by Sensei Natasha Hadwick
(Bognor Regis, West Sussex UK)
Most men have been taught all their lives not to beat up women and that being respectful of them means not using physical force against them.
Although this is a good thing, when it applies in the dojo, many men find it hard to work out how much force to use when training with a woman.
Some men judge by the belt colour and simply treat men and women by that marker. Others think men being bigger and stronger must mean they can take more force and train harder.
What should happen is communication
Some woman like to train hard and be one of the guys, to a certain point, and remove the subject of orientation. Other women like to be treated differently and learn the techniques in a slower more controlled manner. They may have weaker wrists or not be able to receive quick-pace ukemi.
I have met men that have weak wrists and learn slower also!
Women who attack softer are afraid of being hurt; for techniques ending with sankajo, nikajo or something that could require a break fall they always choose partners they are sure will treat them gently.
I always thought that I was the gentle type until partners (men) test my technique by becoming tense and resisting and then the other side of my Aikido has to appear. Although I do warn them if they attack me properly with force, this allows me to throw them properly!
It’s not surprising that men get a prejudice against women if so many women act in a way that demands equality and emancipation and still require special treatment for female weaknesses.
I appreciate that most men are still able to differentiate between women who are as capable and as committed as themselves, and the others who are asking for special treatment. But for that you need at least to practice with the woman in question to find out what kind of spirit she has!
There have been times when I have told training partners that they are not doing me any favours by going easy on me. We women need to be able to handle being treated rough and still be able to think and act under those circumstances.
We can't learn how to handle that unless we train against it. Having a bunch of big strong guys to train against is really a gift!