Traditional martial arts tuition in Cornwall, UK.

Women in Karate


Emma Elmes
The popular view of Karate practitioners is of bald headed men with no teeth, but this is far from true.

Many women of all ages practise karate and there are many highly skilled and highly regarded female martial artists such as Emma Elmes (Left) and Cynthia Rothrock (Below).

This is not a recent phenomenon, Shaolin nuns were practicing the martial arts over a thousand years ago!

The perceived disadvantage that women have is that, in general, a woman will be smaller in stature and not as physically strong as a man. Biologically this is an undeniable fact, but it is not a disadvantage in Karate.

In fact, women have certain advantages over their male counterparts.

Karate was designed to provide an effective way to defend yourself from an aggressor who is larger and more powerful than you and/or armed. Though not designed specifically with women in mind, Karate is a martial art that relies very heavily on skill to overcome brute force. Most men will rely on their physical presence to overpower their victim(s), but a well placed blow at the correct time will stop anyone.

Cynthia Rothrock
Any idiot can make a fist and lash out wildly using weight and impetus. Karate teaches precision, timing and accuracy to land a single blow which "stops" your attacker. Ask Shihan Whale to tell you about the time when 11 year old Debbie broke two of his ribs with a perfectly timed reverse punch!

A woman's muscles are shorter than a man's, so they contract and expand quicker. This means that a woman has a natural speed advantage.

The mechanical make up of a woman's body gives them more fluid and flexible hips, and most of the power in Karate techniques comes from the hips. Women are much better at using their hips to generate power in their punches and kicks (just look at the average guy trying to dance at a night club and you'll know how hard it is for men to use their hips efficiently!)

Women also tend to excel in Kata - take a look at what a few French gals can do!

Any type of physical training can be rough on women but in Karate you are taught how to train properly. How to move, hit, punch, kick, fall and avoid an opponent.

The heart of Karate is learning how not to get hurt.

Jogging and tennis may be considered more “feminine” but how many joggers or tennis players learn how to fall properly in case of a misstep?

Currently one in three women world-wide will be assaulted at least once in their lives. Karate won't stop you from being assaulted but it can certainly help change the expected outcome of the assault.

When a woman learns Karate, she also learns self-defense and develops her self-confidence and self-esteem which allows her to be able to go out in life with less fear and with a warmer and more open attitude.

Any woman who takes up Karate will learn a means of self-preservation by doing something which is often fun, while also bettering their health and general level of fitness.



Special treatment?


We often get asked if women get "special treatment" because of their gender. Bad luck, the answer is "No".

Irrespective of age, gender or ability we all train together, doing the same things. We don't reserve the harder techniques for the fittest and strongest. Everyone tries their best to master all the techniques.

Not all people are the same though, so we do understand that people learn at different rates and have different physical strengths and weaknesses. A good karate practitioner will "adjust" their karate slightly to make it work for them.

A woman may not have quite the same level of physical strength as a man, but generally their command of timing, distance and precision is better. So a man may try to hit you as hard as he can, but a women will hit you "just right". The difference can be seen in using the analogy of a surgeon and a butcher - they both cut meat, but in different ways.

Ideally, eventually, everyone will develop both the skills of the surgeon and the strength of the butcher.

Karate girl