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Four reasons why girls don’t train (and how you can get them to do so).

"Nothing can dim the light which shines from within" -Maya Angelou

Here it is internet. Another “male” writing about women and what tha flackin’ holy hell gives him the credibility to speak on this?!

I don’t.

But I WILL tell you the most common reasons I have heard (from previous experiences) and how I got them to train. The solution has everything to do with easing the evaluative stress that they experience.

Evaluative stress is when they make a critical analysis on a specific topic (giving it a lot of thought if you may). Sometimes they blow the idea up in their mind so incredibly that the excitement turns into anxiety and this is what you want to avoid.

I have included two perspectives of decreasing evaluative stress in this blog. One as a friend (who wants his or her friend to try a class), and the other was my experience as an instructor (and how I was successful in getting them on the mat).

Hopefully these two approaches may help you if you train and you want your friend to join you in a class. Please note that the take home here is that we need to look at situations (or people) at a “case-by-case” basis or individualize training as best as we can


“I have to work out before I start working out” is a very common assumption and THE MOST common thing I hear when in a conversation with people in regards to training.

But to dig deeper, isn’t it reassurance that is really needed in this situation? They may be experiencing an insecurity regarding what they were able to do when they were younger that they can no longer do. The fear of the unknown can be stressful and can make you anxious because a.) No one likes the notion of being last or having the worst cardio in the class and b.) Having feelings of inadequacy can make one feel embarrassed.

Decrease evaluative stress: bring a friend when you try out a training regimen. This alleviates some of the fears of the unknown. Not to mention, if you quickly discover this (any training here) isn’t for you, it’ll be a fun story to tell with your friend. Thank goodness you bought the one month Groupon and didn’t commit to a 2 year membership!

Decrease evaluative stress as an instructor: In this situation, provide a reassurance that they would not be put through anything they cannot accomplish. Refocus their attention to a place where they can acquire a sense of purpose (i.e. instead of their anxieties fixated on losing weight and fitness, refocus their attention that they get to learn a new craft and have fun while doing so).


“Other people’s sweat is gross.” “Guys are gross.” “Sweating on other people makes me feel bad.”

The notion that one can train martial arts or self-defense without contact is definitely false. Realize that “any” assault INVOLVES CONTACT. Some, unfortunately, too close for comfort.

The approach here starts at trust and TRUST IS MANAGED. You cannot break trust and start over. You get one chance. The angle is: GRADUAL APPROPRIATE EXPOSURE.

Decrease evaluative stress: pair the beginner with an experienced student. Someone who knows very good social constructs and expectations the school has on beginners.

Decrease evaluative stress as an instructor: turn the notion of “sweating is bad” into good. Associate sweating with smiling and learning and having fun in the process. Encourage mental self-feedback like saying, “good job on that technique, so glad you are having fun!” If they are sweating and having fun at the same time as everyone else the stressors from fears and inhibitions would dissipate.


Contact and context is very important in the Krav Maga system because there IS contact but the strikes are dependent on context of training (i.e. light contact, strong and fast but no contact, touch contact, etc.). It ranges from near contact striking to full contact and this can be intimidating to the beginner.

For ladies, especially young adults, it is common for them to not understand the concept of “self-permissions” in self-defense (the mental process that allow persons in self-defense situations to retaliate without fear of repercussions). Because of this, humans are likely to freeze when real violence knocks on their door. Anyone will find themselves unprepared without this admission to one’s self. Case in point: you’ll see ladies who tend to punch the shoulders instead of aiming for the head and their rationale is that they don’t want to hurt their training partner.

But isn’t your training partner your theoretical “opposition?” Then you’ll have to be ok with it.

Decrease evaluative stress: Bring another lady (student) into the picture that would show what the expectations are and that it IS ok to make these appropriate types of contact. For example, if the act of disengagement in a self-defense technique is to shove away the assailant have the experienced student do it first to their partner and then the beginner to her own.

Decrease evaluative stress as an instructor: To be honest is to be kind. Use a larger gentleman that can handle her and allow her to see that full contact and context of training is sometimes necessary ESPECIALLY WITH BIGGER attackers. To paint a picture, I usually stop the class and get the biggest guy, take an average sized and capable lady and ask her to punch either his chest or his arm as hard as she can. Then I ask her to do the same to his face, but wait for the reaction everyone has (it’s usually an uproar and the guy says, “heck nah!”) but we don’t go through with the actual punch. I DO however, point out the validity that hitting the person in the face is justified by the reaction of the whole class. It’s a great lesson in appropriate context of training. 4.) PREVIOUS TRAUMATIC SITUATION (or almost traumatic event and unsure if trauma will manifest)

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve received a message like this or that I’ve been told about this fear. For the times I have been trusted with this conversation, I am thankful and grateful that these ladies placed their safety and peace of mind into my care.

But this IS a serious issue isn’t it? Even more so THE REAL REASON for this gal to train, correct? This is all the more reason to be found in this (appropriately controlled) situation where in the storyline they ARE successful at the end (not scared and traumatized about the unknown). Correct?

Decrease evaluative stress: anyone who explores self-defense systems with this valid fear approaches this possible new lifestyle change as a serious event. Observance of discretion is paramount, manage trust carefully and set appropriate parameters for safety.

Decrease evaluative stress as an instructor: create an encouraging environment where they have control of the situation. If they feel like they need to step off the mat allow them BUT DO NOT allow them to walk away from their self-defense scenario and task unsuccessfully. Pair this student up with an encouraging experienced partner. Someone that does not mind going through technical aspects of training meticulously. Check on her often, evaluate how to gradually increase her intensity of training.

There you have it. Ladies, if you have an interest in trying something out, the best way to find out is to give it the good old college try!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope you found this information useful. Now ladies, get on the mat and train!

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