When I started teaching fifteen years ago, my school was mainly comprised of teenage girls. In fact, six of my very first seven students were female, (see blog essay “A Brief School History Part 1 – The First Seven,” June 2006).
Since one of my main training partners when I was a student myself was a woman (my teacher’s daughter), I had no reservations about teaching these young ladies. I certainly did not have any concerns about whether women belonged in the martial arts or not. The fact is, I welcomed the opportunity to teach them, especially because I feel women have more of a need to learn life-protection skills than most men do.
Over the years, I’ve read numerous articles debating whether women belong in the martial arts, whether they can compete with men, and the pros and cons of men training with women. I assume that those that believe women have no place training in the martial arts don’t realize that there have been many notable women warriors throughout history. Even the creation of the art of Wing Chun is credited to a woman named Yim Wing Chun (Beautiful Springtime).
I, for one, have never understood these debates. So when I teach women, I teach them exactly like I teach the men. I give them no preferential treatment, and I expect them to perform techniques just like the men do. No “Dojo Bunnies” are allowed.
While the argument that men are physically stronger on average is true, my experience has shown me that women compensate by becoming more technically oriented. This doesn’t mean that any woman could go toe to toe with any man in a fight, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance either. All factors being equal, I don’t see why a woman can’t beat a man.
In fact, I know a few women martial artists I wouldn’t want to fight with, and that I would be extremely happy to see coming to my aid in a real a street fight. To be perfectly honest, I was once saved from being thrown off the top of a water tower by my female police partner: she grabbed the suspect’s testicles and pinned him to the ground without ever losing her grip. Now that is technique over brawn. I bet the bad guy is still singing soprano to this day.
Well, for anyone who thinks women can’t fight, or shouldn’t be martial artists, I’m posting this video clip featuring Mixed Martial Arts fighter Satoko Shinashi.
This is one tuff looking little powerhouse. That’s not a sexist statement either. Satoko Shinashi is 4-11 and about 105 pounds. That’s pretty tiny. However, though small in stature this Sambo/Jujutsu stylist has amassed quite a fighting record.
Silver Medal – 2001 Asia Sambo Championship
Gold Medal – All Japan Brazilian Jujutsu Championships
MMA record – 13-1-1
Semi-professional MMA record – 11-0-0
What’s really impressive in this video happens during the last few second, when she makes a much larger male opponent tap out by using an arm bar. It’s clearly a David versus Goliath match, and while I haven’t been able to find out why the fight took place or what specific rules they fought under, it shows a woman can, at times, beat a man.
Now, I’m not saying that Satoko Shinashi is the best woman fighter out there. I’m certain there are plenty of others. What I liked about the video is her technical ability, and the power she demonstrates executing her techniques. Clearly, she is a martial artist.
Certainly, this video shows that women can fight, and I’m sure as female MMA matches gain more acceptance, it wont be long until we witness a number of cross-gender fights.