Women in Aikido
Aikido can be considered a soft martial art – in the sense that the aim is to diffuse the attack and utilises strikes designed to do no damage. Shodokan Aikido is a sport so it would be no good if your apponents are dibilitated every time. These striking techniques, “atemi waza” in Japanese, are done with the palm are used in addition to joint locking techniques on wrists and elbows, which are called “kansetsu waza”.
We aim to unbalance an opponent and ultimately control him. Which still works when done by small women on big guys, particularly when they’ve had a few pints? I’m a mere 5ft 4 and give the lads a hard time at training. In Japan many women take up Shodokan Aikido, with classes often split 50:50.
So if you’re interested in the following:
BEING PART OF A TEAM
FITNESS COMPETING AT NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS
COMPETITION JAPANESE CULTURE
COORDINATION AND CONTROL
APPLYING TECHNIQUE NOT STRENGTH & IGNORANCE
Then Aikido does all this and more! Not forgetting the social side
We have a grading syllabus so we can learn progressively; have competitions for both men and women – where we demonstrate “kata” with a partner and where we can test our technical ability during “randori” bouts.
Competitions are not obligatory but I think they’re important for developing oneself, especially when confronting our fears – fear of demonstrating something in public, fear of expectations, fear of being hurt or hurting somebody else. In the five years I have practiced aikido I have learnt many skills – but I think the most important one of all is definitely confronting my fears.
Sure, there aren’t two women alike, but we all fear being judged by others, we all want to be more confident, we all want to feel good about ourselves and ultimately enjoy ourselves! If you think that’s true of you too, give it a go.
Text courtesy Celine Pagier (Sheffield Shodokan Aikido Club)