People often associate martial arts, and particularly grappling-based arts, as being a male-dominated activity. This is a huge shame, as I strongly believe that the benefits to women and girls of training are just as significant. In my twenty-plus years of experience in various martial arts, some of my greatest instructors have been women. Kazoku Ju Jitsu was founded and run for twenty years by my sensei, Holly Evans, who remains actively involved.

Given that ju-jitsu applies the principles of balance and leverage to allow a skilled smaller or lighter person to overcome a larger or stronger one, ju-jitsu’s suitability for females is one of its great strengths. Women can benefit hugely from any martial art, not just ours. Here are the top seven reasons why martial arts are a great choice for women in the Maidenhead and High Wycombe areas:

1. Learn to defend yourself

Sadly, women are often at higher risk of domestic violence and sexual assault. Knowing some basic self-defence techniques, as well as strategies for improving awareness, de-escalation and avoidance can improve the chances of women avoiding becoming a victim of violent crime. To improve these odds as far as possible, assiduous training in a martial art that focusses on escaping from an attacker either standing or on the ground would be the most beneficial, rather than just trading punches and kicks where men often have a strength and reach advantage.

2. Grow in self-confidence

This is closely related to the point above, as self-confident people (male or people) are far less likely to become victims of assault in the first place. Training in the martial arts often instils an air of quiet, purposeful confidence in its practitioners, improving posture, demeanour and developing positive body-language, all of which act as non-verbal cues which will make you less likely to become a target. Of course, becoming more self-confident has many other, more important bnefits. Whether it’s getting up to speak in front of a room full of meeting, deliver a presentation to senior management, or in making new friends, the inner confidence boost that martial arts can give often spills over to improve other areas of your life.

Improving one’s fitness also has a direct impact on self-confidence, which brings me on to my next point.

Female ju-jitsu students throwing each other

3. Martial arts can get you into shape

Regular martial arts training will help you get into great physical as well as mental shape, whilst providing a more stimulating workout than endlessly running on the treadmill, going nowhere fast on the exercise bike, or elliptical.

Different martial arts will work your body in slightly different ways, but to take ju-jitsu as an example, it helps develop a strong, toned core and posterior chain, a necessity when learning to throw people to the floor, or grapple with them on the ground. The warmups and drills will improve your cardio, whilst competition-style ground-fighting is the best, most intense total-body fitness workout I’ve ever encountered, as all your muscle groups are used intensively, often in novel ways. The various warm-up drills you’ll encounter will improve your functional fitness and agility, helping maintain bone density and muscle tone, when coupled with a good diet.

4. Become mentally tougher

Learning martial arts is hard, I’m not going to lie. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. To reach the highest levels, or to obtain a black belt (which signifies basic competence) necessitates years of hard training. You’ll need to develop and maintain the habit of training, even when you feel like sitting in front of Netflix with a glass of red is a better option. Two of the key values often promoted by martial arts schools are perseverance, and indomitable spirit. Whether it’s striving to perfect your techniques and improve your fitness to be able to grade for the next belt, or training for competition, or just mastering a technique that doesn’t come naturally to you, all this develops mental toughness, and is incredible rewarding. These habits of mind will spill over into the rest of your life, and help you succeed in whatever you set your mind to.

5. Meet amazing people

As well as being a place to train, the dojo, dojang, gym (or whatever your chosen martial art calls it) is more than just a training hall. At Kazoku, our very name translates as ‘family’ and that’s how I like to think of us, as one big family. I’ve met all kinds of lovely and interesting people in my years in the martial arts. People with determination and a success mindset, who will help and encourage you to reach the next level, and share a drink with you afterwards.

6. Learn to love and take care of your body

In martial arts, your body is your weapon and your tool. Without it functioning well, you’ll be limited in what you can achieve (although even with physical impairments, many people can progress a long way in and benefit from martial arts). You’ll learn to lead a healthier lifestyle so that you can keep improving. You will also discover you can do things that you never thought possible before, like pick up a grown man and slam him to the mat, perform a high kick, break a board, and many other feats.

7. Become a happier person

Working out hard in the dojo, just as with other intense exercise, releases endorphins into the blood stream that improve your mood and lower stress levels. Training is the perfect antidote to the stressful day job, and is a great way for mums to take some time for themselves. Martial arts is enormous fun, after all, you get to kick, punch and chuck your friends about!

At Kazoku Ju Jitsu we teach girls from the age of seven and have adult ladies training in our senior classes alongside the men. If you’d like to know more, come along to have a go or even just to watch a class, please check out our adults programme or get in touch.