Inspirational Stories of Women in Martial Arts

The women of JMAC smiling for the camera | Martial arts for Women

Looking for inspiration in the world of martial arts for women? 

Want to learn more about women’s contributions to martial arts?

Are you a woman interested in martial arts but not sure where to begin?

It might surprise you to know that women and martial arts have always gone hand-in-hand. Although the most popular martial artists a typical person may think of might be men, women have been key players in the history of martial arts. From the female warriors who founded popular styles centuries ago to the female stars of modern judo and karate, let’s take a look at martial arts for women throughout history. 

Martial Art Styles Created by Women

The martial arts style Wing Chun takes center stage in Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies. However, it was a woman, Ng Mui, who created this style in the 17th century. It’s believed that Ng Mui found inspiration watching a crane and snake fight in the woods. The style is characterized by short direct strikes and throwing multiple moves at the same time.  

The popular White Crane Style was also developed by a woman, Fang Qiniang. Like her counterpart, Fang Qiniang was also inspired by the movements of the crane. Legend says she encountered a crane as she was doing her chores one afternoon. When she tried to scare the bird off with a stick, the crane countered her moves gracefully and repeatedly. The White Crane Style is common in women’s self-defense classes due to its delicate nature and moves that don’t rely on great strength.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women in Judo

In other areas of martial arts, women have had to fight for respect and acceptance. Although the founder of judo trained women as early as 1893, there were bans on women reaching the highest ranks for decades. In addition to the unfair bans, the first judo Women’s World Championship only took place in 1980, 26 years after the first men’s championship. 

Keiko Fukada was a trailblazer for women in judo. After training with judo’s founder, Kanō Jigorō, Keiko Fukada was the first woman promoted to the rank of 6th dan. Fukada was an internationally renowned judo instructor who dedicated her life to the practice. Several organizations eventually recognized her contributions to judo with promotions to the rank of 10th dan

Modern Martial Arts for Women 

Kayla Harrison is a vibrant star in today’s martial arts world. She’s a decorated Olympian and world champion judoka. But Harrison is not only well-decorated as a female competitor. In 2016 she was promoted to 6th degree black belt as the youngest person in the US to earn the rank. Since 2018, Harrison has successfully competed as a mixed martial artist. 

Sandra Sánchez is a karate female phenomenon. She retired in 2022 as one of the most winning karatekas. From 2014-2020, she won 35 consecutive medals in the Karate1 Premier League which is a world record.  

If you take any inspiration from these women in martial arts, you belong at JMAC! Let us turn your inspiration into the first step of your journey in martial arts. At JMAC, we pride ourselves in creating a safe and fun training environment open to all skill levels. Contact us today for a free introductory class!