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Thread: Feeling intimidated

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    purple is offline
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    Feeling intimidated

    Im a small 24 y.o woman, not very strong. I feel its important to learn to defend myself so i started martial arts. Ive been going for 4 months now but I still feel really intimidated in the class full of men. Some of them are nice but some are quite advanced and are in my opinion quite hostile, and they hit hard. I like my teacher but i am a slow learner it seems, and this may be annoying for the advanced students. Any advice from instructors/other women about feeling initimidated?

    Thanks for any insights.

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    KELLYG's Avatar
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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Don't feel imtimidated. When you walk in to class look around and rember everyone in the room started out at the same level, white belt. If you ever feel that a senior is being to rough or kicking you too hard tell them to back off a little. You will soon find that some of what you think of as agression my be intensity there is a bit of a difference. If at anytime you fill that someone is getting out of hand tell your instructor. I as a black belt do not fell fustrated working with a lower belt, the teach me as I am teaching them. I will back down my kicking streingth to match my opponent, I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with them. Just keep suiting up, showing up and learning.

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Hi Purple,

    Welcome to MT! We're glad to have you.

    I started martial arts myself about two and a half years ago, and my art is particularly male-heavy. I agree with you that it can be intimidating sometimes, but there are things you can do to make yourself more comfortable. Above all, talk to people. It's fine to ask your training partners to go more easy with you, and for the most part they'll respect that. You can also bring up your concerns with your instructor too.

    As Kelly said, there's also some value to being challenged and pushed a bit by those with a greater skill set. You'll grow and improve faster. Personally I prefer working with men because their greater size and strength forces me to work harder to compensate and adjust. That, and if I ever truly need these skills in an emergency I'll probably be facing a male opponent anyway. Food for thought.

    In the worst case scenario, if you find you're really not comfortable in this particular class, there's nothing wrong with voting with your feet and finding a different group to train with. I'd encourage you to stick it out if you can - either way you can learn a lot, not just about the art but about yourself and your own capacities.
    We can fail and fail. But, deep against the failure, something wars. Something goes forward, something lights a match, Something gets up from Sangamon County ground armed with a bitten and a blunted axe. And after twenty thousand wasted strokes brings the tall hemlock crashing to the ground. - Steven Vincent Benet

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Thank you KELLYG and Flea for your replies. I will stick it out and persevere and see how much I can learn. I can't understand why some of these guys use so much force on me though, they know im a beginner and im really small comparatively. As I said, I can understand they want to train and I think it would be annoying for them to have to train with me but still.. This one guy was practising a high kick and kicked me in the face by mistake, but the thing is the kick had a lot of power. I know its a part of training but I really dont want to get hit until I feel I know some basic skills.

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    I'll further emphasize the importance of talking to anyone who is being overly aggressive to you. Often times they may not even realize they are doing it. If talking to them doesn't help, talk to your instructor and get them watching out for you, I guarantee bringing it up to your instructor will make them a lot more aware and conscious about what is happening. What style are you studying? Is it just during sparring that they are too rough?

    To teach is to learn twice is what I've always been told. You can think you know something really well but then realize you don't actually know it as well as you think you do when you teach it to someone and they're not understanding how you're explaining or showing it. So if you're not picking things up super quickly, don't dismay, this means your teachers are just going to learn better ways to show it to you and therefore improve themselves as well. Every school I've been at has required higher ranks to get a set amount of teaching hours in before they can progress to black for this reason exactly. You must be able to know the material and teach it to others in a manner that they understand. You're helping them become better teachers and therefore better students themselves.
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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Quote Originally Posted by shima View Post
    I'll further emphasize the importance of talking to anyone who is being overly aggressive to you. Often times they may not even realize they are doing it. If talking to them doesn't help, talk to your instructor and get them watching out for you, I guarantee bringing it up to your instructor will make them a lot more aware and conscious about what is happening. What style are you studying? Is it just during sparring that they are too rough?

    To teach is to learn twice is what I've always been told. You can think you know something really well but then realize you don't actually know it as well as you think you do when you teach it to someone and they're not understanding how you're explaining or showing it. So if you're not picking things up super quickly, don't dismay, this means your teachers are just going to learn better ways to show it to you and therefore improve themselves as well. Every school I've been at has required higher ranks to get a set amount of teaching hours in before they can progress to black for this reason exactly. You must be able to know the material and teach it to others in a manner that they understand. You're helping them become better teachers and therefore better students themselves.
    Thank you Shima for this. I think you are right about talking to the person but I suppose I was just going along with it so not to moan too much. Im doing Karate and the agressivenss happens during practice where we practice a certain technique.

    Do you teach yourself? It sounds like you do. Based on what you just said about teaching, do you get students who really cant learn though? Because I really feel that bad sometimes, although this is partly due to feeling intimidated in the class.

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    What is the instructors teaching style? Is he patient with the students, how does he handle new students or students who may not pick up on things as quickly as others?
    --You may never be a victim of a rape, murder, or robbery in your lifetime...but someone, somewhere will be...do you have the right to say they can't use a gun to stop the rape, robbery or murder...BillC
    --Reasons to own guns...Criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, government abuse, government neglect. Billc

    --leftwing violence, never examined...always forgotten...billc
    --evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, and then it seeks to silence good...(unknown)
    --Republicans play politics...democrats fight political, total war...(Billc from David Horowitz)





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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Quote Originally Posted by billcihak View Post
    What is the instructors teaching style? Is he patient with the students, how does he handle new students or students who may not pick up on things as quickly as others?
    He will come around and correct you and he wont get frustrated, but I think its difficult as its quite a big class with more advanced students so he has to help everyone. He seems to be nice generally but you spend more time with your partner than with the sensei.

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Of the people who are seem to be impatient with you, are they young and male?
    --You may never be a victim of a rape, murder, or robbery in your lifetime...but someone, somewhere will be...do you have the right to say they can't use a gun to stop the rape, robbery or murder...BillC
    --Reasons to own guns...Criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, government abuse, government neglect. Billc

    --leftwing violence, never examined...always forgotten...billc
    --evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, and then it seeks to silence good...(unknown)
    --Republicans play politics...democrats fight political, total war...(Billc from David Horowitz)





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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Quote Originally Posted by purple View Post
    This one guy was practising a high kick and kicked me in the face by mistake, but the thing is the kick had a lot of power. I know its a part of training but I really dont want to get hit until I feel I know some basic skills.
    Yikes! A high kick to the face does sound a bit much. It may have something to do with his skill level too - he might not have developed that kind of control yet. Without having been there I really can't say. Another thing occurs to me with asking your partners to reduce the level of contact with you; if they'd been training at a certain level for months or years, it might take them some doing to readjust.

    Either way, don't be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need. Training at the wrong level of you can be counterproductive in the long run. There's no point in developing bad habits or being turned off martial arts altogether.
    We can fail and fail. But, deep against the failure, something wars. Something goes forward, something lights a match, Something gets up from Sangamon County ground armed with a bitten and a blunted axe. And after twenty thousand wasted strokes brings the tall hemlock crashing to the ground. - Steven Vincent Benet

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Something you will notice in your training as you put in more time, the martial arts has a very large "jerk" factor to it as well. You will see charlatans, and hard cases with no ability which they will sometimes mask with intensity. Sometimes you will see really skilled individuals who do not have the ability to actually teach. If you have the time, I would suggest that you visit other schools in the area and observe their classes. I would go to both the commercial schools, as well as park district classes. that way you will have a better frame of reference for what you are experiencing. Also note the differences between schools that go to competitions and schools that do not go to competitions. Check out different arts as well. An aikido class will have a different feel, in general, than a mixed martial arts class. Give it some time and if you can, investigate some of these things. It might put your mind to rest and let you enjoy the arts more.
    --You may never be a victim of a rape, murder, or robbery in your lifetime...but someone, somewhere will be...do you have the right to say they can't use a gun to stop the rape, robbery or murder...BillC
    --Reasons to own guns...Criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, government abuse, government neglect. Billc

    --leftwing violence, never examined...always forgotten...billc
    --evil preaches tolerance until it is dominant, and then it seeks to silence good...(unknown)
    --Republicans play politics...democrats fight political, total war...(Billc from David Horowitz)





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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Quote Originally Posted by billcihak View Post
    Something you will notice in your training as you put in more time, the martial arts has a very large "jerk" factor to it as well. You will see charlatans, and hard cases with no ability which they will sometimes mask with intensity. Sometimes you will see really skilled individuals who do not have the ability to actually teach. If you have the time, I would suggest that you visit other schools in the area and observe their classes. I would go to both the commercial schools, as well as park district classes. that way you will have a better frame of reference for what you are experiencing. Also note the differences between schools that go to competitions and schools that do not go to competitions. Check out different arts as well. An aikido class will have a different feel, in general, than a mixed martial arts class. Give it some time and if you can, investigate some of these things. It might put your mind to rest and let you enjoy the arts more.
    lol 'jerk factor'. Thanks for your advice, I do kinda wish I would have looked around before joining anyway. Do you think there is a particular style which is good for smaller people? I did check out a wing chun class but the particular one I went to seemed really advanced with a lot of big guys and i got scared and stayed with karate! I do need to look around some more.

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Quote Originally Posted by billcihak View Post
    Of the people who are seem to be impatient with you, are they young and male?
    They are male but they are a bit older than me. They seem like they are in their late 20s and one of them is in his 30s I think. I dont know for sure but they look older than me (im 24).

    edit: and they are definitely advanced students who have been there a while

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Ditto on Billichak. Shop around. If you're studying karate you should have no problem finding other schools. Even if all you do is watch a couple classes elsewhere and then come back to your regularly scheduled program it will have been worth it for the education on other teaching styles.
    We can fail and fail. But, deep against the failure, something wars. Something goes forward, something lights a match, Something gets up from Sangamon County ground armed with a bitten and a blunted axe. And after twenty thousand wasted strokes brings the tall hemlock crashing to the ground. - Steven Vincent Benet

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    Re: Feeling intimidated

    Hi, Purple and welcome!

    You've gotten some really sound advice already - most importantly about speaking up. I remember being just as intimidated at white belt (and I'm 6'2"); the biggest part about remembering to speak up about what I wanted/needed was that I wasn't really sure what I wanted/needed. As a newbie, it's hard knowing what is acceptable in this new environment. Let me suggest that if it feels uncomfortable in a "I really don't want to DO this" kind of way, it probably shouldn't be happening to you.

    Folks who have been training longer have a very real responsibility to exercise control when it comes to working with those who are pretty new. Part of what they should be learning is appropriate resistance. In other words, they should not be playing the "let's see how hard I can hit/block/kick" game when they are anywhere near you. If your instructor doesn't see that and make the boys temper their techniques, perhaps that isn't the best place to study. If you're getting hit too hard, speak up and ask them to ease up. If they don't/can't, speak to your instructor. Your voice truly is one of the best weapons you have...

    I'm not saying you won't get hit, but you should totally be able to say the contact is too much. It is your journey, after all. You should be able to decide about that part of it, IMHO...
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