Martial Arts can be likened to marmite (or for our friends in Australia, Vegemite). You either love it, or hate it; I have never heard a person, who is training, say they tolerate it.
In my last blog, I mused over being a mother and a female sensei, and how the two can go hand-in-hand. In this post I would like to reflect on why the females who train in our club carry on with their training. And ponder briefly over why other females never entertain the idea of giving it a go.
So, why is there this “marmite effect”?
What stops many from becoming a female martial artist and why I persevered
For many out there I think the term ‘martial arts’ can straightaway put a block in a girl’s mind.
If you watch films, TV and look at media, martial arts is seen as something as brutal, destructive and full of flying kicks and almost superhuman feats. This is something that I, as a mere mortal, could never hope to achieve.
Throughout history, women have been seen as the weaker sex. Disney films that I grew up watching, until of late, always portrayed the main female lead as someone who needed protecting from the ‘darkness’. This was usually in the form of lots of woodland creatures and a dashing prince.
Unfortunately, throughout my training I have never received any help from woodland creatures or a dashing prince. I have achieved through sheer determination and lots of encouragement.
Before I started Ju Jitsu I did step aerobics which was a disaster. It taught me I have no coordination or rhythm whatsoever – normal aerobics, dance class (always on the back row), swimming, water aerobics, etc etc. I tried lots of different activities which were deemed suitable for a female and I hated them all.
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Looking back now on my Ju Jitsu journey it has made me wonder why I have stuck with it. I get bored very easily with sports and am always looking for something new to engage my attention.
I then had a lightbulb moment. Ju Jitsu is one thing that when I am at the dojo demands my full concentration and attention. It teaches me self discipline. It teaches me how to overcome things in my life away from the dojo. Ju Jitsu gave me confidence.
I don’t mean confidence if something happened I could suddenly become Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. Or single-handedly take down a small army like Steven Seagal. Or indeed be as awesome as Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda with his Wushi finger. I could however be the panda reaching the biscuits on the top shelf!
No, it generally gave me much more awareness of my surroundings and the skills to be a mortal with some hidden talents.
Female Jujituska who started training & stayed committed
I recently asked a few females in our club what made them decide to start training in Ju Jitsu and why they carry on. Here are a few of their replies (names have been changed so I can plead plausible deniability):
Treated As An Equal
“I used to be a nervous wreck before I started training and lacked confidence; I never felt I was treated as an equal. In our dojo I am treated as an equal, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female. We are all expected to train as hard as each other within in our own capabilities. It’s great having the benefit of being taught by male and female senseis, they both bring the same teachings but different perspectives. I love it.” – Rachel
Walking at Night with Confidence
“I lacked confidence before I started training, I didn’t like walking to my car by myself at night time. Ju Jitsu has given me confidence” – Hurricane Mary
Note to readers: Hurricane Mary is now 3 belts up and has indeed found her inner ninja. She may only be tiny in stature but puts fear into many.
Ninja Awareness and The Hidden Agenda of Spreading “Evilness”
“It has given me confidence, ability, awareness and a great set of friends who are like family. I love being a female sensei so I can pass on my evilness to other like minded people.” – Evil Ninja
Give Martial Arts a Go!
So, there you have it. I feel that for most females, martial arts will always be seen as a male-dominated environment. And for the majority of dojos I suppose that is true.
My fellow coaches and I would love to see more females coming into training. Indeed, we welcome all new starters. We love new additions to our family.
Why not give it a go? The hardest part is stepping through the door.
Photos courtesy of Karma Ju-Jitsu (edits were done by Logen with use of public domain images & Share-Alike CC Flickr Bruce Lee Image by Giga Paitchadze – flickr.com/photos/55081903@N00)