View Full Version : Do you train with women in your kwoon?

05-14-2001, 12:30 AM
In my area, there are very few Wing Chun kwoons (I'm lucky to have found a truly good classical one). It didn't take me long to figure out that not only was I the only woman in my training hall, but the other kwoons in my area were also all-male. I have lots of girlfriends that practice other styles, most noteably karate, tae kwan do, and aikido, but it puzzles me that so few women seem interested in Wing Chun.

Maybe you guys can help me understand why this is so. Do you train with women, and if so, do they seem to enjoy their training? Personally, I've been training for a year and I think Wing Chun is terrific. The guys I train with rock - they neither try to bully me nor do they cut me slack 'because I'm a girl'. They train just as hard and clean with me as they do with each other.

Sure would be nice to compare notes with another Wing Chun girl, though. We got any here?


05-14-2001, 03:11 AM
We have only 3 women training in my hall. One has only just started in the last few months, the other 2 have been here over three years and are 2 of the most senior students in my hall.

Even tho both are only 1/2 my size, I always enjoy training with both of them - as my seniors they tend to whip my butt with ease, and I learn a lot from them because they can't rely on strength at all.

They are both fitter than me, faster than me, and train just as hard as anyone else in the club. The fact that they are female (and one is 10 years older than me, the other 10 years younger) really means nothing; a fellow student is a fellow student regardless of gender - ability is what counts.

It seems to me tho a lot of women have to train that little bit harder than men in order to prove themselves - the two at my school for instance won't be grading for their black belts until Sifu is sure they can defend themselves no matter what the opponent, and do it awesomely.

05-14-2001, 03:24 AM
There are quite a few women in our kwoon. We even have 2 women's classes per week - taught by a female instructor, of course.

Women are better to train with, because they tend to have better attitudes towards training... What I mean, is that they tend not to have that ego competitiveness that some of the less senior guys have. Working on making the techniques work, rather than just trading blow for blow (Not always good for skill development).

My Say

05-14-2001, 03:37 AM
Jasbourne, Why dont you take some initiative and start a campaign for promoting Wing Chun for women's self defence in your area?? It's a chance for you to give something back to the art.

I dont the guys in your kwoon would be complaining... I know I wouldn't be ;)

It's obviuosly a good kwoon, there's no reason why they shouldn't be coming...

****... another 2 cents....

05-14-2001, 07:56 AM
Hmmm, that's a good point. There are NO women in my kwoon currently. From what I have heard there are a few in another kwoon in town that is less classically oriented and focuses more on meditation and weight training among other things, neither of which our kwoon do. Perhaps this has something to do with it.

Another thing is that my kwoon isn't advertised, listed in the phone book, or easy to find! You really have to look for it. I'll have to ask my sifu if any women have sought it out and trained there.

It doesn't seem to me that there are any social stigmas related to women training in Wing Chun. Historically, the opposite would be true! Has anybody found otherwise? I'd be interested to know.

Anyway, whether man or woman, have fun training.


05-14-2001, 10:37 AM
My old teacher was a woman. She first started taking Wing Tsun after she had to deal with an aggresive ex-boyfreind, but as she got better she became more interested in the art itself instead of just its self defence aplications. Working with her is nice because she's actualy very agressive. It's also interesting to see how her experience as a ballet dancer has helped her. She has very good balance and leg control.

05-14-2001, 04:14 PM
Some good points you guys brought up. My kwoon does not advertise, I had to do a lot of digging to find it (a little hole-in-the-wall in the back of a minimall with a teensy sign saying "kung-fu") ;)

But I did notice that the kwoons that do advertise heavily and have fancy training halls and splashy uniforms and "grandmasters" out the wazoo, likewise, at least in my area, have no women that I could see.

Also, while we do pay very close attention to energy flow, we do not spend training hall time on meditation. neither do we spend it in weight training, although we do perform some very directed strengthening exercises as a group every now and then. I think I read somewhere (Ron Heimberger maybe?) that one of the marks of a good instructor is that he does not waste training hall time on things that can be practiced at home.

As a conceptually-oriented art, rather than a technique-oriented one, Wing Chun is harder to learn in the beginning, I think. Maybe that is part of its lack of appeal to many people - it not only isn't 'pretty' like karate or wushu, it's slow going the first couple of years.

When I get discouraged, I look at my sifu and the senior students, watch them flow naturally and lightning-quick from one move to the next, and take courage in the fact that when they were in early training they felt just as awkward and inept as me :)


old jong
05-17-2001, 09:31 PM
Hello and welcome jasbourne.
I used to practice a lot with a woman at a school I used to go to.I liked it because she was doing her best to help me (she was more advanced than me)and she was really going for it without being affraid like most of the guys!
I feel at ease practicing with a woman and I can give her something to work on without being affraid of hurting her.Anyway,man or woman,the control should be the same.
I wish you luck in your study of the art. :)

C'est la vie!

05-17-2001, 09:58 PM
There are two women that train regularly that I know of. One a little over a year, another less than 6 months. They both are very dedicated and don't like it if you "take it easy" on them. They certainly don't reciprocate! :) I think a lot of women that come to find out about the art are turned off by the heavy contact. My wife was interested in joining when I first started until she saw the bruises I started coming home with! :D

<HR>"It takes a big man to admit he's wrong...it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man."

05-17-2001, 10:02 PM
I've observed through past teaching that oftentimes women learn faster in the beginning stages of Wing Chun. They pick up on Wing Chun's unique power faster, and are more motivated to really put forth the effort to understand the conceptual principles behind the art that will give them their fighting ability.

Alot of guys when they first start Wing Chun continually try to cheat their way through by usiing their muscular strength to "fake" the power. You have to smack them around a lot before they get the idea you've got to change the way you think about the fighting environment.

Anyway, it's good to have you around Jas.


Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laveli
"Here too virtue has its due reward."

05-17-2001, 11:03 PM
The bruising is surely a turn-off. That makes sense, if you're not brought up in a way where you're comfortable or at least familiar with physical contact (I grew up with rough and tumble brothers), I can see where a woman entering a wingchun kwoon and observing even a single class might decide she'd rather practice a kata for 6 months ;)

The point about ego was good too. I had to contend, especially in the early days, with the new guys needing to apply power during form practice instead of moving to gain understanding of the movement. Yeah, the senior students had to bat 'em around some to get them to loosen up. :p Sometimes it got so bad that I would have to stop in the middle of something as simple as lap sao and say "you're a strong guy, no doubt about it. Now, can we please go slowly so I can work on form instead of power?" Generally the guy would snicker and 'take it easy on the chick'. But over time, they started getting it. Come to think of it, the ones that did'nt are gone now.... ;)

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05-19-2001, 04:56 AM
Hi Jas. I'm out here too, though I can't keep up with all the posts and threads. I sift and peruse now and then when I can.

While I'm more concerned about being a "practitioner" than a "woman practitioner," by definition I suppose I have a woman's perspective, regardless of what that perspective is - LOL.

Things that turn me off in a school or training group:
- when a woman's success is measured by how much she emulates a man - especially in Wing Chun!!
- when there is an explicit or implicit expectation that women will or should perform more ineffectively than men
- when women, or anyone for that matter, receives inferior instruction or guidance
- egocentricity, machismo, narcissism, or hyper competitiveness

Environments that get my interest:
- where everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or other background, is encouraged to perform and develop to the best of their personal ability and potential
- where a mature and serious attitude of learning and skill development is valued and promoted
- where an attitude of "How can I be better tomorrow than yesterday?" is held in higher regard than "How can I be better than you?"
- working groups of intelligent, mature, ethical people, especially those with high levels of internal motivation

IMHO, as much as many schools may have trouble finding or attracting serious women practitioners, serious women practitioners also have a challenge to find a suitable school or working group. Looking around, one might wonder how the myth or metaphor of Wing Chun as a woman's art is serving women or the art. It's also well to consider that we women - often being very different from one another - account for different tastes in tea and schools.

- Kathy Jo

05-19-2001, 08:10 AM
Thank you for the perspective, Kathy.

kungfu cowboy
05-19-2001, 10:18 AM
Women are cool! :D

"Ninja!...NINJA!"-Christopher George, from "Enter the Ninja"

05-19-2001, 05:06 PM
thanks for replying, very good perspective.

I guess that's what it really comes down to, regardless of the gender of the students - if a group of people is mature and serious about what they are doing, training benefits all.

I think it is hard for anyone to find a good training hall - wing chun just doesn't get the kind of commercial exposure other disciplines do.

good to meet you,
Jas :)

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05-19-2001, 06:07 PM
Kathy Jo,
Are you from upstate New York?
I think I might know you. But of course,
I could be full of it ,too. ;)

05-19-2001, 08:32 PM
Yes, I am from Upstate/Western NY. Where do I know you from?

mun hung
05-19-2001, 10:31 PM
We had a young woman in our class for awhile who learned quickly and was'nt intimidated at all by all the big ugly men in our class. She's not quite 5 feet in height and 93 lbs., and did'nt take any crap. She displayed a degree of dedication that earned the respect of all. She always worked really hard and had a better punch than alot of the men in our class. She was actually alot better than some of the men - and I think they knew it. She had to take a break because of schoolwork, but intends on returning soon. I think that women bring a good balance to the kwoon, and I would be happy to train with them.

05-20-2001, 05:24 AM
did you study with Steve Lee Swift above the
Dragon Palace restaurant?from about 92-95?
I used to pair up with the thai fellow alot.
didn't you write an article or two for that little martial arts magazine?
My name is mike (go figure).5'9" medium build,
ring a bell?there was another mike there too,he
helped film a commecial for the school.

05-20-2001, 01:27 PM
Hi Mikey. Yes, Dragon Palace. I was there for a few months before the school closed. I apologize that I am still struggling to put a face to your name. No doubt I was easy to spot in the crowd. ;)

I guess I've written quite a lot; some small percentage might be considered articles. Mostly on the internet here and there.

Drop me a line if you're ever planning to be back "in the neighborhood."

05-20-2001, 04:30 PM
kj: I take it you have been studying a long time, certainly much much longer than I have :) Has WC discipline helped you in other aspects of your life? I find myself increasingly more able to deal with problems and stressful situations, to react with equanimity instead of force and to stop and think before speaking :)

Rochester - brrrrr! I have relatives there...


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05-21-2001, 03:32 AM
Hi Jas. I've been training since 1995. So it hasn't been very long.

Yes, Wing Chun seems to permeate other areas of life. Probably in too many ways to enumerate. In a most fundamental and profound sense, it seems to be about "balance." Having the sensitivity and responsiveness to appreciate what is too much, what is too little, and what is "just enough." This is illustrated in one of our favorite WC sayings ... "Be not greedy; be not afraid." There is incredible power embodied in this simple statement, both for fighting and for life. It is well to gain an understanding of one's own present limitations, then learn to work within and around them. And to lessen or improve upon those limitations to the extent we can. Awareness of the state, intentions, and actions of others is another useful skill. To me, the lessons of Wing Chun are ongoing with continuous growth, not something suddenly achieved or perfected. My teacher sometimes reminds us that we become Wing Chun and Wing Chun becomes us. I must agree. My own view of the world is more and more through Wing Chun eyes.

Some of my thoughts anyway.

- kj

05-21-2001, 08:04 AM
I've got to say that is some areas of wing chun I prefer to train with a woman. one of these is two arm chi sao.

So many of the blokes in our kwoon tend to try to use force when performing chisao, which tends to wreck the sensitivity of their partner.

The women I have trained with generally have the softer touch, and have the best **** chi sao in the kwoon. It teaches and reminds me to use technique, position and feel rather than brute strength.


05-23-2001, 10:42 PM
Our school is small, usually about 6 to 10 people. Last nights class had 7. 4 women and 3 men. :)

05-23-2001, 11:14 PM
(pondering what .4 women might look like...)

:D :D :D :D

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05-24-2001, 12:09 AM
Last nights class had 7.(Period, as in end of sentence)

4 were women and 3 were men.

There, does that help? :D

mun hung
05-24-2001, 09:46 AM
Wish I could find a bar like that.

05-24-2001, 01:27 PM
I definitely know they exist, but also, I also know they generally dont like men in there ;)

07-20-2001, 01:47 AM

We only have a few women at our Kwoon. One is one of the most senior students(red sash) and the other recently tested for her red 4 or 5 months ago. They are both very skillful and fun to train with; and I'm sure they could kick my a$$. I learn just as much from them as I do the other senior students. I guess maybe they have a softer touch, but it's hard to tell since that is what we're going for anyway, right, a light sensitive touch and feel. All of the senior students have that. I just started chi sao and they all feel so light it's scary. There is one other female that is my senior, I've been training a little over a year. But not nearly enough women though.

07-20-2001, 12:38 PM
We have women training at our kwoon.

When I first started out, my training partner was a female. No quips about that, she trained hard, and really enjoyed her training.

IMHO, women tend to be better at technique than men. I guess it's because us guys try to be macho and use muscle-power, but women give more attention to finesse.

Anyway, regardless whether someone is a woman or a man, they're still fellow students. And apart from the obvious discretions, I see no reason to offer concessions in terms of roughness.

07-20-2001, 11:08 PM
Hi. There are four women in my class. Two of them are among the senior students, and two are at my level. I like to ask the women for advice on practical applications because, as someone said earlier, they rely more on actual technique than muscular strength. It's a big help when you want to get to the meat and bones of any given technique. ;)