Martial arts training is great for women, both physically and psychologically. However, we often talk to women who would like to try martial arts, but never actually give it a go. Our experience has shown us that there are generally five reasons or “buts” holding women back.
1. But I am not fit, strong or co-ordinated enough. Very few people are when they start training in martial arts and no one expects you to be. Martial arts requires a specific type of physical conditioning which you only gain by doing it. You get fitter, stronger, and more co-ordinated as you train.
2. But I need to lose weight first. If you go into most martial arts schools, you will find people of all different physical shapes and sizes, including instructors. We are not all young and skinny. You don’t need to be lean and toned to train and benefit from martial arts. Over time, your body will get stronger and better conditioned, and you may even lose some weight as a natural part of your training.
3. But I’m not confident enough. It can be intimidating walking into a martial arts school for the first time. There are schools around like ours that try to make this process much friendlier for new people from the moment you first make contact. Take a friend or family member with you for company and support. If you persist through this initial phase of feeling uncomfortable, you will find your confidence dramatically improves. It is part of the many benefits of martial arts training.
4. But I don’t want to fight. Many women are put off by the thought of fighting as part of martial arts training. I know I was. There are though, many martial arts like ours (Kuk Sool Won™), that are self-defence focused and do not involve fighting for belt gradings or as a regular part of training. You don’t need to fight or get hit to learn martial arts.
5. But it’s too blokey. Martial arts is one of the few sports where men and women actively train together. This can be a little intimidating for some women at first. However, there are plenty of schools, like ours, with women instructors and women students. These are a good option for women who feel uncomfortable in a male-dominated environment.
Are one of these “buts” unnecessarily holding you back from something you have always wanted to try?
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
We often get asked whether we practice karate or taekwondo, two styles of martial art that are common and well known in New Zealand. Kuk Sool Won™ is a very different martial art and here are five reasons to try it out.
1. Kuk Sool Won™ is a comprehensive and holistic martial art: Unlike other martial arts, which focus on specific elements like kicking and punching, throwing, or joint locks, Kuk Sool is a comprehensive martial art covering just about every element you can think of. It includes many different kicking and hand striking techniques. It teaches throwing, joint locking, and pressure points. It uses sequences of movements, called forms, to develop control, balance and coordination to condition the body. It includes falling and acrobatic moves, aimed to protect and condition the body, as well as promote agility and dexterity. It also incorporates training in 24 Korean weapons, including long and short swords, staff, and spear. Finally, it includes meditation and breathing. It is a holistic martial art which develops physical and mental capacity equally. Once you begin your practice of Kuk Sool, you will never need to train in another martial art.
2. Kuk Sool Won™ is a peaceful martial art that virtually anyone can practise: Kuk Sool is a self-defence martial art. While many of the techniques you will learn can cause serious harm to an opponent (and some are even banned in mixed martial arts competition), the aim of Kuk Sool is to avoid physical conflict and where it cannot be avoided, to do the minimum amount of harm possible. Unlike other martial arts, students do not fight to progress up the belt ranks. Instead, the focus of training is to learn and seek to master a broad range of self-defence techniques, as well as develop physical and mental strength, control and confidence. This makes Kuk Sool ideally suited to anyone wishing to develop self-confidence, as well as learn self-defence and improve physical fitness and wellbeing. It is also practiced by young children through to students in their seventies. It is a martial art for all ages and abilities.
3. Kuk Sool Won™ is a traditional martial art: This is important because Kuk Sool brings with it the martial art traditions of respect, etiquette and discipline. These traditions teach us self-control and discipline. By respecting others, we also learn how to respect ourselves. This encourages us all to become better people. It also makes Kuk Sool a safe and respectful environment for all, regardless of difference, such as gender, race, religion, sexuality, and age. It is a truly inclusive martial art.
4. Kuk Sool Won™ is a well organised system of martial arts. Kuk Sool is controlled by one world association, with one Grandmaster. All schools must be licensed and teach according to a set syllabus. This means that all schools teach the same material in the same way all around the world, with quality controlled by senior masters who travel around the world to teach school owners and instructors, as well as providing seminars to students. This set syllabus covers material from white belt to ninth degree black belt, meaning you can embark on a lifelong journey of systemised learning when you begin practising Kuk Sool.
5. Kuk Sool Won™ is fun: More than anything else, Kuk Sool is fun to learn and practise. All around the world, schools foster a family environment, where people respect, care about and help each other. While discipline is important, training is also carried out in a way that makes learning enjoyable.
If you have always wanted to try a martial art, but worried that you are not fit or confident enough, or have been put off by the prospect of “fighting” or a tough, blokey culture, then Kuk Sool Won™ may well be for you.
Caroline is a 5th degree black belt and Jane is a 2nd degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.