This topic was just recently brought to my attention through Facebook and I think my response might surprise you.
The topic was originally sparked with a link from a Japan based academy, Carpe Diem, website.
You can read their article by following the link:
I do not disagree with the decision this academy has made. Mainly because of what he states within the article:
"Basically all men are fools. In my university days I spent all my time morning to night thinking “Who is the strongest?” while training at my Karate Club. That is still the way I think even now. When there are women around guys always try to put on a show. I don’t want this kind of showing off in the dojo. I just want to be myself as I am and I also want our students to feel that way too"
I think people sometimes forget that men can feel just as insecure around women doing Jiu-Jitsu (or anything) as women around men. Women are capable of judging men just as men can judge women.
When I started putting together Inspire, one of my main focuses of having it be a women’s only event was not only to build the community, but to create a sacred space, an environment where women felt free and comfortable to be who they are instead of feeling the need to posture themselves. I have seen many women who take on a COMPLETELY different personality when they train/roll when their husband, boyfriend, or whoever of the opposite sex were watching. Just as men are seen many times “flexing” their skill when they are aware someone of the opposite sex is observing (team mate, wife, girlfriend, mom, etc.), I have witnessed women do the same. In both cases, both men and women are posturing themselves in a way to prove a point:
“I am tough.”
"Look at how good I am."
"Are you impressed yet?"
I have also seen the opposite scenario. Men and women unable to freely learn and move because they fear judgment from the opposite sex:
“I don’t want them to see me mess up.”
"I must look like a fool/unattractive right now."
"They probably think I’m just wasting my time."
His purpose for making this academy “Men Only” is not to belittle women or because he views women as inferior (I have met and trained with one of the head instructors there and I can tell you he is a good person and was a great training partner for all the women he rolled with at my academy). His reason is solely for the sake of creating a sacred place for men to train. A place where they could feel free to be men. A place where they can feel comfortable with being vulnerable. Believing that “Men Only” means an off-the-charts testosterone-fest of “bros” talking about growing beards and ways to slight women is just as sexist as believing that “Women Only” means emotional, estrogen-filled sessions of crying and Haagen-Daaz. If they are competitive, it is against each others’ techniques, not for the attention of someone of the opposite sex. If they talk about their fears, it is because they feel comfortable to do so with their brothers without fear of judgement.
There are many people who do not have an issue with “posturing”, but there are just as many other people who do, women AND men. If he is striving to create an environment where he and his students can feel free to be free, then I respect it.
There are many times where it seems to be so much easier to just focus on all the things that make us feel undeserving of love. We tell ourselves:
"I am flawed and damaged. I have made many mistakes and countless bad choices. I have so many things wrong with me, so many issues, and so many problems. I have hurt those around me and people I care about. I have hurt myself. I am unfix-able and broken. How can anyone love me?"
We drown in these thoughts because there are so many more ways that these reminders can present themselves. There are the physical and emotional scars, aches, and pains. There are wastebaskets full of tear-soaked tissues. There are sleepless nights and nights filled with nightmares and terrors. There are flavorless meals and empty interactions. There is the life that isn’t being lived.
But there are no scars for happiness. No aches to remind us of times filled with joy and success. Nothing that wakes us in the middle of the night to tell us that we have experienced beauty in living.
So we ask for love. If we have love, then these scars, those aches, the pain, they will all go away. We ask for love and we search for those who could give it to us. We search. And when we don’t find that someone to give it, we return to the inner-dialogue. We tell ourselves:
"See? I was right. How can anyone love me when I am completely unlovable?"
It seems, at times, that the hardest love to receive, yet is most readily available, is the love we can give to ourselves. The idea that the only love we are allowed to receive is the love from others is a lie.
Who will love you? You can love you.
We are told that self-love is indulgent, conceited, and serves our vanity. We are told that we are not allowed to love ourselves because it would make us selfish. We are made to feel guilty for giving the gift of love to ourselves. We are made to believe that all our love must be exhausted on others because our love is in limited supply. We are made to accept that we must depend on the love from others.
While it is true there are no scars for happiness, YOU can be the one to remind yourself of your strength, your beauty, your dreams. You can be the source of your own love, your own happiness. Allow yourself to admit to all the things that make you wonderful. Go ahead. Tell yourself that you are awesome. Brilliant. Full of potential and capable of anything. Don’t be afraid to follow your ambitions. They are YOUR aspirations, not anyone else’s. Write yourself a love letter. Slap yourself in the face and wake up to the fact that you are the love that you need in your life.
Like anything, it takes practice. Negative thoughts get in the way. Those familiar scars will try to swell and distract you. Memories and mistakes may haunt you. Don’t ignore them. Acknowledge their presence. Then, when you have learned absolutely everything possible from those moments in time, release them.
You are on your way to letting yourself into your own heart.