From boosting grassroots participation broadly to directly targeting domestic abuse and violence against Women & Girls, #PunchLikeAGirl is the martial arts industry's 'first of a kind' programme aimed at empowering women and girls to get fit and learn combat sports.
Let's put it out there.
One in five women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16 and approximately 85,000 women are raped, with a further 400,000+ suffering sexual assault in the UK every year.
Despite these harrowing stats, women and girls make up just 26% of the average martial arts demographic and account for just 8% of martial arts instructors in the UK.
This must change.
This isn't just about fighting back.
Martial Arts offers life changing qualities for people of all ages and backgrounds. It's especially true of those with adverse childhood experiences and trauma.
It's not about teaching someone to 'fight back'. It's about taking back control over one's self. Discipline, control, self-esteem, confidence and focus are all inherent qualities of martial arts training. It goes without saying that as a society split 50/50 for male and female, martial arts should see this reflected too. This is especially true, we believe, when you consider the many applications in which martial arts can empower us to overcome the odds and defeat adversaries far larger than ourselves - physically and metaphorically.
What Are We Doing To Balance The Scales?
#PunchLikeAGirl isn't about driving equality of numbers for the sake of it. It's about empowering more women to lead classes and teach in martial arts, and it's about bringing more women and girls onto the mats to see just what they're truly capable of achieving.
#PunchLikeAGirl primarily supports and encourages clubs to provide female only safe spaces and dedicated women only classes. We also offer Trauma Informed Self Defence Training with education and awareness around issues like Violence Against Women & Girls, Sexual Assault and Rape to instructors of all genders and disciplines,
Whilst we should and do encourage mixed-gender classes, there is absolutely a place for training in gender specific environments and we fundamentally believe this can help victims of abuse and sexual assault take control of their personal space in a safe, neutral space.
"It's something every girl should learn as early as possible".
"As a victim of sexual violence in my early teens, I didn't ever really feel in control of my own body or feel I could be in an intimate space with another person. For me, BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) showed me that I was made of more than I believed possible. It built me up to be confident, strong and most importantly, to depend on myself and my body to perform.
The close-contact nature of grappling was incredibly daunting at first and whilst I now 'roll' with guys, I don't think I would have been brave enough to start off in a mixed gender class. Having a female instructor and a group of girls at the start was an absolute lifeline."