Martial Arts for Ladies: Changing Perceptions
By: Sana Ahsan
The rapid increase in the cases of molestation, harassment, and rape – in Pakistan – is shocking. Women are taught to be afraid of any mishap and remain confined to their homes instead of rising up and defending themselves. Although we are living in the age of space and technology, MMA is still an underrated sport in Pakistan and actually a prohibited one for the female population. But times are changing and so are the thoughts of people.
Even in this male-oriented society, Anita Kareem, a woman from Hunza, is breaking all stereotypes. She is honored to be the first-ever female MMA fighter to represent Pakistan at the international level. She is the epitome of bravery and self-empowerment for the female population.
Let’s dive into the importance of MMA for women and the basic drawbacks our womenfolk face in opting for it.
Why MMA is crucial for women?
1. Confidence in safety
Among the multiple benefits of MMA, the noticeable one is the boost of confidence in women. The self-defense techniques are great for mental health much more than physical health as the level of confidence of women in dealing with unwanted mishaps and harassment is at its peak. It proves to be a guarding shield for them and a sigh of relief for concerned parents.
2. Self-discipline and empowerment
One of the most practical benefits of MMA is that women feel empowered, empowered to move around and let go of the fear that they have been holding in their hearts for so long. It also teaches them to be disciplined and cultivates in them the qualities of flexibility, and responsiveness along with increased mind and body control while also making them more observant.
3. Reduces dependency and discrimination
Only due to their gender, women are not allowed to travel alone, and if somehow they do manage to convince their families, the security in Pakistan for women traveling alone is a great hurdle. This has posed a great need for more MMA academies and self-defense training for women in order to make them more independent and fill the gender gap in each field.
Drawbacks in MMA for women
1. Non-availability of female trainers or fighters
A few years back, there were neither any female trainers to train the women nor any female companions to practice with. The taboos attached to the sport have been the reason that women refrain from martial arts despite it being crucial for their safety and self-defense. With the advent of time and outlook, many academies and gyms have introduced kickboxing and MMA training for women, by women, which is a good indicator for the future of MMA in Pakistan.
2. Society and peer pressure
The physical nature of MMA and the social outlook toward females in Pakistan has been the foremost reason for the fewer prospects for Pakistani women in MMA. People condemn women from opting for the field as a profession or even as a necessity. Women are looked down upon as weaker and fragile creatures and hence choosing to fight or protect themselves in high esteem is regarded as vulgarity and boldness which is a completely false view as now it is extremely important for women to stand up for themselves in the face of the patriarchal society.
3. No recognition as a profession
We have female pilots, doctors, and soldiers now, but there is no proper recognition of MMA as a profession for women. Pakistani women are courageous and daring but the unavailability of career choices in MMA and the negligence of sports authorities means that it is extremely difficult to choose MMA as a profession even if they wish to.
The Bottom Line
Pakistani women have the potential to carry out the toughest of work, be it in the field or in the MMA ring. What is missing is the proper guidance and an accessible platform. Separate clubs and training academies with local leagues and competitions can open up a range of possibilities for women. Being a female MMA student, I personally feel there is a great lack of motivation and mentorship for women in Pakistan. By only providing these, there will be a drastic increase in the ratio of girls in the field. I am hopeful that in the near future, this field will bloom, and through this, many women will gain hope and become empowered