Women-only karate classes? What do you think?

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Women-only karate classes? What do you think?

Postby chernon » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:57 pm

What do you think of women-only karate classes? I've met a few women, in other styles, who only started martial arts training because they were able to try it in a women's only class. If you search on the web, you find several karate schools that have some classes for women-only as an offering amongst their many classes. There are a handful of dojos that are entirely women-only. The common points that are highlighted include being a safe space with understanding, encouragement, focus on individual progress, being without concern or attention to body image in a group, and desirable for certain personal or religious reasons.

I think it is an interesting thing to consider; does creating a kind, gentle, supportive space to learn karate detract from the value, purpose, efficacy, or spirit of martial arts training? Can a woman get adequate training in a women's only class? Can a women's only class be a bridge to a coed class for women who might never otherwise consider training? If you extend this further, more interesting questions arise: if you consider that some women might have religious reasons that exclude training with men in the same class, you may be speaking about women who usually wear a hijab (head scarf) or chador (full-length black covering) in public. Have you been in a karate class with a student wearing a head scarf? Is this an issue?

In Iran, Shitoryu Shukohai Union style was banned from the Iran Karate Federation in 2009 after young Iranian women competed in Germany at a World Championship without wearing their hijab. They were told they could not compete if they insisted on wearing them. The removed them and competed. When they returned home, their style was banned and it was said, "they should be punished." http://www.astreetjournalist.com/2009/12/22/irans-karate-federation-bans-womens-shukokai-style-due-to-hijab-unveiling/

In 2011, hijab were allowed in the Asian Karate Games

Here's a YouTube video about a karate school for girls in Tehran, Iran. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo8euChlyzM

Any thoughts or comments?
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Re: Women-only karate classes? What do you think?

Postby mhosea » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:44 pm

chernon wrote:being a safe space with understanding, encouragement, focus on individual progress

This should be a common characteristic to all dojos that are teaching karate as a martial art.

I think all-women classes are a great idea if you have the students for it (or could get them if you had it). Nothing is perfect, anyway. The quality will depend, as always, on the instructor and the other students.

However, I am not thinking about self-defense, rather about training in the martial art per se. Self-defense is a deeper question, and this is not a question that can be avoided simply by having a coed class. It is an issue for men and women alike. "There's always a bigger fish." You may find this interesting:

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Re: Women-only karate classes? What do you think?

Postby Chris McKaskell » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:13 am

I'm glad you posted that link Mike.

I recently had Rory here running seminars and Logic of Violence was one of them.

The punch line, which he more/less presents in the link, was shocking to boot, but more than that -- it came up that if SD is part of your MA training (and I have slowly come to recognize the distiction) then we each have a responsibility as instructors to encourage and focus on those who are perhaps more likely to be victimized because they're the ones who really need the help.

Maybe that starts with women only classes....I don't know, but his comment about training outside your comfort zone identifies an essential piece of the puzzle.
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