I started combat sports when I was 23 years old. At the peak of my training, I was taking classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and boxing.
Women who train in martial arts confound a lot of people. Many don’t understand why a woman would choose such an aggressive sport, so we end up having to deal with ridiculous questions and assumptions all the time.
These are just some of the things I heard while I was training that I guarantee women who train martial arts are tired of hearing.
1. Did you start training because your boyfriend trains/Are you dating one of the guys at the gym/Does your boyfriend own the gym?
For some reason, people have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept that women train without it being connected to any kind of man. When I started training I was single and I have never dated anyone at any of my martial arts gyms. Not every women in a martial arts class is there because of a man.
2. You could probably kick my ass, right?
First of all, yes, so stop asking me stupid questions. But seriously, I don’t train to get in to fights with random assholes. I train for myself, mostly for my fitness and for my peace of mind.
3. I mean, I could probably still kick your ass, but I don’t hit girls
Right. I’m sure that you, someone who has never trained anything, could totally level me, even though I train multiple martial arts, and the only conceivable reason that you’re not is because you’re too honorable to hit a girl. Uh huh.
4. I think girls fighting is super hot
Usually said by the bro at Buffalo Wild Wings wearing a Tapout shirt. First off, I seriously hope that wasn’t your best attempt at a pick up line. I definitely don’t train so you think I’m hot. And if you think girls fighting is hot, you definitely haven’t seen the sweaty, ‘Jiu Jitsu hair don’t care’ girls who walk out of a martial arts gym. BOY BYE!
5. You train martial arts? That’s so cute.
Could you be more condescending? There’s nothing cute about me kicking your ass.
6. You’re too small to fight anyone!
Lucky for me, martial arts are mostly designed for self defense, which means that the techniques work for people of all sizes. I’d love to demonstrate by Judo throwing you.
7. Well I’m sure the guys you train with take it easy on you.
Well we’re not in this to injure our training partners, so no one’s going 100 percent, but go ahead and ask that guy I dropped last week in sparring if he was taking it easy on me.
8. Are you okay at home?
Usually asked by concerned looking female coworkers. Yes, I have a black eye and bruises the size of fingerprints all over my arms. I promise I am okay at home. I just train. Thanks for your concern.
9. Why don’t you do something more ladylike, like Zumba?
A lot of people have asked me why I don’t choose a ‘safer’ sport that is more ‘appropriate for women’. First I laugh. Then I ask them why Zumba is more appropriate for women than martial arts. Just because it’s a physically aggressive sport doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate for women.
10. What belt level are you?
First things first, not all martial arts have belts and they’re not called levels. If you know your friend trains in a discipline that marks progress with belts, great, ask this question. But if you’re friend trains Muay Thai, Krabi Krabong, Jeet Kune Do, or Boxing, they’re going to roll their eyes and explain, for the hundredth time, that there are no belts.
11. So you hit things, right?
Again, there are many disciplines of martial arts, and not all of them involve hitting things. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is focused on grappling, which is like wrestling. Judo is based on throwing techniques, which allow you to take an opponent off their feet. Women who train aren’t just running around punching things.
12. Isn’t it weird to be all over a stranger?
In grappling sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you often find yourself all wrapped up around someone you just met. And yeah, it can be a little awkward to have your legs wrapped around someone you just met, but you’re training a sport. It’s all business while you’re on the mats.
13. Isn’t it weird to train with guys? Don’t they get all turned on?
Guys are there to train too. Serious martial artists don’t get all hot and bothered training with a woman.
14. Do you train UFC?
Let’s clear this up once and for all: UFC is a brand and a fighting promotion, not a martial art. UFC is the promotion that puts on mixed martial arts (MMA) events. These events showcase athletes who train multiple martial arts and combine them to create a hybrid fighting style. So no, nobody trains UFC.
15. So, you train MMA?
Since UFC has risen to popularity, many gyms have popped up that offer “MMA classes,” which claim to train this particular hybrid fighting style. However, those who train traditional martial arts tend to get a little peeved when you ask if they train MMA. Each martial art is unique and complicated to master, so it’s reductive to lump them all under MMA.
16. So you must love Ronda Rousey, right?
As women who train, we’re all supposed to love famous women who fight, like it’s some sort of solidarity thing. Some of us do love Rousey. Some of us are more interested in the other women fighting for the UFC. Spoiler alert: she’s not the only one. Or even the champion anymore.
17. I don’t hit girls, so I can’t train with you.
Sometimes this is said by guys with the best of intentions. More often, it’s said by someone dudebro who thinks he’s way better than any girl could ever be and thinks he’ll be “wasting his time” if he trains with you. If he insists he won’t, I walk away. No need to waste my time on him.
18. I’ll go light with you.
Said by the dudebro at the gym who thinks he’ll break you if he trains the way he normally does. My response is usually to make them tap out super early in the round, or hit them hard enough to make them think. Still wanna “go light” bro?
19. Why don’t you pair up with one of the other girls?
Everyone’s partnering up for drills (where you repeatedly practice a single technique). You look to the guy next to you after an appraising glance he points you to the other girl in the class, even though you’ve been training for a year and this is his third class. He then pairs up with the other guy that’s been there for two weeks. They both get the technique wrong. *Eye roll*
20. Do you mind working with the new girl?
Just for tonight? Then, no I don’t. But do I want to sacrifice my own training time and work with the new girl every single time? Not a chance. Too often, women are asked to train all the new women who come in. This responsibility should be shared.
21. Let me just show you how to do that technique a little better
Extra points if the guy who says this hasn’t been training as long as you have. Guys love to mansplain martial arts to women.
Women who train martial arts, are tough, dedicated, gifted athletes, just like their male counterparts. So stop annoying the hell out of them with these stupid opinions and questions!