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Old 04-17-2012, 07:46 AM   #101
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,806
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
before you say it, yes men have those injuries too... (smile)...I just think we have unique strengths that should be encouraged and brought out more.
I don't think that we, categorically, have anything (strengths, weaknesses, skills or color preferences) -- and the more that we, the human species, keep thinking "men are like this and women are like that, men are good at this and women are good at that", the more we limit what we -- as men, women, individuals and as a species -- are capable of.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:55 AM   #102
Meggy Gurova
Dojo: Chowa
Location: Sofia
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 50
Bulgaria
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Hi Lynn,
Im happy things are getting better for you. When I first read your first posting I was surprized because it was something I could have written 11 years ago!
Its sad some things doesnt change. But at the same time Im glad to see improvement of the thinking of the people that write answers. Of course not the same people but still that shows me we are going in the right direction!
I cant share my experience how I resolved my problem because of my 11 years of training I have moved around and changed around 10 dojos including one dojo of my own.
I have seen that moving to a new dojo is like starting a new job or something else where you have to make a new impression. I had to show everybody including the sensei how I should be treated.
In different dojos there are different ways of choosing uke. Some teachers use everybody once, others everybody from the advanced once, others use their favorites and other unfortunately only male favorites. You can not change a person and the same goes to teachers. You can not change their way of teaching and choosing ukes. But of course you can increase the times being uke by learning more about ukemi and all the other things people mentioned as advise in this thread.
I started trining in Sweden and there you have white belt until you get your hakama at 3 kyu and then black belt and hakama. On my first seminars I cloud observe how after the sensei showing the technique people fast choose partner and being a female white belt I was last to be chosen. Of course the black belts goes first, then the hakamas then the males then the females of the whites. Of course when I got my hakama I was not the last to be chosen and so on... Its so sad
Many thanks for the inspiring replies in this thread!
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:02 AM   #103
Meggy Gurova
Dojo: Chowa
Location: Sofia
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.
Oh yeah
after 11 years of training there are still male newbes that are eager to show me how to do the techniques...
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:20 AM   #104
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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

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

Sensei wants to borrow it next time he goes out to teach a seminar. So, next time you go see some dude teaching for the weekend, if he's got a pink belt on, you'll know who I train with.
Dear Krystal/Janet,
Order me a gross of the Pink obi.Any lilac ones?Wearing a natty coloured belt might have me modelling on a catwalk in Paris?I picked the two colours since both highlight my receding silver locks.
Black obi/blue /black hakama /white gi are so retro , slightly boring/reminiscent of Chairman Mao and his pals, do'nt you think??? cheers, Joseph and his Amazing Off White Gi.-the musical.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:17 PM   #105
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
People always assume (within the same kyu rank) that the males have senority over me- even if they JUST got promoted to that rank.
*nod*

I recognise that. And it got me thinking.

So if there were no ranks. Then maybe a male would be assumed to have seniority over the femal unless she's super-duper-obvious very superior?

What if that's how it actually works in real world. At least in some aspects and areas of life.

(Hi Meggy!)
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:03 PM   #106
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Quote:
Hanna Bjrk wrote: View Post
So if there were no ranks. Then maybe a male would be assumed to have seniority over the femal unless she's super-duper-obvious very superior?

What if that's how it actually works in real world. At least in some aspects and areas of life.
In my experience, this is true in a number of areas where there's a stereotype of gender-associated abilities. In technology, this was and is still true -- I used to say to friends that a man claims he's an expert in TCP/IP if he can tell you what the letters stand for, while a woman isn't considered an expert unless she can quote the RFC and tell you the packet format of every protocol in the stack. In other martial arts, I've seen beginner men instruct senior women, disparage their competencies -- the "huh, well that wouldn't work in a REAL fight" is perhaps the most frequent retort to being on the receiving end of an effective technique (with the subtext, "...and of course, since I'm male, I know how to fight!"). These are also the same guys that can never resist wandering over to the heavy bag and punching it as hard as they can. Then we get to see how stone-faced they can be, and how fast a wrist can swell up.

Summary: there's definitely a strong positive correlation between believing a lot of silly crap about other people and their abilities, and believing a lot of silly crap about yourself and your abilities.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:02 PM   #107
chubbycubbysmash
Dojo: Long Island Aikikai (Bay Shore)
Location: New York
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

Wow, this is an interesting thread... I really enjoyed reading a lot of the responses because I've often noticed a difference.

I'm currently the only female practitioner at my dojo, and for the most part, I find that people are much more delicate with me, and are better at being sensitive uke when they're my partner than when they are other's. I get used as an example based on my size and gender a LOT, which can be annoying at times but I think its good the sensei at our school are very focused on being sensitive uke and nage. Most of the time I hear:

'She's short, so you need to bend your knees more. Otherwise you're not actually doing the technique, you're just pulling her around..'
'Because she's so light, it's easy to pull her around with force rather than technique, so you need to be careful not to just use force.'
'I like practicing with her because I have to be sensitive to how I'm actually doing the technique because it's easier to make her fall with force alone.'

When it comes to doing more ukemi centric techniques, I often help demonstrate because I can follow very well. But when it's for real demonstrations that the men want to, I guess you can call it 'show off', they will always pick the biggest and the strongest person who falls the loudest because I think they think it looks cool. I don't mind so much, as everyone has their strengths and weaknesses--I wouldn't use a screwdriver to try and hammer in a nail.

And then on the flip side, the sensei would often tell me 'you need to get the technique down precise, because you will never win with force alone.' 'It's harder on you because you're a girl and you don't have the muscle to back it up, so you will have to get the technique down pat so no one will be able to question your rank or skill.'

It's hard, when you're held to a different standard, and often it frustrates me. It's so easy for someone to stop my technique if I'm not in the absolute correct position, and sometimes they do it on purpose but I wouldn't be able to stop them for the life of me because they would just add more muscle. I guess what bothers me most is my own limitations, not how others treat me.

Anyway, I thought this topic was really awesome, and brought to light the differences that exist between men and women, especially in martial arts.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:57 AM   #108
"Anony Mouse"
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Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

From my experiences as a woman who trained in a couple of all male schools, I think that how men train with and treat women really depends on the personality and atmosphere of the particular school and the individual men who are attracted to that atmosphere. Also, and I think this is true of women too in their own way, men can act differently as individuals than they do as a pack. You know, the pack mentality. Guys who treat a woman decently when they're outside a group can act very differently when surrounded by other guys.

One school I trained at for several years was like a boys club. They were safe to train with for the most part, but when it came to the before class and after class chitchat or any kind of camaraderie they completely blew me off. Even the instructor who normally was very nice to me when no one else was around would change totally when surrounded by his guys. They would lock eyes with each other and talk talk talk right past, around and through me and never included me in their conversations. But if I didn't sit right there and listen, if I started packing up my gi and gear to head home after class, they got mad at me and said I wasn't being sociable! I thought at first that it was because I was a noob and that in time I would be included. But that never happened and after a couple of years things were the same.

It was crazy and very hurtful. Eventually and unfortunately, instead of confronting it head on I let it affect my attitude and training. My relationship to the instructor, students and school went into a downward spiral. I didn't know how to address that at the time though now I have more insight and would handle it differently. I'm not as timid now as I was then and I would have been more forthright with them about what was going on with us.
Maybe we could have worked it out, maybe not. But at least I would have tried without forcing myself to be someone I'm not. But back then I just let my feelings get hurt and that would make them even angrier. They eventually implied I should leave because I wasn't a good fit with them. From their point of view I was the badguy disrupting the harmony of the school. I was sad but what could I do? I really liked the training, but at the time I thought it would be futile to try to change the opinons of men who at heart resented having their sacred space invaded by a woman who could not make herself be like a man to fit in.

Another school was entirely different. It also was all men and I was the sole woman, but they were much more inclusive. People actually said hello, how are you, before class! The whole atmosphere was devoid of drama. Everyone just wanted to train and after class chat generally focused on training and friendly banter that included anyone who wanted to contribute. As a noob I politely kept quiet and listened to all their stories. But as time went by and I was a regular, they started including me in the conversations. We didn't have to be buddies, but their inclusiveness has made me feel like a legitimate member of the school and a respected classmate. I am still training at that school and have found in it a sanctuary where I can work hard and improve my aikido and myself without any drama and personality games. And I am always mindful to reach out to newcomers so they too will feel welcome. A little compassion and friendliness go a long way!
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Old 05-15-2012, 03:49 AM   #109
"passingthrough"
IP Hash: 7d142fa1
Anonymous User
Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo

I found this a very interesting thread to read as I have concerns about joining my local dojo, but I appear to have them for different reasons. I will be brand new to aikido although have formerly trained in judo where I was the only female in an all male group. I am hoping my breakfalls come in handy as my experience of judo was that the men really didn't go easy on you just for being a girl. I am pretty sure I hit the mats at high speed a good few dozen times a lesson and there was almost a queue for me as a partner. Why? Because I was light, fast moving and more flexible and hence trickier to pin. Most of the blackbelts saw that as a commodity and were happy to train with me. I had to get technique more accurate on them as most of the men were around twice my weight and brute force wasn't an option. Several of them commented that they had to concentrate on throwing me with more precision as I started to find that the harder I was thrown by some men the more time I had to think of a better way to land or roll to take back control.

Judo is not aikido. I get that. I didn't like the competitive nature of judo and the obsession with progression. Being the only girl in my local group and one of 4 in my region made gradings difficult, but I was happy to just learn technique rather than get a rainbow of waist accessorites.

The group that I had joined had problems which is why I stopped going. Problems? There's only so much a girl can take of men who only ask to partner so that they get to grapple with them and try make sexual remarks. Men twice my age regularly made comments like "bet you like getting pinned" which I really didn't need. I also suffered from brand new males trying to teach me technique. I'm all for the theory that even the wisest master can learn from the new student, but it was patronising machismo at its worst. I tried to bring it up with senior members and was literally told to "man up". No joke. It was apparent that simple communication couldn't fix the issue so I left and intended to find a new class. Life got in the way of that happening and in the interim I have met someone who enjoyed aikido and from his description it's the martial art I was actually looking for. Interestingly my local dojo is comprised of only 10 members (all male) and when I phoned the sensei to enquire he was over the moon that a female wanted to join the class as "there's so much everyone can learn from women".

Ah, breakfalls. How I've missed you.....
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