I'm super excited about an upcoming series of classes at Fit and Fearless. Jason Fryer will be teaching a men-only series in January. This is something we've talked about for years but haven't done before, and I think it's a great idea. However, I've had some students tell me they don't think it's fair to exclude female students from the class…after all, women have had to fight for decades for the right to be fully included in sports - particularly combat sports - and some feel like a men-only class is a step in the wrong direction. So I thought I'd put in my 2 cents on why I disagree:
1 - Fair is fair. We've had female-only classes, taught by me, for years. I've always kicked men out of the room entirely - they can come in if I invite them to play a particular role in the class, but then they're out. Period. I do this because having another gender in the room changes the dynamic. We talk about things differently and train differently than in the co-ed classes, and I want the students to have the freedom to do that, so even male instructors are generally barred. To say, "we can do it but you can't" is unfair. Equality means equality for all. The argument has been put to me that it is different because women are still fighting to be treated as equals - and then the question always comes, "What if a bunch of white people wanted to have their own group and wouldn't let any black people come in? Would that be alright, too?"
Well, it's not the same. Race based groups who exclude others are generally saying, "We're awesome and everybody who is not us sucks". That is not what's happening here. This is not the beginning of the FnF He-Man Woman Hater's Club, any more than we disparage men in the women-only classes.
Even if there were no other reason than equal treatment for all students, I'd still support having the class. However, the bigger reason is…
2 - Just as women have self-defense issues that are much more frequently faced by us (sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking) there are also issues that are much more frequently faced by men.
The Monkey Dance and how to avoid it, questions of honor being challenged (and of courage and cowardice), different methods of de-escalation, protecting one's wife and child (if his wife trains in self-defense hurray, but most of our male students do not have that luxury). The issues listed for both genders can obviously be faced by anyone, but the reality is that different genders are more likely to deal a few problems more than others. As Drew put it to me recently, "You teach a lot about defending, then running away and calling the police. But I spend most of my time with my wife and child, and if we're attacked I can't run. I have to stay and fight to give them the opportunity to run." Just as the female students are given the opportunity to focus their training once a week on just their issues, the males should be able to step outside the regular curriculum and really hone in on what they specifically face.
3 - If a woman has a question she won't normally bring up in a co-ed group, she'll generally ask it in the women's class. The environment is intentionally created to encourage openness, and we sometimes toss the lesson plan aside and train techniques that will address certain questions or concerns brought up by a student. And I'm hearing from the guys that they'll be able to be more open about certain types of questions or concerns in a single gender class as well. Yes, it would be lovely if we all felt comfortable addressing every issue in front of everyone. But I'm going to give my students the support they need in the way they need it in the moment, if at all possible. Our job as instructors is to create an environment that meets each student's needs as an individual so that she or he can grow to become their own best self. Because if you're attacked, you're probably going to be on your own. We want to leave no stone unturned to make sure you have all the tools you need to survive.
4 - Lastly, having Jason teach this class is going to make it awesome. He's put a great deal of thought and effort into creating a lesson arc that will let each man get the most out of this specific type of training. Jason is cerebral guy, very calm but resolute. His approachable, laid-back style creates a class where you can feel comfortable asking anything and can take the time to hone your technique, but when it's time to bring overwhelming ferocity he drops bombs and can help you do the same.
The class begins January 7, 2014 and runs for 4 weeks. It's only $39, which is crazy but true.