women-in-martial-arts

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Photos from 1935 Japan via Old Photos of Japan.

Japanese school girls practicing naginata (薙刀). Naginata is a pole weapon traditionally used by members of the samurai class. It consists of a wooden shaft with a curved blade on the end. In the modern martial art form of naginata, it is carved from one piece of Japanese white oak or it features a replaceable blade constructed from bamboo. Practitioners wear protective armor called bogu (防具). It is very similar to the armor worn by practitioners of kendo. In modern Japan, naginatajutsu is practiced especially by women.

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Kunoichi weapons 

NEKO-TE

The Neko-te were usually used by the kunoichi (female ninja).

The weapon is strong iron fingernails that were fastened into leather bands fitted on the fingers, and resembled claws (not like that of of the shuko, ashiko) and were also dipped in poisons. The eyes were a favorite spot for slashing.

KAKUTE

The Kakute were rings that the kunoichi wore that were dipped in poison. The rings could be made out of metals, and tempered wood.

The ninja would quietly strangle enemies with the ring stuck in their neck. It was far less messy then using a sword, and left very little evidence on how the victim died.

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Fude Yamashita, young wife of famed judaka Professor Yoshiaki Yamashita, traveled in 1903 with her husband from Tokyo to the United States to teach judo to an unruly Washington D. C. youth. Apparently, they never met the young man and instead were redirected to Teddy Roosevelt’s White House.

Although Fude (25-years-old) was not initially contracted to teach judo, she came to have an impact on American women’s participation in the Japanese martial arts.At the prompting of certain competitive Washington socialites, it was not long before Mrs Yamashita was running daily lessons for some of the country’s richest and most famous women, who had  the material means and leisure time to follow what the papers now termed the ‘fashionable Japanese craze’. – Radical Bodies and Dangerous Ladies: Martial Arts and Women’s Performance, 1900–1918, Diana Looser, Theatre Research International 2010

Thoughts

In my experience, many martial artists view the one way they are taught in their style, as the only correct way.
I am not making any accusations, but I recall the many times some martial artists gave me a raised eyebrow or “corrections,” simply because I did something differently.

To fully understand martial arts, it is vital to respect and understand the differences from style to style. Sometimes, there are even variations from class to class in the same style. It often depends on the origin, influences, and the purpose of that movement.

Yes, a kick is a kick, a punch is a punch, a stance is a stance, and we should be able to recognize these; however, off the top of my head, I can think of 4 different ways to chamber a side kick and 2 different areas of the foot that are emphasized to hit with.

It is not uncommon to see the same kata/hyung/form, yet different movements at some of the same parts. Where one might throw a block in front stance, another might throw the same block in back stance. Sometimes, there will be entirely different, yet similar, movements.

For instance, I remember someone lecturing me on a movement in one of my forms where we are supposed to duck to the ground. To them, it was a poor attempt of a “jump down,” when it was actually supposed to be a duck. It did no use to explain that. It was because in their style, a jump is what they did.

An additional example is the spinning hook kick. Some practitioners flex their foot and hit with their heel, and others tuck their foot like a round kick and hit with their heel or the bottom of their foot. Some practitioners tuck their leg more before they extend the kick, and others do not.

And then… there are all of the horse stance variations.

Taekwondo: first one is how it is done in some forms. The other one is common for other forms or purposes.


And it ranges in styles like Kung Fu and Wushu


And Shotokan Karate


And not one of these ways are wrong. As mentioned, it often depends on the purpose. The deeper and longer ones are typically for strength and flexibility, for example.

I remember how much my understanding, knowledge, and appreciation of martial arts expanded when my Master Boxx took me on as a student and really taught me the differences and meaning of martial arts. In my classes before that, I was not taught to understand this. I understood that class, but not martial arts.
It is important to note that sometimes, this way of thinking can come from a school that doesn’t intentionally put on a one way attitude. It can often come from innocent ignorance or lack of experience.
I love to use the stances as an example after my master helped me understand this, but I want to specifically thank my Sensei Ryu @shaped-by-karate for using this memorable example at one point and inspiring me to add it in.

My master used his experience of grading at tournaments as an example to further explain this to me. If someone did a form a little differently than the way he teaches it, yet the technique is fine, he can’t just mark them down on their different style. For him to fully help students and understand martial arts, he had to rid of the one way attitude. This is vital for all martial artists and part of the mentality and community. We must remain respectful, honorable, and flexible in our thinking.

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I’m sorry for the similar post but I just can’t contain the hype. 

In one of the Most DOMINATING underdog take overs I’ve seen in MMA Jedrzejcyk defeated Esparza to win the UFC’s 115lb title at ufc 185. Just look at how freaking crip her striking is and how amazing her control of distance is.  Those punches were super sonic and lazer guided and her takedown defense was on point the entire night!!

Shes a beast! A monster! A killer! A unstoppable force I don’t really see anyone who can challenge a beast like her at her weight. Her reach is pretty significant and she’s not afraid to use it!

The scary part is she’s only going to improve. If she doesn’t get cocky in theory this is the lowest skill level we’ll se her at and she’ll just keep growing and evolving. Just like Rousey’s striking has gone to that next level soon we might see Jedrzejck going for takedowns or getting some trips from the clinch. 

Joanna Jędrzejczyk  born August 18, 1987) is a Polish mixed martial artist who competes in the Women’s Strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, of which she is the current UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion making her the first European female champion in UFC history. She is a six-time world champion and four-time European champion in Muay Thai.

ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN!!!!!

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Throw back to when I was colored belts…

First pic- (Green/purple belt)

Second pic- (Purple white stripe) Chung Mu Hyung 360 spin

Third pic- (Red black stripe) Learning jump spinning back kick

Fourth pic- (Brown belt) Pyung Ahn Sam Dan- (Shotokan Karate Kata)

Fifth pic- (Red belt) Somewhere in the middle of a round kick or somethin’

#tbt 6 months ago and today

if you had told me six months ago that I would be nearly 40lbs lighter, a hell of a lot more confident, and able to disarm grown men and throw them to the ground - I wouldn’t have believed you

I am so grateful that I joined my friend at her Krav Maga class that night in May. I never could have imagined how martial arts would change my life in so many ways. I love my class, my instructor, the masters, it’s amazing. I cannot wait to see what it’ll be like in another 6 months

youtube

How to Roll with Women in BJJ
via Fenom on Facebook

“I’m supposed to go in your guard? Don’t you think this is moving a little fast? I just met you

youtube

SHEILA HADDAD. This video is mesmerizing. I never get tired of it.

This is not Ninjutsu, however, she does hold a 15th Dan in Bujinkan Budo Taijustu/Ninjutsu. She is also a 7th degree black belt in Seibukan Jujutsu as shown here!

What I learned about makeup and my face from martial arts.

FIRST THING’S FIRST (I’m the realist, [realist]. Drop this and let the whole word feel it, [let ‘em feel it]). I did not intend to start this post that way. It just took off without me. There was literally nothing I could do to stop it. 

But okay. First thing, your body is your body and therefore your business. And your business alone. So. Wear all the makeup. Wear none of the makeup. Doesn’t matter. Do you. You’re hella cute. 

But I’ve learned something about makeup (and hair) from martial arts lately. Especially since I’ve started training 7+ times a week. And it’s pretty neat (for me). Here is this totally insane thing I learned that I never knew before: I don’t need makeup. 

What
I know. 

I had no idea. 

I can’t really wear makeup to practice without potentially getting it on someone’s white gi (I’m just not as skilled as some of you fly ladies out there with all the badass makeup skills). So I’ve slowly started to not wear makeup. Like a lot. I use to wash my face before practice. Now I might not put it on at all during the day. Because that’s a fair amount of work to just wash it off in a few hours. I’m accustomed to almost always having a little makeup on, foundation and mascara at least. But like. I’ve repeatedly left my house bare-face over the past few months. And guess what. It has been fine. 

At first I wasn’t as confident without it tbh. But guess what. That clean tai otoshi I just did into a reverse arm bar made me feel pretty confident. So did that crazy slick omoplata I just did. And did you see me send that man almost twice my weight into orbit with a tomoe nage? Yeah, that makes me feel pretty good too.

Honestly, the first time I got ask out after practice I thought “Me? With the no makeup on. And the sweaty hair. Are you sure? But you can’t even really see my eye lashes??” So. There is that.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: thank you, martial arts for the confidence to be sweaty and gross and bare faced. I’m digging this a little. 

However, don’t get me wrong. You better believe I’ve still got on winged eyeliner sharp enough to cut a man when I have somewhere fun to go though. 

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Women of the Kodokan

Founded in 1882 by Jigoro Kano, the Kodokan is the home of Judo. Despite Kano’s progressive views of women and his philosophy that judo is for everyone, the Kodokan had some sexist foundations. Kano taught women from the very beginning, and eventually, in 1926, the Kodokan opened a Women’s Division with its own practice, procedures, and ranking system. It wasn’t until 1972 that the Kodokan allowed a woman to advance past 5th degree (Keiko Fukuda who was a student of of Kano and had held a 5th degree for 30 years.)

A primary purpose of the founding of the Women’s Division was to train up women physical education and judo teachers - a key part of Kano and Utako Shimoda’s efforts to improve public education for all children.

The curriculum of the Women’s Division is unique in that it probably better reflected Kano’s intention for Judo. For example, he considered competition more or less unimportant to Judo and consequently, the women did little. The women were also required to do extensive research, and there was a strong emphasis on kata. Indeed, many kata that were forgotten in the men’s section were preserved in the Women’s Division, and the Women’s Division was where many kata were developed. Notably, it was Keiko Fukuda and Masako Noritomi who were primary responsible for developing the Joshi Goshin-Ho women’s self-defense methods.

Here are some of the women of early Judo and the Kodokan:

  • Katsuko Yanagi, Kano’s sister and among his first collaborators/students
  • Utako Shimoda, women’s rights activist and education pioneer; trained one-on-one with Kano for many years; they collaborated on getting judo into schools for both girls and boys. (third picture above)
  • Noriko Yasuda, began in 1884 (first picture above with Kano and Akutagawa). A 33-year-old woman with many health problems who Kano taught personally.
  • Sueko Ashiya, began in 1893; Kano’s first woman student. Taught in his home.  
  • Ayako Akutagawa, among first three women registered at the Kodokan in 1926; (pictured above in first picture with Kano and Yasuda, and in fifth picture); promoted to 1st dan in 1934
  • Yasuko Morioka, among the first three women registered at the Kodokan in 1926
  • Masako Noritomi, began training at age 10, among the first three women registered at the Kodokan in 1926; promoted directly to 2nd dan in 1934 - 1st dan skipped; one of the early high-ranking women who became an instructor for the Women’s Division
  • Katsuko Kosaki (or Osaki?), first Kodokan woman 1st dan, promoted in 1933
  • Masako Wada, among the first women promoted to 1st dan
  • Keiko Fukuda, the granddaughter of Kano’s Jujitsu instructor Hachinosuke Fukuda, was invited to the Kodokan in 1935 (second picture above with Kano). She spent her entire life teaching judo and was promoted to 9th dan in the Kodokan in 2006 (delayed by decades by the Kodokan)
  • Hisako Miyagawa, the principal of the Oin Women’s College, was promoted to first dan at age 59 in 1936

Western women also visited the Kodokan:

  • Sarah Mayer, (London) visited Japan in 1935 and stopped in at the Kodokan; promoted to first dan in 1935
  • Shizumo Ozumi, (Hawaii) was the first American to be promoted to 1st dan in Kodokan in 1936, although most claim it was Ruth Gardner (below) who first trained at the Kodokan. It’s not clear to if Ozumi did this at the Kodokan or by a Kodokan instructor in the US.
  • Ruth Gardner, (Chicago) visited in 1949; some believe to be the first non-Japanese woman to train with the Kodokan.
  • Marie-Rose Collet (France) visited in 1949(??)
  • Helen Carollo, (Oakland) visited in 1953 and 1960. She was married and a mother which was unusual for judo in Japan, and inspired more Japanese women to train
  • Rusty Kanokogi nee Glickman (Brooklyn), visited in 1962. While there she was promoted to 2nd dan, having only been a 1st dan for a year.