Redefining ‘Fight like a Girl’
Author: Rachel Pan
In 2011, Dana White, the President of UFC, made a famous declaration that women will never fight in the UFC. Fast forward to 2020, there are now four weight divisions for women in UFC. With the rise of UFC and One Championship female all stars such as Rhonda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Rose Namajunas, Zhang Weili and many more, it is evident that there has been a shift in the arena that is dominated by men.
Four years ago, I embarked on the journey of martial arts and haven’t looked back since. Starting out with Krav Maga and then moving on to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing and Muay Thai, it is a train I am not getting off anytime soon. Initially, I started martial arts to challenge the status quo of the fight scene being dominated by men. But gradually I realised that there are so many benefits that come along with practising martial arts. Let me list some and hopefully convince some of you ladies sitting on the fence about this one.
1. Your Body Will Thank You
Martial Art is one of the best ways to get fit and healthy. Martial artists develop strength, agility, endurance, balance, speed and cardiovascular health through the range of movements and exercises they do. Let’s take Muay Thai and Boxing for example. Punching and kicking requires you to have balance, coordination and agility. As you progress, you start to work on adding on speed and strength into your kicks and punches. Add on drills and pad work, your heart rate increases and you work your cardiovascular health. Each Muay Thai, Boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu session burns at least 700-1000 calories while running on a treadmill burns 300-400 calories in the same time.
2. Mental And Emotional Strength
It is inevitable that as you are starting out, there will be a lot of negative self-talk in your head. You start to compare yourself to others in class and tell yourself that you are not good enough and may not be cut out for it. You will want to give up because it isn’t easy. Let me tell you a secret – It is normal to feel and think that way. I have had to battle a lot of that when I first started out. You want to see results quick, but you will learn that you can only achieve results through discipline, perseverance and patience. Frustration and shedding of tears were pretty common as I started out on my martial arts journey but I can honestly look back and see that I have braved through some of the toughest life challenges because of the mental and emotional strength I have built through martial arts. I remember the coaches’ words whenever we are doing reps of different exercises – you can cheat and cut corners in your training, but it will show during the actual fight. Each time you want to give up, but you discipline your mind to push past the hurdle, you become stronger. And over time, the results will show. Conquer your mind, you conquer your body.
3. Because Who Doesn’t Want More Friends?
I have met some of my closest friends through the gym and I believe I am not the only one. Martial art is a great way to meet new people (and even a life partner). Through tough sessions, you bond together, learn together, laugh together, sweat together and may even cry together. The people you meet will encourage you when you want to give up and you may find yourself helping others along the way. It is always good to have someone that has your back (except when you are rolling in BJJ, because that would be a bad situation).
4. Protect Yourself From Risky Situations
It is no secret that martial art is a great way to learn self-defence. VT1 offers a range of martial arts program you can choose from to learn various self-defence techniques.
Krav Maga is a self-defence system that is used most notably in Israeli security forces. It teaches you how to defend and get yourself out of risky real-life situations.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is designed for smaller and weaker opponents to dominate and overcome bigger and stronger opponents with the use of leverage-based techniques.
Muay Thai/Kickboxing/Boxing are all striking martial arts that teaches you to effectively throw strikes that cause maximum damage.
The different forms of martial arts mentioned above complement each other to optimise your self-defence journey. To put it simply, I would rather have the skills and not use it, than to need the skills and not have them in dangerous situations.
5. Character Formation At Its Best
“If a man fights another with hate in his heart – it is a fight. If he does so with respect in his heart – he is a martial artist.” (John Danaher)
The truest test of someone’s character is to punch them in the face during sparring sessions or make them tap during rolling sessions and see how they respond. It is human nature to react and want to retaliate by causing the same amount of pain or humiliation to someone who has inflicted that on you. Martial arts taught me to respect each other and to acknowledge the skills that each one brings to the mat or the ring. It is not about ‘getting back at them’. I especially love the sign on the entrance of the BJJ floor – ‘Leave your ego at the door’. It is a reminder we all need. Through sparring and competitions, you will learn that there will always be more seasoned martial artists and to humble yourself at all times.
To be honest, I could list a hundred other reasons why women should do martial arts. This is the era when the women before us have redefined what it means to fight like a girl and we should be proud to carry on their legacy.
“We all have to start somewhere. The truth is most of us won’t ever start because you don’t want to be seen starting at the bottom. But if you never start, you will never get to be at the top. So start now. Start today.”
A Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Karate, Pro MMA Athlete | Coach & Co-Founder of VT1mma Academy, Sydney