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    Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

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    WillAnderson

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    Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by WillAnderson on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:01 am

    Hello all,
    I'm about to conduct a research study in Australia looking at why female participation in Judo is so low.
    Most other clubs and sports get around a 50:50 ratio, but Judo is more like 1:10.  
    So before I start I'd be interested to get your point of view on this.

    What is it about Judo (in Australia?) that is not attracting females into the sport?
    Is this something peculiar to Oz or a worldwide thing?
    What do you think needs to be addressed to make Judo more attractive girls?  From what I can understand the life blood for many of these sports is reliant on encouraging kids etc into it, who then keep going into adulthood.

    I'd be really interested to get your perspective on this.

    Thanks
    Will
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    Stacey

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Stacey on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:02 pm


    I don't think it's a particularly Oz problem.  While numbers in the US are getting better, it's still not great, and no where near your 50:50 number.


    Last edited by Stacey on Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Neil G

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Neil G on Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:58 am

    It's not unique to judo. Any martial art that involves actual combat with a resisting opponent has a low percentage of women. Few women have the desire for that kind of aggression. If you look at the numbers of equivalent martial arts without real combat, you will see way more women. For example, judo vs aikido, kendo vs iaido, etc. Aikido and iaido dojo tend to have numbers approacing 50% women. Kendo is same as judo, under 10% women just by my personal experience.

    petrip

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by petrip on Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:08 am

    Any contact sport is male dominated. And wrestling style more so. Take away actual 'combat' ans you have product marketable to women.

    Go see a boxing gym for those who spar and then those lessons/training that purely are fitness trainings. At least in finland all sorts of fitness boxing/kick boxing have good female attendance

    hobit

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by hobit on Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:21 am

    Significantly less women in cycling as well.
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    icb

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by icb on Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:39 am

    This trend can be reversed somewhat if there are sufficient numbers of females in a club and some good female role models. My club has a history of fairly high-calibre female judoka, including one who is the only Olympian that the club has produced (thus far) and another who has competed at the world kata championships a couple of times. At the moment, some of the most successful competitors in our club are a group of females competing in U18, U21 and moving into the senior divisions. We also have several female assistant instructors and black belts, who help encourage girls to take up and continue in judo, I'm sure.
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    NBK

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by NBK on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:17 am

    icb wrote:This trend can be reversed somewhat if there are sufficient numbers of females in a club and some good female role models.  My club has a history of fairly high-calibre female judoka, including one who is the only Olympian that the club has produced (thus far) and another who has competed at the world kata championships a couple of times.  At the moment, some of the most successful competitors in our club are a group of females competing in U18, U21 and moving into the senior divisions.  We also have several female assistant instructors and black belts, who help encourage girls to take up and continue in judo, I'm sure.
    (bold added by NBK)
    I think that's an excellent point. Women seem to feel better with a minimum 'critical number' of women to practice with. Surely that is for a number of reasons, including simply feeling better about grappling with their own gender rather than being hauled around by the likes of Neil G and me.

    Our main dojo has a good number of young girls that cycle in and out. Very few of them continue past a certain age; I'm sure there are many reasons, including other team sports, demands of schoolwork, etc., but I feel certain there is a component that makes them increasingly uncomfortable grappling with men and boys as they mature. Some just power right through, but not many.

    Note that while women are welcome in the big dojo of the Kodokan, there is still a separate womens dojo and class. It seems not everyone there goes regularly to the main dojo and open classes, but certainly some do.

    NBK

    tafftaz

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by tafftaz on Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:54 am

    NBK wrote:
    icb wrote:This trend can be reversed somewhat if there are sufficient numbers of females in a club and some good female role models.  My club has a history of fairly high-calibre female judoka, including one who is the only Olympian that the club has produced (thus far) and another who has competed at the world kata championships a couple of times.  At the moment, some of the most successful competitors in our club are a group of females competing in U18, U21 and moving into the senior divisions.  We also have several female assistant instructors and black belts, who help encourage girls to take up and continue in judo, I'm sure.
    (bold added by NBK)
    I think that's an excellent point.  Women seem to feel better with a minimum 'critical number' of women to practice with.  Surely that is for a number of reasons, including simply feeling better about grappling with their own gender rather than being hauled around by the likes of Neil G and me.  

    Our main dojo has a good number of young girls that cycle in and out.  Very few of them continue past a certain age; I'm sure there are many reasons, including other team sports, demands of schoolwork, etc., but I feel certain there is a component that makes them increasingly uncomfortable grappling with men and boys as they mature. Some just power right through, but not many.

    Note that while women are welcome in the big dojo of the Kodokan, there is still a separate womens dojo and class.  It seems not everyone there goes regularly to the main dojo and open classes, but certainly some do.  

    NBK


    NBK is spot on with his second point about women stopping at a certain age. My daughter is so far one of the only girls to "power through" to senior ranks at our club who is still practising. We have a fairly large turnover of female judoka from 5 to 14 yrs. After that it is exactly like NBK describes. Once they hit puberty they seem less enthusiastic. The same thing can be said for some boys as well.
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    Fritz

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Fritz on Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:19 pm

    But the question is "Why"?

    The postings are description of the current state, but not explanations of the reasons?
    Maybe be the reason is, that women differs to men more then the obvious?
    ;-)

    Cynical spoken, most females quit, as soon as they get a boy friend / husband...
    Some return for a short while when they are single again... (*)

    Very few keep staying until they get their children, few of them return later, but thats understandable...

    (*) That i have observed lots of time, sometimes i think, they are going to the judo lessons not for training but
    only to look for a relationship... Often the catch someone and offen this lucky one after that is not "allowed" anymore
    to spend time regulary at the tatami... :-(


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    petrip

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by petrip on Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:44 pm

    Fritz wrote:But the question is "Why"?

    The postings are description of the current state, but not explanations of the reasons?
    Maybe be the reason is, that women differs to men more then the obvious?
    ;-)

    On the average men do differ from women. More women on dance classes and more man in combat sports. Why? Just because women tend not to like combat sports. Could whole bunch of reason some them biological. Why men do about 90% of homicides while they are roughly only 50% of population? I am pretty sure some sort of acceptance on violence is builtin in to men (whether cultural or biological) and this has implication to both crime rates and popularity of combat sports.
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    Neil G

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Neil G on Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:00 am

    NBK wrote:Women seem to feel better with a minimum 'critical number' of women to practice with.
    That's true, women will tend to stick with it longer if there are a group of them that start together.  But it's also true of people in general, which is one of the reasons we only accept beginners in our kendo club in September and January.  When people start in ones and twos they almost always quit.  However, the key word is "longer" - eventually people have to decide whether or not they really like what they are doing, aside from the comraderie. Martial arts either is or is not someone's cup of tea.

    As to the other question of why women in general don't like combat sports, well... men and women are different as any stand-up comic will tell you.  Most women just aren't wired for aggression.  They enjoy the challenge and beauty of the movement but as soon as someone can get hurt most aren't interested.  Even the women who enjoy it and stick with it typically take a different approach to it than the men.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Stacey on Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:43 am

    Um, let's see, boyfriend? Boyfriends can be problematic at puberty and adolescence because guys don't like to date women who they feel are capable of killing them. Then there's those who like women grapplers and get a perverse sexual thrill out of women grapplers.

    Listen, adolescence and puberty are hard times in a person's life, especially a girl's life. To join peers, a girl's taught all those social niceties about painting nails, having hair just so, being concerned about clothes, getting pierced ears, wearing make-up. Most of that is a pain in the ass when it comes to judo, if not outright prohibited (long, lacquered nails for instance).

    There's pressure on girls to be something other than the person who can choke people into unconsciousness, just as there's a general dive in academics with girls of the same age. I becomes about competing needs - define yourself as a woman through society's standards, or define yourself as a woman by your own standards.

    Throw in any sort of sexually based hostility, and you have a recipe for disaster.

    How do you retain girls? get rid of all the idiots who think that grappling with girls is sexual, get rid of all misogyny, make sure your girls are progressing in ranks as fast as your boys are (that's one of those subtle misogynistic things that makes a girl feel subhuman and not at all important). Make sure you have a few actual women in your club and that their value to your club is not ancillary.
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    Nic

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Nic on Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:25 am

    There are a number of reasons why there are fewer women in Judo, here are my personal experiences and conclusions from discussions with other women.  I've been training in Judo since I was 10, in the UK & the US.  I also train in BJJ & some other arts.  I've been at it for 36 years, so have experienced a lot of the problems girls & women face first hand.

    Girls are not encouraged to wrestle or be "rough & tumble" as often as boys are.  Therefore the idea of a sport that includes wrestling is fairly foreign to them.  They may not be as comfortable with the close contact needed in Judo because they haven't experienced it as much as boys have.

    There is sexism in Judo (as with many sports) from a very early age, my 8yr old male students do not want to pick a girl as their partner.  For a variety of reasons, but I think mainly because society tells them that if they lose to a girl then they are weak.  This attitude continues on into adulthood.  Men are called all kinds of things if they lose to a Woman.  Females constantly have to deal with rejection form their male counterparts, that can make any class much less fun.

    Males are stronger & often bigger than us and have tougher skin, so they can hurt us more easily.  That's off putting.

    Girls often become uncomfortable in close contact with boys when they beging to develop breasts.  They can be quite sore at various times in a girl's development, or at certain times of the month.  So having a guy mash them to your chest can be off putting.  As can the occasional "accidental" feel the guys will give you.  Plus the comments women often have to deal with regarding their figures.

    A greater percentage of lesbians enjoy rougher sports than are in the general population.  This may be due to social or genetic reasons, not sure on that one.  But it means that people will question the sexuality of girls who are in sport, which can be embarassing whether you are a lesbian or not.  

    Then there is out & out sexism from men who don't want to train with women and who actively discourage them, or treat them as second class citizens.  Why was the joshi belt developed & why is it still in use?  

    There is even sexism amongst women, often women are not welcoming to new women at a club.  It's like it's a challenge to their Queen bee status.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard women (mostly white belts or BJJ practitioners) say "oh, there's no advantage to training with women".

    I could go on!  The answer is to promote women's Judo & to teach men to be more welcoming & less sexist or creepy!  Women only classes help to bring in girls & women as well.
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    BillC

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by BillC on Sat Nov 01, 2014 8:40 am

    Nic wrote:There are a number of reasons why there are fewer women in Judo, here are my personal experiences and conclusions from discussions with other women.  I've been training in Judo since I was 10, in the UK & the US.  I also train in BJJ & some other arts.  I've been at it for 36 years, so have experienced a lot of the problems girls & women face first hand.

    Girls are not encouraged to wrestle or be "rough & tumble" as often as boys are.  Therefore the idea of a sport that includes wrestling is fairly foreign to them.  They may not be as comfortable with the close contact needed in Judo because they haven't experienced it as much as boys have.

    There is sexism in Judo (as with many sports) from a very early age, my 8yr old male students do not want to pick a girl as their partner.  For a variety of reasons, but I think mainly because society tells them that if they lose to a girl then they are weak.  This attitude continues on into adulthood.  Men are called all kinds of things if they lose to a Woman.  Females constantly have to deal with rejection form their male counterparts, that can make any class much less fun.

    Males are stronger & often bigger than us and have tougher skin, so they can hurt us more easily.  That's off putting.

    Girls often become uncomfortable in close contact with boys when they beging to develop breasts.  They can be quite sore at various times in a girl's development, or at certain times of the month.  So having a guy mash them to your chest can be off putting.  As can the occasional "accidental" feel the guys will give you.  Plus the comments women often have to deal with regarding their figures.

    A greater percentage of lesbians enjoy rougher sports than are in the general population.  This may be due to social or genetic reasons, not sure on that one.  But it means that people will question the sexuality of girls who are in sport, which can be embarassing whether you are a lesbian or not.  

    Then there is out & out sexism from men who don't want to train with women and who actively discourage them, or treat them as second class citizens.  Why was the joshi belt developed & why is it still in use?  

    There is even sexism amongst women, often women are not welcoming to new women at a club.  It's like it's a challenge to their Queen bee status.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard women (mostly white belts or BJJ practitioners) say "oh, there's no advantage to training with women".

    I could go on!  The answer is to promote women's Judo & to teach men to be more welcoming & less sexist or creepy!  Women only classes help to bring in girls & women as well.

    Nice post Nic ... long time, no "see" on this forum.

    Feel free to introduce yourself in person some day ... we've had a number of local events recently that I hope at least you might have heard about.

    http://www.pacificsouthwestjudo.com/


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    NBK

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by NBK on Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:27 am

    Stacey wrote:...

    How do you retain girls? ....

    Make sure you have a few actual women in your club ......

    Billc, Stacey is on to you.  No more crossdressing while commuting to the club. We need an actual woman now.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Stacey on Sat Nov 01, 2014 11:34 am

    NBK wrote:
    Stacey wrote:...

    How do you retain girls? ....

    Make sure you have a few actual women in your club ......

    Billc, Stacey is on to you.  No more crossdressing while commuting to the club.  We need an actual woman now.  

    .... at least Billc doesn't have to wear a t-shirt or rash guard under his gi to be in touch with gender based fairness....

    GregW

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by GregW on Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:21 pm

    Would women be more interested in judo in an all-female class? One of my student's sister came to class twice and she had a great time, but she didn't like being the only female there. She said, "When you get another girl, let me know." That's a "Catch-22" because the any new girl might say the same thing. I never know when a new female prospect might show up, but if she sees only guys there, she might say the same thing. I've thought about offering just a female class, but I think it would have a good idea to have a female co-instructor also. We're a small club, just starting our second year, so we're not there yet.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Stacey on Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:38 pm

    it depends. If it's led by a guy, but there's another guy there instructing as well, and acting as uke for all demo purposes, it could work, but getting enough girls there can be difficult. Start by offering at a Girl's Inc, or to a specific group of girls with a limited age range. Don't be in any way creepy about it. If you can, get a woman instructor in for at least some of the classes.

    But, really, you're going to have to overcome that puberty/grappling isn't feminine thing. It's hard to be feminine, especially at 11-17, when you're being told to not wear make-up, cut your nails, nix all the jewelry, and let your hair get mussed up.

    And, whatever you do, don't be talking about undergarments or hair ties. Sure, tell a girl to take out the barrets and hard plastic clips, but don't worry about the elastic bands, and don't tell a girl that she can't wear a bra. Yes, we all know those little hook things are illegal in shiai, but you don't want to be telling an overly endowed 14 year old who's embarrassed enough that she can't wear an underwire - let her figure that one out for herself. You can also be more subtle: on the order form for a gi, include things like a jewelry pouch (for storing jewelry while you're practicing), sports bra options, awesome club t-shirts (that you're not going to complain about on the dojo floor), along with a sports bag, zori, and the like. Let them talk about the underclothes thing at home with mom and dad - they don't need to know about hooks and the like until they're getting ready for shiai.
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    BillC

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by BillC on Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:53 pm

    Stacey wrote:
    NBK wrote:
    Stacey wrote:...

    How do you retain girls? ....

    Make sure you have a few actual women in your club ......

    Billc, Stacey is on to you.  No more crossdressing while commuting to the club.  We need an actual woman now.  

    .... at least Billc doesn't have to wear a t-shirt or rash guard under his gi to be in touch with gender based fairness....

    I dunno Stacey ... except for the sexist, restraining sports bra and t-shirt, I have done my best to blend in with the girls ... somehow it doesn't work.


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    Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
    But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

    - Kipling
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    Stacey

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Stacey on Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:59 pm

    BillC wrote:

    I dunno Stacey ... except for the sexist, restraining sports bra and t-shirt, I have done my best to blend in with the girls ... somehow it doesn't work.

    Next time, get a mani/pedi before practice. Make sure you get your nails Frenched, and I think you'd look great with more of a hot pink than a candy apple red.
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    Fritz

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Fritz on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:21 am

    There is sexism in Judo (as with many sports) from a very early age, my 8yr old male students do not want to pick a girl as their partner.
    Ironically, girls in that age are often a lot tougher and more aggressive than the boys, so in our club
    such a boy will have a very hard time :-) He will learn, that he has to work with girls, he will experience that sometimes a girl
    will teach him something (ukemi, a throw, katame-waza)...
    On the other side, girls, which seems to tend to work only other girls, will be paired regularly with boys for randori...
    :-)


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    Nic

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Nic on Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:22 am

    Fritz wrote:
    There is sexism in Judo (as with many sports) from a very early age, my 8yr old male students do not want to pick a girl as their partner.
    Ironically, girls in that age are often a lot tougher and more aggressive than the boys, so in our club
    such a boy will have a very hard time :-) He will learn, that he has to work with girls, he will experience that sometimes a girl
    will teach him something (ukemi, a throw, katame-waza)...
    On the other side, girls, which seems to tend to work only other girls, will be paired regularly with boys for randori...
    :-)

    This may be a reason why the boys don't choose to train with the girls of their own age. It's not about toughness, it's about girls experience rejection when the boys don't select them to train with. Men do the same thing with women, it makes them uncomfortable. I totally get it, but coaches need to be aware of the issue. Girls will often train together because it's fun, but also because the boys don't want to train with them. Which is a problem when there are only a couple of girls in a room full of boys.

    It may help if male coaches are aware of the issue and watch for the signs of girls being upset because they boys never choose them. Of course coaches should be watching for any signs of prejudice within the class. Kids can be mean to one another, they may avoid training with other kids for a variety of reasons, the color of their skin, weight issues, etc. Minority kids of any kind will experience rejection in the rest of their lives as well, so it's nice to make Judo class be a safe zone!

    Coaches should watch their language use, avoid saying, "it's only a girl", "don't be a sissy" or comparing the boys to the girls. That kind of thing, just as they should avoid saying how "gay" something is or the use of racial slurs. Children who are bullied will be very sensitive to language and the demeaner of the coach. So if we want to encourage girls to come to class we have to watch ourselves!

    Gus

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Gus on Tue Nov 04, 2014 8:47 am

    Some girls have told me they are put off by Newaza. Having said this I recently trained at a club in Ecuador which was half female. I got put up against a 17 year old girl . I am strong so I thought "oh I'll go easy on her" but she nearly wiped the floor with me - she was strong and fast  - in fact she also used a lot of strength and her grip involved digging her thumnail into my neck throughout randori - she was a tough opponent. Turns out she was Ecuadorian bronze in her category. By the end we were both going flat out - nobody got thrown - not the ideal randori but - Gulp - I will never understimate  on the grounds of gender again !
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    Ben Reinhardt

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Ben Reinhardt on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:43 am

    Gus wrote:Some girls have told me they are put off by Newaza. Having said this I recently trained at a club in Ecuador which was half female. I got put up against a 17 year old girl . I am strong so I thought "oh I'll go easy on her" but she nearly wiped the floor with me - she was strong and fast  - in fact she also used a lot of strength and her grip involved digging her thumbnail into my neck throughout randori - she was a tough opponent. Turns out she was Ecuadorian bronze in her category. By the end we were both going flat out - nobody got thrown - not the ideal randori but - Gulp - I will never underestimate  on the grounds of gender again !

    You must not have much experience doing judo with women, Gus...


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    Gus

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    Re: Why does Judo attract less girls/women to the sport?

    Post by Gus on Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:10 am

    Ben Reinhardt wrote:
    Gus wrote:Some girls have told me they are put off by Newaza. Having said this I recently trained at a club in Ecuador which was half female. I got put up against a 17 year old girl . I am strong so I thought "oh I'll go easy on her" but she nearly wiped the floor with me - she was strong and fast  - in fact she also used a lot of strength and her grip involved digging her thumbnail into my neck throughout randori - she was a tough opponent. Turns out she was Ecuadorian bronze in her category. By the end we were both going flat out - nobody got thrown - not the ideal randori but - Gulp - I will never underestimate  on the grounds of gender again !

    You must not have much experience doing judo with women, Gus...

    ha ! as much as any Judoka Im sure , I've trained in about 40 different clubs in the past 8 years - some clubs that have a lot of women (almost half)  and some that have none - the average club I've seen has maybe two or three women .  This lady was exceptionally strong both physically and technically - the thumb in the neck during Randori was something new to me - from male or female.

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