Sample-women why MA/different focus?

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dojo struggles

Postby Shana Moore » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:27 pm

If this gets enough conversation, I may split this into a seperate thread, but I wanted to tie a comment Harlan made to the discussion Jim and Max are having on dojos.

Harlan's post (and please correct me if I'm wrong, Harlan), point to something I've noticed in some of my fellow students and in others I have talke to on line and off....
practicing MA is certainly intended to be for self defense. While other things may play a factor, that is the point of a MARTIAL art.

That said, that is often not the main reason for students going in to a dojo. Or at least not as many on these boards speak. It is good and well to know techniques to defend yourself, should the need arise.

But from a perspective that MIGHT be more for females, but I suspect is across the board today, the defense is not wholly physical. Many people may be walking in because of situations that happened in the near/far past where they were abused, ridiculed or simply scared out of thier wits. They may approach MA as a way to strengthen thier inner combat plane as much as the physical. So, as long as they are making progress on thier inner battleground, they may not be seeking to advance to a black belt, advance to thier highest potential, or push themselves as hard as they can.

I won't address whether that is good/bad, as that is a matter of opinion and can be hotly debated later.

What I WILL say, is that the inner battleground is just as scary and tricky and challenging for some, and it should not be discounted. I believe, from my own personal experiences, that you have to conquer this battleground before you can be truly effective outside.

Now, I also think that many martial art programs are reliant on gyms and such to attract students. In that scenario, you are going to get folks who are just trying things on, think it might be fun, or are sincerely interested. I think, becuase it's often included in teh cost of the gym membership, that you are more likely to get shoppers. Hopefully, you will get a few students who are truly worthwhile.

The problem, in this scenario, is that people can't or don't renew their gym memberships (in today's economy, it can be as simple and basic as affordability). Also, people have competing priorities...do they need the stress relief they find in yoga over the stress release of a good sparring session in the dojo? And...i find this sad as it relates to that inner battlefield I mentioned above...some folks give up because it's just too darn hard. In effect, they are giving up on themselves. I think a lot of folks will do that if they are not motivated (internally or externally) to push through that envelope. Part of this is the fault of the teacher, and a larger part of this is the fault of the student.

My own group recently had to switch venues, and we've lost membership due to cost, family issues, etc. It happens, and it's unfortunate. It's also, sadly, part of having a non-profit group associated with a gym.

So, economy, personal issues, and what the students are actually seeking, could all be part of the decline in dojos.

I'm sorry to hear things are tough in your area Maxwell. I don't think it's just your area.

Sadly, a lot of what's going on, has nothing to do with the quality of the teacher, and everything to do with our economy and our culture. :cry:
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Postby harlan » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:45 pm

Like most women, I wanted exercise. Talk about personal growth or self-defense...and I would never have tried it.

I think that most people have preconceived ideas of what martial arts is/can be...and that keeps them from starting. Conversely, others have specific expectations and confronted with other aspects keeps them from staying.

As for the decline in dojos: I listened to an extraordinary talk on the current economy this weekend that basically said what we already know...that the American worker is working more hours for (basically) less pay.

In a nutshell: we have less time and money to spend on ourselves. If arts are to survive in America (they seem to be everywhere in Europe...makes sense...with the higher standard of living)...they must get around this. Back to the 'old ways' of barn dojos and minimal trappings, and a few core students that stay longer.

As for 'pushing as hard as you can' and getting to some 'standard' by a certain time, like my teacher said, 'what the rush...you've got a lifetime.' Different strategies, that might have a basis in the difference in gender experience (or not). Some folks (I think mostly male), feel a rush to get somewhere quick (win todays fight). Others look for long term survival (win tomorrows fight).

Kinda like debating which is a better reproductive strategy: k or r? Should the teacher be mean or nice? Tailor the curriculum to include women/kids as students or make it 'survival of the fittest' for strong males only? Belts or no belts? Churn out lots of low-skilled students, or just a few that study with you for decades?

Only thing that matters is if something goes forward...outlasts the competition.
Last edited by harlan on Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JimHawkins » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:55 pm

Not sure about that Harlan..

I would be interested in sampling a large group of woman and asking them why they started.. In cases where women were concerned about SD time will be a factor.

Like Mike said we need to get folks functional sooner rather than later..

Women speak out!

Why did you start and why do you continue to train in a MA?
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Postby harlan » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:00 pm

I am fully functional, thank you. :lol:

What do you mean, 'time will tell'?

I found this an interesting read, but perhaps the thread should be split from 'good teacher'?

http://www.kicks4women.com/thesis.shtml
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Postby Shana Moore » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:26 pm

I haven't had a chance to read the full posting Harlan, but I do think this deserves a thread of it's own..I'm also interested, as Jim mentioned, in hearing folks thoughts on whether women have a different view of SD and if they started MA for different reasons.

For me, I started as a way to provide an outlet for my "more agressive side" as well as explore MA for self defense and getting in shape. I can expand, but those were my original reasons.
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Why I started...

Postby chernon » Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:11 pm

After a long process of career training, I found myself overweight, stressed....felt that it was time to commit some time to becoming healthier, stronger.

I considered joining a gym, but hate the gym.

I considered some kind of class: dance? yoga? something else? But which class? Where?

After a shift in the Emergency Department, I felt completely vulnerable to a head injured patient who was a Vietnam Vet, who had PTSD, who had shrapnel in his brain, who had a seizure disorder, who was in alcohol withdrawal, who just had a seizure, then fell and hit his head. He was in the "post-ictal" phase after a seizure in which they are very, very confused. He was also in the delirium phase of alcohol withdrawal. Because of his delirium/seizure/fall/head injury, he was VERY confused. Because of his fall/injury, he was immobilized on a long board with a neck brace on---which did not go so well for the Veteran with PTSD who was confused. He came up off that board like a wild animal in panic mode. He was about 270 pounds and could NOT be reasoned with. I moved slowly, backing away gently, using a quiet reassuring voice....which was not working....while I hoped that the only male nurse or security would come help me.

Gradually, his confusion decreased, and things settled. I realized that my patient truly needed help to not injure himself further, and that I was truly vulnerable in those moments. So I walked into a local dojo....completely uncertain if overweight, poorly-conditioned 30-something year old women could do karate, and my sensei made it very clear that I was welcomed there.

If nothing else, I feel safer at work knowing that if a fast-flying fist is coming toward me, I will likely reflexively throw up a block...or keep my balance....or get out of the way...or take the hit and evade the next one...or do whatever might be necessary to protect myself.

I love what I am learning. I love the process, the health benefits, the confidence, the social aspect, and the fact that this is the only form of exercise that I can't get enough of.

Thanks for asking; I like telling the story.
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Re: Why I started...

Postby harlan » Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:38 pm

Great post, and ditto for me on all points.

Middle-aged, looking for change/heath benefits, the other options were unappealing or unavailable, and lucked into a good training situation.

chernon wrote:After a long process of career training, I found myself overweight, stressed....felt that it was time to commit some time to becoming healthier, stronger.

I considered joining a gym, but hate the gym.

I considered some kind of class: dance? yoga? something else? But which class? Where?...

So I walked into a local dojo....completely uncertain if overweight, poorly-conditioned 30-something year old women could do karate, and my sensei made it very clear that I was welcomed there.

I love what I am learning. I love the process, the health benefits, the confidence, the social aspect, and the fact that this is the only form of exercise that I can't get enough of.

Thanks for asking; I like telling the story.
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Re: Why I started...

Postby Shana Moore » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:52 pm

chernon wrote:
Thanks for asking; I like telling the story.


Thanks for sharing!
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