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"We don't have a girls team"

We don't have a girls team at Action Karate. We don't have a boys team either. We teach martial arts, and our teaching culture does not separate boys from girls. Everyone is held to the same standard: Do your best for personal growth, and have enough confidence to defend yourself and others.

While many sports split up girls and boys teams, we hold everyone to the same standard. There is sparring, there is ground fighting, there is contact, there is physical contact, and above all of it there is self-control. Tournaments are co-ed in each division from age 3 to adult.This isn't appropriate for all sports or martial arts styles, just pointing out it's a reality here that we take for granted. We don't brag about it or advertise it, but it is a "notch in our belt" that we provide a safe space for self-defense for boys and girls together, and we expect everyone to learn from each other.We train our girls to speak up for themselves and be fierce. We train our boys to speak up for themselves and be fierce. We tell our girls to respect themselves and others. We tell our boys to respect themselves and others.Even as I write this, no one has ever asked for modifications based on gender. There are groin strikes in many self-defense moves, but no need to say, "What if the attacker is a woman?" If it is, that strike might not be as effective so do a different move. It's that simple.There are push-up requirements for girls as young as 7, but no one has ever said, "Why do I have to do the same number as him?" There are self-defense moves for hair grabs, but everyone can safely conclude that a bald guy won't have to worry about someone grabbing his hair. No one seems to resent learning a cool karate move.I am a female martial artist. And I'm proud of the girls, women, boys and men that train for something that unites us all: achieving Black Belt excellence.-Rochelle Brenner, Head Instructor, Action Karate in Mt. Airy Philadelphia, and National Women's Golden Gloves Champion 2008.

Happy International Women's Day.

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