Eleven ways martial arts training empowers women: Part 1
Some may still think of martial arts training as male-dominated, but its practice offers women several powerful, positive, life-changing benefits. It can empower them like almost nothing else. Although both men and women can become martial artists and numerous women have earned great notoriety in the art, it doesn’t have to be the career of choice just for a women to reap the benefits. Countless women take up the training just for the sake of self-protection, for example, and it has nothing to do with their aspirations. The power of martial arts to empower women is perhaps one of the biggest benefits it offers them beyond granting them the ability to save their own lives in the event of an attack.
The empowerment to be gained through martial arts for women isn’t just physical but can be mental, emotional, and even spiritual. Martial arts has something to offer potentially every woman regardless of their backgrounds, fitness levels, or current life situation. Many women suffer needlessly from a lack of empowerment and there are several reasons why. The most obvious reason is the suppression of women that has taken place worldwide throughout history; though modern western society and several others have advanced to distribute power more equally between the sexes, some women still experience sex-based discrimination.
Many women perceive themselves as limited, confined to the stereotypes of traditional thinking. They feel vulnerable, weak, and therefore dependent on how they are viewed by the opposite sex. Truly the subject is deep and complex enough to fill volumes – and it has. Though women’s struggles for proper respect and liberty continues in ways and regions opportunities abound for today’s women in comparison to their historic counterparts. Empowerment is often necessary to realize and take advantage of such opportunity. Martial arts training has proven to be an effective route to that empowerment.
It helps build their physical strength
Increasingly, women are called on to have more physical strength in this modern world of greater equality among the sexes – even women of leisure. No longer is female muscle tone a sign of a less-than-privileged life. It has become instead a sign of health, responsibility, and capability. Being physically strong affords women a greater ability to keep pace with modern life. The woman who is not utterly dependent on the muscle of man is able to complete more physically demanding projects own her own, allowing her to realize her ambitions in spite of any male naysayers who would otherwise hold her back by refusing to help. She is therefore empowered.
For a long time, physical strength was considered unfeminine. There are still many women who avoid weight training, for example, for fear of developing bulky muscles, which is a myth. The signature frailty which was forced by societal expectations upon women didn’t always serve them well. It limited their physical fitness and left them weak. It limited what they could achieve in life, rendering them near-helpless prey to attackers.
Martial arts does more than give women the ability to resist attack. The various stances, kicks, blocks, strikes, and other moves add up to a powerful and highly effective strength-building workout for women. They can use martial arts training to get fitter without worry of bulking, developing the lean, feminine muscle that can help them meet the physical demands of modern life without hesitation or feeling weak. The changes in their bodies and abilities can add up to a great measure of empowerment.
It enables them to resist attackers
Women are often the target of crime for their vulnerability as well as for their sex. Even in nature the weak get preyed upon. It is frequently because the attacker is certain that the evil goal in mind can be achieved – the corrupt cowards try to victimize those they think can’t give them the butt kicking they deserve. The result can be debilitating, life-limiting fear even for the women who never find themselves the victim. It follows that women who can defend themselves can enjoy more freedom and peace-of-mind. Martial arts remains a powerful form of self-defense.
Many self-defense classes focus on using martial arts techniques. Martial arts is of particular benefit to women for self-defense because they can learn how to take down the most formidable of foes without using a lot of muscle. In this way it offers greater protection than the more commonly used boxing moves, which can require much muscular power, or the use of weapons alone, as they can be wrestled away. For many women, martial arts is the solution for both empowerment and defense. The more practices they put in, the safer they can come to feel.
Not having to cower in fear, traveling in confidence, and being free from worry over personal safety when home alone at night can make for a more fruitful mind. The importance of empowerment to women is that it can open the way for them to realize their full potential. They become more able to put themselves forward, representing, sharing, and expressing their great ideas and true identity. They become more able to influence the world around them inasmuch as they would desire. Freedom is one of the main purposes and sources of empowerment.
It can boost their confidence
It’s near impossible to be empowered without confidence. Empowerment means seeing your desires and opportunities, knowing you can capitalize on them, and taking action towards that end. A woman who lacks confidence may know somewhere deep inside that there’s hope for a greater future, but the reality of it could seem far removed from her due to a lack of self-belief. It’s not an easy way to live life. A little confidence can go a long way in solidifying the possible – martial arts can be a big confidence booster.
There are so many ways in which martial arts training can improve women’s self-confidence. For starters, the fitness that results can help a woman feel better about herself and develop the physical strength and stamina to match. Then there’s being a part of a supportive group and the ability to advance; making achievements and becoming accomplished can restore self-trust. The woman who trains in the martial arts can grow a healing sense of self-worth much faster than she might have experienced without it. The training can help to build or restore her belief in what she’s able to do and who she’s able to be.
Is it possible to think of someone as empowered with they clearly lack self-confidence? For a long time, the signs of confidence, such as being assertive, a go-getter, or even independent was discouraged in women. Those times have changed and continue to get better, some of the effects of this ill-treatment still lingers. Healing is a process that can often be helped along with the right tools. Many women can find martial arts training to be be a great tool for reclaiming the empowerment that is rightfully theirs.
It can make them more assertive
Modern society is quickly moving away from gender descriptions that are set in stone, causing many to let go of their cherished stereotypes. Frailty is no longer a forced description of women. It is no longer a standard for them to be judged by. Today’s women are freer to be empowered than their historic counterparts. To take ownership of that empowerment often requires assertiveness. Being assertive is one of the many life lessons women can learn. Through the martial arts, the assertiveness applies not only in the heat of battle but whenever it is needed. It becomes a deeply ingrained part of the way the student carries him or herself.
What does it mean to be assertive and why is it important for women? Assertiveness is standing form and speaking up. It’s pushing beyond the bounds designed to keep you down and hold you back. Assertiveness is courage and daringness. Men are known to have it but some have considered the quality ‘undesirable’ in women, which is just another roadblock meant to keep them stuck. The woman who is assertive has a better chance of pushing beyond the odds and the naysayers to make her dreams come true. She becomes free to give the gift she most desires to give to the world, enriching all mankind in her own way and living a more fulfilled life.
Assertiveness is infused in the martial arts, going beyond the hits and other body movements and vocalizations to be grafted in the very persona of the practitioner. It becomes part of the belief and thought system. It becomes part of everyday life, teaching the students to carry themselves in a whole new way. Practicing the martial arts can set a woman free from the limitations and residual effects of the past. She may come to embody more power emotionally, mentally, and physically. Unafraid to state her case even when facing tough opposition, she becomes her own champion.
It can set them in a community that fosters empowerment
While we’d like to believe that every martial arts class is filled with the most amazing people in the world, it doesn’t always turn out to be that way. There are many great classes out there, led by some of the most dedicated, passionate, and inspiring martial arts instructors. It is important to find the right one. The task isn’t that difficult. The benefits to a woman could be acquiring a brand-new solid support system that not only helps her progress in the martial arts but provides her with the level of encouragement needed to become miles more empowered. It’s easy for people to feel down and oppressed when they’re in a community that’s against them. Likewise, empowerment is far easier to muster when the people around you are active in helping you become your best self.
Martial arts isn’t all about its techniques. There is a set of morals and principles that drive true martial artists. They live by it. They teach it They personify it. Being in a class where such standards are championed and upheld can do amazing things for a person’s mindset. For the discouraged woman, it can enrich her own sense of self-worth and lift her out of the dead-end depression and limiting beliefs that have snatched away the power that is rightfully hers, and that in reality can never be taken away. She comes into remembrance, side-by-side with her new friends and mentors who cheer her all the way – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of comradery.
About the author: Xiao Ma is a Yang Sheng Tai Chi Instructor, a 2nd Degree Black Belt in the Korean self-defense art of Hapkido and a 2nd Dan in Traditional Taekwondo. She is the World Martial Arts Congress Language, Culture and Character Development Teacher. http://www.worldmartialartscongress.cn Visit her website at http://healthylifetaichi.com