Where are the Women in Karate? Discussing Karate’s Macho-Man Culture

“It’s a man’s world.”

The saying is as famous as it’s unfortunate, and holds as much weight in modern Karate as it does in society at large.

Men dominate business.

Men dominate sports.

And men dominate Karate.

Because women are supposedly not “hard enough” for this martial arts stuff!

Yohana Sanchez, 2010 female kata world champion (Venezuela).

However, in recent years, the status quo of this gender unequality has been challenged. Women’s increased movement into the sport and business world represents a genuine quest by women for equality, control of their own image and self-definition.

But this quest for equality is not without consequences.

You see, there exists a strong conviction among many cultures that “girls should be girls”.

Which, of course, is total bullcrap.

At least if you ask me.

Although I’m a man (at least last time I checked), I’ve had the incredible fortune to learn Karate from a number of top-class female sensei during my travels around the globe – ranging from Japanese masters and world champions to my very own mom.

Actually, looking back at the history of Karate, the wife of legendary master Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura was also a famous martial artist! As the story goes, there were rumors that she could pick up a 130-pound bag of rice with one hand – just to sweep the floor underneath. Legends also says she absolutely refused to marry a man who a) wasn’t a martial artist and b) couldn’t defeat her in a fair fight. Many men supposedly tried and failed. Although we don’t know if master Matsumura actually fought her, we do know the two were married in 1818 according to records.

But enough with the history lesson.

Here’s what I want to know today:

Where are all the women in Karate?

In every traditional Karate dojo that I’ve visited over the years, the female students have been underrepresented and sometimes even treated as “inferior” by others.

  • Why is that so? Are women afraid of physical contact? Of getting bruised?
  • How’s the situation in your dojo? More men? More women?
  • Have you met any “macho-men” in Karate? What’s their problem with women?

And most importantly, what should we do about it?

Let me know your feelings/thoughts.

Leave a comment.

122 Comments

  • phether
    Interestingly enough, the overall gender ratio in our dojo is almost 50/50 Sometimes our senior belt (Brown belts and up) classes the ladies will outnumber the men!!! But overall I agree. I am also a computer programmer by trade and see the same thing... Even in school there was a huge gap in the gender ratio. :(
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  • Sabine
    Jesse-sanI think it depends on the Karateka - once regarded as a serious practitioner of the art, I never had any problems with my male counterparts - even with the "macho man" - and yes, in one of the dojos I train, I am the ONLY woman. And yes, most weeks I do look like a domestic violence victim. It's all part of it!OSS - Sabine
  • Bianca
    HiI'm a girl and train full contact bogu karate for 18 years now (second dan). I'm not afraid for contact, though I must admit my hands look like crap. As a woman that bothers me sometimes, but it not out weigh the benefits of karate for me.I train at a traditional kai. Our club mostly consist of men. However, in the dojo were I co-teach, there are lots of ladies :) About 50/50.Macho men are everywhere. Putting down women (or others) to make them feel better about themselves. I never really had a feeling I was treated different by my sensei. I only once had a confrontation with a shinpan during a shiai against a man. He commented that the weak maegeri of my male opponent should be a wazari because I'm a girl. Never really understood that. But it got me really angry and I won the shiai. So for me it was a good motivator I guess.I don't know what should be done. It is difficult to train karate for women, having a job, giving birth, taking care of the family etc. But it is not impossible. Lots of women do this with other sport. An equal relationship at the home and no special treatment at dojo is key.But more importantly women experience learning karate differently and they have different goals to learn it. I think teachers need to realize that karate is perfect for women. A martial arts that depends not so much on physical force, but smart technique of mind and body.
    • pzm
      You won the shiai,but this not was really fight,this guy who was your male opponent was held back,if he not he will beat you easily.
      • Warren
        :) You weren't there, don't know either of them and assume you know that he was being held back and would be able to beat her if he wasn't. Do you have any idea just how ridiculous that is?I think somebody is a little wussy boy being made to feel threatened by women that are much stronger and better than he is.
        • Myra
          Wise comments Warren.
      • Pleiades
        PZM, you sound just like the ignorant & arrogant men Bianca was talking about... I suggest you practice some Zen-style humility...
  • Alexander
    Our club is 48% under 16 male, 16% under 16 female, 23% Over 16 male & 13% Over 16 female.Each student learns at a different rate but I find female students are predominantly faster learners.The % ratio for the instructors: 75% female & 25% male.We have mums who stay & watch but refuse to join in and other mums who drop of the kids and go to the gym or zumba for an hour.
    • Josep
      Wow, so precise!
      • Alexander
        Thanks. It was International Woman's Day that week and I had the numbers. Any good dojo/school/club keeps a register of members. Partly as an attendance list for fire safety precautions but mainly for emergency contacts, license/insurance renewals and record of training for grading requirements. :)
        • thomas sanchez
          you all sound like cucks!
  • Maria
    I thought you would never ask! This is an issue as thorny as religion and politics so this is purely my opinion. I don't want to be like a man. I know my strengths and weaknesses and through martial arts have learnt to use that to my advantage at tournaments and life. But probably due to my lack of testosterone I do not believe I know it all or should be queen of the universe. Dojo are kingdoms and men the kings. Women have too much to do in real life to get involved with the posturing and one-upmanship. Not being able to lift my couch with one hand while killing a spider with the other does not mean I am weak. It only forces me to find another solution. Us girls choose our battles. I have only ever come across macho-men martial artists. Even the skinny ones with knock-knees and wire-rim spectacles. It is a reflection of my self-control that many male lower grade training partners still have their own teeth.
    • phether
      I think that depends on where you look. I agree there is a LOT of machoism (is that a word?) out there. Especially in North America. There are even a few guys in our dojo who exhibit these traits, who get a regular talking too, some have even been asked to leave. But in general I think these issues are related more to competition type dojo's. I have trained with many a senior black belt (roku-dan and higher) who are amongst the most humble (and except when demonstrating a bunkai...) gentle people I know. But they also don't do 'sport' karate.In North America it seems the majority of dojo's are heavily influenced by competition, so yes, they will definitely attract the macho, "I have something to prove" kind of guys. Thankfully our dojo is not focused on sport karate, we support it but its not our focus. We are more of a family environment and like to keep it that way.Nothing wrong with the competition side of karate either if that is your thing. It just comes with some extra 'baggage' in my opinion.My regular training partner is a 67 year old lady (yon-dan) who isn't even 5 feet tall and has no depth perception. I've lost track of the bruises on my ribcage from working with her, lol. She prefers working with me because she knows I won't 'lose my temper' when she misjudges a kick and can't get her knee "above the belt" or something similar.My advice if you are looking for a dojo that is lacking a lot of macho types, is look for a dojo that is a family type environment, is non-profit, doesn't advertise much and is not focused on competitions. cheers p
      • Maria
        I agree with Jesse that the chauvinism is predominant in traditional dojo. But in sport karate you will find that females are mostly secretaries and treasurers - positions that entail actual work and not chit-chatting with other Shihans.I do not think that this is actually a problem. If women want something they mostly get it anyway. Like I said, women are just less inclined to want to rule the world (or dojo or style or WKF).
      • LOL @ machoism. The word is "machismo." It's a cardinal virtue among Latinos.
    • Jacob Diehl
      You seem like a very pleasant individual.
  • Cinzia
    Total equality in my dojo, girls are less in number but still a good amount and we are treated exactly like our male mates...as it's supposed to be.
  • Dan
    Jesse-san... In my dojo, there are karate girls who can kick some serious ass and, when training's over, be as lovely and feminine as it gets. Even the sensei's daughter, who teaches at saturdays, and whom I deeply respect, almost as much as the sensei himself!Also, shouldn't karate teach people to be respectful? A good karate-ka has no room for that kind of prejudice.
    • Victoria
      Thank you!! My dojo is big on tourniments but my sensei is good at knocking the macho boys, as i like to call them, down a few pegs. As said above It it actually a requirement in my dojo to take off the belt once you are done. I have asked my sensei how to deal with those people but eventually I figured it out on my own. Once I stopped a boy who was attempting to hit me in the head and I had seen trying to push around some other kids. I pulled his arm completely straight and had him bent over parralel to me in an arm bar. As he was down I told him if he had something to prove don't pick on people weaker himself, also, if he had a problem with me sit down and talk it out like a man not some whimpering, sniveling brat who picks on others to raise himseld up. (I used much harsher words than than)His cronies heard everything. The next day a few of them came up and wanted to talk. They wanted to know what I did in martial arts and were genuinely curious. I ended up spending half the lunch with them and they ended up being good people in the wrong crowd. They r at my dojo, don't talk to them much whenever I do see them we nod to each other. We do Kempo karate and they are purple belts now.Being a girl at my dojo is no problem. We are treated if not expected to do as well as the boys. Honestly, most of the girls can kick ass so there has never been a problem.
  • Kamil Devonish
    One of my top 5 karateka of all time is Michiko Onaga. Her knuckles should be in a karate museum. She moves with a deadly grace that is hard to describe... Most people wouldn't believe someone like her even existed. Of course her father taught her since she was five, but the lesson is simple - time and hard work are the most important factors not your gender.
  • Aaron Woodburn
    I don't really know where you've all been training, but I belong to a pretty sizeable international organization and women are very heavily represented, and respected. I percieve none of the prejudice that some of you claim to have witnessed running rampant: I've been instructing at my school for more than two decades and I have not ONCE witnessed anywhere NEAR the amount of male chauvinism this article implies exists in karate as a whole.People in general sort of suck, anyone who understands what a normal distribution is knows that this is a mathematical certainty - much like the general population, not all practitioners are worthwhile martial artists...sometimes they're just crappy people...but my experience suggests that martial arts is a solution to prejudice and inequality, not a source of it, and I take issue with the suggestion that a prejudicial or sexist overtone is pervasive in the world of martial arts - I KNOW that that is not the case. Might I suggest that if you feel marginalized you should probably change schools, and if you find yourself changing schools faster than you change your rank, well, maybe your attitude is the problem, not the people around you.
  • Mark
    Well, here's on for the girls .. I belong to an organisation that is very strong with female presence, especially in fighting arts eg Muay Thai . Myself , well I'm a karate nerd and purist, but make no mistake we have plenty of female members who would give plenty of fellas a good thrashing on the tatami mats or in the ring.
  • Sabine
    Ratio of 50:50 ... huh? Are we talking kids classes?In the „over 40“ bracket, it's more like 1 in 20 - at least, in the dojos where I trained in the U.S. - Europe, especially Germany, different story.
    • phether
      I'm talking about the adults class only. And the majority of the class is in the over 40 bracket for sure. of those who aren't over 40, most are in the 30-50 bracket. Only a minority of our dojo as a whole is even under 30. (not counting the kids class)Our kids class is about the same ratio, though it does tend to fluctuate more from month to month, especially during soccer season!
  • Our dojo is about 50% women. And that's including women like me, decidedly in the "over 40 bracket". The first few martial arts dojos I went to over the years (Judo and Goju-Ryu karate) were mostly men, but Shudokan Karate seems to have a much higher women's participation rate, with several dojos owned by women (including my sensei).Here's a post I wrote on it a couple of years ago, including a photo of about 50 of the girls, teens, and women karetaka in our school.http://ironmom.blogspot.com/2010/01/women-of-karate.html
    • eileen hanuse
      I belong to a traditional Goju Ryu School and we are about 50/50 ages 8 up to 70 plus years. We are in Canada and it has been my observation that more woman are joining martial arts schools than men. We all respect each other equally.
  • helen
    I am currently the only adult female to train at our dojo! Does this stop me? Am I treated any differently? No on both accounts and that's how it should be. If anything I think I'm almost protected by the men. Any lower grade macho types that have thought it would be easy to pick on the 'tiny little women' haven't stuck around for long. I would love for more women to train. Yet when I have tried to recruit people they all seem to be afraid of getting injured or think it's all just about kicking people in the head. Oh and the best one was that only butch women do karate!!! I still wear skirts, heels, paint my toe nails, watch Sandra Bullock films and am in no way butch! Perhaps if they knew that karate isn't just about kicking people in the head then they would be encouraged!
  • Cillura
    Hello there,in our dojo train men and women in equal share. But I don't think the reason for that is that the training is too soft or too hard. The women are as tough as the men. Even if there is a bit more contact. And I don't mean tomboys. I also saw men in training who turned into pussies when the training goes a lil' harder.I think its not a thing between men and women. I think its a problem of prosperity and comfort in our society.By the way. In kids karate train more girls than boys :DGreetings from Germany, Cillura
  • Mil
    Great post,I am a woman and I have been training Karate in a while. I had my experience with different dojos and different sensei and people in the dojo. This dividing by gender not by skills and abilities for me is outdated a lot and irritating, too. In the world of Karate I have trained with man who show real respect, sensei that teach me the same way as everybody else but I've, also, trained with man who avoided me because "Karate is not for women", constantly testing my knowledge and skills. I even have been in situations when an advice coming from me is not considered serious but same thing said from man is taken as absolute truth. I have also trained with man who were just scared that they might hurt me. The most irritating thing for me was when on training the guys protected me, they trained really soft with me - the punches, the blocks, even they slowed down at kumite training. How could I learn to block when there is no real attack? I am glad to realize that more women are open to the martial arts and men start to accept this as normal. I am also happy to say that people that I've met who truly understand Karate never divided their students by gender, age or anything else.
  • Sabine
    I wonder if there might be major differences between styles as far as ratios are concerned? Japanese vs. Okinawan styles ... "soft" vs. "hard" styles ... Any thoughts?
    • Sash
      That might be true. When I did Okinawa karate, with full-contact kumite, body conditioning, joint locks and take downs and all that stuff there were virtually no women at all. When I had to change to Shotokan sports karate I found considerably more women in the dojo.
  • Sash
    In my dojo we have two groups, white through green and blue through black. In the first group there are almost no women, sometimes there are new while belts that drop out eventually. However, in the advanced group it's about 40% women! I've always found that distribution interesting. However, it is true that some of the women do this to get some some fitness training in a cool club or to do kata and are quite horrendous at kumite or self-defense, so that cliche kinda holds true. Still, one of them is a real kumite expert.
  • Hector
    For the years (3.5) that I ran my own dojo, my enrollment was 100% female, with an infrequent man showing up for a rank or two. (The dojo was in a business district and held training sessions only during the lunch hour, so it drew an unusual student body.) The women loved training with one another, but their training goals were very different from most men I've trained or trained with. Only two were interested in tournament competition, and then only weapons and forms. None liked kumite training. Mostly they told me they enjoyed doing a "fitness activity" that was different and fun. It was hard for me to adjust my teaching to their goals. Most expressed their complete lack of desire to earn a black belt or to develop refined technique.This is based only upon my goal-determining conversations with the women who trained in my dojo. I offer it for discussion and not to suggest a stereotype. As I said, it was a unique demographic.
  • Stacey
    I teach sport karate, and we have slightly more males than females in my junior and adult classes (15 females: 20 males). My adult class is predominantly teen boys. As an instructor, I treat all of my students according to their ability--I don't "go hard" against students who aren't ready for that--but I don't treat males differently than females. I have seen some ridiculous macho posturing, but it seems to be a very individual thing. Guys who are macho asshats outside of training tend to be the same in class.I will say that I've seen more squeamishness about hitting people (especially in the face) from adult women. I think this is because they've been trained all their lives never to hit anyone, and many of them have never played physical sports, either. I haven't had any female students who are upset by being hit--just by hitting others. In the junior classes, the girls don't seem to have that problem. The top three fighters in my junior class are all girls, and they are beasts.Although it's more common in adult females, I have also had some adult male students who were really squeamish about hitting people, and some who just couldn't stand getting hit.Among my current adult female students, there are none who can't take a punch. I also compete regularly, and the women I fight are definitely "hard enough."
  • JP
    Interesting question ......... in my Dojo, we're about 3-1 ratio men to women but in my after school programs it is decidedly different about 50/50 with the girls being far superior to the boys in almost every aspect. Especially toughness, depth of understanding, patience and sticktoitiveness (is that a word?) Now mind you, these are grade schoolers, but I have already have several young ladies tell me they are set on earning a blackbelt before they go off to college. Maybe I am a bit biased being the father of two girls each of which are very active martial artist (one with me in Shuri-Ryu Karate and the other with me in Taiho Jutsu) they both excell in school and I am afraid by the look of things I will have to import husbands if either of them decide to marry. I know at this moment the "king of the Dojo" attitude is still prevalent but I think any moment now the "queens" will rise to equal footing. I could be all wrong, but I think the future for female Karateka is extremely bright. Respectfully JP (Dad Sensei)
  • Donnatello
    Our dojo has more adult women than it does adult men. Most of them however are in the Tang Soo Do group. In the Goju group there are four women, one shodan, as well as myself and two of my daughters as well as well as one TSD crossover-all underbelts (one of my son's is also in goju). It never occured to me, ever, that I couldn't do something because I was a girl or a woman. Of course, I was raised with five brothers and no sisters. I'm a musician and I play a "guy's" instrument (Trombone). I do what I want to do. I sort out the "can I do it" later, though trial and error.
  • Jorge Delgado
    Well, I guess I've got something to say too. Actually and unfortunatelly, there are so few women in the dojo I attend, and the other few ones that try one or two lessons just quit. But I have to give credit for these girls (none of them has turned 25 yet) who have proven to be strong, determined and passionate without losing a bit of their feminity. In so many cases they (specially the youngest ones) have shown more courage and determination than many of the male practicioners in there so, after watching this scenario is glad to have the hope that in the future more women will be practicing this art and discovering their inner wariors. By the way, our chief instructor happens to be a woman and it's one of the most powerful (both physical and spiritual) personsI've known in my life, so I guess all those steretypes must be thown away...Karate can be ruled only by men.
    • Donnatello
      Jorge, maybe your vision of femininity is off. How does a woman loser her femininity by going all out with their training? Answer: They don't. Its neither feminine nor masculine to be a martial artist or train hard. Its a persevering spirit that trains all out, not a manly spirit. :)
  • Cassie
    I'm a female martial artist. At every dojo I've been to (and I haven't been to many) there are about as many girls as boys in the kids classes, but in the adult classes the women are outnumbered by the men.The instructors never treated me differently, but some of the men have. I wasn't treated like I didn't belong there, but a few went unnecessarily easy on me -- like I was made of china or something, even if I outranked them. I'm pretty small, and it is right to adjust your intensity to suit your training partner (you don't want to launch them across the room) but it's extremely frustrating when I ask them to try harder and they answer "I don't want to hurt a girl." Being female in no way makes me incapable of any of the techniques I am asked to perform, including withstanding a controlled blow, so it's disappointing when someone tries to be chivalrous but instead denies me my opportunity to practice correctly.On the other hand, there are a few men who are intimidated by me, and still another group who actually look forward to working with me (who actually help me learn). When I get to work with the students who do want to work with me, we both walk away with a little more knowledge and understanding then before. A couple guys and I figured out a way to incorporate a throw from a kata into a flow drill that we were working the other night (which was awesome) AND how to counter the throw and get back into the flow drill (which was awesome-er). The other boys don't know what they're missing out on.
  • Karato
    Ok, now it is obvious for me, where all the many Karate-women are: They seem to be all in your dojos. But not in mine and also not in any I now (and I know many many). No I don't think, the reason could be women have to do much harder business than the men, because there are mostly the men who die by cancer, heart attack or suffer hard while sustaining their families and wives. By my experience in most cases women have totaly other training goals for their favourite sports than men: They don't like playing with aggressive confrontation, at maximum the exercises are alowed to look aggressive. And that's ok, isn't it? Whenever you yearn for wives go to the wives, not to karate.
  • Mike
    No girls in karate?! That's it I'm switching to Aikido! ( Just joking. ..No ..please not in the face!)At my school there are 8 girls in the kids class and only 1 boy. In the adults class there are no women. We don't have a macho vibe in the school at all. The sensei is pretty old school and expects courtesy and respect be shown to everyone. And he has some fun(for us) ways of "discouraging" people who want to act like Tough Guys.
  • Manuel
    my girlfriend is the only one in the adult's bracket in her kung fu trainings...and her "sifu" respects her a lot, because she can really kick some ass! he calls her "the tiger! in my dojo there are a couple of girls...there used to be more, but my sensei always shows great respect for them and treats them just as everyone else, and he can give really strong "penalties" to those who are unrespectful to somebody else, be it male or female...
  • Julie
    I am part of a Seidokan [Shorin-Ryu family] dojo in Okinawa, Japan that has a mix of American, Okinawan, and Japanese male and female students of all ages. Our Sensei offers daytime classes that have mostly women students and evening classes that are mostly teens and men. I go to a mix of both classes. As a 50+ year old female I appreciate the equalizing power of a well-executed tuide joint lock technique--it seems to me more women than men would want to learn martial arts for that very reason. I do bruise easily, but I don't care. It's my husband who worries what people will think. I enjoy sharing this activity with my sons, especially as they become teenagers. As far as being macho, in Karate there is always someone who could humble you, if you need it--here in Okinawa, you never know who that might be. Being macho just identifies a person as inexperienced.
    • Mike
      " As far as being macho, in Karate there is always someone who could humble you, if you need it--here in Okinawa, you never know who that might be"I liked your post but i especially liked this part. One of my goals is to train in Okinawa. You must love it.
  • Julia
    I'll address your questions one by one: 1.Why don't women take Karate? Are they scared of getting hit?Well, that's part of it, I believe. Unlike boys, who will roughhouse while just hanging around with their friends, most girls don't grow up getting shoved around. The idea of getting grabbed, of getting hit, is completely foreign, and a little bit scary. I had the good fortune to start training at a very young age, so I was used to contact before the "girls don't get hit" mindset set in. Many of the girls that I train with fall into three categories regarding contact: They started extremely young, so they're used to it; they play some sort of 'rough' sport (soccer, volleyball), so they're used to it; or they don't handle contact well. Also, as you said, Karate is not a "girl's" sport. There's a belief that Karate is male dominated. The chance that a mother will enroll her daughter in ballet or gymnastics is much higher than the chance that she'll take karate. An adult woman looking for some physical exercise will probably go for dance, not sparring. When you're looking at fewer women taking Karate, that's because there's fewer women starting Karate.2. How's the male/female ratio in your dojo?It depends on the dojo! My Shotokan sensei actually has a majority of women, not to mention a large amount of extremely talented female students. His own daughter was a world-class competitor, and many of his teenage girls (including myself) have had a lot of success in competition as well. The Shuri-ryu dojos that I train at really depend on the month-they used to be about 50/50, now there are fewer woman. A Shuri-ryu dojo that I train at currently has no female students other than myself, although there have been female students in the past. Once you reach Shodan, however, the men way outnumber the women. I'm often the only female for black belt class. At a popular conference that I'm going to attend, there are fifteen instructors listed, and not one of them is female. 3. Have I met any macho men?It depends what you mean by that.... No adult has ever looked down on me because I'm a girl. (my age, sure, but that's a different subject.....) I've always been treated with respect, there was only one incident when a boy I met at a competition sulked because "he was beat by a girl". But I won't say that I've always been treated like an equal. I've have men tell me that they can't hit me, "because it would be like hitting their daughter". Which, I understand, but that isn't helping me improve.4. What can we do about it?I think that putting more female martial artists in the spotlight will help tremendously. Women enrolled in the martial arts need to let their friends know that it's not an 'old boy's club', and that even if they're outnumbered, they won't be mistreated. Simply letting people know it's not as male dominated as it seems will make a huge difference.Hope this helps!
  • Just want to point out the vast majority of MEN in the world do not practice martial arts, either. Which leads to an even bigger question...Why are the martial arts--the greatest force on earth besides bacon-- in such low demand? Or get such little respect? Why aren't there people lined up outside dojos on every block around the world?Ladies and gentlemen, we have a serious image problem.
  • Dok
    Funny you should mention this. Maybe I'm crazy, but somehow I don't really notice gender in the dojo. We're all just students...
    • Mark
      "Funny you should mention this. Maybe I’m crazy, but somehow I don’t really notice gender in the dojo. We’re all just students…"Bingo!In my experience, if the instructor differentiates their teaching based on gender, then gender is an issue. If the instructor treats everyone as 'just students', then gender never enters the conversation.
  • Liz Weir
    For 10 years I've trained at a small, rural dojo in an area that has never recovered from the loss of its industry 30 years ago. It's one of the most inclusive places I've been. It welcomes men and women of all ages, colours and religions and it trains a number of students who have a range of disabilities.None of those differences matter, because we are all there to train. As our senseis often remind us, the people we spar against are not our opponents, they are our training partners. We all learn from each other, no matter who we are. If I'm helping a red belt work on their 5-step, then that helps me because it makes me focus on my kihon technique as well as theirs. If I'm sparring freestyle with a national champion (we've got a couple of those), then getting kicked ushiro-geri chudan reminds me to work on my blocking (!).Having said that, it's not entirely a utopia up here. Wider society's rules about how men and women "ought"to behave can't help but filter in.Most often this takes the form of the "pity punch". A pity punch is a strike, usually from a man towards a woman, that is either deliberately off-target, or so slow or so soft it's embarrassing. I've heard most female karateka complain about this at some point and I've found it annoying myself in the past. But it's easily dealt with: staring at the deliberately misplaced fist and then asking your partner "What on earth was that? Try again!" usually works.Our instructors don't tolerate it either: "There is no point in learning to miss! If you don't aim hard and on target, your partner won't learn to block properly!"I developed more sympathy for men who pity punch after an incident about six months ago. I'm a supply teacher, and I'd been working at a local school. I attended karate that night, to find myself sparring against a 13-year-old I taught earlier that day. If I'd hit her four hours earlier, I'd've been arrested and barred from teaching for life. Now I was suddenly expected to punch to her face and apply an arm lock.I felt very, very awkward indeed.Anyhow, Jesse, your questions.1. Why don't women take karate? Are they scared of getting hit? Lots of women do take karate. The ones that don't (despite my attempts at persuasion), claim that 1) They don't want to hit people (pretty strong inhibition, if you're brought up nicely) 2) They don't want to be hit (fair enough, sometimes it hurts like billy-o) 3) They don't think the bruises I usually sport on my forearms and shins are attractive (could say the same about gis and short fingernails) 4) They come to a couple of sessions and think that kiai-ing, rather than fun, is evidence of clinical insanity 5) They come to a couple of sessions and find it really, really hard at first. They're grownups and used to being good at things - or only doing things they're good at - and find it too embarrassing to be junior to a bunch of 9-year-olds. They don't really believe that we have all been there.2. Gender balance in the dojo is, I think, about 55% male 45% female.3. Have I ever met any 'macho men'? Not in the dojo. I've met the odd teenage boy with a testosterone overdose, but nothing I couldn't handle. Grown men, never had a problem in karate training. Maybe because our instructors are there to keep everyone in line. Also, I've been training so long now that I've helped many of the blokes in the dojo during their first mal-coordinated steps towards orange belt...4. What can we do about it?Keep encouraging the girls! Make it clear on your dojo's website that you welcome karateka who've taken long breaks from training. (Get the women back after maternity breaks) I love karate now, I love to fight and kiai and compete. But I'd never have gone to the dojo if a female friend hadn't dragged me there. I'd never have entered competitions without encouragement from other women in the dojo. I wouldn't still go now if the atmosphere in the dojo wasn't respectful and friendly towards everyone.As a teacher I know that my mood, actions and words are the single most important influence on how a lessons goes and how my classes learn. In karate, I think that it is the responsibility of the sensei to demonstrate the behaviour and attitudes required of the students and to uphold those standards. If there are students behaving in sexist, rude and unpleasant ways to others then that is the sensei's responsibility, it is not inherent in karate as a martial art.
    • Geraldine Young
      Really enjoyed your comment, Liz....especially laughed at the forearm bruises and clinical insanity comment. Thanks for brightening my day! Dene
  • Fabian
    What a coincidence! Recently I posted a question in the German Karate federations (DKV) Facebook group, which nobody has responde to it by now. I wondered why male Kumite competitors fight 3 minutes and female 2 minutes? Dose that have a plausible reason?Maybe in Germany sex and martial arts is no issue. At least in my experience. In the Dojo I've trained so far, I see more women attracted to Kata then to Kumite, and vice versa.I guess all over the world men are generally more attracted to martial arts, than women, so its (no more) a question of permission, or stigma, but rather of prefference, that we have more male fighters.
    • Sabine
      Fabian,I saw your post of Facebook - I guess you have to ask the "powers to be" directly. Not sure why there would be difference.Being from Germany, but living in the U.S., I noticed that the woman quota in German clubs (DKB and DJKB) is much higher than in the U.S. - at least for Shotokan.Gruß aus Florida! Sabine
  • Barbara
    As an older female training in martial arts I have found that not only my gender but also my age can affect how men treat me in the dojo. In most cases, my teaching was accepted by all students regardless of their age or gender. Occasionally, male students did not respect me and were asked to leave and train in another class (preferably with a male sensei). Most students accepted my advice on kata or technique.The area that most caused problems was kumite. Male students of all ages tended to want to prove that they were better than me. Maybe it was the "can't be beaten by an woman" thing. I don't really know. In training, I found that the blackbelt men would hold back to the point where it was pointless sparring them. I found that I much preferred to spar the blackbelt women and was able to push myself and develop more timing and skill.I was afraid of kumite for a long time and I still don't enjoy it as much as kata. I know I can take a solid hit but I am more fearful of causing someone else serious injury so, I tend to hold back. Unfortunately, it seems that the blackbelt men's attitudes have brushed off on me.
    • Donnatello
      Barbara, In our dojo (I'm a student:) there is no male female, as a philosophy. We are all treated the same by our teacher, and in turn for the most part we treat each other the same. I love sparring the black belts, guys or gals, cause they beat me up, and I get better.
  • Lol Jesse why would you put that fraud Sanchez to represent this article? I can think of so many more deserving (Wakai, Usami, Nguyen, etc)
    • Zachary-san, that depends on what you mean with "deserving". I think her efforts in the South American Karate community are commendable. But is she the most technically skilled Karate-ka on the planet? Probably not.
  • Good question. I've been training on and off in the Middle East since I was 12 (now 34). I've often had to persuade teachers to take me on as the only female student in a number of dojos. Being the only female in class in conservative and male-dominated spaces limited my learning process in many ways. I was encouraged to do more kata, less so kumite and competitions. I recently returned to training after a 4 year break and was disheartened to find the same attitude exists. The difference now is I teach martial arts (Budokon system) and won't stand for a 'no space for girls' attitude. There are some inspiring women martial artists out there but very few come to mind for karate, especially from the younger generation. How to make the art more attractive to young girls? Guess those of us already practicing need to get out there more and teach!
    • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
      Konbanwa Clare Sensei,Osu ! as a long serving student at the AKKA Honbu, in Sydney, AUSTRALIA under John TAYLOR Hanshi (World Vice President IKO3) - we have one of the World's most well known female Karateka - 'Naomi Ali (WOOD)'. Nomes (nickname), as we call her, is the ONLY female to have completed the 100 Man Kumite, fighting FULL CONTACT 100 Yudansha one after another for 90 second rounds. I believe IF the female understands the expectations by the male group at hand , NO woman, young girl, any female should ever be denied the right to learn and partake in any activity, sport, fighting, whatever it may be. I've also coached female athletes in a different discipline finding their zest for life to be more so than most men.In addition there are other females, such as Rhonda ROUSEY (Women's UFC Champion and Olympic Medalist) whom are an absolute inspiration (any children Rhonda has will be very lucky indeed to have such a woman as THEIR Mother) - either way, the ONLY males to get upset, and up on their high horse are those who simply fail to address that which is missing within themselves - its their OWN insecurities.Don't ever be concerned by such a sad and primitive mentality by some males (boys) - a real Man doesn't behave this way - simply surround yourself with only those that are like minded to yourself and accept that some people can't help being Dead Sh%ts !Arigatou gozaimasuOsu !
  • Ralf
    Hi Jessse,in the Dojo where i'm practicing and teaching the majority of members are female, so even if we liked to be sexist, we cannot afford to do so. furthermore, i think, we're not living in the middle-ages where macho-culture was common. the few other dojos i've seen next to "mine" are handling the situation in the same way i do.
  • Jack M
    Only one Girl in my class, and she often refuses to partake of sparring or heavy conditioning. There are no intimidating macho figures (admittedly, me and the rest of the older students are tall and pretty solid looking, I meant in terms of behavior) maybe she just doesn't like being bruised in that way that gives anyone like me (guys who use hair conditioner and cried at Toy Story 3) something to give them a testosterone hit. Karate itself involves lots of hard strikes and blocks and is a fairly masculine style, in the sense that while it is about applying strength to the greatest effect, it is about applying strength. More so than softer styles like Aikido, Wing Chun and Tai Chi. So I think the same cannot really be said about Martial arts as rule, a lot of Wing Chun videos show a lot of female practitioners. Am I making sense?
  • Denys Moreschi
    When i started karate, a while back, there were only senpai girls!!! the highest ranked male was green belt and ONE purple belt. And the trainning was not "softer" because of this, and i must admit, they were way more patient with us kohai as the other male senpai i came to know later. One of them actually became my girlfriend and we've been together for 5 years now.Nothing more beautifull then a well and gracefully performed kata by a woman. =D
  • Let me just say this: there doesn't have to be macho man chest thumping for a dojo to be particularly female unfriendly. There are the "I don't want to hit a GIRL"and the "There's NO WAY I'm getting hit by a girl" dudes out there, trust and believe. Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist.So, yeah, sex - or sexual orientation - shouldn't be an issue and we should all just be students in the dojo, but it's there because it's also there outside of the dojo. If you tell me your dojo is special/unique in that regard, I'll tell you you re probably wrong on some level. Or blind. Sorry...Now - I have always been one of the few women training at whatever dojo I've been in. Not the ONLY woman, but one of the few. Can't tell you how many times my training partners have unwittingly said stuff to each other about kicking "like a girl" without even thinking. Not meaning to be disparaging, but doing it just the same. Yet the'd probably say they are a female friendly spot, I'm sure.
    • Donnatello
      Our dojo is pretty balanced in this regard. Our sensei says he doesn't see girl or boy, men or women, he sees students. We see each other the same way, except maybe some new white belts who come in who either don't want to get hit, or are afraid to hit a girl. They learn quickly that the girls hit back, and aren't afraid, at least the higher kyus and dans. I get hit and kicked by men every day...HARD. I love fighting the dans, I always get better when I do.
  • Becky Givens
    Being a female sensei, most of my adult students are females. I have found that some men cannot handle a female sensei. Others realize that as a small female I have to have good technique rather than rely on muscle, and that's what they appreciate about a female instructor. My class is a family class followed by adults and teens, and my adult students all started out watching their kids in the family class, so that might also account for the predominance of women. But also as moms they cannot devote as much time or commitment to training as many of the men. Kids and homes and families and jobs often pull them away.Coming up in the ranks, I was definitely the minority. But my teachers have always treated me like just like they treated the guys, only taking into account my smaller stature. I am in a traditional Japanese martial art, we do not focus on tournaments but on self defense, and I have found that to be a perfect fit for me.
  • David Alexander
    Jesse-San, I totally believe that women should be just as equal as men when it comes to Karate! And what the heck is all this " girls should be girls" stuff? We all know Women are strong, independent creatures and I don't see why they can't be equal to men in Karate! I don't know about you Jesse-San, but I am a total Feminist and believe in Girl Power( even if it does sound weird for a guy to say that)
  • maja
    Sorry in advance for the ridiculously long comment.. it’s a difficult and complicated subject so naturally anything I have to say on the matter takes time.I don’t think the reason there are so few women in martial arts has anything to do with fear of pain. I’m not saying there aren’t girls who won’t do martial arts because of that, I’m just saying that I’ve met about as many guys who probably wouldn’t start because of that exact same reason.There are a lot of reasons for why there are so few women doing martial arts (I’ll just say martial arts and not karate, because it’s pretty much the same problem all over. Karate is not the best example because it’s really not that popular in general). One of the main ones are that we don’t know that we can. We’re never told that it’s ok for us to do it. Take me for example, I would probably have started some martial art a lot earlier if I didn’t just assume it was a man-thing. The main problem was that I wasn’t even aware og thinking like that! I’ve always been one of those who get angry and want to prove myself when guys talk down at me because I’m a girl, it’s just that this idea of fighting being only for men (even though karate is a lot more than just fighting) has been taught to me since I was born. It’s like that for all of us. We’re not '’supposed to’’ be aggressive, guys are '’supposed to’’. Honestly, I’ve spent years looking down on men in general for being aggressive. I’m a bit wiser now and have realised not only that men are not naturally aggressive while women are naturally peaceful, but also that sometimes it’s good to be a bit aggressive.The few women we meet who do martial arts are usually like my friend. She’s always been a bit of a tomboy, has an older brother that she’s always used to play fight with. She generally seems to challenge gender stereotypes just by existing. She’s chosen an education that’s thought of as a man-thing and has to deal with being the only girl in her class. People react with surprise and complement her on her bravery and so on when they hear about it. If people claim that girls are weak she immediately tries to prove them wrong. When our gym teacher used to assume that all girls are weak and talked in a downgrading manner about girls in general she’d get angry and ended up working twice as hard, usually ending up performing better than most of the boys, while most of the girls in our class gave up before even trying because they were told that they couldn’t do it. I love my friend and do indeed admire her, but the '’problem’’ with it being mostly people like her who practise martial arts is that the rest of us often feel like we have to be like that to be '’allowed’’ to do martial arts. We are made to believe that these girls are the exception of the rule and as a result we don’t think we are '’worthy’’.I guess there are probably quite a few women who try out martial arts and are immediately met by these ‘’macho-men’’ who look down upon them for being female and end up quitting right away because that sucks and they don't know it's not like that everywhere…Yet another problem is that we don’t want to hurt anyone. At least not physically. Once again because we’re '’not supposed to’’. Fighting through the mental barrier that stops us from being able to actually want to hit our sparring partner can be very difficult. It’s not like this for everyone, but it’s something that I personally struggle with. It’s honestly really frustrating to always have to fight against the urge not to hurt anyone. Even though I know perfectly well they can take it I still find myself holding back or pulling away as soon as I notice I’ve touched them no matter how much I tell myself (and my sensei tells me) to go all in for once.The last thing I can think of is that a lot of us probably believe we are not able to. Once again because we are raised to believe we are weaker and less able than men. I think it’d help a lot if it was more widely known that power in a punch does not come from upper arm strength along with telling girls that while it’s true that men generally develop upper body strength more easily than us, we in turn generally develop our core and lower body muscles more easily than men. Bigger does not always mean better and certainly not in fighting, but we don’t know that unless someone tells us. I suggest we all just get everyone to read this article: http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/post/51503513091/tip-women-are-not-weaker-than-men. It’s what got me to realise that I don’t have some natural physical disadvantage when it comes to fighting.a bit off topic, but still not entirely irrelevant. I'm one of those girls who have what many people refer to as ''birthing-hips'' and me and my mom were joking and saying that they should just call it warrior-hips instead seeing as how hip rotation in crusial for throwing a good punch and wider hips can certainly be an adtvantage. that way we could still tell girls not to feel bad about wide hips without making it sound like girls only exist to give birth. maybe we should make this a thing? seriously, can't we make this a thing?Something interesting I discovered recently is that when I bring up martial arts to the girls in my class they do not react as expected at all. Some of those I least expected to be interested actually turned out to be planning to start some martial art as well! They don’t seem too interested in karate though, they seem to think it's too ''tame'' for them and they’re more interested in some of the martial arts that generally appear more brutal. They mostly want to learn how to defend themselves and make sure whoever tries to harm them will never be able to threaten anyone again. ever..I haven’t counted, but it seems like we’re pretty much 50/50 male and female in our dojo. Possibly more women. From what I’ve gathered quite a few of the women started training with their kid(s) (usually a young boy) and while the kids often eventually quit because they think it got boring the moms continued and absolutely love karate. actually, while it seems to me there might actually be more boys than girls starting, they tend to leave while the girls just love it. possibly because the boys want to prove themselves while the girls are relieved that they don't have to.Haven’t met any '’macho-men’’ in karate yet, but I’ve met plenty in other settings. For example that teacher I mentioned.
  • Davina
    I'm a first degree black belt. I've noticed over the years that some women are terrified of the physical contact, but there are some, like me, who enjoy karate completely. There have also been men who are complete idiots, especially when they lose a fight to a girl. It's pathetic that they get so bent out of shape about losing to a girl. Shouldn't they just try harder next time, and be better behaved? Respecting others is a huge part of what it means to be a martial artist. I enjoy a good fight, and I don't disrespect those that can beat me.
  • Kohai Carter
    Well, at my dojo. there are more males and there were times when I would be the only female in my class. There are a few female junior blackbelts, one senior female blackbelt, one female joshu and no female instructors. As for the underbelts, there are still more males than females Yet, the females are treated the same way as males. We do the same work load and spar whomever we want.
  • Warren Wilson
    Hi Jesse!Great article! I was thinking along the lines of this topic the other day. What impresses me most about karate women is that they embody exactly what karate-do is all about. They don't enter a dojo with the idea of beating up some guy for no reason. They don't have ego like we as men do. Another reason you don't see more karate women is because there are those who continue to buy into that idea that "nice women don't hit" or sweat hard". Also, yoga and pilates have become such a trend. In my opinion, karate women rock! I'd much rather be with a karate woman than with a woman who frowns on karate because of societal "norms".
  • Hrm. At my home dojo, the senior ranks are predominantly female. Certainly at Nidan and above. They're treated exactly the same, too. My instructor's policy is essentially that once you enter the dojo, you leave all the labels behind - religion, job, race, class, gender. You're a Karate-ka.I don't know why it might be; all the women I've trained with (and under) could absolutely hold their own against the men in basically any field.I have met maybe one guy who had a 'problem' with women training. Then the feminist the next rank up set him straight. :)
  • Jay larsson
    I am a male, and i thought it was an interesting articleI think that in a real street fight trained men and women martialartists are pretty equal in terms of who has the advantagemen are of course stronger, and usually fasterwomen can however kick higher and easier, have more flexibility and can multitask betteralso men have a very vulnerable weak point: ballsI have often wondered about the vulnerability of men's testicles in physical fightsi sometimes discuss theoretical issues about groin kicks with my friend who is a female in my class about this.I wonder if groin hits were allowed in a man vs woman fight, would women win more often?my female friend argues that balls are such a vulnerable target that women would have an advantagebut im thinking that there are too many other factors to say thatmy female friend says men are better fighters obviously, but if there wasno rules fight and the man and the women are same strength, training, stamina, weight etcshe says in that case the woman is considered to have an advantage because not only can shestrike his vulnerable testicles, but a groin attack on her wont hurt as much. Also the man will have toconstantly protect his balls while the woman wont have to worry about that and will have greaterfreedom of movementI told her it would be easy for the man to defend against groin kicks though, but she counteredthat argument by saying if that were true why do men need to wear cups?so in sparring we deceided to see how many times she could land groin kicks on me in a total of10 minutes of sparring (with a cup), to my suprise she landed 3 pretty solid strikes even though idid a good job of defending against them, which if i had not been wearing a cup could have ended the fight (not 100% sure though)thoughts?
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Yes, I agree that Yohana SANCHEZ is absolutely gorgeous - however one does NOT attend a Dojo to find their life mate, girlfriend, one night stand etc. One should be attending a Dojo because their reasons are anything but the aforementioned. The most common reason anyone attends a Martial Arts Dojo is because they are being bullied or have survived an attack (physical and or verbal) - usually by more than one individual. As for Miss Yohana SANCHEZ; to win someone with such beauty and in the hope that someone whom looks like this has a heart and a soul of gold - simply focus on being YOURSELF. And never be concerned about what they (the gorgeous female) may think of you or whether or not you are good enough; they're human too, and have the exact same fears as you, maybe even more than you realise. The difference is, God made them just as gorgeous as it is to watch the sun rise. But again, they are only human, so treat them as you want to be treated and you may well find they'll in fact be the one asking YOU out on a date, not the other way around! Life is too short - be YOURSELF, and be REAL; that is what any woman looking for a life mate wants.
  • Dene
    Jesse-san - I'm having such fun getting to know you through your blog and recently found your YouTube channel as well. I am a woman training karate - didn't take my first class until after the age of 40, and just recently graded to Shodan :-) and I love karate more than I ever could have guessed. I started because I wanted to be a good example to my kids who were also becoming involved. Now I am a true karate nerd!I do notice that the most common protest I get when I try to encourage women to participate is "I don't like pain"; "I don't want to get hit". Even when I explain that it is limited contact and that I'm hurt more often due to my poor block execution than I've ever been by a kick or a strike, for many this possibility is just too threatening. Nonetheless, some women have taken up my suggestion and now participate and are loving it just as much as I am. One thing to emphasize to attract women is the camaraderie that is a huge part of any well-fundtioning dojo. The support of working on something that feels so foreign, hard and awkward at first (and ongoingly as you press your skills) is something you do not get in a Zumba class. It's hard to practice fighting effectively on your own, so you must be in relationship and have trust with your fellow karate-ka. I think if more women were aware of that, more women would be in karate.Dene
    • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
      Dear Dene,Don't be concerned how old you are etc. You are doing a marvellous job, and with being a Mother, you should be damn proud for taking the bull by the horns and working on YOU !This is the only way to pave the granite brick, stone, path for your little ones. And you are doing this - the Shodan grading is just one golden brick for your kids to see age has nothing to do with anything provided you are willing to pay your dues !; again, well done on attaining your Kuro Obi; never be afraid to get really hit at training - the pain pales in comparison to child birth; as so many of my female Kyokushin Yudansha back home keep telling me this - having witnessed child birth I have to agree. In my view females are tougher / more resilient than men. Simply by Gods design. And a good thing - having cancer is hard, and if it weren't for my partner and own mother (both emotionally strong women, I'd be Sh%t out of luck !You are an inspiration to so many women and should look at creating a band of women / mothers to get together and see if you can't build a class with some of the elite male Yudansha and spend at least one class a week banging gloves with a 60 minute sparring class; one minute rounds; 15 rounds, break, and another 15 rounds , cool down, stretch, then home. With the Warm Up, light drill/stretching and then into the core of sparring etc, and then the warm down etc, this will take exactly an hour and the class will leave feeling a sense of - WOW !This is something I've been doing in Kyokushin for many many years, decades actually - it works; it builds real unity in the group, builds serious cardio fitness, builds strength, endurance, and meta-physical resilience to being really hit , and hit hard , from the legs, to the head.We had Naomi WOOD (Australian Kyokushin and 2 x World Champion) attempt and succeed in the 100 Man Kumite a few years back now; and Naomi is in my view one of the most amazing and emotionally resilient human beings I've ever trained with and am proud to have as a friend.As they say, "Go hard, or Go Home", and keep up your passion for Karate - your kids are lucky to have a mother whose got real positive energy; so many children don't.God Bless,Osu!
      • Dene
        Peter,I can't tell you how timely and appreciated your words of advice and encouragement are. Yesterday I pulled my glute mm and I am trying out for our national team in 2 1/2 weeks! I have to compete on a level field with all these athletes less than half my age! But you are correct, we women are incredibly tough. I thank you for the reminder! I will go see my therapist and work this out, show up and power through it!DeneP.S. I agree, I can take a punch almost too well! Maybe if I would block better if I didn't have the ability to take a punch so well!!
      • Dene
        Peter - just re-read your words of encouragement and must again tell you how much I appreciate them! Made the National Team as Lightweight Kumite Alternate and continue to push myself to improve. Hopefully this next two years sees lots of growth!Thanks, Dene
    • Judith Johnson
      Hi Dene! I am just like you...54 years old, started karate age 46. I am a second degree black belt and currently the 8th ranked woman in the American Organization of Karate in Texas for my age group. Right now there are only 4 women in our org in the whole STATE fighting in tournaments and only 6 who compete. There are 4 women in the adult class at my dojo and our ages are 51, 54 (me), 18, and 15. I am really working HARD to encourage all the little girls in the kids' classes to keep at it and not quit when they get to be teenagers. I salute you and encourage you!
  • Judith Johnson
    Hi Jesse; well, let me chime in here...I am a 54 year old second degree black belt currently the 8th rated in the AOK (American Organization of Karate) in forms and sparring in the state of Texas, and I am the 2nd ranked woman my age in self defense. I've been at my current dojo, Texas Karate Institute, Lubbock, TX with Master Tom Downs, for 8 years. I never want to quit this and hope to be doing karate the day I die. But I love this topic...because right now in the whole AOK throughout Texas, there are only 6 women competitors over age 40 and only 4 of us spar at tournaments. I really am bummed about it because I fight the same ladies all the time! I would be interested to hear other women's stories. Oh and BTW I am happily married 28 years, 5 kids, 5 grandkids, I garden, and my career is as a Family Nurse Practitioner.
    • Dene
      Hi Judith - we do sound like kindred spirits! Wish I could come play in Texas - I need all the fighting practice I can get! Did make our national team as light-weight kumite alternate. Maybe find me via facebook or out national organization (Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation). I'd love to connect with a like-minded individual defying her body and societal expectations and staying in the fight!
      • Judith Johnson
        Thanks Dene: I go to a dojo that our katas are tae kwon do (chon ji system) but our fighting style is old school kickboxing ala billy blanks, tex cobb, chuck norris etc and our self defense is hagana, judo, jui jitsu, karate, and a lot of aikido. We are sister school with Texas Karate Institute in Richardson TX. We are the only two schools in our style in TX but we belong to the larger AKBBA (American Black Belt Association) and fight in the AOK (American Organization of Karate). All styles are welcome at AOK tournaments and we would love to see you come to Texas....just be prepared, you will love it here so much you might not want to leave!
      • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
        Dear Dene,My apologies for a late reply to your earlier post in October.I have been rather ill for the past two and half years - hence my silence. Glad to hear you made the team. Stay the course and travel your journey well - so many people don't take the time to travel THEIR journey well !Keep in touch.Osu !
    • Wonderful to have role models like you, Judith!!
  • akuma
    Hello, everybody...Since when does karate have to do with strength? Yes, it's good to be strong... But why do we practise Tai Sabaki? you can manipulate joints and your opponent's momentum against him without using an ounce of strength.I am a firm believer that anybody is capable of doing anything that anyone else can.Machismo can come from both men and women alike. I have seen tons of it. Cockyness is a horrible attribute to have and, to me, it only shows someone has a flawed self-worth.Yes, women are "softer" than men. But not to the extent of using it as an excuse or even using other excuses like "having no time to go to the dojo"..We don't go to our dojos to train - we go there to learn. We train at home :)First you need to find peace in yourself. Then you train your ass off. No excuses. No illusions of grandeur. Never surrender.You do this for YOU. So why limit yourself by creating mental limitations?
  • Rach
    My main dojo def has more guys and I am often the only woman (or girl) who turns up. The highest ranked Women I have seen there are a brown and a blue. The other dojo I go to seems to be more even and has at least one black and one brown who are women although most of the blacks are men. I have enjoyed seeing other higher ranking women in action - role models for me - if they can get there then with dedication so can I.My frustration is that lots of the guys (especially the older ones ie over 30's) think it isn't ok to hit a girl (even pulling punches). No it isn't ok to hit a girl in the street with the intent to hurt but in the context of kumite it has to be ok or else how am I gonna learn??? On the other hand some of the lower ranks who aren't scared to throw a punch in my direction can end up getting a bit heavy handed (especially if I throw a decent punch or kick their way) although generally a few diplomatic words from me or the sensei puts things right.I don't HAVE to actually do kumite to grade (as I am over 35) but I really like it so when I participate I want to do it realistically (or at least to the level the guys do!). Also I am really attentive to all the self defense aspects in case I even need to use them. I am really glad my sensei has a bit of a bent for floor work from BJJ too as that could come in handy one day.
  • Vicky
    Personally I think the reason for there being fewer women than men in the world of karate is simply down to the fact that it probably doesn't interest a lot of women. For the same reason more men than women are interesting in becoming a car mechanic, for example.Unfortunately we do not have many women in our association (Seishinkai Shotokan Karate International, based in UK). As a nidan, I do not hesitate to partner my senior karateka (men) and they respect me enough not to go easy on me. It is often a worry that men might go easy on my being a girl however I push them as much as they push me. Yes I come away with bruises and injuries but it doesn't bother me! I love it!I do wonder why there are so few women with high Dans (6+) though...?
  • Rachel
    In the dojo me and my sisters attend a vast majority of students are guys children but none the less we always do our very best to prove to our sensei and shihon that girls can, will, and be as tough and strong as a guy. Me and my sisters are very dedicated to our sport and dojo and are never afraid to prove a guy wrong.
  • Liam
    At my dojo, we have about 70% male 30% female. But in terms of training we work the females harder because of current trends of violence against women. So they can't slack off or anything, doesn't mean we let the boys slack off as they get pushed to their limits too.I want to see more females in the dojo learning karate or martial arts in general learning how to defend themselves.
  • Macha
    Japan has a male dominated culture, and it reflects in Karate. Yeah, women may have made progress here and there, but the comments from women here are wishful thinking. I wonder why they are so scared to criticize the gender inequality in Karate.
    • Luca
      Because there is none - at least in a real karate dojo (beware of the McDojos™). Unless the "gender inequality" (quotes for quoting you, not sarcasm) you are talking about is the unequal numbers of men/women paeticipating in karate. But then, how could you criticise something that is nobody's (direct) fault but the women who don't want to practise karate? I think it is just a matter of promoting karate, as a sport for all people. I think that it is the fault of the McDojos™. They promote a stereotypical Macho culture (evidence: "Pure karate is when pure fist meets pure flesh" -- Ed Parker, pure b¥ll$h!++er), and people only think of this when they think of karate. People don't realise that karate is not only "jutsu" but also "do".
      • Bucksmallsy
        Agreed ! There are far too many McDojo's and yes, they have done much harm in the way of delivering and training people who think they in fact have the REAL Kuro Obi skill sets, and thus further graduating these fakes into the worlds Yudansha Ranks. That is why I am glad UFC and MMA exists, where the environment is kept real. Here is a link on a short interview of an up and coming young lady with the right attitude, and around real fighters ! Osu !https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gTXQ7kYjG8
  • Bucksmallsy
    This male dominant attitude is only thriving in Dojo's where the Head Instructors and their Sempai's either promote such a mentality, OR they are brought up to think this way. But still it is an attitude that has to be replaced by an ethos of complete emotional balance on all sides. Unfortunately most men will always be physically stronger than a woman, however not necessarily superior in one's skill set; as Ronda ROUSEY in my experiences holds her own against at least 80 percent of the MMA guys she trains with. For the other 20%, Ronda knows her limits as do the guys she's sparring. But the REPSECT is evident and the consideration to NOT deliberately harm an opponent like Ronda is upheld because of the understanding that those 20% group of males are faster, hit harder, and have superior grappling skills. Which is the main reason Ronda is able to sustain her skill set BECAUSE she's always training around those whom are more developed fighters at the time. The Dojo I have been a part of since the mid nineties is run the way Dojo's should be run. The Head instructor is none other than John TAYLOR Hanshi (9th Dan Kyokushin Karate, under Matsushima Kancho IKO3). Hanshi has grown up children of both genders, and there's no doubt his teachings are reflective of the equality in his family life. There have been many female Karateka from Hanshi's Dojo with awesome skill sets. One in particular was Naomi WOOD. I won't print anything here, but those whom read this and are curious , just Google on the internet 'Naomi WOODS' name within Kyokushin Karate. She is just one of many under Hanshi whom has been and continues to be an inspiration. If the Head Instructor is a balanced human being with a family, it certainly helps in maintaining a Dojo with the gender issue being absolutely balanced, and functional with its male and female members becoming and behaving as a family should with equality amongst its brothers, and sisters.
  • rachel
    Karate is traditionally in Japan is only for males. Which in theory (not saying that its true) Would explain why there are very few Girls/women involved in it. That also is incorrect, I do karate because I both love it as a sport and the lessons that are taught. (Not to mention proving society wrong) ^_^
  • Luca
    Jesse-san, The dojo where I train is mostly men (80% I would say) (I say men - the "adult" class is mostly 14 to 18 year olds, including me, 15). My sensei is very strict about who he trains, no there are no machomen. If a machoman would arrive at our dojo, sensei would kick him out in three or four sessions. Sensei also chooses random sparring partners (you don't choose who attacks you "sorry you are in a different weight category") and he also chooses his uke randomly. In fact, some of the girls are *quite good*. One is really " girly" and shy but when she fights....
  • Keith
    I think girls should be girls. How does that entail them not being able to study a martial art? The whole "Anything you can do, I can do better" mentality of the majority of American women these days for the sole purpose of competing with men is childish. Be yourself, be a woman, excel in your talent. Here is Rika Usami performing Chatan Yara Kusanku. Amazing! I love watching her perform kata. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtRdASRK-Qo
  • Salima
    We mostly have men at my dojo but the women there are all pretty awesome. We train just as hard as the men do and are all serious about perfecting our technique by practicing and teaching the new students. Sometimes we have to deal with macho attitudes but thankfully we have a sensei that refuses to tolerate that kind of behavior. He is a former Marine that has been training for over 50 years and thinks we need more women in the dojo to "give those guys a run for their money" by showing them that proper technique by the "delicate flowers" in the dojo can win over brute force by the "gorillas" in the dojo. Personally, I think karate is a lot of fun. This delicate flower loves both the physical and mental parts of studying the art.
    • Keith
      Love it. A Marine that's been training over 50 years. Would love to check out his dojo but I am not a world traveler so... :-/ I agree with you, "...showing them that proper technique...can win over brute force by the “gorillas” in the dojo." Isn't that one of the unique facets of Karate'? I have known men who were all about their big macho physique, and then they're adding on a Karate' technique to their size. That's backwards. The TECHNIQUE will make you a monster! Dedicated Karate' training will give you that shocking, brute force even when you're 5'1" 110 lbs. like some of the Okinawan Masters. There used to be a guy years ago that was like 6'6" and a slightly more than medium build for his frame. He laughed at me when we were paired up in class (I was probably 5'7" and 130 lbs. at the time) and he had just started attending. Something happened during his training (I missed the class he was in) and it finally clicked that someone smaller than him could just bury him if he kept being so cocky. I think he realized he was 1. ignorant (which made him vulnerable) and 2. I think that was then he really began to understand Karate'. For the rest of us, we already know Karate is very effective and certainly DEADLY if need be.
      • salima
        we're lucky! We have three people in the dojo that trained with Odo Sensei for several years. Unfortunately, I wasn't training with them when Odo visited dojo. I would have loved to have met him. I have been told that Odo loved his female students and also worked with them tirelessly. Nice to know that one of the "great ones" didn't have that macho attitude either.
  • Warren
    "You see, there exists a strong conviction among many cultures that “girls should be girls”."Normally coming from wussy men who are insecure and feeling threatened."Why is that so?"I think women are put off by the above mentioned 'men'."And most importantly, what should we do about it?"Laugh at those 'men' and let more women know that martial arts is open to all, and in fact their tendency greater natural flexibility and movement puts them at an advantage and are far more important attributes than brute strength as real power comes from good technique.We should also let it be known that real men love strong women.
    • thomas sanchez
      what a cuck
  • Cat
    Hello Jesse-san,Thank you for your post. I've seen this discussion has been going on for a while, I've just recently found it because I can't seem to find any women in Karate either!So... the situation in my dojo. I am training in Spain and have found the whole Karate culture here very, very male dominated. In the dojo I train in, I am the only girl; we do have a few girls taking it up regularly, but they all quit soon again. I have been to my sensei's dojo, again, same story. Out of about 15 students, only one or two women at a time. Last year I also went to an official get-together of all Shito-ryu karatekas in Madrid, and again... Women were represented by less then a 20%.Why are there fewer women? I don't know in general, but personally, I have to admit, that though I don't mind the bruises (well, I do, because they hurt), I am afraid of physical contact. It goes both ways, I am afraid to get hit - it's not so much the pain that scares me but actually getting hit - , and I am also afraid to hit someone else and hurting them - even if they are stronger built and way above me belt-wise. That being said, I have to thank my sensei for working with me to slowely overcome these fears.Machomen?! Speaking of the men in my class, I haven't found a single macho. On the contrary, I feel since karateka women seem to be such a rare species around here, every one of us is highly appreciated in class, at any age or skill level.A few people have mentioned before that macho men wouldn't be allowed in the dojo, and I think that would be the case in our dojo as well. I guess it is about the atmosphere that the sensei and therefore the rest of us establish and hold up - if respect is promoted, it is likely to come out. As the only woman in the dojo, I almost feel as if I have a special role there, helping to form a community... I imagine an all-male community to be very much driven by a lot of hierarchical thinking and trying to best each other??Different Treatment? I won't say that I don't feel treated differently than the rest, but then, we all are. Each one according to our needs and strenghts. For example, as a girl I got shown a different guard posture to protect my upper rather than lower body. Also, when we do self-defense techniques, I usually get to practice with a black belt and I feel like my sensei makes sure, I especially understand how everything works. Makes a lot of sense to me, since - if anyone is ever going to need to use it - it's much more likely going to be tiny me rather than one of the big fellows that I train with.I did, especially in the beginning, run into a few guys who went soft on me and didn't like the thought of hurting me, but after slapping them once or twice they got the message. ;) Now I'm just one of them.What should we do? As for what we can do about it... I have just had a thought. All the advertisement here that I've seen sport a guy either in a basic position or just doing a high kick. I wonder if it would make a difference to put a girl on some of the posters?
  • Trish O Neill
    Very interesting article. In my Dojo, women happen to dominate! The ladies bring home the gold! Although the up and coming juniors low seem to be boys. Looking at my karate life, I have taken a few years off to have a family and these could have been my 'prime' years too. Maybe this factors into why the sport can be male dominated? Similar inequalities exist in the workplace for the same reason.
    • Trish, those years you "took off" to have a family were filled with the most important job a woman can have. The longer you keep that job the better for us and our civilization. You cannot have a civilization without people, and our people are not replacing themselves.
  • Yes, women are sorely unrepresented in the martial arts. I'm the only high-ranking female student (currently 2nd Kyu) in my school. My Sensei in over 35 years of teaching never managed to train a woman all the way up to black belt; but not from a lack of trying: some have gotten really close. They tend to just up and leave when it "gets too hard" I guess. If he wasn't retiring next month, I'd likely be his first (though I have a couple more years to go till that 1st Dan). I think women get sidelined more easily than men when it comes to martial arts. Getting bruises isn't very "lady-like" (or pretty). There's a mental shift that's required when studying a martial art and I think that makes a lot of women nervous because it's a feeling that can run contrary to the "delicate, submissive, feminine" mindset we get ingrained into us. I also feel women are more inclined to put focus on family or career, rather than a "hobby". My saving grace is I've chosen not to have children. I can get a good night's sleep, get up early and do my work-out, practice my katas, or kicks or whatever before heading off work. I don't need to juggle the kids' activities with my own. Impromptu sparring at a friend's house tonight? Great! I'll be right over! Don't have to worry about making sure Jimmy is off to bed or that Susie got her homework done.
  • I dont say much if a young women is in class they are there too learn " i know another guy like that Mike Juan he would come close to you with a punch at work" an say thats how hard he would throw a punch" it doesnt matter if she could take it, there are some that can an give it back an they instruct class!an besides its not a macho comment LOL! in real world though it might make me laugh with comedy style!
  • Oh this is interesting!!! Jesse-san, I would never have thought I would take up karate (yes, I'm a girl). Martial arts was never on the radar. I actually got interested by sitting on the bench while my youngest son, at that time age 6, started karate. We have a mixed group adults and kids on Sunday, mainly the dads of the kids who practice who joined. At that time, there were no moms on the math. But it seemed like a great sport, I loved the katas and so... after 4 months of sitting on the bench, I joined.In our dojo men and women are both welcome. Though we, the women and the young girls too, are largely underrepresented. We are 3 out of 10 for the adults, and we currently have 2 or 3 young girls on a total of about 40...So what's going on...? Girls are taught not to be agressive or violent, or even assertive (on the other hand, we are the most likely victim of violence...). We are also physically less strong than the male population. So it's not an obvious choice. Someone in a comment above said "girsl should be girls". But should girls than be victims...?What I struggle with most, is the fact that men (also when getting attacked in the street) will always be taller, heavier and stronger. So we have to learn to fight differently and our own style. Never play on muscular strength. Secondly, I have no clue how to behave when the Japanese Sensei pay us a visit. I sort of feel tolerated or ignored and after trainings I'm sometimes happy to be ignored... (that's when the real machismo comes in after a few drinks). Karate just isn't an obvious choice for women. And yes, I don't like bruises and I'm afraid to get hit (especially in the face, the rest I don't really care about that much, I can take a punch by now).So where are the women in karate? Role models make all the difference. I'm happy to see that the karate world that I'm in welcomes me at trainings and seminars, just like other participants.
  • In my Dojo, (we opened in 2010) three of us decided to be the main Instructors and start our own full time dojo.Two of them are girls, I'm the male.One of them was a grade higher than me and despite it being my dojo, I have always looked on her as the Head Instructor and call her Sensei.I see nothing wrong with this and I do it out of respect for her rank, not her gender and if I have a question I often turn to her for her opinion/advice/answer.I prefer teaching women to men as well in the Dojo (if I HAD to choose a preference) as they seem to try harder and are naturally more inquisitive about the art (I, like you Jesse San, simply LOVE questions, they facilitate a whole learning response) and have masses of respect and their etiquette is usually second to none.Just my opinion.As ever Jesse San, a fantastic article, I must confess, I couldn't get through all the responses there's that many.Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!
  • Andreas
    In My Dojo we actually have a ratio about 60% male at every age and 40% female almost age 7 - 15 (including my Daughter) and only two older than 30. I am told about 80% of the younger female quit about the age of 15 - 17 because of other interests. Thats too bad. When i started with Karate, one of my Senseis was a female in my age (21). I still appreciate her way of teaching and training. She was even funny and seriously. And I am convinced that female Karateka are real enrichment for every Dojo and general our Martial Art. Afraid of getting hurt ? Training is too hard? I think its not the real reason of quitting the Karate Do, because my experience is, that all female Karateka i met, were not afraid of getting hurt or beaten and were training and performing harder than much guys did. I encourage my daughter to keep on, she likes watching female Karateka performing Kata (like Julia Hourahine, Schahrzad Mansouri etc.) and showing their training routines on youtube which motivates her alot. Maybe she never will win Gold or other trophys but she will benfit from that what she learns now in her later live. Take Care - Andreas
  • In our dojo, we have a predominance of men, but we have several women who are higher ranks (shodan, nidan, and rokudan). However there have been several women join since I did in 2015! I'm now a 3rd kyu brown belt, and there are several 6th-5th kyu green belts. I have noticed that several of the men have a tendency to "take it easy" on me when we are sparring, but in general most of them are great. We only have one "macho-man" currently, and I dislike working with him, but I'm hoping as he matures he will start to lose this particularly annoying quality. Thanks for the great articles, Jesse-san, I love your blog!
  • Graziela
    In my Dojo, I'm almost always the only girl. A few weeks ago, a girl with the same belt as me, stopped and started something else and the only other girl is working in the army, the "Bundeswehr" as it's called in Germany, as a plane engineer and she doesn't have much time, so she's there maybe every 5 weeks. In my class, I'm the only girl with 8 boys and in the kid's class, there are 4 girls out of almost 20 kids in total. And 3 of these girls do it really weakly and without passion and love. But then, there are girls(or shall I say women)in martial arts, which are stronger than some men, like my dad's sensei back in the day, a woman, teaching in the "Bundeswehruni"(a university by the Bundeswehr, where you go to the army during vacation). Those men are soldiers! And they respected her a lot, I mean, she is a master! I think macho men, who could never have a woman as a partner in sparring or as a sensei are just douchebags with a big ego.
  • Lisa de haan
    Hi All; I trained in the late 80's early 90's in Goju Ryu at a very traditional dojo. I was the only girl ( I trained from 10 years old to 17) and the only kid. I got hit, kicked and "conditioned" harder than the guys so to "toughen you up". I never felt unsafe. I stopped training when school etc became a priority. I returned again in my 20's to find a new sensei teaching. His approach was "girls don't have the muscles for karate". His take on sanchin was that the stance allowed a man to retract his balls (no joking WTF!!?!) thus no female could possibly perform the stance or kata correctly. I didn't feel safe in that environment, so I quit. Now at 41 I have found a new Goju dojo and just love being back. the dojo has a 50/50 split in the kids class and a 60 male/40 female split in the adults class. The dojo has a range of ability's, ethnicity's and orientations and no one cares about differences because the senseis make it a fun and safe place to be. All they ask is that each student does the best they can each class. For women the most important thing is to feel safe; sure we are kicking and punching each other but it is controlled - never malicious. I'm glad to see that things have improved over the last 30 years and that more women (at least in NZ) are finding karate a fit for them.
  • Haile Diana
    Idk who would find this interesting but I think a lot of people could, so I figured I'd post it. Washington's Karate Dojo, or Karate 4 Girls, is an all-female karate dojo. We train in kyokushin and tae kwon do. It's been around for (I think) 11 years now, and I've been training there for almost 4 years. It was started by Master Monique Washington-Jones, a 6th degree black belt who's been training since 1985. Her father has been training since '67 and opened his own dojo, where she trained. Due to the lack of representation she saw for women in the sport, she decided to open her own all-female dojo, against the advice of pretty much everyone she knew, including her own father (who owned his own dojo). They said if she didn't have boys she wouldn't succeed. As I said, that was 11 years ago. I don't know the exact number because I can't find the exact article now, but in 2014, an article in Howard Magazine said she was serving over 350 students per year. She now has over 40 students on the instructor team (brown & black belts) which I am soon to join. 6 students from our dojo are members of the Team America Karate Competition Team, and competed in Germany last year at the 2016 World Games. She recently moved to Richmond, but that's not too bad, since she never has to teach anymore because of her large instructor team. I think it's safe to say she succeeded. If you're in the Howard County area, you should definitely check the dojo out. It's amazing. It's a very good dojo, in terms of skill level and teaching and everything, but it's also the most supportive, warm, inclusive environment ever. Half my best friends I met at karate. Sensei is the most supportive teacher I've had in a long time. Long story short, I have to fast track my training to get my black belt before I graduate high school, and she has helped me schedule drop-in and extra private lessons to get my training hours in. One week I was in the dojo 9 hours (that's not typical though, most people train 2-3 hours a week). But I was able to test, and stay on track, and she continues to be flexible with me to allow me to achieve this difficult goal. Anyway, definitely check it out if you can!
  • Judith Johnson
    Hi this is Judith Johnson who wrote in 2016. I am now a 3rd Dan. I will be testing for 4th next September 2018 and this April, at the age of 58, I will be doing my first three round full contact kickboxing fight. I had to take 2016 out for 5 months to have rotator cuff/biceps surgery and recover from that, but it wasn’t a karate injury, it was due to years of lap swimming 2+ miles per day, and the doc said that my shoulder joint was just worn out. I have not been able to do any AOK tournaments this year, but training for the kickboxing fight is my main thing this year and in early 2018. I would love to hear if there are any women over age 50 who have done any full contact kickboxing?
    • Marianne Aasen
      Wow, ma'am, your an inspiration! *bow in respect* I myself would like to try full contact sport, like kickboxing, when my skills gets better (just on a hobby-basis). But also feeling a bit worried being close to my 30thies. I see know that I should't be so worried about my aptitude, but my attitude. I have no idea how I would react getting a real smack in my face (not a funny experience, i guess), but I guess I will know soon enough when it happend's.
    • Marianne
      Wow, ma'am, your an inspiration! *bow in respect* I myself would like to try full contact sport, like kickboxing, when my skills gets better (just on a hobby-basis). But also feeling a bit worried being close to my 30thies. I see know that I should't be so worried about my aptitude, but my attitude. I have no idea how I would react getting a real smack in my face (not a funny experience, i guess), but I guess I will know soon enough when it happend's.
  • MS
    As a female sensei who came through the ranks in a traditional karate school, I can say 100% that I experienced misogyny and chauvinism regularly from my own sensei and several senior male students of the dojo. Like many have pointed out, the dojo I used to train at did indeed have a 50/50 male to female split in the student ranks. The discrimination was not so much at these levels as it was higher up. The men of the dojo were granted "development" opportunities far sooner in their training careers than the female students. They were able to become judges and instructors in their own right in some instances decades ahead of equivalent female students. A female student who I knew who became a sensei in her own right was ostracized, put down by my own past sensei, excluded from instructor meetings and generally treated like a second class citizen. I saw several women as they were starting to reach senior ranking leave the dojo due to the continuous undercurrent of discrimination that was always present. One of my own past sensei was a miserable bully and would target me regularly for snide, rude remarks....something he would NEVER direct at a male student. Often the men of the dojo would also turn away from women as partners to go find other males to train with instead.If you want to know where the women in karate are.....from my own perspective they probably gave up and left karate for activities where they were treated better.
  • Marianne
    Well, yesterday we had kumite again. Aaaand it ended up just like last time:The guy’s where like: “Aw, small girl. Gotta be kind with her, and give her some openings.” I was like: “Arrrr…! Fight for real! Or I’ll make you!” And they like: “Aw, look at her, getting all eager… oh, omg! Was ist this? O.o ” Sensei at the end, dryly: “I see that some of us gets very eager on the mat *ehrm-ehrm*… but, eh, we all have some work to do on footwork and technique.” Me: “I know, I know! Got all whitebelt-eager again. More kata from now… sorry sorry!” *bowing*bowing*
  • Almost_Quiet_One
    I am a teenage girl (16) and at the dojo where I train I am the only girl outside of the youngest class, 5-7 year olds (I think). In the youngest class the ratio is about 4 boys to 1 girl. I have not been training very long (I had never done any martial arts prior to a few months ago and I am currently an orange belt). I haven't experienced many problems with machismo and my instructors treat me just like any other student. I typically train with one of the senseis (who is a male black belt) due to attending a small dojo. I think the ratio of male to female karateka is largely dependent on 1) where you train (as in the community outside of the dojo) and 2) getting people to start karate younger (children are often more open minded than teens and adults). Due to a unique situation I am in a position where at the dojo I help the instructors in the youngest class (and sometimes in the next age group) while participating in another class which is closer to my age group (however this class is mostly for upper belts).
  • Debora Verniz
    Great post! My friends look at me awkward when they figure out I train karate... As I have lived here and there I am always changing dojos and the one I am training right now is pretty small. We are 8 in total, 5 men and 3 women. We are treated all the same, no difference between genders. I've never had a sensei that would treat someone different anyways, but I had senpais that would. To me karate is very empowering. I feel myself stronger and wiser with it (and I am still very feminine lol!).

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