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  • Tips on instructing women.

    Hey, guys. I apologize if this thread has been done before. I may have three new women students starting kendo next semester and while I have coached women in the past I am wondering if you all can give me any tips on how to do it.

    In my limited experience many women have less experience in attacking someone with full strength and one of the things they work on is putting their all into their cuts. When they get to bogu level they sometimes have more trouble adapting to taiatari or ai-uchi than men - again, this is a generalization, so I apologize if I say something insensitive. My point is with the women I have coached these are typical areas of concentration. All beginners experiencing jigeiko for the first few times have to get used to ai-uchi in my opinion but sometimes women moreso, since I think they are less comfortable crashing into the opponent with tai atari than men.

    I appreciate any advice you an give me but by all mean's sound off. There have actually been some interesting articles on this in Kendo World recently if anyone has read them.

  • #2
    Do you mean college-age women taking a class through EMU? You find that those generalizations apply to girls in college? Because that would surprise me a little. The girls I know that think to take something like kendo in college strike me as the kind of brash athelete-type less likely to have the issues you're describing. I"m just thinking back to the girls I had TKD and Aikido with in college. The timid ones left after one or two classes. The rest of them were just as aggressive as the guys.

    Btw, why do you mention aiuchi specifically? That's more intimidating to your students than just getting hit? Interesting.....
    Last edited by jjcruiser; 9th December 2011, 01:50 AM.

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    • #3
      Edit: apologies if I double post.

      JJ, many of the people I train at EMU kendo - not just the women - are coming at it from an interest in Japanese language and culture (often includes anime and we're not ashamed to admit it!). Many of the people I train at EMU - not just the women - have pretty mild athletic backgrounds. I turn them into stone cold killers. Mwahahaha!

      Originally posted by jjcruiser View Post
      Btw, why do you mention aiuchi specifically? That's more intimidating to your students than just getting hit? Interesting.....
      For real, this has been my experience.

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      • #4
        I've only been instructing for a few years, but so far, this is a style that I'm the most comfortable with.

        When it comes to instructing women, I teach them the exact way I teach the men. They learn the same techniques and concepts. Once it's time to fight, I like to look at their physical ability and playing style and offer some advice based on how I see them perform with others, regardless of sex. For example, someone might not be able to handle tai-atari too well if his or her stature is small, so there are ways to get around that. If they are aggressive to the point of being able to keep up with others, then I'll mold my advice based on that.

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        • #5
          For the most part, the instruction should be the same. However, I feel that many of us females have a different learning style. Most of us are more concerned with learning the method - then the speed will follow. I have noticed that men are more likely to "chop wood" longer than women. I think this maybe in part due to a different center of gravity. However, as mentioned in earlier post, since many women are smaller, we do need some coaching.
          Some women who fall into kendo by accident do need a bit of encouragement to hit hard enough. Nature versus nurture.

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          • #6
            I like teaching women - they tend to listen and learn without ego. The main difference from a beginner's point of view is one of aggression and confidence. When evaluating whether someone is ready to wear bogu, check not only their skill set but their attitude - are they too tentative, too afraid to attack for fear of hurting their partner (or themselves)? If they are feeling uncertain without bogu you can be sure that practice with bogu will not be a good experience. So make sure they are moving aggressively with spirit, in addition to all the technical stuff, before moving them on.

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            • #7
              I find no reticence with the 2 ladies I teach. If anything I have to get them to apply less power at times - power is good but too much at the beginning of a new kata is counter-productive and can cause injury.

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              • #8
                In my experience, women actually have an advantage as beginners because they tend to rely less on upper body strength. I spend a good deal of time trying to get men not to smash down on the target. If anyone needs extra attention at this stage, it's usually the men.

                When beginners get into bogu, I've found that the difficulties they encounter are varied and I can't really generalize between men and women. However, I do see issues common to many beginners, e.g. veering off to the side after attacking, not enough zanshin, etc. Even with taiatari, I can't really generalize. It's pretty individual.

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                • #9
                  I always teach them to use finesse, which equals sharp technique and awareness. In most cases they will not be able to win by overpowering their opponent.

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                  • #10
                    Inhibitions about attacking, exploiting an opponent's weakness and striking strongly are not limited to women but IME tend to be traits more common in women. By attacking I don't just mean doing attacking techniques, but really attacking, with a full-blooded intention to defeat their opponent in every sense of the word.

                    One thing I've found also is that many women have trouble swinging even a 38 shinai with precision and strength. A small or unfit woman I would urge to use something smaller and lighter to encourage the feeling of being able to use proper tenouchi. The disadvantages associated with using a shorter shinai are far outweighed by the gains in being able to swing and cut properly.

                    This is something that is more widespread than anyone I think realises. In Yoshiyama sensei's DVD on passing high level gradings, in my opinion the female sensei (who I have met BTW and is a very strong kenshi, recently became 7th dan I believe) has trouble swinging her shinai. It is noticeably slower and less sharp than the men. Why should this be? There's no reason for it. I did not take the time to inspect her shinai when she visited Melbourne but I suspect she uses a men's 39. If so, I think it is a mistake.

                    A lot of female Japanese kenshi in HS and Uni have terribly light cuts. Not the best ones, but many in the middle ranks, the ones who rely on degote almost exclusively. It's as if they are just resting their shinai on their opponent's datotsubui for a moment. I reckon they would be much better served using a lighter shinai and learning to strike much harder, at the same time as developing the strength to use a regulation shinai in matches. It doesn't take that much strength really.

                    b

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ben View Post
                      Inhibitions about attacking, exploiting an opponent's weakness and striking strongly are not limited to women but IME tend to be traits more common in women. By attacking I don't just mean doing attacking techniques, but really attacking, with a full-blooded intention to defeat their opponent in every sense of the word.

                      One thing I've found also is that many women have trouble swinging even a 38 shinai with precision and strength. A small or unfit woman I would urge to use something smaller and lighter to encourage the feeling of being able to use proper tenouchi. The disadvantages associated with using a shorter shinai are far outweighed by the gains in being able to swing and cut properly.

                      This is something that is more widespread than anyone I think realises. In Yoshiyama sensei's DVD on passing high level gradings, in my opinion the female sensei (who I have met BTW and is a very strong kenshi, recently became 7th dan I believe) has trouble swinging her shinai. It is noticeably slower and less sharp than the men. Why should this be? There's no reason for it. I did not take the time to inspect her shinai when she visited Melbourne but I suspect she uses a men's 39. If so, I think it is a mistake.

                      A lot of female Japanese kenshi in HS and Uni have terribly light cuts. Not the best ones, but many in the middle ranks, the ones who rely on degote almost exclusively. It's as if they are just resting their shinai on their opponent's datotsubui for a moment. I reckon they would be much better served using a lighter shinai and learning to strike much harder, at the same time as developing the strength to use a regulation shinai in matches. It doesn't take that much strength really.

                      b

                      I just did a shinsa last weekend, and was fortunate/unlucky enough to be taking it with several members of the provincial champions' high school . These were all strong athletes, some of whom may well wind up future national team members, and even there, you could see the difference in striking crispness between the boys and the girls.

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                      • #12
                        This long thread (Feb 2008-August 2011) had responses from many female practitioners that may provide you some insight, Charlie. It did for me anyway.

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                        • #13
                          Ah! Thank you!

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