Friday, March 14, 2008

The MMA Girls: Role Models for a New Generation of Martial Artists

Warning: The videos presented in this post have been “flagged” as inappropriate by YouTube.com. In order to view these videos on their website, you must first select a button that confirms you are over 18 years of age. (I guess YouTube.com doesn’t think any minors would ever lie about their age.)

Now don’t get too excited here. TDA Training isn’t going to show anything too scandalous. Whoever flagged these videos did so because the girls presented in these videos are performing grappling movements that could be misinterpreted as sexually suggestive. - We’ll let you be the judge of that.

But first, let me tell you how I came across these instructional video clips in the first place.
I have a beautiful three year old daughter who loves all sorts of girly-girl stuff;

  • She has every Disney Princess doll and all of their movies. (Also Tinkerbell)
  • She refuses to leave the house unless she’s wearing a dress.
  • All of her toys, clothes, accessories, and furniture are either pink or purple.
  • She loves ballet class.
  • She’s a big fan of everything Barbie.
  • She often spends entire afternoons dancing and singing around the house.

This, of course is in stark contrast to her Father, who has all kinds of martial arts training gear laying around the basement, a full collection of MMA fights on video, and a closet full of “karate” weapons.

I don’t mind her more feminine fascinations, but as her Father, I’d also like her to eventually learn to protect herself. I think learning the martial arts would really help her to grow to be secure, confident, and courageous.

I don’t want my little princess to have to depend on some “prince” in order to get out of a tough situation.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many martial role-models for young girls. My daughter wants to look up to a woman who inspires the same values and attitudes that she appreciates.

She wants to look up to someone who is pretty and feminine. She hopes to become like someone interested in fashion; someone who likes stuffed animals, the color pink and pretty dresses. (You don’t find many role models like that in the martial arts world.)

Meanwhile, I want her to admire someone strong, tough, independent, and smart; someone who’s able to kick butt when they have to.

But what heroes are really available for my daughter? Quinton Jacson, Bas Rutten, Kimbo Slice, Chuck Liddell? None of them share my daughter’s feminine values. (Although Liddell could give her some advice on painting her toe-nails.)

However, while writing the MMA Weekly Wrap-Up, I came across a couple of women who share their interest for Mixed Martial Arts over the Internet. They call themselves The MMA Girls and they just succeed in attracting a whole new type of fan to the Combat Sports.

From their MySpace.com page, these girls, Joanne and Lauren, pod cast video clips about the Mixed Martial Arts, providing video tutorials of ju jitsu techniques and also giving predictions for upcoming UFC Events.

The video tutorials are very well done. They provide excellent demonstrations for anyone interested in learning basic ju jitsu techniques or for any MMA fan who just wants to know more about the fundamentals and terminology of grappling.

Joanne admits that she is still a beginner with a white belt in ju jitsu, but her demonstrations are still clear, easy to understand, and performed correctly. Her fight predictions are also well thought out and sometimes fairly accurate. (She picked four of the UFC 81 winners, but didn’t do as well for UFC 82; picking only 1 winner out of 5.)

How does she gain such insight into the world of Combat Sport? Well, according to an interview with CagePotato.com, she claims that her “Teddy Bear” whispers the winner’s names to her. (Yeah, I know… she’s such a girl!)

So if the videos are so useful and informative, why have they been flagged as inappropriate by YouTube.com?

Well, the problem is that, as the title MMA Girls implies, both Joanne and Lauren happen to be women. And not just regular, everyday women mind you, but also stunningly attractive women. In the world of Combat Sports, that is a problem.

On YouTube.com, you can see hundreds of clips of big, ugly, sweaty men wrestling and beating each other all day long and never have to confirm your age. However, if you want to see Joanne or Lauren demonstrate the exact same technique, then you’d better be eighteen or older!
Now, my gripe here is not specifically with YouTube.com, but rather with our society in general. I understand that there are individuals (mostly men) who are aroused by the sight of women wrestling and fighting. (Think “Jello”)

If you type the words “Cat Fighting” into a YouTube.com search, you’ll find plenty of examples of this kind of exploitation. The MMA Girls, however, do not pander to this sort of enticement.

There’s no doubt that these girls are attractive. They’re both blessed with good looks and appear to be in amazing shape (a credit to ju jitsu conditioning drills.) Most people would probably expect to see them in an aerobics or yoga class rather than mixing it up in a ju jitsu gym. But should our expectations dictate the status of their videos or what they’re trying to accomplish?

The MMA Girls wear common workout attire; t-shirts and shorts. They do not dress in bikinis, lingerie, or “cheer leader” outfits. They only demonstrate legitimate ju jitsu techniques and do not engage in any suggestive or inappropriate dialog.

They talk about the Mixed Martial Arts, and that’s all. There is nothing improper in the content of their video clips.

Like many of the Bloggers on the Internet, (including myself) they wish to share their own understanding and enjoyment of the Combat Sports.

It’s really a shame that they have to undergo such scrutiny. Do we really have to assume that the only people that would be interested in their video clips are sexual deviants? Can woman participate in grappling arts without somehow being “suggestive?”

For my daughter’s sake I have to believe that they can.

Women can be smart, beautiful, feminine, and sexy, while also being able to fight. They shouldn’t have to carry some false “tough-chick” persona into the gym just to train or put on a gi.

The “girly-girls” have just as much of a right to protect themselves as anyone else.

It’s okay if my daughter wants to grow up to be like a princess. She can love ballet and Barbie; wear all the pink dresses she wants. But, if a grade-school bully tries to pick on her, somebody’s gonna end up in an arm-bar.

The MMA Girls (and female martial artists like them) are the role-models for little girls like my daughter. They are part of a new generation of martial artists who understand that the old stereotypes of what it takes to be a fighter no longer hold true.

Male or female, we are all free to pursue individual tastes and interests while also continuing to be an essential part of the martial arts community. We don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations, but instead can follow our own ambitions with courage and confidence.

This is the type of person I hope my daughter will grow to become. I’m glad that there are women like the MMA girls to help lead her way.

Respectfully,


Rick

 

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2 comments:

Chris | Martial Development said...

The flags are there to protect YouTube from politicians, not minors from smut. It's just another application of the Art of Strategy.

Rick Fryer said...

Very Good point Chris.

As martial artists, we walk a fine line between senseless violence and the study of physical combat.

While most 'Kimbo Slice' fans probably like his YouTube videos because they just want to see someone get their butt kicked, some of us actually watch them to study the art of fighting.

Luckily for us, the politicians are more interested in smut and "wardrobe malfunctions" than they are in violence.

Respectfully,

Rick