As part of PRI’s #WomensLives campaign, this week is a #TeachHer series about empowering women with a different focus every day. Thursday’s focus is empowering women through sports. I chose martial arts because it’s my favorite “sport” and I feel that it is very empowering! 🙂Empowering women through martial arts. #TeachHer #WomensLives Click To Tweet
I first started practicing martial arts in high school. I was generally naive and unaware of my surroundings back then, as many high school students are. However, after a few too many “close calls” because I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me, my parents decided to sign me up for a martial arts school. I joined one called Choi’s Taekwondo Academy. The classes were taught by an 8th degree grandmaster and a master who trained in the Green Berets. Talk about an amazing combination!
I started out as a lowly white belt who had no idea what I was doing. At first I was soooo out of shape, it was ridiculous! I actually thought I had a heart problem because I was always so terribly out breath! But after months of grueling workouts, I started getting better. My stamina started to improve. And I started to sloooowwwwly figure out what I was doing.
Martial arts is all about empowering women. At least in the schools that I’ve been in, there’s no delineation between men and women. Women are taught how to fight men, not just other women. Women are treated with the same respect that men are given. But, as with all students, you gain respect as you work hard and slowly move up the ranks.
In my VERY FIRST test for a lowly yellow belt, I was asked to close my eyes as two men attacked on either side and try to “sense” where the attacks were coming from. You can imagine I didn’t do great! But years later, when I was testing for black belt, I was asked to do the same thing. This time I did a ton better. Everything had come full circle.
Oh, I can tell you, training in martial arts can be scary sometimes. You’ll be put up against an opponent who is a million times better than you. But if you don’t spar those people, how will you ever get any better? I fought one of my instructors once. He just stood perfectly still and motioned with one hand for me to attack him. With my heart pounding in my chest, I threw a kick… And the next thing I knew, I was hanging upside down. He was holding my foot over his head and MY head was an inch above the ground! I asked him what I should do in that situation and he said, “Pray!”
Later on, in college, I added Jujitsu to my repertoire of martial arts that I was studying. I made some amazing friends and learned more about how to defend myself and use an opponent’s momentum and strength against him. Jujitsu isn’t about overpowering your opponent. It’s about being smarter than him and using his own movements and “advantages” against him. It’s good stuff.
I think it’s important to teach women martial arts because it builds discipline, strength, and confidence. We all know the statistics on the number of women who get attacked. This has to change. But in the meantime, empowering women to know how to protect themselves is also VITAL. We’re not just learning how to fight. We’re honing our senses to be more aware of what’s going on around us and to trust our instincts.
In the future, I’d love to study Krav Maga. I think it’s an amazing “sport” and would give me even more skills for self defense. That’s my future sports goal. If you’re a woman reading this, or if you’re a parent with a daughter, a strongly suggest looking into martial arts. It can be life changing, empowering, and life saving.If you're a woman, consider taking martial arts. It will change your life. Click To Tweet If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to the blog below. 🙂