It’s been another good week in training. I missed Tuesday due to evil headache/grumpiness/need to hide under a slanket, but otherwise it’s gone well.
Weights have hit the point where increases are becoming increasingly hard fought and some stayed the same this week. Frustrating, but the muscle soreness would suggest it’s not actually a sign that i’m not doing enough.
Boxing at Shootfighters was great, I quite like having the different coaches makes things interesting . For some reason my knees absolutely scream in the night after boxing. I suspect it’s to do with all the level changing, which is fairly new, we use our legs more for the kicking in KB. Still they will either get used to it or break, in which case I shall expect Craig to magically fix them. Some fantastic classes at EFK too as always and I am really looking forward to training and sparring tomorrow. Alarm is set.
Friday night of course is grappling night for me. I still find it hard, but the guys are really patient with me and I am determined so I am sure at some point it will become a bit less ‘i don’t understand ALL THE THINGS’ and move into just ‘I don’t understand those things’. Not worried, nu uh. Not one bit.
So that’s the round up really, but I wanted to cover something I may have spoken about before, I can’t remember and I can’t be arsed to check. I was asked tonight if as a girl I found it difficult to come into the wrestling class. There are other girls in boxing and jitsu, so although I work with guys too, it’s not exclusively. At the moment, certainly the four weeks I’ve done, I’ve been the only girl in wrestling. The answer simply is no, it’s not difficult. That’s not the important bit. The important bit is why it’s not difficult. I should stress just now, I thought it was a totally reasonable question, I don’t mind being asked and I didn’t mind answering, but I think the reasons for my answer are important far beyond the issue of girls grappling.
1) I had a good idea what I was getting into.
It’s important to recognise that it’s a male dominated sport, it’s a very grabby sport, it’s not designed for delicate, polite encounters between genders. I was aware of that and I am ok with it. It’s probably way more uncomfortable for guys the first time they have to grapple a girl because there are far more places they are used to being told they can’t put their hands. I am on the mats to learn and train and honestly, guy, girl, six armed alien, I don’t care as long as you are willing to train with me.
That of course comes from me, that’s what I bring to the mats. On the other side….
2) It’s a safe environment.
Nathan and Rob run a good dojo. It’s respectful and focussed. It’s where people go to learn and train not to fuck about and maul/harm each other for fun. I get the distinct impression that any hassling the female members would result in a firm smackdown, it’s not that kind of place and it therefore doesn’t attract those sorts of people. Leicester Shootfighters and EFK have that in common, they are good safe environments. You have the right to expect that and if you don’t get it you absolutely should take your time and your fees elsewhere. You only have to read the comments on women’s MMA fights on you tube to see the attitudes that you can come up against so yeah, it’s important to train somewhere you feel safe. It’s ok to try a few places or even a few martial arts to find the right fit.
If you get your head right and if the club is run right, it’s not hard to be a woman on the mats, even if you are the only one. You are a student among other students and pretty soon everyone will forget to worry about the whole issue.
Why is this important beyond the girls grappling issue? Because it actually applies to everyone. Going to a martial arts class for the first time, especially alone can be intimidating. People get used to working with certain people, they are at different levels, you are always going to feel as though the person you are working with you ‘got landed with the noob’ and as though you are holding their training back. I actually find that worries me more than anything else. Training with people regularly is an odd thing. I’ve been with EFK nearly three years and the people I train with regularly are family. We have long running jokes, a familiar banter, it must be hard walking into that even though I think we are a friendly and welcoming group. Fact is punching someone in the face day in and day out builds a certain trust. I’ve found Shootfighting to be a friendly bunch too, but I’m still conscious of coming into an established group. So the same rules apply to why I can go into a dojo alone and start doing something new, regardless of my gender. I’m there to train and I feel safe. If I’ve got that, the rest will come.
(I won’t be discussing every conversation I have don’t worry, but it seemed as good a prompt as any since it set me thinking. )