When a woman meets a tomboy on the tatami

It happens with a certain frequency to come across some girls and women who strike us for their attitudes, ways of expressing themselves in relationships, that we could euphemistically define as “not very feminine”.

As for other situations of life, it sometimes happens even on the tatami to run into situations that are not easy to manage. We would like in these two complementary posts to offer a four-handed written reflection, which investigates this phenomenon from both a man’s and a woman’s perspective. To finally arrive at some conclusions that may be useful to live these moments in a more conscious and responsible way.

From HER perspective

Freud defines woman as the “dark continent” of psychoanalysis, a mysterious, obscure world. “The big question I could not answer, despite thirty years of research on the female soul is – writes Freud -: what does a woman want?”. Along this line there are also authoritative writers, such as Dostoevsky – “I do not understand anything”; Erasmus of Rotterdam – “a mysterious, inconstant being, a foreign country”; Guido Gozzano – “an endless mystery”; Karl Kraus – “an unfathomable being”. One of the authors is Goethe, who states: “Women are all ahead”.

Man has always tried to understand the woman …. but as a woman I can add that, since ever, even the woman has tried to understand man.

We are two different and sometimes opposed worlds that need to be united in depth to become one and the same to complete and reproduce.

We are born in a world of meaning in which we reflect each day.

Even before we could decide who we wanted to be, we received countless images of ourselves reflected by others. We know very well how difficult it is to get off a label, a single personality trait, the judgment of a moment. The label stays there, well attached and almost we convince ourselves that it is true, natural, now belongs to us, whether we like it or not.

Models of behavior are reference forms, they are in every society and they claim to order what would be in chaos: males and females.

A model is an attitude, a concept, an image. And it acquires a particular force when it refers to gender identity. Women and men are living models that stage a complicated plot of relationships every day. They communicate with words and body behaviors that are assimilated by the community and become a social memory, they become habits.

Although the usual gender memory is persistent and tends to become stronger over time, this does not mean that changes in its functioning cannot be brought about.

We can begin to choose the models of reference we prefer, with a simple act of freedom, and discard those we feel less our own, regardless of whether they are considered models typically feminine or masculine.

Gender Neurology answers that there is indeed a female and a male brain. Man uses above all the left, rational, logical and rigidly linear hemisphere; on the contrary, the woman uses to a greater extent the right hemisphere, which allows to perform mental operations in parallel.

The famous female “intuition”, explains prof. Antonio Federico of the University of Siena is therefore based precisely on the possibility of the brain to elaborate reality in different and parallel ways.

The female brain is more dynamic from the metabolic point of view and used to situations related to hormonal variations, is characterized by greater elasticity.

In complex situations, therefore, women are advantaged, because the female brain is less “rigid” and therefore led to analyze a wider spectrum of data and possibilities; on the contrary, the male brain is favored in simple and tested situations.

In truth, the question is more complicated than that, because a brain is never entirely masculine or feminine, but it is always a unique mosaic of characteristics, some more common in males than in females, others more common in females than in males, others still equally common in males and females.

All these studies and philosophical thoughts show that in the end, we are able to choose how to be and how to manifest our being, regardless of whether we are born men or women.

I would call it “free will” or “free manifestation of the self”.

Free will is the philosophical and theological concept according to which each person has the power to choose for himself the purposes of his own act and thinking, typically pursued by will, in the sense that his choice is rooted in the person himself and not in external forces.

Returning with your feet on the mat, a woman who decides to demonstrate to her fellow practitioners a more macho and less feminine attitude can simply be an external manifestation of the model chosen to follow or the need to defend herself by playing the same role as the subject from which we are defending ourselves.

For example, I always get violent techniques from Tori and to protect myself I also start to execute them with the same violence against my Uke.

In these years of practice, I can say that I met women who had chosen the model of the “superwoman” and women who had to become “women-men” to survive.

I can say that I practiced in the early years of Aikido following the model of the “superwoman” because I had stuck a label that I considered perfect for me and for the life I was living, especially out of the tatami.

With the passing of years and hours of practice, I can say that I have changed and understood that you can be effective and powerful even without the use of force and without having to keep a constant attitude of aggression.

I realized that once I was wasting a lot more energy and now I am able to use them better for myself and for others.

Those who practice with me for years have confirmed to me that in the past I was a woman who performed the techniques with a force that showed aggression and nervousness (both charged from the work I did) while now I can perform the techniques with more confidence and having care to protect the safety of my Uke (ability born thanks certainly to a lot of practice but also to a job on myself that allowed me to have the courage to change course and to do today a job that satisfies me fully).

We are all in search of an inner balance.

If on the tatami I meet a woman who shows her imbalance, I try to make her understand it by demonstrating that the same technique can be performed with less force and with more precision.

I am no better than my other tatami colleagues but I can say that I have already overcome some obstacles that I myself had put on my journey of life and, if I can, I try to help overcome my own obstacles.

Will I find other obstacles in the future? Surely!

And that is why my practice of Aikido continues and I hope that it will continue all my life because my journey on this Earth will end only with my death …. To then go on definitely elsewhere.

We must remember that the Dō (道 in the Japanese kanji ideographic language) literally means “what leads you”, as a discipline it is seen as “path”, “way”, “journey” in a sense not only physical but above all spiritual. So we do not make our practice of Aikido a simple execution of fine techniques and themselves, but use them for the discovery of ourselves in order to improve ourselves not only physically but above all spiritually.

Enjoy your walk!

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