I was recently conversing with a fan from Europe who was surveying martial artists on why they train. He found many of the men he spoke to were enchanted by the idea of the “ultimate” challenge. Going into a deathmatch and coming out victorious…”Rawr flex”…
He asked me why I train and why I think women train in martial arts. After careful consideration here are the reasons I think women do and should train in martial arts.
Unfortunately, with the #metoo movement, unreported rape cases, increased domestic violence, and all those horrible things in the news it’s a scary time we live in. On the other hand, for the first time in history, we are at an all-time high on empowerment. Now more than ever women have the opportunities to change their lot in life.
Martial arts training is about equalizing the playing field with hard work and training. Many people forget self-defense fights don’t have to be Hollywood duels to the death or MMA knockouts. “Leg ’em and leave ’em” is a valid and effective strategy. Also, ladies, I’m speaking to you right now, a lot of fighting is about body language and confidence. Think about the message you are sending. Are you cowering, twitchy, and nervous as you walk out to your car at night? Or do you walk with your head held high, aware and ready for anything? Many times your body language is enough to turn the lurking creeper away to seek out easier prey elsewhere.
Confidence – take charge of your life
Speaking of confidence it is something earned from hard work and training. There is no easy or quick way to buy confidence. Your mind will not believe in it without hard work. I once had a friend tell me the difference between being cocky and confident is experience. Martial arts training and sports fighting give you a “safe” place to test your self and gain the experience you need. There is any number of styles and levels of intensity you can train at. Take medieval sword fighting as an example. For beginners who don’t have a lot of money to spend LARPing or Live Action Role Playing, is a great place to start. They often fight with foam weapons, don’t hit hard, and don’t target vital spots like the head. On the opposite end of the spectrum is full steel fighting like what is done in Battle of the Nations. This style of fighting is full speed, full power, and fewer safety rules. It can be brutal, intense, and a ton of fun. In these sports matches, you can
“die” and start over as many times as you want. Just like in a video game. This allows you to learn a lot about yourself, your pain tolerance, your fitness, endurance, and how well you handle yourself in stressful situations. The more you train the more confidence you will gain.
Here is the most important aspect of confidence gained through skill and experience, no one can take it away from you. No matter what type of political drama within a sport, or some keyboard warrior being overly critical on social media your experiences are yours. You earned them through blood sweat and tears no one can ever take that from you.
With an increase in your confidence comes freedom from fear and anxiety. We live in a strange time both the actual concerns in real life and the constant judgment in the virtual world. To quote one of my favorite anime cartoons, “a sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body” (Soul Eater). Living a peaceful life isn’t hiding in the mountains as a hermit, that is just running away. A peaceful mind will always prevail over a distracted mind. Your environment helps, it is why people go into the mountains to train after all. However, at the end of the day, it is up to you and your own will. Are you the kind of person who will rise to the occasion? Learning how to overcome stress is part of the training. Believe me, facing two monsters wielding battle axes hunting you down on the competition field is plenty stressful. After facing something like that dealing with a boss at work yelling at you is no big deal.
Nature vs Nurture
This last part is very tricky because it is vastly different depending on the person. Going to speak in general terms, you can decide how relevant it is to you. Women tend to be more gentle-natured. We don’t like hurting people. That makes us hesitate rather than taking advantage to go on the offensive in a fight.
There are any number of theories on why women behave differently in a fight. First, there are physical differences. Women are lighter in the frame, less muscle mass, less testosterone, and all those lovely advantages men have to be bigger and stronger. The physical differences have caused us to evolve differently than men. We approach problems differently. Take something as simple as opening a jar. Your typical man has the strength to muscle the lid open. Women have to use a tool, such as a rag, rubber grip, or banging the lid to loosen it up. There are hundreds of little everyday tasks that are done differently between men and women, so why would fighting be any different? The second is the mental differences between men and women. Society treats men and women differently. Women play with dolls, clothes, makeup, and learning how to be social. Men play with balls, sports, and learn how to be competitive in sports. Again this is a generalization, not a set rule. Looking at the playing habits women are taught to talk things out, manage complex social rules, and never ever hit. Men are allowed to be physical with other men as they play sports. They wrestle around, tackle each other in football, get super aggressive in dodge ball and so forth. That difference in play trains our minds and conflict resolution strategies. Martial Arts falls into the stereotypical sport to cater to the “male” style of play. Training, conversation, and open-mindedness can overcome any of these stereotypes. It takes hard work but women can learn to be more aggressive and men can learn to be more caring. We can overcome the tiny little boxes society would like to shove us inside of.
Modern Farang Mu Sul Creed
A little while ago I made a post discussing what it meant to live a knightly life – “Knightly: creed and way of life. I have adopted the Farang Mu Sul creed as a symbol and philosophy of what knightly means. That creed plays a big part in guiding my training and approach to martial arts as well. There is so much more to training then just kicking and punching. It is a way of life.
Correctness in Attitude
Excellence in Training
Directness in Action
Effectiveness in Combat
Humility in Heart
Strength in Character
Freedom in Expression
Thirst in Knowledge
Power in Truth
Respect in Wisdom
A warrior does not live in fear. A warrior is wise in their choices. Keeps their mind and body healthy. They are the trailblazers of our world. We lead others through our examples. Be the light in the storm, the oasis in the desert, and help our frightened neighbors stay calm during this stressful time.
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