A few women on the tatami? Let’s try to reflect on that.
If we limit ourselves to saying that the majority of practitioners of a Martial Arts course is made by males, we are stating something obvious. There are more and more signs of a slow reversal of such a trend -in the Dojo where we study, female presence is equal to 30% of the members and there are evenings in which almost parity is reached – however, we are very far from a balanced participation.
If we look at society and the many roles it is made up of, the disproportion is often the same. So why is this, if it is true that in Europe and America just over 51% of the population is female? Why is it that if there are more women, they end up being less present?
Why do they somehow disappear from the radar?
In examining the possible reasons for this gap relating to the presence on a tatami, we believe that elements of broader reflections may arise, which go well beyond the limited borders of a Dojo.
First of all, it may very well be that a woman doesn’t do something simply because she…doesn’t like it. In this, they are less brainy and less gregarious than the male approach to things and decisions.
If the environment they visit -instead of breaking them down- increases the perception of cultural and social barriers that a woman usually faces from birth, not participating appears to be the only intelligent choice. Certain environments with a high presence of testosterone and a low level of sensitivity and education can perhaps respond to the identikit of the action movies of the 80s and 90s and tickle the pimply teenager that is in many men. But they certainly constitute a repellent for those who “don’t have time to waste”.
Here, the time, precisely. Another great enemy of the presence of a woman on a tatami. Balancing professional, emotional, and personal life is a real issue. To tell the truth, it is regardless of gender.
But women who have a job know how difficult it is to obtain respect and equal opportunities. Once work is over, if they have a family, they are often sucked into that black hole that is the attempt to keep up with everything and everyone.
If you have a husband and/or children you will find yourself able to have a moment to yourself while in the restroom or in bed. If you don’t have a husband and/or children you will still have a family of origin with increasing problems over the years. If you have no blood ties, there will always be that friend who calls you to tell you yet another relationship cliché that you want to dissuade her from or a dog to take out at seven in the morning even when you’re sick.
In short, imagine if you have time for a long endeavor such as Martial Arts, to be done in the evening and -at least at the beginning- among many men dressed as Japanese pizza chefs…
Women, generally, are masters of balance, much more than men. What would happen to their complex balance between home, work, study, cats, boyfriends, children, and friends if they also put the practice of a martial discipline on their agenda?
Or what if they got hurt while practicing it?
We only remember the female universe when a collective rite of expiation is set up, in the face of brutal murders and unprecedented violence which have daughters, girlfriends, wives, mothers, colleagues and friends as victims. So it’s all a flourish of initiatives, many that talk about self-defense; still others who talk about rights. All correct and needed yet partial.
Or we turn to some success story almost as if they were a circus attraction. One always feels so liberal and modern when one praises the success of a woman who with tenacity and stubbornness ends up being an astronaut, manager, artist, Nobel prize awarded…
We would therefore like to reverse this pattern. This situation in which between the extreme of violence and the extreme of the exaltation of the single successful woman, the female world remains in the shadows, except for being often represented in the media exclusively according to the centimeters of heels and skirts.
We believe that, yes, a martial discipline, and in particular Aikido, can help improve the needs of balance, self-esteem, safety, well-being, and relationality of women and men of any age and condition.
But we are convinced that the approach itself needs to be revolutionized. It is not the woman who needs discipline (in this case a martial one). But it is the martial discipline that needs to put women at the center and learn from her.
In this mutual exchange, the group will learn sensitivity, adaptation, fluidity, resistance, focusing, and the many other innate characteristics of the feminine. And the woman will find herself fully aware of her value, which she must be able to emerge stably and visibly.
Are there a few women on the tatami? Let’s put them back at the center to learn from them. They won’t come because they need to. Deep in themselves they already know what they could learn; at most, they will understand it in a more rational, optimized way.
They will come when they will understand and feel that there is a place that needs them.
Disclaimer Picture by Pixabay CC0