Women Empowered

Today’s blog is to chime in on a most curious, yet absurd, series of conversations I have been privy to recently.

Somewhere in the ether it became conventional wisdom that women are not the warriors that men are. Having just watched the Strikeforce MMA
main event this past weekend between two female combatants, I was struck by the number of male viewers who dismissed the level of ferocity, quality technique and overall
heart these women displayed in the cage. I actually heard a guy say

(who does not even train in self defense, btw), that he could take either of them! 🙂
This gender bias harkens back to the dark ages of decades ago when women were always viewed as the subservient, lesser qualified and weaker sex. Have we, as a society, really not evolved our points of view from those of Archie Bunker?

I certainly acknowledge that there will almost always be a strength and size advantage that men hold over women. Anatomic gifts are what they are. As martial artists, however, have we forgotten that good technique trumps strength? Indeed, once a person has learned their techniques to the point of muscle memory, their reactions are effortless. I personally experienced this 15 years ago when I squared off with a female judo black belt who I outweighed by 100 pounds. Her speed and technique were such that for the 2 minutes we “sparred”, I was thrown to the mat 7 times! As we got up and bowed, I could only smile in admiration as she handled me so easily, she wasn’t even breathing heavy. Her technique was effortless and without any thought.

As one of my favorite quotes states: “If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die.”

I have had the privilege to train alongside some of the best practitioners of Krav Maga on the east coast. Two women in particular, Beth L. and Avital Z., are so devastating in their power and speed and so deep in their skill set, that I challenge any guy to try their hand at proving male superiority in the fight game. They possess that ability to move without thought (‘mushin” as the Japanese call it) so their responses are on target and on time, regardless of the size or strength of their opponent.

So why am I on this rant? Was I just inspired by a recent screening of “Norma Rae” or “Million Dollar Baby”? No.

I teach women of all ages and unfortunately still witness their belief that men can and will always dominate a woman physically, regardless of training. I make it my life’s purpose to debunk this notion. Whether the woman in question is 8 or 80, a cheerleader or a grandmother, belief that the techniques learned in a self defense class will work is crucial. I have held pads for women who had such power in their punches, elbows, knees and kicks that any guy on the receiving end would be annihilated. The power comes not just from excellent technique, but an innate confidence that their strikes are strong and more than adequate to finish off a would-be attacker.

So here are my final thoughts for today:

To all the women: Know in your heart that you possess all the power you need to handle an attacker, once you learn the proper techniques and commit your mind, body and spirit to using them if they are ever needed. Any sense of intimidation you experience by a large male threat is simply doubt causing you to forget that you are a formidable warrior.

To all the men: Remember that any beliefs you might have that women can’t handle the likes of you in a fight, that women don’t possess the fighting spirit to protect themselves once confronted, or that all women will curl up into a ball and cry once threatened are very ill conceived. Laila Ali, Gina Carano, Ronda Rousey or Meisha Tate might not look all that menacing in street clothes and pony tails, but I dare say, they will offer very convincing physical arguments as to why women are not to be overlooked or underestimated.