I grew up a girly-girl. I loved pink, Barbies and all things glitter—and the sports pushed toward me were ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and dance. I would like to make the argument that regardless if a girl is a total princess or tomboy—self-defense classes should be as mandatory as any other school class.
I grew up fitting every female stereotype and I loved it. I learned to cook, clean, sew—and I was an international gymnast, but when I was thirteen I retired from gymnastics and was convinced by a coach to try Judo. I had my own prejudices against Judo at the time because it was constantly hammered into me that it was “my brother’s sport.” Now, after nine years of training, it upsets me that martial arts or any self-defense oriented activity is automatically deemed to be masculine. Self-defense is crucial for men and women alike; and in fact, every critical point in history for women’s rights was backed by a surge of women learning self-defense. As history illustrates, for women, being able to fend for yourself equals freedom.
A great example of this is the ancient women of Sparta. Unlike most civilizations at the time, the Spartans actually viewed women as full citizens with equal rights. In order to maintain equality between the genders, both had mandatory military service and training. Wives also often carried small daggers with them meant to cut their husband’s faces in cases of defense against abuse. It was considered very shameful for a man to walk around with cuts on his face because it meant he had attempted to mistreat his partner.
Self-defense became a huge fad to learn across the world when women started to seek the right to vote. Part of the reason Judo became so popular throughout Europe and the Americas was because the original intent of the sport involved negating an opponent’s strength and size with technique. It was also very easy to learn the sport as no equipment was needed and it could be done anywhere. It became a popular activity of suffragettes everywhere to secretly learn self-defense.
Even in the modern-day, as women seek equal rights to their male peers all across the world, I think it is high time for a resurgence of women learning self-defense. I think all of the new attention women are finally getting in their fields is wonderful, but with domestic violence, rape, and murder statistics remaining alarmingly high—it is imperative that we teach the women of today and the next generation self-defense.
We need to work to actively change the perception of martial arts and self-defense. If anything, it should be viewed as the ultimate effeminate activity. It is the perfect way for a woman to instill self-confidence in herself and her capabilities.
I try to take it upon myself as a woman in Judo to advocate on my gender’s behalf and help push us toward a better future. It is one of the many reasons that I so enjoy working with my sponsor, CarnoSyn. CarnoSyn not only produces a safe, pure and science-backed beta-alanine that has done wonders for improving my stamina and recovery; they also support me
in breaking boundaries. CarnoSyn has helped propel me forward in my career by orchestrating my involvement in campaigns such as the Women in Sports campaign with USA Today in 2017 and the Women Strong campaign with Oxygen Magazine in 2019. Even long after my eventual retirement in the sport, I hope I can continue to work with companies and organizations to promote women’s self-defense and make a lasting impression on the world.