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Old 03-03-2005, 12:27 PM   #76
Brion Toss
Dojo: Aikido Port Townsend
Location: Port Townsend, Wa.
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Re: Equitable?

Hello,
In response to Mike Sigman's thoughtful response, I'll take your points in order.
First, I consider gross gender disparity non-extraneous, and I believe that addressing said disparity need not constitute pandering (def: "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.") Far from it, I believe that addressing it can be good for the art.
Next, I began practicing when the earth was still cooling, and my own physical abilities were somewhat less limited than they are now. Nevertheless, I clearly remember my sensei making specific admonitions to us, as individuals as well as a group, to take each others' abilities into account. That way we could practice safely together, and dial up the intensity where appropriate. Granted, this can easily degrade into a "hey, take it easy big fella" dojo environment. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. But I think your contention here is a bit of a straw dog; it doesn't have to be that way.
And yes, you had better take other people's abilities and limitations into account, if you expect to practice with them. I neither said nor implied you have to consider "every move or statement," but you do have to consider some moves and statements, if you truly hope to practice "in a fair manner and a correct manner."
Finally, I don't believe I ever mentioned "world peace", let alone "New Age spirituality", let alone "a glib and superficial New Age interpretation of what Osensei said..." I spoke in general terms about the importance of harmony, and mentioned the "reconcile the world" quote. Not in any detail, nor with any intent at detail this didn't seem like the place for that but only to get across the idea that there might be something to the thread subject. What I DID say, and what you seem to imply agreement with in your last lines, is that Aikido is not just about technique. The only question remaining then, is what else is it about, and to what extent?
Carrie Sutton's letter seems to describe the kind of dojo I like, where people can rise to levels that they might not have otherwise, in an environment where they are expected to surpass themselves, but not forced to. I hope I'm reading it accurately.
Please bear in mind that I have no intention of imposing my preferences, ideals, or glib interpretations on anybody; I am engaging in a discussion.
Yours,
Brion Toss
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Old 03-03-2005, 12:58 PM   #77
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Brion Toss wrote:
Hello,
In response to Mike Sigman's thoughtful response, I'll take your points in order.
First, I consider gross gender disparity non-extraneous, and I believe that addressing said disparity need not constitute pandering (def: "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.") Far from it, I believe that addressing it can be good for the art.
Well of course you're entitled to your beliefs. I can't remember the topic being addressed in any reputable Aikido books, though.
Quote:
Next, I began practicing when the earth was still cooling, and my own physical abilities were somewhat less limited than they are now. Nevertheless, I clearly remember my sensei making specific admonitions to us, as individuals as well as a group, to take each others' abilities into account.
When I started Aikido, we had to make our own water during the breaks by combining Hydrogen and Oxygen. And unless your teacher was O-Sensei, I'm not sure how the admonition you mentioned is particularly germane.
Quote:
What I DID say, and what you seem to imply agreement with in your last lines, is that Aikido is not just about technique. The only question remaining then, is what else is it about, and to what extent?
It's also about timing, Ki, Kokyu, and a few other things. However, all of those things are mentioned in the credible Aikido books, etc. Gender parity seems to be an issue that is being artificially introduced as a concern in some branches of Aikido.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:06 PM   #78
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
Location: Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Now that makes real sense in my opinion. Quality, not attempts to be overly PC as far as I'm concerned should be the requirement.
What exactly is PC about women instructors?
I guarantee you that I can get away with instructing things men get in trouble for teaching. *grin*

Before I jump into this one, I have to say that I am only sounding like a feminist because I am trying to be an egalitarian.

I would like for gender to be completely invisible. Okay, vive la difference and all that. I LIKE being female, and I like men.

If this makes me more acceptable to you, shame on you.
Imagine me as Tank Girl. With a crush on your wife.

Thus framed, I begin:

I do not agree that women need special treatment at all. All we need is a chance to prove ourselves.

http://www.ejmas.com/jalt/jaltframe.htm
http://www.ejmas.com/proceedings/procindex.htm second paragraph, many good articles about gender history & interaction.

Sometimes you don't "get" the chance. Gotta take it.
Furthermore, for those willing to "prove it" those who don't give you that little chance, lose.
This is what instructors have to realize.
Females have to realize that they can do anything. I work with soldiers, many of whom are far more physically sturdy than I, and I have a lifetime of manual labor, budo, animal handling and a culture which discounts women as either mere brood mares or decor.

I don't even have words to describe the strength, physical, spiritual, and emotional, of the women I meet who are involved with the Army. Whether they are under fire, in command, holding down the fort at home or POW (Shoshanna Johnson!), they are self-possessed, adaptable, powerful and perceptive.

Quote:
I'm not so sure if the ratio of male to female instructors in the world is not represented by the numbers represented at the Aiki Expo this year.
It probably is.
Why is that? Is it really a failing, or possibly a lack of interest in our passive, consumerist society of women in taking responsibility for themselves instead of "renting" power?
We don't need to rent any damn thing. We've got it right here.

Quote:
Then again, where does the lobbying stop? Similar to what Bryce said - when we have enough female instructors, will we then start asking why there are not enough african, hispanic, indian, christian, moslem, buddhist, hindu or [insert category here] instructors at the expo? To echo Mike above, what bearing does this actually have on our personal quality of training in good Aikido?
Women are all of the above. Not a subgroup. Just people.
And, none. Should be none. Should be a NON-ISSUE.
However, on both sides, can you see a problem here?

What about the men who want so badly to be midwives? Quilters? Dancers? Professional gymnasts, or nurses? Teachers?
Men who are artists?
Now, you (Americans mostly) are saying to yourself, yeah, gay men.
NOT NECESSARILY.

Just like female soldiers aren't necessarily gay.
And who cares anyway? The British army happily recruits alternative sexual orientations. Whose business is it, in business, who you XXXX, or want to XXXX? Never mind that the US Army lives in the bloody Stone Age. Don't ask, don't tell, WHAT exactly?

Quote:
Personally I believe we must be the change we wish to see in the world.
Sometimes, we just have to make it happen.
Are we so frightened of our own gender and its interaction?
Life is sexually transmitted, after all. Without it, we cease to exist. So get over it, already.

MLE
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:47 PM   #79
Chuck.Gordon
Location: Frederick, MD
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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.
Peter, that bears repeating.

Good on ya.

Chuck

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Old 03-03-2005, 03:55 PM   #80
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Why do we need to encourage anyone over anyone else in Aikido? Why not just do Aikido?
Teachers used to be mostly male. In public school.. look at salaries. Look at nursing.

Quote:
What I think may be happening is that if I don't have a special concern for women (in the eyes of some women) then I am "hostile" toward women.
This is the worst problem. People with "issues" inflicting these issues on things better dealt with by considering the " greater good". Hostility never works. Facts do. Honest opinion, sharing, generosity. Let's try that.

Quote:
Beccause George Ledyard didn't start an unfriendly thread intimating other people were in the wrong?????
Looking for a dominant male to defend a feminist issue is a pretty fatal flaw. We can do it ourselves, thanks. George gets the politics, thank goodness. But he does not LIVE them. Those of us who DO, this is OUR fight.

Those who do not watch and listen, lose it.
They lose the women who care about budo.
We'll go do koryu, thanks. They need support, and they know it.

MLE
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Old 03-03-2005, 04:13 PM   #81
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Emily Dolan Gordon wrote:
Teachers used to be mostly male. In public school.. look at salaries. Look at nursing.
Men used to be the ones that worked themselves into an early grave supporting women and children. I.e., we can state these social issues so that one side looks "bad" and the other "victimized" if we choose our phraseology, can't we? What has this got to do with Aikido, Karate, Jiujutsu, BJJ, etc.? Nothing unless you try to make it an issue. There will always be more men than women in the martial arts, car racing, rock-climbing, white-water kayaking, and so forth. There will always be more women than men in K-12 teaching positions, nursing, motherhood, quilting, and so on. C'est la vie. What's it got to do with Aikido or the martial arts that we need to "do something about it"? Nothing really.
Quote:
This is the worst problem. People with "issues" inflicting these issues on things better dealt with by considering the " greater good". Hostility never works. Facts do. Honest opinion, sharing, generosity. Let's try that.
Honestly, Emily, O-Sensei didn't give a rip about gender parity in Aikido. I don't know of a single martial art whose founder did worry about gender parity. It's like trombone playing... just do it.
Quote:
Looking for a dominant male to defend a feminist issue is a pretty fatal flaw. We can do it ourselves, thanks. George gets the politics, thank goodness. But he does not LIVE them. Those of us who DO, this is OUR fight.
Is this a challenge to combat??????
Quote:
Those who do not watch and listen, lose it.
They lose the women who care about budo.
We'll go do koryu, thanks. They need support, and they know it.
Just out of curiosity, what do you suggest for "support", Emily? Before you stated that you were an "egalitarian". So am I. I hope you're not suggesting that "we should treat women exactly like men, only a little better". Let's treat 'em like Aikidoists (or whatever martial arts) and let them be responsible for their own successes. Meantime, let's focus on the martial arts and not the social issues, IMO.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 03-03-2005, 04:30 PM   #82
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable? Long)

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
As Gordon sensei's uchideshi, and, in fact, a Gordon by marriage, I must answer..

I have never been so challenged in a dojo, and I have trained in many, Wing Tsun to Daito ryu to Kodokan judo. Nishio. Jiyushinkai, Seidokan, etc, ad nauseum.. Only 12 years, whatever that means. I am not sure of all I am transmitting, but it is an interesting composite.

Quote:
The rest of the folks, by far the majority, are training for other reasons than to get the "transmission" so to speak.
Is there another reason? I have told my sensei, on many occasions, I am no soldier, I am no contact fighter, what can I give you? I will never be any of these things, but he deems me of good enough character to do it. I still don't understand why, but I must expand into that role. I teach soldiers, chaplains, security guys, medics... I must, for me, and for them. I have no choice. Quit, and give up what love. No thanks. Can't quit sanity as I know it.

Quote:
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.
No such luck.
My own satisfaction means little. Our student's willingness to leave the room, or not, means so much more.

Quote:
Gender issues are HUGE in martial arts training,
Why? Why? an art which offers advantage over the opponent, regardless size or strength, should be able to back it up. Otherwise, just be a boy's club, like football or politics.

Obviously, I don't find that cr@p acceptable, either. Not in my Very Real World.

Get over it
Get over it
Get over it

and work together.

Or give up this aiki harmony thing altogether, and admit that it's a passive-aggressive grudgefest.

MLE
female sitting on the teachers' side, with males looking at me and not noticing the diff, AFAIK,and as far as they know. I just teach.
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Old 03-03-2005, 04:51 PM   #83
charron
Dojo: Jiyushinkai
Location: The Colony, TX
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Re: Equitable?

I think that the reason there are so many more good male instructors than female today is because ofr a sexual discrimination. Most martial arts in the past were practiced mostly by men. Some arts were practiced mostly by women. Aikido was developed by a man, in a martial art that was practiced predominantly by men. Yes O'Sensie did have women in his classes, but even tehn looking at old films you see very few women. Aikido is an art that as long as you keeep practicing, you'll keep on getting better. There are still many more men than women who have been practicing and teaching and getting bettter every year. There are some very good women Aikido practicioners. When it comes to seminars, then it really boils down to Who will come. You start by invidting the most knowlegable, and work your way down until you have enough people to fill the even. It would be more of a disservice to deliberately split the menu 50/50 jsut to be politically correct.
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Old 03-03-2005, 05:06 PM   #84
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Ron Charron wrote:
I think that the reason there are so many more good male instructors than female today is because ofr a sexual discrimination. .
Those devils!!! I'll bet that's why there's more men than women in the NFL too!!!

Mike
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Old 03-03-2005, 05:10 PM   #85
raul rodrigo
Location: Quezon City
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Re: Equitable?

If you were to mount an Expo type event in my country, you would get the same result: 9 of the top 10 instructors would be men. There would be one woman. She is also the most senior and most skilled of them all. (She happens to be my first sensei.) But the numerical disparity would remain the same: 9:1. I don't see that as a problem, or think that she herself would see that as a problem. Its just a fact: she is the best, and there is no other woman here who is anywhere near her level of skill.

Given that situation, if we were to rearrange the composition of an Expo's teaching staff just to meet PC quota considerations seems pretty silly to me.Some women yudansha want equality in rank? Then they have to earn it, just as my sensei did.

R
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Old 03-03-2005, 06:51 PM   #86
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Honestly, Emily, O-Sensei didn't give a rip about gender parity in Aikido. I don't know of a single martial art whose founder did worry about gender parity. It's like trombone playing... just do it. Is this a challenge to combat??????
Not that I am disagreement with you but I would point out that virtually every Founder of a Martial Arts system lived in a country which is heavily male dominated in which women are completely subservient to men. These issues are only today starting to come up in many of these countries. We are far ahead in the West in terms of dealing with these issues or even considering them issues at all.

O-Sensei had one close female deshi in the thirties when many of the Aikido greats were training (Kunigoshi, Takako). Whereas, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki etc. ended up as Aikido teachers and were the Founders of their own styles of Aikido, she ended up as a teacher of flower arrangement, I believe. How much did societal expectations play in that I wonder? As far as I understand from her description of the training, O-Sensei didn't treat her any differently on the mat than he did the boys. Yet, in the end she ends up doing an art which is much more socially acceptable for women and the boys stayed in the martial arts... I don't think that was accidental. No, we are the generation which has to tackle these issues, those that went before never did.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:33 PM   #87
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Not that I am disagreement with you but I would point out that virtually every Founder of a Martial Arts system lived in a country which is heavily male dominated in which women are completely subservient to men. These issues are only today starting to come up in many of these countries. We are far ahead in the West in terms of dealing with these issues or even considering them issues at all.
Where do you want to start approaching reality and dismiss this "male dominance" silliness? Do you deny all of human society has been "male dominated" back to the caveman because evolutionarily the survival strategy that worked for humans was for the males to dominate, provide, and fight for the family while the female devoted herself basically to different duties as part of the survival strategy? Where do you draw the line and begin to recognize that you're watching evolution (societal and biological) in gradual action and not "evil intentions by males"? This trendy view of males as the bad boys and females as the victims needs to be curtailed... it certainly doesn't belong in a dojo, no matter how much one's peers approve of whatever particular social wailing is going on at the moment.
Quote:
O-Sensei had one close female deshi in the thirties when many of the Aikido greats were training (Kunigoshi, Takako). Whereas, Shioda, Shirata, Mochizuki, Tomiki etc. ended up as Aikido teachers and were the Founders of their own styles of Aikido, she ended up as a teacher of flower arrangement, I believe. How much did societal expectations play in that I wonder?
Who knows and who cares? People have to learn to accept some parts of life and society as things that happened due to a number of factors and not dwell on it. Change it towards fairness, but stop the blame pointing OR the angst-derived guilt complexes. Any number of things that man did on his way to where we are now are fiercely condemned, but to not recognize that we go through steps as a necessary part of change is silly.
Quote:
As far as I understand from her description of the training, O-Sensei didn't treat her any differently on the mat than he did the boys. Yet, in the end she ends up doing an art which is much more socially acceptable for women and the boys stayed in the martial arts... I don't think that was accidental. No, we are the generation which has to tackle these issues, those that went before never did.
But you don't honestly know why she chose to do what she did, do you? Are you really going to make an assumption only because it assists your case of "men is bad guys and we gots to do something about it"? O-Sensei did just right... he taught her Aikido and the rest was beyond his control. He did his job, it seems and didn't bother with the current judgements of society as an issue which needed to be dealt with in the dojo. But maybe we're smarter nowadays and do better Aikido?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:35 AM   #88
GaiaM
Dojo: Bend Aiki Martial Arts
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Well, to be fair, at gatherings where you don't know everyone, there is often a tendency to pick as Uke's the people who look like they're probably able to do ukemi well. So your eye looks around for the male victim... er, volunteer with obvious athleticity, etc,... not out of any subconscious desire to avoid women or the smaller, weaker males (remember, they're getting left out disproportionately, too), but out of a desire to pick someone out of a group of unknowns who can do ukemi and do it without getting injured. I.e., avoiding injury while making a clean teaching point is more on most peoples' minds, I suspect, than even considering gender equality and other side issues
While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutly no sense.

My two cents to the general picture: I agree with the folks that say the best way to get more women involved is for women to decide to be involved. I don't want to be chosen for special priveleges or invitations based on my gender but I am inspired by strong female presences in the aikido world. As I gain more influcene in my aikido community, I plan to encourage and hopefully inspire more women to participate, but equally so for men. I think we should acknowlege the desire to see more women on the mat and teaching and then we should all just get out there and train with each other, regardless of gender, race or anything else.

Gaia

___________
Gaia Marrs
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:54 AM   #89
SeiserL
 
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Re: Equitable?

Interesting thread. Compliments and appreciation to all.

So lets say we show up at the Dojo to train and there is disparity in numbers, anyway you want to slice it. Do we accept it, enter and blend with it, and train anyway? Or, do we refuse to train, boycott, and publicly criticize the Sensei in an attempt to get them to run their Dojo the way we think they should?

If it bothers us, what can we personally do about it?

If Aikido does not meet the wants or needs of a certain group of people, do we change the art, or accept that it doesn't meet their need and get back to our own training?

IMHO, while Aikido is available for everyone, it is not for everyone because they choose not to participate. That is their choice and I need to accept it.

I find that I learn something from everyone I train with because my technique must become flexible to adapt to their abilities. I trained with a great man down in San Diego, CA at an Ikeda Sensei seminar. He had the courage and heart to be on the mat despite metal in his legs that prevented him from taking falls. He said others would not work with him because he couldn't fall. His size and strength made him a great training partner to learn the subtle magic Ikeda Sensei does in taking balance. He will forever be a part of my Aikido.

IMHO, a lot of anxiety, depression and wasted energy is expended by resisting what is instead of entering and blending with it. The world is not going to be the way I want it to be. It doesn't call me up and ask for my directions or even input. I don't blame my technique on the uke's attack. I personally don't improve that way. Its by looking at my own part of the dance that I learn to redirect and change the dance. I don't change other people, but they might just change in response to what I do.

Sounds like we need to practice more.

He bow, puts the soapbox away (temporarily), and resumes training.

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 03-04-2005, 09:41 AM   #90
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Gaia Thurston-Shaine wrote:
My two cents to the general picture: I agree with the folks that say the best way to get more women involved is for women to decide to be involved. I don't want to be chosen for special priveleges or invitations based on my gender but I am inspired by strong female presences in the aikido world. As I gain more influcene in my aikido community, I plan to encourage and hopefully inspire more women to participate, but equally so for men. I think we should acknowlege the desire to see more women on the mat and teaching and then we should all just get out there and train with each other, regardless of gender, race or anything else.
Very well said Gaia.

Quote:
What exactly is PC about women instructors?
There is nothing PC about women instructors, they are just that - Instructors - no need to qualify imho. It's just that the attempt to create an artificial sense of equitable numbers to satisfy a requirement that really has nothing to do with quality Aikido training is what is the problem imho. But this has been indicated by others as well.

Quote:
I do not agree that women need special treatment at all. All we need is a chance to prove ourselves.
Exactly. I think this whole issue is a numbers game really. It's not that women are any worse or better than men on a general level in Aikido, but I think that the numbers of women who do martial arts in general (whatever their reasons may be) is what is affecting the possible pool of instructors that can be tapped for things like the Expo. If we want more women to be involved they have to get involved and I don't see any armed guards at the dojo doors stopping them from entering. As Peter said, it is the Sensei's job to make the path available , up to you to walk it imo. From my experience the opportunity to walk the path is often proposed equally to all who enter the door, so it's not even a matter of getting a chance to prove oneself as a woman so much imho - the chance is already there, it's up to our female colleagues to get on the mat and use it.

Quote:
Why is that? Is it really a failing, or possibly a lack of interest in our passive, consumerist society of women in taking responsibility for themselves instead of "renting" power?
We don't need to rent any damn thing. We've got it right here.
Agreed. Though it depends on what you define as power. To many, it's not found in Aikido whether male or female. Maybe this is part of why there are not as many women being drawn to the "empowerment" if any, experienced through Aikido training. Just a thought. A lot of women I know don't do Aikido because they either hate the idea of falling all the time or want to hit something and look good throwing a kick instead of a person. A matter of preference imho.


Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
Then again, where does the lobbying stop? Similar to what Bryce said - when we have enough female instructors, will we then start asking why there are not enough african, hispanic, indian, christian, moslem, buddhist, hindu or [insert category here] instructors at the expo? To echo Mike above, what bearing does this actually have on our personal quality of training in good Aikido?
Women are all of the above. Not a subgroup. Just people.
And, none. Should be none. Should be a NON-ISSUE.
However, on both sides, can you see a problem here?
I believe where we make something an issue it becomes an issue. If Jews and Arabs can train Aikido in peace in the middle east as part of the Aiki-Extensions program, it shows that only people who make things an issue have issues. In my dojo, the gender situation is a non-issue, as well as the other stuff that I mentioned above, when you walk in the door you are simply an Aikido student, nothing else is assumed. It depends on the people involved imho. From my experience there are folks who look at things and see points of division and there are those who look and see points of unification. I tend to fall into the latter group. The day we have the ratio reversed in favour of women I don't think it will affect my training at all.

The use of the Military is a good parallel to this argument I think, Does anyone have statistics of which armed force in the world have the most women on active duty in active combat capacities (not support forces mind you) and what the ratio is from women to men in this area? I personally think it comes down to there are just not as many women who are interested in martial arts training (much less Aikido), as there are men and this has something to do with social norms and a host of other factors including women (as well as men) who just don't like or are not attracted to the idea of MA training. My wife is one of them actually. It's her choice, I don't force her to train in Aikido, she seems to like Tae Bo and Mortal Kombat .

As many long time instructors here may know - many come in the door but very few may stick it through and even fewer to become an instructor, regardless of gender.

To quote Rodney King - "Can't we all just get along?"
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 03-04-2005 at 09:47 AM.

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Old 03-04-2005, 09:41 AM   #91
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, a lot of anxiety, depression and wasted energy is expended by resisting what is instead of entering and blending with it. The world is not going to be the way I want it to be. It doesn't call me up and ask for my directions or even input. I don't blame my technique on the uke's attack. I personally don't improve that way. Its by looking at my own part of the dance that I learn to redirect and change the dance. I don't change other people, but they might just change in response to what I do.
I think a more succinct summary of my suggestion not to mix "gender parity" or other things in the dojo goes like this:
When you're practicing Aikido or any other martial art, the idea is to remain "centered" at all times; i.e., you shouldn't be off-balance either physically or mentally or you're easy to throw and your technique may not be too good. If your head is wrapped around social issues, pop psychology, worrying whether someone is "victimizing" you, worrying about your place in the pecking order, playing a role-game about "blending", etc., you may be in the sort of off-balance situation I'm talking about. My suggestion was that leaving the extraneous out of the dojo is probably best, if someone is interested in doing a martial art.

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Mike Sigman
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Old 03-04-2005, 09:48 AM   #92
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Gaia Thurston-Shaine wrote:
While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutely no sense.
Since you quoted from a post of mine in order to make this comment, let me point out that I wasn't suggesting strong-brute Uke's or "the most connected" ukemi's, either one. I was suggesting that many demonstraters will try to use the most athletic person, least likely to get injured, so that the teaching point can be made without incident or distraction. Sometimes that's a female, but statistically it's not, as most people with experience would probably agree.

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Mike Sigman
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Old 03-04-2005, 10:47 AM   #93
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
The use of the Military is a good parallel to this argument I think, Does anyone have statistics of which armed force in the world have the most women on active duty in active combat capacities (not support forces mind you) and what the ratio is from women to men in this area?
I saw an interesting interview of an Israeli officer where the reporter asked pretty much the same question. The Israeli's don't use women in combat, apparently. What the officer said was essentially, "We will leave that sort of social experimentation to you Americans; we are fighting a real war for our survival here." Makes you stop and think. Many of the "pressing social concerns" we have are actually the products of a rich, somewhat decadent society with too much discretionary time and money, perhaps. If life was harder, maybe we'd have less time to complain? If we trained harder we wouldn't have time to devote to so many other issues?

Along those same lines, I just got off the phone with a long-time friend who has done Aikido at least 35 years and he just made the comment that he doesn't know a single native Japanese instructor that really thinks Americans will ever devote the time and energy to really be good at Aikido.... interesting and troubling thought.

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 11:12 AM   #94
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Out of 35 people invited, not a single kyu gai (beginner) asked to teach. How is that equitable?! Or am I just being silly (in a hopefully very pointed way...)

You address the gender problem by preserving the dojo as the spiritual oasis it should be. You make sure each student knows you believe in their ability to progress and that you support them. You disallow people disrespecting each other for any reason. You create a feeling of trust where the students feel they can give you feedback when something is not right. You enourage feedback amoung all of the members. This art is about intimacy - people should know what you think. If what you think is not acceptable for the dojo you need to change or leave. Other little factors - completely disallow directly pushing, pulling, lifting, cranking, threatening, or ignoring your partner. Find the best teachers available and learn from all of them. Run your dojo that way for 25 years, and you might find a few more women at the top ranks.

Rob
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Old 03-04-2005, 11:49 AM   #95
GaiaM
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Gaia Thurston-Shaine wrote:
While I realize that some people might like to see big guys getting thrown around, I don't think picking men based on ukemi ability has any logic. In my experience, women often have the most connected, smooth and all around great ukemi skills. Big, musclular guys often seem to be rather stiff and heavy and less likely to connect well to the technique. If the point is to look tough as nage to an audience of non-aikidoka, then perhaps this choice would make sense, but at a seminar choosing men because of their assumed ability makes absolutely no sense.

Since you quoted from a post of mine in order to make this comment, let me point out that I wasn't suggesting strong-brute Uke's or "the most connected" ukemi's, either one. I was suggesting that many demonstraters will try to use the most athletic person, least likely to get injured, so that the teaching point can be made without incident or distraction. Sometimes that's a female, but statistically it's not, as most people with experience would probably agree.
When I say "most connected ukemi" I expect that this is the most important aspect of ukemi, especially in a seminar situation when the instructor might not know the ukes they call up. Someone who is able to follow and stay connected no matter what the technique or style is going to be the best uke for the job.

I would disagree that a male is more likely to have good ukemi or be less likely to be injured or "distract from the lesson". In fact, I believe that the often more connected, looser, less "muscle-bound" (stereotype) ukemi of many females is less likely to cause injury to anyone.

Perhaps I have had unusual experiences, but I have seen seminar instructors choose a broad variety of ukes, generally starting with ones they know, then watching the class and picking ukes based on the ability and characteristics they observe. I have been called up for ukemi in many seminars, as a kyu-ranked female, sometimes by instructors I have never meant. I can only assume that they saw something in my ukemi that caused them to make this choice.

___________
Gaia Marrs
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Old 03-04-2005, 11:57 AM   #96
lrohde
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Re: Equitable?

This is my first post here, so I hope it will be helpful and not seen in the wrong light. I'm trying to add something which I think is missing thus far in the discussion, and that is why this subject does matter so much in a dojo. In fact, one could almost say, especially in a dojo. I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo. The point I wish to make, and hope you will try to understand, is how important it is for many women to see other women in aikido- those who have come through the same difficulties and become better people for it.

When I began practicing aikido, there were no women of any rank in the dojo. I found aikido to be a wonderful thing, but it was difficult to realize that I seemed to be the only one going through a kind of emotional struggle. I sought out anything I could read about women in aikido, or women in any martial art, and this helped me tremendously. I realized that all these women had experienced the same things as I was feeling. One of the best things I ever did was attend a seminar with a female sensei. Unfortunately, this opportunity does not come around often, because it inspired me with a wonderful confidence in myself and my aikido. This woman has become one of my role models, and someone whom I greatly admire.

One of the classes I attend is taught at a university, where every few months we have brand new students of aikido. I have noticed that often the female students will look to me first (as someone who looks like she might know a little) for help and for a partner. It is much more comfortable for them to have another woman present. It seems to me that the dojo should be a place where we are comfortable, and where we all seek to help each other. If students wish to learn, I think it is the responsibility of everyone in the dojo to encourage them and extend their "aikido love." It is precisely because everyone needs encouragement that we need women to be visible in aikido.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:06 PM   #97
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Gaia Thurston-Shaine wrote:
When I say "most connected ukemi" I expect that this is the most important aspect of ukemi, especially in a seminar situation when the instructor might not know the ukes they call up. Someone who is able to follow and stay connected no matter what the technique or style is going to be the best uke for the job.
Whereas I can envision situations in which I agree with you, I can also picture situations where I don't necessarily agree with you. For instance, I have met a number of people, both male and female but too many of them female, who do "beautiful ukemi", very "smoothe" and pleasing to the eye, particularly when complemented by a nicely-cut hakama of just the right length. Some people consider that good ukemi and I just shrug. Another situation is in which you have a demonstrator who is vigorously applying reverses and cuts that require straight-in drops to the mat, over the reverse arm, etc. In that case, a degree of athleticism is required by uke or Nage is going to have to hold back on his technique to allow time for the "most-connected ukemi" to gather itself.
Quote:
I would disagree that a male is more likely to have good ukemi or be less likely to be injured or "distract from the lesson". In fact, I believe that the often more connected, looser, less "muscle-bound" (stereotype) ukemi of many females is less likely to cause injury to anyone.
Possibly you're right; possibly I am. However, I can picture too many past instances of harshly applied technique which I have seldom seen applied to women the way they are to men. Not to say some women couldn't handle them, just that most would probably avoid them, exactly as MOST small-framed, not-too-athletic men would prefer to avoid those techniques. Fair enough?
Quote:
Perhaps I have had unusual experiences, but I have seen seminar instructors choose a broad variety of ukes, generally starting with ones they know, then watching the class and picking ukes based on the ability and characteristics they observe. I have been called up for ukemi in many seminars, as a kyu-ranked female, sometimes by instructors I have never meant. I can only assume that they saw something in my ukemi that caused them to make this choice.
OK. I've never met you. Who knows from where you're speaking, exactly? You could be the goddess of ukemi, for all I know.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:17 PM   #98
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lisa Rohde wrote:
This is my first post here, so I hope it will be helpful and not seen in the wrong light.
Just post and don't worry about what other people think... any opinions based on reason and experience are as good as anyone's here.
Quote:
I'm trying to add something which I think is missing thus far in the discussion, and that is why this subject does matter so much in a dojo. In fact, one could almost say, especially in a dojo. I can't speak for all women, but I think many people do not understand just how difficult it can be for a woman to practice aikido. Many of us are entering for the first time a situation where we have to physically relate to other people, and that is frightening. We are experiencing confrontation, and learning to deal with it in a mode of both insecurity and low confidence in our physical abilities. This is a difficult situation, but it can be dramatically improved by the presence of other women in the dojo. The point I wish to make, and hope you will try to understand, is how important it is for many women to see other women in aikido- those who have come through the same difficulties and become better people for it.
I see your point. You are talking about an aspect of Aikido, as you've experienced it, which is good for women and their self-esteem. The question is "should dojo's spend more time focused on things that are good for women's self-esteem or should they focus on the people who are devoted to learning pure Aikido", I think.
Quote:
If students wish to learn, I think it is the responsibility of everyone in the dojo to encourage them and extend their "aikido love." It is precisely because everyone needs encouragement that we need women to be visible in aikido.
"Aikido love"?!?!?!?!? My martial arts practiced will be encouraged if there are women visible? Me personally???

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:59 PM   #99
Chris Li
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Along those same lines, I just got off the phone with a long-time friend who has done Aikido at least 35 years and he just made the comment that he doesn't know a single native Japanese instructor that really thinks Americans will ever devote the time and energy to really be good at Aikido.... interesting and troubling thought.

Mike
Japanese racism - unfortunately it's not that uncommon. I've spent years training in both the US and Japan, and if there's any difference it's that training in the US tends to be more committed.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-04-2005, 01:07 PM   #100
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

No Mike, you would need to be encouraged by what encourages you. Her point is that what encourages you might not encourage beginner female aikido students and they should get to be encouraged AS WELL.

All, Paulina and Mary made this same valid point as this person. (IMO) Namely, that the more women they see, especially in the upper end, the more encouraged the new (and not-so-new) female aikido students will be. While it is certainly a valid point, I don't think it is so valid that we should try to make the Aiki Expo equitable by inviting people with less ability than the 33 men who accepted the invitations.

If there were an all female sensei aikido seminar anywhere near me, I'd go. However, and let's be honest, if they were all 5th and 6th degree black belts and it happend to be at the same time Endo sensei (at 8th degree black belt) was doing a seminar about the same distance away - I'd go see the more senior instructor. Wouldn't you?

Here is another idea. I agree that women instructors should get more exposure. What if someone started a non-profit that people donated to, which could be used exclusively to defray the cost of flying in and paying senior female instuctors for doing seminars? Does the "passion" for this cause t extend all the way to the checkbook?

Rob
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