This topic sounds like I’m being sexist but please hear me out. First let me point out that many women in my life and women I have observed can fight. I have many self-defense stories involving women! I have also seen examples of women that were apparently trained but did not have the heart or the chin to win their fight.
The positive examples were mostly self-defense where women trained hard and then applied what they learned. I had one student that did not think much of techniques or forms (also called katas – dances with karate moves) but she wanted to learn and do sparring (controlled fighting). I worked with this student for several years and did not take it easy on her. If she dropped her guard, I would reminder her with a jab during sparring sessions. I would swarm her with punches to verify she knew how to cover up and the let up to see if she would counter-attack. She was what I would call an above average fighter.
One day she was with her male cousin at a party location in East San Diego County. The cousin was accosted by an aggressive male but my student stood up for him. As the aggressor attacked her, she kicked the guy in his nuts – only to discover he was wearing a cup (groin protector)! The guy was apparently a karate bully on the prowl during the weekend hangouts. My student was quickly out-classed but knew how to cover well. She tried to fight back but mostly took kicks and punches. The guy was not caught but she pressed me for more sparring on the next weekly lesson. I think her desire to protect herself put her in a good position when she had to defend her cousin (who ran away).
One negative example of women fighting was a fellow karate practitioner at the main school. She was going to an exhibition contact fight soon and was match up against another top female fighter. I had worked with this women sparring and stressed the importance form (in punching). I watched the exhibition bout and noted that all of the beginning punches and kicks looked great for both women but when they (the women) started exchanging punches – the form was lost. What I mean is the jabs, crosses, and hooks were just flailing. I could not believe that all the work in the studio was lost.
Now I will give my opinion about women fighting. I think that women can fight just as good as men if they have a burning desire. I have seen women in boxing and karate matches that have kept their form and game plan when things got rough! I have seen other matches between women that I would have labeled a cat fight (no discipline)! I think the difference is not gender but rather training, physiological acceptance of fighting, and desire. Women have a natural advantage in most attacks… men do not really believe women can defend themselves. That advantage will be explored in future posts.