Why Are Female Martial Arts Masters So Rare?

Are female martial arts masters as rare as they seem? Or are their numbers proportionate to those of female students? I don’t know the answer, but if I had to guess, here are some of the factors I would consider.

The Strength-Sensitivity Paradox

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, a martial art is something that everyone wants to know, but nobody wants to learn. The learning is arduous, occasionally painful and frequently embarrassing.

Having reached the limit of their endurance, students are sometimes tempted to abandon the principal objective, and start playing to win instead of investing in loss. Practically speaking, this means using strength and speed to “fill in the gaps”, or compensate for inferior technique.

The use of excessive strength and speed interferes with cultivation of sensitivity, precision, coordination and efficiency. But how can this be so, if no martial artist wishes it to be so? Cannot we have our cake whilst eating it too? Therein lies the paradox, or irony, if you will.

Women Learn Faster, But Men Go Further?

I have attended classes where men outnumber women 10-to-1, and I have attended classes where women outnumber men; in both environments, the average female student seemed to absorb and master new material faster than the average male.

I have a few theories to explain this. First, women are relatively less tempted to muscle through poorly executed technique, because they have relatively less muscle to use; thus, the only route to success is through correct technique. Second, women have different expectations and priorities in training; specifically, they are less inclined to mistake the classroom for a no-holds-barred fighting arena, and place less value on the bragging rights acquired by beating other students.

If earning a reputation as “the best female Kempo fighter in town” is roughly equivalent to becoming the hungriest midget in a pie-eating contest, then why even bother?

Credit: StuSeeger

Despite all this, the male gender holds a trump card: willingness to expend overwhelming effort towards mastery of an impractical skill. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen?

56 comments on “Why Are Female Martial Arts Masters So Rare?”

  1. I would say there are a few reasons why there seem to be fewer senior female martial artists than male.

    One is the same reason as why more men take up martial arts than women, there does not seem to the same desire for power, assertiveness, strength in both genders.

    When I say senior I am thinking in terms of doing martial arts for 50 odd years. I think most societies were very male dominated and not receptive to female expression back in the 50’s and 60’s. Even though it was probably more open than in the 10’s it was definately not as accepted as it is now.

  2. Jarrod,
    Show me a truly male-dominated society, and I’ll show you a society of eunuchs. There are just too many ways to exert force, and nature abhors a power vacuum.

  3. I would amend your paraphrase of Mark Twain.

    A martial art is something everyone wants to TEACH, but not learn.

  4. You know, this is a good question. I have trained in karate for nine years and it has taken me that long to really begin to understand all of the complexities of that MA. We have a higher ratio of men to women in our dojo and most often than not it’s the women that drop out first. Why? Could it be the style is too aggressive for their liking? Could it be that there are too many men in the class and therefore they feel intimidated? For me I have never been intimidated by the men in class, but I am a strong female (both in mind and body. Don’t mistake that statement for bragging, BTW). What I have seen is that the strong females last. Those with a strong drive go further. I don’t know the real answer to that question. Women have far less to “prove” than men; we don’t have a tendency to want to show our peacock feathers (no harm intended….) and since MA has a tendency to draw upon those types of men the women just don’t want to waste their time.

  5. I’m agreeing with Karrie, there are definitely women out there, and all the women that I train with are very strong in both skills and character. Those that come tend to stay, while the men seem to have a much higher rate or rotation. My judo coach is a woman, and is definitely one of, if not the, best judoka I’ve ever seen.

  6. My instructor is a woman and is very good, is a pity that female instructors are hard to come by. I have just opened a club in the UK and could do with a female instructor or assistant instructor

  7. Who said that female martial art masters are rare… In old time in orient there were many — ng mui, mother of fong sai yok, wing chun, last wife of master whong fei hung are a few… Please note that all masters are not teachers (or coaches)…

  8. I know this post has been around awhile, but just happened across it and wanted to comment. This answer is not supposed to be flippant. I believe that, in general, women are more responsible for others and this takes time away from their own pursuits. I know there are exceptions, but as a rule, and that would allow for the large numbers of women who don’t continue on, women are responsible for the daily details in their kids’ lives, sometimes their mate’s life, and later in life, occasionally their elderly parents lives. Something has got to give and the woman’s own personal desires/hobbies are the ones that are sacrificed.

  9. Hi, I think you are really on to something here. But here is my take. Women, especially once they become mothers have a real hard time with violence. Women generally just want to fit in, they are less competitive. Women do Martial Arts for different reasons. I personally have a hell of a lot more to prove to myself than I do to anyone else. I do Karate for me, Karate, centers me, calms me, helps me focus, relieves frustration and tension. It is mine and no one can take it from. It is a real great work out. I am not sure if I will ever compete. But I can say I definately do not have that childhood conquest of being the next big name in MMA. Women are so busy looking after others that we forget the importance of taking care of ourselves.

  10. The reasons I think female martial arts masters are so rare is because most women nowadays have this mentality that no man would dare hurt them. They live in a bubble. Also, they’re “girly-girls” who feel martial arts is too much of a guy thing. What’s more, many women today have that mentality that a man will always be there to protect them. To me, that’s a false sense of security because what happens if a man can’t be there? In the end, it must be about the way they were raised. In other words, if they grew up in an environment where the men always protected the women, then that’s what they come to expect in life. However, if the women come from an environment where they have to learn to be as tough as their male siblings, then these type of women are more prone to learning how to defend themselves with martial arts. Personally, I prefer a woman who trains in martial arts versus a woman who doesn’t.

  11. This training women for drama, to destroy relationships and force violence to materialize toward them, will become destructive; as a result of the type, of martial arts instructor which they will be taught by soap-operas to look for.

    Those people which will setup insane rules, in order to force peace know their organizations will require, ever-increasing budgets. What advantage do men have in martial arts, the answer is this ability to endlessly work on a limited number, of the most critical-basic-things.

    The slow movement and stationary movement, does teach how to unify the body as one unit. That internal-flow of energy, is listed by women as being boring. This strengthening of individual-skills and individual body-parts is also, listed as a boring item.

    That practicing of an already memorized set of movements, will be listed as boring, even when that does teach the body habits, which have benefit. This practice even with push-hands, is something which enrages those which just want some cosmetically-nice movements.

    If seriously returning to the basics of a martial-art is done, those skills which are developed will not add to any great sense of show. Those most seriously developed skills, will not stand apart from a crowd, because that which is designed for usefulness, isn’t like the tail of a peacock.

  12. I do jujitsu and it is what I look forward to every week. I am the only girl in my high schools weight training class and I think I work the hardest even though (being surrounded by football players who tower over me) I know that there is no way I will ever be stronger or faster then them. I am in the class because it may help my jujitsu.

    I think that a lot of girls don’t do martial arts because they consider it brute like… and lots of guys at my school wouldn’t be comfortable interacting with a girl who isn’t viewing him as her guardian/knight in shinning armor.

    I think the thing that keeps most girls from martial arts is the scorn they get from other girls. The second big thing is when guys keep girls from learning by going easy on them. It is VERY demeaning, and the sad thing is that they think they are being kind.

  13. Thank God, another female martial artist that gets it! I practice Combat Hapkido, and am one of the few women in the class. I never have had the problem that guys go to rough on me. They always take it easy, even some of my fellow female artist do this. We are a self-defense only martial art, but you use it like you practice it. I don’t want to practice my art soft because I want my art to be accurate, not just something I’m practicing. Finally somebody else understands.

  14. I agree with Martial Arts mom (comment #10)- I think it has a lot to do with expectations on women’s time. I don’t think women live in a bubble and think no man will hurt them (but I live in a big city so girls I know may be more aware of danger than the average) and I don’t think women are less interested in martial arts or being seen as brutish or tough either- we run Krav Maga seminars and pack the place with women, many of whom come to train with our school on a regular basis. But in the past few years, I’ve seen many of our long-term-committed tough girls drop out because of pregancy, family obligations, taking care of a sick family member, spouse move, etc. If you start a martial art or practice in your 20s, the likelihood that you may become a parent between then and your 40s is pretty high in the US (something like 75%) and I can’t speak for other styles but you can’t do Krav when you’re pregant (or at least not fully) and many women I know just don’t have time or have consistent time to come in after their family obligations begin. If you can’t train consistently, it’s hard to become an instructor/master/leader!

  15. It is interesting that less women become martial arts masters then men.

    Though there may have been martial arts masters before, a lot of the reasons for less women martial arts masters then men is because of the typical expectations of women in society.

    This covers just about all of the comments people have been bouncing around; familial obligations and obligations to other people, the mindset of what a women should be – the bubbly women, don’t want to be considered brutish, ect.-, how men are expected to interact with women -the ‘nice guy’ following, and effect of the 1940’s and 1950’s mindset.

    Quite simply, people who follow custom are inclined to continue this trend.

    I train in Jujitsu, and the reactions of my sister and aunt are more then enough to convince me of the majority of the above points.

  16. I do not find other women disdain or look down on my practicing martial arts. I do encounter a couple of raised eye brows because they don’t know a lot of fellow mothers who practice the art but I usually find they have one of the following reactions 1) Wow, that is great. It must be a great work out. 2) you must be tough 3) secret thought (I have no idea why you would want to do that) covered by “oh how interesting”. That is ok. It really doesn’t matter to me. I know why and what I get from it. I go to a martial arts camp each year in the style that I practice with about 100 people 80% male. I often thought as long as there are just one or two other women (so I don’t have to be in a dorm completely alone) I am fine with that. Why so few women? For the reasons others give – family, children, obligations etc..

  17. Does anyone know of a living female martial arts or self defense master? Any style, doesn’t matter. Actresses need not apply.

  18. I read this book when I first started studying martial arts: http://www.amazon.com/Sharp-Spear-Crystal-Mirror-Martial/dp/0892816627/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&s=books&tag=martialdevelo-20&qid=1252898978&sr=1-23 …. The book is a series of interviews with various women martial arts masters and students from different forms, the difficulties they overcame in order to teach is at time quite touching (many are daughters of masters who were expected to marry-not teach) one female US master of Tai Chi was living in a hut without any running water or electricity earning money by selling pottery & teaching in a park–that’s dedication.

  19. I practise Muay Thai in Kenya. In my dojo we have about 5 consistent Muay thai women, two who are professsional fighters with me aspiring to my first fight early next year. the total – 5 women out of about 60 people. My gym is the only one in the whole of East Africa with Muay Thai.
    For Kenya, this is actually a high average. most women here hate the idea of physically exerting themselves for fitness. The men here encourage that, prefering curves over muscle each time.
    My take is that, in combat there is neither male nor female, only a master.
    if these bubble-headed women allow a bubble headed man to dictate how fit they are then screw them.
    The problem with women? they have low low life standards and no real desire to perfect themselves. That’s why they dumb down (they do that here too ) that’s why they don’t exercise. Coz its not about pain, most women who give birth have a very high pain threshold.

  20. When I started studying back in the 80’s here in the US I never felt welcome in class. I was the only woman in class that seemed to take it seriously as the others didn’t want to spar men and almost always quit before reaching black belt. Most seem to study it only because their child or husband did or for fitness. A few ladies started class because they were attracted to our instructors and stopped class once they managed to get a date with them.

    I finally quit myself after reaching black belt because it was nothing but years of verbal abuse from the male students and instructors. They started out making fun of me for being aggressive compared to other women and I was called the usual derogatory terms such as lesbian just because I wasn’t weak and never whined in rough sparring. Then as I came up in rank the males started excluding me from class telling me I wasn’t allowed to join that night and refusing to teach me advance techniques I needed to know to progress as a black belt. I wonder these days if things have changed and if women get treated better? Or was it never really that bad in the 80’s in less prejudice parts of the country as I studied in the South where men are in general very disrespecting to all women.

  21. Hearing Pepero and some other stories, I have to say that martial arts have come a long way, genderwise. My Kwoon has about as many male black belts as female and of the three highest ranked in my art (Shao-lin Kung-Fu) One of them is female. I feel welcomed in class, encouraged to spar, and given equal treatment to everyone else in class. There still does seem to be a propensity for women to quit before getting their blackbelts, but more that the school, I think that is due to lack of interest or personal opinions on feminity.

  22. Hi there! I’d like to fing out are there any female martial arts/ karate instructors that teach in East london (Newham) If there are please give details of your class I will be willing to join.

  23. Hello. I have been a fan of the various martial arts for many years, from the sidelines. What form/school of martial arts would you recommend for a 55 year old woman with a weak neck (some degeneration in the cervical spine). I tried aikido 20 years ago and loved it, but hurt my neck tring to learn how to fall. So I am now a bit cautious, but would still like to learn an art, for the discipline, mind-body conditioning and potential for self-defense.

  24. Maliha,

    The Budokwai in South Kensington offers dedicated Judo and Karate female classes. I know this is more South London, but they are very good and have a lot of female instructors..

  25. Hi

    Pepero’s comment touches me. I am 48 years old , and I too was discriminated a long time ago for being a female -As a young girl ( mid 70’s), I was really interrested into action sports like hockey , but was always kicked out of the ice when things became ‘ serious’ , meaning , when real men wanted to play . I was called names , lesbian being one them…go figure what men know of women…

    After few attemps to be accepted in various sports , I just totally drop off any kind of sports at all and did nothing else but becoming a good wife and mother ( dont get me wrong here – this is not a job for the weak ..:) )

    One year ago , I took my daughter a TKDo class and was invited to participate. I was hooked immediatly. Few weeks after ,I took adult classes and faced 2 major challenges :
    1) I was still a female.. 2) I was now the eldest of all the beginner students.

    It’s hard on your body , but something marvellous happen when you get older : You dont give crap about what others think of you anymore. It is all about you and your martial art.

    I have to keep up training with 20’s something students , 3 times a week . I also train on my own , runs and cross training .
    My teacher don’t go easy on me because I am older and I appreciate it. To my eyes , its a sign of mutual respect .

    Because I tall and strong , I prefer to train with men. They are stronger and faster and being confronted to them is what makes me better .
    Oh , they start combat gently at first … you know .. I am a woman ( most of the time I am twice their age) so to wake them up , I kick a couple of good ones . My partner understands quickly that I want to push the enveloppe. After that , things get more interresting for me and surprising for them.

    In less then one year I went from a white belt to a green one. I did my first competition in december and realized that this was MY thing …really TKD brings the best of me. My general health , both mental and physical increased dramatically. It makes me a better , happier person.

    But the best thing that happen to me is that for the first time in my life , I am accepted for who I am and being respected for it.
    The group I am with is just great . I have the opportunity first hand to see how society and mentalities changed in the past 30 years . I have high hopes that we will see more senior women in MA


  26. Hi i am a female martial arts instructor and have been coaching for a fair few years and i would totally agree they are very rare to come by. You will find that the majority of women that enquire in an academy are those that are doing it as a fashion faze . Just so they can say oh i do martial arts when in fact they have done 1 class. However i would like to give recognition to those women who do stick to it and are very successful. Keep Training !

  27. I am gratified to see lots of other women chiming in here. I am a 42 year old mother of three and I hold a purple belt in Shotokan karate. I only began to study after having my 3rd child. When I was younger I was very intimidated by the idea of fighting, and terrified of hurting somone. I grew up as a ballerina, and added long distance running in highschool. Strangely enough, having kids has actually brought out some heretofore hidden aspects of my personality that I had never allowed to show, having fallen for society’s idea of “feminine” and fitting the stereotype of the dainty southern belle. But, as it turns out, having kids didn’t make me softer, it made me stronger, and more willing to fight and go to any lengths to protect my children and my family. Now, though still petite and feminine, I allow my more agressive traits free rein in the dojo and absolutely love sparing. Black eyes, split lips and all. Karate fulfills so many of my personal needs…self discipline, expression, pushing ones limits physically and mentally …that I am hooked for life. I am very lucky, especially being from the south, that my dojo has an unusually high number of females. My sensei even discussed it with others senseis. He says he thinks that southern women have to be so careful and polite and sweet in other areas of theri lives, that being given the chance to show their aggressive side in the dojo is more appealing. I don’t know, I can’t speak for other women. But for myself, I have finally found something that makes me totally happy and allows me to like I am being totally myself with no social facade, and even though there are tons of obstacles to jump to get to do it (babysitting for the kids while I go to class, getting in my workouts for strength training, having to cover bruises with makeup so I don’t have to “explain” every time I go to a PTA meeting)…..it’s all worth it for the peace and personal satisfaction it brings me. I wish more women could be intorduced to martial arts so they could discover, just as I have, that being feminine IS being strong.

  28. They don’t know importance of martial arts. I not met female martial arts instructor yet.

  29. I have to disagree with the last comment- “the male gender holds a trump card: willingness to expend overwhelming effort towards mastery of an impractical skill”. First, martial arts aren’t impractical- they can truly be lifesavers if you learn them properly (McDojos are impractical. True dojos are not).

    I also disagree with a comment from above- I don’t think women are less competitive, and out of my three karate senseis, the woman (who is a mother of 4, I might add) is the most violent, most competitive, and the most tough- but also the most skilled. I think the difference is that girls are told that karate is a “boy’s sport” and that they should go do something like gymnastics. When you’re little, you absorb the comments of your friends and parents, so you slowly believe that they’re true. Only a few are able to ignore them and continue.

  30. You can’t expect a woman to have the same motives and emotional/physical needs as the “stronger sex.”

    Most women will gravitate to the fitness aspect of the martial arts, if it is a workout that will meet their needs. Martial skills and fighting prowess aren’t even a small desire for the majority of women. The Jiu Jitsu girl you referenced is one of the “2%” that don’t mind a sweaty guy laying on top of them.


  31. I have my first dan black belt in taekwondo, and at my club there are 3 black belt females. We attend more regularly and train harder than all the male black belts. Our female enrollment rate is not high, however we have way more high ranking females than males. We, as females, are also told constantly we’re the toughest instructors at our club. I love it 🙂

  32. I just want to say that the reason there are so few female martial arts masters is the same reason there are so few black philosophers or politicians. Bigotry. A history of bigotry. Women under the oppressive conditions of male supremacist patriarchy are valued more for their sex appeal–for how they can please men–than for who they are as a human being or for their skills. It’s total bullshit, but there you have it. If you don’t believe me, go ahead, google “female ninja” and see what images come up. Or go to youtube and search “amazing female athletes.” It’s propaganda and it’s time it stopped.

  33. I have been studying this problems for nearly 15 yrs and it is a very fundamental problem for martial arts i believe. I mean, why the big gap between males and females in MA and yet have a look at any physical sport and tell me there are not many females playing rough or physically demanding sports. The same rule in sports applies to MA. And that is that women can play the same game as men they just play it there way with there strengths and capabilities. So unfortunately Martials arts today is designed for men moreso than for women. The way a MA trains its techniques will always benefit a mans physicality first nor do they look at the needs of women. My mother started training kung fu under my grandfather at the age of 5. Now in her late 60’s and her knuckles are still like rock. Women are stronger than they think, its just the way you are told to train the techniques yes tkd, karate, judo everything. Women MA students need to scrutinize what they are learning and question honestly what they would do to make there MA training work for them. And from here we will see change.

  34. Just taking on the last few comments because I don’t have all day.

    Anne-Martial arts are in fact impractical. They can be lifesavers, sure but it’s much easier to simply avoid dark alleys. Also, you don’t really need a black belt to handle the average thug. A little krav maga or a can of mace will do the job much easier. Martial arts are for those who love martial arts.

    Austin Fitness Gyms– Nonetheless, not all martial arts are Jujitsu or practiced in gyms. Since you clearly are involved with gyms, you likely think of things from a gym-related perspective.

    Natacha– I hate to burst your bubble but serious male martial artists usually don’t stick with Taekwondo anyway. Of course there are exceptions but many of my friends have defected from Karate, Taekwondo and such to older and less commercialized martial arts like Shaolinquan and Pakuazhang. I’m an ex-Jujitsuka practicing Tanglangquan myself.

    Omnias veritas– I think you’re closer to the truth of things than most people on this page. But there is more to it. For example, in China men would teach their sons kung fu but not their daughters out of fear of the daughter teaching her new family upon marrying. This was actually reasonable if you look at it from a certain lens. Letting others know your methods gave them a lot of power over you and allowed them to work out ways to counter you at their leisure.

    Jimmy-I think internal martial arts are a good option for women as they involve less muscle and reliance on a man’s physicality.

  35. I think many women want to do a Martial Art but are too intimidated to give it a try but I know that once they do they often don’t look back. The women who are looking for more than just an exercise class are the ones who stay.
    Often whether or not a student stays comes down to the instructor or the class dynamics – if this classes are compelling and they are getting more from their martial art than just exercise they won’t want to miss a class.
    I am 42 have been practicing WTF taekwondo for close to 20 years and have my 4th degree black belt (about to grade for my 5th) which makes me Head Instructor and have run my own schools since my 1st dan in 1992.
    I had many, many issues going out on my own and being female – lots of men in taekwondo seem to have major issues with this. I know have a female master (6th dan and well overdue for her 7th) and she is always supportive and happy of my success unlike the males who just want a piece of it.
    When it comes to supporting female students male instructors can be awesome but when it comes to supporting females starting their own schools and being supportive the same enthusiasm is sadly lacking.
    I am generalising because there are some male school owners who treat me as they do anyone else – these tend to be the guys around my age were fellow competitors.
    I am about to open the first ever (that I am aware of after hours and hours of research) female only taekwondo school.
    I am so excited about it as I just know that the environment will be an absolute pleasure to teach in and I cannot wait to see these women come alive as they learn so much about themselves through learning taekwondo and all of the challenges I will put them through.
    I am not a grandmaster yet but I will continue to grade so long as I am able to.
    I know I have rambled enough but I just wanted to touch on the comment about after having babies women basically throw in the towel (I’m paraphrasing). I trained the day I had both of my children and was back teaching 1 week afterwards and training 3 weeks after birth (walking & cycling until then).
    I took my babies to training and the mums of my students held them, when I travelled an hour to black belt sparring class each week my babies came and again the mums played with them. I competed after my babies and was so much more relaxed and tough after childbirth.
    I know I am not the only woman to do this and it isn’t because we are tying to “get our figure back” it is because part of us is missing when we don’t train.

  36. I am a 2nd degree black belt in Karate, and have trained for 12+ years. I trained during both of my pregnancies (no sparring, no high kicks), but I did drills, kata etc. I trained in a very small dojo, only by word of mouth, no advertising. You had to be invited. This was a very traditional school. It took me 10 years to get a black belt, and was then only officially considered a begginer! There were more men than women, but I was not the only woman and the men were wonderful and supportive. They did not go easy on me because I was female, but I always felt safe (emotionally). Lately, my sensei (a man) began teaching at a local community college, and the dynamics changed drastically. I find the influx of young macho dudes to be really irritating, and the level of training is not as serious. Some of the women even seem to have something to prove. I have begun to loose interest… For me its never been about “fighting”, but about “training” and inner development of the PERSON. This MMA culture is not to my liking, and I’m starting to loose interest. It seems sad to have worked so hard for so many years. I have pushed on even though I had ZERO support from any man I ever dated, including the father of my children. I think people have this mixed up idea that a female martial artist is trying to be like a man, or something… To me martial arts are NOT a sport. Sparring can be ok, but in reality, for me at least, in order for me to “win” I would have to resort to some real physical harm (think eyes and knees here). Obviously I can’t do that in sparring, so it not only seems pointless, but I often feel misunderstood. My purpose is not to learn how to “win” a sparring match, but to protect myself if I ever need it. I am a single mom, my children are 8 and 10 and are getting into sports etc… I also have to work full-time (not by choice), and I’m struggling just to find time to breathe. I haven’t been showing up much at class, and as I’ve gotten older, I have less desire to go out and do things like training barefoot in the snow. I’ve got enough pain going on…why add to it?

  37. I am a 8th dan ju-jitsu and 7yh dan karate. My first instructor in both karate and ju-jitsu was a woman . Her name was muriel mckimmie, she eventually went on to become a Grand Master in both martial Arts . A 9th dan in jujitsu and 8th dan in karate.

  38. While there are many skilled female martial artist many have not had the opportunity to be acknowledge or to obtain advance training outside of their MA community because of the male dominate roll of most school owners. While it is not always their intent to ignore the female student needs it is simply that most male school owners assume that female martial artist are not worth the investment because they will drop out before the male student. This of course is far from the truth. If you have been taught by a skilled martial artist that understands the tenets of their system and the culture of their system then whether female or male you will become a true warrior of the martial arts. If you would like to see true female warrior martial artists come out to the EAST COAST FEMALE MARTIAL ARTS TOURNAMENT.

  39. i came across this site looking for a female instructor in the OC, couldnt find one so far 🙁 but i did find this website for the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors (http://awmai.memberlodge.org/) which i thought was cool. hope it helps some of you!

  40. There is a woman in Washington named Cathy Cline who holds a 7th Dan in Shotokan Karate . She was awarded this in 1995 I think. At the time, she was one of only 2 women awarded A 7th Dan in Shotokan karate. I wonder how many more women have achieved this since then, in this particular style?

  41. As a female martial artist, I’m always having a hard time to find an instructor to take me seriously and not go easy on me. I get put down way too much, since these instructors assume I’ll want to marry and have children and bull like that (i hate kids and i don’t want to get married). also, the different clubs i’ve been in, the guys get embarassed if a woman is somehow better than them. i want to be treated as an equal, not delicate because i have different body parts! >_< but as long as this society is run by men, they'll always have this attitude.
    I go in to work, get stronger, and am very serious about my training. I get chided for trying to be 'one of the boys' or get teased for 'wanting to be a man' like for some reason being strong and fit is somehow wrong. it's quite annoying. but i don't let it deter me and keep driving for excellence.
    the one thing i can't stand is that how most of these 'self-defense' classes are really totally weak. no body is just going to just stand there and let you toss him around. it's not realistic! or in some classes, the instructors teach 'modified' movesets because you're female. i won't have any of it. i have yet to find a club that really pushes me to my limits and i'll keep searching but until then, i'll just have to prove that i'm better than what people's (poor) expectations are.
    I'd love to participate in MMA tourneys to see how well I match up, but alas, I'll be pitted against the very small pool of women that join. (since in this society it's 'wrong' for men to strike women). meh, a fighter is a fighter, no matter what parts they're born with!

  42. Chang’s Hapkido Academy in London is run by a female instructor.

  43. I found this post by accident. But had to reply.

    I am a martial arts master. I have been studying for over 20 years. I can only say from my own experiences that women will sacrifice their training over their male counterparts due to having children and building their careers. I have had to put my own training on hold to have and raise 3 children, build businesses, and ‘squeeze it’ into life.

    My husband is a higher Dan than me. And that’s okay. He put the work into it, and deserves it.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t want to train or excel or gain more knowledge and rank, I just couldn’t get into the dojo.

    I have made the martial arts my profession. I have made it a mission to not only become a great teacher of martial arts, but to teach others HOW to teach. To pass on the passion and skill to others means more to me than getting higher in rank.

    Higher rank will always be there. This is not a race to catch up to or win. It is a personal journey that only the practitioner themselves, man or woman, will do.

    There are more woman masters out there than we are given credit for. Some of the most amazing martial arts women in history were ‘game changers’ of their art. They have what I call ‘stick-to-it-iveness’. They just never gave up.

    I am proud to be a master. I am proud of the women before me. I am very proud of women who are going to be after me. I am proud of the legacy that I will leave behind.

    We all need to embrace the martial artist, no matter woman or man, in their own journey of excellence and longevity in the martial arts.

  44. Note that all masters are not teachers! If you have been taught by a skilled martial artist that understands the tenets of their system and the culture of their system then whether female or male you will become a true warrior of the martial arts.

  45. my first Taekwondo teacher was a girl…I’m a dude by the way… the only reason guys get embarrassed if a girl beats them is the stereotype boys are “better”.If u dont meet the stereotype u lose respect from everyone! Its like Goku in DBZ said “anyone can be great if they try hard enough!”

  46. I’m a first degree black belt at my studio and am actually a demo team leader as well as an assistant instructor. I’ve noticed over the years that all the female students in the school where I work become intimidated because many of the male students actually harass them for being girls. I know as a woman that I am constantly being told that the men don’t want to hit me… they say things like “I was taught to never hit a girl” or “You wouldn’t be able to handle the pain”. I always want to reply saying that one day I will probably deliver a baby and that is definitely going to hurt worse than a few bruises. My teacher is a man as well as all my other instructors and most of them pick on me for being female. I know most of the time they are just joking around since they have been my friends and co workers for over 6 years but it still hurts and it causes problems when students see our interactions and then go on to disrespect me during class. I am not usually prone to being hurt by other people’s words and actions but this really does get to me sometimes because I worked just as hard as any man to get my black belt and my title as an assistant instructor and demo captain. It actually took me twice as long as a normal student to receive these honors.
    I did notice that most of the women who had trained with me have quit by now, right after they got their green or brown belts. I don’t exactly understand why but I do know that I miss working with them because the men just don’t understand that they can hit me if the technique calls for it and I won’t get mad.

  47. I started training in Shotokan karate at age 54. I am currently a Brown Belt (3rd kyu). I intend to be Black Belt by 60. I am 58 now. My dojo has about 1/3 women, most who are Black Belts. I was glad to find this site and read all comments. Personally, I would like to know more of what women in martial arts have to overcome to advance. I know the fears of injury, of hurting others, and just plain intimidation I have already had to overcome to get to where I am now. I also have been surprised at the self-limiting beliefs I had and still will have to overcome as I advance. I read a statistic that only 1 in 1000 karatakas earn a Black Belt. When I read that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any endeavor, I think what woman has that much time to herself? LOL!

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