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  • Always the same with the women

    Our dojo has been around for almost 40 years but its been at least 20 of those since we've had any adult females stick around for more than one year. We now have two that have started practicing in full bogu since beginning with us last summer. I'm hoping they continue beyond the coming summer. In order for this ignorant male sensei to raise the chances that they will, I pose the following questions to females in these forums to assist me:
    Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
    If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
    Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
    Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
    What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?

    I'm aware I may sound condescending or male-chauvinistic but that is not my intention. I believe that the ideals of kendo have no distinction for gender but my experience has shown the execution of its physical practice appears to eventually overwhelm female participants. We have had no female sensei in the dojo for 25 years so I have no wisdom to draw on there. I've seen females in other dojos not only persevere, but thrive to become experienced sensei. I would like to have the same in our dojo. So please, no smart remarks like "It helps to have a cute sensei!", okay? Your thoughtful comments will help me as well as the two members I'm trying to encourage.
    I thank you for your input.

  • #2
    As a post script, child-bearing is a situation we males don't share with females, except perhaps as partners later in the child-rearing phase. I'm discounting that reason for females dropping out of the dojo. What besides motherhood might cause females to give kendo practice up?

    Comment


    • #3
      Normal girls don't do sports, let alone staying on for an odd martial art that involves getting hit hard by men.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mingshi View Post
        Normal girls don't do sports, let alone staying on for an odd martial art that involves getting hit hard by men.
        jenny i have always suspected you were into sm hehehehe

        Comment


        • #5
          Some women don't feel comfortable unless they are with other women.

          So like if there's a dojo with a huge male population, but with no females, sometimes that could be a bit uncomfortable.

          In my case, less females the better--because I'm an attention whore, and it's great to be the center of male attention :P I also wanted to be a "female Jackie Chan" when I was younger--that's why I started martial arts--I wanted to break that stereotype of "martial arts being a BOYS thing."

          What keeps me continuing? I don't know...

          But McDreamy being my inspiration certainly does help

          Comment


          • #6
            Well I can only speak for myself and not for all women and I've only been doing Kendo for 3 months and my thoughts are nowhere near quitting but I'll try to answer some stuff.

            Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
            - Not for me but I gradually got used to that from different MAs before I even started Kendo. In general I think Kendo is one of the most aggressive MAs out there and yes, I think many women are intimidated by that, but then they are not cut out to do Kendo to begin with. I also think pecentage-wise less women are cut-out for Kendo than men, plus I reckon we have different reasons for doing it than men.

            If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
            I love the sculpting of the mind, the self control, the pushing your limits time and time again, not being afraid (In real life I'm a real wuss...) trusting other people in the dojo, having ideals personified and upheld. I also find it a real challenge, and it really helps me a lot not just in other MAs but also in every day life.

            Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
            I haven't done any bogu drills yet so I can't comment on that, but unless there are some gender specific issues, I don't think anything should be adjusted for women. Everyone should push themselves as much as they can and as much is still healthy. That level differs per person.

            Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
            As I said I'm still pre-bogu but I think everyone should get the same general instruction methods with individual differences. Some people learn best if you stop and explain, others learn best if you call out instruction during the drills, while they do it, others need a hands-on aproach... I don't think you should differentiate between genders but between indivuals altogether.

            What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?
            For me, it's the welcoming athmosphere in the dojo and the fact that people are serious about Kendo but still know how to have fun, and also they don't treat me any different just cause I'm female.

            I'm thinking maybe there is really no issue with your dojo for women, maybe there just aren't any women who want to do kendo seriously (something you don't just know the first few weeks, I guess) that happen to be in your area.

            I dunno. With all the stuff I've done in the past, I know that before the year is over you come to a point where you want to give up, sort of a dip, a phase between tackling the very basics and not making any visible progress for a while, but once you get through it, you'll stay for a long time.

            Maybe just in general try to motivate women who start showing up less to come more often again and stick with it, you know? I wouldn't know how to, though, that would depend on them personally and how you dojo works and stuff

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
              Our dojo has been around for almost 40 years but its been at least 20 of those since we've had any adult females stick around for more than one year. We now have two that have started practicing in full bogu since beginning with us last summer. I'm hoping they continue beyond the coming summer. In order for this ignorant male sensei to raise the chances that they will, I pose the following questions to females in these forums to assist me:
              • Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
              • If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
              • Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
              • Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
              • What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?

              I'm aware I may sound condescending or male-chauvinistic but that is not my intention. I believe that the ideals of kendo have no distinction for gender but my experience has shown the execution of its physical practice appears to eventually overwhelm female participants. We have had no female sensei in the dojo for 25 years so I have no wisdom to draw on there. I've seen females in other dojos not only persevere, but thrive to become experienced sensei. I would like to have the same in our dojo. So please, no smart remarks like "It helps to have a cute sensei!", okay? Your thoughtful comments will help me as well as the two members I'm trying to encourage.
              I thank you for your input.

              Honestly, the only thing that would push me away from my dojo would be my sempai going easy on me because I am female. I don't feel uncomfortable at all, and I'm not the only female in my dojo.
              I'm sure different women have different opinions on all of the things you mentioned though.
              I think the best policy is to not differentiate between male and female in the dojo...everyone is kendoka. Yeah, women naturally have less muscle, yeah women are more fragile, weaker etc. But I think we women realize that very well and still decide to start Kendo knowing 90% of players are guys.

              The only thing that bugs me though is not being able to take a 30 second bathroom break like guys can and having to endure the whole practice! When you have to chose between not drinking water before practice and getting dehydrated, or drinking water and then not being able to go to the bathroom (only applicable to long 2.5-3hr practices), it makes kendo a lot less pleasant!

              Comment


              • #8
                I actually see more male drop out than female. The percentage of adult male dropouts are really high. Out 6 adult women that i have seen start kendo 5 stayed (2 made shodan, 1 Nidan). Out of my group of 10 to 12 men, I'm the only one left. And it seem like each year we have a group of men starting with only 1 or 2 staying. I don't think we can find a definate answer as to why people leave. All of the Drills & regi seem to be universal to me: i have seen drills that some guys can't do without sweating a river while women older than them can do with little effort & vice versa. i have watched small pretty girls dominate men's divisions at taikais.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?

                  Yes, to start off with. One of the biggest things you may run into is the fear of looking like an idiot and not wanting to yell. I helped do a demo yesterday and of the 5 women who came up for a chat afterwards, ALL of them were concerned that they would be too embarressed to yell, and that they would get clobbered and injured. I told them that while you DO get dominated by the taller guys at first, you get as good as them before long, and that yelling will become natural over time. Kendo for women can be a struggle against your own sense of embarressment for a while unless they are used to this kind of stuff.

                  If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?

                  The fact that its hard work, not everyone else does it (so it is unique to a degree), and because its damn good fun! One of the main things that kept me going in the beginning was the friendliness of everyone and how they made an effort to encourage me and let me know how valuable it was to the club if females stuck at it. Everyone is the club is close and we are all good friends.

                  Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?

                  No, but make sure other beginner guys arent clobbering the heck out of the girls and shorter guys. Ive had beginner guys almost break my arm when I started and it really takes the fun out of it.

                  Are there instruction methods that might help females members?

                  Let them know that the louder and more effort they put in, the more they blend in. Girls can get very introverted with the "everyone is looking at me" feeling, which makes them want to not stand out - unfortunately that is exactly what makes people stare at you - she isnt making any noise and isnt trying very hard, whats wrong with her? The louder you are and the more effort you put in the higher the seniors will think of you. Also let them know that a senior going hard on them is something to take as a compliment - they wouldnt do it if they didnt think you are good enough to handle it.

                  What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?

                  The fact that I find kendo heaps of fun, I enjoy the company of everyone there, and I have my own goals I want to achieve. I find it is good stress relief and stops me from sitting on the couch.

                  It is easier with more girls, but I got a heck of a lot of encouragement when I started and it made all the difference. Not the "youre great!" kind, the sort where people made an effort to grab me after training to help me with a technique they saw I had trouble with, or give me extra advice and answer any questions I had. It still happens and Im extremely grateful to the guys who help me like that. I know that is hard to do if you have a large group though.

                  I hope my rambling helps!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    in My case, we have a female sensei and the other is shodan , so the drill that she use are very hard, and sometimes very good ones, we had a 3 more female but 2 left 'cause the moved to orlando but once in a while they come to train with us, the other is busy with school.
                    with her the drill are somehow modificated, mostly high school kendo of japan, but very hard ones, she tried to look for stamina and speed and technique, and also when i do keiko with her, she teached me a lot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We never really treat female kenodka any differently than their male counterparts, what would be the point? Everyone however does have a diffrent 'style' of kendo and in that case its sort of subjective, some players are more physical ,others do a softer style, some its all in timing. You learn to do what works for you, regardless of sex. Some of the toughest kendoka I have ever practiced with have been women.

                      If anything Kendo has been an ideal medium to bring more introverted people out of their shells, particularly young ladies. It's always been interesting to see someone go from being timid to in a few months or so to being a tiger.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by chainz View Post
                        we had a 3 more female but 2 left 'cause the moved to orlando but once in a while they come to train with us.
                        Sorry for the little Thread drift but do both women know that there's a kendo dojo in Orlando?


                        I think Alisson gave some good pointers, it would be good if we also had a female sensei's perspective.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by yoda-waza View Post
                          Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
                          If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
                          Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
                          Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
                          What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?
                          My question would be:

                          Would receiving feedback on what motivates or de-motivates a minuscule sampling of female Kenshi at lower grades and of varying cultures provide enough information to accurately depict generalized attitudes regarding training?

                          If that above statement were proven to be affirmative, would you then somehow augment your training regimen?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
                            Yes. But since I'm a tom-boy, I got no problem with it. When there are female beginners join, a lot of them seemed to get really intimidated by it.

                            If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
                            The people. What's better than crossing swords and making friends? Besides of the training, the discipline, and everyone does Kendo because of passion and self improvement; not profit.

                            Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
                            No. What makes Kendo unique is no matter where you go, kendo is the same everywhere. Besides, like many have said, women don't need to be treated differently than men.

                            Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
                            Not sure...yet.

                            What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?

                            Well, besides that time of the month, there is also job. Especially sometimes paying bills versus Kendo - paying bills has to come first.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Alison2805 View Post
                              Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?

                              No, but make sure other beginner guys arent clobbering the heck out of the girls and shorter guys. Ive had beginner guys almost break my arm when I started and it really takes the fun out of it.
                              Now I'm not a kendoka, but I'd like to expand on this as I may, from my experience in a contact martial art.

                              When new folks come in to the dojo, they're often feeling insecure -- which should be normal. But guys in particular often feel it's not cool to be insecure. And the last thing they want is to be trounced by someone else, especially a woman. Now, I see them doing the same thing with other guys -- because they don't want to "lose" by whatever definition is in practice, they go all-out with recklessness and inconsideration of anyone's safety to a degree which is unbecoming in budo. More mature players tend to have their egos in check, and have experience enough to use technique instead of gross physical strength. But a new guy, strength is all he has, and he'll be dammed if he's going to "lose" to the girl.

                              But it only has to do with gender while physical strength and leverage has a role. Part of it is personality. So if a sensei could guide those who need encouragement to the sempai who will encourage, and those who need humility to the sempai who will give them a sound thrashing, I think both types of students will get what they need. In short, be proactive about practice pairings, and use sensei's prerogative to break up potential train wrecks. At least until the young bucks settle down, and the quiet ones get a little gumption.

                              -B

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