Why Women Should Do Martial Arts? Part 1
After being unemployed due to chronic pain for a year, I decided it was time for a change. I found myself in Easton Arvada’s kickboxing room with three males, one being Coach Wes, and the other two were highly skilled Muay Thai students. My roommate had already left the class because she could not handle the warm up, but because I wanted the job I stayed and trained. The individual attention from Coach Wes made me realize that if I worked there I would be cared for on and off the mats. Although, I couldn’t even pronounce the words “Muay Thai” or “Jiu Jitsu” for the first few days on the job, I began to see the impact they have on our students.
If it wasn’t for the Women’s Only No-Gi class taught by Coach Micah, I probably would have never tried Jiu Jitsu. I was intimidated by the predominantly male classes, and was scared of having a male training partner. After I had a minor surgery, I was unmotivated and felt too out of shape to participate in kickboxing classes. I decided it was time for a change. I found myself wearing a gi with a white belt tied around my waist with a large man standing across from me. I was the only woman in the class.
At first I felt helpless. Baffled at the idea that a 116 lb girl would be able to take down a 200 lb man. Then I got used to it. I allowed myself to change. Somewhere inside of me still lies a frightened girl who cowers at an angry look from her father, but now she knows that he could never hurt her. She changed. I truly believe if I never trained Jiu Jitsu, I would not have the mental, emotional, and physical strength that I have now.
An add on Craigslist lead me to Easton, a month without doing any cardio lead me to Jiu Jitsu, but I alone allowed myself to change and be changed by martial arts. I wanted to know how others were changed by the art, specifically females. I ask myself everyday, “Why don’t more women train?” And instead of wishing for more people, I decided to look around at who was already there. I began interviewing females at Easton in search of what lead them to train, every answer was different but they all encompassed some element of change. The questions I asked include: why did you start martial arts, why do you think women should do martial arts, what have you learned from martial arts that has helped you as a female, and how do you cope as a woman in a predominantly male sport. These questions will be answered in a series of articles named after their corresponding question. I will further elaborate on why did women start martial arts in the next article, but first I reveal a very inspiring story by black belt Rossie Snow.
Why Did You Start Martial Arts?
Since Craigslist is not a common reason why most females pick up a sport, I searched to find something deeper, and more personal. Professor Jeff Ake put me in touch with black belt Rossie Snow, a well known name in the Easton community. Snow states, “I started jiu jitsu mostly for self defense reasons. I had just left an abusive relationship and met Ethan (now my husband). He encouraged me to try jiu jitsu. I was terrified.” Here, Snow outlines the essence of change. Although she had external motivation, she changed the way she saw herself when she stepped on the mat. She was no longer the victim, she was the victor.
She continues, “This one is hard to explain; it’s like watching a plant grow. There’s no one magic day or moment when someone gains self confidence, it just happens gradually over time. Jiu jitsu has helped me overcome body image issues and has made me love myself.” Watching a plant grow is a great metaphor for the journey of Jiu Jitsu. It doesn’t happen overnight and a lot of factors determine the end result. With plants those factors include light, water, and temperature, with Jiu Jitsu it’s not as straightforward. But commitment and motivation are undeniably the most important aspects to further your training.
Much is learned in the process, for Snow it was self confidence and self love, but it varies from person to person as does every journey. But the difference is that someone can easily teach you a Jiu Jitsu move, but no one can teach you how to love yourself, that has to come from change within. And Snow was willing to change, every time she ties her black belt around her waist change is ingrained with each loop, and determination is linked with each pull. She is a role model for females, an example of happens when you chose to break the cycle and overcome your fears.