Xaimi's Nerdy Blurbs: A Martial Perspective

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Martial Perspective

I am a traditional karateka.


I have been trained in some basic kung fu stances and I have a great Wing Chun instructor. I also study lethwei with a wonderful martial arts family. Scratch that- I am a martial artist, but at my foundation lies a karateka’s style and creed. Am I tooting my own horn? Nope, just giving a little background. Within my spirit also lies a yearning to test myself in combat and apply what I have learned. Can I defend myself as those before me were forced to do not for sport, but for survival? As a karateka, we are trained to be ready for battle, but not go searching for it or be eager to use our “weapons”. Yet here I am aiming for a professional fighting career.


Did I mention I am a woman?

 I will let that sink in for a moment.

So let me address a few questions that might have popped up after the previous note: Am I serious? Yup. Does my mom know? Yes, although at times I wish she did not. Does my dad know? Methinks possibly. Do I think I can handle it? Well that is the point of this is it not? Ahhh, now with those out of the way I can continue.

Being a martial artist in our modern world already has its setbacks. Few schools teach with “handling yourself offensively” being a main goal. Most teach with tournament competition and/or exercise in mind. The schools and gyms might offer self-defense classes, but often what you learn is remedial at best. Bloody hell I will not even get into kickboxing classes at gyms; that is another discussion in and of itself. By now, you may be asking “what does this have to do with being a professional female fighter?”

Everything.

Most modern karate dojo (school) encourage the students to focus on kata (forms), especially the female karateka. Now before I get copious amounts of hate, I appreciate kata/patterns immensely as there are many bunkai (hidden techniques) one can discover. More so, one truly can begin to understand themselves and their art the more they practice the forms.
With this said though, being able to efficiently apply the skills you have learned in combat and make the art your own is just as important. Ever heard the saying “flowery kicks and embroidery fists”? It is referring to the idea that if you can only demonstrate a good kata or pattern but are unable to defend yourself, what is the point? You are merely practicing what I heard a student a few weeks ago refer to as “kitty fu”. If some sifu and sensei (these represent plurals in their respective language despite their singularity) are encouraging this type of practice, then one could say our traditional roots are lost and the students unprepared.

For the female karateka, not only must she usually focus on kata, but she is not expected to want to immerse herself in full-contact fighting. Actually, I take that back; for the female martial artist, full-contact fighting is as difficult to get into as it is for the scientific community to except new findings that differ from the standard (despite the standard having recently overcome the same bias). Why? Frankly because we are women and because of the mantras our society has been led to take stock in.

Stop. Take a deep breath, and reign in your “here comes the feminist talk” mental ramblings.

-Due to anatomical build, men are prone to be stronger than women.
-Men should never hit women.
-Women are supposed to maintain a ladylike “air”; no cursing, no fighting or playing in the dirt, frilly clothes, etc.

Any of those sound familiar?

Hey guys, show of virtual hands: Were you advised not to hit a girl- even if she hit you and deserved it- during your upbringing? I bet most of you answered “yes”. Now for those of you that are male martial artists and answered “yes”: when you are asked to spar or have a full-contact bout with your fellow female martial artist, do you often find yourself not going “all out” or holding back because you do not want to hurt her? Do some of you even refuse to fight? I am sure some of you answered “yes” to those questions as well. Do I blame you? Nope. This is a prime example of what I mean when I say that society has corralled us into that mindset.

Now imagine me trying to enter the professional fighting arena. Frontrunners like former Kickboxing Champion Kathy Long and current Ultimate Fighting Championship Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey have made a makeshift path in the woods for the rest of us to follow, but the struggle is still there.
Luckily I have a supportive Sensei and an equally supportive coach, but I still encounter the “I cannot hit a girl” schpeal. That boils my blood to no end. So does the equally ignorant “she hits fast/hard/good for a girl” nonsense that seems to spill from the younger generation nowadays.

See, I have this mindset that when I decided to practice martial arts, I signed the unspoken waiver that there is no gender, no separation, and no stigma; I am an honorable karateka and warrior. Should oppression and/or harm dare to raise its hand against the innocent or those I care for, I am supposed to step in and fight the good fight. In a struggle of life or death, in the ring, in this world, there is no male or female when determining the “winner”; there are only those who fight for it. I do not expect any leniency from my Sensei or trainers when conditioning. I do not expect a different round time just because I was born with lady lumps. I signed the waiver and dove in knowing that when it balls down to it…

I am a karateka.
I am a fighter.



That is what matters.

Until Later Guys ^_^

Have an interest in what I do? If you have Facebook, check out The Arts of Martial Arts Group Page run by myself and fellow Okinawan Kobayashi Shorin Ryu practitioners. Not a karateka? No worries, we do not discriminate and enjoy learning and sharing with fellow martial artists. We are all from the same root.

Looking for a Wing Chun instructor in the D.C. area? You can visit my instructor's Facebook page Wing Chun D.C. FB or the main website Wing Chun DC for more information. Feel free to send him a message and inquire. Serious inquiries only though.

Bumping elbows, knees, and heads more your thing? Then Lethwei may be what you are looking for. Follow the link provided to the Wiki page to get a better idea of this Muay Thai branch.