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Thread: Open Letter to Hombu

  1. #16
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    Default Update 3

    Let's start with the positive:
    My letter is still making the rounds and I have been informed of discussions in several dojo about this important issue. It's good to hear that people continue to talk about it!
    There has also been continuous support from kenshi, both publicly and in private, for which I am very grateful.
    Therefore I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly positive feedback! Arigato gozaimashita!

    Unfortunately, there is also bad news.
    Clearly, whatever support this issue has gotten, it has not been enough.
    Hombu continues its silence, and at this point I do not have any reason to suspect that that is going to change. I suppose they expect the discussion to die down and thus the issue to go away for them – which is, of course, not what is going to happen.
    In fact, it is getting worse: Older men with a lot of power will continue to hold down younger women with the aspiration, dedication, and ability to become part of the next generation of branchmasters, hopefully inspiring and continuing Kaiso's teachings and organisation.
    I think it's fair to say that this will hurt WSKO in the long run, whether Hombu sees that or not – which is why I wrote the letter in the first place. No more, no less.

    Which reminds me of a point that may sound unusual to most: Yes, I do exist. I am a kenshi at the Berlin shibu. My kenshi number is 616200549, if anyone cares to check. I participate in the online classes by WSKO, and am quite willing to discuss my personal decision to go public with the issue there or on any other medium.
    Jan Lipsius
    少林寺拳法
    Shorinjikempo
    Humboldt University Berlin Branch

    "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

  2. #17
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    A very strange situation for an organisation to find itself confronting considering until recently it was headed by a woman.
    Steve Moore

    Where there’s a will there’s a wont!

  3. #18
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    It is, though one woman at the top does not necessarily mean the whole organisation does not have a problem with women in leadership positions.
    Also Sō Yuki has hinted at having encountered problems because of her gender over the years.
    Jan Lipsius
    少林寺拳法
    Shorinjikempo
    Humboldt University Berlin Branch

    "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JL. View Post
    It is, though one woman at the top does not necessarily mean the whole organisation does not have a problem with women in leadership positions.
    Also Sō Yuki has hinted at having encountered problems because of her gender over the years.
    I wasn't aware she had dropped those hints

    I think Max's comments in post #14 are pretty much on the mark.

    If you look at some of the early Shorinji Kempo films on You Tube you can see female kenshi training. So the door has always been open.

    I think that it would be fair to say that in most martial arts the gender ratio is tilted firmly towards males (some exceptions e.g. Naginatajutsu).

    One thing I noticed recently as I started training in Shotokan is that in the lower kyu gradings the ratio is much more balanced particularly in the case of juniors, but drops of sharply at each grade though still much higher than I've seen in Shorinji Kempo (Does the physical side put females off or are they far too intelligent to get mixed up in this stuff?).

    So back to Kempo the ratio of female black belts to male is extremely low therefore by default your going to find fewer females the higher up the brown nosing pyramid you go.

    The question still needs to be answered though on how much if any gender bias is at work.

    It would be great to get some input and hear the experiences of female kenshi or any other female marital artists.

    PS Just off to check my nose in the mirror for brown marks.
    Last edited by stevenm; 5th November 2021 at 14:55. Reason: Omitted word 'aware' in error
    Steve Moore

    Where there’s a will there’s a wont!

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenm View Post
    I wasn't aware she had dropped those hints
    It's shining through in her speeches sometimes. If You have the big white book ("This is SK"), You can find it in her remarks there, as well.

    I addressed most of the other points in my letter, did You read it? ;-)
    Basically, this is a hen-egg problem: If we observe a low number of female kenshi/BMs in SK, is it because they do not feel welcome, or do they not feel welcome because there are so few of them?
    From which other questions follow: Does this get addressed systematically in any way? Are women made to feel welcome by the leadership? Do higher ranked female kenshi get supported systematically in becoming BMs and thus examples for more women to follow in their paths?
    There has been quite a bit of feedback from female kenshi on Facebook, including some who are or tried to become BMs. It's pretty clear that there is no systematic support from the leadership for them, and several have experienced senior male kenshi throwing up hurdles in their way.
    Unfortunately Hombu has never replied to my letter and at this point it is quite clear that they never will. :-(

    JL
    Jan Lipsius
    少林寺拳法
    Shorinjikempo
    Humboldt University Berlin Branch

    "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

  6. #21
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    Hello Jan,

    I have studied your letter and I congratulate you for writing it. I practice aikido, and have done so continuously since I was a student at Sussex University in 1966. We were just a group of students practicing a Japanese art, led by a (male) Japanese graduate student who acted as our instructor. There was no contact with the Hombu in Japan, but it was not until much later that I discovered the reason for this. I practiced in London and there was a good mix of male and female students, but the Japanese instructor was male.

    The instructor came to the UK after wandering around the world from Japan. He graduated from Takushoku University, which was regarded as 'right wing' (i.e., strictly traditional), where women knew their place. He attached himself to another instructor, named Chiba, who lived in London and had been 'dispatched' to England to teach aikido to the English, Welsh and Scottish, though he never made such distinctions. Aikido needs an 'uke' and 'tori' and his favorite 'uke' was Margaret, who was female. Of course there were female students in the UK association, but the gender mix seemed more equal than the situation that Jan describes in his mails. Chiba was very rough and actually surviving his lessons was thought to be a mark of pride, by the women as well as the men.

    Eventually, I began graduate studies at Harvard University and trained at an aikido dojo in Cambridge. Here again there was a male Japanese instructor and a good mix of male and female students. Genderwise, there was a pretty equal balance among the senior instructors.

    I came to Japan in 1980 and am now a senior instructor in the main dojo. I have had to surmount two hurdles. One was being a foreigner, though this was not special to aikido; I encountered this hurdle when I was taking the tests for riding a large motorcycle--I think the examiners needed to be sure that I was a human being. The other was that I was a high-ranking foreigner; in fact I had the most senior rank in the dojo and so was expected to preside at dan examinations. There were a number of female members in the lower dan ranks, but none above 2nd or 3rd dan. This will change, since I will promote as soon as I am able, but there is a waiting period, which becomes longer, the higher the dan rank.

    Finally, a useful book for explaining the more traditional aspects of Japanese culture: it is Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility, by Takie Sugiyama Lebra.
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  7. #22
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    Of course, there is a Japanese proverb: 'Kill by silence.'
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

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  9. #23
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    Hello Peter-sensei!

    Thanks for the support! :-)

    It sounds like the situation in Aikido has some similar elements to it … I am not surprised, though it's sad to hear, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by P Goldsbury View Post
    Of course, there is a Japanese proverb: 'Kill by silence.'
    That does seem to be what our Hombu attempts to do regarding the matter. Not a particular sensible approach, judging from history, but it's their choice, I suppose. :-/
    Jan Lipsius
    少林寺拳法
    Shorinjikempo
    Humboldt University Berlin Branch

    "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

  10. #24
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    Default Update 4

    Unfortunately, though not entirely to my surprise, this discussion has drawn some major repercussions from exactly the kind of people I named in my letter as standing in the way of progress for Shorinjikempo and WSKO. Not towards me personally, but towards one of the few female kenshi who are actively trying to become instructors and examples for others (male or female) to follow – a model kenshi who has played a very active role in the organisation for decades, selflessly providing help and support to others, just as Kaiso intended.
    Her public engagement has drawn such a vicious backlash in harassment from a small number of unfortunately highly influential people at the top of her federation that she is currently afraid of them trying to force her out of WSKO entirely.
    It seems to me extremely cowardly to attack someone else just because she is within their reach and, I assume, because she is female, but unfortunately Hombu seems to be fine with it.

    She has written her own letter and given me permission to share it here, so I am attaching it to this post.
    Emily-sensei, I stand with You 100%.
    Jan
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Jan Lipsius
    少林寺拳法
    Shorinjikempo
    Humboldt University Berlin Branch

    "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi

  11. #25
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    Hi Emily, thank you for posting this letter publicly. It seems like you are now experiencing the 'other' side of Shorinji Kempo and WSKO. No doubt, this post might well see a few of the old guard stepping in to post how ridiculous this all is, how it's all a mis-understanding etc, but when you're in the thick of it, when you watch the veil lifted and find that so much of that Howa that has been drilled in is not what you once thought....

    The BSKF and Sensei Mizuno's life was ripped apart by WSKO, and as you state, they are still trying to tell you who you can and can't train with. Anyone with decades worth of training and a semblance of independent thought can see a dying art, dying because it refuses to change, to adapt and accept the world moves on, this, in spite of the fact these idea's are fundamental to Buddhism and thus Shorinji. It's not just Budo, the world is moving on fast. As an old kenshi, I thank you for the stand you are making and risking all that you are risking - I know plenty who dived for cover rather than lose the comfort blanket of WSKO. You are brave and you hold your head up high. Ironically, that is the true Kempo spirit.
    Sean Dixie

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