CUTTING EDGE SYSTEMA FORUM
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tonyk

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 144
Reply with quote  #1 
Why are there so few women involved in Systema?I would have thought this art would have been ideal for women.Men who practice seem to come in all shapes and sizes so brute strength dosen't seem to be a factor.Taking hits to the body might be one factor but women train in Mikkhasil's school so there must be ways of getting round this problem.
JamieG

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #2 
I think that its a matter of perception. I think that most women associate Systema with a "macho" outlook and immediately write it off as unsuitable for them. I was speaking to a female friend about this recently and she said that she feels that it would be "too physical" given the pictures of big, burly men on the websites. Maybe some pictures of male models lounging about in pyjamas will win over some more female interest!
Hamish

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 411
Reply with quote  #3 
Jamie is spot on regarding the "macho image" bit and I always think the wearing of Camo drills probably doesn't help. I know, I know, I wear them myself but sometimes you can walk into a class and think you've stumbled into a Combat 18 training school!
I've only had 2-3 women come along to my class but the feeling I got from each one, is that they didn't like being thrown about or having locks etc applied. I've a friend here at work who does Choi Kwan Do and she says they do very little in the way of lock work and nothing in the way of joint destruction and was horrified that not only do we work these things but we also stand and take strikes. I know this doesn't apply to all women but it does make you wonder.
Perhaps in class we need some dance music thumping away in the background and some designer lycra camo drills!!

On a more serious note, perhaps the Systema girls can throw us some insight as to first impressions and expectations so that we can strive to get more women involved.

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Ian D

Your truth is not my truth; my truth is not yours - Bruce Lee
RobP

Moderator
Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 1,460
Reply with quote  #4 
It's partly down to a perception of "martial arts" training that people get through TV and film, which doesn't quite fit in with what we do.

There is also an issue, men or women, of people not wanting too much "reality". People sometimes prefer to spend an hour hittng the pads and working up a sweat to actually being hit or trying to fend off a determined partner.

You have to remember that martial arts has become part of the leisure / service industry and you don't make money by telling people the truth People want to be made to feel comfortable and get reassurance from their leisure pursuits rather than be physically, mentally, even spiritually challenged.
Mary

Registered: 17/11/03
Posts: 103
Reply with quote  #5 
I think that probably one of the reasons there are so few women doing Systema is because it is pretty intimidating walking into a class and seeing that you are very much in the minority.

When it comes to getting thrown on the floor and the reality of training, I don't know that this is such an issue anymore than it would be for men in Systema. Other martial arts frequently have around 30% females in the class and they take part in all the pad holding, conditioning and sparring etc. which is frequently more high impact on joints and limbs than in is encountered in a Systema class.

If a more significant number of a participants in a class is female than it probably wouldnt take that long for the number joining to accelerate.

One thing which I think is always important when training is, as we should do with everyone we partner, consider them when training with them. And work with not against them taking into account experience and physical differnces.

Also, when I started training most people I partnered were really friendly and made an effort to talk to me during training in the class and afterwards in the pub. One of the most important things about attracting people to train and keeping them I think is to make friends with them. And if you do that wearing combats and having video clips of people bouncing off the ground doesnt really matter.

Mary
tonyk

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 144
Reply with quote  #6 
Video clips of Mikkhail thumping people dosen't really help.I have shown them to men and the usual reply is "sod that,its crazy".It seems the macho/Spetsnaz image seems to scare off people from both sexes which is a shame.Its early days for Systema in this country so perhaps things will change.In the seventies we only had five females in our dojo whilst the male membership was around seventy.These days the club has a thirty percent female membership and the second highest grade is a female.
Clive

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 456
Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieG
Maybe some pictures of male models lounging about in pyjamas will win over some more female interest!


Or me.

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Chris

Registered: 07/11/03
Posts: 117
Reply with quote  #8 
I think it being "Russian" rather than Japanese,Chinese or Korean has lot to do with it too.
Look at movies,and "kiss ass" girls all employ high kicks,lots of jumping round just like karate,kickboxing or tae kwon do.
Go to "Cardio kickboxing class" and you will see HEAPS of girls there,its trendy!!!There is sometimes some techno music,fancy paintwork on the walls,juice machine nearby-its place to be seen.

Any of you wear Versace or Armani t-shirts in class
Mary

Registered: 17/11/03
Posts: 103
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Look at movies,and "kiss ass" girls all employ high kicks,lots of jumping round just like karate,kickboxing or tae kwon do.


And the men don't?

Cardio kickboxing and stuff isn't marketed as a self defence thing. It seems to be sold as a "fun way to get fit" rather than a defence system which is perhaps why you find more women doing it. I don't think it's in the same category as kung fu etc. Martial arts taught traditionally aren't packed with women although a lot of the people that go will be wanting to learn a form of self defence. I don't think that is the intent of jumping round to music and kicking the air.

mary
Hamish

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 411
Reply with quote  #10 
Mary

Quite agree with your statement I think we are confusing the issue although I have seen some of these kick boxing things advertise the self defence side as well.
Do you think we would be better selling the "practical self defence" aspect first and foremost, as opposed to the fact it belongs Russian special forces?

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Ian D

Your truth is not my truth; my truth is not yours - Bruce Lee
Mary

Registered: 17/11/03
Posts: 103
Reply with quote  #11 
Ian

I think so. It depends on who you want to attract to Systema. I know it's not just practical self defence and that there is so much more to the System which you realise when you start training. But if the first impression people get is that we are training in a very military based art in which particicpants spend their time beating each other up and striking all the time; then I don't think we are doing the System any justice when we are introducing it to people.

So much of the training is about feeling the work it's difficult to explain it by videos or talking about it down the pub and I think as a result a lot of people who would love it get put off before they've tried it (and maybe also people who turn up in the anticipation of being really aggressive get disappointed too ). This applies to men and women alike, I think.

mary
Hamish

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 411
Reply with quote  #12 
I think just getting people through the door is a start. After that, some will see there's more to Systema and will want to continue and others won't and will not bother coming back. To get those people through the door I believe you need a hook, after that its up to the instructor to "sell" the art and keep those people coming.

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Ian D

Your truth is not my truth; my truth is not yours - Bruce Lee
MattB

Registered: 18/05/04
Posts: 93
Reply with quote  #13 
Let's face it. An introduction to systema that reads ' systema is a Russian martial art used by the most fearsome Russian elite special force units' will not exactly pull crowds. Or if it does it might be a weird crowd.
One of the nicest aspect to systema is that it is completely different to what you could expect. It is actually based on the idea of avoiding the fight - who said the ultimate goal was no contact? can't remember. It does not require being built like a mountain to be effective and it emphasises free thinking and natural movement.
All those are very good selling points! However, they are sufficiently put forward on systema websites - there are probably too many uniforms, guns and knives for the general public.
Why not put pictures & videos online with 'normally' built men and women doing soft stuff (rolling, avoidance,...)?
make-up not compulsory (for the men).
At the friday class with Mary & Sam we have had a few women. They all seemed happy with the breathing part - and generally the sensitive stuff. They were also ok with the rolling and fitness part of the training. However, training with knives and the strikes were a big no-no!
So why not split the training accordingly? Say monday is for sensitive stuff and thursday is for more physical, combat-oriented training?
Systema a la carte!
Take care
Matthieu
Clive

Registered: 24/10/03
Posts: 456
Reply with quote  #14 
I think it is the military aspect of the System that puts women off, but then if you take the military basis of the System away you are removing one of it's basis. It's a tricky and I guess the solution is down to letting women come and see the work for themselves. Alas Rome wasn't built in a day.

P.S. Who needs women when you have Pervaz in speedos.

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DaveS

Registered: 14/03/04
Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #15 
Just an opinion, but from trying to get people interested in our newly started Systema club in Leicester, I have found when asking women if they would want to come and give a lesson a try there reaction seems to be based on a feeling and there facial expressions suggest that the idea has appeal, perhaphs due to the (ingenious!) natural movement basis, but as people have said they are then put off by the Spetznaz 'macho thing'. I think people will only try any new thing when there is a perceived low risk in relation to reward and they are able to 'see themselves' in the role and this runs in accord with there perception of themselves and who they aspire to be. Most women I know don't want to be 'super effecient, Spetznas killing machines', but do like the idea of being a beautiful asthetic high-kicking action chick who can look after herself and who has strong morals and spiritual depth, hence the high women participation in cardio kickboxing, Tai Chi and Yoga. To me Systema has an almost 'hiden' beauty in the effortless execution of movements but this seems to get missed initially as the newbe focuses on the Knife and expression of pain in the typical Systema pictures. The moral depth of Systema and its basis of being a force for good as stated in the guide book, and a powerful positive aspect in one's life, to me, is something everyone is looking for and may'be this aspect needs to be emphasised during targeted womens classes? before women would then feel OK to join in the regular classes.
Dave.
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