Lineage and Legitimacy, The Imposing Twin Peaks of Martial Arts.

In my short three years as a ninpoka (In Japanese, “ka” as a suffix means practitioner) , I’ve seen, and read a lot of thoughts on lineage and legitimacy. I’ll take a moment and explain these terms in relation to the martial arts. Lineage refers to the succession of teachers who taught any given art from its inception to you, the practitioner. Legitimacy refers whether, or not, a style is inherently able to teach a person actual self-defense skills. In other words, would this person walk away from a fight intact?

As far as I understand it, lineage matters to some people because the purity of the martial art is sustained and passed from person to person intact. Ancient scrolls are only passed to those who deserve it most, secrets are told to only those who show the ability to teach the art as it is to the next generation. Lineage is essential to legitimacy in many ways. Proof that someone’s teacher is who they say are provides faith in an instructor, faith that they are passing on the direct knowledge of the progenitor of their style. If you claim to be teaching authentic American Kenpo, your lineage better trace back to Ed Parker. Otherwise you’re seen as a poser, or worse a charlatan. Some say that lineage doesn’t matter if the style doesn’t legitimately protect someone during a fight.

So what happens when someone creates their own style in this modern day? Does legitimacy and lineage matter that much? I’d say, it depends. If you live in such a way that you are physically fighting people frequently, then yeah, actual fight training is needed. There’s a huge difference between martial arts training and fight training. For example, two different martial arts from the same origin have very different approaches to the their art. Aikijutsu and Aikido both come the same origin: Daitō Ryū (Great Eastern School) founded over 900 years ago. Generally speaking Aikijutsu tends to use combat ready techniques that are powerful and devastating. Aikido, founded by Morihei Uyeshiba, is more of a spiritual practice by design. It’s movements, like aikijutsu, are circular and fluid, but the circles are larger and thereby safer for the aikidoka. Although the techniques come from the same place, the focus of each is different.

This difference changes what the teachers are focused on in class. Are they faithfully transmitting the pure art form from its roots? Or are they teaching you how to fight? Are they doing both? I’d say that what a martial artist wants to get out of the style they are studying matters more than anything else. If you want to learn an ancient way of living, take a traditional martial art, if you want to strictly learn how to survive a street fight, take something like Krav Maga. Because the human body has a limited number of movements available, I find a lot crossover as I cross train in other styles. Ukemi (falling techniques) in Ninpo is very similar to ukemi in Krav Maga.

Joelle White, of A Beginner’s Journey, and I recently discussed lineage and legitimacy. Ninpo is kinda obscure in the martial arts, let alone in the general public knowledge. Because some foolish people making crazy claims about their “ninja” skills and 80’s ninja movies, ninpo, or ninjutsu, often gets a bad rap. Lots of people have lots of opinions on whether one can be a “ninja” in this day and age, or whether it’s an effective style. This gets to me once in while, and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. During our discussion, she asked me if I was growing as a person, learning and being challenged, if I had to work for my next belt in each test and pointed out that lineage doesn’t matter a whole lot. That helped me set aside negative feelings I had at the moment and readjust my thinking on the matter.

All of this comes down to a very important point, before my ego gets away from me and behaves destructively towards other budoka (Way of War Practitioner) by ridiculing another style, or approach to self-defense, or philosophy I better be sure I understand the point of that style. Educating one’s self on other styles gives a more balanced approach to understanding what I am looking at and appreciating the beauty of the art itself. I highly recommend using one’s own critical thinking skills, and good information to make better judgements in general, but especially for marital artists.

For more on this topic I suggest you go over to the Stick Chick’s Blog and read her blog post Hammer World.

Calm Aggression: A Paradoxical Reality of the Martial Arts

I was working with a young girl who I knew struggled with being aggressive in her sparring.  It was just her and me for that particular class so I could slow things down and explain some concepts that she had not intuited yet in her training.  I mean, she’s pretty young, so this concept wouldn’t have occurred to her anyway.  Whenever she sparred with the other students she would get overwhelmed, particularly if one young boy was her partner and freeze in response. We talked about what it means to be aggressive, she gave me a list of definitions that were most centered on being physically aggressive, I added really going after something and a couple of other ideas to the list.  Then we talked about remaining calm while sparring and what that looked like.  I told her that she could be both calm, and aggressive, at the same time.  She was skeptical of that idea. Through a series of exercises I proved that it was possible, and apparently that was a game changer for her according to her dad.

At this point in my training, certain things have become instinctual so I barely think about them until I’m faced with a higher level of danger or commitment.  Being calm, but aggressive is one of those things. It dawned on me after class that being calm AND aggressive at the same time in the face of danger is a bit of a paradox.  The terms seem mutually exclusive and opposites.  How can one remain calm, yet be also aggressive during a fight, or sparring, or during testing?  

I explained it to the student like this: Calmness happens in the mind.  It comes from what we’re thinking about, and paying attention to during sparring.  If someone is wailing on us with blow after blow, it’s easy to get distracted and worried about what’s happening.  That fear response starts to kick in and panic takes over and the human response to fear is either fight, flight, or freeze.  Learning how to shortcut that system, or work with it, is essential to developing as a fighter or martial artist.  Calmness occurs when we learn to see what’s happening and not give into the urges that comes with the fear response.  Some call this bravery or courage, we’ve heard it quoted several times as “I’ve learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” ~ Nelson Mandela.  When faced with someone who intends to mow us down, the trained faces that challenge with bravery and calm.  Calmness feels like peacefulness, relaxation, and steadiness.  A calm person seems very tranquil and at ease.  

Being female, aggression isn’t something that comes naturally.  When I first stepped onto the mats, I was not the teensiest aggressive, or calm for that matter, for quite some time.  A couple of years into it, I learned about aggression during a grappling lesson.  I liked the person I was grappling with so I didn’t really want to hurt him.  I wasn’t angry, or afraid, but was tasked with prevailing, or least not tapping out.  I learned how to think “What a minute!! You can’t do that to ME!!” while I was twisted in a pretzel to find enough verve to fight back.  Mostly that energy resided in my gut, or hara.  As a side note, I’m currently studying kiai and kototama to understand what I missed in my last test (I got dinged a few points for my kiai being messy with the feedback that I need to own my kiai).  According to what I’ve read so far one’s kiai comes from the hara.  Aggression feels like pulsating energy that comes from my center out to my limbs.  My body feels wound up, my limbs tight and ready to explode with power at whatever I’m hitting. Just like kiai is an explosion of sound, aggression is an explosion of power and coming from the same place, they work in tandem.

Given the competing nature of calmness and aggression, how does one take both concepts and apply them simultaneously? I believe, mostly by experience, that calm aggression happens when the mind is clear and free of distraction and fear, but the hara is energized and ready to explode.  In the mind of the trained, the aggression stays where it is until called upon through the transfer of energy from hara to the rest of the body. In other words, the aggression is channeled and targeted.  It is a kind of finesse that one can find in training of this nature.  I find it difficult to kiai properly, and use aggression if my mind is all over the place.  I must trust myself, my training, and my instinct if I am going to be calmly aggressive.

Have you found yourself battling with either concept in training? How have you found a way to remain calm but use aggression?

Let me know in the comments below!

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast: The Learning Curve

Lately I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with a new white belt during class.  We are working through his first kyu (belt) level so he can complete his first test. Last night we were working on his punching and kicking techniques when Sensei came over to help my fellow student smooth out some parts of his punching technique.  He said to the student, “Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast.”  Our instructor often says he would rather us take our time learning the technique and do it correctly than be fast and hard but doing the technique incorrectly.  Incorrect movement leads to injury, or being defeated.

Earlier this year, I was able to attend a seminar by Roy Goldberg Sensei, 7th Dan in Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu.  He was teaching us how to move in a way that was almost like not moving that produced an amazing finish.  It was like watching the tiniest atom bomb produce a world-ending explosion.  As I watched Goldberg Sensei demonstrate the technique and explain what he was doing with his body I was amazed at how smooth and barely perceptible his  movements were to my eyes.  I, of course, was clunky and using too much strength in my attempts to match his silkiness.  What he wanted us to accomplish seemed to be an awareness of our body movements and how to coordinate everything from the top of our head to the soles of our feet.  That felt like an impossible task at the time and I knew I would have to continue to train in this style if I wanted to achieve even the tiniest sliver of the kind of control he had.  Compared to his mastery I felt like a new born giraffe attempting to stand: all legs and no balance.  Goldberg Sensei is in his 70’s and has been practicing his art for many decades.  Smooth is fast was in play before my eyes.

I’ve been training in Ninpo Bugei for almost 3 years now.  I remember watching the black belts at the beginning of my training and feeling amazed at the effectiveness of their movement.  The end result of a throw seemed grander than the actual technique because the movements were so smooth. I am by no means a master of this art, but I have mastered some very basic things.  I find some of my movements are instinctual and habitual.  Some things are smoother than they were at my newborn giraffe stage of training.

Everything in life worth doing has a learning curve.  The above graphs show what the learning curve is like.  My experiences are probably more like the top graph, but feel like the second one. Whenever we start to learn a new thing, the initial attempts are bumbling and slow.  There’s no coordination, balance, or precision.  This is as it should be and where “slow is smooth” becomes a thing in training.  If I take the time to connect with my body via my thoughts, and really think about what I’m doing eventually the neural connections I need form between my body and brain.  I am creating coordination by practicing until the neural connections solidify and the synapses fire faster and faster. 

This is the learning curve.  Coordination, balance, and precision become second nature which results in smoothness.  I no longer have to think so hard about what I’m doing, it just happens and now “smooth is fast.”  Which leads to me to today’s encouragement:

Anyone can follow this principle no matter what they are learning.  Frustration tends to occur during the slow beginning for many people.  “This is taking too long,” “I’m so stupid,” “This is so HARD” enter our thoughts at this stage, and is where the greatest amount of mental gymnastics becomes essential.  Giving up too soon on the learning curve ensures failure.  Humans are super adaptable beings with an amazing ability to learn.  If we want to attain anything we must push into and work with slow is smooth until smooth is fast.  We must stay on and climb that learning curve until we reach mastery. 

Be patient with yourself and keep going, you’ll get there eventually. 

The Deluded: The Most Dangerous Enemy in the Martial Arts

During a TV show, the bad guys were discussing an upcoming event.  One of the bad guys made a comment about people who are deluded.  The other responded with something to the effect that we can’t let the deluded run the show.  Delusion happens to anyone and everyone.  The only ingredient needed is resolute faith in something no matter the actual evidence.  On an episode of Dr. Phil a woman said she was 1000% percent convinced that she was pregnant with multiple babies and had been pregnant for multiple years.  She even believed she had more than one uterus.  It didn’t matter if top notch OB/GYN’s did ultrasounds, blood work, or anything else that conventionally shows pregnancy.  She didn’t care about the evidence, she only believed what she wanted to believe.

In the martial arts delusion is an insidious snake.  I see, read, and hear about people getting into things that are pretty questionable.  “No touch” martial arts is right at the top of the list making the rest of us look like snake oil salesman.  Folks fight about what is real, and what is not real in forums, on Facebook and etc.  At the end of the day everyone looks the fool. Its an unfortunate side effect of the delusion.

Delusion in the martial arts can be silly, but also downright dangerous.  One’s ego can get in the way and make that person believe they are far more capable than they actually are in their skill.  Sketchiness in the effectiveness of technique could mean that a person’s skill in actually stopping an attack is questionable.  This means danger for the martial artist because if I don’t stop the knife headed towards my torso, I’m probably going to be very injured, or dead.  I once saw a video of a guy taking the knife-wielding psycho attacking him to the ground for grappling and ended up getting stabbed in the abdomen multiple times.  Clearly he was deluded into thinking he could handle the attacker with his (BJJ?) skills.

The most unfortunate part of this is that someone taught them to think like this.  I have on occasion watched people walk into the dojo with obvious ego problems, but most of the time when people walk into a school they really don’t know much and are starting from scratch.  Whatever they believe, they probably learned from their instructors.  Obviously avoiding delusion is an important martial skill.

How DOES one avoid delusion in their training?  Because delusion is grounded in believing things that aren’t true the greatest cure for delusion is humility.  Humility, for those who are unsure, is a “modest or low view of one’s own importance.” (Oxford American Dictionary).  Below is a list of ways to make an honest and true assessment of one’s skill and the effectiveness of technique.

  1.  Be comfortable with saying “I don’t know.”  It’s okay to admit to not having all of the answers, or knowing enough.  It’s in your best interest to be honest enough and say you need help from those that are more experienced.
  2. Question the effectiveness of a technique in a real world scenario.  So many techniques are passed down from ancient war methods that worked for certain scenarios but won’t necessarily work quite the same way in current times.  To be sure, we CAN learn distance, timing, and such by practicing ancient methods, but we have to realistic about wielding a modern version of an ancient weapon.  Will it stop someone? I suggest learning the technique as is AND seeing how to adjust and make it work for a real attack.
  3. Practice, practice, and practice.  Try different things, use different modern versions of a weapon (a han bo and a baseball bat can be used similarly), work with different body types and levels of strength.  I learned a lot about grappling by requesting various guys to grapple with me and make it difficult for me to get out of whatever pretzel shape they put me in.
  4. Bug the experts.  Look for people who have experienced real violence, who have a realistic view of the martial art they teach, ask questions.  Like, tons of questions.  Not the disrespectful kinds of questions, like “How could THAT possibly work??!!”  I’m talking about realizing you know nothing and asking questions that dig deeper into the actual technique.
  5. Pressure test yourself.  Sparring is an excellent way to see how well you know your techniques and your level of skill.

Keeping it real, staying humble and maintaining the mind of a student will keep you safer than you realize.

Monday’s Martial Madness: The True Meaning of Martial Arts Memes

Farce_9

I know what you’re thinking.  Memes are pretty straightforward, right?  I mean it says right on the meme what it’s all about, duh.

What if I told you there is a hidden message that only truly great masters can understand?  Ancient wisdom passed down through the ages must be hidden in the most archaic forms of art, philosophy, and religion.  Those of lucky enough to find this wisdom can indubitably become better versions of ourselves.

Out of the kindness of my heart, I have decided to use my training in the art of faux jutsu from the great lineage of Pul Ur Leg and the Five Farces to interpret martial memes for you.

1.

horsestance

In this first meme we have the ubiquitous and obligatory martial arts master with excessive facial hair.  As we all know, the whiter and longer the hair, the more wisdom and fractious the master.  It is essential to note the length and prodigious volume of the eyebrows.  As the saying goes, “Eyes are the window to the soul” and in this case, the soul is mostly curmudgeonly from the eyelids holding up so much impressive fuzz.  Note that the tone of the meme is on the slightly petty side.  Perhaps his students forgot to “mow the grass” that morning, a martial technique only taught to the most serious prodigies.

2.

Farce_7

This next meme is surely a tricky one.  At first glance it seems obvious that the student is merely messing up because he gained the notice of his instructor.  If you look carefully can see that this student is demonstrating the reverse crane kick.  In the Karate Kid, a visual interpretation of an ancient karate scroll cleverly disguised as a cinematic masterpiece, we see the first version of this technique, the crane kick.  Of course, the masters that put forth the Karate Kid could not allow the crane kick and this technique be connected lest they give away their ancient information to any old fanboy or fangirl.  They decided to hide this gem in bowels of the interwebs so that those that are clever enough can find it.

3.

Farce_3

Everyone loves memes with animals.  After all, animals are the cutest and fuzziest of all creation, especially monkeys.  Who wouldn’t look at this and think “Awww, kung fu monkeys, isn’t that cute!”  By all appearances this monkey is especially cute in a karate gi and his well-earned black belt.  Or is he?

Deep in the jungles of Hollywood there are tablets that speak of an ancient prophesy.  A prophesy so terrifying that the glacial winds of  the heebie-jeebies will freeze your very soul.  It is said that this prophesy shows that these seemingly harmless creatures will learn martial arts and take over the world.  Humankind will be lulled into stupefied and moronic state by watching these monkeys “perform” their martial arts shenanigans.  And when they least expect it, the monkeys will karate chop them in the knees and make them rue the day they ever taught them kung fu.

4.

Farce_6

Ah, Chuck Norris.  Classic memes at their finest.  Many things have been said about Chuck on the internet.  He is credited with many extraordinary talents.  Chuck is said to have defeated death itself and mete out punishment to the unruly anytime and anywhere in the form of invisible kicks.  Many think that these memes are merely a rib-tickler about a normal man run amok (or is that aChuck?).  I submit to you that this is truly not the case.  Rather, these are pages from the Bible of Norrisium, written by the Cult of Chuck.  They believe that he is the god of the dark web, here to scare everything and get it under his will.   And it would seem that it’s working.

5.

Farce_8

Considering that the martial arts often attracts the great unwashed (aka young teenage boys) it should come as no surprise that personal hygiene, especially nail cutting, is a major issue in the dojo.  But that’s not what we are seeing here in this meme.

This meme is a clear representation of a master who decided to throw in his lot with trainers to teach martial skills to creatures regularly captured for what is reported to be glorified wrestling matches.  These creatures delight in fighting one another but regularly are defeated and need to level up in their fights to gain new skills.  Obviously each trainer wants the creatures to win on a regular basis so paying a master to teach their minions how to win fights is de rigueur. When these little creatures peek at you through their trainers legs they seem pretty harmless, then they move toward you and out come the pointy things on their brightly colored bodies.  Just like white belts in the dojo, the novices are the most dangerous creatures of all.  Obviously, teaching grappling skills to a bunch of spiked out, large toothed, and clawed noobs is hazardous.

Well! There you go my friends!  I hope you feel more enlightened and will consider the hidden meaning of memes next time you encounter one on the Facebook!

Sayonara.

 

There’s More Than Meets the Eye: A Look at the Hidden Features of Martial Arts Training

https://martialartsmedia.com/martial-arts-quotes/

You know, you should really check out The Stick Chick Blog.  She’s sassy, smart, and funny.  I really enjoy reading stuff by a martial artist who knows her stuff.  She practices Presas Arnis and Kobudo (Okinawan Weapons), very different from what I study in a lot of ways, but I find some of the themes she writes about translate over to any martial art style.

Last week she wrote a blog titled “The Myth of Wasted (Martial Arts) Time” that busted the myth that only certain styles of martial arts are worth pursuing.  Many people believe that if it isn’t usable on the streets, or sticks too closely to tradition it isn’t worth the time spent learning that style.  I’ve ready many online forum debates where a dude in one style poo pooed a dude in another style because second dude’s forms and katas weren’t practical in a street fight.

It IS sometimes true that what we learn is impractical in a street fight, it’s foolish to claim otherwise.  However, as I’ve learned some of what we are taught is not meant to work in a street fight, it’s meant to train us to move and think a certain way.  A lot of martial arts curriculum start with really basic stuff, like how to block a certain way, then add to this basic concept with each level.  In Ninpo, when we teach blocking, we start with a basic circular motion with a back fisted blow to the inside of the forearm close to the wrist.  As the student progresses, we advance closer and closer to the armpit.  Each advance down the arm teaches another (painful) location to strike for maximum effect.  When we teach parry blocks (from Classical Ju Jutsu), we simply teach a person to move their arm and hand outward to meet the opponents strike. Both have practical purposes in that they teach the student how to respond to threat.  But most importantly, these different methods of blocking are choices we can make in a fight depending on what is happening.  Not every blocking style is useful for every strike.  Much depends on the angle of the strike and body position.

I often train with the bokken, a wooden replica of a katana.  To be sure it is impractical, not to mention illegal, to carry a sword around in public.  Duels to the death just aren’t a thing anymore.  That doesn’t stop me from learning various strike patterns, stances, etiquette, and kata.  While learning to use the sword may seem useless, what does it give me in terms of an actual fight? It teaches me how to use any longish weapon like a stick, a baseball bat, or an umbrella to it’s greatest affect.  Etiquette and kata teaches me awareness, automatic response (sometimes muscle memory), and ways to effectively wield my weapon.  Some of the kata and strike patterns aren’t that effective in an actual duel, but that’s not the point.  The point is to provide me, the student, with an opportunity to practice the principles in Shuhari (守破離).   Shu is obey and protect the technique (learning the basics), Ha is detachment and digression from the technique (breaking with the traditions and basics), and Ri is separating or transcending the technique (the movements become natural and instinctual).  Eventually I will be able to transcend the kata and be able to make choices (click on link for another great blog by the Stick Chick on this exact topic) in the moment in how to respond to a threat.

If you are a martial artist and look down your nose at other martial arts as “ineffective” take a moment and reflect on what you learn.  Is it always useful to maximum effect?  Does every repeated training techniques actually help in a fight?  The answer is likely “no.”  Arrogance has no place in training no matter what you do or how you do it.  I suggest that we all take a moment and appreciate that each style is an art, and all arts have techniques that while only useful for certain kinds of art do add to the technique over all.

The Woman Warrior: What Does That Even MEAN?

Tachibanna-hime ukiyo-e
Tachibanna-hime fighting a dragon under a bridge

As you might’ve guessed, I’m a woman (10 Awesome Points for you if I didn’t need to tell you that).  And, I’m a martial artist which puts in the category of warrior (if you’re someone who believes that the term warrior is only reserved for people who have experienced actual combat, that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m interested in discussing mindsets. So, put your diatribe a side and just listen), because I’m training very closely to the ways ancient people did to fight each other in battles and wars.  Also, I’m philosophical so I like to think about things and find answers to my questions.  Questions like, I represent a minority in the martial arts, why is that so?  Why are many women not-so-inclined to become martial artists?  Is it too male? Too violent? Too… something? I’ve spent many hours researching the warrior mentality, what it means to be a martial artist as a woman, and etc.

Up until recent history, traditionally men were the warriors in many societies.  Modern politics aside, men are physically stronger and have more endurance than women so it makes sense that they would be the ones to fight wars.  A quick Google search on the how to be a warrior and such and almost all articles are for men.  I think I found maybe one article on women in combat and in police forces.

I know that some civilizations had women warriors. For example, archeological studies show that many of the burial sites for Vikings were actually women who fought alongside the men.  The ninja had females who were called kunoichi (くノ一).  These women infiltrated households as spies often posing as domestic help, sometimes using their sexuality to gain trust and extract information.   The samurai had the onna-bugeisha, samurai women who sometimes fought with the men and defended the home.  But, this seems to be against the norm, warrior hood was generally for men.

So, why are women underrepresented in combat oriented fields and activities that are typically male oriented when they have equal access to the same opportunities as men?  What does it mean to be a woman warrior in today’s society?  The only place I can go is to my own experiences and observations at this point.

In my martial arts group, most of the time I’m not treated especially differently by the men.  However, I do occasionally run into someone who doesn’t want to do a technique on me with any strength because they were raised “not to hurt women.”  Conversely I’ve had guys go a little rougher and say something like “I’m helping you by doing this with strength so you learn how to get out of it.” Or, I’ve been called “one of the guys” when I’m the only female in the group and I complain about penis talk.  I’ve been told that kunoichi are “special.”  No one has really explained why that was true.  Are we really special? I speculate that this means that kunoichi were a much smaller percentage of ninja than males.

These kinds of phenom leave me feeling a bit conflicted at times.  I don’t want to be treated differently, I want to be taken seriously, and I want to hold my own against those bigger and stronger than me.  But, I have to fight through fear, doubt, feeling left out, feeling “too” included, feeling like I have something to prove.  These problems don’t even scratch the surface of what it means to be a woman warrior.

Looking to the few examples we have in literature and the like, women warriors were fierce and a bit scary.  The Valkyrie were creatures feared by men in various prose, Wonder Woman is part god and nearly indestructible, the Amazon are fierce female warriors who mainly lived to fight battles in a brutal manner. In stories, it’s all well and good to create near super humans women to be effective warriors, but in real life that’s no so easy.  Eschewing the virtues of women to have what seems like men with boobs does real women who choose the warrior lifestyle a great disservice.

The main problems I think we have to overcome to be seen as legit warriors in our own right is our roles, function, and makeup.  Speaking in huge generalities, women are potential life-givers.  We bear the children and raise them, for the most part.  We nurture and grow ourselves, our families, and our resources.  We are focused on relationships, our emotions, and overcoming.  Men are generally singly focused on one thing at a time.  I’m guessing (because I’m not a man) this means when it’s time to fight, that’s what a man focuses on, when it’s time to work, fighting is put aside and work becomes the focus.  I can see this being an incredible asset for a warrior: singular focus on the task at hand, hell-bent on winning.  For women, I think our tendency to think about everything can get in the way of really going for it in battle.  We’d have to train ourselves to maintain a singular focus.  My emotions can be a distraction and slow me down.  I have to push past them and remember what I’m doing and why.  Maybe this is why women have a hard time thinking of themselves as martial artists: learning violence, going up against men, and generally being overwhelmed by the need for focus is intimidating.

I really haven’t settled on any particular reason for the difficulties that I face as female martial artist, but I hope I’m headed in the right direction.  I’m open to more ideas and discussion to get a rounder point of view.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.