This summer I posted a survey on aikidowomen.org querying Aikido practitioners about the gender ratios in their dojos.  The survey was shared on Facebook, Reddit, and aikiweb.com.  Here are the results.

Part 1: The Total Numbers

Here are the total numbers for each numerical question:

Total number of survey respondents included in results: 22 (note: one respondent’s results have been omitted because of an error in their numbers.)

Total number of Aikido practitioners: 498

Total number of women Aikido practitioners: 117

Total number of men Aikido practitioners: 380

Total number of Aikido practitioners who identify as an other gender: 1

White Belt Men: 239

White Belt Women: 67

Black Belt Men: 139

Black Belt Women: 42

(note: my mistake, I omitted a question for the rank of those who identify as an other gender)

Men Teachers: 58

Women Teachers: 24

Other Gender Teachers: 0

Dojos with a Board of Directors: 6

(note: most respondents either said that their dojo does not have a board of directors, or they didn’t know)

Board Member Women: 9

Board Member Men: 17

Part 2: The numbers, by dojo

Abbreviations: White Belt/mudansha = WB | Black Belt = BB

Dojo Name Years in operation Total Women Total Men Other Gender WB Women WB Men BB Women BB Men Women Teachers Men Teachers Board Member Women Board Member Men
Isshin Dojo, Portugal 1 5 8 5 6 0 2 0 2
Florida Aikikai, United States 30 20 80 8 60 12 20 8 9
A Center for the Martial Arts/Soseikan Dojo, United States 10 6 22 4 14 2 8 1 8 1 3
Hilliard Martial Arts Center, United States 30 3 8 1 2 2 6 1 5
Aikido Academy Athens, Greece 10 10 60 7 15 3 45 3 5
Budo Club Akamon, Germany 20 5 14 3 10 2 4 1 1
Ren Shin Kan, United Kingdom 50 5 20 2 7 2 13 1 6 1 4
Sakura Dojo, Hungary 35 1 6 1 4 0 2 0 1
Helena Aikido, United States 7 7 5 4 3 2 2 2 1 3 1
Ban Sen Juku – Fudoshin Dojo, Belgium 15 0 15 0 13 0 2 0 1
Walsall Wood Aikido Club, United Kingdom 20 4 20 2 15 2 10 1 4
Kokoro aikido West midlands, United Kingdom 4 3 6 2 5 1 1 1 1 2 1
Waters Edge Aikikai, United States 4.5 1 5 0 5 1 0 1 0
Berkshire Hills Aikido, United States
35 10 6 2 1 8 5 1 1
Aikido Regensburg Nord, Germany 6 4 10 2 7 2 3 0 1
Aikido Nicosia – Cyprus Aikikai, Cyprus 10 1 6 1 6 0 0 1 1
Stavanger JuShinKan Aikido, Norway
10 16 21 14 17 2 4 1 2 2 3
Mid south aikido, United States 9 3 25 1 3 19 0 6 0 5 0 5
Aikido of CNY, United States
48 5 30 4 25 1 5 1 3
Staunton Aikikai, United States 3 2 6 2 5 0 1 0 1
Monash University Aikido Club, Australia
52 6 7 5 5 1 2 1 2

Part 3: The Written Questions

Note: Some respondents opted to not have their responses to the written questions published on the website.  Some typos and spelling mistakes have been left in.

Question 1: What is your dojo doing to include and support women students or teachers?

Isshin Dojo, Portugal: “it accepts everyone”

A Center for the Martial Arts/Soseikan Dojo, USA: “Working with local community groups to provide a women’s self defense class.”

Aikido Academy Athens, Greece: “Not something particular, women are regularly encouraged to be involved with the running of the kids classes and are often taken as demonstration uke, they also tend to be more involved with the dojo’s events and activities”

Budo Club Akamon, Germany: “Nothing special, we have a really open culture and have more young people than most dojos, that might help supporting women. But I would say everyone gets treated equal.”

Ren Shin Kan, United Kingdom: “have tried womens only class – promoted through local schools etc.”

Sakura Dojo, Hungary: “Nothing. We ate treated as equals… at least most of the time…”

Helena Aikido, USA: “We are woman forward in our marketing (notung* majority female lead and taught). We also target populations of women in our outreach.”  (typo: I think notung = noting)

Walsall Wood Aikido Club, United Kingdom: “equal rights”

Kokoro aikido West midlands, United Kingdom: “We have a very good kids class with more girls than boys, a very good woman instructor who is better than any man.”

Berkshire Hills Aikido, USA: “Every class is taught by Ron and myself. we split the time.”

Aikido Regensburg Nord, Germany: “We try to treat everybody equally. No special treatment or support for female practitioners.”

Aikido Nicosia – Cyprus Aikikai, Cyprus: “The head teacher and the contact person is a woman. We run sponsored ads on FB with target audience to be women. Post articles that present the role of women in aikido or show women instructors.”

Stavanger JuShinKan Aikido, Norway: “Head instructor (a woman) practices with women and beginners a lot during other teacher’s classes & is a good role model about what is possible. We sent our teenage girls to leadership courses run by martial arts federation. We have our own “JuShinKan Girls” FB page where it is encouraged to interact socially also outside of practice. We started the first national youth seminar for 15-25 yr old organized by our teenage girls, mentored by our head instructor (and 50% women attended). Norway mandates that boards & committee have to have 50% of each gender on board.”

Staunton Aikikai, USA: “Offering classes through local Park & Rec and looking at offering classes at local women’s only college.”

Monash University Aikido Club, Australia: “Having a fixed female instructor in class on a particular day. Having supportive students and teachers who teach to cater for different heights and levels of Ukemi, have leading female mudansha, having the most senior white belt student and club president as a women student.(going for shodan)”

Question 2: If there aren’t many (or any) women practicing at your dojo, what do you think is the main reason for this? What do you think your dojo could be doing better?

Sakura Dojo, Hungary: “We are a small dojo. Actually there was a time when there were more girls than boys”

Walsall Wood Aikido Club, United Kingdom: “advertisise more”

Berkshire Hills Aikido, USA: “I don’t know. But if you have any ideas I would love to hear them. I would like to have more students of any gender.”

Aikido Regensburg Nord, Germany: “Well, having more female students could attract even more, probably.”

Aikido Nicosia – Cyprus Aikikai: “I have no idea. Please if you reach any conclusions, let us know because we really want to encourage more women to start aikido.”

Stavanger JuShinKan Aikido, Norway: “we need even more role models, women who either practice, teach or contribute in the admin/org. of the dojo”

Question 3: Does your dojo’s website or other advertising specifically welcome women?

“Yes” Respondents:  Helena Aikido, Kokoro aikido West midlands, Aikido Nicosia – Cyprus Aikikai

Question 4: Are you aware of women who have left your dojo? If so, why did they leave?

A Center for the Martial Arts/Soseikan Dojo, USA: “Yes, Many left due to pregnancy and other commitments to their children and family schedules.”

Aikido Academy Athens, Greece: “Finding it too physically challenging, being hit on by guys, busy schedules, work, injury”

Budo Club Akamon, Germany: “Moved away, Issues with worktime schedule.”

Sakura Dojo, Hungary: “Mostly they moved out of the area or stopped aikido”

Helena Aikido, USA: “Yes, various reasons. We do followup surveys nobody has reported sexual harassment or related issues. We are extremely careful to build a safespace, because we feel it’s integral to aikido.”

Walsall Wood Aikido Club, United Kingdom: “follow a carrier” (typo: they probably mean career)

Berkshire Hills Aikido, USA: “Most of the women stay. Men are more likely to leave.”

Aikido Regensburg Nord, Germany: “Workload, and we lost a few women when our dojo had to move to a new location half a year ago.”

Aikido Nicosia – Cyprus Aikikai, Cyprus: “Various reasons: to start a family, to move abroad, to focus on exams or work.”

Stavanger JuShinKan Aikido, Norway: “Of course, but not sure why they left. Some moved, some had injuries (or mental issue or chronic illness/syndrome), some had babies, some too busy with small children, some couldn’t afford (or had too bad conscience to receive a rebate…) – none mentioned oppression, or gender issues,”

Monash University Aikido Club, Australia: “Yes -university demands and assignments. Some might find another martial art of more interest to them.”

Thank You

Thank you for everyone who participated in this amateur online survey.  Perhaps it will contribute in a small way to the Aikido community’s efforts to create a positive training experience for everyone.  If responding to this article, please keep comments respectful or they will be removed.

2018 Gender Balance in Aikido Survey Results

AikidoWomen.org is a hub for articles, videos, and resources for women practicing Aikido.

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