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Old 12-02-2004, 12:06 PM   #1
rachel
Dojo: Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo, Aikido of Hilo
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Question Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Hi everyone,

This is just a random thought I was having last night. I was wondering what you'd all think of the topic. Do you think you it matters if your sensei is male or female? I mean, do you think it will make a difference in the way or what you learn? Do you feel that you have a preference to having either a male or female sensei?

I don't think I do, but maybe that's because I've always had two Aikido Sensei, one male and one female. Just curious what others think...
-Rachel
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:17 PM   #2
akiy
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

I'd say that the way or what I learn differs between any two instructors -- regardless of their gender.

-- Jun

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Old 12-02-2004, 12:30 PM   #3
rachel
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

A very good point. I just wonder if it varies more?
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Old 12-02-2004, 02:08 PM   #4
Don_Modesto
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

No difference.

I've recoiled from some women teaching on the mat, but this was not because they were women but because they seemed to be compensating for their own perceived shortcomings with shortness and rudeness. I've stopped training with men for the same reason.

But if you offer a seminar with a confident veteran like Patty Saotome, Mary Heiny, or Pat Hendricks--I'm there.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 12-02-2004, 02:27 PM   #5
Amassus
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

My club has about three male teachers and two female teachers, I enjoy learning under all of them. I see them more as individuals rather than a 'man' or a 'woman'.
Each has their own style of teaching and strengths and weaknesses, gender doesn't seem to affect things much.
I hit the mat with the same intensity when thrown my any of them

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 12-02-2004, 03:18 PM   #6
Holly Nesbeitt
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Re: No Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Agree with most of the others here. The differences between my teachers seem to be purely personal, not gender-related.

If I've noticed any difference at all between men and women on the mat, it's that women may actually be a bit more fierce. This may be because they don't fully realize how powerful they are (whereas a 200 lb guy knows he's big and tough, and may be careful to be gentle accordingly). At a seminar a couple years back, Chiba sensei said something like "You're all too macho. Especially the women."
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Old 12-02-2004, 03:26 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

I've trained with both high and not-so-high ranking instructors of both genders and haven't noticed any differences either in them as a group or in my own reactions to them.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-03-2004, 02:20 AM   #8
Zoli Elo
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Generally no difference.

But on personal note, there has been several occasions were female practitioners have employed a double standard in regards to technique drills - expecting cooperation from uke when nage but not cooperating while being uke. Not giving what they wish to receive. I have yet to experience this double standard with a male practitioner.

Noncooperation is fine, the double standard is not.

Zoli Elo
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Old 12-03-2004, 07:02 AM   #9
dan guthrie
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

I've been very happy with all of my senseis. The women seem to be more sensitive to blending and flowing. Rather than overcompensating for their smaller frames they truly seem, at least to me, to be using the appropriate advantages of Aikido. Our dojo cho makes this comment at least once a week:
"If you're bigger and stronger than your uke, this might work but . . ." then she shows her preferred way. Of course, the preferred way is expected at your kyu demonstration.

Maybe I'm being Captain Obvious??

Also, a large number of women in a dojo means a less intimidating atmosphere for new women. It's hard enough for some people to walk in for the first time. Imagine how difficult it is for a 100 lb woman to walk into a dojo where the smallest other person is nearly twice her size. Or for that matter how hard it is for an overweight woman to walk into any all-male dojo.
I think a female face at the front door is a big factor in increasing female membership.
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Old 12-03-2004, 07:49 AM   #10
Jordan Steele
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Some of the best instruction I've had is from female sensei's and also the best training. Women, in my opinion learn Aikido better and they naturally figure out how to use aiki instead of muscle making their techniques extremely powerful.
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Old 12-06-2004, 07:23 AM   #11
rachel
Dojo: Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo, Aikido of Hilo
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Interesting everyone. Thanks.
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Old 12-06-2004, 07:29 AM   #12
rachel
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Quote:
Dan Guthrie wrote:
Also, a large number of women in a dojo means a less intimidating atmosphere for new women.
Absolutely, a good point. My dojo used to have (as does Aikikai Hombu) an all womens class, mostly to encourage new female students to get comfortable with practice, but they of course were also able to participate in regular classes.
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:55 AM   #13
MaryKaye
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

The two female sensei I've trained under are as different as night and day, about as different as any two aikidoka I've ever met. One is a technical perfectionist who thinks nothing of spending a month on the entry to a single throw (last time it was kata tori nikyo--wonder what it will be this month?) The other is a rough-and-tumble practical person who doesn't care much what the throw looks like as long as it works, and teaches sixteen throws a night.

I don't think I have a preference for gender of sensei, but I do appreciate it when there are senior women (whether teachers or students) in a dojo--it's encouraging to see other women up there. I find dojo with women beginners but no women seniors particularly daunting--I start wondering what happened to them, why they left....

I find that, while I admire my sensei greatly, the people I identify with most strongly are kyu ranks a few grades above me, and it's particularly helpful to have women there. The fourth dan sensei has wonderful aikido, but it's so far above me I have trouble seeing it as a goal. First kyus make mistakes I can actually see, which makes them seem more accessible.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-07-2004, 01:03 PM   #14
pezalinski
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

When I had only few years of experience in aikido, I might have had another opinion, but after more than 15 years, the only real difference I've been able to see aikido-wise between male and female aikido instructors is the sign on the door of the restroom they use. (Really.) The sensei I've trained longest under (c.6 years) was a woman, the others have been mostly men. And people are, well, people. If I had to generalize, I would have to say that the women were usually shorter than the men, with lower centers of gravity -- no more and no less effective at teaching or at demonstrating their skills at any given level on the basis of their gender.

However, I have observed that the politics of being female in a mostly-male environment can get a little uncomfortable, for some women -- and vice versa, for some men. (And even more strangely, the converse of both situations, as well). We always bring more onto the mat than just our persons. But we work with whatever we are presented with, on the mat and off, and blend with it as best we can.
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Old 12-07-2004, 01:50 PM   #15
senshincenter
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

How about this then:

- In our training, do we really escape all of our personality, our personal history, our emotional content, or does our Aikido really remain "our" Aikido (i.e. it is always processed via these things)? If it is the latter, do we mean to suggest that our own gender identity and/or gender experience has not marked our personality, our personal history, or our emotional content?

Alternatively, perhaps the gap by which we can escape our gender identity and gender experience lies in our training.

- Is our training of such a nature that it never reaches the depth of our personality, our personal history, or our emotional content such that gender identity and gender experience can remain irrelevant?

I was wondering about these things as I was prompted by the thread to compare two different times in my training. When I first started, a husband and wife taught me Aikido. Between the two, of course, there were differences, but as others said, those differences could really be chalked up to stylistic differences that are not really part of a gender identity and/or experience, etc., or if they were it was really too subtle a difference in order to distinct one cause over another. However, now, in my own training, teaching others, gender identity and experience, as part of a personality, as part of a personal history, as part of an emotional content, seems to be popping up in a way that it can't always be passed off as "stylistic" preferences.

When I looked deeper, there is a difference between the two types of training, and this may be where the first difference is coming from. In the first case, training was mostly centered on waza training. I think in waza training, things can only get so deep, and hence things like gender experience/gender identity, etc., might not come to the surface at all. In the type of training we are practicing now, training is centered on acquiring spontaneity. Such training seems to go a bit deeper, I feel, and so a whole lot of stuff comes to the surface - gender experience and gender identity often being one of them. (Of course, this applies for men and women.)

So maybe not just who we are may play a role in how our Self comes through in our training, maybe what we are doing also plays a role.

Last edited by senshincenter : 12-07-2004 at 01:59 PM.

David M. Valadez
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Old 12-08-2004, 10:16 AM   #16
rachel
Dojo: Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo, Aikido of Hilo
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
When I first started, a husband and wife taught me Aikido.
It has always been interesting to me how many husband and wife 'aiki teams' seem exist. It's great.
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Old 12-08-2004, 12:04 PM   #17
Dan Gould
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

To be honest, I feel a little awkward training with women on the whole, because it's a physical thing, and I'm afraid of touching er, heh... I feel childish as hell saying this I'm old fashoined, ok? I'm really afraid of touching something I shouldn't as I'm grabbing her, or something.

Although I got over this to great effect at the start of aikijutsu. I kept punching to the side of a woman's head, afraid of hitting her (was the same with the guys, mind), and I was told by sensei "When she puts on that gi, she's not male or female, she's a martial artist" or words to that effect, along with "That's not a woman, it's just Angela", lol. Madem e realise, she's there to train too.

I wouldn't have a complaint about training under a female sensei, to me skill is more important. It's better ot have a skilled female sensei than, well, me
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Old 12-10-2004, 11:33 AM   #18
Sita Nanthavong
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Quote:
Rachel Klein wrote:
Hi everyone,

This is just a random thought I was having last night. I was wondering what you'd all think of the topic. Do you think you it matters if your sensei is male or female? I mean, do you think it will make a difference in the way or what you learn? Do you feel that you have a preference to having either a male or female sensei?

I don't think I do, but maybe that's because I've always had two Aikido Sensei, one male and one female. Just curious what others think...
-Rachel

I've never had a female sensei. The closest I could ever get, at this point in time, would be to attend a seminar with someone in the Bay Area, like Patricia Hendricks, or perhaps Mary Heiney. It's a goal of mine, though, to actually do just that so I can see what a female instructor is like... being a female myself, it would be a great learning experience.
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Old 12-10-2004, 08:32 PM   #19
Joezer M.
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Difference between male and female sensei? Female senseis don't stop mid-technique to look at passing girls... my dojo being a university dojo and placed in a busy spot, we get a lot of.... distractions... And of course we share our training hall with a traditional dance group... more distractions...

Regards,
Joezer

I AM in shape... Round is a shape...
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Old 12-30-2004, 11:51 AM   #20
rachel
Dojo: Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo, Aikido of Hilo
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Quote:
Joezer Mandagi wrote:
my dojo being a university dojo and placed in a busy spot, we get a lot of.... distractions... And of course we share our training hall with a traditional dance group... more distractions...

Regards,
Joezer
Sounds like a terrible situation...
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Old 12-30-2004, 02:49 PM   #21
susan bosco
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

This conversation is fascinating. I walked into an all male practice and was perfectly fine with it. In response to Dan's comment regarding the "overweight" woman in a room filled with men. I'm noticeably overweight and feel that part of my practice is overcoming any discomfort or self-consciousness (I would experience with men or women). Also, I find men and women equally intimidating depending upon their individual personalities. I'm new to Aikido but from the research I've done so far it seems that we need to move beyond and above the superficial and self-conscious to something far deeper in order to pracitce effectively. When I'm able to do that I feel empowered and confident.
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Old 12-30-2004, 08:06 PM   #22
Andres Moliver
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

I've been to a couple of Mary Heiney seminars, and the teaching hasn't been different.
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Old 12-30-2004, 09:48 PM   #23
xuzen
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

difference btw male and female sensei...

Female sensei in hakama are filled with grace, beauty and elegance. Sugae and spice and everything nice.

Male sensei in hakama are just drag queen wannabes.
(Bye guys, many top notch shihan will be after me after making this comment... I'll have to hide in some deep jungle in Borneo).

Hakama? I ain't need no stikin' hakama. (Not my fault, couldn't resist... It's Horisan's fault)

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 01-02-2005, 04:21 PM   #24
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

My awesome Sensei is a slender and graceful female. Our resident Shodan is a large, powerful man.

I feel I get different benefits from training with each of them, so I'm fortunate to have both.
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Old 01-02-2005, 05:28 PM   #25
spook show
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Re: Difference: Male and Female Sensei

Male or Female sensei ? I never care much. I just want to take the class of someone who can teach me something. I`m a 1st kyu who is probably the lowest grade on my class. The women who do the class all know more than I do. One of them is a 5th dan who has her own class. (my teacher is a 6th dan) Whenever possible I go to her class as well. What difference can it make what sex a teacher is, if He or She is a good instructor you still have to benefit from the lesson
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