More Women of Wonder, Please

Here’s hoping the release of Wonder Woman inspires another generation of girls to believe they’re awesome – now let’s get them on the martial arts practice mats and help them learn the cool skills to go with their invisible jets and lassos of truth.

Girls and women have always been at the edge of Western martial arts, toes on the edges of the mats, aching to join the real practice. Fortunately, women are increasingly competitive in the martial arts and for several different reasons. Fitness and finding a fitness routine you love are important for everyone regardless of who you are, but spending time on martial arts mats has been something girls and women have had to “fight” for. It’s just a workout routine for many, so why the difficulty getting in? Like many sports, the martial arts have been dominated by males for centuries. That doesn’t mean women haven’t learned in secret, though. Historically, there were some very powerful martial arts masters who didn’t fit the traditional description.

Self-defense has always been part of martial arts instruction, and sadly, that’s why many women and girls learn the arts. It’s good that they do, but learning the skills to defend from an attacker are one thing; teaching potential attackers not to be attackers is another. The respect for all taught in the martial arts is truly an integral part of instruction and learning, so much unlike other sports where competition means belittling your opponent and disrespecting him or her. Respect on the martial arts practice mats leads to respect off the mats, and that’s how we begin to make it less necessary to use martial arts for defensive purposes.

As women of all political stripes begin to feel more powerful and perhaps more threatened because of this, the martial arts are a great choice for self-expression. There is no doubt the arts empower the practitioner with strength, balance, agility, and discipline. These qualities are inherent in many women and the world should look forward to the day when all women possess these super powers, invisible jet or not.