Because you’re a girl!

“Why can’t I make this work?” I asked at a recent seminar.

“Because you’re a girl,” came Hanshi’s reply with a sly grin.

Yes, I’m a girl. A delicate flower, as I like to say. So I wiped away a tear with a perfectly manicured nail, flipped back my bouncy hair, freshened my lip gloss, and got back to work.

Screeeeech!!! Let’s get back to reality, shall we? I DO have perfectly manicured nails and bouncy hair, but being a woman in a heavily male-dominated art does not bring me to tears. I’m so used to working out with the guys that I often forget I’m outnumbered. In fact, sometimes I think I am one of the guys!

Earlier this summer I was the only female at a clinic full of black belts – all males. I’ve noticed that, especially at my rank, the men greatly outnumber the women at the dojo and most seminars I attend. Do I feel weird or out of place? Rarely, thanks to the guys I’m working with. Because once we’re on the mat, we’re not boys and girls, men and women – we’re karateka. Students who are there to learn and to work together.

I really don’t know why there aren’t more women involved. I wish there were, but that’s not my reality. So my options are to jump in there with the guys, or demurely sit aside. I have my moments when I don’t feel up to the fray. But for the most part, I choose to get in there with the guys and work.

Yes, we make jokes about me being a girl. But guess what? That’s what I am! I know the guys are bigger and stronger than I am. But I’m learning self-defense – to be used against an attacker who is bigger and stronger than I am. So who better to use for an uke than a guy?

So that girl on the mat? That delicate little flower? She’s working hard. And she just might be tougher than you think!

2 Responses to “Because you’re a girl!”
  1. Colahan says:

    And when we say you hit like a girl, it’s a compliment in our dojo.

  2. mattjon332 says:

    In some ways, women are at an advantage in their training. I say this because, at least for me, its hard to get out of the “I might not be as big and strong as my attacker” mode of thinking. Maybe its natural male instinct, but I just assume I can meet force with force and come out ahead, however the reality is there are many situations where I need to meet force with strategy instead.

    For example – sparring Renshi…physically its quite obvious he is bigger, stronger, (and obviously way more skilled) so I should be using an avoidance strategy and trying to find a gap to attack, and not trying to make attacks happen with direct assault. But for some reason, I cling to that chihuahua mentality (I am bigger then I think I am) and end up getting bonked.

    This continues in my day to day training, its sometimes hard to step outside my internal box and realize that what I am working may work with my current uke, but what would I do if the person was 1ft taller and 100lbs heavier? The reality is, for most situations, even if you are physically stronger you are better to be like water (liquid, adaptive) rather then like the oak tree (solid,steady). Water finds a way around its obstacles, oak snaps in heavy wind because it refuses to adapt to the wind.


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