Everyone thinks they know the stereotypical martial arts girl. She wears her BJJ stripes like a coat of arms; she wouldn’t be caught dead shopping with her girlfriends or putting sparkles on her nails. She’s one of the guys, the one who knows exactly which jokes to tell – the ones that are funny yet snarky enough so you know she’s smart too. She’s the one who isn’t shy about holding pads in Muay Thai, or doing a demo for everyone to see. She has long hair that she wears in a braid, to keep it out of her eyes when she’s punching her heart out.
Then there’s the girl who has never done martial arts in her life. She doesn’t look like a martial arts girl, but there she is, in her yoga leggings and t-shirt, ready to try. She’s not sure why she’s doing martial arts, but she knows she wants to make a change in her life. She wants to lose weight. She wants to get fit. She wants to try something new. She was forced by her friends to try a Muay Thai class, and she agreed, because what else does she have to lose?
Her first class was tough. She probably couldn’t finish the warm-up without stopping to take a breath or two. The techniques she learned felt confusing to her, she could barely tell the difference from left and right. But she kept on going and tried her hardest, even if she got everything wrong. She knew that someday, she’d get it all right.
And one day, the non-stereotypical-martial arts girl gets her first stripe in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. All the techniques that used to confuse her suddenly make sense. The combinations she throws in her Muay Thai class feel natural, unlike her awkward first day. She’s stopped running out of breath during warm-ups, and the jump rope is starting to feel lighter. She’s still having a hard time, but she’s also having a great time.
Years later, the non-stereotypical-martial arts girl is still training martial arts, much to her surprise and everyone else’s. She’s competed a few times; she’s led a few warm-ups in class. She spars with anyone willing to bump fists with her. She even spars with guys, and sometimes even beats them. Everyone looks up to her and asks her for advice. How did you get so good? How did you learn how to do that? Her answer: I just decided to start. And I kept on going because I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to show that I was stronger than I looked.
Without even noticing it, she’s started to become stronger, and fitter than she had ever been in her life. She’s eating better to feel more energized for tough training sessions. She’s setting higher goals for herself each training session because she wants to challenge herself and see how far she can go. She’s become more confident of herself, both in and outside of the gym. She’s starting to voice her opinions at work; she’s not afraid to spar with the higher belts.
The truth is, the stereotypical martial arts girl doesn’t exist. Every girl regardless of her athletic ability is capable of becoming a martial arts girl. A girl’s appearance shouldn’t dictate the type of girl they are. Girls practice martial arts because it makes them feel the most like themselves, which is what should matter the most. Martial arts empowers women – it makes them strong, brave, and interesting. There’s no doubt about that.
So, are you ready to become a martial arts girl? Give it a go!