Ways You Piss Women Off During Training

Training with Women in Martial Arts

Women in Martial Arts

I have been active my whole life. I have done a wide array of activities, from performing as a ballerina to competing in national flag football competitions. I have been “the girl” in the classic “I got the girl” in too many basketball games to count. I have been in more than one profession dominated by men. I am used to being the minority.

When I started martial arts years ago, I did not think about being the minority. The more I have improved and risen in level, the more I have seen when it comes to being one of the few women in training. 

Here is a list of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to being a woman training with men. Obviously this does not apply to all men I train with- I have trained with great people, men and women, who treat me like a training partner. But these things have happened enough times for me to address them.

Sighing when you get paired with a woman

I can see you. I see you asking the instructor to get paired with someone else, the slump of disappointment in your shoulders- it makes me feel great. (hint, sarcasm)

Being awkward when it comes to physical contact

Martial arts (in most cases) are contact sports. If I did not want any contact, I would not train. This is especially true for jiu ijtsu and the ground- yes, you are on top of me. No, I do not think anything of it except how I am going to improve my position and submit you. I am there to train and to improve. Why do you have to be awkward about it?

Going light

I understand adjusting your power for skill level and size. You should do that with anyone, not just women. I can tell when someone is holding back or going light because they think I’m delicate. You are not doing me any favors. And I find it offensive. Being overly concerned when you hit a woman

Again, martial arts are contact sports. If I didn’t want to get hit, I would not train. If you get me, nice work. Make sure I’m good, but don’t apologize or be overly concerned that you hurt me. 

One of my training partners is 6’2” and at least 230 pounds of pure muscle. He has given me a bloody nose 3 times. Each time he smiles and adds it to the tally. While I wish I didn’t get caught, I appreciate his reaction of treating me like a regular partner.Coaching

This is my number one pet peeve. Some men feel the need to coach me. All. The. Time. Listen, I am there to improve. I value feedback and constructive criticism. But just because you are a man and bigger and physically stronger than me does not make you better than me. It does not give you credibility to correct me. 

Again, if I’m doing something egregiously wrong or unsafe, or if we have a working relationship, by all means, correct me. But it’s not your job to coach me. That is my job and the instructor’s job. The majority of the time when a guy coaches me, it is very condescending, even though I know that is usually not his intent. It is annoying. Just let me work. 


I would like to note that women can act in ways that perpetuate the stereotypes that cause these behaviors. That is even more aggravating to me, as a woman. I will talk about these behaviors another time, in another post. 

For all my guys out there, try to evaluate yourself when working with women, and see if you do any of these behaviors. Limiting them will make your female training partners more comfortable, and thus better to work with. Limiting these behaviors also helps you to focus more on your own training, instead of always being concerned about your partner. I know I’ve been guilty of doing these at times with women, so ladies, let’s evaluate too. Let’s get better, together.