Being a girl at a martial arts class, is not any different from being a human being practising/learning martial arts. Of course that is only unless someone points it out, and tries to make you feel any lesser. The idea that body-building or body-strengthening are activities that only men engage is most definitely ingrained in many people’s minds. But the miserable part is, that such an idea is so easily acceptable.
However, it is called martial arts for a reason. It is not a sport. When learning, you are only training to improve from what you were yesterday. It is an art that you submerge in, with mind, body, and soul. Though it’s only been a month since I joined this mixed martial arts class, where I am the only girl. I did do karate in school (and got green belt, but that was 4th standard, does it matter? not sure). Anyway, an incident at this class had me face the first directly sexist comment.
A friend was taking my practise (say Man 2) and requested another guy (Man 1), to tighten my gloves. To which Man 1 responded by saying ‘Gender dekha hai!’ / ‘Have you seen the gender’, in reference to his decision of not tightening my gloves too tight. Of course you can be careful with women if you truly feel so chivalrous, but this was not a grappling proposal. Such a blatant statement can make you question how to respond, and test your patience. I’ve always followed the policy of – do not raise a hand before offering one. Thus my response was that he must chill the hell out, which he did not seem to appreciate, and so received a rather light punch. I would like to take this sentence to state that violence is bad.
Now that that is clear, I would like to highlight how it is not about the statement or punch in the ending. Eventually we know such and even unbelievably worst sexism has been there, is there, and may disappointingly continue at some places. But if somebody says ‘You punch like a girl’, the right answer is always ‘Try harder, and you could too’.
Note: I love this class, and the comment made could be a possibility anywhere. It changes nothing about the fact that I cherish my learnings here.