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Hello dear readers,

I received some exciting news yesterday! My kickboxing club may soon offer classes in Mixed Martial Arts, including Jiu Jitsu. Best of all, the class will be open to both male and female students.

Although some female fighters are making their mark, MMA is one of the last bastions of masculinity in many clubs. I used to love watching MMA fights because a wide variety of techniques from many martial arts were utilized. However, this quickly changed. Today, MMA is synonymous with grappling, since most of the top fighters employ grappling techniques. Some blame the Gracie family for this. I don’t know enough about the history of MMA to venture into that argument–all I know is it made the fights less exciting to watch.

My first kickboxing club offered MMA ‘classes’, which consisted of a bunch of grunting, sweating men in a corner executing moves that looked somewhat obscene. They wore very little in the way of clothing, and none of the dojo’s women expressed an interest in joining the pile.

A couple of years ago, my friend Steve and I joined a club that offered MMA and kickboxing classes. We showed up for a “kickboxing” class. I was the only female student in the room. I was paired with a man who lay on his back, knees up, and told to “straddle him”. To say that it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.

I’m not sure how my male colleagues felt about grappling with me. To their credit, they handled it with more maturity than I did. I couldn’t stop giggling when I had to lie back, looking at the ceiling, while my friend Steve shoved his crotch across my face in order to get into a hold. When we exchanged stories afterwards, we discovered that we both knew our instructor was wearing a protective cup because it clicked against our teeth. There’s an unexpected intimacy in grappling.

Friend Steve. Credit: Dan Harper

We only went to three classes before deciding it wasn’t for us, so I never got over the discomfort and strangeness of it. But I did recognize that grappling is a very important skill for women. To be able to effectively fight off an attacker, even when pinned on your back, is an invaluable asset. The moves of MMA-style grappling are intricate, complicated, and take time and patience to master. But even with my limited knowledge, I’ve been able to put The Boy in a headlock he couldn’t easily escape from. And he outweighs me by quite a bit.

I’ve never forgotten my MMA experience, and I regretted that I let my discomfort scare me off. That’s why I’m so excited about KWest’s potential foray into the field. If the classes go ahead as promised, they will consist of Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, and boxing. The instructor is a pro MMA fighter who has trained at Team Couture, has a degree in kinesiology, and fought many pro fights in North America.

I hope these classes become a reality! MMA may be dominated by men, but it’s time more women got in the game.

Have you ever taken MMA? What are your thoughts on it? Guys, would the prospect of grappling with a women bother you?

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5 Comments

  1. Wayne

    I hope that this class becomes available!
    I love to watch it but until recently I thought that I would never want to train it. I am now really thinking that this sounds exciting and a whole new challenge.
    I think that grappling with a woman may be a little awkward at first but it would have to be something that everyone must be mature and respectfull about. Although grappling with a guy could be just as awkward at first.

    Reply
  2. Story Teller

    Welcome, Wayne! Thanks so much for your comment. From my very limited experience, it is very challenging, and a great workout.

    And as for the awkwardness…yeah, there’s no getting around it. In grappling, the concept of personal space doesn’t exist! 🙂

    Reply
  3. 'pack-a-punch' packham

    I just stumbled upon this whilst researching for a school project and I totally agree with you!
    I myself have been training in Muay Thai, MMA and BJJ for almost a year now and I’ve always been the only girl in the classes! At first it was sooooo awkward, being only 15, but now it’s just normal, although my mum doesn’t like to watch too much 🙂 it’s really funny when you get a new guy turn up and get paired up with you, I can’t help but laugh at their awkwardness!
    Have you been doing the grappling classes? I know that personally, I would love to make an impact on the women’s MMA scene and maybe build it’s popularity!
    I loved your blog! Brilliant 🙂

    Reply
  4. 'pack-a-punch' packham

    I loved this article!
    I’m a young female MMA fighter and have been for a year now, and I still remember just how awkward it was at first!
    I’m the only girl in my MMA, BJJ and Muay Thai classes so I’m constantly paired with guys. As we’re all in our teens it seems to be even more awkward! I find it hilarious when we have a new guy turn up, they always end up paired with me, and they turn the colour of a tomato when we start to grapple!
    Despite the awkwardness, I love the sport and whenever I read about other women doing what I do it really boosts my spirits!
    Thanks for the brilliant blog! 😀

    Reply
  5. Story Teller

    Thanks for your kind comments, Pack-a-Punch. I am happy that you found me. I was hoping to hear from other women who take MMA, and it was a long time coming, but here you are!

    Unfortunately, my gym never offered the course, as the mats were too expensive to buy. It takes a lot of guts to be a woman in MMA, and I applaud your courage. I’m glad you haven’t let the awkwardness get to you.

    I hope you keep stopping by…I will be updating this blog more regularly again in 2012, and it would be nice to have a reader who loves martial arts. Happy New Year! 🙂

    Reply

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