RU crew, in the past we’ve discussed how men and women interact on the psychological battlefield, but what about the literal one? Author Melinda Leigh is here today to explain how the two sexes stack up when it comes to a physical fight. Welcome, Melinda!
Good fighters, male or female, know what works for them. They train moves to see how their own bodies respond and to find out if they are able to make different techniques work. For self-defense/combat fighting, it’s important to practice the moves on opponents of varying sizes, shapes and abilities. A 250 pound male isn’t going to be as easy to hip throw as a 130 pound female. But the biggest guy goes down like a tree if you sweep his feet out from under him. Conversely, leg sweeps are harder to accomplish on short, stocky men.
Smaller size can be put to advantage. Men in my classes sometimes comment that it’s harder for them to do certain holds, locks and traps on women. Larger hands have difficulty maintaining intricate grips on slender limbs. Sometimes women can slide right on out. Joint locks are harder to perform on women because females are naturally more flexible. It can also be harder to knock a woman off balance because her center of gravity is lower.
Women need to use leverage as much as possible when fighting and to avoid being hit. TV and movie fights aside, in reality, one fist to the face is devastating to a woman’s small bones. A trained female fighter also isn’t going to slug a guy in the jaw. It’s her bones that will break in that contest as well. Strikes to soft targets are a female’s best bet. Kicks/knees to the groin or belly allow a woman to use the largest muscles in her body, her legs, to deliver a blow to a man’s weakest points, which fall in a straight line from a man’s face to his groin. If hand strikes to the face are required, then a woman should use a heel palm instead of a fist to keep her fingers intact. A chop or half-fist (fingers bent at the second joint) fits nicely in the throat. Eyes can be gouged with fingers or thumbs.
I’ve found that my female students are often more technically correct. Because of their smaller size, women have to be more precise. If they don’t perform the maneuver perfectly, it won’t work on someone with a hundred pound weight advantage. Men can muscle over technical errors.
In addition to size/strength issues, men are hard-wired differently than women. Males are naturally more aggressive. They have a reflex in their brain. When they are struck, they automatically strike back with equal force. (This is another reason why women should never initiate a striking match with a man. She’s better off leveraging her body into an optimal position for a crippling blow to a soft target.) Young male fighters often have to learn to control their natural responses in order to keep a cool head. Strategy is a critical element to any fight. There exception to every rule, but most women will avoid physical confrontation until they’re backed into a corner or their children are threatened.
In my own experience, I’ve found that in the sparring ring, men will come right out swinging. Women, myself included, tend to hand back and wait. They fight reactively. I like to get a sense of my opponent’s style. Then I wait for him to commit to a strike and use his momentum against him.
All in all, size and gender do matter. The best way for a fighter to overcome physical and psychological differences is by using the most important organ in the human body: the brain.
More than a decade ago, Melinda Leigh left a career in banking to raise her children and never looked back. She began writing romantic suspense when her youngest child entered first grade as a way to preserve her sanity and put to use the overactive imagination that caused her so much trouble as a child. She is the winner of the Put Your Heart in a Book, Marlene, Where The Magic Begins and Gateway to the Best contests.
She holds a 2nd degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate and studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing. She’s also a certified women’s self defense instructor with the Fight Like A Girl program. When she’s not writing or practicing martial arts, Melinda lives in a chaotic house with her husband, two kids, and too many pets.
For more information on Melinda, please visit www.melindaleighauthor.com and Attacking the Page: a blog about martial arts and writing
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