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  • MT: Teaching martial arts to women.

    Teaching martial arts to women. By FrontKick-Jab-Punch - 03-16-2013 01:36 AM

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    I teach Tang Soo Do at a college, so I'm very lucky to have classes that are about 30% female at all times. I'd prefer 50-50, but I know that in the scheme of things, I'm doing pretty well.

    Mostly, I treat my female students exactly the same way that I treat my male students. One thing I hate, for example, is when a male is sparring with a female (or practicing self-defense with her) and he decides to "be a gentleman" with her. Even worse is that some women are more than happy to get this gentle treatment. I change partners fast if I see that happening - people, men and women alike, need to be pushed out of their comfort zone while sparring/doing self-defense and made to feel that the situation is semi-real (within safe parameters, of course). And for the most part, my female students really appreciate this.

    Another thing I've seen that drives me crazy is sort of the opposite of the above: I'll teach a self-defense move, and my female students will go home all excited to show what they've learned to their friends or boyfriends, which of course threatens their macho-manhood, and they (the guys) go out of their way to show them (my students) that they really can't escape and that the moves don't work at all (e.g., during a wrist grab, holding the student's arm so tightly that she cannot escape). In these situations, I always teach my students to start off with a distractor like a foot stomp, eye gouge, or knee kick, and tell them to make a deal with their macho friends: the guys can show off and hold their wrists as tightly as they like (purportedly, to simulate "reality") if my students can rake their eyes out or blow out their kneecaps (also "real," right?). This makes them feel better that they could handle themselves in a real situation (which I hope they really could).

    The only time I ever feel vaguely out-of-sorts is when I'm helping students stretch. I just think of them all as athletes who I'm helping with their flexibility, but while I have no problem squatting behind a male student to put my hands on his knees during the butterfly stretch, e.g., or on his shoulders during the straddle splits, I sometimes worry about making my female students uncomfortable - mind you, no one has ever indicated the slightest discomfort (except for myself, silently, in my own head), but reassure me if you will that this isn't something that I ought to worry about? ... I guess it's a good thing we don't do a lot of grappling in Tang Soo Do; I'm too overanalyze-y for my own good.

    In any case, I was curious about your experiences as female martial artists in any of the areas I've mentioned (fighting with "kindly" male students; being "shown a thing or two" by male friends after learning a new technique) or anything else you'd like to share with an instructor who's interested in creating the most equitable classroom full of the toughest TSD students in town. ; )

    FKJP


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