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Old 03-04-2005, 02:17 PM   #101
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
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.
Heh. I wish I had the brass to forward your comment to him... he is the liberal's liberal and even wrote for one of the liberal radio shows. However, I dasn't. The word "racism" applied to him might make him apoplectic.

In a way, though, he wasn't comparing Japanese practice to US practice.... he was commenting on the attitude of Japanese instructors toward US students. I've been out of the big picture for a while, so my views may not be totally current, but I know a little of what he says has an element of truth to it. I've seen and heard some of the attitudes and some of the long-term Japanese certainly appear to have gotten tired of the preponderance of New Age among Aikido ranks.

However, I was just passing his thought along because I had just gotten off the phone and was intrigued that he would say that. I should have let sleeping dogs lie. My bad.

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:24 PM   #102
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Mike - As a side issue, I could introduce your friend to a couple native Japanese instructors who actually prefer training the foreigners because they are so dedicated to have flown all the way to Japan and live there out of their desire to learn budo.

Rob
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:36 PM   #103
Chris Li
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Heh. I wish I had the brass to forward your comment to him... he is the liberal's liberal and even wrote for one of the liberal radio shows. However, I dasn't. The word "racism" applied to him might make him apoplectic.
Japanese racism can be subtle compared to the racism that you find in the US, but it's quite common - even among "liberal" Japanese.

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
In a way, though, he wasn't comparing Japanese practice to US practice.... he was commenting on the attitude of Japanese instructors toward US students. I've been out of the big picture for a while, so my views may not be totally current, but I know a little of what he says has an element of truth to it. I've seen and heard some of the attitudes and some of the long-term Japanese certainly appear to have gotten tired of the preponderance of New Age among Aikido ranks.
Like Rob, I know a number of senior Japanese instructors who think differently. There is a lot of new age stuff in US Aikido (there's some weird folks in Japan, too, for that matter), but that's evidence that Aikido is alive and growing in the US, as opposed to the stagnancy that you see many places in Japan.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-04-2005, 02:38 PM   #104
E.D. Gordon
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Those devils!!! I'll bet that's why there's more men than women in the NFL too!!!

Mike
Who in their right mind wants ANYTHING to do with commercial sports?

Wait, that's another thread.. are more women in their right minds?

(Not this one!
LOL!!)

MLE
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:47 PM   #105
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
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.
Actually I completely agree with this.

Quote:
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?
Depends. We have Minegishi sensei (6th dan IIRC) coming in a few weeks, and that's where I'm going to be, I don't care who else might be giving seminars at the same time.

kvaak
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:52 PM   #106
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Okay, fair enough.

What about Minegishi sensei has captivated you? Do you think it would be possible for a male instructor to capticate you in the same way or in a different and/or stronger way? Just curious... - Rob
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:39 PM   #107
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Okay, fair enough.

What about Minegishi sensei has captivated you? Do you think it would be possible for a male instructor to capticate you in the same way or in a different and/or stronger way? Just curious... - Rob
Her spirit. It lights up the room. And yes, I've met one male instructor who had the same kind of ...charisma... ("uitstraling", translation anyone?). I've also seen other instructors who are impressive in other ways...my teacher's teacher, Terry Ezra sensei, is very different.

It does have something to do with her being a woman, too, though. I hadn't thought that it would matter, but the first time Minegishi sensei gave a seminar here two years ago, I was surprised to find that I did feel encouraged just by seeing her do her stuff. It's funny, I train in a dojo with an almost 50/50 male/female ratio. I never felt that there was anything I couldn't do, provided I trained enough. Still, that seminar made me feel that aikido really was for me, too.

The experience was so strong for me because it wasn't something I thought I even needed.

All that said, if Minegishi sensei's aikido hadn't been ...convincing... it wouldn't have meant a great deal.

kvaak
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:46 PM   #108
Carrie
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lisa Rohde wrote:
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.
This is very interesting to me….I experienced these same fears and discomforts, but I never made the assumption that having another woman around would help ease them. I just figured it was how * I * felt, and that having the courage to train would facilitate resolving those fears. Though I assumed everyone at some time has to work through things -- be it fear, anxiety, ego, pride, whatever -- I also assumed that no one else would ever come to the mat with my precise mix of ‘stuff'. S'truth, I won't be exactly the same the next time I train as I was last night.

It's impossible to deny that our sexes will influence our experience. How can it not? But so does a gajillion (to use the technical term) other things unique to each person. From height to eyesight to the way we approach life -- which is a reflection of our past experience in its entirety. But I'm not thinking about any of that stuff when I'm training - not thinking about being a woman, or why I think this way or that. When I train I'm just me, reacting to my environment to the best of my ability.

Would it be nice if there were other women in my dojo? Yes, of course. But I also think it would be nice if there were more men. I often consider how people come to Aikido as opposed to other MA's, and figure that there are a myriad of reasons, hopefully with a nice ‘bell curve middle' of similarity. No where in my reasons will you find ‘Cause I'm a girl.' Deciding to train is just that - a decision - and I think if it's something important to you - you will find your way to a dojo and have at it.

Please know I am not in any way discounting anyone's struggles with fear. What I'm doing a rather bad job of saying is… that I think it's more important to focus on ourselves as individuals involved in a common endeavor, regardless of differentiating factors that might not only cloud our reasons for training, but tend to form ‘factions'. Some men, some women, all Aikidoka.

I think often, on and off the mat, of O'Sensei saying ‘Aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting yourself.' And that is the crux of the matter for me…..and what I find myself thinking of, no matter who my partner is.

(Don't know if any of that will make any sense to anyone but me...I hate when that happens, <g>)

Carrie
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:54 PM   #109
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Emily Dolan Gordon wrote:
Who in their right mind wants ANYTHING to do with commercial sports?
The ones who are making many millions of dollars at it? You classist rogue, you.

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:04 PM   #110
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.
Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?

Kentokuseisei
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:05 PM   #111
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Mike - As a side issue, I could introduce your friend to a couple native Japanese instructors who actually prefer training the foreigners because they are so dedicated to have flown all the way to Japan and live there out of their desire to learn budo.
Oh, I agree... I said I thought he was painting with too broad a brush. Still, I take his meaning in general. Both Taiji and Aikido can be a bit wearing with the high-percentage of wannabelieves. Check out this clip of pseudo-taichi'ers if you want to feel a little better about what goes on in Aikido:

http://www.roxburytaichiacademy.com/...netic%20bb.wmv



Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:08 PM   #112
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Carrie Sutton wrote:
I think often, on and off the mat, of O'Sensei saying ‘Aikido is not for correcting others, it is for correcting yourself.'
Bingo. Perfect, Carrie.

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:21 PM   #113
giriasis
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Re: Equitable?

Wow, a lot has been posted since I was last here,and I'm really glad to see a much more thoughtful discussion going on. It was really a flame fest there at first.

Chris,

A while back you asked me a question regarding the apparent disparity of instructors at the AikiExpo. To answer the question you have to look at Mr. Pranin intent selecting his instructors. Mr. Pranin responded and stated that he invited those instructors that he could and some due to time contsraints and political ones could not be available. Thus, I don't believe that there is any malice on his part. But we still have to look at where this disparity comes from, and as many already pointed out it has more to do with the actual number of women in aikido than anything else. Since, there is no actual discrimination on Mr. Pranin's part, no, he should not be required to meet certain quotas (like some institutions must as a result of a pattern and practice of discrimination).

To others, that keep insisting gender isn't an issue. It think the more thoughtful discusion for AND against such a proposition shows that it IS an issue. Now, the question really is, "how much of an issue is gender for women." For me, it is only one factor among many that affects my training. For others, it will be a hugh issue especially if they have been victimes of assault/ battery (sexual or otherwise). Just getting on the mat with other men can be really hard. Many victims of sexual assault don't even like to be touched. So given this, training with men will be very difficult. For others it will play a role, but won't be dominant. For me, it has been really helpful to have a higher ranked woman on the mat. For me, that's Penny Bernath, who's a 5th dan and well respected within our organization. We also have other dan ranked women in the dojo, and when I first started training in the dojo, just seeing them there, training and training at higher levels was enought to me to see and to realize that I can do the hard stuff.

Also, for me and from what I noticed for the other women in the dojo, it's really important to have men in the dojo who really don't treat you like a potential date, just a "flower" or "weeping willow", or that you'll never "get it". It's great to train with these guys because they really take the effort to help you learn to do the technique to them and they get thrilled to see you throw them down, and down hard. They're not patronizing and don't really treat you different other than that you might have sucky ukemi, but not because you're a woman.

But sometimes crappy things even happen in the best dojos. While practicing kokyudosa some idiot decided to grab my breasts as if they were a play thing. He promptly had my fist in his face as a result. Right after class, the first person told was the senior ranking WOMAN on the mat, who then told me to tell our sensei -- who took care of the problem, btw.

When I said women need "support", what I meant was that then need someone to talk to if something happens, and it doesn't have to be something so obviously wrong as the above incident. It means not dismissing her question (a great example of dismissing someone's concern is illustrated by many of the initial responders in this thread), but addressing it. It also means you keep the guy locker room talk in the locker room. It also means, just being there and training with her, instead of training with the next guy on the mat. Helping her learn to throw you...just being a decent training partner.

Finally, when I asked "where's George" I wasn't calling on a man to come defend me, but sometimes their words, with the same words can dispel hostitily...and IT DID. Remember what I said before Emily..."only Nixon, can go to China."

As to those calling on me to do something...oh, I have been. I just don't have to tell YOU about it. I'm all about action, too. There's a lot I'm doing to help other women. A woman who steps into a dojo, is already taking a hugh step because they are stepping out of cultural norms and stepping into a new world. It is culturally acceptable to "do Tae Bo" but not necessarily so to do a rough and tumble martial art. It can be darn scary just to start aikido, whichever gender, but to step into a dojo, with all men CAN BE rather daunting for some women. So, yeah, it's really nice to see that there are high level women instructors out there, and some women are not as fortunate as I am to have one in their own dojo.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:49 PM   #114
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Wow, a lot has been posted since I was last here,and I'm really glad to see a much more thoughtful discussion going on. It was really a flame fest there at first.
I just looked back.... I didn't see a "flame fest". Can you point out where there was a flame fest versus a discussion with different people expressing different views than your own?
Quote:
Since, there is no actual discrimination on Mr. Pranin's part, no, he should not be required to meet certain quotas (like some institutions must as a result of a pattern and practice of discrimination).
I must have missed this one. I wasn't aware that some institutions were forced to meet quotas. Can you point me to which ones? Thanks.
Quote:
To others, that keep insisting gender isn't an issue. It think the more thoughtful discusion for AND against such a proposition shows that it IS an issue. Now, the question really is, "how much of an issue is gender for women." For me, it is only one factor among many that affects my training. For others, it will be a hugh issue especially if they have been victimes of assault/ battery (sexual or otherwise). Just getting on the mat with other men can be really hard. Many victims of sexual assault don't even like to be touched. So given this, training with men will be very difficult. For others it will play a role, but won't be dominant. For me, it has been really helpful to have a higher ranked woman on the mat. For me, that's Penny Bernath, who's a 5th dan and well respected within our organization.
Say hi to Penny for me. I trained with her when we were both starting out in the mid-70's. Aside from that, I hope there's a focus on Aikido in your dojo and not a lot of tangents like "sexual awareness"... the conversation in the thread is really at the point where O-Sensei's admonition to worry about changing yourself and not changing others has been made. Do you think men should be trained at the dojo to be more aware of women's special needs?
Quote:
But sometimes crappy things even happen in the best dojos.
Granted, they do. Sometimes they're started by men and sometimes it's women doing the trouble-making, flirting, etc. Hopefully we needn't get into a lengthy discussion cataloguing evils done by either side.
Quote:
When I said women need "support", what I meant was that then need someone to talk to if something happens, and it doesn't have to be something so obviously wrong as the above incident. It means not dismissing her question (a great example of dismissing someone's concern is illustrated by many of the initial responders in this thread), but addressing it.
That's a rather gratuitous mischaracterization of the people who don't take your view of the issue, isn't it?
Quote:
Finally, when I asked "where's George" I wasn't calling on a man to come defend me, but sometimes their words, with the same words can dispel hostitily...and IT DID. Remember what I said before Emily..."only Nixon, can go to China."
What "hostility" are you talking about exactly?
Quote:
As to those calling on me to do something...oh, I have been. I just don't have to tell YOU about it. I'm all about action, too. (snipsky) It is culturally acceptable to "do Tae Bo" but not necessarily so to do a rough and tumble martial art.
You do a "rough and tumble martial art"? Do you consider Aikido a "rough and tumble" martial art, seriously?

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:41 AM   #115
ruthmc
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
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.
So, in order to learn Aikido, one has to participate.

In order to participate, the dojo has to accept the student and the members of the dojo have to be willing to train with that student.

When this doesn't happen, due to the fact that some men (and even some women!) will not train with a student because she's female, is it really that student's choice that she cannot participate?

In my experience, participation has not always been solely my choice, so I don't agree that Aikido is available for everyone - although it certainly ought to be!

Ruth (also enjoying this discussion )
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Old 03-05-2005, 05:13 AM   #116
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Kent Enfield wrote:
Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?
Please... I am not "dissing" any other arts here. Just making a point. If you know anything about how the Japanese cultural expectations work you know that there are areas in which women are expected to participate and areas where they're not. Very much the way it was not long ago here when women were encouraged o be teachers but were actively discouraged from attending medical school.

As for how many of the deshi don't become Aikido teachers... these days it would be hard to say because there are so many of them but in those days, the number of close deshi was very small and most of them became prominent teachers and / or founders of their own styles. This wasn't just any student, she was part of the inner circle of serious students who acted as "companions" when O-Sensei travelled, etc. She was also the one who did the line drawings for O-Sensei's book on Aiki Budo.

It's not like I am making this up... I've read just about everything in English on Aikido and if you look at the published information about the history of the art it's just a boys club. Yet if you dig a bit deeper you find that there were a number of teachers whose wives trained as well and these women were instrumental in running things around the dojo and supporting the younger uchi deshi etc. You will find occasional references to how important these women were in supporting their dojos in the myriad interviews of prominent Senseis done by Stan Pranin over the years. Every once in a while you get one of the teachers talking about how the wives of their teachers took such good care of them when they were just young uchi deshi.
But there is never any mention of them as Aikidoka even though many of them trained seriously.

Anyway, there are plenty of dojos in the west where things are much the same. Men and women may be training together but if you look at who is at the top of the heap rank-wise it's a small group of senior men. You'll find a number of women there, who have the same number of years on the mat, who often are running virtually every aspect of dojo operations including teaching classes, but who are a dan rank back from the top men.

As I stated before, I think things are far better in this regard in the states than many other places. There are a good number of very senior women who are attaining top rank and teaching, not just in their own dojos, but on the seminar circuit where they can influence a very wide group of people. It is these role models who are vitally important for the next generation of female instructors coming along. It is also through their influence that many males will not view Aikido as just the "boys club". In my own case I have trained from the very start of my Aikido career with some incredible women. Raso Hultgren Sensei (Missoula Aikikai) was one of my first instructors along with Megan Reisel and Sarah Bluestone (three of the five yudansha who moved to Washington, DC to help Saotome Sensei open his dojo there were women). Patty Saotome Sensei and I have been going toe to toe on the mat for going on thirty years. I spent over five years training at Mary Heiny's dojo in Seattle. I've been classmates with Linda Holiday Sensei, Joanne Veneziano Sensei, Kimberly Richardson Sensei every one of whom has her own school. So I think my own training has been uniquely affected by powerful Aikido women. It is from them and my own students and friends that I have taken my awareness of some of the issues facing women who train seriously in Aikido. Despite some comments to the contrary, I didn't concoct the issues I've written about women in Aikido out of thin air.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 03-05-2005, 09:58 AM   #117
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Anyway, there are plenty of dojos in the west where things are much the same. Men and women may be training together but if you look at who is at the top of the heap rank-wise it's a small group of senior men. You'll find a number of women there, who have the same number of years on the mat, who often are running virtually every aspect of dojo operations including teaching classes, but who are a dan rank back from the top men.
Well, let's be fair and take a look at the problem. In most dojo's anywhere in the world, a "small group of senior men" are on top of the heap AND they're the best and most experienced teachers in the dojo who are most qualified to be in upper positions. I.e., if you're looking for something wrong with a "small group of senior men" being in charge, you need to acknowledge that there's usually something justified and logical about the occurrence, as well. [BTW, I'm not so naive that I don't also recognize the strong "herd bull" mentality I've seen in some male-dominated dojo's...it poisons the atmosphere and I avoid those dojo's and the women who galdly play along it] Another point to note is that pound for pound, there's probably more women in positions of power in Aikido dojo's than in dojo's of any other martial art in the West. Again, that has a good side and a bad side.

In a way, I feel like you're pointing at a problem that's been allowed to develop.... i.e., "assorted dojo politics".... and you're saying, "we have a problem that we need to deal with by using politics". I know many, many people that have left Aikido because of dojo politics. My suggestion, once again, is that every effort be made to get away from politics and favor good, honest martial arts over any perceived societal worries. Politics and political correctness don't belong in a dojo and they are the bane of today's Aikido.

A good, effective martial art and a good teacher usually develops a good school that draws good students. A poor martial art, mediocre teacher, etc., loses the good students over time and leaves the mediocre ones.... it works like a filter. After a while, a school or martial art with preponderantly mediocre (or New Age) people gets way off track and becomes involved in side issues that are more important to the dojo than honest and demonstrable martial arts. The surest sign of this happening is when too many of the people in a school or style are convinced they are doing "The Real Thing" (tm) while everyone outside the school or style is snickering. Look at that video clip of totally bogus Taiji that I posted.... that sort of stuff only develops in a style where everyone is kidding each other about "spirituality", "One with the Universe", etc., and the majority of "insiders" are going along with it, not daring to comment on the absurdity. Doing politically acceptable BS is an excuse for not really doing a martial art.

Insofar as women in dojo's who are "running virtually every aspect of dojo operations", let me say that Aikido is indeed famous for the number of dojo's that are run by "dojo momma's". In some cases, these people are saints and they deserve all the gratitude in the world. But in too many other cases, "dojo momma's" are setting a very political tone and can help poison the atmosphere in a dojo. Once I learned how dojo momma's actually ran dojo's, I began to spot them and deliberately avoid them when I visited dojo's away from home.... I just wanted to practice martial arts and not be forced to undergo a political indoctrination as part of the process.

Notice that a couple of times the discussion in this thread was attempted to be limited by applying the terms "hostile", "flame fest", etc..... those are deliberate control techniques and the very fact that they're used in an attempt to limit a public discussion shows you that the writers think it's acceptable to do so within their Aikido dojo community, so why not do it in a public discussion. Would I visit the dojo's of some of the writers of these controlling remarks? No. I do martial arts, not social visitation.

All that being said, I stand on the position that humans, the world, society, etc., are complex issues that we can't fix in the dojo while we're really learning the art.... so let's leave all the baggage at the door. And maybe get rid of some of the baggage that has been allowed to be brought in. Just my opinion, FWIW.

Regards,

Mike (donning his Nomex Keiko Gi) Sigman
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Old 03-05-2005, 10:42 AM   #118
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
There are a good number of very senior women who are attaining top rank and teaching, not just in their own dojos, but on the seminar circuit where they can influence a very wide group of people. It is these role models who are vitally important for the next generation of female instructors coming along. It is also through their influence that many males will not view Aikido as just the "boys club". In my own case I have trained from the very start of my Aikido career with some incredible women. Raso Hultgren Sensei (Missoula Aikikai) was one of my first instructors along with Megan Reisel and Sarah Bluestone (three of the five yudansha who moved to Washington, DC to help Saotome Sensei open his dojo there were women). Patty Saotome Sensei and I have been going toe to toe on the mat for going on thirty years. I spent over five years training at Mary Heiny's dojo in Seattle. I've been classmates with Linda Holiday Sensei, Joanne Veneziano Sensei, Kimberly Richardson Sensei every one of whom has her own school. So I think my own training has been uniquely affected by powerful Aikido women.
Reading the above, I was struck by the usual sense of "lost without a handhold" I get in some of these female-oriented discussions. Let me use the example of white-water kayaking (which I've done longer than I've done Aikido or any other single martial art). There are women that compete in white-water competitions and some of them can kick my butt because they're skilled and they practice daily, etc., etc. However, there are a lot of women kayakers who are "good in comparison to most women but middle-of-the-road in comparison to most men in a given river town". When we get to holding competitions that involve the mediocre women and the announcers are proclaiming how great are their skills, etc., I start feeling queasy. There's an artificialness and dishonesty about publicly stating something that most of us in the kayak community know isn't true and it somehow soils (some of us, not all) our reputation and love of the sport to have this sort of BS go on.... even though "it's for a good cause, championing women". Worse yet, there is something really wrong about recognizing a medium level of skills for one gender while ignoring the same skills in another group of earnest practitioners. It's called gender bias.

I know or have seen some of the "incredible women" you just named, George. Some of them are pretty good. Some of them are given more press than equally-skilled men because they are women and there again seems to be that idea of "it's OK if we distort the truth a little bit since it's for a good cause." Hey..... if it's a man or a woman that's got something I can learn, I'm for 'em. If Aikido is going to become a vehicle for over-hyping women because "it's the right thing to do", I'm going to start feeling queasy. Let's recognize the really good women and start having them at Aiki Expo's and let's encourage everyone to do and be the best they can. But let's leave all the street shoes at the entrance to the dojo, eh?

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 03-05-2005, 02:18 PM   #119
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Men used to be the ones that worked themselves into an early grave supporting women and children.
Women do it too, now.. Yay.

Quote:
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?
Yep. Got my point nicely.

Quote:
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.
I know. I've read Draeger, Stevens, Amdur, Saotome, Mol, et cetera ad nauseam. (Wasn't there for the hydrogen splitting. Came in after the hydrogen had been split up... )

A non-issue. I'm actually fine with it being a non-issue.. *sigh*
No, really.. it's supposed to be my point, but I'm not doing a great job of getting that across, obviously.

I started out in my aikido training seeking a certain female teacher I had met, a really promising sensei. I wanted to return to aikido after a hiatus, and went looking for her. When I got to the dojo, I found out on my first day that she was six months dead, of breast cancer. I spent my first class blinking back tears, and renegotiating my committment to training.
I remember the point in my training where I "settled for men". It's in my journal.
The women's dojo in town did a style of karate that killed my wonky knees, so they weren't an option.
Thus the title of my paper, half in jest, "Putting up with Men".
I came to love my male teachers (or hate them, as the moment required) and make a further iteration of my understanding that people are just people.
I, too, have survived abuse. I had to go through my black fear and rage and resentment. It took a while before I was really safe to train with, if someone scared me.. I was really a little crazy... I kept a tight leash on that monster, but my training was what taught me to ride it.

I would be egotistical to imply that abuse made me special. It happens far too often, too subtly, to be exceptional. To too many people. I think that it is what draws many to the martial arts, and that the best case scenario is that they regain their own power enough to grant it back to others, even at risk of harm to themselves. It can be beautiful, but it is terrifying to even begin.

I'm not suggesting that training is a replacement for psychotherapy, I got that too. It just helped me in a very kinesthetic way, to learn to walk directly into my fear, and look behind me.
I could not have done it without the men who got me there.

Quote:
It's like trombone playing... just do it. Is this a challenge to combat?????? 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".
(for trombones too! )
Support for the art, whateveritis, by training.
Teachers supporting the art by, perhaps, developing better filters for applicants. Willingness to begin lower down the scale. More and more, men have no physical skills, but in recent history, women were the ones relegated to chairs for tasks, instead of fields. With many exceptions.

A lot of what we see as a "lack" of women in budo, is in fact, a result (symptom?) of social attitudes and issues. Our dojo has been 70-30 on occasion, more women. But mostly, I'm like Tigger.. I'm the only one.

I know, I know, I never bought the social crap.. but I grew up in a society which permitted me to survive, without buying it. Previous generations did not have that luxury, particularly the non-rich.

Someone mentioned aikido as a "rough and tumble" martial art. Well, comparatively, mostly, not really. Some styles truly are, and some in a good way, and some not. I rather like aikido's elegance and the ability to, if not transcend violence, at least keep it focussed on both personal interaction and the greater good.

My personal theory is that aikido is a "gateway drug" to the world of martial arts, and thus I don't mind if it has a genteel face. It has a good heart to back that up.

What martial art has more women in it than aikido?
It would be an interesting thing to look at.
(if you count Tae Bo, I will be sick at you.. )

MLE
(single combat: bubble guns at 10 paces.. )
ps: I skied today, and didn't even fall down once! Yay!!
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Old 03-05-2005, 02:21 PM   #120
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Kent Enfield wrote:
Maybe she really like ikebana over aikido? I know an instructor of an ikebana ryu, and it's not something you "end up" as. It takes a lot of work. And how many of the male uchideshi didn't end up as aikido teachers?
If we ever end up living in Japan, I really want to learn ikebana.

MLE
(whose sumi-e teacher told her, "maybe you should just do birds!"
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Old 03-05-2005, 02:51 PM   #121
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Stanley Pranin wrote:
Greetings!
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?
As the primary organizer of the 3rd somewhat annual (was it the 3rd??) Aikido-L Seminar, my motto is still: Never Again.
I had organized little things here and there, but that was insane. Fortunately all I had to to was wave a hand, and angels appeared to do my bidding ;-D . ORGANIZING them was the trick.

Planning a wedding at the same time was probably extra credit stupid, but it was fun and perfect.

Quote:
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!
I've wanted to go every year.
One of these years, I will. Having moved to Germany kind of complicates things.

Hang in there Stan. I hope you have great help, and that your name goes down in the Guinness book of World Records as, perhaps, least appreciated budo historian? Should go somewhere next to the thankless job of Aikiweb maintainer and creator..

I guess the question is, how many instructors do you ask, and how many show? Of these, how many are female?

Other seminar planners? As members of the Aikido-L seminar planning committee for several years, I asked, as did Janet and others, for female instructors, nominated them, were seconded by all and sundry, only to be told they couldn't make it. It wasn't for lack of trying.

MLE
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:11 PM   #122
E.D. Gordon
Dojo: Shobukan Maryland
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
Politics and political correctness don't belong in a dojo and they are the bane of today's Aikido.
I recently found myself in the position of introducing someone I really like and respect to the world of Aikido.
It was a real challenge to try to illuminate the politics and the possibilities of the art.
Fortunately, Rolfers have politix too, and I could make analogies.

Quote:
The surest sign of this happening is when too many of the people in a school or style are convinced they are doing "The Real Thing"
AAAACK! Run Away! Run Away!!

Quote:
Doing politically acceptable BS is an excuse for not really doing a martial art.
I just couldn't delete that last line. I liked it too much.

MLE
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:33 PM   #123
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Emily Dolan Gordon wrote:
I remember the point in my training where I "settled for men". It's in my journal.
Your standards are lower than mine. I only tolerate real experts.
Quote:
I, too, have survived abuse. I had to go through my black fear and rage and resentment. It took a while before I was really safe to train with, if someone scared me.. I was really a little crazy... I kept a tight leash on that monster, but my training was what taught me to ride it.
There's a part of me that rejects these comments on abuse because I realize what my berserker part does when provoked to an emotional response. Comments on personal abuse play to those emotions, Emily. It's wrong, abuse, but the more detached part of me also recognizes that without the sex drive being so strong, the species would have difficulty surviving in extreme cases. I.e., no matter what laws we pass and how much we try to make everyone sympathetic, rape and abuse is going to happen simply because we are human animals. Period. Not that I wouldn't maim or kill someone I caught abusing a woman.
Quote:
I'm not suggesting that training is a replacement for psychotherapy, ... (snip)
Why don't we be totally honest and admit that for a LOT of people, Aikido and various "martial arts" are indeed psychotherapy, Emily? If we don't recognize that, we are deluding ourselves.
Quote:
A lot of what we see as a "lack" of women in budo, is in fact, a result (symptom?) of social attitudes and issues. (snipsky) ..
Actually, if you go look in a singles bar for the proportion of men to women, you'll probably realize that the breeding urge, not society, is what drives the issue. If you go look in your local bookstore for the section on Women, "How to Attract Men", "Baby Journal", Cosmopolitan, "Women's Issues" and so on, you'll realize that the breeding urge still exerts its strong hand. The sex drive is second only to the survival urge, Emily... let's give it its due and not blame everything on nasty ole "society" and "Men".
Quote:
My personal theory is that aikido is a "gateway drug" to the world of martial arts, and thus I don't mind if it has a genteel face. It has a good heart to back that up.
I absolutely agree.
Quote:
(single combat: bubble guns at 10 paces.. )
ps: I skied today, and didn't even fall down once! Yay!!
I live in Colorado, Emily. I'm typing from 9,500 feet in my Silveton house... skiing is like breathing to me.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-05-2005, 05:52 PM   #124
giriasis
Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I just looked back.... I didn't see a "flame fest". Can you point out where there was a flame fest versus a discussion with different people expressing different views than your own?
Start with Page One and Read...Most of the initial responders just jumped down Mary's back for her questions, they started with "why not start your own aikido expo" to your "what does gender have to do with aikido" and it degraded on down to there. It wasn't just one response, but the volume of them. If you read further, I noticed that Mary attempted to defend herself, but deleted them out of frustration. Obviously she got fed up and left. Actually, I know she did. And she has since thanked me for speaking up. No one was calling her names like in a true flame war, but the posts responding to hers very much dismissed her questions, skipping any real dialog. No one took the effort to understand her perspective, her view or reasoning for asking what she did. Rather they all just jumped to conclusions--mainly that she was out to bash Stanley Pranin and the AikiExpo. In fact, she was attempting to create a dialog about gender disparity in aikido.

Here's an example from one your posts:

"This better? I only meant to be friendly, not get my ass chewed because of your personal mine-field of beliefs."

Yes, I find such comments "hostile", then the conversation on Page 2 following Szecepan's typically absurd "troll-like" statements.

Quote:
I must have missed this one.
Yep.

Quote:
I wasn't aware that some institutions were forced to meet quotas. Can you point me to which ones? Thanks.
I wish I could point you to the specific case cites of U.S. cases on employment discrimination. They do exist and I'm not pulling them from out of thin air. Basically, the law directs courts to allow for actual recruitment of say women or minorities (which ever group that was being discriminated agains) if a pattern and practice of discrimination has been proven in court. The institution (governent office, business affecting commerce) is required to hire "x" many persons of the specific category to make up for past wrongs. It's a legal doctrine. I don't have time to teach you employment discrimination law. Yes, I'm an attorney.

Quote:
Say hi to Penny for me. I trained with her when we were both starting out in the mid-70's. Aside from that, I hope there's a focus on Aikido in your dojo and not a lot of tangents like "sexual awareness"...
Florida Aikikai is hardly known for being "lovely dovey" or new agey. Penny's classes would torture most who are not used to dynamic physical training. Peter's class are all about training hard, too. So are the other instructors, no "indoctrination" to worry about. However, we do have a strong female presence in the dojo and no one is forced into "sexual awareness" tangents. They just have to train with Penny, Leida, Janet, Gerry, Me, or any of the other women in the dojo, we definently make our presence known. And it's not by "flirting on the mat". What's not acceptable in our dojo is overt sexual come-on like groping a woman's breasts (or a man's penis for that manner, although I'm not aware of such a problem in the dojo). What is a key principle espoused by Peter is that you train at your uke's level of skill, that you train with everyone no matter the rank.

Quote:
the conversation in the thread is really at the point where O-Sensei's admonition to worry about changing yourself and not changing others has been made.
I'm not forcing my view on you, I'm just asking you to consider them...hopefully so you can learn something from my perspective as a woman in aikido so you can learn that sometimes things are not always as good for us as you might think it is.

Quote:
Do you think men should be trained at the dojo to be more aware of women's special needs? Granted, they do.
I think men just need to be more aware that they should treat women with respect. Treating someone with respect is not treating someone with "special needs". I'm not disabled -- mentally or physically. I'm just a different gender and sometimes male hormones have a way of getting in the way of my training.
Quote:
Sometimes they're started by men and sometimes it's women doing the trouble-making, flirting, etc. Hopefully we needn't get into a lengthy discussion cataloguing evils done by either side.
Actually, I do not believe in creating a matriarchal paradigm to counteract the evils of the patriarchal paradigm of Western society because the resultant effect with bring about another set of problems. I'm about people interacting and working together with decency and respect as we, each as individuals, make up society and through acting with decency, respect, and, gasp, tolerance towards one another, society will grow and improve. "Society" is not evil in my book. Dysfunctional perhaps, but not evil.
Quote:
That's a rather gratuitous mischaracterization of the people who don't take your view of the issue, isn't it?
Jumping to conclusions there aren't you? You're assuming I take an "us v. them" paradign. I don't, it's "us and them". Or rather just "us." We're in this together, men and women, but I think some men forget that there are women, too.

Quote:
What "hostility" are you talking about exactly?
Um...hostility doesn't have to be foul language or name calling...but rather...a condescending tone. Hostility is jumping to conclusions and assuming the initial poster doesn't know what they are talking about, it's not taking the time to understand that person. And when that person shares her (or even his) experiences, they are told they are not relevant to the practice of aikido.

Quote:
You Do a "rough and tumble martial art"?
Have you ever trained at Florida Aikikai? Quite a few in my dojo profess to put the "harm back in harmony". And, don't make the mistake of calling Penny a "flower" either. We do tumble around a lot, at least half the class, it's call U-K-E-M-I, and taking hard breakfalls is pretty darn rough to me so are some of my training partners. They don't let me get away with anything, and they help me throw their 6'2", 220 pound bodies to the mat.

Quote:
Do you consider Aikido a "rough and tumble" martial art, seriously?
Aikido is that easy for you? Do you just sit in class and meditate? Do you not take ukemi? seriously? You tap out early and not sweat? Seriously? Sounds like you train differently at your dojo. Not everyone has the same experience you know.

Quote:
Notice that a couple of times the discussion in this thread was attempted to be limited by applying the terms "hostile", "flame fest", etc..... those are deliberate control techniques and the very fact that they're used in an attempt to limit a public discussion shows you that the writers think it's acceptable to do so within their Aikido dojo community, so why not do it in a public discussion. Would I visit the dojo's of some of the writers of these controlling remarks? No. I do martial arts, not social visitation.
Actually, if you go back and read my posts you'll realize I qualified my posts. I'm very careful not to speak in absolutes. Also, I was attempting to complement the later posts for actually having a positive and constructive dialog. Posts such as "well, why don't you start your own AikiExpo" or "what about other minorities" or "what does gender have to do with aikido" were not constructive. Sure you can say what you want, but so can I, thus is the nature of the internet. I never said you couldn't post, but I will speak up with I think someone is inappropriately being attacked.

Also, why do you jump to such conclusions that I'm trying to limit "public discussion" I'm not a moderator on this board, and I can't stop you from posting anything. I don't even run my own dojo so I can't limit what is spoken there, either. I'm just pointing out that, yes, you and others, were being insensitive to a member of this board and such insensitivity is an example of how some women are treated in some dojos. I hope you don't really treat women like this in your dojo. I certainly wouldn't train there if you do.

The only kind of action controlled in my dojo is overt acts like groping of breasts. Is that really acceptable in your dojo? Are you saying that such things should not be prohibited? Are you saying that a female student should not feel free to talk to her sensei about any potential problems on the mat? I really, really hope not. Because that is all I'm advocating--that a woman should feel free to train in a dojo without the threat of overt sexual advances and should feel free to discuss any potential problems with her sensei. I'm also advocating that if a women in your dojo comes to you and says, "I think I have a problem with Mr. X " that you hear her out, try and come to an understanding to the situation, and help her to resolve it if she can do so on her own and step in if needed to as her sensei. That's all...and that's not a lot. That's not restricting your free speech. That is what I call treating someone with basic diginity and respect.

And all we do in my dojo is Aikido. The social visitation just happens afterwards.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:07 PM   #125
mj
Location: livingston, scotland
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Re: Equitable?

.I have been with my partner (she tells me) nigh on 20 years....so compromise is my natural reaction.

Last edited by mj : 03-05-2005 at 06:14 PM.

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