Introducing women to Martial Arts

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Nobufusa

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Are there any books, movies or other media anybody recommends for introducing women to martial arts? Getting them interested? For my purposes, it's a specific individual I have in mind, I don't mean women in general, but that might work too. I will add that this individual would probably be less interested in the practical self-defense aspects as they might be in the aesthetic and spiritual development aspects, self-empowerment, etc. aspects.

I started reading "Sharp Spear, Crystal Mirror, Martial Arts in Women's Lives". I find it pretty good, but not sure yet if it's the best place to start with.

@Chris Parker Happy New Year, would love to hear anything you might offer on this topic.
 
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hoshin1600

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You have as much a chance of getting your woman interested in martial arts as she has of getting you interested in nail polish and Luis Vuitton hand bags.
That's just not how people's interest works. Exposure does not equal personal interest. At best if this is a personal relationship she might attend classes with you for a short time in an effort to spend time with you.
Trying to plan and scheme a way to get her to like it, is like trying to plan a way to get your kids to like broccoli. Let her know it's what you do and leave it alone.
 

Gyakuto

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I cant vouch for these as I havent read them but
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JowGaWolf

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Are there any books, movies or other media anybody recommends for introducing women to martial arts? Getting them interested? For my purposes, it's a specific individual I have in mind, I don't mean women in general, but that might work too. I will add that this individual would probably be less interested in the practical self-defense aspects as they might be in the aesthetic and spiritual development aspects, self-empowerment, etc. aspects.

I started reading "Sharp Spear, Crystal Mirror, Martial Arts in Women's Lives". I find it pretty good, but not sure yet if it's the best place to start with.

@Chris Parker Happy New Year, would love to hear anything you might offer on this topic.
Like people in general, if there is no benefit for them, then there was be no interest. The most important thing is that what you see as a benefit may not be a benefit for that person. People can enjoy working out but not everyone wants to do that by doing martial arts.

Some police martial arts because it's something they enjoy doing with a friend. Remove the friend and the person will stop doing martial arts. It may also be that martial arts is just something they don't enjoy or like.
 

skribs

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Unfortunately, I think one of the keys to getting more women into martial arts, is first getting more women into martial arts.

If a school has several women in it already, I think women would be more open to training. For a few reasons:
  • Seeing other women doing it and enjoying it, they can see themselves doing it and enjoying it easier.
  • Seeing other women in class, they can see that it's safe for them to be in the class.
  • Seeing other women in class, they know they can start off working with other women, which might be more comfortable (especially in close-contact arts like BJJ).
  • Seeing other women in class, they know they're not going to be the first woman dropping into an all-male group, where everyone is going to be climbing over each other trying to get with her
Right now, my BJJ school only has a few women who take class, and I wouldn't exactly call them regulars. There are quite a few families where the kids (boys and girls) and the Dads all take class. In most cases, the Dads assist with the kids class and then take the adult class. But the Moms don't. A few have said they would if more women were in class.
 

Tony Dismukes

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With regards to your question about getting a specific individual interested in martial arts, the answer is that you can't. Whether they are male or female, most people aren't that interested in martial arts. And even among those who have a passing interest or who would like to be skilled in a martial art, only a small minority are motivated enough to actually show up and train.

As far as making a specific school more inviting to women in general, skribs makes a very good point. The more women who are already there (especially instructors and higher ranked student), the more new female students will feel comfortable joining in. My gym struggled for years to build a significant group of female BJJ students. We'd get one promising student and then she'd quit right before another one joined. When we finally reached a critical mass of regular female students (and one female instructor), then it got much easier to attract new women to the gym.

Unfortunately last year one of our black belts broke off and started his own gym and when he did our one female instructor and all her female students chose to move to the new gym en masse. I don't blame them. The new gym is really nice and well run. But now we get to start over from scratch and I don't know how long it will take us to build a strong group of female BJJ students again.
 

Steve

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Unfortunately, I think one of the keys to getting more women into martial arts, is first getting more women into martial arts.

If a school has several women in it already, I think women would be more open to training. For a few reasons:
  • Seeing other women doing it and enjoying it, they can see themselves doing it and enjoying it easier.
  • Seeing other women in class, they can see that it's safe for them to be in the class.
  • Seeing other women in class, they know they can start off working with other women, which might be more comfortable (especially in close-contact arts like BJJ).
  • Seeing other women in class, they know they're not going to be the first woman dropping into an all-male group, where everyone is going to be climbing over each other trying to get with her
Right now, my BJJ school only has a few women who take class, and I wouldn't exactly call them regulars. There are quite a few families where the kids (boys and girls) and the Dads all take class. In most cases, the Dads assist with the kids class and then take the adult class. But the Moms don't. A few have said they would if more women were in class.
It has been a topic of discussion for a long time in BJJ, but I think you're mostly right. It's about momentum. To be clear, though, I have no particular expertise in this area, and can only repeat what I've heard from women over the years.

In addition to the great points above, there are a few other things that schools can do.
  1. Be mindful of the culture of the school. The bro mentality, sexist jokes, "locker room mentality", etc. If that's important to you, fine. Just understand that it may be deterring women from feeling welcome and comfortable training in your school.
  2. Keep things clean and tidy, including (and maybe in particular) the bathrooms.
  3. Be attentive to any issues they may have with creepy dudes. Don't be dismissive, "Oh, that's just boys being boys." Take them seriously and address them early.
  4. Provide venues for women only classes, if possible. Promote a community of women (around here, they call it Girls in Gis) where they can connect with other females training in other schools.
I'd be more interested in hearing from some women. There's an element around here of "What are your thoughts on issues related to women, Old White Man?" :)
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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To address your idea of a woman in general (so micro vs. macro interest), don't force it. No book is going to tell you how to get someone specific interested, guy or girl, since it's all personal.

If you really want them to give it a try, explain why it's important to you, explain what you think the positives are/why they'd like it, and see if they'd be willing to give it a try. If they refuse to give it a try-let it go. See if you can get a reason you can help with (ie: if they can't afford it, and it's your SO, offer to pay/help pay/teach for free; if they're too busy with XYZ currently, check again once their schedule clears up). But if they don't want to offer a reason, accept that as well, and let them know if they change their mind to talk with you.

Similarly, if they do try it, and don't like it (most don't), either recommend an art that doesn't have the issues they don't like, or, again, let it go. Especially if they're not interested in trying another art after the first.

Not only is that showing respect/not manipulating or forcing your interests on them, giving them space is more likely to let them process and give it a shot later if they change their mind, rather than doubling down on not wanting to do it because you've left a sour taste in their mouth.
 

skribs

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Here are some ways NOT to get women into martial arts:


 

skribs

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My gym struggled for years to build a significant group of female BJJ students. We'd get one promising student and then she'd quit right before another one joined. When we finally reached a critical mass of regular female students (and one female instructor), then it got much easier to attract new women to the gym.

Unfortunately last year one of our black belts broke off and started his own gym and when he did our one female instructor and all her female students chose to move to the new gym en masse. I don't blame them. The new gym is really nice and well run. But now we get to start over from scratch and I don't know how long it will take us to build a strong group of female BJJ students again.
If you didn't have your name and location, I'd almost wonder if you went to my gym. (Which had the split before I joined).
 
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Nobufusa

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You have as much a chance of getting your woman interested in martial arts as she has of getting you interested in nail polish and Luis Vuitton hand bags.
That's just not how people's interest works. Exposure does not equal personal interest. At best if this is a personal relationship she might attend classes with you for a short time in an effort to spend time with you.
Trying to plan and scheme a way to get her to like it, is like trying to plan a way to get your kids to like broccoli. Let her know it's what you do and leave it alone.
No, it's not a romantic relationship. I just think martial arts would help her. I have to pushback and disagree though, you can't get interested in something unless you are exposed to it on some level, and I have definitely met martial artists whose journey started with reading the right book, and my own martial art journey was profoundly affected by some of the literature I have read on the topic, though I can't say it started there.
Your comparison to Loui Viton bags is inappropriate because plenty of women do martial arts, so I don't see why the chance would be as hyperbolically slim as you make it out to be. And it's kind of weird to compare luxury items to a life-long discipline of self-improvement.
 
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skribs

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No, it's not a romantic relationship. I just think martial arts would help her. I have to pushback and disagree though, you can't get interested in something unless you are exposed to it on some level, and I have definitely met martial artists whose journey started with reading the right book, and my own martial art journey was profoundly affected by some of the literature I have read on the topic, though I can't say it started there.
If someone wanted to get me interested in their hobby, "here's a book" is probably going to only push me further away from that hobby. You're giving me homework for a class I'm not even in!
 
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Nobufusa

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If someone wanted to get me interested in their hobby, "here's a book" is probably going to only push me further away from that hobby. You're giving me homework for a class I'm not even in!
Thats kind of harsh. I love reading books, and it's not really homework because there's no assignment due, it's just a way to make the topic relevant to her.
I'll keep your sentiment in mind though, it's a worrying one. Hopefully she won't feel the same way you do.
 
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Nobufusa

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With regards to your question about getting a specific individual interested in martial arts, the answer is that you can't.


That's just untrue. There are so many people who got involved with an activity, because someone introduced the activity to them, or because someone they knew was involved with it, martial art or otherwise. What is with these pessimistic and negative outlooks??
 
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Nobufusa

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No, they won't. It will help you feel more masculine and 'protecting'. What will help her is supporting her with whatever she wants without trying to push her into what you think helps.
How does it make ME feel more masculine and protecting? What does her ability to protect herself have to do with how I feel? How am I protecting her if she's the one who is learning it?

If martial arts won't help, then maybe you should stop doing martial arts?

Maybe you ought to know we don't even live in the same city so I wouldn't be training with her anyways, before you go making provocative and malicious assumptions?
 
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Nobufusa

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I love how the popular sentiment among so called martial artists is "Don't bother to try" or "it won't work", or "You can't get people interested in new things"

I think people with this kind of attitude are wasting their time in martial arts.
 

skribs

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Thats kind of harsh. I love reading books, and it's not really homework because there's no assignment due, it's just a way to make the topic relevant to her.
I'll keep your sentiment in mind though, it's a worrying one. Hopefully she won't feel the same way you do.
No. Kind of harsh is, "I know you're not interested in martial arts, so here's a book about women who are." It's "why can't you be more like these women" with extra work involved.
 
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Nobufusa

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No. Kind of harsh is, "I know you're not interested in martial arts, so here's a book about women who are." It's "why can't you be more like these women" with extra work involved.
Ok, so I shouldn't bother suggesting that she tries martial arts? Is that the takeaway lesson I understood from you? And no, I don't know that she isn't interested in martial arts, that's why I am making the suggestion in the first place.
 

skribs

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I love how the popular sentiment among so called martial artists is "Don't bother to try" or "it won't work", or "You can't get people interested in new things"

I think people with this kind of attitude are wasting their time in martial arts.
Nobody's saying you can't get people interested or that you shouldn't bother trying. What people are saying is if the fuel isn't there, no amount of spark is going to light it. You can try and get them interested, and if they are, they'll start. If they're not, then continuing to push is going to push them further away from both martial arts and from you.

The only other option is to become a dictator of a small country and mandate that everyone takes martial arts. You might have some success doing that. Of course, then you'll be more likely to be dethroned if everyone knows martial arts.
 
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