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the young girls in our gyms
Posted 05 September 2017 - 09:50 AM
When I came back from my trip, I decided I wanted to start some martial art. I had stopped doing horseback riding and was looking for a sport that would help me face my numerous fears. Martial arts were something I was interested in from an early age, but my parents had always been skeptical about my potential in that field. "You're too clumsy, you're gonna hurt others or yourself." "You're way too nice to do combat sports." This was what I was used to hear, from family and friends. Being an only-child, an only-daughter on top of that, I was treated like a national treasure, a delicate flower that needed to be protected against the harsh realities of life. This time, though, I was determined to show up at the gym no matter what. I was lucky, I found a club where the teacher is nice, incredibly nice. With time, from being my teacher, my trainer has also become a role model in my eyes.For the young girl who freaked about mostly everything, he just happened to be the mentor I needed : calm, patient and confident. In no time, he could read me like an opened book, knowing exactly when I needed explanations, reassurance or encouragement. As weeks and months flew by, I slowly started to improve and leave my shyness behind around the other students.
The point I want to bring on in this topic is about the way young girls are treated in muay thai club.
I decided to post in the general section because I'm indeed quite curious : how are the young girls treated in your gyms? Do people go on easy on them? Or on the contrary, are they pushed? Do people treat them like young siblings or do they ignore them? Has someone been in some similar position before? Do the way people see others change with time?
Thanks for those who will answer,
- radarjam and Jas like this
Posted 05 September 2017 - 01:39 PM
I am a little more careful when working with the youngest girl in the gym (around 13/14) as she is much smaller (I am 47kg myself so she is super tiny) but not any more careful than when I'm paired with someone who is relatively new to the gym. There is a 16 y/o girl who I spar just like anybody else as I can see that she is willing and able to spar a bit harder.
Have you only been training for a little while? I imagine your training partners and coach will be less protective or condescending to you as you develop in your training and confidence. As annoying as it is, sometimes its a matter of setting the pace yourself to demonstrate that you are not a "butterfly"..that usually resolves it pretty quickly.
Regarding the other female who spars too hard..maybe none of the guys have ever told her that she is going too hard? If somebody is going too hard and I don't feel like getting beat up, just a few words goes a long way. A lot of people are usually unaware that they are going too hard and are apologetic once you mention it to them. She may not go hard against you if you are new. Maybe try to spar with her in training under your coach's supervision?
- Kaitlinrose likes this
Posted 05 September 2017 - 09:17 PM
Concerning my friend, people say she hits hard and she knows it... so she always end up training with guys. The fun part is she's super skinny but my coach view her like any other male student in class. Last time, when I practiced with her and another senior male student, I wasn't allowed to hold pads for her, as she was considered too strong for me. After class, she tells me she was vexed about the comment. In an ideal world, we would do sparring under my trainer's supervision, but it's been awhile since she hasn't come to class.
Posted 05 September 2017 - 09:52 PM
At my gym in Thailand young girls are rare, but they do come in occasionally. They're always put with much, much smaller boys to work with. Depending on what the girl is there for (most come for fitness and stay only for a few days or return only occasionally), my trainer will either tell the boys to be careful or just trust that he's small enough that he won't be able to do any real damage. We have one boy who is 14 or so but he's tiny - TINY - and he hates being put in these situations so he does get pretty mean with his neck-yanking in the clinch. It's not going to injure anybody, but it sucks and it hurts. Usually my trainer will instruct the girls to go really hard, regardless of being much bigger than the boys. But I think that's to teach the boys defense and make the exercise meaningful for them as well, rather than being "charity" work by being put with a girl.
I'm not young, but I'm very often the only girl. I'm put with boys who are bigger and stronger, AND my trainer tells them to go hard on me. But he's also careful with who he pairs me with, so I've only occasionally gone with a boy who can (and does) hurt me and then I don't get put with him again. So there's a slight protective vibe in how I'm paired up, but it's the same as with your trainer feeling out the new guys for a while before allowing them to go with you - my trainer wants to know that the boys understand how to control themselves or he'll let me put them in their place and that can end up being a bit of an emotional eruption but always is blown over by the next day. I do believe my coach is protective of me because I'm female more than any other reason.
- dtrick924, radarjam and Jas like this
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Posted 06 September 2017 - 02:39 AM
Congrats on that adventure in Mexico, and deciding to join despite your parents being that way, I could definitely relate ! I'm 19, so I'm usually the youngest in my class too. I've been really lucky to always be the leftover in partner-choosing lol, so I often get paired with the coach or someone really skilled. Fortunately, the guys have been really controlled and respectful. There was only one instance in sparring where a guy way bigger didn't control his strength so well. I found that the more serious you seem about perfecting technique, the more enthusiastic they are about working with you. My coach barely corrected my technique until I was consistent in going and asked more questions, now he's a lot stricter. I'm shorter than everyone too, but no one treated me much differently other than being considerate of how long I've been training (a little over a month). There are 2 young female fighters in my class, and I've yet to get paired with any of them :( Occasionally girls from the fitness class would come, and I must say that one thing that bothered me a bit about them is how they got away with slacking in technique...there was a time I was paired with one, and she slacked a ton the entire time yet my coach called me out (gave me anxiety because everyone looked at me omg) when I didn't have my hands up once. I guess everything depends on how serious you look. Perhaps you could tell your coach any goals you have for Muay Thai. Good luck !
- threeoaks and radarjam like this
Posted 06 September 2017 - 03:24 AM
As for gaining respect, just work hard and don't settle for less than what any other member would get. I would be sure that the coach knows about and is okay with sparring. If you are new it may not be the best idea to spar with no supervision.
- threeoaks and radarjam like this
Posted 07 September 2017 - 12:49 AM
Oh - I could relate too! I'm the only girl in the family (I have 2 brothers; i'm the middle kid) and having interest in martial arts for a very long time, my parents deterred me, mainly my mom, from doing it for almost the same reasons too. The thing is, I've always been a tomboy lol. I play video games - pretty hardcore haha, I love the outdoors, I'm not fond sissy/girly things, I also have a lot of guy friends and my sparring partners are mostly guys (I very much prefer to train with them) So anyway, my parents knew I had that aura but since I'm still their only "little" girl, its quite unfortunate that they never exposed me in martial arts.... I wished I had some martial arts training during my childhood/teenage years.
It was about 2.5 years ago (I'm 24 now) when I started my Muay Thai training and loved it ever since. I started MT mainly because I wanted to lose weight, get fit and active. I trained 4x a week then started sparring continuously about 6 months-ish later. And just about last year I started my solo-journey to Thailand to experience Muay Thai for about 2 weeks. Then after coming back from Thailand, I told my coach that I wanted to fight one day - he agreed to making that happen but sadly, it fell through as he wasn't keen of entering me in a day-tournament. I was upset but he told me that he'd rather see me in a ring and believed that I will be fighting one day.
My parents knew that I've been training but still were concerned about getting hurt. I mean of course, I'm their only daughter after all. But somehow I've got a huge amount of respect and support from them because they knew how hard I've been working all this time. When I came back to Thailand in April for a month, I had my debut fight there. I remember messaging my mom and dad on Facebook messenger, telling them: "Hey - So uh, I'm fighting on the 23rd" and instead of them freaking out and discouraging me not to do it, I could remember my dad telling me: "YOU CAN DO IT, I BELIEVE IN YOU...JAM! (my nickname lol)" And my mom also gave me all the blessings and love, telling me how she's proud of what I've become.
It meant a whole lot. Despite being across the world, anxious of how the fight would turn out; I lost through a decision if you're wondering. The amount of undying support from my parents, boyfriend, friends, team-mates, my coach, etc molded me into a better person.
[Sorry for the ramble HAHA, went off topic there..]
On the side note of how I'm treated in my gym [being the only female fighter] I normally spar with guys (big, tall guys) - and my only mentor in that gym is my coach. The funny thing is, he isn't much of a positive (nice/calm feedback) person, to me anyway. But what I love about him is how confident, passionate and how he pushes me to my limits. In a way too he treats me like how he pad-holds for guys, he spars with me like he means it, and how spot-on his constructive criticism is. I'm not saying that he treats all women/girls like this in the gym, in fact, he's incredibly nice to them and is super helpful. Its just that, I suppose since I'm working on becoming a fighter, he doesn't want to give me any bullshit or sugar-coat anything. Like yesterday in training/pad-holding for example, he got disappointed of how weak my punches were (I was so drained from work yesterday) but he kept pushing me to work harder. I got a little ticked and emotional actually LOL...which helped. And when they started getting snappier, I saw it in his eye that he got quite impressed.
Anyway in the grand-scheme of things, yes, the way people see others change over time. I have come across tons of hurdles/obstacles....till now! There were times I've given up and asked myself if I wanted to continue to train and fight. If there's anything you would like to work on, I'm sure your coach would be more than happy to help you with your goals. Don't be shy to ask, that's what they're there for. Best of luck with everything!
- threeoaks, dtrick924 and Jas like this
Posted 07 September 2017 - 07:25 AM
This will probably vary a lot from gym to gym - and it will probably have a lot to do with how many women have come through. If you are one of the first, you will be dealing with whatever example those before you set (this can be good or bad). If you are the first, you have a trail to blaze. If the gym has had a lot of women come through they tend to be seen more as individuals rather than a gender representative, and you'll be treated according to what you can handle. At least, this has been my experience.
If the gym has not had many female competitors, the guys are most likely going to have one issue or another hitting you at first. If you give them some time, they'll get over it. They've probably been socialized their whole life to refrain from hitting women. As annoying as it is, try to cut them a little slack. Sometimes you'll get guys who go to hard not wanting to "lose to a girl". How you can deal with that will vary greatly depending on your size/experience, but that probably won't be a problem until you've trained long enough to become a "threat".
Edited because I read the initial post too quickly: I'm very glad to hear that you are having such a good experience! And I mean "you" as in any young woman who joins a gym.
P.S. Welcome to Muay Thai!
- threeoaks and dtrick924 like this
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