Just this past Wednesday I had the honor of having the night’s class taught by Mary Heiny Sensei, 6th Dan. Her site can be viewed here. But as a brief introduction of her she is one of the few (if not the only) high ranking female instructor of Aikido in the world who studied with O’Sensei. She also studied extensively with Michio Hikisuchi, 10th Dan for a while after his passing.
I’m sure it is the same with other martial arts but it’s always interesting to see women instructors do their thing. Let me give you a short discussion on what I have noticed about women instructors – and women Aikidoka in general.
1.) A fellow brown belt once stated that women Aikidoka tend to give away their centers easier and more willingly than their male counterparts. Two things – this might be a reflection of how women conduct themselves in a male dominated environment in general; secondly this seems to only apply to the lower belts (1st Dan or lower). Which leads to my second point…
2.) Even though women tend to give up their center easily, then problem doesn’t show itself in the higher belt women – as in the case of Mary Heiny Sensei. When you attack her, you have a hard time even trying to touch her. I know this because I’ve uke-ed for her on a number occasions and I’m a fast runner. Perhaps this is due to experience? Confidence in one’s abilities? Confidence in one’s own existence? Don’t know. All I know is training with women is interesting, which leads to my third and final point…
3.) You see this in the exercise known as kokyu ho. As shown here:
Part of the exercise is to not use your upper body strength but instead use your center to move your partner down. As a guy you usually run into other men who use their upper body strength to lock out or pin the other person down – I’m also guilty of doing this on a regular basis (it’s a guy thing). What you get with the good women is that it feels as it the strength is going through air (if the guy doing the movement). My fellow males and I would always run into our upper body/shoulder strength, so when we run into the good women, it’s as if our upper body strength is neutralized!
Shocking? Somewhat, but not really. It’s great training.
To all the ladies out there; you are more than welcome to try out Aikido! Don’t let anything for that prevent you from knowing yourself and/or learning how to defend yourself!