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Women In The Martial Arts

Updated on October 10, 2014

Do You Know Any Women Martial Artists?

Welcome to my page about martial arts and combat sports, especially for women. I've trained in martial arts for more than twenty-five years, and teach at a great club. We get many enquiries from women, so here I attempt to answer some of the questions we are asked regularly.

Most of our enquiries have been about finding good martial arts and kickboxing clubs to train with. Some women ask about different types of martial art, or different ways of training.

Do you want to get fitter? Be more confident? Learn a new skill? Have a look at this page, maybe you could try martial arts...

This great photo was taken at a Savate (French boxing) event I took part in for International Women's Day 2010, by my friend Wing Tat Shek , a photographer living in Paris. See more photos on his website

All other photos on this page were taken by me, or of me, with my camera.

Finding Clubs

and understanding what they offer

There are many thousands of martial art clubs around now, but not all of them seem to welcome women. So how do you find the right one for you?

1) Check with your local library - there may be posters or a reference section with addresses of local martial art and sports clubs

2) Find the yellow pages and look through the adverts

3) Visit your local sports clubs and community centers

4) Ask your friends, family and work mates

5) Obviously, you are already checking the internet.....

Finding local clubs, offering a selection of martial arts, will be probably be easy - the tricky thing is picking the right one for you. Not all styles of martial art / types of club / instructors will be right for you. Some instructors, or students in their classes, may not treat you (or anyone else for that matter) with respect / appropriate care / appropriate attitude.

So, What Then?

First, you should ask yourself what you want to achieve by training in the martial arts:

Do you want to Improve fitness?

Confidence and self-defence skills?

Just to try something new?

To meet new people?

Are you looking for a new hobby? or a way of life?

You want to enter competitions?

You want to be a black belt or test for high ranks in a system?

Or, do you have other reasons for trying out martial arts?

Styles Of Martial Art

Around the world, there are thousands of different styles of martial art available. They can be split in many ways:

1) wearing uniforms or not wearing uniforms

2) styles where "grading" is compulsory and styles where it is not

3) styles that claim that their art is the ultimate form of self-defence and those with more common sense

4) competition-based styles and those that allow you to train for leisure

5) 'traditional' styles and non-traditional styles

6) styles that ban you from training with others and styles that actively encourage you to cross-train or find out what suits you best

Names you may hear:

Boxing - sometimes called English Boxing, is a combat sport that most people have heard of. Fighters wear gloves and try to hit their opponents head or body

Savate - French boxing, a combat sport with more kicking than punching. Fighters wear gloves and boots.

Muay Thai - thai-boxing, a combat sport which includes knee and elbow strikes. Fighters wear gloves.

Kickboxing - a combat sport, originally based on Karate, and often called "American kickboxing". Fighters wear gloves.

Kali, Arnis and Eskrima - these are different names for the filipino arts, with empty-hand and weapon training

Combat Sombo - russian military fighting art, emphasizing strikes, throws, holds, locks and more

Sombo Wrestling - the sporting version of Sombo, emphasizing throws, similar to judo

Wrestling - there are many types, from many different countries, including freestyle, Greco-Roman and others

Jeet Kune Do / Jun Fan - Bruce Lee's art - he saw this as the way forward in martial arts (Jun Fan was Lee's chinese name)

Kung Fu - chinese martial arts - many types available including Wing Chun, Wushu, Shaolin and hundreds more

Silat - a family of martial arts from the far east, including indonesia, philippines, malaya......

Karate - japanese martial arts, emphasizing striking skills

Judo - japanese sport, mainly throws and holds

Aikido - japanese traditional art, mainly locks and throws

Ju-jitsu - japanese traditional art, including strikes, locks, throws, and sometimes grappling

Hapkido - korean locking and striking martial art

Taekwondo - korean martial art emphasizing kicking, also now a combat sport

Tang Soo Do - korean, a bit like Taekwondo

See our website for photos of some of these arts

Finding A Good Instructor

Good Instructors

Will respect you, encourage you and guide you towards your goal. Generally, they will have a syllabus, some structure to their classes, and your best interests at heart.

Other women students

If you want an idea of how a woman will get on in a particular martial arts club, go along and watch a class. Check what proportion of students are female, and how long they have been training. Do the women stay? Do they make progress? Are they happy with their classes? How do they get on with the instructors? Are there any female instructors?

If you have found a martial art that suits you, or a great instructor, let us know!

Get In Training

Whether you are interested in the "soft arts", like tai chi and yoga, or the "hard arts", like karate or kickboxing, there are some great DVD available to help you get started. Cardiovascular combinations involving upper and lower body really challenge your endurance and burn those excess calories.

Kickboxing Cardio Power
Kickboxing Cardio Power

A non-stop 56-minute cardio kickboxing workout for fat-blasting, calorie-burning toning and slimming, which will leave you relaxed and energized.


More About Martial Arts & Self-Defense

Self Defense for Kids  "The Magic of Martial Arts"
Self Defense for Kids "The Magic of Martial Arts"

Help keep your kids safe with some useful self defence skills.


Please share your views

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    • savateuse profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Never too old to try something new ;)

    • FrancesWrites profile image


      4 years ago

      I've been curious about trying a martial arts style, but haven't known where to start. Your list gives me a better idea of what will and won't suit me, and how to find a good instructor. I hadn't heard of Savate and Canne de Combat at all before now.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      @siobhanryan: I started at 52 just made yellow belt, I train three days a week.

      One if my self defense classes has several in mid sixties

    • savateuse profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @BritFlorida: I absolutely agree! Congratulations to your granddaughter on her achievement!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      I'm very pleased that my 7 year old granddaughter has just received her first belt from her jujitsu class :) It's SO important for even young girls to know how to handle themselves if the need arises.

    • siobhanryan profile image


      5 years ago

      Great information-I am probably too old to start now

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      5 years ago

      I think for women to take martial arts training can be great for confidence, fitness and protection.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      In my younger days, I was into things like this. Now, only in my mind, I don't think the bod would take it.

    • bjesparza profile image


      6 years ago

      I took some martial arts when I was younger...wish I was better!

    • surfer1969 lm profile image

      surfer1969 lm 

      6 years ago

      Very nice lens.I think a lot of girls get intimated by bigger people.But even a person the size of a mountain can fall.All a matter of finding the weak spots to do It with.Me I used painful joint locks to bring someone down If I can't get away.I only fight If I have to do so.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image


      6 years ago

      I have always wanted to do some martial arts ever since I was a little girl. I actually learned a little bit of martial arts with a friend of mine who was in the Marine Corps. I loved it! I'm thinking of joining a martial arts class soon, as well as my daughter. Thank you for sharing!

    • Spiderlily321 profile image


      6 years ago

      I've always found martial arts interesting and I really want to try getting into kickboxing. Very good information in this lens! Thank you for sharing!

    • makeupbrush profile image


      6 years ago

      I didn't know there are so many types of martial arts out there even though my son is in Karate with a black belt and my boyfriend has a black belt 4th degree in Taekwondo. Just a few years ago, I thought of joining some kickboxing classes for fun but it never happened. Now this lens is stirring up my interest again.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good information on this lens. Women should try martial arts as one way of self-defense.

    • norma-holt profile image


      6 years ago

      Great topic. My daughter has 2 world titles several gold medals and many Australian titles in Karati so I really appreciate what you say here.. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs

    • debnet profile image


      6 years ago from England

      I once joined a self defence group for women through my son's Judo club. that was great fun where not only did I get fit but I also learnt how to protect myself. :)

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great stuff sis :D

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very cool!


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