A traditional martial art, like Kuk Sool Won™, is about more than the development of physical skills. The learning and personal development opportunities it provides go much deeper. This is particularly clear when working with our female students. Many people believe that a martial art is great for girls and women because it teaches self-defence. This is based on the premise that women need to learn how to defend themselves against a physical attack. It sees girls and women as potential victims of violence based on their gender.
While there are undoubted benefits to learning self-defence skills, participation in a martial art provides girls and women with so much more than protection from violence. A starting point to understanding these benefits can be found in the research into the types of benefits sport provides to girls and women. In 2015, an international consultancy (EY), published research on women in senior leadership positions in large corporations in the United States. It identified that 94% of women in the executive team (or C-suite) had played sport and 74% believed that a background in sport can help accelerate a woman’s career. Girls who play sports have “greater social and economic mobility, are less likely to use drugs, have greater personal safety, and perform better at school”.
Other research focusing specifically on women who participate in martial arts has found that it is empowering for those women, builds confidence, and can help change gender stereotypes. In martial arts, girls and boys, and women and men train together. In some martial arts, such as Kuk Sool Won™, they even compete against each other in many categories of competition. This creates an environment where men and women learn to work together, promoting equality and challenging traditional views on gender.
Almost half of our students are girls and women. Based on our experiences working with them, as well as our own experiences as women martial artists and instructors, we are well aware of the benefits martial arts training provides.
I am passionate about encouraging girls and women to explore their physicality through martial arts. If this is done in a respectful, inclusive environment, the benefits can be truly lifechanging.
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
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Caroline is a 4th degree black belt and Jane is a 1st 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.