A strictly forbidden learning experience….

My journey into the world of martial arts has been interesting, as well as educational, to say the least. I have often been the lone female in a testosterone filled environment, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve even learned to enjoy it, but that’s probably because I’m a natural born flirt.

However, I love training with other women, and I am fortunate to be in a school where there are several other women who train. Women seem to have a natural ability and spirit, which is something my Sensei told me during the three years that it took him to get me on the mat. I didn’t believe him then, but I certainly do now. I just wish more women would train in some form of martial art, but I know how intimidating it is to walk into a male dominated Dojo. .

Which is why I began teaching self defense classes for women only. It’s a lot less intimidating for women to enter a safe and fun environment, learn from another woman who’s been around the block a few times, and also knows her way around the mat. It’s an idea that came to me early in my training, and something that developed through the years.

During the course of my training, I became acquainted with a group of men that practice an art that is different from mine but has similar roots. I’ve been invited to their seminars and workshops and have attended several of them. Even though I was from another discipline, I was always invited, and they continue to update me on upcoming events.

Since they always keep me in their circle I sent them my information regarding my women’s self defense classes. I thought they might be interested in what I was doing, and I’m sure they know plenty of ladies who would like to learn a few things to protect themselves. I received a terse response from one of their instructors.

He told me, “Well, we don’t have any women students, and I do teach men and women.” I giggled. If they have no women in their school, how could he possibly teach them? And, if they did have women in their school, why would those women need of a basic self defense class? That’s just silly. Then I wondered why they didn’t have any women in their school.

He informed me that the lineage of our arts are different. Of course, I’ve always known that. So has he. He concluded by telling me that while he has the utmost respect for my art, he must follow directives which strictly forbid cross training between us. Yikes! I wish I had known that before I took their training seminars. If I had known I was engaging in an activity that was strictly forbidden, I would have enjoyed it more. It would have been even more fun, and I would have felt a little naughty.

I guess the flow of information is a one way street. How disappointing. Even more disappointing is the women who may have benefited from just a few classes who will now never receive this information. I understand that he was trying to protect his territory. But, he doesn’t understand is that I am trying to protect women. Or at least teach them how to protect themselves.

The ability to learn how to defend yourself should be easily and appropriately available to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, level of ability and personal belief system. We should be encouraging those who are vulnerable to find their power and strength, not holding them back because some one’s ego got in the way.  Hmmm, maybe that’s the reason there aren’t any women in their school.

    Opportunities to learn are everywhere. Each one should be supported and celebrated rather than discouraged or tossed aside. No learning opportunity should never be strictly forbidden, for anyone, but especially to those who can benefit the most.     
Ilov Integrated Arts, LLC

The Delicate Dojo