5 reasons why women should learn martial arts!
There are many great benefits for a women to learn martial arts. For this part of the blog, I simply “interviewed” my wife, asking her to state her five top reasons why women should learn martial arts. This is what she said:
1. Self defence
Hopefully a woman will never have to defend herself from an aggressor in her lifetime. But we also know that everything from robberies, rapes and other sexual assaults happen every day. So training martial arts helps you to acquire the necessary skills to defend yourself if the situation calls for it. You’ll feel at ease and you’ll be able to have peace of mind if you find yourself out alone on the street late at night or alone with a strange man.
2. Empowerment and confidence in yourself
For women, learning the art of self-defense can be a life-changing experience and an empowering feeling to know that you can defend yourself safely against almost any man in almost any real life situation.
The fact that you have learned these skills also makes you gain confidence that you can learn other things and overcome obstacles.
Training martial arts also involves constant interactions with other people – your instructor and your training partners – so it’s also a rather intense training in social skills and relations with people around you.
The martial arts training is also helps you stay fit and healthy – which can also be a confidence booster.
3. Health and fitness
Martial arts training is a great way to keep your body fit and healthy. You get stronger, both physically and mentally, which is also a great benefit in everyday life.
4. Discipline, focus, concentration and handling stress
Patience and persistence is key to learning and perfecting the different techniques in martial arts. It takes time and a lot of work. You need to be able to stay calm and focused in the stressful, confusing and unpredictable situations that arise in a physical fight. You need to be able to perform the techniques under pressure. And without a great deal of discipline and concentration it is impossible to perfect these kind of techniques to begin with. Obviously being disciplined and being good at handling stress and focusing on a task are qualities that are very useful in most workplaces and in every day life.
Three of my wife’s best friends are women she met while practicing martial arts. I guess that says it all!
Myths about women and martial arts
In spite of all these clear benefits, there are still a great deal of negative myths about women who do martial arts. I’ll answer some of the most common here.
1. Women are too weak to be good at martial arts.
This one doesn’t really makes sense, as several martial art styles do not rely much on physical strength at all, but techniques, speed, flexibility and balance. In fact martial arts like hapkido and jiu jitsu are designed exactly so that they enable a smaller person to be to defeat a bigger and stronger opponent. In other words, there is no reason why women wouldn’t be able to become extremely good at martial arts.
In fact, and I admit this one stings a bit for me as man, women have several advantages over men when it comes to learning these kinds of martial arts. My wife first explained this to me and I have to say that even if it sounds a bit strange at first, it actually makes sense. Here are three advantages that women have over men, when it comes to learning martial arts:
- Women are naturally more flexible than men. Testosterone makes men stronger than women, but it also makes men less flexible.
- Women have a lower point of gravity. In other words, women are shorter than men and have broader hips, so women have naturally better balance than men. Basically, while women’s bodies are shaped more or less like an “A”, men’s bodies are shaped more like a “V” – hence women’s better balance.
- Women are better at learning martial arts techniques. Many of the techniques in for example hapkido are quite counter intuitive – for example instead of resisting and trying to overpower the opponent, you should follow and redirect his momentum, in order to get him off balance or “trick” him into an unfavourable position or a lock. Men are usually very accustomed to rely on and use our strength while wrestling or fighting someone. It’s like a reflex for us. It is often quite difficult for us to “unlearn” this. Women have less of a problem with this.
2. Martial arts don’t work for female self defence
I guess this one partially draws some from the above mentioned myth that women are “too weak” to be good at martial arts and also partially from the idea that some have that martial arts technique don’t work at all, except in movies. There is probably some wishful thinking here too, from men who for the sake of their egos want to believe that even though women with martial arts skills clearly have no problem beating men at wrestling and fighting in controlled settings, if it just was a real fight, the men would somehow win.
Of course the idea that martial arts don’t work for self defence for women is demonstrably and completely false. There is no lack of examples in the media of women who have used martial arts to successfully defend themselves. Like for example the 18 year old girl in India who was sexually assaulted by three men and beat them all up using her taekwondo skills. Or this woman in Australia who was attacked by a man and used her karate skills to turn the tables on him and beat him up. Or the young Brazilian woman who made the young man who tried to rob her literally beg for mercy after she beat him up and immobilised him using her jiu jitsu skills.
And I can definitely say that if I were to fight my wife for real, the only difference in outcome compared to our friendly sparring duels would be that I would end up in serious pain – or even hospitalised if she so wanted. Obviously I would have no chance against her and the fight would be over quick.
3. A woman who practices martial arts develops a male type body
According to my wife, this idea is quite common not only among men, but among girls and women. My theory is that people still associate fighting and the ability to fight with big muscles and big, strong males. As I already mentioned, many martial arts do not focus on strength but rather techniques, which require qualities such as speed, flexibility and balance, which women have more or less naturally. So there is no reason at all that a woman practicing and excelling at martial arts would need to look in any way masculine. There are also many examples of female celebrities and professional fighters who are very good at martial arts and who still look gorgeous and very feminine.
4. Women who do martial arts are aggressive and violent.
It seems quite a few people for some reason assume that women who are good at martial arts are aggressive, with a tendency to resolve any dispute with violence. But in fact the truth is rather the opposite. Just because a woman has the skills to beat you up, doesn’t mean that she will beat you up (unless you attack her physically). As my wife says, there is a lot of focus on discipline and self control and restraint in martial arts training and if a woman has achieved a level where she is skilled enough to defeat a much bigger and stronger man in hand to hand combat, she has very likely also achieved a very high level of discipline, restraint and emotional control.
Which is the best martial art for women?
For this question, I again lean on the expertise of my wife. She says almost any martial art can be good if you learn it from a serious school (as opposed to one where they just hand out belts for money) where you learn self defence in real life situations (as opposed to just martial art as a sport). Given these conditions a trained female martial artist – independent on which style she has learned – will always have the advantage over an untrained man, even if he is much bigger and stronger than her.
Having said that, because women are generally significantly smaller and physically weaker than men, the more a martial art style focuses on techniques that cancel out a man’s size, weight and strength advantage, the more it favours women. Examples of martial arts that can cancel out the size, weight and strength and in some cases even use these to the smaller woman’s advantage are hapkido are jiu jitsu, judo, krav maga and Brazilian jiu jitsu.