The session went well, I think, at camp. I had planned to do it once and so many folks had schedule conflicts who wanted to attend that I ended up giving two sessions and running out of handouts. So if you didn't get a hand-out and would like one please contact me.
10,000 thanks to Suzanne Nathan, a licensec counselor, who offered to sit in on the sessions and make herself available for anyone who wanted some extra support during or after the session.
I want to thank Bruce Witherall for sitting in on the first session. He's been doing women's self-defense seminars for decades and he emphasized the importance of giving verbal deterrants to students for them to use and having them practice using verbal deterrants. Remember that the face, voice, body, and intent must all mean it or it won't work. Things like: Stop. Leave me alone. Quit bothering me. I don't know you. Back off. Get away.
Thanks to Tracy Capone-Blake for sharing some of her early experiences in the dojo. She and others who have been women if Uechi for 20+ years have truly been pioneers for women in the martial arts and it is on their shoulders that the next generation of Uechi women will stand.
And it was really nice to see Denise Laiosa - a woman who also attended the Women's Friendship Tour to Okinawa in 2004. Good to see you Denise!!! I hope we get a chance to train together the next time.
I've already received some very good feedback from both sessions and I'm open to hearing other thoughts.
Feedback thus far has included:
-might be good to have two sessions - one for students that is more strategy based and one for teachers/senior students that is more about the awareness of the issue, the concept of self-efficacy, etc.
-would be nice to hear from people other strategies they've used in the dojo for themselves and for others
-most of what was discussed also applies to kids learning how to be successful in the dojo
-surprise that any/some/many/most women might walk in the door with a different background around hitting than any/some/many/most men
-importance of emphasizing verbal skills
-the goal isn't to make you the ultimate fighter but make you less of a target, and unwelcome target, someone who might cause "trouble" as most criminals are looking for easy crimes/victims of opportunity
There was also a real desire expressed to have a session or a series of sessions for women on technique applications within Uechi. I kept the camp sessions pretty focused on the psychological/emotional/awareness stuff. With so many women in the room the discussion naturally started to shift to things like modifications in doing partner kumite, bunkai, kata & postures, etc.
I also had several folks express to me, on a related issue, the rising stress and difficulties related to the tradition of touching students while they are standing in Sanchin and where you touch them. In this era of over-litigation it is only natural for this concern to arise. However I really do think one of the reasons this is a stand-out issue in Uechi is that for so long our training was stand up and hit and didn't involve much grappling. Grappling traditions just don't have the same body touching conerns because it happens so regularly.
I think it would be really, really great if someone in the legal field could write of a primer or a brief that outlines the kind of release that students could sign and the kind of reasonable expectations that would be assumed to be a part of the training given that the students joined a martial arts tradition with contact and touching to feel for body alignment and muscle engagement. Is there already something like that out there?
More feedback is always welcome. Please write it up on the board, PM me, or send me an email to dmsdc at yahoo.com
And Justin - I got your feedback and will have a couple of follow up questions for you.
And most of all - my thanks to go out everyone who attended the seminar and demonstrated that students and teachers are ready to discuss these issues and explore options that can improve training for everyone in their dojo and help to enhance an individual's readiness to protect themselves in the process.
Did you show compassion today?