When I started in the martial arts there were few if any woman in the Martial Arts. In fact, in my classes I never saw a woman training, but I guess there were some woman in other schools unknown to me? Even if this is true, I still believe not many woman were training in the early days of the Arts in this country. Of course we know woman had been training in Asia for centuries but that is because that is where the Art comes from and it was well known and practiced by both male and female.
In Asian Martial Arts history it is recorded that a women created a style known as Wing Chun, or so it is believed. Some will argue this as true, there is conflicting stories as to the birth of Wing Chun but one of the reasons given why this style came to be is because the moves were better suited for woman. This is the same style Bruce Lee trained in so don't think it is a women art alone because it is not, in fact it is very popular today and is very effective and studied by both men and woman.
None of this is to say woman are perfectly suited for fighting, lets face facts, fighting history is centered around the fighting exploits of men most often. The reason for this is simple, because in many ways men are better suited for combat it just a simple fact most will admit. Men have always been known as the protector of the lady in distress. I am not into politically correct answers just to satisfy the ladies, I am into facts the why they are. Let's face facts, Little boys seem to learn toward playing with their little toy soldiers and fighting, whereas the girls are into their dolls and being motherly. It just nature's way, but that does not mean men cant play with dolls, " even though I don't @! " or that woman cant fight either, because they can!.
But to get back to the Arts, we all know there is physical differences between boys and girls such as body mass and strength and bone structure etc, even the female brain differs from men, which most men are still trying to figure out. But I am not going there, let's just say the bodies are built differently. The question is; do these differences effect a women's effectiveness in self defense? The answer is both yes and no, it depends on the person and the style they pick and how well they use it. This has always been the case with anyone practicing a martial arts, male or female alike.
However in Asia there is always a division between the male and female as seen in every tournament, the woman are not paired off against the men. But in a street condition, there is no division and most of the time woman will be attacked by men not other woman , so what are their chances of being effective in real life situations? Well the answer is they can be very effective if well trained. With the right techniques a women can defend her self just as well as any man, but they need focus on their strong points and use the right moves and hit the target point effectively.
I have had some very tough woman in my classes in my lifetime. In fact, one young woman I had was so tough she assisted me in teaching the Police one year at the Police academy and most of the guys did not want to come near. After a while, she was hurting many of the men and I had to tell her to go easy, she was that good. She was not using Wing Chun she was using Kenpo and joint locking techniques, she was that good. Yet she was not that big she was just plain old tough and determined to be good, and she was. The men gave her a wide birth and respected her abilities to defend herself very well indeed.
Women have certain attributes that are hard for men to attain, such as the shear beauty in their moves. I love watching woman perform much more then men. Men can appear awkward in the moves and not look graceful or flowing, whereas woman tend to be beautiful and flowing. But good defense has little to do with looking pretty either. It may win your points in a tournament where beauty grace and form mean a great deal but in the streets winning has all to do with hitting a vital point effectively, beauty has little to do with it. Beside's
there is nothing beautiful about getting hit in the groin, but it will certainly stop most men in their tracks.
Of course men tend to be more powerful but again this is just nature at work. But no matter what differences there may be between males and females in the strength category we have to admit, a poke to eye does not require muscular power, a child can do that. It is all about focus, and this is important to both males and females alike. A well placed knife hand to the windpipe will do wonders in stopping an attacker in their tracks as well, and this does not take that much strength to be effective. About twelve pounds of snapping power is enough to do great damage to anyone being hit in this area no matter what their size, especially if the hit is to a vital area..
The Martial arts has a vast array of movements that can be applied effectively by woman and be very effective to defend ones self. What really counts however is to fit the proper style to the person. If your sixty pounds in weight and four foot two it is a bit difficult to throw a man that is two hundred pounds. But on the other hand it not that difficult to push your finger into an eye socket and blind a person of any weight. It is always the style you pick and the person in the style that counts.
As another example you don't see many woman in Sumo wrestling as you would see them Aikido where strength is not the case to throw the person but rather to upset the center of balance which females can accomplish with little problem.. Many woman do learn Judo or Shuai Chiao as well, and under the right conditions and weight and size of their attacker they can be very effective. As I keep saying, picking the right Art for the person means a great deal for victory in the streets. But if you pick the right art for you and apply the techniques correctly both male or female are equally effective.
The bottom line is woman are effective in Martial Arts if they take into consideration the natural difference between the male and female and use moves wisely and effectively based on their physical differences.. Also in the streets woman wont be facing another Martial Artist so woman can defend themselves very effectively as they have the element of surprise and skill on their side.
We should also note the legs have been called the cannons or big gun of the Arts because legs are naturally powerful and a mans legs and woman legs both can muster a great deal of power, more then enough to stop an attack if you hit the targets. The main difference between men and woman is really more in upper body strength. But again I must inject if focus is right on, woman same potential to take a person down with a well placed kick. You don't need a massive amount of upper body strength to do this, just precision.
Today there are many well known female Martial Artists some of which are really good and have proven themselves to be worthy adversaries. I can tell you in China and Taiwan as well as Japan their are some top rated woman in the Arts. To name just one is Master Keiko Kurisake, my sister in the arts who runs her own schools in Japan as well as in Florida USA. She is a world class champion and for sure you would not like to be hit by her willing. In here schools she has more men then females, this must tell you something. She practices Shuai Chiao and many Chinese styles of Kung Fu and has proven to be a worthy adversary for anyone who crosses her path. In conclusion, the arts when used properly is effective for both male or female and has been so for decades in Asia and now more then ever in this country...... I bow to the woman in our Arts.