Saturday, June 15, 2013

When The Guys Don't Want To Play

A couple of years ago, the coach gave some sparring choices to a guy who trains at the gym on and off.  One of the choices was me.  ”I’d rather not spar with a woman,” the guy replied.
If I was younger and more of a hothead, I would have taken offense.  I had been told, especially in martial arts classes, that “an opponent, is an opponent, is an opponent”.  No distinctions were to be made about someone coming at me with the intention of hurting me based on gender.  Now that I’m older, and I don’t fly off of the handle as much (well, some of the time), and I let it go.  But before any woman who is confronted with a similar situation puts on one boxing glove out of anger, please know that some men are not refusing because of sexist notions.  
Sometimes, it's like this:  there are some guys in this world who were taught not to hit a woman.  Thank God for that.  Read the newspapers, watch the six o'clock news, and it’s clear that many guys are no longer taught at home about not roughing up women.  Dig a little further on the Internet, and it won’t be hard to find videos and Twitter posts from guys who make light of assaulting women.  We live in an ugly world.
The guys might want to really mix it up while in the ring, and they don’t feel comfortable about taking it hard to a woman.  I’m always aware when a guy is not hitting as hard as he could when I’m in front of him.  Then I see the guy in with another guy and they are going to town.  Does it bother me?  Sometimes, but I don't get all up in arms about it.  I'll encourage a guy to go hard with me, but if they won’t, no amount of encouragement  from me  – or the coach —  is going to make them do it.  So I just take advantage of being able to practice my offense, which what happens because the guy will usually go light on defense. So don’t take it personally when a guy says he’d rather spar with another guy. 
If there is sexism behind a guy's refusal to spar with woman, most likely the woman will have picked up on the guy's attitude toward and about women long before the opportunity to spar came up.  Believe me, it's better to know about any kind of "ism" up front than to have to deal with the covert practices of them.  

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