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Old 10-08-2003, 09:31 PM   #26
Amassus
 
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Dojo: Aikido Musubi Ryu/ Yoshin Wadokan
Location: Hamilton
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Just to add my few cents worth...

On average,our dojo has more males than female. But the ratio would be about 5 females to 7 males on any one night.

It must be noted that out of the females, only one is shodan, two are 3rd kyu and the rest are beginners.

I must say that our sensei is the reason we have so many women. He is open and friendly, giving a family atmosphere to the club.

I am proud of the club's ability to keep its women members.

As far as martial arts in general, doesn't a thread around here say that drop out rates are high anyway. When you think of how many women even turn up in the first place, compared to men, then its not that strange that there are less that continue on.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 10-09-2003, 12:54 AM   #27
YEME
Dojo: South West Aiki
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Quote:
Suzanne Cooper wrote:
And you know, I LOVE to be uke! Call me strange, but I really think uke has the more interesting part. Maybe after I've hit the mat a few hundred more times, I'll think differently, but right now it's the most fun.
DITTO

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
--Isaac Asimov

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Old 10-09-2003, 06:28 AM   #28
Amelia Smith
 
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When I started aikido, there was one other woman at the dojo, out of about 8 students in all. I'm back at the same dojo now, and there are 12-20 people who practice regularly-occasionally, including 4-5 women.

Here, and sometimes at other dojos, I've noticed that people have a preference for young men, especially if they're tall. I think this is because they make a nice big sound when they hit the mat - very satisfying - and they also tend to be a little more injury resistant.

I also think that the demands of family (and pregnancy) are a factor in women leaving aikido, though many do get back to it. This hasn't been a factor at my dojo here, though I've seen it at one of the other dojos where I practiced (which had maybe a 1:2 female:male ratio). If anything, I think women are more likely to exercise than men, espoecially after their early 20s, because of social pressures to stay in shape, look young, and all that. I know this affects men, too, but I think it's more important for women.

There are other social factors, too, which discourage women from training. I just remembered that men who don't do martial arts are often absolutely freaked out by the idea of a woman who does. They're afraid (irrationally) that she might beat them up, and then where would their masculine identity be?

But it's so much fun (especially ukemi). That's why I stuck with it.

--Amelia
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Old 10-09-2003, 09:09 AM   #29
philipsmith
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
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In our dojo we have a significant number of women; possibly 40% of the total.

We also have a 5th Dan Shidoin (Aikikai) female instructor who is an excellent role model for both male & female students.

Reasons I have been given for women either not starting or stopping are (in no particular order):

The fear of injury

Too many men (?not enough women) on the mat

Reluctance to indulge in close contact with strange men (i.e not family members)

Fear that Aikido would be too physical

Has anyone else come across these or others?
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Old 10-09-2003, 09:49 AM   #30
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Our dojo is about 20% women and our main instructor in the UK is female, so lack of respect isn't a problem normally (especially after attacking her in randori).

Phil, I'd disagree regarding your "aikido is too physical". One reason I've heard a few times is that aikido is that it's not physical enough, many of the younger women interested in ma want to hit someone, not throw/lead down gently (OK, so we're wimpy ki-types thanks for the reminder Larry).

I think aikido has the same problems that judo, wrestling etc. have. No matter how you promote "size doesn't matter" etc., most randori practice will show close combat where size will be a factor. I have been given the impression that some of the striking arts are preferred as they give a false sense of keeping a "safe" distance in combat.

The strangest problem I've had with a female student was due to religion really rather than gender - orthodox so could not practice with or be touched by men other than family/partner. I became quite inventive with my verbal visualisations of technique...
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Old 10-09-2003, 10:42 AM   #31
Bruce CB
Dojo: Aikido Centrum Cebu
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The first dojo where I practice aikido, there were about 2:12 female/male ratio. With my current dojo there are no female presently practicing. I've been practicing for about 8 years with this dojo and only seen two on that span. The first (we have been practicing together for about 4yrs. from the first dojo & decided to transfer to this new dojo) lasted only about 8 months and the other about the same length. Our CI and the rest of the group are very accommodating and friendly although there is this one guy (sandan) who seem to easily get attracted to women practicing MA and could not hold his feeling and would start flirting with them which I guess contributed much to this.

It could have been better, I guess, if there were female practitioners on our dojo, in that way we could learn much from them on how to do technique on a much bigger partner/uke.

Personally, I believe that culture and family demand also contributed much to this scenario.
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Old 10-09-2003, 11:28 AM   #32
giriasis
Dojo: Sand Drift Aikikai, Cocoa Florida
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Where I train we are a about 20% female. The second highest rank is a female 5th dan. No one would mistake calling her a "flower". We also have couple of sandans and nidans, and a few shodans (two or three of whom will be testing for nidan). In all we have about 6-8 female dan ranks. It's always great to see them fly, it's very encouraging to know that if they can then I can, too. And when I was new it was refreshing to train with them.

I re-read my post and noticed it sounded like women, in general, are intimidated by ukemi. I meant to say that in learning ukemi it seems to be more intimidating. I was just noticing this, as we just recently had about 4-5 women join our dojo and they all were having a harder time learning to roll than the men. But once the women get past learning to do ukemi, then they usually fly just like the men.

A question to those ladies who love taking ukemi, did you love it from the first day? Or was it a process for you to get to the point where you learned to embrace flying? I'm the latter.

Last edited by giriasis : 10-09-2003 at 11:32 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 10-09-2003, 02:01 PM   #33
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
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Hi Anne Marie,

Ukemi made me very nervous in the beginning. It took me several months to learn to roll, then I received a knee injury as uke for iriminage. That didn't exactly help the ukemi fear. I was off and on the mat for months until my knee healed. Now I'm back 100% and I LOVE ukemi.

I still don't roll well and I haven't learned to back roll or breakfall yet. But as one senior told me the other day, now I can "take the punishment", LOL. Generally, I know how to take the ukemi and I LOVE it. I can't help but grin sometimes.....it's just so much fun to fly around nage!

So while I'm still nervous rolling, I really do love being uke, sometimes more than being nage!

(As far as ratio, our dojo has seven or eight women practicing right now, and probably about 20 men, I think. Two of the women are brand-new, the rest have been practicing for between 10 months and 13 years.)

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 10-09-2003, 05:14 PM   #34
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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~~Hi Anne Marie,

Ukemi did not come naturally to me and so I have worked long and hard at it. There was much fear and awkwardness in the beginning years. I was always drawn to it as I learn more quickly from feeling an experienced person's tech. on me rather than mostly performing the tech. Besides, I find that I'm more uptight when excicuting tech. than when I'm relaxed and simply moving with nage.

I think ukemi is the Ultimate Secret Art! I don't care all that much if I can catch my attacker's center as long as they can't get mine. Even a bullet couldn't strike me if my ukemi skills were refined enough--which, of course, they're not. Maybe a really slow moving stick...

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-09-2003, 05:44 PM   #35
Suzanne Cooper
Dojo: Retsushinkan Dojo/Alabama
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Paula Lydon--bulletproof monk-ette!

Loved that movie, BTW. Could've done without Mr. Funktastic, but the writers would have had to figure out another way to introduce Jade...anyway...

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 10-09-2003, 10:27 PM   #36
Qatana
 
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My dojo is right now about 60% female. three of us currently kyuless tho i'm going for my 5th kyu test in 2 weeks. i am probably an anomaly but i prefer a more even balance- we could use a few more guys!Though we had an "all girl" class the other night which was kinda fun.

I have known from my first class that i would prefer ukemi, i jusst had to have the "newbie shoulder trouble" to teach me fear of falling before i could overcome it! But since i have ben known to be overly "assertive" in Real Life, i find it educational to discover how much i can take back of what i dish out!

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 10-10-2003, 08:58 AM   #37
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
I can push a man where culture demands I must push less with a woman.
So, culture demands that you do not treat the sexes equally on the mat. Is this because you are in Japan, or would it be the same in Europe or the States?
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Old 10-10-2003, 10:19 AM   #38
PeterR
 
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Frankly speaking Japan is only more extreme. There are places I would go with men (as a man) that I would not go with a woman.

This is not a reflection on the respect I have for an individual but cultural demands.

It does not take much effort to think of examples - I don't think I have to elaborate.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-10-2003, 04:53 PM   #39
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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~~Hi Peter R.,

~~I'm glad Hanna B. asked her question, as I'd been contemplating just what you might have meant by your earlier post. I reread it and still wonder what you mean by 'pushing mens' martial spirit' which seems easier for you than pushing women to find/embrace/exhibit theirs..? I would like to understand your view on this more clearly, if you care to elaborate. I have always found much of interest in your posts.

~~Also, call me a ditz, but again I'm unclear on what you mean by places you would go on the mat with a man (being a man) that you wouldn't go with a woman. Is it:

a) physical contact? I've spent years in jujitsu and you really don't think like that after a while

b) intensity? Granted, I don't care to take continual slamming as a compliant uke as some of the young men/women can handle.

c) sexual discomfort? See a).

~~Again, if you have time, I would like to better understand you and your views. I've never trained in Japan and so perhaps it all amounts to cultural differences? Thanks!

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-11-2003, 05:40 PM   #40
Hanna B
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In one of my previous dojos, it was hopeless to make people including my teachers throw me for breakfalls. I guess either I was not supposed to learn them, or they did not want to "beat me up".
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Old 10-12-2003, 11:58 PM   #41
PeterR
 
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What can I say but with this sort of subject no matter what you write people will put their own spin on it. Hence my initial reluctance. Think what you will but its a classic example of individual and cultural baggage at work.

I thought my posts were pretty clear in stating that the group dynamic is dependent on the ratio of men to women. No where did I say a women is less capable of achieving skill or martial spirit.

Do I treat women differently on the mat ? Eventually less and less - but I must say I tend to give female beginners more time to adjust. At the very least the degree of contact makes some people uncomfortable. With a man I don't even consider it, with a women I do.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-13-2003, 03:23 AM   #42
Hanna B
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We should thank you for being honest about it. Too many people are not.
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Old 10-13-2003, 04:23 AM   #43
PeterR
 
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You make it sound that my approach is a short coming on my part.

At the moment half my students are women. The only dojos that I have personal experience of that even come close are Shodokan Honbu and the Shodokan Branch of a women's university. On average, they are tough, highly skilled athletes. Conversly, when I visited the local Aikikai Shihan there were absolutely no women on the mat.

This thread is all about addressing the gender balance. Far from a short coming I must be doing something right.
Quote:
Hanna Björk (Hanna B) wrote:
We should thank you for being honest about it. Too many people are not.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-13-2003, 05:27 AM   #44
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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I think Peter made a very important point in that any gender bias (perceived or real)decreases in a good dojo once the person leaves their "beginner" status behind, so I'll have modify my earlier response.

I do treat beginners differently at the start, normally based on their previous experience (if any) and their body type. I will be more careful with a beginner who is small, fine boned or obviously lacking in any combat experience - this does cover many women. After about a 6 months I expect to be able to attack them the same as any other person on the mat. Does this make me a bad person?
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Old 10-13-2003, 06:13 AM   #45
Hanna B
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Peter - I do not intend "to make it sound" in any way. If that is the result, then my wordings was a mistake. Most of us has areas in which we act differently to different kinds of people, and most of the times we are not honest to ourselves about it. I prefer a teacher who treats the sexes equally on the mat. That does not necessarily the teacher who claims to do so...

Ian - treating people according to ability is fine. Following preconceptions and not adjusting to reality, i.e. "I belive women are weak, so I treat them like they are week and them I complain that I have no strong women in my dojo" is not. I do not know you, the above statement is not aimed specifically at you nor anybody else. BTW, I do not understand why you believe anybody believes you are a bad person.
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:43 AM   #46
Dario Rosati
Dojo: Zanshin - Milan
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gender balance

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
2) Why don't more females stay, either at lower or upper levels? Is there something in the dojo atmosphere that subliminally discourages females? Is there something in the training itself?
Hi Paula, I'm new at Aikido and I can guess why this happens.... yes, it's the training.

I started 2 months ago with my wife, in a very small dojo (10-12) students wich does a lot of cross-stages every 2-3 months.

After this 2 months I feel I did the right choice, both in dojo and martial art... but my wife finds the thing a lot more difficult, cause she's the only woman in the dojo.

Why? She's not very tall (1,6 m) and has a very small figure (less than 50kg), this cause the "boys" to (un-willingly and irrationally, I hope) avoid her as nage, since at the start it's very difficult for a beginner to do even an irimi-tenkan in the proper way (i.e. a "grappling" or simply "big" uke often frustrates her tries).

She's often confined in the uke role, and even if the sensei follow her directly (I think he sees what I see and tries to help with it), she feels somewhat "out of place".

I try to help her, but the contraddiction is that, for my training, I can't stay with her too much at the dojo since we both are beginners (I help her at home sometimes).

I think the "out of place" feel is what makes lot of women to quit... the only women I saw practicing with success are tall or/and have a robust figure, or are the wives of a sensei...

I think this is the real cause because even I (a normal man, 1,8 m, 75kg) have found at my first stage that beginners are often "avoided" by the more skilled one... the rule says "practice with someone a bit skilled than you" and this obviously contraddictory rule tends to "cut out" the least skilled.

It's a shame because from what I've seen Aikido fits very good for women, imho.... the problem is that there is a "high barrier at the entrance", to use an economic term.

Bye!

Last edited by Dario Rosati : 10-13-2003 at 07:45 AM.

--
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:48 AM   #47
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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~~Peter R., thank you for responding. I'm sorry if you felt there was personal judgement on you involved in my questions, as there was not. I really only wanted to understand you and your views better, as I stated. Now I do.

~~Regards contact, I think how anyone conducts themselves depends on their intentions and control.

~~Regards beginner women, I agree (through personal expierence of teaching them) that the majority have a culturally more difficult time upon entering into MA practice. I have noticed, though, that the previous two generations--teens and 20s--seem a little less hesitant to jump in there

~~Funny thing: I had a male student quit once because he couldn't stand hip throws; having his groin anywhere near another man's.

~~Life's a wonder! Enjoy!

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:01 AM   #48
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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~~Dario R., wonderful insights and points. Thanks! I've trained in Aikido 7 years but only recently began testing, and I notice at camps or seminars even, in regular class if someone doesn't know me, that yudansha surrepticiously glance at belts and make their choices of who to train with, or not. Sad but true...I hope your wife can find her way there because it is a inspiring art!

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:05 AM   #49
giriasis
Dojo: Sand Drift Aikikai, Cocoa Florida
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Dario,

That's truly unfortunate that the men in the dojo won't train with your wife. One of the most powerful and impressive women I've seen in aikido is very short and petite -- like your wife. She's around 5 feet tall and a little over a 110 pounds. And she has some amazing ukemi to top it off. Men never hesitate to train with her.

You already pointed at that the rule of thumb is to train with someone more advanced. There is another rule of thumb for those more advanced -- train with a beginner.

ooopsss...

I didn't mention that she is a Sandan...

You're observation is correct and what your wife is communicating to you is what many smaller women have to deal with, a lot. Please validate her feelings and observations. It can be frustrating especially when people don't tell you how (or don't know how to tell you) to get around their muscling resistance. She may be doing the technique just like they are except the results are different. In her case, they don't budge. In theirs, they can just plow her down into the mat each time they throw her because they are stronger and bigger than her. Just because they can do the latter doesn't make their aikido any better.

Let your wife know it can be done, and she can learn to throw those big guys. Just focus on her center and all the other aikido principles. And pity the fool that refuses to train with her.


Last edited by giriasis : 10-13-2003 at 08:14 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:07 AM   #50
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: gender balance

Quote:
Dario Rosati wrote:
Hi Paula, I'm new at Aikido and I can guess why this happens.... yes, it's the training.

(snip)

Why? She's not very tall (1,6 m) and has a very small figure (less than 50kg), this cause the "boys" to (un-willingly and irrationally, I hope) avoid her as nage,
People's actions described as "it's the training". Amazing.

This is probably the point where each thread that in any way relates to women in aikido seems doomed to degenerate. Wait and see what happens...
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