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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2000 9:36 pm 
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Location: Randolph, MA USA 781-963-8891
Here's an interesting topic. What do people think about women in grappling, jujitsu, judo, etc., etc., etc.?

I don't want to get into a sexist thing, but I was reading Lori's forum a little bit and it got me thinking about women in the grappling arts. If we look at the art of jujitsu theoretically, then technically, a woman should excel in jujitsu simply because of the fact that she is only using the other person's energy. Well, I certainly hope that everyone here knows that a real fight on the street will never simulate dojo or mat work. Subconciously, I think we all revert back to people who panic a little and use the other our strength too much; thereby placing the woman in danger (most of the time). Where does this leave us then?

The question still applies then: What would a woman do in a "real" situation when karate fails to do all that she expected?

mike


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2000 2:30 am 
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Location: Boston, MA
The art I've seen the most women involved in has to be aikido. Alot of it, I think, has to do with the "gentler" focus of this art. It allows women to step on the mat without having to confront as much of the macho bs that goes on in the arts. The problem is that the "gentler" and "more ethical than thou other artists" extremists in some of the aikido dojos perpetuate a false confidence and misconception of what will happen on the streets... but the same could be said of other arts.

Having make that criticism, I think aikido perhaps succeeds in some ways with women more than other martial arts. It provides a gradual entry into martial arts and self defense mindset that is not only accepted but often actively endorsed. I have seen women beginners who were terrified of physical contact, especially with men, become more at ease with it over time. There is no doubt in my mind many of these women would not survived the initial months in some of the hardcore arts/dojos. Some of the women aikidoka become become very "hardcore" within the parameters set by the dojo. And they can find success in a martial way, as you pointed out, which favors the lower center of gravity most women have and ability to blend with the power of the opponent (musubi). Now, if only more aikikais would just introduce/allow for more freestyle -- not stylized "randori" -- and resistance in the uppper level training, female students as well as the male students concerned with self defense could be much better prepared.

Of course, ultimately the individual skills and mindset kick in and can transcend any art. There were two female shidoin (assistant instructors) I highly respected for their martial skills on the mat. They were not aversed to a skillful use of the atemi to distract/offbalance an opponent for a hard throw. How did they learn to atemi since striking was rarely practiced? Don't know for one, but the other had a brown belt in a hard japanese style before taking on aikido. The latter in fact dropped a male attacker on the street with an atemi and beat the crap out of him (as witnessed by a dojomate and friend.) Well, so much for the gentler approach... Image

>>The question still applies then: What would a woman do in a "real" situation when karate fails to do all that she expected?<<

This is an issue of the mindset and not the art. It applies to all us, male and female. Forget the specific techniques and moves. Keep one mantra in the mind: I will fight and fight until I or the opponent can fight no more!

david


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2000 3:02 am 
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Good question - good response. I've noticed the same trend with women and aikido and also surmised it was the "gentler" approach that kept them there longer.

I've had many women visit our dojo who rarely if ever come back - citing the "toughness" of the workout - I've had a much higher success rate with a womens' only class that takes things at a different pace and with different encouragment and emphasis to start.

'course - I thrived on the hard core stuff to begin with - and so have a few other female dojo-mates - but we find ourselves to be in a serious minority among our gender - and over the years teaching I've developed a much greater sensitivity to this.

Grappling will be as difficult for women who have a hard time with the "tougher" styles for the same reasons. They have a hard time even punching for a start - much less getting into a clinch with a guy.

But to add grappling in after the first barriers are worked through - absolutely and necessary. I for one want to learn more as soon as possible!


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2000 1:31 pm 
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David and Lori,

Thanks for the responses (I was really hoping that Lori would chime in).

I too, have seen many women in the Aikido arts for what I have speculated as the more "gentler" art; however, I have also noticed that they will gravitate to the Kung fu arts as well. Maybe because they seem at ease at the seemingly more graceful techniques and such.

We don't see too many women in the "harder" arts such as Uechi, etc., although there are a couple I know that could beat the crap out of me :-)

The question still applies about what they would do in a grappling situation? If you have them train in a women's only class in order to make them "feel" more comfortable, are you giving them a false sense of security? No offense, but I'm more concerned about the male vs. female scenario than the woman vs. woman one.

I personally think they would be awesome in the grappling arts (I have one in my dojo that looks like she'll be one not to tangle with). I would like to see more get involved. But, I suppose that brings us to another question, although we may go off on a tangent. What about the legal ramifications of a woman fighting/randori with a man? It's the same question when a girl in high school wants to wrestle on the boy's team. It's a tough situation. Inadvertently, touching the wrong areas in a major concern to the male fighter. With this in mind, even if the female concedes that fact and it doesn't bother her, does the male partner simply erase the fact that she is a girl? I don't know if I said this right, but I think you know what I mean.

mike


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2000 1:47 pm 
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Location: MA, USA
Great points everyone. I've struggled through this exact issue the last couple of weeks when I've been teaching a Wednesday night class over at Gary Khoury's dojo. In fact, the last two weeks we've been working on how to get into a clinch.

In this class there's a pretty big range of people with different martial arts ability. Some have no martial arts background. This has been the challenge for me, specifically how to bring a person that has the mindset of not wanting to be aggressive and confrontation (physically manifested by the clinch) and nuture them to see the importance of this basic fighting skill set. This has been somewhat of a culture shock as the last several years I've been in an environment that is truly testoterone based. What I've done the last two weeks is exactly what David and Lori stated. It's a slow and gradual process. The interesting thing about what's happened over the last couple of weeks is once a person accepts the mindset of working towards the clinch, they do great. If I can use an anology, I feel like I'm a chef and have to slowly raise the temperature with the students, so I don't burn them. These folks have done a great job. In fact, from a technical standpoint, they have done extremely well. Their concerned about executing the technique correctly and not just the end result.

In a couple of weeks, we'll move on to ground work. Basically, it will be how to escape if you're on the bottom or how to create space and escape if you're on the top. It won't be groundfighting class, by more of what to do when you hit the ground and how to get back up and away. By people getting used to being so close initially with the clinch, it will make the newaza introduction a little easier.

thanks for your insight,
Joe


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2000 12:20 am 
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Mike,

For what it's worth, my class runs nearly half female. It's classical jujutsu, so the emphasis is on infighting. Honestly, I don't know why women are sticking with it. It is brutal and it does hurt and there is a lot of close contact.

I'm just thinking out loud here, so go ahead and question, but here are some ideas. I don't think infighting is necessarily easier for a man. Natural infighters are very rare. Men, even well trained MA-ka even grapplers, often lose it the first time they are confronted with an infighter. The women see this and accept that who is going to be freaked out is dependent on training.

When I started teaching (Less than two years ago) a lot of the first students were female officers who had taken DT's from me or encouraged non-work friends to go- so they had a lot to do with establishing the culture of the dojo. At least once a quarter we cancel class for a lunch and double check on where the training is going and where we want it to go.

I can't say enough about Toby Beck's book, "The Armored Rose". The best resource I have found for women fighters, period.

Subject change on women and grappling. A lot of the fluid movement necessary to aikido doesn't exist on the ground. 180 degrees of your sphere is blocked by the earth. Strength counts for a lot. Long hair is a huge disadvantage. It can be really intimidating.

They need to see me give away 100# or more and still prevail to believe that skill will help them. They need to learn to use their strengths- waist and legs vs. the opponents arms and shoulders. And they desperately need to not get locked into a competition mindset. If they learned good strikes, they need to be taught how to use them on the ground, not give them up because it's "the wrong range".

There are 5 classes of moves on the ground: Gross muscle (wrestling) moves; shime; kansetsu; atemi; and kyusho/gouging. Six if you count biting. The successful groundfighter will use them all...and also keep alert for that handy brick.

Ok, I'm tired. Sorry about the two rants.

Rory


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2000 12:32 am 
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Mike,
I notice a lot of women doing the tae-bo thing and cardio kickboxing. How many are there to lose weight and how many think they are learning to defend themself? Sure kicking and punching has some self defense benefit but to what level. I would think judo by nature of its olympic exposure would attract women to it, there are gold medals to be had. I have my daughters wrestle together for fun, they don't know I'm teaching them to defend themselves. I figure when their older and "date" most defense will be of a grappling nature, so this is what I stress now. I met a judo master years ago who taught womens self defense always seated on a couch or car seat in a gym in the school. Made a lot of sense to me.
fred


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 1:56 am 
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Location: Randolph, MA USA 781-963-8891
Fred,

What you are talking about is girl vs. girl. And although that is an extremely possible situation, especially in a school setting (just broke one up today), I'm still thinking about a male vs. female. Shouldn't the girls practice their jujitsu with the guys? Wouldn't that prove more useful in the event of a real altercation? Would it do them any good at all?

mike


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 5:33 am 
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Mike-san,

A newcomer (Phaedra) to my forum just posed a similar question about women being paired with women opponents only in sparring. I would appreciate any of the participants here adding comments to her thread.

Rory-san,

I am intrigued by your mention of <i>The Armored Rose</i> - I have not read it although it may have been mentioned on my forum before - perhaps when I was absent as I think I would have picked up on it. Regardless would very much appreciate a review on my forum if you have a moment and "can't say enough" about it - I'd like to hear more.

Thanks,
Lori

[This message has been edited by Lori (edited September 12, 2000).]


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 11:06 am 
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Location: Boston, MA
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>For what it's worth, my class runs nearly half female. It's classical jujutsu, so the emphasis is on infighting. Honestly, I don't know why women are sticking with it. It is brutal and it does hurt and there is a lot of close contact.

When I started teaching (Less than two years ago) a lot of the first students were female officers who had taken DT's from me or encouraged non-work friends to go- so they had a lot to do with establishing the culture of the dojo. At least once a quarter we cancel class for a lunch and double check on where the training is going and where we want it to go.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rory, how much of these has to do with a "self selection" due to the profession these women are in, do you think? Do you find a difference in how women in the professional approach the training initially from their "friends?"

Regardless, I applaud your effort as well as that of Joe B's.

david


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 2:56 pm 
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Location: Randolph, MA USA 781-963-8891
Lori,

The person who posted on your page (Phaedra) brings up an interesting topic; however, I think it is different in a way than what I am talking about. Sparring with a woman has never been a problem for me or my dojo, at least I have never experienced it. People might have had a problem that I haven't been aware of, but for the most part, I think people simply fight to the level of their opponant (if they can).

On the other hand, grappling is a little more "up close and personal." Wouldn't you say? Like I said before, aside from the legal ramifications, I think that men feel different when they randori with a female because the person is a female, and for no other reason.

Hmm?

mike


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2000 4:45 pm 
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Location: Dartmouth, MA USA
Joe and Josh run a separate BJJ class for women at their dojo.

All students (male and female) are encouraged to "go to the ground" during the open sparring sessions on Thursday.

Would be nice to get their input on this thread.

------------------
D. Steven White
swhite@umassd.edu


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2000 2:18 am 
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Mike,
True my kids would be better grappling with boys but i'm working up to it, at their age (6-9) boys are intolerable. So I'm starting out slow. As far as fighting women, my partner on my shodan test was a woman and we had a great test. As far as I'm concerned if their in a gi, their the same as any opponent. I've only grappled with a woman once, but it seemed normal to me.
fred


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2000 6:02 am 
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Mike - I agree - separate themes but related still.

We have discussed similar things on my forum before - in that:

1) it's naturally difficult for women to work with men in many respects - least of all up close like grappling entails.

2) it's often difficult for men to execute techniques on women - hitting or grappling - doesn't really matter - it's not the same as "horsing around" with the guys - which males have done most of their life.

3) There is a natural gender gap that will be pushed to some limit in either striking or grappling.

As we've discussed on my forum before but I think the concept relates here as well: before everyone starts objecting - think for a moment...

A male child - growing up has many opportunities to slam around and hit and punch IN FUN with his friends, buddies, relatives, team members whatever. Typically male games involve a lot of physical contact, playful punches on the arm, etc.

A female child - typically now - (I am not trying to create stereotypes - only point out standard gender roles in this country and many others) does not have such physical games growing up - nor do female children go around punching each other in the arm (or whatever physical contact you care to substitute) for "fun" or in play. When a female child has been hit - it is usually because she has been "bad" - it may have only been the occasional swat as a curious toddler - I'm not talking abuse here although that applies in some cases of course - but I am pointing out the conditioning that goes on. This is similar I feel for hitting as it is for grappling. Guys horse around growing up - not to say that girls don't also - but no where near to the extent that guys have the opportunity to. A girl with grappling experience at a young age may very well have received that background via an assault of some kind. Something to consider when you realize that many women seek out the martial arts after an attack - recent or otherwise.

So - in short - it is nice to keep hoping that gender makes no difference to us in our training - and really - in many ways it should not - but there are some aspects that we cannot minimize away - for they will surface one way or another and if any of us want to be concerned and attentive instructors and training partners we will recognize them to be able to work through them. I do not suggest that we point them out to our students and say things like - well - only women should grapple with women because of gender/legal/sensitivity/social/whatever issues. No - but to be aware that these issues exist and a desire for more information - which is probably what prompted this thread - will make better instructors and training partners out of all of us - on both sides of gender.

Thanks for bringing it up.


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 Post subject: women in grappling
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2000 11:11 am 
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Lori,

You are so correct about what society does, whether it be inadvertant or not, concerning boys and girls. There have been many studies concerning this topic as well as quite a few documentories (i.e. on PBS).

Male children, for the most part, are brought up one way while female children are brought up in another. Does that play a part in our overall thinking here in the United States (sorry, can't speak for other cultures)when it comes to teaching, especially the martial arts? Sure it does, although I don't think it does consciously.

I do want to reiterate, however, that I think the issue goes deeper when it comes to grappling. Sure, there may be this underlying feeling that I'm randoring with a girl and I don't want to hurt her, but I think there is also that feeling that I have to be so careful where I touch and look that it takes away from the "realism" and effectiveness of the male fighter. I know that most of us know that what we are doing is honest and sincere, but as a male, it goes through my mind all the time with my female students. One mistake in actual movement or in judgement of character and my career is over.

mike


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