido is the True Budo, he didn't mean that Aikido was the most bad-assed fighting system. He meant that Aikido was, in his mind, the fullest expression of the aspect of Budo which teaches us how to live fully, to see ourselves as caretakers rather than destroyers.
The Dan system was originally set up in an attempt to assure that a certain quality level was maintained in the art. The real problem with this was that the system tended to focus on only one set of criteria, the technical, martial side of the art has been greatly favored over other factors and not to the overall benefit of the art. We are all familiar, I am sure with various high-level teachers who, while having a certain relatively high level of technical expertise and martial ferocity in no way embody the basic values which we would like to incorporate into our lives. Just as in the case of measuring intelligence in which the focus on the IQ has given way to a recognition that there are actually multiple types of intelligence and that a given individual could excel in one and be quite ordinary in another, our Aikido hierarchy needs to better reflect the different contributions one can make in an art which has so many facets.
I met a woman just recently who had started Aikido well after her fiftieth birthday. She has now been training for well over ten years and feels that Aikido has changed her life. In an Aikido world which only values strength of technique and difficult ukemi this person has no real status. Yet her age, while making it difficult to train as physically as the young folks do, gives such a depth to her practice that she is in a position to address in a meaningful way all sort of folks for whom instruction from someone like myself would have less relevance.
There are all sorts of Aikido teachers out there who are quite capable of going toe to toe with some hypothetical aggressor but who lack the ability to speak in any meaningful way to the hearts of a group of students whose needs don't really encompass daily requirements for self defense techniques. There are a quite large and growing number of teachers who, while not being terribly interested in the martial application side of the art, are taking technique into whole new realms of exploration and can provide great insight into the connection between physical technique and the spiritual side of the practice. Many of these teachers are female instructors who have run dojos for years and have a tremendous depth of teaching experience, often bringing students into the art who would never have been interested in training in the more macho world of traditional martial arts including much Aikido.
This is not to say that there aren't women who have successfully gone toe to toe with the men in their training and succeeded. Virginia Mahew, Pat Hendricks, Mary Heiny, Lorraine Dianne, Patty Saotome, etc. all managed to get ahead in the male dominated hierarchy of Aikido. But this shouldn't be how we measure success. Women should not have to measure their worth according to their ability to be "like the guys." To insist on this is to place only secondary emphasis on the contributions which they make well in excess of what their male counter parts often make.
It has been my experience that women are generally more interested in the social/relational aspects of the art than in the martial. The community bond between dojo members is often created more through the efforts of a group of female students within a dojo than by those of the men. It has been my experience that the women within a dojo are far better at nurturing students who are emotionally damaged or are physically less confident.
In the absence of a different way of recognizing the wide-ranging nature of accomplishments and contributions, the Dan system should be administered in such a way that equal recognition is given to those that are contributing to the growth of the art in any such substantial way. The female instructors who have well over thirty years of experience in both training and teaching but who still find themselves down a rank or two below their equally experienced male counter parts should be brought up to parity. There should be more female instructors on the seminar circuit. The high-level teachers should go out of their way to include senior females as well as males as ukes. It makes a strong and very public statement about the support they can expect from their organizations.
No more should we encounter the dojo which places the male students at the top of the technical and hierarchical heap while the women, all ranked in the second tier, do all of the organizational and administrative work thereby actually keeping the school going for the men. No more should we recognize the accomplishments of women only to the extent that they resemble those of the men but also for the unique contributions they can make which perhaps most of the men can't or won't.
Aikido must be inclusive to accomplish what the Founder saw as its essential mission of bringing people together. People may have exceptional talents teaching children, they may be exceptionally nurturing to those of us who have been damaged in various ways. We will find those individuals who have great insight into the spiritual side of the art and they may not be the ones who are best able to show how to handle a roundhouse kick to the head. Instructors should make it a priority to create a new generation of instructors both male and female, young and old, who are empowered to make their own explorations of what Aikido can become and our organizations should support these teachers in following their visions. It is only by doing this that Aikido can grow in such a way that it is both inclusive and has the elements which a widely divergent group of practitioners requires.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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