Megan Douglas writes about females in Martial Arts
Martial arts in Britain have always been male dominated disciplines, while this is probably due to the origin of many martial arts in combat,
today the scope of participation is much broader and many women and girls are taking to the mat and trying their hand at the ancient arts.
To me, Ju Jitsu represents technical ability, physical efficiency and outsmarting an opponent - none of which are features exclusively associated with male jujitsuka.
Though the majority of jujitsuka are still male, the number of females in Ju Jitsu as well as many other martial arts and combat sports has and is still increasing rapidly.
The past few years has seen the introduction of female Olympic Boxing, two female Olympic Judo medalists from Great Britain (Gemma Gibbons and Karina Bryant) as well as the first female headline UFC fight.
This increase in general female participation in martial arts has certainly been reflected through the members of Wakarishin with not only many more female kyu grades, but with 7 new female shodans in 2011-2012 and the promotion of Sensei Elaine Vernazza to 4th Dan (with credit!).
Female members of Wakarishin also took home an impressive array of 44 medals from the Southend International Competition,
British National Championships and the UNJJ Congress in 2012 alone.
5 tips for training as a female in Ju Jitsu
- Donít be afraid to get stuck in! One of the best ways to advance your Ju Jitsu skills is to practice lots and train hard. Not only will this help you to refine technique, but your confidence will grow exponentially as you start to execute perfect techniques. Sweat is definitely the new black!
- Train with a variety of ukes. This is particularly important from a self defense perspective. In a situation which requires you to protect yourself you donít have the luxury of choosing the size, shape or gender of your opponent, so training with as many different people as possible will give you the ability to adapt techniques to be effective against an opponent of superior strength or size to yourself. Perfect technique will always give you an advantage over brute strength.
- Volunteer to uke whenever possible. Being thrown by higher grades while daunting at first has endless benefits. Firstly you have the opportunity to feel exactly how a technique should be executed and can pick up lots of tips by seeing a technique from such close range. Secondly your trust in your own Ju Jitsu will blossom as you realise that youíre more than capable of being thrown by even the most talented jujitsuka without being hurt because of the breakfalls youíve practiced every week. Finally, it demonstrates your enthusiasm for the art to other students and instructors alike which will benefit you greatly as who doesnít want to train with an enthusiastic jujitsuka?
- Take the opportunity to get involved in competitions and courses. Competition is a great way of training with and meeting female martial artists from other clubs and countries and courses often feature many senior male and female dan grades. Even if competing isnít your cup of tea, there are many other ways of getting involved in competitions too; Wakarishin always needs people to help run their Southend competition by tying belts and acting as officials which is a great way to see another side of the Ju Jitsu world.
- Get to know the members of your club. For me, one of the greatest benefits of being a member of Wakarishin is the friendships I have forged with people whom without Ju Jitsu I would have little or no connections with. The atmosphere in the dojo is always great, and this can be enforced by simply introducing yourself to people you are training with for the first time.
Top photo from our latest Kyu grading with Nicki, Kinga, Wendy, Tracey and Christine.
Photo to right, training session.