I recently read an article that listed reasons, other than self-defense, that women should train in Jiu Jitsu, and while I can’t say that I agree with everything on that list, I whole heartedly agree with the message. Women absolutely should train in Jiu Jitsu. But I want to expand that view a little bit by saying that I think all women should train in some form of martial arts.
As most attacks against women are sexual in nature, going to the ground is usually the attacker’s end game. Jiu Jitsu teaches you how to control a much larger opponent by using leverage instead of strength, and how to handle an attack that ends up on the ground. But if grappling is not your cup of tea, I strongly encourage you to explore other forms of training. The martial arts world is vast with styles and academies as infinite as the benefits they respectively have to offer.
Taking that first step, walking out onto the mat the first time, is the hardest part. It can be intimidating to enter into something that has typically been seen as a man’s world. When you rack your brain and think about famous martial artists, the go to answers are Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan or even Chuck Norris. Women don’t typically make the short list. But it’s 2016, and the martial art’s world doesn’t belong to the men anymore.
Ronda Rousey, who made Dana White eat his words by becoming the first woman to fight in the UFC, started training in Judo, and it led her to become both an Olympian and a UFC champion. Helen Maroulis, who was born at a time when the world didn’t recognize women’s wrestling as an Olympic event, won USA’s first ever gold medal in said event this year. Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the world’s number one pound-for-pound female MMA fighter, originally trained in Muay Thai.
When I first began my own martial arts journey in 2006, there were four women training at my dojo. It was a good school with full classes, and yet, there were only four women training in the entire academy - including myself. Ten years later, I train at the same school, but it has expanded both in size and population, and us ladies are starting to take over. Women now make up 45% of its largest adult program. Don’t be nervous about walking into the building. Don’t be shy about asking for information. Don’t be uncomfortable or embarrassed about starting your training. You are opening yourself up to self-improvement and untold rewards. Be excited and be proud.
The list of motives I could give for why women should step out onto the mat is longer than that train you get stopped by on your way to work when you’re already running late: self-defense, increased confidence, stress relief, empowerment, self-actualization, a plethora of health and fitness benefits, discipline, camaraderie, fun.
The reasons are limitless. The options are endless. The benefits, immeasurable. Find the reason you want to train. Find the art that works for you. Find a school you love with instructors and training partners you trust. Take that first step. It’ll be worth it.