Outdoor Aikido brings out the women and girls? 

Photo by Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

As martial arts go, Aikido isn’t bad for numbers of women and girls. But still, I often think, we could do better. Usually in a given night in the dojo there’s twenty people training, and three or four of us are women. 

Something happened that was interesting the other night though. The gender ratio was reversed, way more women than men. What was different? 

We were playing outside on the grass. Our dojo is located in a community centre and it’s under repair. The room we use is closed for maintenance. Instead of cancelling classes we’ve moved outside, practising in the park next door.

What difference does that make? 

I think we’re more playful, less formal. There’s fewer people in uniform, fewer people wearing belts. Certainly we looked more approachable, less intimidating.

We’re also pretty visible, practising in the park on the corner of a busy road. People out walking their dogs stop to watch and ask questions. 
We don’t do any throws or rolls. (Grass stains, stray dog poo.) Instead we’ve been doing more weapons work and more practical self defence. Last week, we practised what to do if someone attacks you in the park, in the park. Last night we worked on responses to hair pulling and grabbing. 

I’m not sure if there’s a connection between our excellent gender ratio (last night, 8 women, 4 men) and playing outdoors. Maybe it was just a coincidence. But it was a lot of fun. One of the reasons I don’t train as much on the summer is that I really like being outside. Maybe next month we can take it to the beach. Aikido in the waves! 

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