Women in Martial Arts

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day.  This is a day where women are recognised for their social, economic, cultural, and political contributions.  The role of women in our society is one of the most important, yet it seems to be one that we all take for granted.  It must be stated that women are just as capable as men and should be afforded the same kind of opportunities to grow and excel in whatever fields they desire.

Martial Arts is a field that is dominated by men.  This might be due to the belief that men are naturally inclined to aggression due to the male hormone – Testosterone.  However, this is just a one-dimensional look at a multi-dimensional subject.  At the root of Martial Arts philosophy is self-improvement, inner strength and overcoming violence with a calm mindset.  So, the belief that aggression makes one a better Martial Artist is contradictory to these philosophies.

Ronda Rousey and Rika Usami have proven that women can excel in Martial Arts.  Ronda Rousey is a UFC champion and Rika Usami is referred to as the “Kata Queen”, having won many Kata competitions including the 2012 World Karate Championships.

ronda rousey


Wing Chun Kuen is a Martial Art that was founded by a female Abbess of the Shaolin Temple.  This Martial Art incorporates principles to overcome larger and stronger opponents with efficient techniques and superior timing.

Women have always played a pivotal role in Martial Arts and it should be no different in the times that we currently exist.

Given the manner in which women have been oppressed, Martial Arts can be a powerful instrument of change and empowerment for women, especially in the following ways:

  • You learn to defend yourself
  • Your overall health improves
  • You build self-confidence and improve your self-esteem
  • You build new friendships and formulate a support structure
  • You learn to rely on yourself


Learning to Defend Yourself

Femicide and violence against women has always been a concern.  It has become even more prevalent and alarming in recent years.  Women are viewed as easy targets for violent crime due to their obvious strength disadvantages to their male counterparts.  Martial Arts can help level the playing field by giving women a toolset with which to deal with violent and dangerous attacks. 

Training in Martial Arts will not only arm you with techniques and increased strength, but it will also help you keep your composure so that you can make the most appropriate decisions for a given situation.  This can make all the difference in surviving a dangerous attack.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, reachout and seek help.  Protecting yourself and your family need not be left solely on your shoulders.  Here is a helpful Domestic Violence Resource Guide which has a full Global list of international help centers and organizations for women all over the world.

self defence women


Improved Health

In recent times, women have had to balance both work and family life.  These demanding responsibilities can result in neglect of one’s health.  Martial Arts can have an incredibly positive effect on the mind and body.  It provides challenging exercises and drills to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.  Your overall ability to perform your regular day to day activities will receive an exponential physical boost.  You will experience renewed energy and vitality. 

In addition to the obvious physical benefits, Martial Arts has a corresponding positive effect on your mental well-being as well.  It will help you hone your mind and develop an inner strength.  This will help you deal with difficult life situations and stave off depression and anxiety.


Improved Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Apart from mental wellness, Martial Arts will improve the way you see yourself.  You will experience improved self-esteem by learning to value yourself.  This will have a corresponding effect on your self-confidence, making you more assertive and more likely to stand up for yourself and confront those that may treat you unfairly.


Building Friendships and forming a Support Structure

A major characteristic of abusive relationships is the isolation of the victim from friends and family.  Attending Martial Arts classes will put you in the same space as other people that may share your values.  This will allow you to develop friendships and a support structure to help you along your journey and difficult times.  As people, we are social beings, and this will add to your overall quality of life and happiness.


Relying on Yourself

It is important to be independent and to be able to stand on your own two feet.  Depending on others for things that you can provide yourself, often disempowers you.  Women are just as capable as men and possess the means to solve their own problems and provide for themselves and their families.  The self-confidence and personal skills that you will acquire from Martial Arts will set you on a path to be truly self-sufficient.  This means that you will be able to do things at your pace and on your terms.


The Pink Belt Project

I would like to introduce you to the Pink Belt Project, an initiative that seeks to empower women through Martial Arts.  The Pink Belt project provides 1 year of free traditional Martial Arts training to women in need at their closest Martial Arts training facility. 

Pink Belt Project

This project has changed the lives of scholarship recipients for the better.  There are so many examples to read about at the Pink Belt Project. We urge you to reach out and contribute to this worthy cause in whatever way you can.  Some ways of offering your support are:


Final Thoughts

I will leave you with a quote by Barbara Ehrenreich

“Of all the nasty outcomes predicted for women's liberation … none was more alarming than the suggestion that women would eventually become just like men.”

Be unapologetically feminine and embrace your uniqueness. Martial Arts is for all, male or female. It can be an invaluable addition to your life and empower you in ways that you had never even considered.


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