10 Reason Why Martial Arts is the Best Sport or Activity for Women by Andrea Harkins
There are so many reasons why martial arts benefit all of us, and my 10 reasons why martial arts are the best sport or activity for women is no different.
It is not surprising that confidence is at the top of the list. Not that women need more confidence than men or children, but confidence is key to the woman who wants to find success and purpose in her life.
Martial arts teach women that they are more capable than they realize. They are strong, empowered and resilient, but many do not realize this until they begin their martial art practice. They also gain the confidence to recognize that although women are not always as physically strong as men, they have skills and talents that provide a different kind of strength that is equally powerful when put to use.
This is an absolute must! In my podcast, The Martial Arts Woman Podcast, I interview martial art women all over the world. It is sad to hear so many stories from women who have experienced abuse or sexual assault. In many cases, this is what prompts them to learn a martial art. I’m glad they are able to pursue this after such a difficult experience; however, self-defense can sometimes help them avoid a situation or better defend from an attack. At the least, it provides them with options they may not have known existed otherwise and that can be a life saver.
Let’s face it. We live in a difficult world. If we do not maintain a positive and powerful mindset we can easily fall into an abyss of negativity.
This is crucially important for women who have the roles of mother, sister, daughter, caregiver or friend. Women still carry much of the emotional burdens of family life. Many have a nurturing nature. As a mother of four, I know that if I had not taken martial arts, I may not have had the patience and confidence to be a good mother, or to help teach my children that they can and should pursue their own dreams. I also would not have followed my own dreams with a confident mindset if not for martial arts. Writing and podcasting are two ways I indulge in my dreams and talents through my martial art mindset and desire to improve the world. What is your martial art mindset? If you don’t know, it’s time for you to embark on a self-defense or martial art journey for yourself.
The work/life balance is difficult to maintain. The balance of the spirit, mind and body fluctuates constantly, too. Fluctuation in any one direction leaves the other directions empty and barren, but we need the balance to cope, improve, defend, and take action in our lives.
Martial art provides the mind, body, spirit balance that women need. Women multitask but when it comes to this triad of mind, body, spirit, there is no way to multitask. Each area (mind, body and spirit) needs to be nurtured individually so they can come together as one. Martial art lessons and practice take thought, repetition, and memorization; physicality of the body; and reflective moments. By learning a martial art, embraces these in her life as she navigates the demands of womanhood, such as motherhood, pregnancy, aging, and caregiving.
When I was younger with four children, I did not set my sights on self-improvement. I didn’t feel I had the time because of other responsibilities. But I decided to go to one class a week.
Bam! I discovered how much room for improvement I had and also that one little step at a time was enough. Learning focus and discipline, forms, sparring, board breaking and self-defense improved my mindset and confidence in ways that I carried into my career, family life, and even to overcome obstacles. Everyone is deserving of self-improvement and women feel more fulfilled in their lives when they have just a little time to follow a dream or complete a goal.
Many women suffer from eating disorders or poor self-image. Society puts a lot of demands on how we feel and how we see ourselves. The thing is, we can make changes and decisions that improve our self-image. Most women who are overweight lose weight when they begin martial arts. Others get fit and build endurance. Yet others increase flexibility. Suddenly, a woman sees herself in a new light.
I always hated my legs/thighs as they were not thin like all the pretty girls. Little did I know that those strong legs would be useful in martial arts and in doing kicks. When I discovered that purpose, I felt better about my whole body.
As mentioned above, flexibility is a key benefit of martial arts. Flexibility, however, is not only physical. Flexibility is also mental. It is the ability to see options and opportunities that you may not have seen before. I would not have ever written a book – my lifelong desire – if not for martial arts. Today, I have written three books. This came about because martial arts allowed me the flexibility in my own mind to believe in myself, to overcome obstacles, and to appreciate challenges. Every women needs to know that she has the flexibility to make her own decisions – and to even walk away from a situation that is harmful – if she must.
Keeping flexibility in the body is of utmost importance as women age. It prevents some bone deterioration and keep a woman strong, fit, and in shape. The combination of mind and body flexibility is refreshing and provides a positive direction for a woman to age gracefully in a society that focuses too much on physical beauty.
Clearly, martial arts are fitness with a purpose. If you are going to do calisthenics, why not do them in a martial art class, followed by a myriad of other purposeful exercising such as learning to properly fall, movements in unison, kicks that improve flexibility, and self-defense that may save your life? The pounds shed faster than a brisk walk on the treadmill at the gym in less time and you learn a lot, too.
Women are sometimes fearful of what to expect in the dojo. My advice is to visit dojos, look up reviews and then give it a try. You will find what is right for you based on your personal goals.
- Overcome abuse
As I mentioned earlier, martial arts help women gain the confidence and skills they need to move forward in their lives. No one should experience abuse and women are no different. Unfortunately, they fall in one of the vulnerable categories, partly due to how they were raised, their nurturing nature, their physical size, and at times, their lack of self-confidence. Many learn a martial art after experiencing abuse and find that it revitalizes their confidence and self-worth. At some point, someone stripped away their ability to trust themselves and they lost their sense of importance in the world. They only way to build that back up is the build up confidence and provide the skills needed to move forward in life in the safest manner possible.
- Increased capacity for love
This is an unusual one, so I saved it for last, but learning a martial arts and teaching martial arts truly helped me love more. Working a martial art program with my family, teaching underprivileged kids, and teaching martial art classes for years increased my capacity to love and respect others. You see all walks of life, all financial backgrounds, and all races and ethnicities in classes. This worldly view gives a new eye-opening perspective that we are all one, bound by common interests and specifically, love for one another.
No, it’s not a trait often discussed as an output of martial arts. I can tell you one thing. Without love and respect, martial arts cannot exist. The rich heritage and history of martial arts is proof positive not that we need to fight one another, but that love and respect for each other exists and continues to exist. As a woman martial artist, I have love and respect for those from whom I learn and with whom I learn. This increases my capacity for love in all areas of my life.
About the author: Andrea F. Harkins, a/k/a The Martial Arts Woman, began her martial art journey in 1989. Today she is an internationally recognized author of 3 books, podcaster, blogger, and magazine and newspaper columnist. She is often sought after as a podcast guest for many martial art and positivity podcasts. Andrea’s mission as The Martial Arts Woman is to change the world for the better through martial arts and positivity.
The Martial Arts Woman book: https://amzn.to/3inNiuQ
Martial Art Inspirations for Everyone: https://amzn.to/3irRjyy
How to Start Your Own Martial Art Program: https://amzn.to/3zf0aJB
The Martial Arts Woman Podcast: