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Old 07-26-2002, 02:51 PM   #1
Deb Fisher
Join Date: Mar 2002
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Women's Classes

As long as the Jewish Issue forum has everyone riled up...

Do you support women's classes or not?

I understand why they exist - women are not socialized to be comfortable with conflict - especially not physical conflict. It would be comforting to learn how to fight with a bunch of other people who find conflict similarly bizzare/terrifying/new. Besides, learning "masculine" tasks in a male-dominated environment often involves this (usually internal, sometimes external) pressure to excel in order to prove that it's okay to be there. Learning aikido in this high-stakes way really sucks - I've been there! When every small success or failure is either affirming or denying the very validity of your practice, it's really hard to learn. There is no denying that women's classes would take away that intense pressure to prove oneself.

That said, I'm really glad my dojo doesn't offer women's classes. As a sculptor (Colleen - the only group more macho than fighter pilots and surgeons I think may be sculptors!), I feel like I've been beating my head against the performance pressure I described above for more than a decade. Aikido gave me the first opportunity to really deal with the issue rather than live with the pressure, first because it was immediately obvious that I wasn't going to quickly master everything and outperform my male training partners, and secondly because I was supposedly there to have fun.

This process hurt quite a bit and was very very hard, but I learned how to fail at something I really cared about, in an environment I viewed as very high-stakes. Of course, the value of this is indescribable! I feel fifty pounds lighter, my art's gotten a lot better, I am a nicer person to be around.

I wouldn't have gotten this challenge from a women's class. Besides, I think dividing the sexes does more harm than good in general - it perpetuates the idea that we are so different that we are incapable of working together.

I could go on and on, but I do have to get back to work now. What say you all?

Thanks,
Deb

Deb Fisher
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Old 07-26-2002, 03:36 PM   #2
Nacho_mx
Dojo: Federación Mexicana de Aikido
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And how about childrens or seniors classes? I would favor special classes for specific demographics in an introductory basis, specially if the dojo is trying to promote the art and increase participation. However at some point general classes should be integrated, regardless of gender, age or skill level.
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Old 07-26-2002, 07:53 PM   #3
Kat.C
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I think these types of classes would be okay as long as you didn't have to be in one if you wished to be in the regular class. Except for children, I think they should be in a separate class. I like that our dojo has adult and childrens classes, though there is one kid who is permitted to come to the adult class sometimes,just for the first hour though, and he is quite good.

Can't say I feel the need to excel because men are there, good thing too, because it certainly isn't happening.

Kat

I find the aquisition of knowledge to be relatively easy, it is the application that is so difficult.
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Old 07-26-2002, 09:20 PM   #4
guest1234
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I like Ignatio's idea, that they are OK to have, as long as students are eventually 'main lined' into regular classes, the analogy of a beginners class is a good one. As long as women aren't required to attend it.

Like Deb and Kat, I wouldn't have chosen to attend one, but I do understand why we need them (and not a guys class): where I work, we have a large number of very intelligent, very VERY introverted people. The most socially inept among them are the males (sorry, but true), great theoretic mathmeticians, but not totally socialized. Employee assistance offers a group for them on how to socialize, nick named among some as the 'shy-guy' group. A similar group for women is not offered, as it is not needed.

Women not only face the obstacles in MA that Deb noted, but also have to contend with most men assuming they are better than the women, and I think every female can tell endless tales of men who are SO not better insisting on 'teaching' them something. It is so common I no longer am shocked when I see a very new beginner male telling a female yudansha she's not doing it right. I have seen males tell females who are actually doing it correctly (or very close, anyway) to do it a different, much more incorrect way, and 'prove' they (the male) is right by using their sheer size to prevent the female from moving though the technique (unless she realizes what they are up to and modify the technique as necessary), while the guy 'proves' he is right by muscling her. Sad. But true. I think, depending on the female, and on the kind of guys in the dojo, female classes help the women get to the point where they can tell when it is male ego talking, and confident enough in their own ability to ignore it.
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Old 07-26-2002, 09:30 PM   #5
Edward
Location: Bangkok
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I believe the Aikikai Hombu Dojo offers women classes and children classes. Women are allowed though to regular classes, but not the children obviously. Which means we men have no exclusive classes for us. Which probably means that we are the most open minded, and we are willing to practice with every body
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Old 07-26-2002, 10:59 PM   #6
Nacho_mx
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Indeed Hombu Dojo has separate women classes (Tuesday and Thursday 6-7 p.m.) and women´s special courses (Tuesday and Friday 10:30-11:30 a.m.)along with regular classes (open to everybody except children, however some preteens usually show up), beginners classes and childrens classes.
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Old 07-27-2002, 08:38 AM   #7
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Women's Classes

Quote:
Deb Fisher wrote:
Do you support women's classes or not?
Nope.

Chuck

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Old 07-30-2002, 07:50 AM   #8
Genex
 
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Smile

I think its very important that women train with men, for three reasons.

1. train with men and you will be used to dealing with excessivly hairy/sweaty looking urang-utans who have intentions of hitting or hurting you therefore when attacked by a man it will be LESS of a shock.

2. How many women do you know walk around parks at night jumping single men? I(Scary if you do and do you have the address )

3. Equality.

right now i'm off to make fun of women for an hour or so in order to prove my manhood or something like that (then get beaten up by the wife)

pete

like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. - The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy on the Pan-galactic Gargleblaster!
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Old 07-30-2002, 09:42 AM   #9
ChristianBoddum
 
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Hi !

I'm no physician but I've heard that when women are oggulating (?) their bonestructure

is more vonurable and therefore some caution

must be on this while training hard.

Yours - Chr.B.
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Old 07-30-2002, 10:38 AM   #10
Sherman Byas
Dojo: Anshindokan Dojo
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I've never heard anything about being cautious during ovulation. One of the yudansha at our dojo is and OB/GYN (delivered my son) and the only precaution he mentions concerns pregnancy. Post partum Aikido is done after the six/eight weeks and she can do a few set of situps. If she gets tired she takes a break. We have to respect that. We better!

I think the women's intro that feeds into the general class is a pretty good option. I mean, be real it, is a martial art and women are much more likely to be attacked than us guys. So ladies, get your feet wet, then come on in!
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Old 08-05-2002, 10:57 PM   #11
Deb Fisher
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Is it such a good idea to have a women's class that feeds into the regular class?

Or does that just encourage treating men and women (especially brittle, 'oggulating' women) differently?

Why cater to these differences (which in my opinion are all socialized) when they do nothing but separate us from eachother?

Deb Fisher
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Old 08-05-2002, 11:01 PM   #12
Deb Fisher
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Oh, duh, quick clarification:

When I say that the differences between men and women are socialized, I don't mean that in a total way. I am fully ready to admit that men have greater muscle mass, that women have more stamina but can lift less mass, that we have different centers of gravity, that we are built for different reproductive purposes, that women have less testosterone (on average) than men, etc.

What I mean is that those biological differences don't really explain a lot of cultural differences that are more about socialization. Why not focus on ways in which we are similar, human?

Deb Fisher
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Old 08-05-2002, 11:20 PM   #13
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
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Re: Women's Classes

Quote:
Deb Fisher wrote:
...

Do you support women's classes or not?

...

Besides, learning "masculine" tasks in a male-dominated environment often involves this ...pressure to excel in order to prove that it's okay to be there. Learning aikido in this high-stakes way really sucks - I've been there! When every small success or failure is either affirming or denying the very validity of your practice, it's really hard to learn. There is no denying that women's classes would take away that intense pressure to prove oneself.

That said, I'm really glad my dojo doesn't offer women's classes. As a sculptor ...I feel like I've been beating my head against the performance pressure I described above for more than a decade. Aikido gave me the first opportunity to really deal with the issue rather than live with the pressure, first because it was immediately obvious that I wasn't going to quickly master everything and outperform my male training partners, and secondly because I was supposedly there to have fun.

...Besides, I think dividing the sexes does more harm than good in general - it perpetuates the idea that we are so different that we are incapable of working together.

...
Hello Deb

I can only speak from personal experience. I generally agree with with Mr Chuck Gordon's views.

Some of the female aikidoka at one of the dojos that I train at have made similar comments to me. The Sensei/Shidoin encourages people to learn at their own pace.

The dojos that I train at do not have separate womens' classes. At both dojos the Sensei/Shidoin enforces a strict rule of no teaching by the mundansha when training and yundansha may instruct with Sensei's/Shidoin's permission. It is the role of all senior students (sempais) to ensure that students give proper respect and deference to their roles as tori/nage and uke to faciliate effective, harmonious and joyous training by setting an example for other people in the dojo. This means putting aside their egos regardless of whether you are yudansha or not. My sensei sees this as very important and a sign of a "good" dojo.

I guess the implicit ethos (not stated but I think practiced) within the dojos that I train at we are all aikidoka wanting to learn and improve irrespective of what gender we are.

I agree with your final comment about not segregating the genders.

Happy training

Last edited by MaylandL : 08-05-2002 at 11:26 PM.

Mayland
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Old 08-06-2002, 07:44 PM   #14
Kevin Leavitt
 
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My personal philosophy is to not have separate classes.

I teach a youth martial arts program with at risk youth and was asked if I wanted to have a separate class for girls and boys. Reasoning was that the boys would intimidate the girls and disrupt the learning with all the grabbing and emotions and stuff.

I said NO. I prefer to have them work together.

I know there is a bunch of talk about single sex education in the media and all....don't really know where I stand on that in schools. (I home school for many reason the why we even need to consider single sex education in first place!)

Back to the topic...

But my philosophy is that my job as an instructor is to help them deal with the differences between boys and girls and to help them figure out how to respect each other etc, etc.

Having separate classes in my opinion avoids the whole reason we train to begin with!

That said, in my macho, rough tough karate, saturday training days at the dojo...we typically have all guys (women are welcome though and my wife used to mix it up with them). The guys would show her no mercy though and she appreciated that they respected her enough to do that. She gained invaluable lessons in emotional training from that experience. (Just asked the aikidoka in my dojo how they like working with her!)

Obviously, this is not a type of class that would appeal to many women (or many guys for that matter).

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Old 08-06-2002, 07:55 PM   #15
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Reading the other replies above.

I do separate classes based on age.

Kids develop at different rates physically and emotionally and there is a benefit to separating them.

I typically separate 6-10, 11-13, usually around 14 or 15 with a few years of training, I let them attend adult classes. (I am talking Karate for most part.) but I don't see a reason that wouldn't work for aikido either. (we don't have a kids program for Aikido in my dojo.)

Frankly, I don't see aikido working well for kids, I do incorporate aikido training into my kid classes, but it is not aikido like we study it in my aikido dojo.

I do rolls, grabs, and kokyu tanden ho etc....but not really exactly the same.

Conversely, I did work with a kid at summer camp that had to be about 13 (his dad studied Aikido and was there as well). He was suprisingly very good, and held his own with a room full of grown ups! But I think he is an exception.

I think the real issue seems to be that americans in general have certain expectations about martial arts. (I know I did 10 years ago!). Aikido doesn't seem to fit that mold.

I call my classes "Karate". yes we do kicks, punches, and kata etc. But I am secretly leading them down the path to being good ukes!! Ha, ha, ha (evil laugh!) I fullfill there expectations, and gently try and turn them over to the "dark side".

(please don't let them find out!!!)

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Old 08-06-2002, 09:12 PM   #16
guest1234
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I will pass on the 'ovulating' temptation (as funny as it is, I know my Danish is worse ), and give my guess at what he meant:

When women stop ovulating (menopause), the hormonal changes can lead to thinned bones (osteoporosis) and so be more prone to breaks and take longer to heal. But then, fractures in either gender in the older age range is not good, I just try to avoid breaking anyone's bones

Besides, why would anyone want to crank on the delicate bones of little old ladies like me ...especially when it would soon be time to uke for me

As for the kid's class ages, I don't know if you realize what a perfect break those age brackets are (so to speak), not only from a social/ment development viewpoint, but skeletal changes. Any age before puberty is winding down (so below your 15/16 age group) you need to be careful of joints, as a fracture through a growth plate could permanently alter the length of the growing bone. And for the middle age group, as they are entering puberty not only are the guys probably growing so fast you need to be sure they don't hurt themselves or others, but the change in the pelvis of the girls is putting new and unusual stress on their knees, and they often don't realize it until they dislocate their knee-cap. Great way to divide the ages.

Last edited by guest1234 : 08-06-2002 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 08-07-2002, 12:55 AM   #17
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Colleen Annes (ca) wrote:
Besides, why would anyone want to crank on the delicate bones of little old ladies like me ...especially when it would soon be time to uke for me
Absolutely right. Alan Ruddock sensei always says: "Be nice to your partner for they are gonna have a go at you next!"

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 08-07-2002, 11:32 AM   #18
giriasis
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The gals at Women in Aikido were discussing this and I think we resolved that women's classes really are counter to the whole point of learning aikido. I can understanding introducing aikido to a women's group, or introducing aikido to a group with a history of abuse, but eventually mainstreaming would be necessary. But a good counter to this is that such classes might only prolong the anxiety of working with the opposite gender.

However, I wouldn't search out an all female class, either. In fact, I like to be the only woman in class -- so I can train with a lot of different men and their body types. I want to learn self-defense against men since that is the gender I'm most likely going to be attacked by -- if ever.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 08-11-2002, 11:51 AM   #19
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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To my mind a beginner's class shouldn't be slam bam for anyone, male or female. I know powerful women and very gentle, hesitant men and if any of them were taking a basics/beginner's class than I don't believe gender should matter. I agree absolutely that most women in our society aren't reared with the same phsicality as men, but again, it's a BEGINNER'S class.

Now if the dojo is small there may be no beginner's class, but that's another matter. Then, hopefully, those senior to the beginner will keep their partner's level in mind while training and not just ego-off on them. But now, I don't think there should be ongoing special classes just for women.

So there...

~~Paula~~
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Old 08-11-2002, 11:53 AM   #20
Paula Lydon
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Ooops...that is: But NO, I don't think there should be ongoing special classes just for women.

~~Paula~~
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Old 08-11-2002, 07:15 PM   #21
Kevin Leavitt
 
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To do aikido doesn't require "Slam Bam". I am 6 2, 235. I work with a few women who probably don't even top 100 lbs. Coupled with inexperience on their part...it is stupid to think that they should take the same force that I give a guy my size.

Done properly, I stress properly, size is irrelevant..cept is gives you bigger noise and more rotating mass when you throw em, or is that "guide them".

Size hurts your aikido I believe. I am able to mask bad technique and blow through it and force things...which I guess is what many women are concerned about.

I am an intimidating looking guy. big, in shape, and with a nice high and tight military hair cut. Many people I find until they know me tense up and assume I am going to work with them the same way they see me work with the other big guys...it is not so!

I do smile, I gauge my technique toward the appropriate level and try to gently move.

I sympathize having to work with boneheads that seem to have no regard for people of smaller stature.

I love it when a really, really good female comes in and totally trashes them with little or no strength showing them the error of their ways!

Good luck!

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Old 08-12-2002, 08:10 AM   #22
Uke4life
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Ki Symbol

I agree, I love to see advanced women come in and totally run the floor. The only real problem I see with seperate classes, is they get used to "fighting" that type of person. Personally I love to see a very diverse class with men and women of all shapes and sizes. As I was always taught, specialization is the road to failure. Be safe!!

It is not the destination, but the journey.
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