Add KarateForums.com
Username:    Password:
Remember Me?    
   I Lost My Password!
Post new topic   Reply to topic    KarateForums.com Forum Index -> Instructor Central
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 See a User Guidelines violation? Press on the post.
Author Message

JusticeZero
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 2162
Location: AK
Styles: Capoeira Angola

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:54 pm    Post subject: Are you chasing away those who need you most? Reply with quote

I'm going to have to spin this through my own experience. I know that other groups have some other issues about this. But because I don't experience them personally, I don't really SEE those issues...

...which is kind've the point, really.

Once upon a time, women were almost unheard of in martial arts classes. There were a couple of oddballs, like the jujutsu class taught to suffragettes expecting to tangle with the police at protests. But by and large, women were not a thing in martial arts classes.

It's not because women didn't need or want to learn how to defend themselves. Women experience a disproportionate share of violence, and bear some of the most serious consequences of that violence. Rather, it is because they were made unwelcome in the schools where martial arts were taught. The language, the facilities, and the structure used in class placed them in uncomfortable and compromising positions where they were belittled.

Some schools require gi jackets. Men can have theirs flopping half open, but women must wear a T-shirt and a bra under theirs. Then training will be carried out in a hot and humid room. Of course the women overheat since they are wearing two extra layers of clothes, and then the men smugly flaunt their superior 'endurance'.

My father was from an abusive home. He remarked that he took a Judo class once, but ended up not going back. To succeed at the assigned drills, he had to express aggression that had been meticulously beaten and crushed out of him for the first two decades of his life. He wanted some of that back, but it would be a long and hard road to get even close to where someone from a healthier home was at to begin with. But because he had to work at the level of the other beginners, mostly aggressive teenage boys, he was left behind and drifted away.

I recently scouted a small gym space available to me to train in. The space itself looks fine, until I stepped into the locker rooms. In other locker rooms I have been in, showers have some kind of space between two layers of curtain entry where towels and clothes can be hung up. One can walk into the shower in uniform, close the curtain, undress, shower, dress in street clothes, then leave.
This was not the case with this locker room. Instead, the shower has a single curtain, and is right next to the lockers. The design seems to suggest that people should undress and step into the shower, then step naked from the shower to a locker and dress.

I am soon not going to look like I belong in either one of those locker rooms. Just looking at how the shower was designed made me feel unwelcome; I simply would not be able to use one. If a class was held there, I would have to arrive in uniform, then leave in uniform; I would look and feel out of place.

One class I saw had an instructor line people up by gender, girls in one, boys in another. This has always been disconcerting to me, and there are actually people who feel that they cannot accurately identify as either. I know no less than five such people. If a class feels uncomfortable, we will not train there.

I am on the edge of a statistical group that has a life expectancy in America of 35 years. A large part of that is because of the increased risk of violence - and I am crossing training spaces off my list because the locker room feels dangerous. The owner of the facility was completely blown away when I pointed this out; it had never once crossed their mind.

What are some things that you do in your classes that might be driving away the people who need training the most? Do you have any procedures for finding these things out? What do you do about them if you see them?
_________________
"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." - Baleia
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 5627
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great topic Justice

Quote:

What are some things that you do in your classes that might be driving away the people who need training the most? Do you have any procedures for finding these things out? What do you do about them if you see them?


Unfortunately the problem with this is most of this stuff is unintentional. A product of ignorance, of it just not occurring to us. And we reinforce or these habits or scenarios because the people who stick around are the ones who are accepting of them. Like the gym owner in your example, it probably didn't occur to him it could be an issue as there are people who are happy to use those facilities as they are.

Reminds me of Hanlon's razor:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,"

Not to say we are all stupid, just that we don't know what we don't know.

Ideally you want to talk to people who you are driving away. But then how do you do that, especially when half the time you may not have even realised you've done it
_________________
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~ Confucius
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 12235
Location: Houston, TX and/or Van Nuys, CA
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Solid post, Justice; as always!!

In my 52 years in the MA, I've encountered many MA schools, just as you've described, right down to the finest details. Dojo's, from yesteryear, and for the most, were clubs for the male student, and wherever a female could be found, they were treated as though they were invisible.

Testing cycles favored males...the floor favored males...the restrooms favored males...the curriculum favored males...the rules favored males...exercises favored the males...everything favored the males. This, too, was disconcerting to me, even though I'm a male.

Just because someone is a human being, it doesn't mean that they know how to act like a human being!!

There was that diamond in the ruff back then. Our Hombu was that diamond!! Our Soke provided that place of solace back then, and not just for a few, but for everyone. The student body of the SKKA, then and now, lives up to the expectations of all students who are seeking a dojo of safety and understanding. Can't use the term, "Student body", if only one selective group is favored over the remaining others!!

The Hombu favored everyone!! Testing cycles favored NO ONE, yet everyone!! The floor favored the Student Body, and that means EVERYONE!!

The restrooms favored everyone because the Hombu had large locker rooms, even at its beginning, that were sensitive to privacy, and this meant that our locker rooms weren't designed like most pubic schools, especially colleges, with the wide open showers where everyone was on display, and made to feel violated...NOT AT OUR HOMBU.

At the Hombu, our curriculum favored NO ONE, but everyone!! The rules favored those who followed them to the nth degree!! Exercises favored the students who put efforts into them!! Everything at the Hombu favored both the Student Body, first and foremost, and then the Hombu secondly!!

Decorum was for everyone at the Hombu. Gi became disheveled in any, you best turn around and fix it. Albeit, for the protection of our female students, we insisted that they wore something under their Gi, at all times, again, for the protection of their dignity. The Hombu, before the advent of air conditioning, our Hombu had several swamp coolers and fans throughout the Hombu to combat the heat. And of course, just when air conditioned was available, and improved over the years, the Hombu remodeled accordingly. The Hombu, back then, was the model of technology. Soke did that for all students, not just the few!! Remember, both Soke and Dai-Soke were born and raised and trained in Okinawa where the average dojo there is that sweat box, and quite normal. I believe that's where the term Shugyo was defined; suck it up!! However, just because they both came from Okinawa, they didn't want to continue that tradition of a sweat box...when in America, do what Americans do...then and now, Americans love to be cool...our Hombu was cool!!

The apple doesn't fall from that tree!! My own Kyuodan Dojo's, as well as every dojo within the SKKA network, back then and currently, have adopted what Soke and Dai-Soke provided for their students, whomever darkened the Hombu's doors. In short, if you were to visit any Shindokan dojo within the SKKA networked, you see a carbon copy of the Hombu, with some personal touches added to it. For the dojo's within that network, the Hombu was the model that we strive to emulate to the smallest details. Not because we had to, but because we wanted to; what Soke and Dai-Soke provided for their students made perfect sense to us.

Women deserve to equality, and that includes in the MA, and it is for certain guaranteed within the SKKA network...I/We swear, and I/We promise!! Not one person is more important than another!!



_________________
**Proof is on the floor!!!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

MatsuShinshii
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 337
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Matsumura Shorin Ryu, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
Great topic Justice

Quote:

What are some things that you do in your classes that might be driving away the people who need training the most? Do you have any procedures for finding these things out? What do you do about them if you see them?


Unfortunately the problem with this is most of this stuff is unintentional. A product of ignorance, of it just not occurring to us. And we reinforce or these habits or scenarios because the people who stick around are the ones who are accepting of them. Like the gym owner in your example, it probably didn't occur to him it could be an issue as there are people who are happy to use those facilities as they are.

Reminds me of Hanlon's razor:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,"

Not to say we are all stupid, just that we don't know what we don't know.

Ideally you want to talk to people who you are driving away. But then how do you do that, especially when half the time you may not have even realised you've done it


Solid points.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 12235
Location: Houston, TX and/or Van Nuys, CA
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
Great topic Justice

Quote:

What are some things that you do in your classes that might be driving away the people who need training the most? Do you have any procedures for finding these things out? What do you do about them if you see them?


Unfortunately the problem with this is most of this stuff is unintentional. A product of ignorance, of it just not occurring to us. And we reinforce or these habits or scenarios because the people who stick around are the ones who are accepting of them. Like the gym owner in your example, it probably didn't occur to him it could be an issue as there are people who are happy to use those facilities as they are.

Reminds me of Hanlon's razor:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,"

Not to say we are all stupid, just that we don't know what we don't know.

Ideally you want to talk to people who you are driving away. But then how do you do that, especially when half the time you may not have even realised you've done it

Now that's a solid post, one of the best I've ever read in quite along time!!

While things might be unintentional at many MA schools, and I do agree with you, these I've seen as well, back then and now, I've also seen those MA schools whereas they were intentional in how they treated the female students. A literal disgrace, imho!!




_________________
**Proof is on the floor!!!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

JusticeZero
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 2162
Location: AK
Styles: Capoeira Angola

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:

While things might be unintentional at many MA schools, and I do agree with you, these I've seen as well, back then and now, I've also seen those MA schools whereas they were intentional in how they treated the female students. A literal disgrace, imho!!

Very. I haven't needed to shop schools lately, but I imagine that a lot of them would be particularly dismissive of pronouns and the like, which is a similar issue. It's hard to stay focused on respecting and learning from a teacher who goes out of their way to disregard who you are as a student, and it doesn't make the space feel safe to be in.

When the class is full of cisgender heterosexual white male physically fit neurotypical middle class people who are in the safest and least at risk demographic, how valuable is what you are teaching really? All of the people you are teaching are people who had little fear of being attacked in the first place.

Who IS in fear of being attacked in a way that might require martial arts skills? The person who has trouble paying dues, the one who will never be able to look like "one of the guys", who stands out as a bit odd or gender nonconforming, who is in life situations that are less than respected, and so on.

There are ways to make a class more welcoming to those people. Most of them aren't going to be instantly apparent without actually trying to learn more. So what are some of the ideas that you have found to be more welcoming? What have you done to look for ways that your school is unintentionally unwelcoming?
_________________
"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." - Baleia
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2131
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's certainly true that there is a level of ignorance involved in this type of situation--it can be very difficult to account for the needs of people that you simply don't encounter that often, and so people who spend a lot of time with LGBTQ+ members of society are more likely to consider their needs than people who don't. That's not necessarily malicious, as DWx says, but the problem may be there nonetheless.

I feel we've done a pretty good job of being inclusive and accommodating in our dojo, despite being in a typically white upper class city. Given our location, the demographics that we can pull from are going to naturally lean toward white middle-to-upper class people. That said, we have a good mix of men and women in the dojo, from a variety of backgrounds, along with kids. My Sensei's girlfriend (who is a black belt in another system) is the co-owner of the dojo, and runs another business as well, so she does a good job of ensuring that the needs of the women in the dojo are addressed. We have never had a transgender student, that I am aware of, but we do have students of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and levels of disability, and we do our best to accommodate them while still teaching our system appropriately.

We don't have locker rooms in our facility, but the bathrooms are single-occupant, and we have four offices that can be used to change in, all of which lock from the inside, so people can change alone. We have set up private lessons with students whose religious beliefs prevent them from training with the opposite sex. We have set up lessons in students' homes with specially cleaned equipment because of immune diseases. We have learned some American Sign Language to communicate with a deaf student. We have sheltered students fleeing domestic abuse. We have had students help with things at the dojo to make up for not being able to pay all of their student dues.

Could we do more/better? I'm sure we could! As it stands, though, until someone brings a concern or complaint to us, how are we to know what problems to address? We would be happy to, but as it stands we are falling into the category that DWx mentions--we may be doing things wrong, but it's from lack of knowing that we're doing them wrong. As unfair as it may be, it is up to the people who need accommodation to let us know if they feel they are not being accommodated effectively, because our life experiences simply haven't given us the perspective to figure it out without it being pointed out, at this time.
_________________
Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu
My Blog: www.karateobsession.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Alan Armstrong
Red Belt
Red Belt

Joined: 28 Feb 2016
Posts: 780


PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JusticeZero issues can be all resolved with one on one MA tuition.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Spartacus Maximus
Member of the Month
Member of the Month

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1239

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately private or semi-private instruction is not the norm for training in martial arts. When it is available, it is usually at a considerable cost. Either way, those who are ready and determined to train will find a way. It makes more sense for an instructor to focus on who is training rather than worry or speculate about who is not joining or why.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Nidan Melbourne
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 21 Aug 2013
Posts: 1962
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Styles: Goju-Ryu, BJJ, Balintawak Arnis

PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where I train is in a Recreation Center, and in our room we don't have our own private area to shower and the like. However the Center is accommodating towards those who don't identify as 'Male' or 'Female' as such have rooms that are more geared towards allowing those who are Transitioning to use the room that is geared towards the room that they identify as. For them it is about how inclusive that they can be, irregardless of what your Sex and Gender (Difference: Sex is what is between your legs and what your Chromosomes say you are. Gender is what YOU identify as irregardless of sex) is.


I understand that there are groups of people who are uncomfortable with changing and getting undressed in front of others and then showering, normally to a magnitude of reasons. And for peoples privacy won't give examples as I do not want to single different groups out. The gym (Weights, Cardio etc) I train at has split showers and changing room that has two curtains or doors to maximise privacy for those not wanting to flash their private parts.


During Class we don't line students up according to their Sex (Note Above), only by their rank, height or skill level so others can benefit throughout their training. Very Rarely does it work out that all the girls are in the front and boys in the back (OR VICE VERSA), and we don't intend on insulting anyone if that happens.

For our students at the outset of them training with us we ask them if they have a preferred name for us to use, in addition when enrolling students we do request that they state their Gender and if they are transitioning to place their new sex instead of their old one. As such this is to ensure that we can help prevent bullying in the dojo and also to give them additional coping mechanisms for when they are at school or at work.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    KarateForums.com Forum Index -> Instructor Central All times are GMT - 6 Hours
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


< Advertising - Contact - Disclosure Policy - Staff - User Guidelines >