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Kicking down the barrier: why all women need to try martial arts

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

At the mention of a boxer, I am sure a large, muscular man comes to mind. Regardless of an interest in martial art sports the names Anthony Joshua, Conor McGregor, Tyson Fury is all familiar, but are the equally talented Katie Taylor, Amanda Nunes, or Valentina Shevchenko names that are even half as familiar? For years these sports have been seen as male oriented, and in some countries, it has only been in recent years that women have even been allowed to participate in them, so it is not a surprise that considerably less women become involved. Such an inequality in these sports mean it may be intimidating for women to start them as they are typically seen as sports for men, not a space for women. But now is the time to become engaged in them because there are so many opportunities for women to get involved, including exclusive women sessions and an increase in female coaches. These sports are no longer just for men and there are multiple reasons that women should become engaged in these sports, not only out of female pride to get some famous names to match the likes of Joshua and McGregor.

It’s a sad truth that 736 million women worldwide have faced physical or sexual assault at some point in their lives, which is possibly assumed the most popular reason to engage in martial arts. Whilst this is definitely a useful tool for these unfortunate circumstances, marketing these sports as purely for defence purposes does not demonstrate the scope of their uses and assumes that abusers are those responsible for women entering martial arts, so focusing on the alternative reasons gives a potential female candidate more agency in the choice.  There are lots of other motivating reasons to get involved in these sports too.

Firstly, the mental benefits it provides.  Martial arts are one of the most disciplinary hobbies to get engaged with, which is perfect for practising delayed gratification, and overall improving focus and mental capacities for other areas in life. Of course, the most obvious mental reason, quite literally smacking you in the face, is the release of emotions. These sports are most definitely the champions at taking a bad feeling and transforming it into fuel. Moreover, exercise that is as physically demanding and intense as this inevitably releases a high number of endorphins, which trigger a positive mood, so you’ll be punching the air out of happiness too.

Secondly, it’s a great way of keeping fit. It’s a well-accepted fact that boxing is one of the hardest workouts across the board of all sports and the same goes for all other martial arts as the majority of them are full body work outs that require strength, accuracy and speed. Therefore, they are amazing forms of cardio that improve heart health and fitness. They also heavily train muscles which is beneficial for both a practical purpose of being stronger and for the aesthetic purpose of toning up or building muscle.

Finally, it’s a feminist power move, because what says feminism more than entering a male dominated environment and showing how scary women can be? So, join a club, equal out the numbers and put up your best fight to make the men scared, because women are powerful too.

There are around 180 different types of martial arts, so whether you’re a puncher, a kicker, a wrestler, a grappler, or all of the above, there is a martial art waiting out there for you to get a grip of, literally.  Show everyone what women are capable of, not just what they’re expected to do. Hopefully you can get involved and get a kick out of it too.

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Scarlett Wood

Nottingham '23

Third Year English Student at University of Nottingham ❤️