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Old 10-17-2004, 08:31 AM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 427
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gender or something else?

Hi All!

~~I've been out of touch for a while; hope everyone is well and healthy! Last weekend I attended a camp in the Northwest and I'm still processing somethings that really struck and moved me. The camp was co-instructed by two hight ranking Aikidoka who came from differend areas, one male one female. Some classes were also taught by the sensei from the 3 dojo that organized the camp, all women. As the days progressed it became more and more obviouse to me on an energetic level that there was a profound difference between how the role of Aikido was understood and presented between the one male and four female sensei.

~~At first, I attributed it gender. The women seemed much more open, warm, helpful, gracious, connecting with uke as a mutual practice, examining themselves closely in training and not just falling back on their rank. Don't think that their technique was not fantastic--it was! But training was sooo obviously about so much more than technique. Then I thought perhaps I felt this because I am a woman? Is it because I'm older now? Or was it the Buddhism most of them practiced? I don't know...but there is definately a drastic difference in the feeling of that group and the male dominated dojos I've been in over the years. A lot of men I train with seem more interested in beating me, taking the 'teacher' role, flirting, subtly (or not) blaming me if their technique doesn't work or simply shutting down. Sad but true. I have, of course, run into this with a few women but to a much lesser degree.

~~I don't know; grist for the mill

Take care All!

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-17-2004, 10:48 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
Location: Roswell, GA USA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,715
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Re: gender or something else?

IMHO, it is probably less a matter of generalized gender stereotyping, than the character or psychological idiosyncrasies of the instructors. Even though, those generalized gender stereotypes have some highly probable obviously observable validity.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-17-2004, 10:57 AM   #3
vanstretch
Dojo: Kyushinkan
Location: Roswell,GA
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 123
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Re: gender or something else?

yeah, I detest those dojo 'ego-geeks' that have to be in 'teacher' mode when working with a female. I want them to shut up and just let her do technique. Learing is through doing. Everytime superman stops to lecture her further, the rhythm, the tempo, the body stops. I can see it now. I just keep on moving and when i train with the girls, they get what they want.
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Old 10-17-2004, 07:43 PM   #4
Amassus
 
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Dojo: Aikido Musubi Ryu/ Yoshin Wadokan
Location: Hamilton
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 305
New Zealand
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Re: gender or something else?

Quote:
Learing is through doing.
I'm sure you meant "Learning". Learing through learning brings funny images to mind.

Sorry...I'll go now

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 10-17-2004, 08:08 PM   #5
George S. Ledyard
 
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Re: gender or something else?

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
Hi All!

~~I've been out of touch for a while; hope everyone is well and healthy! Last weekend I attended a camp in the Northwest and I'm still processing somethings that really struck and moved me. The camp was co-instructed by two hight ranking Aikidoka who came from differend areas, one male one female. Some classes were also taught by the sensei from the 3 dojo that organized the camp, all women. As the days progressed it became more and more obviouse to me on an energetic level that there was a profound difference between how the role of Aikido was understood and presented between the one male and four female sensei.

~~At first, I attributed it gender. The women seemed much more open, warm, helpful, gracious, connecting with uke as a mutual practice, examining themselves closely in training and not just falling back on their rank. Don't think that their technique was not fantastic--it was! But training was sooo obviously about so much more than technique. Then I thought perhaps I felt this because I am a woman? Is it because I'm older now? Or was it the Buddhism most of them practiced? I don't know...but there is definately a drastic difference in the feeling of that group and the male dominated dojos I've been in over the years. A lot of men I train with seem more interested in beating me, taking the 'teacher' role, flirting, subtly (or not) blaming me if their technique doesn't work or simply shutting down. Sad but true. I have, of course, run into this with a few women but to a much lesser degree.

~~I don't know; grist for the mill

Take care All!
I've spent some time thinking about how to reply to this... I don't think there is one in which one could be honest and not run smack dab up against a lot of folks cherished beliefs.

Suffice it to say that Men and Women have a very differnt frame of reference for what they do and how they go about it. We live in an age in which it is not politically correct to talk about these differences unless it is to point out the deficiencies in male behavior (which I grant are many). Well, we are not the same. We have different physical characteristics and different concerns.

As a male who trained in a dojo in which the majority of the students were women, along with the Chief instructor, I can attest to the fact that every one of the different "behaviors" you outlined when training with the men has an equivalent in the females, especially when they are in the dominant spot and get to define the purpose and direction of the practice.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-17-2004 at 08:14 PM.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 10-17-2004, 09:23 PM   #6
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 427
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Re: gender or something else?

~~Thanks, George, for that spotlight. I hope I didn't come across as male bashing, as that wasn't my intention at all, just trying to process and assimilate new information and expieriences. I was wondering also if these aspects could be attributed to fundamental differences in East/West psychology and since I'm a middle-aged, middle American woman I simply connected internally to the more recognizable group..? Still letting it roll around inside

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-18-2004, 03:21 AM   #7
Chris Birke
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 258
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Re: gender or something else?

The trouble with stereotypes is that they exist.
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Old 10-18-2004, 05:21 AM   #8
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 647
Sweden
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Re: gender or something else?

Paula, your story does not make it clear if these women's aikido are closer to each other from a lineage perspective, than to the male teacher's. Even if they are not, I am sure you can find men who work their aikido in the same way as the women you described. There might be a trend as to what the two genders choose to focus on, but I would guess that the differences between folks of the same sex is larger than the differences between the sexes...
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Old 10-18-2004, 12:07 PM   #9
ian
 
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Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
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Re: gender or something else?

I think men and women are fundamentally different in their brains, but it seems unfortunate that you've trained with alot of egotistical male instructors - I promise they are not all like that at all.

As a male, I hate the hippy bull sh*t that gets dragged into aikido; I think much of the spiritual side has to be understood through training and life experience and not by a superficial understanding of religion. Very pleased that you feel open to give feedback - I think many women are put off martial arts, and it is important to retain women since they sometimes have a different outlook in aikido, so it is up to male instructors to listen intently to these comments.

I must admit, I do tend to focus more on new females because they are more difficult to retain, and because I often feel they are less able to protect themselves than the average male (though of course I know males are more likely to be attacked than females). I hope this doesn't come across as flirting or egotistical (I know it isn't on my mind - there is too much other stuff to think of during training!).

Ian
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Old 10-18-2004, 12:51 PM   #10
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 647
Sweden
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Re: gender or something else?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
As a male, I hate the hippy bull sh*t that gets dragged into aikido;
As a woman, I hate to hear that you feel that your hating of this happy bull sh*t has anything to do with your being male. It sounds like you have come across a few less convincing female teachers. I can assure you, they are not all like that.
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Old 10-18-2004, 03:37 PM   #11
Anjisan
Dojo: Aikido of Madison
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 176
United_States
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Re: gender or something else?

Perhaps, the difference in relating to students at a class or seminar may stem--at least in part-- from "tendencies" that many within each gender have in their approach to Aikido training. I believe that for many male Aikidoka it can be somewhat frustrating at times who train with Aikidoka (who more often than not seem to be female, not exclusively by any means) who don't approach training with the same martial emphasis. In such instances, training is approached--is seems--more for means of social interaction and personal development than a practical martial application. I strongly feel that BOTH are flip sides to the same coin, both are equally important. The development of the physical and the spiritual self should occur simultaniously. It seems to me that to push yourself beyond one's comfort zone, the martial aspect, where you can train with a sense of life and death, seriousness is so important. Personally, I don't feel that O sensei could have arrived where he did in terms of his perspective on love, how we treat each other, nature, etc if he didn't have a lifetime with a serious martial component interwoven into the fabric of his training. It seems we often focus in on the later years where the martial aspect is downplayed, if not outright ignored and fail to realize (only in my humble opinion) that there isn't necessarily a short-cut. I my humble opinion, Aikido is a martial art and not an activity based on a martial art. Perhaps many males join, if not practice Aikido from this perspective

Conversly, I have come across a number of male Aikidoka who become quite myopic with reagrd to the martial application of Aikido tecnique and fail to give due attention to the development of truly being able to connect with others and the development of themselves (or their students) as human beings. Like I stated above, different sides of the same coin and I don't see how they can be seperated and still follow where O sensei was asking us to follow. I am only speaking of patterns or trends and I certainly realize that there indivudluals of both genders who may fit more appropriately in the other camp.

Best Regards
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