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Old 03-02-2005, 12:42 PM   #51
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Equitable?

I was thinking, 35 instructors is way too much. Ppl will be surly confused and all. On can't really learn from so many differenct approach. Even if you limit yourself to 10 is still too much.
Quantity or quality?

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 03-02-2005, 12:49 PM   #52
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

How would you know? Have you ever gone to an expo? Did you ever try to organize such an event? What is your opinion based on?

Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...


Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-02-2005, 12:55 PM   #53
akiy
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...
What I've done for the past two Expos is to "major" in one single instructor for the entire time. In other words, I went to as many classes that I could with one instructor for the entire weekend and then filled in the rest with others when that instructor was not teaching. I'll probably do the same this year, too...

-- Jun

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Old 03-02-2005, 01:04 PM   #54
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote:
The way I see it is that more women teaching and being visible in organizations will make Aikido more available to more and younger women.
Mary, I didn't want to call you on the carpet initially, but I'm starting to think it might be helpful:
1) Are you considering joining an organization to be a leader in this cause you have such passion for?

2) A few years back I attended a couple seminars with three relatively highly ranked female instructors hosted in the Springfield area, and I didn't meet you.

Rob
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Old 03-02-2005, 01:14 PM   #55
Stanley Pranin
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Re: Equitable?

Greetings!

Lynn Seiser was kind enough to point out the existence of this thread on the subject of women instructors at Aiki Expo 2005. I have read every single post and I really appreciate all of the input that contributors have offered in this discussion. I have learned a great deal from reading all of your different opinions.

Putting on an event like the Expo has many consequences. One thing for sure, even though there may be a broad basis of support for such open events, you're sure to offend many people for very different reasons. You will invite too few or too many instructors. You will have too few minorities or not enough women or too many Japanese instructors. You will hold the event at the wrong time of year. You will charge too much for the event, and so on.

If you want to conduct an interesting experiment, try this. Post a message with the following title: "How I would organize an Aiki Expo." Go ahead and provide as much detail as you can. Where would you hold your Expo? At what time of year will it take place? How many instructors would you invite (don't forget to provide a list of names!)? How much admission will you charge? What will be the theme of your event?

Go ahead, write something up and then press the "Submit" button. That's when the fun will start!

Stanley Pranin
http://www.aikidojournal.com

P.S. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you all to attend Aiki Expo 2005 to be held May 27-29 in LA!
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Old 03-02-2005, 01:24 PM   #56
Bronson
 
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Re: Equitable?

Having been involved in organizing largish (but much smaller than Aiki Expo) events I can say that it is a terrible, stressful, thankless, monstrous pain in the ass.

Although I've never been to Aiki Expo and probably won't go again this year, I appreciate the effort. Lord knows I wouldn't want to do it.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 03-02-2005, 01:43 PM   #57
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

A member of the local Aikido KenkyuKai group here in Phila. has been speaking to me about helping to put an embu together featuring a wide array of local instructors. The first hurdle we talked about was enlisting the support of the major organizations. To give a small idea of the groups that would need to be involved to be representative:

Yoshinkan (Doshinkan), Utada Sensei
Aikido KenkyuKai, Kirisawa Sensei, Lia Suzuki Sensei
USAF East, Smith Sensei, Waite Sensei, Tamaini Sensei, Jeff Bowden Sensei, Taleb Sensei
USAF West, Lyons Sensei
Ki Society (I only know one person in PA, and that is a member not the instructor), Pierce Sensei
Saotome Sensei's group, Goldberg Sensei
Independants (there are a lot, at least 3 that I know of)

And I've probably left out someone who might very well be offended...this is just who I can think of off the top of my head. Challenges:

Some of these groups may have had 'issues' in the past.

Some generally don't do outside events (even the yoshinkan until recently didn't go outside much).

What venue would be acceptable to all of the groups?

Would all of the goups do this for free? If there is a fee at the door, how much? How do you split any revenue?

How long do people demo for? Are there different time allotments for bigger groups? Higher ranked instructors?

How do you decide who goes when? (cross organzational rank issues, anyone?)

And I've probably just scratched the surface as far as issues are concerned. I don't know if this type of event will happen anytime soon, the closest was probably Utada Sensei's 25 anniversary, maybe the joint seminar between Utada and Ikeda Sensei. But it took a lot of work, money and sweat to pull those off...If this is even bigger, with a wider intended audience...I shudder just to think of the work it would take to do it well.

And I've only listed *one* female instructor, who actually spends most of her time on the west coast now...I believe there is another one in New Jersey, but for the life of me, I can't remember her name.


RT

Ron Tisdale
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:15 PM   #58
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote:
[SNIP].. My Aikido has a lot to do with peace love dove stuff. It also has helped me transform from a woman who has been raped and beaten to who I am today. So don't give me any of that real thing stuff.
Hmmmmm. Mary, I don't have any quarrel with what you personally want to do and I feel badly that you've undergone a very bad experience. But I think what O-Sensei did was "the real stuff" and that's more what I tend to focus on than women's issues, men's machismo, religiosity, etc. If you can present a logical and compelling case that what you do is "the real stuff", I'm anxious to listen.
Quote:
My hope for Aikido is that some day more women will be safe. The way I see it is that more women teaching and being visible in organizations will make Aikido more available to more and younger women.
Do you consider Aikido as you do it a dependable means of self-defense?
Quote:
Do women have to smiling and charming for you to listen to them?
Sadly, I tend to treat women exactly as I do men and I have the same criteria for them as I do men. If they are strong, smart, and dependable I tend to like them. If anyone doesn't have much personal worth and character, I tend to avoid them. It pisses a lot of women off when I do that, I think. Some women want to be treated just like men..... but special.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:28 PM   #59
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Great idea Ron! I love AKI aikido. Lia Suzuki sensei is a wonderful aikido teacher. Please let me know when you are having your event. Maybe you should allow people to pre-order (require pre-pay) videos of the event and use that money to keep the price down for the participants.

Rob
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:32 PM   #60
Adam Alexander
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Re: Equitable?

Regarding the "anger" that this thread has developed. For myself, I'm not angry. I just think it's sad that people, all races and the "fairer" gender, prefers to impose their ideology on others, rather than develop something of their own.

I just think that this is another situation where people feel that they have some sort of right to force others to succumb to their ideals. I don't think sexism or racism or right, but I don't see any reason to stop another from practicing it (unless it's a government body).

Whatever happened to freedom?
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:39 PM   #61
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

Hi Rob, Actually, its Steve Trinkle's idea...and it would be great if we could ever pull it off. But I think you can imagine the work involved...

I've learned a lot from my training with the AKI group...they are completely opposite the training I'm used to, and exactly the same Maybe the video idea (especially the pre-order part) could help in this! I'll think about that...

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:59 PM   #62
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
How would you know? Have you ever gone to an expo? Did you ever try to organize such an event? What is your opinion based on?

Perhaps if you went, took the time to read about the instructors, planned out which instructors/styles you would focus on, which you would use to fill gaps in the schedule, which were 'obligatory' appearances for affiliations sake, you would find that you COULD learn quite a bit, as well as just having a *ing good time...

Hi Ron,
Don't get too much excited
I'm not talking here about superficial learning few tricks, I want to learn core of instructor transmission (even in this environement).
From my personal experience, I have big difficulty to switch from one style aikido to other. It takes me 2-3 hours of practice. I don't want to practice like in my home dojo. But with this number of instructors, it is virtually not possible.

but may be I'm not smart enough

ps. recently I found to benefit more from very small seminars.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 03-02-2005, 03:14 PM   #63
Don_Modesto
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Re: Equitable?

Hi, Szczepan ,

As always, enjoying your contributions...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I want to learn core of instructor transmission (even in this environement).
From my personal experience, I have big difficulty to switch from one style aikido to other. It takes me 2-3 hours of practice. I don't want to practice like in my home dojo. But with this number of instructors, it is virtually not possible.

but may be I'm not smart enough
Don't think so; just think you're you. That 'weak point' is also a strong point: variety gives perspective. My favorite reference here is Darwin who went outside of biology when he hit the wall there (to Adam Smith for 'survival of the fittest,' an concept from economics)

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 03-02-2005, 03:38 PM   #64
Chris Li
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mark Johnston wrote:
Who is invited to teach at the Expo? Famous people.

How do you become famous? By teaching at the Expo.

The problem is not a paucity of good quality female instructors.
Has anyone really become famous by teaching at the expo? It's a very recently created event - this year's is only the third one. I think that you're attributing more influence to it than is due.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-02-2005, 03:42 PM   #65
mj
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Has anyone really become famous by teaching at the expo? It's a very recently created event - this year's is only the third one. I think that you're attributing more influence to it than is due.

Best,

Chris
No, sorry my fault.

What I meant was:-

Who does Seminars...people who do Seminars.

The Expo is much appreciated.

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Old 03-02-2005, 05:44 PM   #66
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Equitable? Long)

Equitability? (long ...)

Mary Eastland said:
>just checked out the list of instructors for the Aiki Expo. There were 35 and only 2 of >them were women. 2!!!!!!!. Just had to get that off my chest.

And several folks responded.

Some random comments from me about that:

Pauliina Lievonen asked:
>Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo?

(Waves at Pauliina)
Well, sound on the surface like a good idea. Aside from Stanley, does anyone here know who was invited, who declined, who had prior commitment, etc?

I was involved in the organization and execution of most of the aikido-l seminars (www.aikido-l.org) and can relate to Mary's question. In fact, it was asked of us (aikido-l sem organizers) more than once. The answer was almost always either: No women made themselves available to teach; or: The women we invited to teach declined for various reasons. Same answers to question about why we invited/didn't invite someone from XYZ organization.

Also consider the number of senior instructors who are female opposed to those who are male. Anybody have any statistics on what the range is? MAYBE, just maybe, the 2 out of whatever IS, indeed reflective of the gender dispersion amongst senior aikido teachers.

Mike Sigman said:
>How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does
>gender have to do with good Aikido?

Wow. Whatta concept. Umm ... nah, wouldn't work. It doesn't seem to favor anyone. No wait, it DOES favor someone! The Japanese male senior aikido teacher population! No, wait ... that's a minority ... DOH! I'm confused now. Fortunately, that's familiar territory.

(Winks at Mike)

Mary Eastland said:
>I think there are a lot of great women Aikido teachers.

Probably. How many of them are in the range that Stanley is seeking to fill the bill at the expo? Quick count, I can name about a handful of fairly senior female teachers. There are probably a good many more coming up through the ranks, but what were Stanley's criteria for selecting instructors for the expo? I have no clue, but I suspect he's looking for folks with fairly extensive experience, senior-ranked, recognized expertise ...

Yes, budo is male-dominated. Mainly because it's mostly men who DO budo.

Why don't more women do budo? No clue. I do know that my dojo has always been woman-friendly, and often our student population was close to or more than 50 percent female.

What did I do to attract more women than the average? Nothing. I teach without regard to gender, have had (and still do) a woman as my assistant (she's teaching classes while I'm in the US for a month).

My experience has been a bit out of the norm, but I ain't complaining. Women in the dojo is a good thing.

However, if a women was interested in what I have to teach solely because there were several women in the dojo, or WASN'T interested in training with me because there were FEW women in my dojo, then I suspect I wouldn't want her in my dojo anyway. Same-same for men. I don't care what the gender-balance is on my mat, I care about having students with whom I can continue the flow from my teachers to them. Nothing else -- let me reiterate this: NOTHING else matters. Not gender, not race, not religion, not number of limbs, not any. thing. else.

I don't care if I have women in my class or not. Nor would I care one whit if I had all women (a situation that has occurred in the past, BTW).

I only care about transmitting the art. I suspect Stanley is thinking along the same lines, but he can speak for himself on that.

I've asked my wife to chime in on this thread as well. She's got strong opinions on the subject, not necessarily the same as mine.

Mary also said:
>But how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be if the "system"
>does not recognize what is lacking and work to fix it?

Who says it's not? Why isn't it? Who said it's supposed to be something different than exactly what it is?

>Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

I cannot disagree with this more. If women want to do aikido- or any budo - more power to them. It's not my job to make sure they come into the dojo, watch, decide to join, show up regularly, work through the system, aspire to and learn to teach, take wing and fly to their own dojo with a loyal following of other women. Not my job.

My job is simple: transmit the art. I don't even accept men with whom I don't think I can share that mission.

Mike Sigman asked:

>What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

IMNSHO: Nothing.

Mal Smith said:
>"what happened to the harmony" but to me harmony is balance and there is no balance in
>a room that has 33 male instructors and only 2 female.

Why? Would you rather see a balanced card of 15 seniors and 15 juniors who were selected not because of their skill, years of experience and creditability, but because they filled a quota?

Pauliina Lievonen said:
>Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors

Great exercise in wishful thinking. How does it relate to reality? How many female shihans are there in the aikido world?

It's not unreasonable to say that the budo world is heavily slanted towards males. Why? Well, at one time, it was because budo was a man's club. Nowadays, especially in the west, that's not necessarily the unwavering truth it once was.

More women than ever before are pursuing budo (and many more are doing 'budo light' in some form (Tae Bo anyone) or another. In 20 years, what will the gender distribution be in the senior ranks? No clue. But I would posit from personal experience of being involved in budo for 30+ years that there WILL be more women doing budo and more women in senior positions then than there are now -- just as there are far more now than there were 20 years ago and WAY more than 50 years ago and ... you get the idea.

>there are only a couple female instructors invited

We don't know that. We don't know how many were -invited- ... we only know that only two accepted, could make the commitment, etc.

Anne Marie Giri said:
>... main point was that we need to support women instructors, go to their seminars and invite them to seminars?

Cool. I'm all for that. However, it doesn't address the issue here. The issue could be boiled down to this: "It's my dojo/clinic/seminar, I'll invite any teacher I feel can provide the instruction and environment I want to cultivate."

Mary apparently feels that the choices were made to deliberately or through omission exclude women. I say, if the instruction offered is good, it doesn't matter whether the teacher is male or female.

If a woman wants to do more to support women in budo, then she will, IMHO, attend the seminar regardless of who's teacher, learn what she can, incorporate it, keep moving forward and someday, when offered the chance, step up to teach herownself.

That's all I see here.

> Women instructors are not seen as skilled.

By whom? I don't see things that way. Nor do I care whether a good teacher is male of female. However, I have been in seminars taught by women that I wish I'd never paid money for (men, too), and I've had women as guests in my dojo who simply amazed me -- but NOT because they were women, but because their budo was excellent. Period.

George S. Ledyard said:
>Of course gender matters

Sorry George. I disagree (not the first time ... I know). Gender does NOT matter in budo. What maters is the transmission of the art. Period. All else is gravy.

>...impressed me no end by not only conducting professional level demos and classes but
>by being willing to get on the mat and try out the classes of the various other
>teachers. I would like to see more women instructors willing to participate like that.

With THIS, I couldn't agree more. You've hit the nail on the head.

OK, this has been beaten to death time and again. Ya'll can go back to bickering and whining if that suits ya. Me, I'm gonna keep doing what I do, regardless of the gender of those involved.

Sigh.

Chuck

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Old 03-02-2005, 08:32 PM   #67
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable? Long)

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
Equitability? (long ...) [snip]
>>purses lips. makes note to self... "cannot compete with a post of this length." sigh<<
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Old 03-03-2005, 04:14 AM   #68
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Equitable? Long)

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:

George S. Ledyard said:
>Of course gender matters

Sorry George. I disagree (not the first time ... I know). Gender does NOT matter in budo. What maters is the transmission of the art. Period. All else is gravy.
Actually, "transmission" of the art is only "important" to the Sensei and the small number of people who are going to go the distance and take their training to the highest level.

The rest of the folks, by far the majority, are training for other reasons than to get the "transmission" so to speak. They have no expectation of teaching or running their own dojos. They are training for their own satisfaction and the same issues that effect their lives every day effect their training in the dojo. Aikido would be empty of meaning for most people if it didn't help them deal with the day by day issues that matter to them. Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training, just as they are in most other areas of our lives. I see these issues play out every day in my dojo. And as Budo men and women we need to make an effort to deal with these things in a conscious, honorable fashion. This is far more important than if someone can crank a great nikkyo on his partner.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:54 AM   #69
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Sensei George,

It is my understanding that Osensei asked that we spread aikido to the world. I agree that means to all people not just men or Japanese, etc... However, I cannot accept that he would have meant to spread just the surface level nonsense so people can sweat a little and feel good and go home in hopes that one or two students in a dojo will get inspired to take it further than average.

I feel that we need to figure out what the road blocks in aikido are -that we have any control over- preventing the typical "client" from being a "student". We have an obligation to remove them. If getting more female teachers in focus will help inspire a female student from getting a sense of gender issues that make her want to quit or just become another client, then we should do everything we can to address that issue. I suppose the main thing is to figure out what the biggest road blocks are first, prioritize them, announce them, and start implementing changes based on client/student feedback. That's basically my current plan.

I cannot accept that I am supposed to just produce a bunch of clients who are just there to have a good time or get away from the house, etc... They showed up looking and desiring change. Our job as teachers is to continually support that desire towards michi.

Rob
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:20 AM   #70
PeterR
 
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Re: Equitable?

The old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind.

I think the only thing a sensei is obligated to do is make a path available for those who wish to follow it. If others are getting something else out of it who's to complain.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:00 AM   #71
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable? Long)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
[snipsky] Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training, just as they are in most other areas of our lives. I see these issues play out every day in my dojo. And as Budo men and women we need to make an effort to deal with these things in a conscious, honorable fashion. This is far more important than if someone can crank a great nikkyo on his partner.
I would disagree about gender issues being HUGE in martial arts training. Genders issues are huge, in my lengthy experience, only in places that allow them to become huge. Usually we call those kinds of places "McDojos" and they indeed pander to a number of issues that aren't necessarily related to the presumed core art. There seems to be an element of perspective that Aikido (although other arts get into this issue as well) has been rightfully "adapted" and its goals shifted a little bit from the way O-Sensei did it because some people have taken it on themselves to decide what are important issues... issues that O-Sensei wasn't able to see with the clarity that they can.

I've seen the word "budo" used a lot lately, and frankly, after having seen innumerable dojo's during the course of my career, I have a lot of reservations about diluting the meaning of the term by painting everyone with a broad-brush use of it. When gender issues and other extraneous matters are "huge", they eclipse the "bu" part and it is no longer a "budo". We all know that many facets of the Aikido community are snickered at and we've all (hopefully) been to dojo's where we get the uncomfortable feeling that we're in the middle of some sort of role-playing episode with too-stylized and too-cooperative training. Any martial artist with an outside perspective from hard-practiced martial arts isn't going to go down the road of the reasonableness of having to address gender issues as a "huge" part of a martial art. The presumption that a bona fide student really interested in the martial arts should be forced in a dojo setting to deal with other peoples' political baggage is sort of staggering, IMO. Don't we first owe a duty to the martial art and to the real martial artists before we accept social issues as bona fide distractions?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:01 AM   #72
Carrie
Location: Florida
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote:
Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.
Mary
Though I'm just a beginner, I've had experience with 2 dojos. One sizeable, and the other quite small. In my beginners class there were about 15 men and 2 women. From my experience everyone was welcomed and encouraged warmly and equally. I assumed the ratio of men to women was one that occurred organically; influenced by external factors rather than by anything taking place within the dojo.

From this woman's standpoint, it was, and still can be, scary. And that's part of the reason I train….to gain a sense of personal power in ‘aggressive' situations (or perhaps more appropriately to LOSE the sense of helplessness in those situations) and to experience a safe and healthy resolution to same. For me, if anything, * I* am the one that sells myself short on the mat with thoughts like ‘Oh c'mon, I cannot possibly move this great big guy.' And it's the men in my class that encourage and push me hard enough to get past those self-limiting thoughts. Their nonchalant refusal to accept my occasional ‘you expect a girl to do THAT?' attitude is something I am very grateful for, and one of the main reasons I wind up doing things I never thought I could.

When I feel at a disadvantage, or that something is extra challenging as a result of having smaller hands, being shorter, etc, Sensei shows me how to correct or adjust my technique to achieve the desired result. And on the flip side, sometimes being short seems to be pretty advantageous.

My experience, thankfully, has been that my Sensei and the men I train with treat me no differently than anyone else. That's something that I took for granted as the way things should be. I have never been made to feel less than equal by anyone in the dojo.

Carrie
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Old 03-03-2005, 09:42 AM   #73
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 104
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Re: Equitable?

Hi again,
I agree with Ledyard Sensei that gender issues are huge in martial arts, and take exception to the idea that to acknowledge this is necessarily to pander to extraneous or distracting details. Issues of age, speed, strength, reach, peripheral vision, tactics, strategy, conditioned response (good and bad), psychology, cultural perceptions, and geometry are also huge in martial arts, and any remotely useful, coherent martial art will take all of those factors, and more, into account, making provisions and allowances for them in the greater context of the art. Gender issues might not seem as relevant as some of the above items, but even leaving aside the matter of social and personal imbalance for the moment, let's look at two other aspects, one technical and one spiritual.
On the technical side, a woman of the same height and weight as a man will usually have a lower CG, less upper body strength, and have other differences due to body structure; she will do the technique differently, sometimes a lot differently. If you are interested in "transmission" of the art, you will need to address how it can be expressed by women practitioners. In the same way, of course, you will need to make acknowledgement of, and adjustments for, people who are very tall, very short, short-fingered, etc. Is that pandering? Is that "imposing an ideology" on others?
On the spiritual side, several posters have talked about how they were just interested in teaching what Osensei taught. And they seem to imply that all he taught was technique. As I understand it, however, he thought he was teaching "a way to reconcile the world", with the technical stuff being an adjunct to the central, spiritual message. If you try to separate the two, you tend to get arguments like some of the ones above, with lovely little snipes like "McDojo" aimed at anyone who stands up for something besides technical proficiency. Actually, I have the impression that Osensei maintained his technique was so powerful because, not in spite of, his attention to spiritual, ethical, and moral matters.
Back in the 60's, when I was first studying Aikido, some of my radical college friends were fond of spouting ridiculous, meant-to-be-stirring slogans. One of my favorites was, "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." Right. A wise old friend, on hearing this, calmly pointed out, "Actually, it's better to live on your feet."
In the current discussion, we seem to be splitting into two camps, with technical pitted against spiritual. Perhaps this is inevitable at times, in an art that, in my view, seeks to reconcile the world. The difficult truth, as is its wont, lies somewhere between.
I have been in dojos whose brand of Aikido could best be described as interpretive dance, but without the martial applicability. And I've been in dojos that were so preposterone-driven that I felt lucky to escape intact. I don't think that either type was doing Aikido. Most dojo's that I have practiced in addressed, as a given, the difficult paradox of a martial art that purports to be about peace. The gender aspect currently under discussion is, I think, essential to achieving peace. In saying this, I utterly understand that many people feel otherwise. Just an opinion.
Yours,
Brion Toss
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Old 03-03-2005, 10:16 AM   #74
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Brion Toss wrote:
Hi again,
I agree with Ledyard Sensei that gender issues are huge in martial arts, and take exception to the idea that to acknowledge this is necessarily to pander to extraneous or distracting details.
OK, but you also strongly took the side of complaining about gender parity, earlier on: "The original poster had good reason to be upset at the gender disparity for this event; if only two out of thirty-five instructors had been male, no amount of rationalizations re political divides, style differences, rank envy, etc. would have served to quiet the clamor over a gross distortion of gender parity."
Quote:
Issues of age, speed, strength, reach, peripheral vision, tactics, strategy, conditioned response (good and bad), psychology, cultural perceptions, and geometry are also huge in martial arts, and any remotely useful, coherent martial art will take all of those factors, and more, into account, making provisions and allowances for them in the greater context of the art.
Actually, when most realistic-thinking people begin an endeavour, they consider whether they can acceptably perform in a given setting, not whether the endeavour and serious practitioners can be molded to suit their way of thinking and doing things. This should be particularly true of martial arts. If I am too old to practice a martial art with the average young-buck crowd of martial artists, for instance, that is something I need to consider and deal with... not them. Speaking of which, a good friend of mine who has been in Aikido since Noah was a gokyu, noted that Aikido is on a downward trend since its peak. Classes are smaller and the average age is noticeably older nowadays; not to mention the number of out-of-shape practitioners has increased. Do you think some of the "issue-driven" points we're talking about may have had a hand in the ongoing change?
Quote:
On the technical side, a woman of the same height and weight as a man will usually have a lower CG, less upper body strength, and have other differences due to body structure; she will do the technique differently, sometimes a lot differently. If you are interested in "transmission" of the art, you will need to address how it can be expressed by women practitioners. In the same way, of course, you will need to make acknowledgement of, and adjustments for, people who are very tall, very short, short-fingered, etc. Is that pandering? Is that "imposing an ideology" on others?
Why aren't those considerations mainly the worries of the people who are affected? Isn't my own height, build, level of aggression, pain tolerance, etc., something that I need to deal with through my practice, not what others have to constantly consider before that make any move or statement? A dojo needs to practice Aikido (or any other art) in a correct manner and in a fair manner. Period. IMO.
Quote:
On the spiritual side, several posters have talked about how they were just interested in teaching what Osensei taught. And they seem to imply that all he taught was technique. As I understand it, however, he thought he was teaching "a way to reconcile the world", with the technical stuff being an adjunct to the central, spiritual message. If you try to separate the two, you tend to get arguments like some of the ones above, with lovely little snipes like "McDojo" aimed at anyone who stands up for something besides technical proficiency. Actually, I have the impression that Osensei maintained his technique was so powerful because, not in spite of, his attention to spiritual, ethical, and moral matters.
Leaving O-Sensei's personal religion aside, his implication of "spiritual" and "harmony" appears to be more in the way the world actually functions, not a call for world peace and New Age spirituality. The same infatuation for the beauty of "Ki", "not resisting", etc., the way all things work together once you understand the basic mechanics, etc., is found in a number of other martial arts in Asia. I.e., you are presenting your impression of what O-Sensei was saying, but it may miss the implications of what he was actually saying. (Here I caveat a bit that what O-Sensei said as he became very old may not be totally germane to what he said earlier. Sort of like when he gave a 10th dan in Aikido to a female dancer, etc.). My point is that no one said Aikido is only about technique... but no one is going to accept a glib and superficial New Age interpretation of what O-Sensei said, either.

Yours in Harmony,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-03-2005, 12:17 PM   #75
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
The old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind.

I think the only thing a sensei is obligated to do is make a path available for those who wish to follow it. If others are getting something else out of it who's to complain.
No one should complain -- UNLESS those others who are getting something else out of practice start interfering with the people in the dojo who would like to be following the path provided to them by the sensei. Then the teacher should feel obligated to do something about it.

Heck, I agree that gender disparity can be a major issue. I've actually been implementing plans to address it and make it better for the future. I just don't think complaining about it without contributing any ideas about how to improve the situation gets us anywhere new.

Rob
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