Those in combat sports know that training is more than just a way to tick your exercise box for the week. The benefits stretch far beyond this and can make a huge difference in the lives of just about anyone. But it’s no secret that the combat gyms are heavily male-dominated. This doesn’t mean that martial arts aren’t a sport for women - in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
“Being a woman in the combat sports world is electrifying and I feel both so powerful and so soft at the same time: it’s like a hidden secret weapon,” says CMBT Training Centre’s Mobility Coach, Brit Cook. “I am grateful each day that I get to practice its art and invigorate my own inner fire; it is eternally humbling.”
Although it may be intimidating at first, there’s a huge range of benefits that women can experience. The key is to simply take that first step into the gym and you’ll see for yourself!
In this article, we explain four reasons why combat is a kick-ass sport for women and aim to inspire and encourage any woman reading this who has an interest in combat sports to go for it.
Combat sports are a great way to quickly build your strength and fitness because your entire body is in demand at all times. You’re naturally engaging every part of your body to work in coordination to defend or attack - a requirement that’s unique to the sport.
“I love the different kinds of strength my body has adopted from combat sports,” says Brit. “Equally, I love that I can flow so smoothly and be so forceful with such improved body awareness and manipulation. It’s a completely different and unifying kind of strength and adaptability.”
Not only is it a great way to test and extend the limits of your physical strength, but it’s also an extremely effective way to build your mental strength as well. There will be countless times when you are knocked down and defeated. To succeed and survive in combat sports, you need to learn to get back up again. And again. The mental resilience that you develop becomes a valuable asset that you can apply in all aspects of life.
Combat sport is a massive physical and mental challenge for anyone to undertake. However, the satisfaction and pride that you feel within yourself when you overcome these hurdles are incredibly empowering and a fantastic way to build self-esteem and faith within yourself. “Women should feel empowered and strong and combat sport supports this!” says pro boxer Skye Nicolson. “It also helps build confidence that shines in all aspects of women’s lives.”
CMBT Training Centre Coach and tattoo artist, Sami Locke, agrees. “More women are coming into our gym and we see how it transforms their health, confidence and general wellbeing, just as it does for anyone who walks through our doors.”
From a safety perspective, it’s also an important way to learn vital skills to defend yourself in times of crisis. “I would highly recommend combat sports for other women as I believe it breeds integrity and confidence in not only defending yourself but in high-risk situations on your own,” says Bellator MMA Fighter and CMBT Athlete, Janay Harding.
Improve mental health
If you’re looking into the benefits of combat sports, you’ll find a common trend that people preach the mental health benefits as much as the physical ones. Research has backed this up, supporting martial arts as having a positive effect on reducing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.
Some of the associated benefits include:
- Alleviating stress
- Releasing pent up frustration or anger
- Improving mental sharpness
- Boosting dopamine levels
- Clarifying and grounding perspective
- Enhancing one’s self-esteem
The list goes on!
“Combat sports is so much more than just physical ability,” says Sami. “It’s a mental and emotional game as well. I love that challenging aspect of it and the never-ending learning.”
Become a part of a community
The culture of martial arts is unlike any other sport and although it may seem intimidating from the outside, the mentality is very much of respecting your fellow training partners, learning from each other and helping each other improve whenever possible. If you’re training in a safe and healthy environment, all egos will be left at the door.
This is a fantastic opportunity to meet a vibrant and dynamic community of new people and make new friends. Being such a high-contact activity, trust and respect are important components in order to train safely and smartly. Plus, it forces you to get to know each other quickly!
“After I started BJJ, I immersed myself into the family community offered on a silver platter. I completely emerged like a metamorphosis and I feel like I really have become a whole new woman,” says Brit.
“It didn’t take long for me to notice that we had one woman consistently in our BJJ classes in the beginning. But that one woman absolutely tore up the boys on the mats, and that was enough to spark a viable interest. She is small like me which is what caught my eye first, yet she was so strong...and I realised that if she could do it, maybe I could too.”
More and more women are entering combat sports gyms and feeling the transformative benefits that it can have for their self-esteem, health, fitness, wellbeing, and life in general. When you’re ready to take that first step, there’s a whole community waiting to welcome you and help you become a stronger, more empowered and confident version of you!
“You are just as worthy to be in combat sports as anyone else,” says Sami. “Don’t be afraid to be the beginner. It’s ok to not know anything at first and it’s ok to fail. Failure is a super important part of progression and you’ll get nowhere without it.”