“LET HER DO HER”
While writing about short men in the martial arts scene, I had already planned on making post on other marginalized and often criticized groups and how martial arts is a great tool for life for them as well. So as the title says this is for the lady’s out there wanting to get into the zen Martial arts scene. As a man who has been in many gyms and seen alot I concede that I have no clue what it’s like to be a woman walking in to a gym, with what looks like a bunch of agro men trying to kill each other. I have a pretty good idea I think what some concerns are that you could have from listening to the likes of Rose Gracie, Tecia Torres-Gracie, Ronda Rousey, etc. These ladies have really opened alot of peoples eyes when it comes to not stereotyping women that walk in the door. A concern I have seen in dojos, gyms, and bjj academy’s is that nobody want to roll with the ladies or guys want to hit on the their female partner while she just wants to roll and not be bothered with some dojo playa. I see the problem here nobody wants to harassed all class and not learn anything or, be taught by the gym not it all when really they know nothing. I’ve seen it happened and had it happen to me for a minute before the guy figured out I knew more then him, but because of certain gender stereotypes women even if they are high ranking are treated like they don’t know anything by certain idiots in the gym. Other concerns range to what should I focus on what gym do I choose, which are very important in your martial arts journey.
My advice would be to nip anything your uncomfortable with in the bud quickly, like win it happens if someone’s hitting on you on you end it there stating that you are here to work not for a date. If you can’t get a partner tell the instructor and they will more then likely be your partner, which in my opinion would be better because they know how to teach. If you make a mistake they let you work through it and then correct you and show you your mistake versus stopping you mid way through the drill like someone non teachers will do. Then what will happen is during that class you’ll be really good at whatever it is you’ve been doing and then your instructor will pair you up with a nice student that you will have no problems with which means you just made a friend and a training partner. I must say that this just is from my experience, I’ve seen this play out a lot in gyms.
Now for what martial arts to pick up, for me as a striker at my core I’m kind of biased. But knowing that the general female frame lends itself well in flexibility and in even paced endurance, I have to divide things up into specifics. Starting from scratch for those ladies with no athletic history or for women who workout but have never done a combat art I would suggest starting with Brazilian Jiujutsu. Now for the why, in bjj your getting alot of intermixing of training. You’ll see alot of (I’m about to gender stereotype) things that relate to Yoga Pilates and Cardio versus strength based on power but more on strength in the legs based in endurance. Now that’s not at all a knock its a plus many of your male counter parts after 2 months of grappling figure out that the reason the ladies in the gym can roll for longer and grasp certain things so quickly is because of the dexterity in the legs and hips from (again stereotyping) natural flexibility in the hip joint. You’ll love playing in the guard because chocking massive guys and other power athletes will be crazy fun. Then if you want to become well rounded try out some striking to round out your abilities if you’re into that.
For those women with an athletic history or who are just athletic try out a striking art. Boxing, Muay Thai, TKD, and Kickboxing are made for you. You can use your athletics and then like your Male counter parts learn the fluid and technical parts of striking and develops are very strong striking game then if you want mix in grappling to make yourself well rounded if your on that quest. Again basing my opinion on women I’ve taught and what I have seen the female frames flexibility really lends itself to kicking arts. So while the punching may not be the same as the guys in the gym, the kicks will probably be faster and a lot more fluid. Also the ability to head kick and land shoulder high will be easy if not instant. Again anyone that can strike and ko someone is someone with really confidence in there abilities.
Now for those with a history in a martial arts but have stopped but want to get back into it. For these ladies if you have a history in something used in mma go back to it because you have a knowledge of it. Meaning TKD, kickboxing, bjj, wrestling, MuayThai, boxing,etc. Now if you’ve done Gung Fu (not knocking JKD Bruce Lee is a forefather of mma, the extension of JKD philosophy) or Krav Maga get into one of the for mentioned practical arts. Just back into the flow of things and see where it takes you. What are the benefits of bjj for you? From a self-defense sense it’s were the fight or altercation will probably end up on the ground. For striking the benefits are similar the vast majority of the population has no idea what to do when punches get thrown. So being able to end it quickly is a plus, getting a clinch landing knees to the body, leg kicking someone, head kicking someone, and being able to neutralize someone’s punches is a tool you’ll have, but the opposition will not have.
On a more vain level you’ll see you body morph. I coming from a retail and marketing career have seen the image of what women should look like morphed to women not being pressured into look a certain way instead how healthy do you want to be. Society seems to be moving toward the healthy female form. So keeping that in mind on about a 2 months cycle you’ll notice alot of physical and energy changes. Within a 1 year I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re completely changed. The plus of that is its not like being at the gym doing the same thing and mixing it up every month. Everyday your learning something to add to you game, learning something new every time your in the academy. Healthy weight, abs of steel, strong toned legs arms everything, cardio for days, self confidence to do whatever, you have a recipe for a Bad@*$.
When it comes to picking a gym or academy I would start with saying the best gym will have great reviews and usually they will give you a trial period. For alot of bjj academy’s youll get two sessions free and a gi, that’s a beautiful deal and proves they really want to teach and spread the art with you. Grappling dummies large matted areas and a large calendar scheduled with no Gi and Gi specific training means you found a legit school. Most bjj and judo academies are super legit because to get your belts you have to roll and show that you know what your doing under stress (test/competition). You’ll no which ones to stay clear from reviews of the certain academies. Other gyms to join are the family friendly gyms because douche bags and creeps will usually stay clear of a gym with kids classes. The thing to look for at these gyms to make sure its a legit school and not a quick black belt academy, is the equipment. If you see heavy bags, banana bags, gloves and punching mitts its a real deal school. Now if you see alot of kickstands and Bob stands I would approach with caution. The reason being that in practical usage of what their teaching, heavy bags force you to work against resistance in all your strikes which builds speed and power versus speed and no power because of a lack of heavy resistance. A little research and trial run are important to finding the gym for you. A big trend recently are the womens only classes and the womens only academies for both striking and grappling arts. Which releases a lot of the stress of the aforementioned creep and lack of willing partners, but remember this is a new thing and want be everywhere usually they can be found all over California though.
Again I’m not a women these are just observations I have made from training ladies of all walks of life. I have heard the issues they encounter and think I have a little insight on what can ease alot of the stress that keeps women from embracing the self defense arts. Just know that alot of gyms are open to you and want to spread there art regardless of gender and maybe more so since the introduction of the Crossfit & Weightlifting womens culture has changed society’s nitpicking attitudes towards what women should and can do. So have a blast take what you will from my words and I hope it’s helped, lets go to work.
-Stay Chill Family and Folks