Since October 2010 I have been learning Japanese JiuJitsu, a martial art developed in feudal Japan that later spawned the art of Judo.
Jiujitsu was created by Takenouchi Nakatsukasa taifu Hisamori in 1532 when he combined techniques from various martial arts to enable soldiers on the battlefield to take down opponents without using weapons.
Jiu jitsu is the Japanese samurai’s unarmed system of fighting.
— OMG Facts SPORTS (@OMGFactsSports) September 1, 2015
I didn’t choose this sport for fitness or health reasons. At the time I was looking to move abroad and realised that I had no self-defence skills what so ever beyond running (which wouldn’t have been very far) and crying; I asked around and a friend of mine took me to his club. I’ve stayed ever since.
Entering a male dominated sport
Martial arts is heavily male dominated, but I have never felt like I was ever looked at differently because I’m female, and I’ve certainly never had any sexist comments aimed at me. I would not go as far as to say that there is a ‘lad culture’ (at least not at the clubs I’ve been too), and despite the impression the media gives, there is no bravado and overt agression so you have no reason to be nervous.
In fact, I found that the senseis were very keen to make sure that all the girls learned effective self defence techniques, and more than once were we taken aside to practice scenarios such as being grabbed.
The only issue I’ve ever had is something that happens to most beginners, but it does continue for girls for a little longer, is being ‘thrown nicely’ (I will admit to doing this myself, out of fear of hurting someone). The problem with this is, especially for sports like Jiujitsu and Judo, you learn how to land safely from a fall or a throw, and when someone throws ‘nicely’ they hold back to stop you hitting the ground as quickly. All this does is result in you falling unevenly and actually increases the chance of being hurt as you are not breaking the fall properly, but to be honest, sometimes it can’t be helped.
Is this a sexist problem?
If you look at martial arts forums there are plenty of threads discussing this as a form of sexism. However, most are in agreement that if that is the worst form of sexism they encounter, they can happily live with it.
This reluctance to hold back is not a bad thing as it comes from a good place, but it can be a little annoying (depending on the person). Also, when you are not competing and are just learning techniques you do not want to use any real force that could hurt someone, most people are doing this for fun after all.
I love Jiujitsu (even though I have taken extended breaks from it) and I think that if martial arts suits someone then they should be able to pursue it. It might not be for everyone, but it offers much more in terms of confidence and a method of self-defence as well as a way to improve your fitness levels.
If you take part in martial arts let us know what you think in the comments below!