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Old 03-20-2005, 01:15 AM   #251
Niadh
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido, MA
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Re: Equitable?

SO here is a women in the dojo dynamic that this thread has brought up to me. In the dojo where I assist, (about 60m/40w) we have a female student who, among other issues, demonstrates a definite resistance towards accepting instruction from the chief instructor (female) but not from males? This is actually the second such student we have had, one having left. The one who left felt we were too different from her style to continue. the chief instructor Then was also Female, but not the same. I am not asking for a psychological analysis or to have the most obvious (and I believe wrong) point that it must be the chief instructor pointed out. I am simply trying to throw a previously unmentioned angle into the discussion of how to incorporate Aikido in our lives and our lives in Aikido.
Niadh

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Old 03-20-2005, 01:29 AM   #252
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Equitable?

when I first started, I was a little resistant to one of my dojo's female instructors (we have several) because 1)she's so darn nice that I just couldn't believe she was for real and 2)she weighs about 100 lbs less than me and I have about as much trouble fitting my body into her style of movement as I do fitting my body into the movement of the male instructors who weigh 100 lbs more than me, or are a foot taller.

Since then I've learned that she's not only truly nice, but also very dangerous.

Do you think that the woman you mentioned was being disrespectful to the female sensei specifically because she was female, or because of some coincidental factor?

-LK
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Old 03-20-2005, 06:58 AM   #253
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Niadh Feathers wrote:
SO here is a women in the dojo dynamic that this thread has brought up to me. In the dojo where I assist, (about 60m/40w) we have a female student who, among other issues, demonstrates a definite resistance towards accepting instruction from the chief instructor (female) but not from males? This is actually the second such student we have had, one having left. The one who left felt we were too different from her style to continue. the chief instructor Then was also Female, but not the same. I am not asking for a psychological analysis or to have the most obvious (and I believe wrong) point that it must be the chief instructor pointed out. I am simply trying to throw a previously unmentioned angle into the discussion of how to incorporate Aikido in our lives and our lives in Aikido.
Niadh
I have noticed some resistance from some students to my instruction. I think some people prefer to be taught by Ron because he is the head instructor. I think my lighthearted approach to Aikido offends some folks.

And I have had a woman tell me that she prefers a male instructor and she does not come to my classes.

Another woman I know really prefers Ron's classes but when she comes to mine I just teach. It does not matter how someone feels as long as they act fine in class.

Mary
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Old 03-20-2005, 03:03 PM   #254
Niadh
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
Do you think that the woman you mentioned was being disrespectful to the female sensei specifically because she was female, or because of some coincidental factor?

-LK
Lorien,
Good question. I think the dynamic is because she is female, just from my observations. This also is a student that has other dynamic issues which often come to the for front during practice. I am not trying to psycoanylis this (and I did not take your pst as such) but simply to find responses from women on such. See if others had similar experiences. I know that we as a society often have subconcious reactions to (specifiy gender) in (given role). I too am guilty of this and try to minimize it as much as I can. Luckily I am a part of a dojo that overtly accepts its students for their ability, male or female , 7 years old or 80 years old, and as such places the emphasis on knowing you practice partner's abilities and working with that.
Niadh

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Old 03-20-2005, 03:37 PM   #255
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Niadh Feathers wrote:
Good question. I think the dynamic is because she is female, just from my observations. This also is a student that has other dynamic issues which often come to the for front during practice. I am not trying to psycoanylis this (and I did not take your pst as such) but simply to find responses from women on such. See if others had similar experiences. I know that we as a society often have subconcious reactions to (specifiy gender) in (given role).
The things you mention are possibilities, but there may also be the simple issue the one instructor is not as good as the other one. In most dojo's where multiple teachers share the teaching, some of the teachers' classes are good and some are often pretty mediocre. It's not uncommon for people to do the obvious and simply not want to attend the classes that are not as good. I know of many cases where people won't attend a certain female instructor's class simply because she's not very good ... and they're not interested in the social BS of attending so that it looks like they're not sexist. No one questions the "sexism" when students avoid a male instructor's classes for the same reasons of mediocrity, so maybe too much is being read into the motives of people not attending females' classes, seminars, etc. Male or female, the demonstrably good instructors will draw students; the not-as-good instructors won't draw the students equally. It's the way things work.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-20-2005, 04:41 PM   #256
Brion Toss
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Re: Equitable?

It might be that, as Mr. Sigman points out, someone won't come to a woman teacher's classes because she is not as good a teacher as someone else who happens to be male. It might be, but that's not the way to bet. There's an old saying that, "A woman has to be twice as good as a man to be considered the equal of a man; fortunately this is not difficult." In gender-stressed roles, like teaching martial arts, I'd say there's a fairly high degree of accuracy in that otherwise humorous saying.
A dear friend of mine studied and taught Aikido for many years, here and in Japan. She was also married to a Japanese instructor. Over the years, she watched as male after less-experienced male was promoted past her. Granted, this was a few years ago, and much of it happened in Japan, but not all of it. I have trained with her, and she is one of the best teachers -- of anything -- that I have ever worked with. Other Aikidoka much more experienced than I concur with this. Eventually, after decades of frustration, then anger, then despair on her part, she was awarded fourth dan. But she retired from Aikido shortly thereafter.
I am reminded of another saying: "A bitch is any woman whose behavior distinguishes her from a doormat." Lots of truth in this one too, in my view. So when I hear about female instructors who bring issues of sexism onto the mat, I have to wonder about the perspective of the person bringing the complaint. Sure, it happens, but my own perspective, though perhaps also flawed, shows that it is at least as rare as overt, preposterone-driven male chauvinism on the mat.
Overall I'd say that Aikido dojos are amazingly safe, supportive places for everyone, places where people tend to take care of each other; I think of it as part of the art. But there are larger forces at work within us, things that tend to produce effects we wouldn't consciously seek. To quote one more old saying, "Your education begins 200 years before you are born." This thread started out with a visceral response to a perceived inequitability; perhaps addressing that inequitability means thinking of centuries past and future, both as a means to reveal our own unthinking prejudices, and a means to begin educating someone born in 2205.
Yours,
Brion Toss
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Old 03-20-2005, 04:55 PM   #257
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Brion Toss wrote:
It might be that, as Mr. Sigman points out, someone won't come to a woman teacher's classes because she is not as good a teacher as someone else who happens to be male.
Just out of curiosity, do you even care that what you said is a pretty blatantly dishonest characterisation of what I said and that you stand exposed as being intellectually dishonest for all to see?
Quote:
It might be, but that's not the way to bet. There's an old saying that, "A woman has to be twice as good as a man to be considered the equal of a man; fortunately this is not difficult."
Hmmmmm... not in a fight, she's not. We're talking about martial arts (or at least I and a few others are). What high-level woman martial artist do you want to put up against a high-level male martial artist? Give me a name. I say you'll evade this one.
Quote:
(Snip irrelevancies) .... I am reminded of another saying: "A bitch is any woman whose behavior distinguishes her from a doormat." Lots of truth in this one too, in my view. So when I hear about female instructors who bring issues of sexism onto the mat, I have to wonder about the perspective of the person bringing the complaint. Sure, it happens, but my own perspective, though perhaps also flawed, shows that it is at least as rare as overt, preposterone-driven male chauvinism on the mat.
Overall I'd say that Aikido dojos are amazingly safe, supportive places for everyone, places where people tend to take care of each other; I think of it as part of the art. But there are larger forces at work within us, things that tend to produce effects we wouldn't consciously seek. To quote one more old saying, "Your education begins 200 years before you are born." This thread started out with a visceral response to a perceived inequitability; perhaps addressing that inequitability means thinking of centuries past and future, both as a means to reveal our own unthinking prejudices, and a means to begin educating someone born in 2205.
Amazing. Again, out of curiosity, are you aware that in the martial community Aikido has a laughable reputation, on the whole? Would you care to hazard a guess as to what kind of people have engendered that reputation for Aikido?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-20-2005, 07:35 PM   #258
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Niadh Feathers wrote:
I think the dynamic is because she is female, just from my observations.

There is the dynamic of women who 'don't get along with other women.'
The young woman I mentioned earlier, who left because of 'sexism' etc. was one.

LK
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Old 03-21-2005, 03:52 AM   #259
ruthmc
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
There is the dynamic of women who 'don't get along with other women.'
Agreed. I have been told by some women that they don't like to train with other women, and some have made it clear that they don't like other women training in "their" dojo

As far as I can gather, the 'reasons' why some women don't like training with female partners are that a) they are more afraid of injuring them, as they are physically less muscular (and muscle protects) than males, and b) that they won't get such a good work-out when not training in a blaze of testosterone-fueled enthusiasm And then some women just prefer to be the only woman in the dojo

It's very sad that any women buy in to any of the above. Training with people of different physical builds develops sensitivity, and intensity in training can occur on so many different levels than the purely physical! Women with a 'queen bee' complex simply disgust me - it's as bad as men with a 'king of the jungle' complex. Neither of these have any place in the dojo.

All IMHO

Ruth
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Old 03-21-2005, 06:44 AM   #260
sunny liberti
 
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Re: Equitable?

To answer (I think it was) Lorien's question on the last page:

I've never run across a dojo where sexism is the rule, though certainly I've encountered the rogue a**hole chauvanists. But they generally aren't well liked anyway. But they are out there.

As I posted previously, I've seen a lot of looking for chauvanism where it isn't. I've also trained with women I couldn't stand, as they started the encounter with one of those up-and-down, raised-eyebrow stares, and then did anything but good solid waza to "prove" their superiority. I think it's a lot of that "queen bee" BS. Or fake feminism.

For me dealing with all sorts is a big reason for training. I wouldn't want to homogonize the dojo populations.

Last edited by sunny liberti : 03-21-2005 at 06:47 AM.

Sunny

A brave man dies once; cowards are always dying." --Moanahonga, Ioway
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Old 03-21-2005, 06:59 AM   #261
Dazzler
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
What high-level woman martial artist do you want to put up against a high-level male martial artist? Give me a name. I say you'll evade this one. Amazing.

Again, out of curiosity, are you aware that in the martial community Aikido has a laughable reputation, on the whole? Would you care to hazard a guess as to what kind of people have engendered that reputation for Aikido?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
I kind of take your first point here Mike...In general Men have certain physical advantages which mean that in the majority of athletic events men outperform women...but in the context of this thread ability to teach isn't one of them.

I'm very aware of the reputation that aikido has among the general martial arts community. ...and I couldn't give a gnats chuff.

I'd agree that aikido contains a lot more 'non fighters' than other martial arts....eg. muay thai. Arguably anyone putting their bodies through the rigorous training demanded by these sport forms without taking it to the logical conclusion is'nt very well in my opinion...I certainly dont fancy 'conditioning' my body to the point of damage for the sake of aikido....and I can't see the sense in it.

On the other hand...I and many others here train hard, Those that look at the core of aikido will view the development of irimi and atemi as the underlying theme of their aikido (perhaps this should go on the without this no aikido thread).

Are these not embodied within the majority of martial arts?

My suggestion to all non aikidoka is recognise that we have an art form that can be practiced by all to a level that suits them.

Don't judge us by those that train to a lower level but judge aikido by the levels achieved by the best.

I assure you I have encountered aikidoists that measure up to the very highest ideals of 'hardness'. In any martial arena they would be considered quality.....by the hordes of TKD puppies, kung fu kids, judo nippers and bjjers that represent the bulk of the martial arts community one or 2 would have godlike presence.

Not that this matters a toss...bottom line is that the individual is more important than the art.

IMHO & respectfully

D
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:13 AM   #262
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
I kind of take your first point here Mike...In general Men have certain physical advantages which mean that in the majority of athletic events men outperform women...but in the context of this thread ability to teach isn't one of them.
In the context of the comment by Brion Toss, women perform twice as well as a man and don't get recognized for it. That's the context to which I was replying. It's not true.
Quote:
Those that look at the core of aikido will view the development of irimi and atemi as the underlying theme of their aikido (perhaps this should go on the without this no aikido thread).
What about tenkan? What about ki? I.e., you appear to be making some sort of personal assertion and attributing it to "those that look at the core of Aikido".
Quote:
Not that this matters a toss...bottom line is that the individual is more important than the art.
No offense, but I didn't really understand what you were arguing. Insofar as "not that this matters a toss", that was a pun I avoided because I suspect Brion has heard it before.

Mike
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:31 AM   #263
Dazzler
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
In the context of the comment by Brion Toss, women perform twice as well as a man and don't get recognized for it. That's the context to which I was replying.


It's not true. What about tenkan? What about ki? I.e., you appear to be making some sort of personal assertion and attributing it to "those that look at the core of Aikido". No offense, but I didn't really understand what you were arguing. Insofar as "not that this matters a toss", that was a pun I avoided because I suspect Brion has heard it before.

Mike
Point 1....fair enough ...I'll let you two guys argue on with this one.

Point 2... Its not true? says who? you? Personal assertion?

Fraid not.

This is what I've been taught by Pierre Chassang..longest practicing aikidoka in Europe to the tune of 50 years.

Sure we work on ki, tenkan maai and the rest of our bases.

But your posts seem to criticise aikido and dismiss it as ineffective.

My point remains that the martial effectiveness of aikido is determined by the presence of irimi and atemi...to enter and strike.

These elements are present in pretty much all martial arts.

Brion ...no pun intended.

My bottom line is still unconcerned with those that are casually dismissive of Aikido due to their ignorance of it.

Respectfully

D
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Old 03-21-2005, 08:14 AM   #264
mj
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
My bottom line is still unconcerned with those that are casually dismissive of Aikido due to their ignorance of it.
Daren I agree wholeheartedly. People who merely wish to stand and say 'aikido is sh*t and so are you' can have all the empty space they require to puff themselves up - I just get on with my training. Why on earth argue?

Better to be the tossee than the tosser, in cases like that.

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Old 03-21-2005, 08:20 AM   #265
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Point 2... Its not true? says who? you? Personal assertion?
Nope. I can support it with source books by Ueshiba K., Gozo Shioda, and others. I.e., your assertion was limited and did not mention something as basic as tenkan, which is mentioned as an equally key component in available source material by accepted experts in the field.
Quote:
This is what I've been taught by Pierre Chassang..longest practicing aikidoka in Europe to the tune of 50 years.
Just as an aside, do you connote real expertise with "time spent practicing"? I happen to know great numbers of people who have "many years of practice" yet who couldn't find their bum with both hands when their pants are down and the lights are on. No implication of disrespect to your teacher, of course.
Quote:
But your posts seem to criticise aikido and dismiss it as ineffective.
I didn't criticise and dismiss Aikido... I criticised and dismissed the too-prevalent western practice that is called Aikido. It's generally useless on many levels, except for role playing, social agendae, cooperative exercise, etc. Would you be willing to hazard a guess about what percentage of western Aikido is martially effective?
Quote:
My bottom line is still unconcerned with those that are casually dismissive of Aikido due to their ignorance of it.
I think you're confusing my comments, as I noted above.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-21-2005, 08:21 AM   #266
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Are women socialized (not necessariily on purpose) to defend themselves, especially to an authority figure? If this is a main problem manifesting itself in teaching women aikido, how can it best be helped?

Rob
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:18 AM   #267
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Point 2. Do I connote real expertise with time spent on the mat? Do you? It is down to the individual.
Then you agree with me that mentioning someone's time on the mat with any implications of expertise is a waste, then.
Quote:
I also know many people that have spent many years on the mat that could not fight their way out of the wettest of paper bags.
Me, too. I know people that think they can fight who can't. We both know many people, it seems.
Quote:
Point 3... aikido is generally useless? Useless for what? you average 6.57 post per day on something that you consider useless? why? It strikes me that you see nothing in aikido and wish to knock it for everyone else. I find that a bit sad.
Why did you deliberately leave off my clarification about "western" Aikido in such a way to imply that I was talking about traditional Aikido? I said:

I didn't criticise and dismiss Aikido... I criticised and dismissed the too-prevalent western practice that is called Aikido. It's generally useless on many levels, except for role playing, social agendae, cooperative exercise, etc.

And if you'll check the general interest in my posts, you'll see where my focus is and where I'm trying to get some information.
Quote:
Point 4 ..Would I be willing to guess about what percentage of western aikido is martially effective? Nope - I couldn't give a monkeys...
It was the topic that you jumped in on, though....
Quote:
I like what I do. I rate what I practice. I dont waste my time criticising others. If they come to me I'll teach them. If I get access to someone better that me I'll learn from them.
Good for you. Aikido is fortunate to have someone like you in it.

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:44 AM   #268
jonreading
 
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Re: Equitable?

I have a dojo of mostly males and a handful of dedicated females. In that group, I have a wide range of age differences and physical handicaps. My question is this, "who do I accomodate?"

The problem with training is that is will (should?) always favor the majority interest of the dojo. Is it fair if I take a senior (age) class and make them constantly take breakfalls? Is it fair if I constantly force a bunch of young, strong students to practice non-physical aikido? Is it fair to constantly make a bunch of girls practice aikido like boys? Is it fair to make a bunch of guys constantly train like girls? NO! It might be good occasssionally, but not always.

I can actually see the girls roll their eyes when I talk about hard aikido; I can see the boys sigh when I start talking about softer aikido; I can see my older students look on with fear when the sutemi begins. Who do I accomodate? No one. Sometimes my instruction is geared towards men, sometimes women; sometimes, I teach a hear-pounding class for my young people to wrestle around. Understand that as an instructor, every class I am challenged to present instruction that will appeal to my entire class.

I think women in general have it tough, but I am not going to make excuses for them. I have heard a lot of posts from women with great attitudes, and I hope they don't get discouraged. To me, sexual equality in a dojo should be:
1. separate changing rooms
2. Variable classes for different interests
3. An understanding that everyone on the mat will equally beat their partner up

Most of my female students want nothing more than those three things. I tell my students the same thing, "Hang in there, keep training. Some days you won't like class, some days you will. But I promise that I will not waste your time either way."

I hope the women today realize they are creating the path for the women tomorrow. Its a tough job, and I respect them for that task alone.
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:45 AM   #269
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Equitable?

I hate to be the one who brings up such an apparently shallow point, but in my observation, the teacher whose image most closely matches the expectation of the prospective student is the one who fills the classes.

Of the many teachers I've had over the last twenty+ years, the one who attracted the most students was GJN Nam Hyong. He is a phenomenally skilled martial artist, and so I don't want to verbally take anything away from his ability to perform or teach. But he really looks the part of the wise old master (and it's worth repeating: he is) who has all the secrets and he had no trouble finding students. (Sadly for me, he was so successful he built up his Chicago school to the point that he sold our local studio so he could devote more time to it.)

So I respectfully submit that to particular segments of students, the classroom experience, including the voice, appearance, style and personal magnetism of the instructor are MORE important than the content of the class or the effectiveness of the techniques. This is probably the source of a lot of the differences we're discussing, IMHO.

Personally, I want the best technical instruction I can get. My teachers are all perfectly pleasant, but that's sundry to the point of the class at my dojo.
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Old 03-21-2005, 11:32 AM   #270
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote:
So I respectfully submit that to particular segments of students, the classroom experience, including the voice, appearance, style and personal magnetism of the instructor are MORE important than the content of the class or the effectiveness of the techniques. This is probably the source of a lot of the differences we're discussing, IMHO.
I absolutely agree. It's what I meant when I said that dojo's are like "filters" and gradually become dominated with the sorts of people who are most attracted to what they perceive is going on (while people interested in solid martial arts tend to flow through and go elsewhere). Tai Chi and Aikido got a huge boost from the New Age crowds, wannabelieves, "spiritual" seekers, etc., and there's a huge base of that sort (worse in Tai Chi, though). Things are gradually changing, but the legitimate question is whether Aikido and Taiji would have succeeded in the West had it not been for the influx of the New Age people. I think not, but that's just a personal opinion.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 03-21-2005, 03:01 PM   #271
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
... Things are gradually changing, but the legitimate question is whether Aikido and Taiji would have succeeded in the West had it not been for the influx of the New Age people. I think not, but that's just a personal opinion.
Interesting, in that the yoshinkan doesn't place much (or perhaps any) focus on the new age stuff as an organization, and yet is arguably the 2nd largest aikido association, and does quite well in the US.

But we must have our share of New Age Warriors (TM) I'm sure...

RT

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Old 03-21-2005, 03:04 PM   #272
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Interesting, in that the yoshinkan doesn't place much (or perhaps any) focus on the new age stuff as an organization, and yet is arguably the 2nd largest aikido association, and does quite well in the US.

But we must have our share of New Age Warriors (TM) I'm sure...
I was talking about in the old days, Ron.... when you were a pup.... before there was much Yoshinkan.

Mike
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Old 03-21-2005, 03:12 PM   #273
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

Actually, I wasn't even a pup then perhaps not even a glimmer...oh you get the point. ...I'm sure the yosh goes back to the 50's in the states...Steven Miranda's website has a good chronology...I'll have to find the time to check it again.

RT

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-21-2005, 03:31 PM   #274
SeiserL
 
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Dojo: Roswell Budokan, Kyushinkan Dojo, Aikido World Alliance
Location: Roswell, GA USA
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Re: Equitable?

IMHO, and just an observation from 38 years of training: Even out here in southern California, the land of new-age twinkies, I have not seem much of it in Aikido. I would agree that the new-age hype has helped, but so have the Seagal movies. Awareness and newness always draws some marketing interest until people see that it is not as easy as it looks. Then the hobbyist drop off and the training continues. There has been an ebb and flow in martial arts.

IMHO, equality is not a new-age concept but a worthwhile goal to strive towards.

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 03-21-2005, 03:37 PM   #275
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Just out of curiosity, do you even care that what you said is a pretty blatantly dishonest characterisation of what I said and that you stand exposed as being intellectually dishonest for all to see?
Oh no! Not exposed as intellectually dishonest for all to see!
Quote:
Hmmmmm... not in a fight, she's not.
Who said anything about a fight? What I believe I said was that there was a fair degree of accuracy in an otherwise HUMEROUS [emphasis added, as you appear to have missed it the first time] saying. That's not evasion; that's what I said.
Quote:
Amazing. Again, out of curiosity, are you aware that in the martial community Aikido has a laughable reputation, on the whole?
Who said anything about reputation? What relevance to reputation do my words bear? Is there some reason not to discuss, at least, the possibility that non-martial issues might have some place in Aikido?
Quote:
Would you care to hazard a guess as to what kind of people have engendered that reputation for Aikido?
Is this a rhetorical question? Do you assume, for some reason, that I believe that some particular "kind" of people have engendered Aikido's reputation? If so, you are mistaken.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Last edited by akiy : 03-22-2005 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Fixed "Quote" End Tags
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