Combat sport has typically been seen as a male-dominated industry, but that perception is becoming less true day by day. 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.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to shine a light on some of the incredibly strong and inspiring women in our combat community who are just as capable of kicking ass as anyone on the mats! But why stop at one day? We’re taking this week to chat with Sami Locke, Janay Harding, Brit Cook and Skye Nicolson to share what got them into the sport, why they love it and to encourage women who are interested in trying it out but are yet to take the leap.
First up, our good friend, CMBT Training Centre Coach and epic tattoo artist: Sami Locke.
I am a Tattoo Artist, and I work from my own little private studio on the Gold Coast.
I train several mornings and evenings a week at CMBT Training Centre, where I do strength & conditioning, Jiu Jitsu and MMA. I am also a Kids Jiu Jitsu coach. I absolutely love cooking and I am a big lover of the great outdoors and all things 4WD, camping and adventure-based.
What got you into combat sports and what do you love about it?
My partner has done martial arts his entire life and took me along to watch a Jiu Jitsu class one day when we were on holiday. There was a girl there that day, and she was the hardest worker in the room. I admired that so much and loved seeing her put in the work and dominate her rounds and I knew I wanted to try it. My partner took me to a class when we got home and I instantly fell in love with it. It has a real problem-solving quality to it that I really love. I then began doing striking and MMA a few years later as well.
Combat sports is so much more than just physical ability. It’s a mental and emotional game as well. I love that challenging aspect of it and the never-ending learning. I started martial arts about the same time I started tattooing, so the two are very closely linked for me. They are both a deeply fulfilling yet challenging passion, and they are both a craft that is very complex and difficult to master.
Do you believe that training in combat sports is heavily male-dominated? How do you feel being a woman in the sport?
I think it once was, but it certainly seems that is changing as time goes on and more women are finding their place in martial arts. Incredible women have been carving their way into combat sports since the beginning and demanded their skills be recognised and respected and I feel as though women are only being seen, heard and valued more and more.
Would you recommend combat sports for other women? Why or why not?
Absolutely! It certainly has its moments of difficulty, but that’s one of the reasons it’s so great. I feel like those moments help me to become more resilient and determined. Nothing that is worth having comes easy. Combat sports has increased my confidence, discipline and is by far the most fun type of fitness I have found for myself.
What advice would you give to other women who have reservations about trying combat sports?
You are just as worthy to be in combat sports as anyone else. 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. Finding a training environment that works for you is important too.
What is some direct advice you could give men to help women become more comfortable training in combat sports?
Treat us as equal teammates. Respect that we are there to work just as hard as you and our training is not more or less important than yours. Combat sports should be accessible and enjoyable for all folk of any gender.
To keep up with Sami, follow her on Instagram @samilocke.