“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!
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.
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