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Electronic Journals of Martial Arts and Sciences

Guelph School of Japanese Sword Arts, July, 2003

Notes on Academic Papers

Sandra Jorgenson, Discussant

"Raising the bar - improving scholarship on women in the martial arts" Deborah Klens-Bigman, Ph.D.

§ Paper notes that few non-marital artists are doing martial arts research
§ Can a non-martial artist realistically conduct martial arts research?
§ Advantage of non-martial artist - objectivity and fresh perspective
§ Disadvantage - lack background knowledge and understanding to direct questions and research
§ Whether it is advisable or not might depend on type of research being conducted - the topic or matter under review
§ What are your thoughts on the advisability of a non-martial artist researching martial arts?

"The Ideal Amazon of the Age" - excerpts from Joe Svinth's Women's Martial Arts. Deborah KIens-Bigman and Joseph Svinth

§ Article refers to the dearth of research and writing on the history of women in the martial arts
§ Generally speaking, historical research and writing has ignored women in just about every field - politics, science, religion etc.
§ Can we assume that the same reasons apply to the lack of focus on women in martial arts history as to other areas of history? Or would there be different factors at play?
§ Given the greater attention being given to women in history more recently (result of the feminist movement) do you think that this will eventually spillover into martial arts and result in more attention on women in martial arts as well?

"Putting up with Men" Emily Dolan Gordon 

§ Your article seems to make a broad distinction between dojos that:
o Are Darwinian in approach -i.e. they weed out people who can't "cut their regimen" which may not be realistic or relevant to the art they are practising
§ They only want students who share their worldview on "toughness"
§ Either directly or indirectly exclude women, those with disabilities etc
o Focus on developing people -i.e. they weed out those with "bad" attitudes, not based on physical ability at all
§ More female friendly but may be perceived as too "soft" - not really training the students anything of value
§ Many dojos probably fall somewhere in between these two extremes
§ Dilemma seems to be able to create an atmosphere of productive training and learning while not being unnecessarily Darwinian -difficult challenge
§ As an Iaido instructor I sometimes think that I am too soft - don't push people hard enough but I also don't want to alienate people who might have potential and might learn something if they stick around long enough
§ How do you see a good instructor can meet this challenge?
§ For example, in my cave dive training, my instructor was particularly tough (being ex-special forces -many of his students quit, saying his course was too tough)  However, his exercises seemed to be all directed to ensuring my emotional and mental ability to face any emergency situation while on the dive - basically to handle stress - and of course to physically be able to do the dives. He never required us to do things like run up and down stairs with double tanks and deco bottles (something other instructors do to weed out the "unfit" - usually women). Such an ability has nothing to do with being able to cave dive but some instructors do it anyway (machismo I think). But I have also seen instructors who don't push their students enough and I wonder if the student has what it takes to survive in the cave - this is life and death and it's very real. I see the same mentality sometimes in martial arts.

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