Tag Archives: Masculinity

Do women in martial arts prefer men who also do martial arts?

Do women in martial arts only date men who also do martial arts? That seems to be a common perception, at least among men. In fact several men who have contacted me through this blog have expressed the opinion that women who are skilled martial artists would not be interested in a man if he is not also an experienced martial artist. The reason, according to these thoughts, would be that the woman may not “respect” or feel physically attracted to a man if the traditional (or stereotypical) gender roles of the man as the “protector” are reversed in the sense that a woman with advanced martial arts skills will be the superior fighter in a relationship with a man without this kind of training.

But is there really any merit to this perception? Or is it just another myth involving women in martial arts? I discussed topic with three women who practice martial arts: my wife (Leticia), one of her friends (Katia) and one of her students (Linda).

Leticia, was the fact that I am not into martial arts ever a factor for you when you decided to get into a relationship with me?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
(Laughter) no it was never a factor.

Frida and Katia, do your boyfriends practice any martial art? And if so, was that a factor in any way when you started dating them?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
No he doesn’t and no that doesn’t bother me at all.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
No and no. I mean when I met him, none of us were into martial arts at all. Or actually, he did do karate for a year or so when he was a kid, but I don’t know if that counts here haha.

No I’d say it doesn’t really count in this context.

So for you, it doesn’t feel awkward or anything to be the ones in the relationship with the martial arts skills?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
No not at all! I don’t see why it would.

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
No. As you know, I have been practicing all my life basically so I am used to be “the one with the martial arts skills”.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
No. But to be honest, my boyfriend is still… I mean I am not at a level where I am better than him at fighting. He is quite athletic so he is definitely the “protector” in our relationship hahaha.

I understand. And if you would reach a skill level that made you better than him at that?

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
I don’t think so. I mean it would be so cool to have their skills (referring to Leticia and Katia)!

And you don’t think women in martial arts feel less respect for men who are not trained fighters?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
Again, my answer is not at all! If a person is nice and respects me, I too respect that person, regardless of gender.

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
No. My respect for a man has absolutely nothing to do if he is into martial arts or not. And I am absolutely sure almost all women in martial arts feel that way. In fact, something that does make me respect a man more in this context is if he is able to admit it and be ok with it if I am better than him at fighting. I know that is not necessarily easy for a man for a number of reasons, so I think that it shows strength and maturity if a man is able to do that.

Linda (learning hapkido based self defence)
I agree with Katia and Leticia.

Ok! But still, isn’t it rather common for female martial artists to have relationships with men who practice martial arts too?

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
I think it might be, but that is probably just because they have a shared interest and maybe even met while practicing. I mean it happens all the time in other places that couples meet through shared interests and at work. So why not in martial arts?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
I think that is basically it.

Yes, that sounds pretty logical to me. So would you say that the woman being the better fighter in a relationship with a man is much more of a factor and a potential problem for men dating (or thinking about dating) women who do martial arts, than for the women doing martial arts?

Leticia (hapkido instructor – and my wife)
Yes, I know some men have all sorts of problems with that. But I don’t think women in general care about that at all. Or if we care, to be honest, in most cases I’m sure it’s just a positive thing to know that you are better at fighting than your man or boyfriend. I mean, to me it is. I feel it’s very empowering for me as a woman!

Katia (hapkido practitioner)
Haha yes, if I would get there, that would be very empowering!


This conversation also touched on other topics and I’ll probably come back to some of those in another post.

Reader question: “Do you feel like less of a man?”

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A while back, I received a message from a guy who had read sa couple of posts on this blog. He asked me if my wife’s martial arts expertise and the fact that she can easily “kick my butt” in any way made me feel like less of a man in my relationship with her.

I can see where he is coming from and why he would pose this question. I know that for many men, getting your butt kicked “by a girl” is a huge embarrassment and basically means that you should “turn in your man card”. On the other hand, for many others, the whole thing is a total non-issue because martial arts is a skill like any other and relationships aren’t about two people beating each other up anyway, so obviously it doesn’t make a guy any less of a man.

So does my wife’s martial arts expertise and training make me feel like less of a man? No, it doesn’t. But it has challenged how I think of manliness and what it means to be a man (hence, one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago).

Even though I have been in a relationship with my wife for quite a long time now and years have passed since she first gave me a first hand demonstration of her martial arts skills and the effectiveness of hapkido techniques, I can still feel a certain level of embarrassment thinking and talking about it. It still “hurts my pride” to some extent and there is a sense of frustration that I, as a man with a significant size, weight and strength “advantage” over her, am not able to simply overpower her in a physical contest. But none of these feelings really affect me in my day to day life. To sum it up, I would say that it’s basically just a fact of life that I accept. Besides, the positive sides of my wife’s martial arts training (mostly for her of course, but also for me) are so much bigger and more important than any annoying feelings or stereotypes that I may sometimes experience.

However, I do think that to some extent I really would have felt less of a man if I hadn’t be able to admit that – because of her years of martial arts practice and natural talent for that – my wife is way better than me at fighting and self defence. I mean if I had tried to make up excuses or if I had been lying to others and maybe to myself about it. So I would say my advice to other men in a similar situation is to simply be honest, accept it and give the woman credit for the talent and hard work she has put down to achieve these skills. Be proud of her!

What is masculinity?

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a selfie in the mirror…

What is masculinity?
And what does it mean to be “a real man”?

These questions might seem easy to answer at first glance. After all, there are some obvious personality traits that are very much linked with being a man:

– Being competitive.
– Being in control and in command of any situation.
– Not showing emotions such as sadness, fear and pain.
– Achieving high status and success. 
– Being good at sports.
– Having high sex drive.
– Being tall and physically strong.
– Being muscular. 
– Being good at fighting.
– Not showing vulnerability.
– Courage.
– Willingness to take risks.
– Dominating.
– Being a provider for the family.
– Having great confidence in yourself. 

If you happen to not not fit into enough of these descriptions, you are likely to be judged as “not a real man”. Sure, the personality traits above can all be positive, or at least they are not necessarily negative. But what if a man is shy, kind and gentle, interested in fashion and cooking, likes taking care of children but doesn’t have a high sex drive and isn’t particularly interested in or good at sports, doesn’t wish to spend most of his time working to advance his career and making a lot money? These are also positive or at least not necessarily negative personality traits. Yet such a man would probably be judged to be very feminine. And in our society, for a man to be judged as “feminine” is generally considered shameful and emasculating – in other words, not a “real man”.

Boys and men are boxed in to a quite narrow field of definitions on how men “should” look and act to be considered as “masculine” or as “real men”. Success within at least some of these definitions – be it in terms of a high status and/or well payed job, sexual conquests or sports/physical prowess is extremely important to men – because it will to a huge extent determine their status and value as men in the eyes of our society. This leaves very little room, but lots of negative pressure, for men that have different personalities, talents and physical characteristics. I would argue that this negative pressure results in a lot of destructive and often violent behaviour among men, who feel like they don’t live up to these norms and expectations of masculinity.

Like most people I took these facts and values more or less for granted and didn’t really question or think about this issue. I just accepted that this is basically just “how things are”. I really only started reflecting seriously on the subject after I met my wife – a woman who happens to be a professional martial arts instructor. I (predictably) found out that because of her expertise in martial arts techniques, I stand no chance against her in a hand to hand combat situation, despite being significantly bigger and stronger than her. Especially in the beginning, I felt rather confused by finding myself in this situation. After all, according to the general definition of masculinity, being outclassed by a rather small female (like my wife) at fighting and wrestling was rather shameful and should make me less of a man. I remember, for example, one of my classmates (we were both 19 at the time) being teased, mocked and asked to “hand in your man card” after losing to a girl in a track & field competition. But I really don’t feel at all like less of a man just because my wife is better than me at fighting/wrestling. I can see no reason for that and this didn’t pose a big problem for me. But maybe that is in large part because I fulfil enough of the other traditional expectations of male traits…

I don’t have a clear answer to the questions I posed at the top of this blog post. But I’m sure the generally accepted definitions of manhood and what means to be “a real man” need to be much wider and much less constrained by stereotypes. On average, men and women are different – both physically and mentally. It would be ridiculous and counter productive to deny that. But we need to recognise and embrace that, as human beings, we are all unique individuals.

At least where I live, girls and women are constantly encouraged to express their personalities and be who they really are, even if that doesn’t conform to the traditional stereotype of how a woman should be – which is great. But I think much more work is needed to support boys and men in expanding the male gender role.

How do you define masculinity? And what do you think characterises a real man?

Seven reasons being married to a black belt woman is great

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Practicing martial arts has many benefits for women. That should be pretty obvious to most people. But dating or marrying a woman into martial arts also brings benefits for a man! Here are seven reasons why a man too benefits from being married to a woman with a black belt in martial arts!

1. She is confident

As a black belt she has worked long and hard for a goal and achieved it. This fact in itself generates self-confidence and empowerment, as any major achievements in life. Martial arts specifically also gives her the confidence of knowing that she can take care of her self and protect others. And a confident person is generally more pleasant to be around than a nervous and insecure person, right?

2. No big ego

Arrogance and a huge ego is more often than not the result of an attempt to compensate for and hide low self-confidence and insecurities. In other words, a huge ego is the projection of false confidence, and that is annoying and rarely a good thing. On the other hand, as mentioned above, a woman practicing martial arts will gain real confidence. Practicing and perfecting martial arts skills also requires lots of humility. So it’s a great way for a person to get over any ego issues. And an ego free wife is of course is of course something that’s very positive for any husband to have!

3. She is healthy and fit

Martial arts is a full body exercise and a person practicing it regularly over a long period of time is bound to obtain a healthy and fit body. My wife for example, works/practices hapkido for several hours six days a week – so she is in great shape! Martial arts training results in stamina, strength and flexibility. And as they say, a healthy body can also be a way to reach a healthy mind and a more harmonious and happy existance. So this is an obvious win-win both for her and  the guy she is married to!

4. She can defend herself – and you!

Of course it goes without saying that a as a martial arts expert, she can defend herself if she has to. For me as her husband, that feels very good to know and makes me worry less about her safety. And – provided you can get over any issues about not necessarily being the “protector” in the relationship, you’ll feel safer and more relaxed too having a hand to hand combat expert by your side!

5. She is calm

Martial arts training isn’t just about physical conditioning and exercise, but just as much about learning to keeping their feelings, reflexes and impulses under control. True martial arts masters have to learn to be in control of themselves at all times, keep calm and think straight in very stressful situations – and that obviously helps to achieve a very high level personal discipline. A common prejudice about female martial arts practitioners is that they are volatile and prone to use violence and would therefor constitute a danger to their husbands. However, nothing could be further from the truth. If a woman has achieved a level of martial arts skills where she is able 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. She does not thirst for violence, picking fights or arguments, but knows that the best form of self defence is to avoid confrontation and fighting when possible. Thus a female martial artist is much less – not more – likely to get violent or throw fits of screaming rage towards her husband.

6. She is disciplined, patient and good listener

In order to excel at martial arts, you need high degree of discipline, concentration, patience and ability to focus. In hapkido, the black belt skills take years worth of hard training and taking in instructions to master – and the techniques often appear counter intuitive, so it takes a lot of disciplined and patient practice, to perfect them. Facing a male attacker, even a seconds lamps in concentration might result in a disaster. So it’s absolutely vital to keep focused. The same power of concentration that for example allows her to dodge and evade a barrage of punches and use a big, strong man’s own momentum and weight to lay him out flat on the floor, also enables her to be disciplined, focused and patient in order to find solutions in complicated or difficult situations in life in general – or to listen to you when you have something to say!

7. It’s sexy!

Confidence can make a woman more sexy and obviously so can being healthy, fit and flexible too. So in these ways, martial arts can add to the sexiness. In my opinion, her martial arts skills can also in themselves be a definite plus in this area! Sure, the fact that she has the skills to throw a man around like a rag doll or bend him into a pretzel without breaking a sweat can in a way represent a bit of a challenge to our traditional sense of manhood, or even lead to feelings of frustration and embarrassment. But I would argue it is also a really cool and very impressive skill for a woman to have -it makes me admire her more and that adds to her sexiness! If you let it, the “reversal” of traditional expectations and gender roles in this sense can actually also be source of very positive sexual energy!

“Beaten by a girl” – why would that be embarrassing, really?

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One thing that I have thought about during the last few years as I have been in a relationship with a woman who practices and teaches martial arts, is why on earth – in the year 2018 – it still is such a sensitive topic among so many men to admit a woman is better than us at self defence and fighting.

A man who has never played a single game of tennis wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit that a professional female tennis player is better than him at tennis. And a man who has never studied astrophysics would hardly be hesitant to admit that a woman with a phd in astrophysics is in better command of astrophysics than him.

Yet, for many men, the idea of getting “beaten by a girl” in a fight is still a source for embarrassment, humiliation – and even feelings of emasculation! When I have talked to my male friends about it, there have been many jokes, questions and statements that in one way or another points out the supposedly embarrassing situation I am in. And some guys more or less refuse to accept that my wife, as a hapkido expert, is way better than me at fighting and self defence. I have to say though that so far no one has been mean spirited or scornful towards me, which feels good because it was something that I was somewhat worried could happen, before I decided to talk about it. With that being said, two guys I talked to even went so far as to openly claim that they would not want to be dating a girl who has enough martial arts skills to be able to kick their butts, no matter how nice and beautiful she is – because, they said, it would simply be too embarrassing to bear!

My wife has also told me that it’s not uncommon for newbie male students and much lower ranked guys to be visibly blushing after losing to her (a 5th dan black belt and instructor). And there have even been some instances where the guys have quit the martial arts classes all together after being defeated by her or one of the other females there! And then there are the extreme examples of boys and men who just don’t want to learn how to fight from a woman at all – no matter how much experience she has!

It has to be said too though that not all men feel there is anything embarrassing in admitting that a woman is a better fighter than them. In particular, my impression is that men who actually have some martial arts experience generally don’t feel that admitting that a female practitioner is more skilled is any reason at all to be embarrassed.

Personally today, my feelings of pride, admiration, inspiration, fascination, excitement and love for my wife and her martial arts expertise completely drown out any negative feelings of embarrassment. I love that she is a martial arts teacher and wouldn’t want things to be different in any way!

But I remember very well how frustrated and embarrassed I felt after her first martial arts demonstration with me where I learned just how easily she can kick my butt. So in a way I can relate to how many guys feel about the topic.

So what is the reason behind these feelings of embarrassment? They obviously aren’t based on logic, reason and the modern ideas of gender equality that most people share. So I can only guess what’s going on. Here are some of my thoughts.

Gender roles 1 – men as “protectors”
As I wrote in an earlier post, society and men themselves are generally used to seeing themselves as the “protectors” in a relationship with a woman. Thus, fighting is seen as something closely related to the male identity and therefore, when a woman is better at this, it can instinctively be interpreted by a man as if he losing some of his manliness.  Obviously this isn’t true, but I believe that’s how a lot of people subconsciously think.

Gender roles 2 – fear of being made fun of
Because of the norms and gender roles we have in our society, a man is generally expected to be better than a woman at most physical activities. Thus, sadly, a guy who loses to a girl at fighting/wrestling/martial arts risks being the target of attempts to tease and ridicule him, like “you throw like a girl” etc. This creates an environment where boys/men are taught that losing to a woman in this kind of activity is embarrassing.

Gender roles 3 – the stereotype of women as the “weaker sex”
Traditionally, women have been seen as “the weaker sex”. The only real life basis of this stereotype is that women on average are physically smaller and not as strong as men. Being strong and tall can be an advantage in many situations. However, there are very few activities in modern life where physical size and strength is the single factor that determines success. Skills, training, experience, intelligence etc are almost always much more important factors. So the talk of women as “the weaker sex” is both wrong and demeaning. Yet, when it comes to things like physical fighting the stereotype is still present in people’s minds and society’s views on gender. And following this (outdated and completely inaccurate) way of thinking, losing to a woman could make a man feel weak and failed in his manliness.

Ignorance about the basics of martial arts
Surprisingly many people still see size and strength as the by far most important factors when it comes to a person’s capabilities of physically defending himself/herself. But in reality, as with most other things in life, skills and experience are much more important. And that’s where martial arts – several of which are even designed specifically to enable a smaller person to defeat a bigger and stronger attacker – comes in. Women are of course just as capable as men of excelling at martial arts skills and techniques – and even have some advantages over men. Yet, the mistaken but common view that fighting is basically all about size and strength can make it seem like an embarrassment for a man to lose a fight to a woman, just because she is smaller than him, when the question really should be who has the most skills and experience.

Genetic heritage
During the tens of thousands of years that humans evolved as a species, there was no such thing as martial arts. At that time, fighting really was almost exclusively about physical size and strength – and obviously it would have made sense to assume a bigger and stronger man would always have a huge advantage over a smaller woman. I think we, as humans, still have some of those old “cave man” instincts inside of us. Maybe our instincts aren’t yet used to the concept and implications of martial arts.

Sexism
Lastly, of course, there are some men who are misogynist jerks who look down on women. A man like that would not want to admit that a woman could kick his butt. Fortunately that is very much a minority of all men.

Well I think these are the explanations I can come up with right now. If you have anything to add, you are very welcome to comment!

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“In a real fight you would win though, right?”

Back when I made the first post of this blog, I rounded up a couple of questions and comments that I get as a man married to a woman who happens to be a professional martial arts expert – and I will try o answer some of them here on this blog. The third question I will take on is:

“In a real fight you would win though, right?”

This is very much related to my previous post – and I won’t dwell too long on this subject, mainly because the answer is pretty obvious.

It took quite a while for me to get to a point when I felt confident enough about myself to actually talk to other men about my wife (at that time girlfriend) being a black belt martial arts instructor and to admit that by using her martial arts skills she had proved to me that she could defeat me at fighting and wrestling with the greatest of ease. I was then somewhat surprised to find that one of the first reactions of several guys after hearing about this, was to suggest that if it had been a “real fight”, surely I would have won against her!

To me, this made little sense. I mean as a 5th dan hapkido black belt, my wife has mastered some pretty devastating punching and kicking techniques. And in a theoretical “everything goes” fight situation, she would obviously be free to use them. Adding to that, she would of course also still be free to use all those techniques which, in her hapkido demonstrations with me, allowed her to consistantly throw me around like a rag doll and tie me up in knots, despite all my best efforts to stop her. And had she applied those techniques on me in a “real life” situation, there would be no soft mattresses to pad my landing…

On top of that fact, she knows exactly how and where to kick and strike to cause maximum damage, so you don’t have to be a genius to figure out the likely outcome of a hypothetical fight between me and her. Yes, obviously I would have been allowed to throw punches myself – but let’s face it, the chance of me landing one of them against someone who has practiced all her life on how to avoid being hit by punches and kicks is pretty much zero. So, barring some major stroke of luck or a freak accident, such an encounter would obviously not end well for me.

This should all be pretty self evident. Yet, as I said, several of my male friends insisted that in a real fight, I would somehow come out victourious. The only explanation for this reaction, I would say, is the deeply ingraiend resistance and feeling of embarrassment of most men to admit that a woman is better than us at fighting. Even in cases like this, when there really is no objective or logical reason to feel embarrassed about it, given that the woman involved is a martial arts expert with many years of hard training behind her.

Yet for most of men, it still feels embarrassing. Why is that, really? I mean a man who has never played a single game of tennis wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit that a professional female tennis player is better than him at tennis. And a man who has never studied astrophysics wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit that a woman with a phd in astrophysics is in better command of astrophysics than him. But when it comes to fighting, things are very different. I’ll write down some of my thoughts on why that is, in my next post.

Professional female karate fighter isolated on white

Being the “protector” in a relationship

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Today I’ll write about a particular incident that really made me notice and think about how gender roles can be influenced when a woman practices martial arts. 

About a year ago, I went out with my (then future) wife. We went to a restaurant for dinner and we had a really nice evening. On our way home, quite late at night, we suddenly found ourselves alone on a rather dark street in front of an empty park, with two very suspicious looking guys standing on the park side of the street, in front of us. They were menacingly staring at us as we walked by. We pretended to ignore them.

I immediately felt a burst of adrenaline in my body and my heart beating faster, as this was obviously a potentially dangerous situation. Then the next second I remembered that the woman beside me holding my hand was of course a martial arts expert and self defence instructor. I had her hapkido demonstrations with me fresh in my memory – and as I remembered that, I suddenly felt much safer, calmer and more confident. I knew she could likely handle any situation that might arise all by herself. Not that I would just stand there doing nothing of course, if something would happen. I remember we glanced at each other, knowing we would have to be prepared for things to get ugly. Nothing at all did happen though – the sinister looking guys followed us with their weird glare until we were out of sight, but they left us alone and we got home safely.

At home I started thinking about what had just happened. And I realised that in the face of danger from two possibly violent men, I – a tall, fit, perfectly healthy man – had basically looked at my girlfriend for protection! Objectively, this isn’t strange, as we both know she is a way better fighter than me. But it still felt weird and confusing for me as a man, and I could feel that I was blushing. It was like I had this inner voice screaming at me that I should be the “protector” in the relationship. But at the same time that doesn’t make sense, when she is the one having practiced martial arts since childhood and who had recently proved that she can easily wipe the floor with me in a fight. So there were some very conflicting feelings for me after this incident.

Again, I am very happy and proud over my wife and that she has the skills and capabilities to defend herself. I definitely don’t wish that things were different. But I guess it can be quite confusing and complicated for us human beings, when things like traditional gender roles and norms in society gets turned on their head like this.

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“Aren’t you scared of her?”

As I said in the very first post of this blog, there are a number of questions and comments that I get as a man married to a woman who happens to be a professional martial arts expert – and I will try to answer them here on this blog. The first one I will take on is:

“Aren’t you scared of her?”

Yes, a couple of men have asked me if I am not scared of my wife. This actually kind of surprised me. I mean, why would I have married a woman, if I was scared of her? And why would I be scared of a woman just because she knows martial arts? It’s not like I am planning to abuse or assault her, so why on earth would I be afraid of the fact that she can defend herself from abuse and assault?

In most cases, a man is capable of physically beating his girlfriend/wife, simply because men are generally significantly bigger and stronger than women. But most men would never abuse their girlfriends or wives physically. And most women aren’t afraid of their boyfriends and husbands. Just because you theoretically can do something, doesn’t mean you will do it. And the same obviously goes for a woman with martial arts skills! Sure, she has the capability to beat up a man who is not trained in martial arts – but that obviously doesn’t mean that she will!

Actually the contrary is true. A woman who is highly skilled in martial arts is less likely to use violence against her boyfriend/man! 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. There are also strict rules for martial artists to not use their fighting skills on other people, except in self defence.

So no. I am definitely not scared of my wife.

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The first time my wife showed me her hapkido skills

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Obviously this picture does not depict me and my wife – I just thought it would fit the blog post! 🙂

My wife told me about her work as a hapkido and self defence instructor and how she started practicing martial arts already as a small child already on our first date. But it wasn’t until almost 4 months later that she showed her fighting skills (or at least some of them) to me first hand.

I had been curious about it ever since we met. The fact that she was a black belt martial arts professional intrigued me – it showed she was a strong and independent woman and made her seem even more attractive to me. In some way it kind of challenged me as a man too, as I assumed her skills meant that she – in spite of her very feminine looks and demeanour and apparent harmlessness – was perfectly capable of defending herself and no doubt was able to take me down in a hypothetical fight. It provoked my ego a little bit – but I basically just viewed it as something very positive about her.

It was a really warm July summer day when we went over to the martial arts gym where she practices and gives her hapkido lessons. I had asked her if she could show me some of her skills and give me a demonstration of hapkido self defence. She happily accepted. I remember my feelings as we stepped up together on a quite thick and soft blue mat. I had never done or been in contact with any martial arts training in my life up until then, so I had basically no idea what to expect. On our way to the gym I felt excited and a little bit nervous.

But when I stood in front of her on that mat and she told me to grab her and try to overpower her by any means I choose, I have to admit I suddenly did not see the black belted hapkido expert and professional martial artist that she is, but rather the beautiful, petite young woman that I had fallen madly in love with over the preceding months. I felt I was towering over her as she stood in front of me, waiting for me to make my move. She looked so beautiful and it made me feel almost like I was doing something “wrong”. It felt like a mismatch. And more or less automatically and subconsiously the instincts of not hurting or “beating up on” a girl/woman – deeply ingrained in most men – took over. I felt I better go easy on her. This is ridiculous, I know, but to be honest that’s how I felt.

So I grabbed one of her arms in a steady grip with my right hand. Firmly but not too hard, so I wouldn’t risk hurting her. With a quick “twisting” move she broke free of my hold and the next second I felt how she swept my legs from under me and I landed on the mat flat on my back with a thud. I was already impressed by her skills!

I got up and tried the same thing again, only a bit harder, and also determined not to let her surprise me with that “leg sweep” again. But again she used a hapkido move to quickly break free from my hold and this time she applied (what I later would learn was) a joint lock on the same right hand I had used to grab her. I felt a sharp pain whipping through my hole right arm and I was forced down on my knees. And there I found that every effort to get up or get free caused me to feel that same sharp pain immediately shooting through my arm. She had me immobilised! Now I felt a bit embarrassed and frustrated by the situation – and the apparent ease with which she had taken me down twice in a row!

I felt I needed to take this more seriously, so on my third try I was using both my hands to try grabbing her by her arms – but she anticipated it, got hold of me somehow and the next thing I knew the world around me was spinning around – and I actually let out a cry, I guess from the shock – before I landed on my back again. She had thrown me over her shoulder! It had the benefit of knocking most of the unwarranted worries about “hurting a woman” out of me. However I felt the frustration growing inside.

I remember how I during the next 15-20 minutes or so tried harder and harder and again and again – with different approaches – but always with the same result: me quickly ending up flat on the floor and/or immobilised in a painful hapkido lock. Two times I managed to get her off balance and take her down on the floor with me – only to end up immobilised in a hapkido hold with her legs locking and painfully bending my arm, leaving me with no choice but to submit to her. In the end I just felt I had had enough and I told her I gave up. No matter how I tried, there was no way I could defeat her. She had an answer to everything I threw at her and it seemed she was anticipating my every move. I was completely overwhelmed and outmanouvered by her skills and speed. The “humiliation” was topped off when she softly and compassionately inquired if I felt ok and informed me that she had been careful not hurt me, as I had no training in how to fall/land properly after a takedown (I now know this is something you practice as a beginner in hapkido classes).

After this very one sided duel, I was humbled, slightly bruised, in a bit of a shock and mighty embarrassed – but also full of admiration, love and fascination for my then girlfriend (and future wife). It might sound a bit pretentious, but in a way these 20 minutes changed the way I look, not only at her, but women in general!

My wife is a black belt

“Can she kick your butt?”
“You need to be careful – she could kill you!”
“Don’t piss her off or you’ll be sorry!”
“Aren’t you scared?”

“You could take her if you really wanted though right?”
“In a real fight you would win though, right?”
“You’re a fit guy, can’t you use your man strength and just overpower her?”

These are some of the many questions and reactions I have faced during the two years that I have been dating and married to my wife, who happens to be an expert martial arts and self defence teacher.

People are obviously – though often they won’t admit it – very curious and interested in this subject. However, especially men, feel embarrassed to talk about it (I can relate to that feeling and I will certainly return to this topic) or even refuse to admit some rather obvious facts (like that a trained female martial arts professional will easily beat an average male).

So I made this blog to answer and talk about all the questions above and others on the same subject: the huge benefits of women doing martial arts, confronting myths and prejudice – and also discussing how it affects traditional gender roles and how men (like myself) without martial arts skills react when their female partners are training in martial arts.

Who am I?

I am a 27 year old man living a fairly “regular” and happy life. I have a well paying job that I very much enjoy, my health is intact and I have a nice home and a beautiful wife. In other words, – so I’m certainly not complaining about my lot in life.

I am a rather fit guy. I stand 1.84 m (slightly under 6 feet 1 inch) tall and I weigh 83 kg (183 lbs). I have always been quite active, into various sports and working out regularly to keep in shape. Obviously there are guys who are much bigger and stronger than me. But I am far from a couch potato and I would definitely say I am in better shape than the average man.

A little bit more about me here.

My wife teaches hapkido

About two years ago I met the wonderful, sweet and lovely woman I am now lucky enough to call my wife. She has been practicing hapkido, a Korean martial art, since she was a small girl. Today, at the age of 22, she is an experienced 4th dan black belt and works as a hapkido and self defense instructor.

My wife is 17 cm (7 inches) shorter and about 25 kg (55 lbs) lighter than me. She looks perfectly harmless and very feminine – I really don’t think anyone would guess she is a martial arts expert just by looking at her. Yet, because of her expert hapkido skills, she can literally wipe the floor with me – without even trying hard! I know this for a fact because as we became a couple, out of curiosity I asked her to show me some of her skills. And even though I now know very well that I don’t stand a chance against her, I admit I still can’t resist “challenging” her to a (playful) one on one duel from time to time! It is exciting and fun and she is careful not to hurt me for real – except for the inevitable (slight) bruising of my male ego.

That’s it for today – more to come

Ok – this is all for today. This blog is very new and very much a work in progress. I’ll write more in the coming days. In the meantime – enjoy the weekend!