Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Female Tendencies

  As an instructor of (any) martial art, one needs to consider the individual strength's and weaknesses of each student. Though this is usually determined by the student's physical attributes (or lack thereof), gender should also be a consideration. Instructor's often disregard this factor, and female student's are often taught exactly as the males are taught. Casting political correctness aside, they (females) are not exactly the same, so why are they treated as if they are? If their physical attributes/deficiency's are not being addressed, then are they not then being discriminated against?
  Over the years, my classes have usually had a number of female student's. Considering the purpose that the majority of my classes have been directed towards (self-protection), this has made sense.
Females have legitimate concerns (in regards to physical abuse) that the majority of males don't share. Males, (more often than not) tend to place themselves into (physically threatening) situations that would have been better avoided to begin with, but were entered into (often willingly) regardless. Women view, and deal with (those same) situations differently than their male counterparts will. The most common physical threat, that a female will encounter will be a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. Because of this, the manner of concluding that altercation, will need to be addressed differently (than would be for the infamous, if not unlikely, unknown aggressor). 
  The physical habits, that females tend to adhere to, are often different from that of their male counterparts. This can come from social/cultural influence's, or from the physical difference's between the two. 
  We noticed this a number of year's ago (in regards to training). When we had student's reviewing wrist-grabs, it was noted that females would tend to (initially) grab the tori's wrist palm-up (from behind of the wrist, with their palm up, as if guiding), male's, would tend to grab the tori's wrist from the front (palm-down, in a more dominant/controlling manner). Though initially joked about (it was referred to as a girl-grab), as I taught more female self-defense classes, I saw that this was a (very) common (and therefor a natural) occurrence.
  This triggered us to begin noting the (or any other) gender habits/differences, that surfaced (or were noticed) during practice.   
 Though generally teaching female student's is identical (to that done for males), there are certain motions/actions that are more easily performed (by females) when they are done in the manner that is more natural to them.
  For numerous motions and techniques, this is (actually) quite easy (if not more so than for males). When one first learns Oyata's fist and striking (manner), female's will (tend to) catch-on faster (with doing the motion correctly). Male's tend to believe (and utilize) the tight-fist manner of striking (and have a very difficult time with abandoning this habit).
 Practice of the numerous Grabbing (counters) is commonly ignored by (male) student's (their most common response being "when they grab me, I hit them", since one hand is occupied). Though (some-what) making sense, this response is a largely male one. This response though (moderately) effective, may be productive (enough) to create an escape (much less control) ability in regards to the situation. 
  The basic technique that I teach (at so-called female Self-defense classes) is a straight wrist grab (defense). This is produced (meaning set-up) by the tori (defender) by them placing their weak-side arm, horizontally across their body at face level, hand open, and palm-out. This serves several purposes, first, it places something between them(specifically their head/neck) and their aggressor (for interfering with in-coming strikes/slaps), second, it provides bait. By being in the way, an aggressor will be inclined to move it. That's accomplished by grabbing it (to do so), and very likely, holding it to keep it out of the way.
  When the aggressor first grabs it, is when the tori (defender) should grasp it (to pin-it to their own arm), and apply the (tuite) technique, consisting of motioning the elbow of the held wrist's arm around and over the aggressor's wrist.  This presuming the aggressor used the hand directly across from the held wrist(tori's left wrist, grabbed by aggressor's right hand). 
 If the aggressor were to grab cross-body (odd, but not impossible), the tori would (in the same motion as before) grab the aggressor's grabbing hand, and close their (previously) open-hand (to make a fist), which would then be motioned (again) over the top of that (grabbing) hand's wrist (both methods crossing over the ulnar side first, intending to bend the aggressor's grabbing wrist forward).
   This (simplistic) application, of a (usually) ignored technique (as being considered previously impractical) is the very basis of what I'm attempting to convey. Women, will approach this technique (in this application/manner) with a more favorable attitude, than a male would. Though it would be more practical for a male to utilize this technique (as opposed to a striking alternative), they will commonly opt for the one which contains an impact in it's execution (which creates less damage, and is more difficult to implement).
  Males will also tend to over-focus, on striking the face/head of an aggressor. Women rarely do so. Their difficulty/problem, is usually that they don't believe that (what-ever) strike/tuite technique that they're performing (be it anywhere else upon the body/arm's) is going to do anything (basically a self-confidence issue, unrelated to the technique itself).
  It becomes very difficult for an (male) instructor to research these (female) tendencies. Women (when put in the spotlight) will tend to “do as expected of them” (in their minds). Observing (truly) natural motions (being done by females), will (often) only occur in a mostly (if not all) female environment. 
  Techniques can be modified by the instructor for those difference's (to make them more effective for the female user). But unfortunately, the majority of instructor's have/teach, in a one-way manner (usually geared towards a male student).
  Females have natural habits, motions and proclivities, that need to be utilized (rather than ignored). Awareness of these difference's requires the Instructor to (actually) take note of them, and consider those difference's (when they are occurring), making the necessary modifications as needed/required.
  I've watched instructor's make student corrections, that (blatantly) disregard the (female) student's body motion (which was what needed to be corrected) in favor of focusing upon the arm motion (which was where the problem was only ending up, not where it began from). 
  I'm presenting this (here) for an instructor's consideration (in their own teaching methodology). I'm also not presenting any (predetermined) solution's either. I believe an instructor can/will determine what will work best for their own student's. My purpose, is to bring the subject (more) to the forefront of an instructor's consideration (which in IMO, the subject is/has been largely ignored).

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