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  • #31
    Hello to all the wonderful kendoka out there! I sympathize with you Yoda-waza. It is really hard to retain female kendoka. I myself have been practicing on and off for about 10 years now and have been through some rough times.

    I think it really depends on the individual woman, so maybe you could try to understand them well and then kind of tailor your teaching around their attitude and capabilities. Some women like the tough teaching style and enjoy being the only female member and really thrive in that type of environment. Other women like to socialize and do kendo for recreation and are perhaps less competitive. Some women have a low pain tolerance so you should encourage them to tell others when they are pushed beyond their limit. Some women take different treatment as an insult and want to be challenged. People are so different, so I would emphasize taking an extra step to get to know new kendoka.

    I would say that it does help to immediately include the women in your dojo/club family, take them under your wing and encourage them to grow in a non-patronizing way. Encourage the other dojo members to do this too. People are more likely to stay if they feel included in the circle and are not the odd one out. For some women, it helps even more if you have other women in the group that encourage them and are not condescending. From my experience, I really disliked it when there were other women with egos that saw me as a threat! You would hope kendoka do not have this attitude but some women are like this and actually discourage other women kendoka. Personally, I try to reach out to new kendoka, male or female, and just be positive in any way without being fake. Like if they show up for practice, give them a warm smile and welcome.

    You can plan more group activities outside of practice like bbqs or potlucks or go go-carting, etc. I think psychologically, people like to feel special and part of something bigger than themselves and group activities really help. From personal experience this has helped our club.

    There are tough women that do kendo and there are softer ones that need more understanding and agreeable environment to thrive. Like growing flowers....some need specific soil conditions and lighting and others need rough soil and bright sun all day! Equipment should be tailored as much as possible too. Getting a correctly fitting men and kote and the right size shinai really helped me. I was using incorrect sized bogu for a while before I discovered how much it was affecting my practice.

    Reach out to new students, capture their heart, and they will probably stick with Kendo for a long time. Okay, hope this helps! Good luck!

    Eliza

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    • #32
      Actually, if a womens only class/session is done for the right reasons I reckon it could be just the thing. I personally heard a rumour that a womens seminar may get held in australia at some point and frankly Id sell my left kidney to attend. Training with guys all the time is great, I love it, I dont find it intimidating, but it would be great to train with girls for a change!!! Plus its nice to get a fellow females perspective on shiai, training and the like. Something such as a separate training would be perfect for getting girls to start kendo, but you cant keep them separate from the guys completely because that would disadvantage them in the long run. Why not just part of a session or shiai practise just between the girls? That could build confidence and a feeling of being part of a close group. That seems to be a main theme from the women who have answered this thread so far.

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      • #33
        I really liked eliza's post above, i think that she also mentions some important things, no one likes to feel unwelcome and no one is better at making someone feel unwelcome than a gang of women that want to intimidate or refuse entry into their 'club'. You guys might not even notice it, but I have definitely seen it in different dojo's or while meeting other women kendoka. However, you fellas certainly can be nasty as well, if you truely want new female members, then you really have to welcome them and keep them feeling like they are valuable to your membership! I think a lot of the posters have said some great things!!

        Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
        I think it really depends on the female, it is aggressive, but in a different way than say rugby… now those are some tough gurls!!
        • If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you? When I look at kendo from when I started to where I am now, of course some of the appealing things have changed. One of the major things that I like about kendo is that I don’t have to worry so much about “the team” mentality. I only have to worry about how I am doing and not so much about ‘if I don’t do xyz right then the whole team suffers and then I am a lout’ and then I quit because of the ‘better players’ and the whole ridicule loser thing… grin. I really love the fact that I can be super duper aggressive, but not get sent to the emergency room at the drop of a hat OR be fouled out of a game. I like that everyone is ‘working’ on something and no one is perfect, even if I couldn’t tell with some people! I could go on and on about what qualities about kendo appeal to me, but I don’t want to bore you.
        • Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not? I haven’t run into a lot of drills that needed to be modified. Due to the lack of many experienced women kendoka in our area, there are definitely things that I (and my sensei’s) have found through trial and error, i.e. shorter tsuka for my much shorter arm vs. height ratio, narrower mune because it is harder for me to keep my arms extended if the mune is too wide as my shoulders\chest is narrower than a male’s.
        Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
        I guess if I had a sensei that hit me if I wasn’t going fast enough, or yelled at me all practice I would have a hard time. I don’t really learn well in a really stressful environment. Also, I think the other girls in my dojo would say that just having instruction that is patient is very important. OH, and some good humor is helpful especially when things are tough.
        What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?
        Other than of course kendo… The atmosphere is sort of like ‘family’ or a great group of friends. Everyone brings something different to the table and makes us a fab group of people. Outside the dojo, we go out for dinner or a drink (or four), sometimes we go skiing, or hiking or have bbq’s or parties.

        One way to keep women in kendo is to have sincerity in newbie practice, be non-patronizing and keep up the positive confidence building—remember that most women are taught NOT to yell, NOT to hit and NOT to be aggressive (because of course that makes you a bitch). It is hard to get used to the fact that kendo is one of the only places that you can be aggressive and actually get respect from guys for doing it!! Try that at the office

        p.s. i would hate to be in a separate class. it would suck.

        Comment


        • #34
          Bokushingu raised a good point about male versus female drop-out rates. I wonder, if you estimated the ratio of males who join the dojo and and those that stay for over one year versus the ratio for females, would it be very different? Although I don't do kendo in particular, my general experience is that fewer women try out in the first place. Perhaps the main barrier is getting females to consider kendo in the first place?

          Comment


          • #35
            Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
            Possibly other females. Not me, though--the physical aggression is something I find very appealing, actually. Women are often not encouraged by society to express that sort of thing, so to have a medium where it's not only expected but necessary can be a great form of stress relief.

            If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
            The...completeness of mind, I guess, that comes from drilling over and over. Some ladies knit; I do kata. There's a fierce serenity in it that netted me easily. I like being challenged, I like being surrounded by people who are so very much superior to me in skill and practice(I've been going since September, and I was off for a bit with pneumonia so I'm very new), I like the fact that it's simply beautiful and that the people I've known who were good at it,when they were doing kendo, always seemed so bright. Like there was nothing between who they really were, and the world. The mental aspect of it all is pretty important to me--but also I like the fact that I get winded a lot less easily since I've started, that my asthma bugs me a lot less now that I'm using my shoulder muscles all of the time.

            Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
            I don't think so. At least where I train, I've never seen a reason for the ladies to be treated differently from the lads. Girls are supposed to have more innate stamina than guys, anyway, aren't they? While I couldn't say for sure that this is true, it seems to me that for the most part we're pretty well balanced.

            Are there instruction methods that might help female members?
            Extra words, maybe, since typically we're more vocally communicative. I don't think we need any more attention than the male members, just to not be treated any differently. I honestly think it would be damaging to my morale to see the men being treated in a strict fashion but then to be treated softer myself. I'm not there to be coddled; if I want sweet and soft, I'll start a book club.

            What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?
            Just about everything. I like the other people there, I really admire my sensei(he's kind, but he pushes hard sometimes and has a sharp eye, which is wonderful), I like the fact that I'm treated well but not 'like a girl.' I like everything about kendo, even getting blisters, because they're blisters that mean I've done something neat.

            Comment


            • #36
              This is a good thread. There is quite a bit of useful insights. Even the comments by some of the guys tell you what kind of atmosphere could be created at a dojo, some of it would, IMHO, create a discouraging atmosphere for potential women kenshi.

              I am not sure if a womens class is the answer, certainly not the only answer. Taking responsibility to help (mentor) female kohai seems more appropriate to me.

              On the subject of atmosphere ...
              When I first joined, there was one other women at the dojo. She was kind and helpful and we became friends. I would have continued anyway but it was nice to not feel like I was breaking into a clique. My past experience with sports is, if your are new to the team, sometimes it can take awhile to feel welcome, unless teammates make effort to reach out.

              Kendo practice is a lot like being in school. Not much talking during class so effort has to be made before and afterwards to welcome the new person, male or female. To be honest, I had to force myself to say Hi to guys in my dojo some of them would just look away or be shocked that I spoke to them. Granted they were all just boys but still, if I was equally as shy, I may have quit. Eventually we became friends and now we have fun at keiko together. We notice when one of us is missing and always ask what happened? next time we see each other.

              Kendo takes a lot of personal determination and if on top of that, no one on talks to you or worse ignores you it can be harder to find motivation to continue. Sadly, my friend had to give up kendo and I was the only female for a long time. Eventually two women joined. One 2-dan transferred in. The newer one, besides enjoying kendos challenges also feels the people are nice. I really think this is part of why she has continued.

              Another example regarding atmosphere was begin asked by a sensei from another dojo to come more often to their keiko in order to encourage their girls that women do kendo and can practice along side men equally. This was a nice compliment. Maybe you can ask some women from other dojos to come to your dojo? It might be good for your guys to train with women and also good if new women come to try kendo.

              With that said
              Do you think the physical aggression in kendo intimidates females?
              Yes it can, but some thrive on it.
              If not in your case, what qualities about kendo appeals to you?
              Challenging Spirit
              Do you think that some drills may want to be modified or not?
              Not for gender just ability
              Are there instruction methods that might help females members?
              Yes. Because we can not always rely on being faster or stronger than our opponents we need to develop solid skills, finesse and patience. This is advice given to me by high ranking female sensei specifically about sparing with males. It applies to all kenshi really. Drills matter.
              What keeps you coming to practice in your dojo?
              I truly enjoy kendo. Responsibility and friendship. Good stress release.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by come_love_sleep View Post
                Some ladies knit; I do kata.

                Wow. Will you give me permission to put that as a bumper sticker on my car?? Or maybe a t-shirt or on a poster for my office xD

                +++++rep!!!

                Comment


                • #38
                  women's seminar

                  Originally posted by Alison2805 View Post
                  Actually, if a womens only class/session is done for the right reasons I reckon it could be just the thing. I personally heard a rumour that a womens seminar may get held in australia at some point and frankly Id sell my left kidney to attend. Training with guys all the time is great, I love it, I dont find it intimidating, but it would be great to train with girls for a change!!! Plus its nice to get a fellow females perspective on shiai, training and the like. Something such as a separate training would be perfect for getting girls to start kendo, but you cant keep them separate from the guys completely because that would disadvantage them in the long run. Why not just part of a session or shiai practise just between the girls? That could build confidence and a feeling of being part of a close group. That seems to be a main theme from the women who have answered this thread so far.
                  Well we don't need your kidney, we will be happy to send you info about the next one we have here in Seattle. We've had 3 so far. We host a week long seminar in conjunction with our women's taikai. They are conducted in English if that helps.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by jmarsten View Post
                    Well we don't need your kidney, we will be happy to send you info about the next one we have here in Seattle. We've had 3 so far. We host a week long seminar in conjunction with our women's taikai. They are conducted in English if that helps.
                    Please post the details for your next seminar. The fact it's in English is icing on the cake.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Kendo?! Women?! Icing?! Cake?! The?! This thread is getting saucy!

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by samurai80 View Post
                        Kendo?! Women?! Icing?! Cake?! The?! This thread is getting saucy!
                        mmmmmmmmmmmmmm icing...is it one the women? ...and before the flaming sarts... ladies I apoligize for being so sexist. But it is a nice thought...

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                        • #42
                          ....sorry meant to say 'on' not 'one'

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Raindrop View Post
                            Wow. Will you give me permission to put that as a bumper sticker on my car?? Or maybe a t-shirt or on a poster for my office xD

                            +++++rep!!!
                            *Grin* Why, thank you! Absolutely, you have my permission. ;D
                            /*vain vain vain*

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Raindrop View Post
                              Wow. Will you give me permission to put that as a bumper sticker on my car?? Or maybe a t-shirt or on a poster for my office xD

                              +++++rep!!!
                              That is awesome. I'm going to put that in my office.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Thats a very interesting discussion, and we wonder about the same things.
                                There are two clubs in my town. In my club we are two women in Bogu . After me (Im Nidan) four others got their Bogu - and stopped. In the other club are also two women in Bogu, the younger is Shodan, after her four started to practice in Bogu and left after a few weeks

                                The women who stopped were between 16 and 40, some very gifted, some not so gifted, some very fit, some had experience in other martial arts some shy, some very strong and energetic

                                I think most of the women dont expect Kendo to be so physical. At first sight it looks elegant and effortless. One beginner even asked me after training Why are you sweating, you nearly didnt move? She was watching us doing Jigeiko, while she did her first Suburi So the first Taiatari/Tsubazeriai is quite a surprise. And, its true male beginners use excessive force against women (not against men, I asked our boys).

                                What makes it more difficult for women who are not very convinced is the feedback.
                                The feedback of some (very few though) machos, who think that women cant do Kendo.
                                And, more important, the feedback outside the Dojo: Do I have to be afraid of you now? You are brutal! (Seeing the hematomas after suboptimal Kote strikes) and the hints that you are not womanly

                                So why did I stay? Ok, Kendo is the most exhausting (and most painful) thing I ever did but also one of the most exiting! Ive grown physically and mentally stronger, more relaxed

                                I will interest you that we actually have special training for women. Of course Kendo is the same for everybody, but its a nice change to practice Kihon against people who are not 30 cm taller and 30 kg heavier Keiko consists of Kihon, Uchikomi, and Jigeiko in the last 15-20 minutes. Theres no need to change exercises for women or to train special things.

                                We really try to make the women stick with Kendo, so we invite every woman in the whole country whom we meet. We talk about difficulties, comfort them if necessary, tell the beginners what to expect in Bogu.

                                But not with much success, as you can see at the beginning of my post puzzled

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