Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Welcomed Reminder

Tonight I was given the opportunity to sit and talk about women and martial arts. This discussion could not be complete without mentioning Sensei Bobbi Snyder. Sensei Bobbi Sndyer was a pioneer for women in martial arts. Forty years ago, women were not allowed in most dojo. She wanted to learn self-defense and she sought out a dojo. The sign outside the dojo said "No Women" but she proceeded to knock on the door.

In many dojo, women represent approximately fifty percent of the student population. There are women instructors, dojo heads and directors of organizations. I was asked the question "How would you feel if you were the only woman in class?" The discussion was a welcomed reminder of how far women have come in the martial arts over the last forty years.

I attended a women's self-defense seminar taught by Bobbi Snyder when I was a 7th kyu. My encounter with her was brief but she made an impact on my training.

I wonder if I would have knocked on that door.

This is my 100th post. Thanks to all those who have read or commented on my blog.


Martial Arts Mom said...

There have been a few times when I was the only woman in our Tues. night class. At first I felt a little intimidated, but I told myself it was no big deal and made myself believe it and low and behold - it was no big deal. I enjoyed it and being taken seriously.

Patrick Parker said...

My first aikido teacher's first aikido teacher was a female. Great martial artist. Females make great martial artists. It seems that they bring something different to the arts than do males, and they end up thinking about the arts differently and even performing differently than do males, but they still have the potential to end up great martial artists.

I discovered a long time ago that I have trouble teaching females to roll because their centers of mass are distributed different than mine, so I can never figure out how to correct their form - or even whether or not i should correct their form.

Steve said...

My sensei/shihan is a femaie (maybe 105 when she's wet!) Never bothered me a bit. In fact, she used to co-lead the program with another 5th degree who was a male, (25 year police officer, strong, big guy) and when they split (loooong story - read my blog for details!) I chose to stick with her. Maybe it's because I'm male, but I hardly ever think of the gender. We all look goofy and uncoordinated when we start but as we learn and grow, we get better in our individual ways - regardless of gender.

Colin Wee said...

Congratulations on reaching 100!

I know a handful of very effective women martial arts instructors. I hold them in high regard.

Traditional Taekwondo

Nathan at TDA Training said...

Congrats on 100!

As to women in MA, it's true, we don't really think about it much. That's a result of pioneers like Sensei Snyder.

Meg said...

When I started out taking classes, we had an even mix of men to women, but gradually the women took over and outnumbered the men. That was a good thing--we all learned together and were better able to work together to learn the forms.

Up until things really changed at my old dojang, most of the instructors were young ladies who were very good with the children.

Congratulations on your 100th post!!

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments. It was an interesting discussion. Hearing what training was like for women during the late 1960's and 1970's reminded me of how different things are today. Their martial arts journey is inspiring. I left the conversation feeling grateful to my instructors and training partners.

Dragonfly said...

Informative post, thank you. I think one of the advantages of working with a female instructor is that she often can teach very efficient and effective sparring methods that do not rely on strength or force for their effectiveness. This is a natural development that evolves from sparring with men bigger and stronger than herself.

The truth of the matter is each individual instructor (male or female) has their own take on things and by opening ourselves up to this person's perspective we can take away whatever bits of information that will most benefit us in our own practice.

John Vesia said...

In a similar vein to the above comment, a friend of mine years ago specifically sought out a female karate instructor because he felt that a women would be able to express all the nuances and intricacies of technique better than a man (on the average). He's a 4th dan now, maybe he was right.

I had no idea that women were actually prohibited from karate back in the day. I know they used to make female judoka wear an obi with a white stripe down the middle for tournaments. They eventually did away with that one.

Michele said...

Dragonfly: You make a good point ... different perspectives means more learning opportunities.

John: I heard of several rules regarding tournaments. Women were not allowed to judge or attend the referee meetings. My instructor told me that there was only one division for women with all ages and belt ranks. How things have changed!