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Old 05-10-2005, 02:46 AM   #1
"Embarrassed"
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Spreading this wonderful budo

A month & a half ago, I introduce a girlfriend to aikido. Prior to that, of course, I "sold" to her this wonderful art of peace, harmony, love and most importantly the gentlman's martial art. At the dojo she paid $150 for the joining fee and $120 for a month's lessons. She did enjoy the first couple of lessons learning the usual mae ukemi, ushiro ukemi and ikkyo. She was paired with another beginner and was under the charge of an instructor and seniors.

She was contemplating on buying a hakama as ladies are required to wear one at our dojo. Then at about the same time the usual instructor decided not to teach on his regular class and he was replaced by a more senior ranked albeit assistant instructor. Now this guy, who does not take kindly to teaching or training with newbies, took an immediate interest to teach and correct her. The first time she trained with him, he hurted her shoulder with a nikkyo pin and proceeded to give her a massage on her shoulder and back without obtaining her consent. She skipped a couple of lessons to nurse her injury. When she came back, she paid $120 for another month's lessons. During the class, she came to his attention for correction and again this time he injured her with a solid pin to the ground. Again, the usual apologies and the unwarranted massage. Normally she would join the rest of us for after class drinks. That time she didn't and I have not seen her since and she did not answer my calls. Another lady senpai did manage to contact her and she told that she is not ever coming back to the dojo without giving any reasons.

I noted a pattern of sexual harassment but in martial art physical contacts amongst genders are common. One of the ladies has also felt this was the case (perhaps she experienced it too) and has also stopped coming to class. Have you ladies experienced this before? How do you deal with it legally?

Embarrassed
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:34 PM   #2
James Davis
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

If I were you, I would go with my friend to find another dojo. An aikido dojo should not be a place where people are intentionally hurt or disrespected. Someone who "doesn't take kindly to teaching or training with newbies" is not interested in seeing his dojo grow. Please don't give up on aikido based on the actions of one jerk!
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Old 05-10-2005, 05:42 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

James, couldn't have said it better myself.
"Legally" ??? as in to sue, or as in without breaking the law.
I dunno, I'm a loudmouthed middleaged broad and find it pretty easy to say "keep your F..... hands to yourself" (yeah maybe not very aiki.....) but many women, esp if younger or in a position where they feel a power differential by virtue of being newbies, will tend to shut up and vote with their feet.

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Old 05-11-2005, 01:03 AM   #4
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

I've got heartburn over a couple of points in Embarrassed's note.

First, no instructor should be hurting beginners. Period.
Second, no instructor should be engaged in inappropriate contact (ie; unsolicited massage ...)

Leave that dojo behind and don't look back. If it's happening to your (ex?) galpal, it's probably happening to other women as well.

Third, $120 for a month!!! Geez. What a ripoff.

And yes, Janet, telling someone to keep his paws to himself is PERFECTLY aiki, as long as it's done with intent, engagement and it utterly dominates the recipient of the statement.

Chuck

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Old 05-11-2005, 01:33 AM   #5
kironin
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Now this guy, who does not take kindly to teaching or training with newbies,
There is a special low low dark level in Aiki Hell for someone with this attitude who poses as an instructor.

as to the rest, what Chuck said.

I think legal action would be difficult at this point, however the head instructor should be informed of why she is leaving.

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Old 05-11-2005, 07:35 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

IMHO, this may be sexist or chivalry, but maybe a few of you guys should give this assistant instructor a good talking to. I personally think its our job to keep our Dojo safe for people to practice. Sorry, I am old and old school.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 05-11-2005, 08:09 AM   #7
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

This is pretty disgusting...

I could *possibly* see $120/month in a really large city with high rents...but a fee in the hundreds just to *join*!!! BS...there is no way that is justified.

If I was your girlfriend, I probably wouldn't call you back either...you take her somewhere where they abuse her, and you do nothing? I'm kinda with Lynn here...that guy needs a visit...

RT

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Old 05-11-2005, 03:22 PM   #8
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

These kind of guys hide out in their little dojos, charge outrageous prices and never seem to hurt large men??? They also rarely travel to other dojos and when they do they are the most submissive because they don't want to challenge anyone. Typical pattern, seen it many times in all martial arts.

RUNNN AWWWAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-12-2005, 07:05 AM   #9
giriasis
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

First, you need to talk to the head instructor and let him/her know what is going on in his dojo by his assitant instructors. If this happened to your girlfriend suggest that she go in and tell the head instructor why she left and that you will go with her. Or is there are senior female student in the dojo that she can talk to, who can then speak to the head instructor? The sensei should be made aware that this might be the instructors m.o.: "hurt" the woman then "offer" a "massage". That's pretty twisted and DOES NOT BELONG IN A DOJO. If this is not dealt with it will continue. The school is losing members, female members especially over this.

The best legal thing you can do is -- speak up.

Second, this is not the kind of physicality that people agree to in a martial art -- i.e. unsolicited and unwelcomed "massages". However, the shoulder injury is, unfortunately.

Third, I'll second or third Janet's point that these women are voting with their feet and just not coming back. I also agree with the utter newbie status of these women that they probably don't feel like they have a "right" to assert themselves. This is truely unfortunate.

Forth, injuring beginners is totally unacceptable, male or female for that matter, my sensei has kicked high ranking dan students out of the dojo because they failed to care whether or not they injured a beginner or someome extremely junior to them.

Finally, if you get a defensive head instructor who is not willing to address the situation, who doesn't believe you, who starts to take the side of this "assistant instructor"... Then RUN...RUN AWAY...FAST

Last edited by giriasis : 05-12-2005 at 07:09 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 05-12-2005, 09:52 AM   #10
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

This reminds me of a dojo situation I've been in as a student, where the instructor had a habit of injuring people. I would add to the chorus of "RUN AWAY." After reading Lynn's and Ron's posts, I'm ashamed I didn't do more to confront that particular instructor. And yes, I could have taken him down...
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Old 05-12-2005, 09:56 AM   #11
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, this may be sexist or chivalry, but maybe a few of you guys should give this assistant instructor a good talking to. I personally think its our job to keep our Dojo safe for people to practice. Sorry, I am old and old school.
Damn right, the fact is,that this guy has cost you a relationship (sorry if I'm assuming you're a guy) or at least a friendship because he couldn't keep his hands to himself, and that is totally unacceptable. To be honest I'd be tempted to do a bit more... But at least talk to the head instructor about what has happened.

Last edited by Tim Gerrard : 05-12-2005 at 09:59 AM. Reason: spelling/grammer DOH!

Aikido doesn't work? My Aikido works, what on earth are you practicing?!
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Old 05-12-2005, 11:15 AM   #12
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

I noted a pattern of sexual harassment but in martial art physical contacts amongst genders are common. One of the ladies has also felt this was the case (perhaps she experienced it too) and has also stopped coming to class. Have you ladies experienced this before?

Here's my two cents:

While you may not be participating in the actual sexual harassment, you are condoning it by not stepping up and speaking out against it when it occurs. As a female (and one who works in a male-dominated field), this is something that I realize can and will occur but I personally am not afraid to stand up and denounce this sort of behavior. Many women, unfortunately, will not do this. Having asked this female to your dojo to train, you have some responsibility for her. Not in the sense that you are responsible for her physical fitness(knowledge and acceptance of accidents/injuries are the price you pay to participate in physically demanding sports) , but you have shaped her expectations as to what she should and will expect. Regardless of your rank, you are her senior and part of being a senior to someone is to look out for those below you, which may mean something as simple as not applying a technique at full speed/force to speaking out when something is wrong. She obviously wanted to believe you as she returned only to be injured/attacked again. No wonder she will not return your calls. When you did not act to address this actions, she believed that this was the accepted way of doing things and decided to leave a disturbing situation while she was still able. Very smart on her part.

As to the physical contact, I have played many sports on coed teams that involve physical contact and there is a big difference between physical contact and unwanted physical gestures/advances. I have never seen a sport where "back massages" are part of the normal physical contact.

What you should have done:

You should have spoken up with the first occurrence. Whether you do it in private or in public is up to you. Try to approach it in a non-threatening verbal manner. Many people will back down once they are confronted. Talk to the head of the organization about your concerns. He may not be aware that this is happening. If you are afraid to go alone, ask around. Chances are there are others who are also afraid to say anything without someone else. If the situation persists, leave. You cannot be fully focused on your training if this is in the back of your mind. This is obviously not the place for you nor anybody else.

I hope you will stand up and speak out against this. If not for your own personal morals, then for the women who are too scared to for themselves. Sexual harassment is unacceptable anywhere. Awareness and action are the key.
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Old 05-12-2005, 12:09 PM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
After reading Lynn's and Ron's posts, I'm ashamed I didn't do more to confront that particular instructor.
Please don't be ashamed...action would suit the situation better. Shame may be a good motivator, I don't know...but actions will certainly have a better affect. The shame is all on that instructor!

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-12-2005, 01:52 PM   #14
Chris Li
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Second, this is not the kind of physicality that people agree to in a martial art -- i.e. unsolicited and unwelcomed "massages". However, the shoulder injury is, unfortunately.
Well, a massage in and of itself isn't necessarily that unusual. I've trained at dojo in both the US and Japan where I got unsolicited massages - I don't ever recall being asked for any kind of consent. What's important is not the massage itself, but the context and intent of the action.

I bring this up because there has been more than one post stating the opinion that massage is in and of itself an unusual form of physical contact in the dojo.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-12-2005, 03:21 PM   #15
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Well, a massage in and of itself isn't necessarily that unusual.
Good point, and in my dojo, massage is taught (on a small scale) as well as implemented. If someone gets ouched, Em will grab 'em, throw 'em down and work on the owie.

However, context IS everything.

My take on the sitch described above was that the injury was intentionally given specifically to lead to the massage, and that there was no consent and that the context was creepy for the recipient.

Hell, I'm perfectly happy to get my bad shoulder, bad foot, bad back, bad etc worked on, but for the instructor to intentionally injure a student just so he could engage in inappropriate touching ... ech.

Chuck

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Old 05-12-2005, 04:31 PM   #16
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Chuck Gordon wrote:
My take on the sitch described above was that the injury was intentionally given specifically to lead to the massage, and that there was no consent and that the context was creepy for the recipient.

Hell, I'm perfectly happy to get my bad shoulder, bad foot, bad back, bad etc worked on, but for the instructor to intentionally injure a student just so he could engage in inappropriate touching ... ech.

Chuck
Of course. Still a couple of things come to mind:

1) We're only hearing one side of the story - it could be a misunderstanding, or even an instructor who is creepy without any particular malicious intent.
2) We're actually not even hearing even one side of the story because the tale is being told second hand and the person telling it admits themselves that the woman refused to state her reasons for not returning to the dojo.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-12-2005, 05:16 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

We won't even go into the fact that a fresh soft tissue injury should not be massaged....I LOVE touching but this whole incident was just creepy and wrong.

Janet Rosen
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:17 PM   #18
giriasis
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Also Chris the other key word I used was "unwelcomed", so please don't quote me selectively to make a point. That one little, tiny, detail of a word put my point in agreement with yours not contrary. I agree with Janet regarding the soft-tissue injury and there is a whole definent creep factor going on here.

This goes back to the whole question of "how do we keep women in the dojo?" Need I remind you guys (yes, you men on this website) that you always ask, "why do women leave a dojo." This is one example why a woman leaves a dojo.

One example to help keep a woman in a dojo is do things such as: listening and believing what his ex-girlfriend said is true and that the line was crossed for her. Determining whether something crosses the line depends on the gut reaction of the person invovled. Intent and context is a big part of that, but intent does not have to be spoken actually, often it is not spoken. So we're still stuck with someone's gut reaction to the situation. If the situation felt wrong for her, it was wrong for her. Who are you to say what she can or can not feel? That gut reaction should be respected and that person should have an avenue of redress, which apparently she did not feel that she had hence her leaving the dojo and not wanting to talk about it. She should be respected enough where she feels comfortable talking to the head sensei or at least a sempai female in the dojo. And respected enough that the head sensei will actually attempt to bring a resolution to the situation. What kind of resolution will depend upon what the head sensei, who is hopefully unbiased, determines as appropriate. She should not be told that "she's just imaging it" or "she's misunderstanding the situation." These are dismissive comments. Instead, it should be "if you felt uncomfortable (validate her feelings), why not talk to sensei about it and do you want me to go with you?"(and suggest a way to address the situation) .

A sensei should know and needs to know that one of their students working on their behalf has a "creep" factor to him, whether malicious or not, and that this "creep" factor has the potential of crossing the line with some people, in this case a woman. He needs to know this so that he can watch out and make sure he doesn't cross the line -- again. It's real sh*ty that the woman in question felt that she couldn't even talk about it. Apparently, she tried to go back after the first incident but it happened again the second time she returned. I don't blame her, especially if she didn't feel like the dojo was addressing the issue appropriately enough. Maybe she won't talk about because someone in the dojo dismissed her concerns??? Perhaps they ignored her situation and just thought SHE was misunderstanding the situation. Maybe she felt like her concern could not be addressed in the dojo? Who knows? We don't. But, I bet you the original poster has a pretty darn good idea what happened and what is going on in his dojo. I'm sure he'll do a great job, as he has heard the first hand account of the situation, and he will figure out an appropriate response to the situation if not to the present on but to any future one as well.

Last edited by giriasis : 05-12-2005 at 06:19 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:53 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Also Chris the other key word I used was "unwelcomed", so please don't quote me selectively to make a point. That one little, tiny, detail of a word put my point in agreement with yours not contrary.
Well if you noticed the quote, than you noticed that the word "unwelcomed" was included when I quoted you, so I'm not sure how that's "selective quoting". In any case, I re-read your quote and my impression remains the same, although that may not have been what you meant to imply.

Also, I'd note that the friend hasn't heard the first hand account - so far as we know nobody has. I never said that she had imagined the situation or misunderstood it - or that she should be told so. What I said was that we have only one side of the story from a secondhand source.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-12-2005, 09:03 PM   #20
"Embarrassed"
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Well, a massage in and of itself isn't necessarily that unusual. I've trained at dojo in both the US and Japan where I got unsolicited massages - I don't ever recall being asked for any kind of consent. What's important is not the massage itself, but the context and intent of the action.

I bring this up because there has been more than one post stating the opinion that massage is in and of itself an unusual form of physical contact in the dojo.

Best,

Chris
Thank you all for the replies and "encouragements".

I am posting from a country where Islam is a prominent religion. The assistant instructor himself is a Muslim and a scholar in Islamic studies; my platonic girlfriend who was injured is a Muslim and my lady sempai who has just "run away" is a Muslim. Although I am not a Muslim, I and in general all races in this cosmopolitan country have lived to be sensible to each other's belief and culture and I know for a fact that physical contact in the massage render by one gender to another (other than a husband & wife relationship, close blood relation) is not permitted without consent.

A physical confrontation with this guy is out of the question as long as we (my dojo mates & I) want to train and practice aikido in this country. I am hoping that the dojo owners would come across this thread and know that it relates to the situation there and take appropriate action. Other than the attitude and lack of spiritual maturity of this particular assistant instructor, the training atmosphere in my dojo is extremely good and positive but if this is allowed to go on more and more of us will be walking out the door.

Perhaps I will send a link to this thread to the dojo owners

Thank again for the advice.

Embarrassed
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Old 05-12-2005, 09:34 PM   #21
"Embarrassed"
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
This goes back to the whole question of "how do we keep women in the dojo?" Need I remind you guys (yes, you men on this website) that you always ask, "why do women leave a dojo." This is one example why a woman leaves a dojo.
Many years ago and in a dojo that had since closed, there was a pretty petite girl (a law student at that time, I think) who was also as aikido junkie as the rest of us there. The instructor would go about correcting our techniques and when he did, all of us would sit in seiza to watch (it was a small dojo). He took a keen interest to correct her on connections and contact and each time he did, we all knew what the hakama was hiding besides his legs. She too ran away from aikido.
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Old 05-12-2005, 10:28 PM   #22
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Chris, I appreciate your devil's advocacy, but it begs the question not of who received the unsolicited massages in your experiences, but who delivered them. I've wondered, and I'll wonder again, whether men are generally easy, and therefore less apt to observe abuse, or we observe it, and ignore it out of some role we've been dealt, or a mix of both. (In most cases at anyhow, and I won't italicize 'most')

Then again it is just as easy to assume within the confines of the idealized realm of aikido that you've received unsolicited massage by just as many attentive yet sweaty men, and for fun I will italicize idealized

Just feeling like trouble on a thursday evening.

(and Janet, I wanted to second the thought that such a strong response would be aiki when encountering an offence that purposefully withholds commitment and energy. You have to bring both into the situation to resolve it on your own terms) (in my opinion anyhow)

gnite all, rest well and happy training.

logan.
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Old 05-12-2005, 11:39 PM   #23
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Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:

This goes back to the whole question of "how do we keep women in the dojo?" Need I remind you guys (yes, you men on this website) that you always ask, "why do women leave a dojo." This is one example why a woman leaves a dojo.
I am wondering if what your saying is sexist anti-male. I am reading a generalization of one guy's action results in the condemnation of all men in and outside the dojo. Not all men are scoundrels, or walking erector sets wanting to take advantage instantly of any vulnerable woman who enters the dojo. If I read correctly it was one male who make the woman feel uncomfortable, and not the entire male population of the dojo.

Per the rest of what you said, I don't see the typical dojo to be a bar, where all woman who enter in naivete are the nights prey.

I understand the difficulty woman have in society, and a nature's design. I am aware they must be vigilant against unwanted sexual advances, and harassment all to various degrees. I don't think really this is the pristine reason why woman leave the dojo. I wonder if in many cases it is just an excuse to leave the dojo out of embarrassment. Woman are not powerless to stop or to change the average sexual advancement that is being discussed, and maintain attendance if they choose.

The first post talked of all sexual harassment law. I am assuming the first poster was directing his or her comments to the rules of sexual harassment in the work place. Proposing sexual harassment is a pretty strong action. I am not sure if would apply in a dojo, as it would in the work place. This attitude bothers me a bit.

First of all, there is another woman who stayed in the dojo, known as a Sempai and she stayed. She didn't leave because she felt sexually harassed. One other woman was new who left because she felt uncomfortable, and possibly a second for the same reason. Question, what where the reasons behind men leaving the dojo? How many woman applied to the dojo, and how many woman are in the dojo?

Second of all, why didn't she just say she didn't want to be thrown so hard, and that (unwanted) messages- attempts to message was off limits. Why wasn't she assertive in taking a power control position of the situation either aggressively or passively. Why did she did speak out, or complained to the Sensei? She is after all paying skyscraper prices for months of lessons and enrollment fees.

Finally, why didn't the other woman(s) in the class read the situation and stop it before it started? According to the poster it was suspected the unwanted advancements had happened previously to another woman. Why didn't the female Sempai warn her not to train with that guy, and prevent the situation. The both have trained in the same dojo of a while. Why did the woman go out for drinks the first time assuming "the guy" would also go, despite her being uncomfortable with the first injury and unwanted message? Why did she come back the second time, and pay the outrageous fee of $120.00 for another month? I don't think there was any action or words that took place initially after the first incident to prevent a second uncomfortable sexual harassment situation that is said to have occurred. Or even warrant litigation in relation sexual harassment. Why not threaten litigation related to the injury being of malice intent and harm. I think that would be much more of a successful case. But then why was only sexual harassment brought up in the story?

I think the story is just that a story. It is of bogus design to bust the tea bags of men who are seen as a dominate threat in the martial arts world due to their numbers. This makes some woman in martial arts uncomfortable. If they had it their way woman would be the dominate number and threat. This is propaganda designed to attack all men which a group of woman feel insecure, uncomfortable and jealous because martial arts is dominated by men and they feel they can't compete with men.

Through the years this story has been recycled in so many different ways as an attack on men because they make up most of the martial arts class everywhere. Most woman don't have interest in doing martial arts, it doesn't appeal to them. Martial arts isn't something the majority of woman want to pursue. It isn't something they are attracted too. If this where the case then you would see scores of dojos filled exclusively with woman from all walks of life.

Let's look at what woman are into and where you find the most woman. Woman are concerned about their figures. Classes like Aerobics, Pilate's, Yoga, Tae Bo, Ballet are predominately woman attended. Woman have an invest interest in their health and how they look, and feel. They have little interest in learning how to take down an attacker, or win a combative contest. Certainly most woman are not interested in being the greatest fighter. They are not interested in fighting, combat, or war. They have different interests and different things appeal to them other then martial activities.

Those woman who are interest in martial arts, like the men who are interested in what woman do, have to make adjustments. I am not saying if sexual harassment happens to either sex they should stand for it. Rather those who are uncomfortable because they feel out numbered in male to female ratio and visa versa must adjust if they are going to be successful in an opposite sexes activity.
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:11 AM   #24
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

Hmm, so much for feeling like trouble on a thursday evening.

So, ANON 73.43.72, you decide to join the conversation by posting rather incensing remarks to say the least, and won't back it up by posting under your user name? I'm guessing you're trying to make it that much easier for your argument to be unbalanced and tossed on its head in that action alone, or let me refer to it as inaction.

As for what you actually posted, I don't think we have the time to actually observe, dissect, and reject the aggressively immature, as well as insecure basis most if not all of your statements were made upon.

If what I am saying sounds wrong and idiotic, take just 2 minutes to imagine how in the world it could be correct. Not how it is correct, but only how it could be. After that go back to thinking me an idiot. Apply this technique to the original post, and perhaps you could see how the original poster perceived the event, who may even possibly be the person who actually experienced everything described firsthand.

Smack me if I went too far with this one folks. Anon#2, you do know I'll take you more seriously if you actually post from a username, but at this point you might just wait until next time this topic comes up.

pm me if you want to flame, ANON#2, if you can pm anonymously that is.

logan.
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Old 05-13-2005, 02:24 AM   #25
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Re: Spreading this wonderful budo

On the slightly side issue of massages in the dojo in general, yes I've been in dojos where every starry-eyed sensei also thinks the best thing to do for bruising is to dig deep with gay abandon - just don't eh.

At the very least, have the decency to ask and to graciously accept a refusal, the last time this happened to me I treated the rampant massager as I would any other attacker. By practicing within an aikido dojo I have given tacit consent to be bent, dropped, hit and generally pretzled, but I draw the line at inept fondling.

Quote:
This is propaganda designed to attack all men which a group of woman feel insecure, uncomfortable and jealous because martial arts is dominated by men and they feel they can't compete with men.
I had to read this twice before I realised it was a serious post and hadn't inadvertently escaped from the humour section. I just love reading written diatribes which first of all set up the argument they wish to counter then provide a wonderful insight into their own take on that dreaded "other species" the opposite sex - your mum must be dead proud!
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