Why We Need More Female Taekwondo Instructors by Andrea Harkins

🔔 There have been arguments over the years about men vs. women, whether in jobs, society, or even in martial arts. Some would like to contend that one gender is better than the other, and to some extent, that may be true depending on the logic. In Taekwondo, it is all about varying perspectives. Each gender has something to offer, so it only makes sense that if we had as many women instructors as men, things would be a little more well-rounded.

🔵 What it really comes down to is that men and women are different, and that is not likely to change! That is not a surprise, or a terrible thing. It takes that diversity to make the world complete, and the two sides complement each other in many ways, not because one is better than the other, but because they are different.

Using this theory of being different as a positive reflection on the difference between men and women in martial arts, I would like to highlight why our martial art community needs more female instructors. This does not imply that it needs less men instructors, but rather, to create a unified synergy in the martial art world, it would be beneficial to have a more equal footing (no pun intended!) for women in this area. Within this concept, however, are a few difficulties.

However you wish to quantify it or measure it, men and women have different perspectives. A woman’s perspective is often carved out from what society expects or her various roles. It is only natural that she brings some of this role-play forward in her teaching.

🔵 Armed with a keen sense of patience and thoughtful understanding, the female Taekwondo instructor brings more than talent to the table. She understands fortitude. Mother, wife, sister, or friend, she often sees the bigger picture, and is not as intimately focused on the rough and tumble part of martial arts to which men are naturally drawn. She is more accepting of the reasons why students come to class, because it is likely the same reason she started, not just defense, but a combination of things, such as fitness and weight loss, too.

None of this implies that the woman martial art instructor is any less strict than the male martial art instructor. Where I teach, there are two men and me, and I am definitely the stricter of the two. I want to see the stances done properly; belts tied right, and focus. Attention to detail is what drives me in class.

I am also, however, a mother figure to the younger children. There is rarely a day when I don’t wipe a tear or receive an out-of-the-blue hug for no apparent reason. I have raised four of my own children which is why I have this bond.

🔵 Why is this important in a martial art instructor? Because it creates trust. When students trust, they are more likely to apply themselves, and that creates a very valuable experience for both them and the instructor.

🔥 Often, male students do not trust that their female instructor is the right teacher for them. I have seen them quickly change their preconceived notions about a woman instructor after they witness the power of her knowledge. Some of the female instructors that I know purposely choose the disbelievers in seminars or class on whom to demonstrate a technique. After that, they begin to gain the trust of their students, including the men

🔥 Women instructors must often must prove themselves. There are still men who would opt out of learning from a woman, if given the chance. There are women who only get assigned to teach children. There are women who are not given as advanced opportunities in martial arts as the men. There is still discrimination against women in martial arts, and female instructors, including mental, physical, and sexual.

🔥 To combat all of this, we need more women to move through the ranks to instructors, masters, and grand masters. Someday, when we even the playing field, we will also eliminate some of those discriminations.

🔥 Children students need to be exposed to the fact that female instructors are equally as competent as the men. They offer the same crisp instruction and techniques. By bringing more women instructors into the mix, we can stop accepting the myth that they are not as knowledgeable or proficient as the men. As future generations rise through the ranks, women instructors will become more valuable, and the norm.

☝ We need more women martial art instructors for these reasons, and more. Women are an integral part of the martial arts culture. They work hard, are diligent, and are exceptional achievers. The most valuable part of the female martial art instructor, however, is her differing perspective on martial arts and life. While martial arts are not gender specific, raising a generation of students who learn a well-rounded self-discipline through the variety of techniques and perspectives, is critical.

🙏 I see progress. My classes are half female, half male. These students will work together toward similar goals, and one day, change the face of martial arts as we know them today. Some will grow up to become instructors. When women and men bridge the gap in the ratio of male vs. female instructors, we will all benefit. Learn more about the author at www.TheMartialArtsWoman.com

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