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I’ve read that small (usually women) people are not good fighters because they are fragile and must play to their strengths instead… I’m not really tall but I’d still like to learn to fight, is it possible?

I’m sorry, but those people don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s an attitude I see consistently perpetuated and it’s just flat out untrue. Short people can do martial arts just as well as tall people, short women can do martial arts just as well as tall women, and women do martial arts just as well as men.

It’s not a question of is it possible. There are hundreds of thousands of women out there across disciplines that do martial arts already. There’s a female division in the UFC. There are female fire fighters. Female police officers. Women in the FBI and women in the military. The style of Wing Chun’s oral history notes it as having been created by a woman. If you look into history, you’ll find footnotes throughout of women taking up arms to protect their families, their homeland, or just because they wanted to and were given the opportunity to do so.

They exist. They’re everywhere.

People of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and histories. Remember, Bruce Lee was only 135 pounds.

The thing to understand most about martial arts and combat is that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. It’s more about willingness to overcome your own self-set limitations and determination to succeed than it is about gender or body type. People set artificial limitations all the time, but the mind is a powerful thing. What we choose to believe about ourselves will affect us in a variety of ways, those are not always positive.

If you believe you are less powerful than a man doing the same job then you will be.

If you believe you are fragile then you will be.

If you believe you are powerless then you will be.

If you believe you can’t succeed, you won’t.

If you’re willing to work hard and learn, then you’ll discover a lot of what you’ve chosen to believe about yourself or what you’ve been told isn’t true.

There are differences between men and women, physically. There are, but those aren’t the differences that matter. Cultural programming that tells you that “you must behave a certain way or do specific things because otherwise you won’t be considered X” is ultimately going to have a lot more impact.

As a female, you don’t need any special accommodations or rules to be able to compete. You don’t. You will muddle through and figure out how to make your body work best for you. And you’ll have to work hard. It will be difficult. It’d be just as difficult for most guys. We all learn at our own pace. The trick is not to get discouraged.

Start researching the martial arts in your area to get an idea of what style you’d like to start learning. There are probably some classes available at your local college, YMCA, or similar programs if you don’t have much money. The trick is finding a style which suits your interests and an instructor that you’d like to learn from. Visit their classes, watch one, see how the students behave, note how many women are there, and ask the students questions about how they like their class.

Does it feel like this would be a good fit for you?

If yes, check out to see if you can afford it and sign up.

If no, then there are other schools out there.

Not all martial styles are going to fit either on a goals level or a personal one. Find somewhere you feel comfortable, with teachers you feel you can trust.

You aren’t going to receive special treatment for being female. You won’t learn the “special way women fight”. You’ll learn the techniques as presented and adapt them to suit yourself through practice.

Eliminating those pesky mental barriers is a good first step.

Don’t let idiots decide what will or won’t be possible for you.

You want to do it?

Then do.

-Michi