There are many reasons people seek out Martial Arts from confidence and self protection to fitness and weight loss but I want to put the fitness and weight loss aside for today because there are so many more important reasons women should train.
I’ll tell you first of all why my boxing gloves aren’t Pink despite the fact it’s my absolute favourite colour. In my mind practicing Martial Art closes the gender gap, it makes me feel strong and capable. I’ve always felt that if I trained with pink equipment I wouldn’t be seen the way I want to be seen by the predominately male student body. (My bag is totally hot pink though and my water bottle covered in flowers.)
In my past there have been times where I’ve felt helpless and vulnerable, situations where I didn’t defend myself, where I let someone hurt me.
The knowledge that comes from my training makes me feel empowered. I know full well if a big guy comes at me I’m not going to do much with a punch but my training extends beyond that, I don’t have a plan of what I would do but I do have a whole load of options.
I’ve trained situations where I’ve experienced an adrenaline dump and I’ve trained positions on the ground that would once have made me freeze with anxiety. Every time I train I am becoming more confident that should I ever be in that situation I would fight to protect myself.
The first few times I did a ground class I hated it, the uncomfortable feeling of being so physically close to someone and moving my body in a way that felt so alien.
My instructor asked me if I felt this uncomfortable training the positions with someone I know in a safe place how I would protect myself should I ever find myself there unexpectedly.
As a woman being attacked chances are I will be taken to the ground and that person will most likely end up on top of me.
Two years of training later and I am actually quite confident moving on the ground, I understand my own body better and that of the person I am on the ground with. That puts me in a lot better position than I was before when I hated even to have someone in my personal space.
Every day the news is flooded with tragic stories, young girl stabbed on the bus, teenage boy attacked by fully grown man, man intentionally run down by a car in the early hours of the morning. These stories aren’t just in the national news, this is my local news. On my doorstep.
I used to think I did things to stay safe, not walking home alone at night and always having my keys ready before I get to my door. But what I have since I started training is awareness.
During classes scenarios may be discussed of how you could have ended up in this position needing to use these skills, we will practice drills with weapons or multiple opponents and are reminded to be aware. The more I learn the more I feel I find ways to ensure I’d never need to use what I know.
That’s absolutely not to say that the victims of these tragic incidents are in any way at fault because they are not, we have a right to feel and be safe. The little things I now notice that I would never have noticed before I feel contribute to my feelings of confidence and safety.
I’ve talked endlessly about this but it’s such a huge factor for me, I used to hate my body. I could list my flaws all day long and I treated my body with zero respect not thinking about the effects of what I eat or how little I moved.
Martial Arts hasn’t given me more body confidence because I’ve lost weight but because my body amazes me. I can’t believe the things I’ve achieved since my training began, I can’t believe the barriers I’ve overcome and the strength I have gained.
I used to think of myself as weak, incapable, dependent. Now I am strong, able and independent. I don’t believe in accepting my own negative self talk and I am treating myself with the respect I deserve physically and mentally.
Weight loss is always a bonus but it’s funny how much easier that is when it’s not your main focus.
Poor mental health runs in my family, I have felt the grips of it myself at various points in my life from depression to severe anxiety. As women we experience a range of ups and downs every month as it is without the external factors of life stresses and genetics.
Training is my constant, when I feel disconnected from the world around me, from the people in my life, my training is there. I have trained through laughter, tears, anger, frustration. It doesn’t matter how I feel when I step up to those doors or how hard it has been to drag myself there when I take my bow onto the mat and train my mind heals.
It’s proven that exercise supports good mental health for a variety of reasons from boosting serotonin to working off stress but Martial Arts supports me in a totally different way. I feel I have a better connection with my body and mind when I train.
I can use the time to switch off from my troubles and absorb myself in complicated drills or repetitive actions. The mental aspects of what I’m asking of myself through my training, stepping outside my comfort zone again and again all help to distract and refocus my mind.
There is so much more to Martial Art beside the physical.
So go train in mixed martial arts and do it in your pink gloves if that’s what makes you feel confident or inspired. It’s ok to be afraid or feel out of your comfort zone. What’s not ok is telling yourself you can’t, that it’s not for you.
Every woman should feel strong, confident and empowered.