Tuesday, April 14, 2009

20 years after I first stepped onto the martial arts mat, that I'm going back to the same old damn question of gender. It just came up in conversation, and I'm training with a wonderful group of guys, none of whom seem to care what my gender is, as long as I show up. 

One of the instructors has the charming habit of referring to the group as "gentlemen" so I suppose I'm an honorary one now. I honestly don't care, I think it's funny. 

It's too late, far too late, for second thoughts about women in combat. We have always been there. It's just now, we are getting paid for it. Sometimes. 

The enlightened hard-asses who comprised my core curriculum in aikido, jujutsu and judo, took my measure, and took me on. 
Gently, lovingly, without ever hurting me. I'm plenty good at hurting myself.. 
They taught me what it was to get up again, when I thought I could not. 

I'm 5'8", and over 180# in bad (fat) times, and my life history is full of manual labor and physical activity. I've got the disposition of a copperhead- I'm incredibly mellow until stepped upon.
I have tremendous control over my weapon, and choose to over-control rather than injure. No civilized training partner would do otherwise. I am not so kind, with my wit. No reason to be. The uncivilized tend to be witless as well. 

The gender discrimination game is outdated, yet lumbers along like some bit of space junk, waiting to fall on some undefended province in an unnamed, unrated country. 

I've made my peace with men (I like them, as long as they are paying attention, same as the rest of humanity) and at this point, I just want to see people focus more on the things that work, than imaginary problems propped up by politicos, propagandists, and the uneducated & incurious. 

I sometimes feel like I should carry this article, written at the prodding of Deborah Klens-Bigman for the Guelph Sword School, in my dojo bag.  She edited & carried me through it, and tried to get me to change the title.. for me, the title is part of the power (and the sly joke, if you know me) of the paper. 

An antidote, I hope, to the same damn thing.

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