Updated: Mar 9, 2021
Sally Gleaves, 5th Degree Black Belt & founder of Worcestershire Martial Arts
Martial arts are still widely and incorrectly viewed as a practice for men, and for many years had been dominated by men both in day-to-day training and leadership roles.
Thankfully things are changing now at all levels with more women taking on leadership roles and with more girls taking up martial arts than ever before! Half of the members at Worcestershire Martial Arts are female.
But there is still some work to do, even now, sometimes when new people come to our school, they go straight to the first male black belt they see. Thinking they are the instructor, and look shocked to be directed to me, a young female black belt, and they ask “are you actually the instructor?” “But, you are a girl!” - I am a girl but I am no less worthy of the grade I hold or the knowledge I have, which I have worked hard to accomplish.
As a female instructor, I vow to always support and progress all my students equally, but also to promote an environment where girls are respected as martial artists equally to their male counterparts.
I will protect them as far as I can from discrimination, sexualisation (especially having been subjected to this myself) and inequality.
I know my girls (indeed, all my students) have my back, and I definitely have theirs!
I have never liked sport, cannot catch a ball so was always the one picked last on teams. At the age of 30, I finally found a sport that I enjoy. It combines fitness (much needed) as well as learning so many new skills. As a woman, we are often told to be 'nice' or to let things go and now suddenly I am allowed to express myself in a physical way and I feel more confident in the world knowing I can defend myself in certain situations. Learning my physical strengths and limitations has been good for me mentally as well as physically. I cannot wait until my daughter starts martial arts as I hope it will give her confidence that I never had a
s a child.
by Rachael Hall, student at Worcestershire Martial Arts, pictured participating in the Worcester Show
After having to suffer bullying at school and which eventually ended up with our daughter getting a broken nose, my husband and I decided enough was enough and it was about time to take matters into our own hands to protect her the best we could.
We enrolled her into a Martial arts school and she never looked back, she loved it from the start and we never had any problems with her not wanting to go or saying she wanted to give it up ever!
There were a few lady martial artists in the school at the time who the girls looked up to, they were very patient and took time to help them with their training.
Martial arts has certainly helped to give our daughter a confidence she lacked before to stand up for herself in more ways than one!
Now after 24 years she is still loving Martial arts and is very dedicated to it and just as importantly teaching it to others, which she does at her two Martial Arts Schools.
Little did we know when we first enrolled her into Taekwon-Do what she would achieve including karate, kickboxing, MMA and Aikido and that after this length of time she would still be enjoying it.
We are very proud of her and what she has achieved and we know that her martial arts has helped to make her into the confidant and caring young lady that everyone knows as Sally Gleaves/Monks.
by Sue Gleaves, the woman who started me on this path.
Taekwon-Do has been a massive part of my life since I was really young. It’s taught me discipline, courage and seen my confidence grow. As well as the personal growth, I’ve trained with two Taekwon-Do schools (home town and university town) and both also provided community and friendships.
For me, learning Taekwon-Do has taken that phrase “you hit like a girl” to a whole new level - in my experience the scariest ones in the class are usually female!
by Eloise Mason, WMA and University of Worcester student
I was born and grew up in Japan where many different types of martial arts like Karate, Judo, Kendo, Aikido and more are seen in our daily life. But I was never interested in any of them as they always appeared to me as men’s sports.
However since I saw the demonstration of Taekwon-Do at the Worcester Show in 2018 I was hooked!
There were already number of female members in the club headed by the young female black belt instructor and that made me feel easy to take up martial arts as my new hobby.
Since then I practiced hard and entered many competitions. I have developed strength both physically and mentally through Taekwon-Do.
It’s also given me the confidence to be myself. We all are equal. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Martial arts are equally for everyone. Happy International Women’s Day! 💖
by Junko Steptoe, Worcestershire Martial Arts student
Growing up in Ireland the only activity we tended to do was Irish dancing. I'd never heard of Taekwon-Do until i actually joined WMA. For me its about the growth and confidence it gives you. Its about being part of a family that help you through the ups and downs of your Taekwon-Do journey.
by Lisa & Rois Perkins, WMA members
I’ve loved watching Pip on her tae kwon do journey so far - it has given her so much more confidence, and taught her that it’s okay for her to be capable, strong and 100% herself ☺️
by Nicky - Pippa’s mum and all round awesome lady!