Women & Martial Arts


Something just occurred to me. Is it ok to practice martial arts with women?

Specifically, I’m concerned that a woman might be with child, but not yet aware of it, and during practice she might get hit and so cause the death of the very small child.

I’m not asking this from a standpoint of “let’s ban women from martial arts” but from a standpoint of, “are martial arts something I can morally do if women are practicing with me?”

I used to do a couple of different martial arts but this never occurred to me until very recently.


Hi. Well, as a martial arts instructor I’ll give my 2 cents. First of all I think it depends on the martial art. If it is a weapon based martial art like fencing, kendo, Kali or some sort of knife fighting I think it is totally ok to practice with women and go balls out. Strength is not a factor in these types of art and many woman can easily beat a man.

Now when it comes to hand to hand type arts I say it is a different story and I will say that I personally don’t really enjoy practicing with women because I really do not get much out of it. I cannot practice with the intensity that I like to practice with. I think there should be a certain amount of testing limits and pain involved in training and I am not comfortable doing that with a woman. In spite of the marketing tag line many schools have saying that size and strength do not matter in the martial arts…it really matters a lot.

But I do not think women need to be banned from martial arts. First off I think it would be immoral to ban women from practicing the martial arts because women should be able to have the ability to defend themselves. I want my daughters to be able to take care of themselves if they should ever find themselves in a sticky situation. Also, men are essential for a woman to train effectively because who is going to be the one to attack a woman… a man.

With that being said women do have to realize their own limitations and not mistake men not trying to hurt them for their own skill.

A good martial arts instructor should be able to make it all work though. I personally take physical attributes (size, strength , skill level, etc) as well as attitude and perceived training goals into account when I partner people up for practice during class.

Would you advocate women never do anything that they cannot do while pregnant? Simple because they might be pregnant?

I recently saw a movie that included a female cowboy, and of course, she gets compliments for being masculine.

It made me realize that the Current Society thinks it’s fine for women to be men, or masculine. . . to the point at which EVERYONE forgets that this is an enormously valuable think about femininity.

We value the girl who wants to be a football player, but not the one interested in being a nurse or mother.

I suppose our society is out of whack, imbalanced.

If trainers and classmates treat women deferentially due to gender in a martial arts/self defense class they doing those women a disservice. Believe me, a male attacker won’t be pulling his punches and I am of the firm belief any female training in any type of martial art or self defence should not have allowances made for her gender when training. If a woman can’t take the pain in a classroom setting, she won’t be prepared for it and know how to fight through it if/when she needs to the most.

As to the original question, most women know they are pregnant within 2-4 weeks of conception. Additionally, fetuses are quite protected in the early stages of pregnancy. The chances of you training with a woman who doesn’t know she is pregnant and damaging her baby is pretty small. To further minimise the risks, you can avoid striking the lower abdomen.

Nothing wrong with a woman embracing her masculine side just as there is nothing wrong with a man embracing his feminine side. Some men make fantastic nurses and some women make fantastic mechanics. Why should a man or woman suppress their gifts just because society says that their gifts don’t suit their gender? Didn’t God give us our gifts with the intention that we use them?

Besides, a mama protecting her babies is about as traditional as it can get, right? Guess what a self defense class or martial arts training prepares a woman to do? Yup, a woman training is preparing to protect herself and/or her family should there ever be a need.

Women doing jobs that only men used to do would not be an issue at all , IMO, if it was evident that motherhood and senstitivity in womanhood were truly valued at the same time.
And I don’t think they are. The scenario reminds me of people with certain physical impairments who believe they have to be super-hero macho to be valued. Not that people with such physical limitations can’t be great at sports, and all else, but I think they are special anyway. And the same goes for women. As a gender, I tend to get the feeling that they feel, and indeed have been, undervalued, and this leads to an imbalance in thinking that is probably very deep-rooted (obviously a major generalisation). I make the comparison because of the subject of being undervalued and the general lack of sense of worth - not only womanhood but also the lives of the vulnerable which are under threat from the very laws constructed for the common ‘good’ which we are supposed to adhere to!

I think, in the case of the thread, women not being in receipt of certain info. when doing aggressive physical moves and so being ignorant as to whether another might be pregnant or not, is a valid point, so maybe exercise venues should have this in their questionaire, as a warning to mothers; however, we’d probably find that in today’s climate, they probably wouldn’t care enough to bother. It could be suggested, possibly.

But you’ve got to get to that point a little differently. I’d say most women are not as interested in the “rough and tumble” as men are. They like the idea of it but will quit if their partners hit them, throw them & joint lock them like they would another guy. I’ve been doing this since 1989 so I have seen them come and go. With guys you can just point them in the right direction and throw them in as far as training goes. With women you have got to work up to it a little bit and even then you may or may not be able to go full throttle on them depending on their temperament as well as your own. I personally am not comfortable kicking a woman in the head with force even if she wants me too. Some teacher’s are good at teaching “women’s self defence”. I am not.

Part of it is that you’re defining masculinity and femininity very shallowly. What you aren’t realizing is that the girl who plays football may very well be applying to nursing school after practice. She may get married and become a mother within a few years of graduation. Masculinity and femininity have exactly 0 to do with sports, clothing, or occupation. It’s so much deeper than that.

Hmmm, as a person in a “out of whack and imbalanced” marriage and family, I take exception to your portrayal. I think the point can certainly be made that Traditional Roles should be more championed, but I don’t think we need to put down others to do so.

I would be interested to see what you said of me as a stay at home dad after a stint on the football field with me, or in a ring, or on the shooting range, or roping cows.

Meanwhile, my wife has the job and earns the money and I homeschool our five children? But I suppose we are just a product of the screwed up society;). (personally I feel that yes, society is screwed up and more families with traditional values but maybe not traditional roles are a good counter measure to the screwed up society.)

I think this thread is going to get misogynistic and feminist all at once… Too bad, because the answer lies in the middle.


Thank you all for your responses.

Based on MJJean’s response, it sounds like my concern is over a slight danger (“fetuses are quite protected in the early stages of pregnancy. The chances of you training with a woman who doesn’t know she is pregnant and damaging her baby is pretty small. To further minimise the risks, you can avoid striking the lower abdomen.”)

Seems like directing my concern at a medical expert may be helpful, and I’ll do that, but not on this forum, as medical matters are prohibited, I believe…

Any further answers as to my original question?

Not sure if it’s my place to say this, but** I would appreciate it if posters to this thread focus on my original question, and not get drawn off into side-issues, however interesting and valuable they might be. ** Thank you.

Just to be clear. Your question deals with if ti is moral to engage in martial arts with a woman on the sole fact that she may be pregnant? Again, I ask, do you think all women should not engage in anything they would not do while pregnant?

It is fine for women to train in the martial arts.

Just be especially conscious of class etiquette. For example, if you were to be “rough” with a woman in class, you should not be surprised if the toughest guy in the class is rougher with you than you than you could imagine. I have heard stories of guys getting their arm broken for a bad etiquette violation.

I have grappled several women, at least one of which was stronger than me. Because of class etiquette, I always let the woman do the “request to spar”. I avoided positions that might be perceived as awkward, and I chose not to submit anyone (or be submitted). The last thing you want is for the boyfriend assassin to be your next opponent after you did something stupid.

So, if you want to stay in one piece, be careful.

Yes, when I was in martial arts (Kempo) We did indeed spar with women, It was not really an issue. And I have known some women who were very, very good at it. And * (Gasp) were mothers to boot!

Yeah. Some of these women are amazing. This is a video of two multi-world champions in an absolute division semi-final e.g. where the winners of each weight class face off against each other. The smaller girl defeats another girl who at 6’ 2", towers over the referee:


In this video, a woman in Africa dispatches an apparently drunk man with a drop seo-nagi. Unfortunately, the guy lands on his head which is a major risk of this throw. So I am surprised she used it as it is not clear that the situation justified such force. Fortunately, the guy did not seem to have broken his neck:


Unfortunately, this sort of throw is often used by people not experienced with it, on people who have not fully developed their landing skills.

In this video, I reveal my favorite martial arts technique that has saved me many times:


Women in the samurai classes of Japan had their own martial arts developed for them. The reason behind this, is that they can protect the household while the men were away at war.

In China, there are also martial arts that were developed exclusively for women. I will have to look up what they are.

I think femininity is defined too narrowly. Are women who are not wives, mothers, schoolteachers, nurses, not feminine?

I am an engineer. Will you think I am masculine due to that alone?

Now back to the martial arts. I am quite drawn to kyudo, the martial art of archery. Yabusame is also quite interesting. It is archery on horseback. A lot of Japanese women I know practice these two martial arts.

As a girl who practiced Tae Kwon Do and sparred with men, and one who has been pregnant (not at the same time), I think your concern is unfounded. We always spared with protectors that covered our abdomens. Otherwise there was really very little chance of getting kicked in the abdomen was really rare. (Taekwondo is a kicking/foot based martial art). I don’t know which style you are considering, but I would think in general, this shouldn’t be a problem.


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