by Sensei Natasha Hadwick
(Bognor Regis, West Sussex UK)
Takako Kunigoshi is the only major female figure in pre-war Aikido to have a prominent role in the art’s history. She trained seriously, and gained the full respect of both Ueshiba Sensei and the uchideshi.
Kunigoshi Sensei was highly respected by her male counterparts in the Kobukan Dojo. She will be remembered for her illustrations in the 1934 Budo Renshu book which depicts the techniques taught in the dojo at that time and which reveal a strong influence of the Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu of Sokaku Takeda.
Western Aikido is a little different for women.
It is difficult to earn the respect of men in Aikido. You could use solid technique, shoot from the hip and apply everything effectively, but be known as a bully and be feared.
Or, for example, when male students resist my techniques to try and make me look bad. When I cannot apply the move, they think it is funny. I would rather not hurt someone that is resisting therefore I accept I look weak.
Aikido is about looking after your partner whoever is performing the technique. Women in Aikido can be very powerful. Keeping arms and legs in alignment whilst using their hips and body weight instead of muscle is very effective. It means you can throw anyone…
I have met many women in Aikido...
I have trained with women that will take your head off and make your legs flip up with an iriminage. I have trained with women that throw you in such a way that it can feel so gentle but so effective at the same time.
I have trained with women that like to practice everything lightly and gently whilst keeping uke under control, but with effective balance breaks and large circular motions. I have trained with women that like to grab very hard and try to resist and also with women that grab so lightly I change my technique to match their uke work.
Women in Aikido vary just like men.
Sensei Natasha Hadwick
Arun Aikido Club
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