Women in Muay Thai – A Limitless Escape
Limits, not only are they placed on you by your own thoughts, but by our society. Cultural limitations are implanted in your subconscious mind throughout your entire life, making it something difficult to become aware of. This happens to women frequently, and although our society has come a long way in terms of women’s rights and awareness, there are still subtle occurrences that pervade our culture and influence our actions.
Women are taught to be meek, and avoid conflict. Men are taught to fight for what they want, and to be aggressive. You can see some of this even in children’s toys, where young girls are expected to play with kitchen sets while young boys are given toy guns. It is a subtle thing, but it influences our development more than we realize.
I have met a lot of women in Muay Thai classes that express these concerns, and even say that these societal limits are the reason for why they wanted to join a Muay Thai gym in the first place. They want to learn to stick up for themselves, and to defend themselves. They want to walk with confidence.
“It’s time to challenge the perfect image expected of us by society.”
This is something that Muay Thai can provide for us, but there are three things that I believe must be addressed when you are a woman who is interested in learning a combat sport. If you follow these three principals, you will find safe, effective training, and a successful outlet created for us to challenge society’s limits and status quo.
Don’t Compromise or Fear Conflict.
One of my favorite phrases is “baptism by fire”. Basically it means that you are never going to get anything done unless you are willing to jump in and take a risk. The same applies to Muay Thai. Women are cultivated to be compromising, and to work around problems without causing conflict.
This kind of method might work in certain situations, but in Muay Thai you need to be aggressive. I don’t just mean aggressive when you are fighting, I mean aggressive when it comes to learning and exploring training. Realize that you are going to be uncomfortable, but the only way you are going to improve is through practice and keeping an open mind.
Photo from Warrior’s Cup Championship of Nicole Richiusa: “It was my third fight but I still felt the nerves. I feel that you don’t really know what you are really getting into at that point. AL I know is that the feeling after that win was worth every stressful thought.”
You must communicate effectively with your training partners and coaches. If you are feeling left out, let them know. If you feel like your partners are treating you unfairly, or going too easy on you, let them know. Don’t just assume everyone is out to get you or to put you down. Sometimes these kinds of interactions are something that people do without thinking.
Society has drilled it into men’s heads that they should never hit a woman, but that completely goes out the window when you are training in a combat sport together. So use your voice and talk to people, let them know the way you are feeling and what you need to help you improve.
Know That You Might Get hurt, and That’s Okay.
You are going to be participating in a combat sport and injuries are a possibility. Too often women fear the risk of failing or getting hurt, and it holds them back from trying something different. It is no way to live a fulfilled life. In order to truly live you have to take risks.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t always be getting hurt. If you are training in a gym that takes things too far too often, or to the point where you are spending more time injured than training, then it is time to seek out another place to train. A good gym will give you a balance of intensity and control so that you can improving within the sport.
Photo by Steve Bauzen, Yoka Dekeersschieter: “During the 2016 WKA nationals my nose got cracked by a spinning elbow. I just kept on smiling because I didn’t want the doctor to stop the fight.”
If you are interested in taking up a combat sport in Muay Thai, remember these ways of thinking. Don’t be afraid to break down the limits that society has imposed upon you. Be aware of your training, make sure it is safe and effective for you. If you do this, the confidence you feel in Muay Thai will transfer into your daily life. You will learn to stick up for yourself, and how to keep your cool in stressful situations. You will find that sometimes your best friends are those who you punch in the face.
Rachel Saurman, a fighter from Ohio, found her love in Muay Thai because of its intensity and focus on technical movement. What she didn’t plan for is the way it changed her life around. Rachel plans to help others realize their true potential by continuing to battle the voice in your head.
Paul Banasiak is a Muay Thai fighter/addict, 9x champion, trainer, and fitness professional currently living, training, and fighting in Thailand. After leaving medical school without looking back, he decided to fully follow his passion of helping others become the best version of themselves, creating MuayThaiAthlete.com. A website for those who are already passionate individuals that want to take their life,mindset&training to the next level.
Today we begin forging our bodies and
strengthening our limitless minds.
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