I talked to my wife about annoying and stereotypical comments about her martial arts training that she gets from time to time. And here – in no particular order – are 11 such comments, together with her answers.
1. “You are too small to fight!”
Well they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover – and that good things come in small packages lol. Seriously though, hapkido is designed mainly to be used for self defence and to overcome stronger and even armed attackers. Contrary to what many people believe, size, height, weight, muscle strength and testosterone are not the most important features to become a good fighter. In fact, agility, speed, balance, experience and above all skills are much more important factors. And using some techniques actually allows a smaller woman to use a larger man’s size and strength against him, to her advantage.
2. “Could you kick my ass?”
This question is generally posed by guys who have no experience at all from training martial arts, just after they hear that I am a martial arts instructor. Usually, I think, they don’t really mean anything bad with this, at all. It’s probably just ignorance. But it can still be a bit annoying and I sometimes do feel the urge to counter that with a “well what do you think?”. And would they have asked this if I was a man? I think not…
3. “You do martial arts? That’s so cute!”
This is such a condescending thing to say! It sounds like he’s talking down to a small child…
4. “I’m sure I could beat you in a fight anyway. But I don’t hit girls.”
It says a lot about the arrogance of a man, who even though he has no training whatsoever, still assumes that he can beat a highly trained martial artist, just because she happens to be a woman. And with the added condescending and fake gentleman twist of pointing out that he doesn’t hit girls. Well, he doesn’t need to worry about that though cause most likely he wouldn’t be able to hit me even if he tried. I admit that the “evil” part of my inner thought process tells me to just throw him on the floor and make him tap out, but obviously I never do that.
5. “Wow! So you’re a dangerous girl!”
No I’m not dangerous at all. Unless maybe you had planned to be violent against me.
6. “I’m sure the guys you train with go easy on you.”
Again, more condescending “macho” man talk from guys who believe women aren’t capable of martial arts fighting. In training, we all go easy on each other in the sense that we take care not to seriously injure each other. However most guys who practice martial arts do not see their opponents as men or women, but simply opponents and you don’t go easy on anyone regardless of gender unless they are at a very much lower level in terms of skills and experience.
7. “Doesn’t it get awkward and sexual when you’re on the floor with a guy?”
Other women in martial arts that I know aren’t bothered by this at all. I guess I am a person who is rather sensitive to people invading my personal space, so I remember in my early teens I actually did feel a bit awkward sometimes when practicing with guys. And it sometimes that still can feel a little bit weird. But on the whole, it is no problem at and no it definitely never ever gets sexual. We are all there to practice martial arts – nothing else.
8. “I don’t want to practice with you because I don’t hit girls”
Most of the time, this kind of comment comes from “macho man” guys who believe that being a guy automatically makes him far superior to any female at hand to hand combat. Thus, training with me would be beneath his dignity and a waste of time. Depending on the situation, it can actually be quite fun to prove this kind of guy wrong, especially if it’s an arrogant newbie with a far to big ego. Sometimes I feel engaging with him would be a waste of my time.
9. “I don’t want to learn from a girl”
This has happened to me a couple of times since I started teaching, with the comment coming from male teenagers.
10. “But you look so feminine!”
I try to take this one as a compliment – because looking feminine is very much a positive thing in my book. Though of course I get the comment in the context of having told someone about my martial arts training and this person is apparently shocked that practicing martial arts as a woman doesn’t automatically result in you looking like a brute man. And that attitude can get a bit tiresome after a while.
11. “Don’t your boobs get in the way when you fight?”
I guess this one would be hilarious if it wasn’t so prejudiced. While I do have rather large breasts, they aren’t anywhere near as humongous as they would need to be to in anyway affect how I perform martial arts. Besides, there is something called bras, and they are widely available for women use. The first time someone asked me this I thought it was meant as some sort of sexual pick up line, but apparently there are men who seriously think that having boobs might actually interfere with your fighting abilities…