After writing my last article, “Why Women Should Do Martial Arts” I realized that this topic was one that needed further investigation. Instead of writing one article to conquer four topics, I decided it was best to write an article for each question addressed. After gathering twenty pages of interview material, I found that these women have stories that they want people to hear. I’m determined to reveal the passion, vulnerability, and courage inside of these women.
Most women mentioned the empowering aspects of learning martial, as well as the benefits of learning self defense. Like Professor Rossie Snow, some women started their martial arts journey because of experiences with assault and abuse. I find these women to be exceedingly powerful on and off the mats.
Coach Micah Henigman
One of these women is Coach Micah Henigman, who is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu. If you don’t know Coach Micah, she is very strong, rational, and a dedicated martial artist. During our interview she stated, “I got into martial arts in 2011 back home in Georgia. Back then I was primarily doing kickboxing, Muay Thai, and boxing. The fitness aspect of it was great, but I would say the reason I started martial arts was to feel empowered after being sexually assaulted back home. I was always very aggressive and competitive but I wasn’t really the same after that. I had a lot of emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with.”
Jiu Jitsu gives you an outlet to release your unwanted emotions, and leaves you feeling new afterward. She reflects, “Looking back on my journey, I can’t help but laugh because it has taught me so much about myself as a person, it has shown me just how capable I am and has made me aware of my own self limiting thoughts. It has helped me to function less from a place of ego and more from a place of humility and vulnerability and that is why I am so in love with it.”
Others started fighting for different reasons, but nonetheless the same theme of self empowerment lies beneath. Maureen Riordon, blue belt and previous head striking coach at Easton Arvada, began her martial arts journey after being told she wasn’t good enough. Her story begins, “I began fighting because my first boxing coach told me that I was so bad I should quit, and my kids heard him say it. I have raised my boys to believe they can do anything and be anything if they are willing to put forth the appropriate effort and make the necessary sacrifices. When my boxing coach said that to me, I saw it as an opportunity to prove to my boys that what I said was true. I refused to let them witness me giving away my power to dictate my own possibles to someone who was trying to dictate them for me.”
Empowerment. Refusing to give up. These are the defining factors of martial arts. Riordon touches on this topic when saying, “I find it extremely empowering to know that while the likelihood of me needing to protect myself is small, should I ever need to I know how, I can guarantee my attacker will wish he chose another victim. Training martial arts doesn’t mean we win every fight, but it means I am no longer a “victim” either– I’m not helpless.”
Riordon’s words are the true essence of why women should do martial arts. Feeling safer at night, knowing that if an unfortunate situation were to arise we know how to defend ourselves. We are no longer victims. Coach Micah rose above her traumatic experience by becoming stronger through martial arts. She is a role model for all females, especially those who train. Additionally, Riordon proved to her boys that they can do anything and be anything by continuing to train even though her coach told her to stop. She is an inspiration not only to her children, but also to those around her. By sharing their stories, these women open themselves up, revealing the empowering aspects of martial arts.