Tag Archives: confidence

How Martial Arts Empowers Women

22 Aug

If you watch martial arts movies, you know that martial arts is extremely male-dominated. This often leaves women wondering if there is a place for them in martial arts classes. Am I strong enough? Will I get hurt? Will there be other women there? Will I be taken seriously? Will I be harassed?

Janice earned her black belt after 50!

Anyone can do martial arts. Male or female, any age, even people with physical or cognitive disabilities can learn to do martial arts. If an instructor tells you differently, that only demonstrates their ignorance.

Any well-qualified instructor who has integrity should make ANY new student feel welcome and supported at their school. If this is not the feeling you get from an instructor, look elsewhere! Remember, the rules for authority figures are the same for anyone else– if it feels disrespectful, it is disrespectful.

Reasons women benefit from martial arts training:

1) Feel stronger and more connected to your body. Martial arts training develops balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, speed and power. You will be amazed at what your body can do! How hard you hit has very little to do with how big you are. When you feel good about what your body can do, you feel good about your body in general.

I trust Jennifer Endres (now 5th degree Master Instructor) to strike with control in close quarters.

2) Get comfortable setting physical boundaries.Working in close quarters with classmates to practice self defense techniques may put you outside of your comfort zone initially, but you will quickly find yourself becoming more confident and less intimidated by other people who are in your space. You also learn to set clear physical boundaries through communicating with your practice partners.

Did I mention how fun it is?! Laughter is a great stress reliever!

3) Let go of stress and anger in a healthy way.There is something about the physical process of throwing strikes, in the air or on bags, that literally shakes stress out of your body. This, combined with the grounding of stance work and learning healthy breathing techniques makes martial arts an excellent stress reliever, especially for those of us who feel we need to keep our stress to ourselves (a common concern for many women).

From my 2nd degree test-- The woman in red is my mom, Master Mary Murphy. The 4th degrees on either side of me are now Master Instructors as well! There's no end to the opportunities for learning...

4) Develop a sense of achievement and success. Regular practice leads not only to significant improvement in technique, but to opportunities for rank advancement. There’s something very satisfying about tying on that shiny new belt, a visible reminder to the whole school of what you’ve accomplished through persistence and practice! Plus, rank trumps everything else in a martial arts school. When we line up to take a drink at the water fountain, it’s not “ladies first”, it’s “white belts first”!

If you are in the Madison, WI area, check out to schedule a free trial class.

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the women’s self defense classes I teach.

Generally speaking, most self defense and personal safety professionals agree that while it is a great idea to carry a cell phone for emergency calls if needed– talking on your cell phone is not the best idea when walking alone.

Keeping in mind that the vast majority of violence against women is perpetrated by someone that the victim knows and not a stranger jumping out of a dark alley, stranger attacks do happen.

Put yourself in the attacker’s shoes: a cell phone does not make the potential victim less alone, it just makes her more distracted. Attackers are essentially overgrown bullies– insecure and cowardly on the inside, posturing for power thrills on the outside. They are not looking for a fight, they are looking for an easy target. They are looking for someone who seems distracted and easily intimidated.

To avoid looking like a target, walk with confidence and appear alert. Keep your shoulders drawn back (not hunched forwards), head held high, and stay aware of your surroundings. That means no earbuds, either. Make brief but complete eye contact with anyone you see, and listen to your instincts. BONUS: You will find that walking this way will actually make you feel stronger and less fearful!

“Nice Guys” Should Finish First

16 Feb

Sometimes people misinterpret me as a man-hater.  Not. True. I love men! I work with some of the most wonderful men in the world. These men volunteer their time as practice attackers for my self defense classes. These men respect people for who they are and what they do regardless of gender. These men would NEVER want to make a woman feel uncomfortable. That’s why these men would never approach a woman they didn’t know. They would rather die than be mistaken for a creeper.

What a dilemma.

To (straight) women who are ready to give up on men: Don’t! Don’t give up, but do change your dating strategy.

I once asked a wonderful group of proven “nice guys” how they approach women. Almost in unison, they quickly responded, “We don’t!” So, where does that leave the women who are waiting for some nice guy to sweep them off their feet? I’m sorry to disappoint you, ladies, but the fact is you need to approach them. It’s 2011, it will be ok. I’ve dated plenty of really nice guys. Do you know how many of them asked me out? Zero. Do you know how many turned me down when I asked them out? Zero. You can do it. Nice guys are not scary. Even if they are not interested for some reason, you can count on them to turn you down nicely!

More obviously, if you really want a nice guy but always go for the cocky jerks– stop it. There is nothing attractive about disrespectful men.

To nice guys: You are the real men.  It takes strength and courage to stand up for what is right with so little recognition or rewards. I know you guys take a lot of crap for being nice and respecting women, and that is so wrong. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with that and I thank you for staying true to who you are. It will pay off in the long run.

Now, go out there and ask out that person who has caught your attention! Don’t worry! The very fact that you are concerned about coming off as a creep means that you definitely won’t. All you have to do is be yourself because you are the best kind of man. Don’t try to be charming or suave. Do introduce yourself and strike up a conversation about neutral topics. Don’t lead with, “Can I buy you a drink?” Do offer sincere compliments if you feel like it. If you feel chemistry, do ask if you can call sometime and then call.  (You will win big points for actually calling.) I sincerely wish you the best of luck. You go guys!

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