WOMEN'S MARTIAL ARTS ALLIANCE
IT TAKES MORE THAN SKILL TO WIN THE FIGHT
by Suz

James J. Corbett a pro boxer from 1892-1897 also known as Gentleman Jim was asked what was the greatest one thing about fighting or boxing.  His reply is a classic as it pertains to all styles of fighting and all fighters male or female.

"Fight one more round, when your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the ring,
fight one more round, when your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard,
fight one more round, when your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep,
fight one more round -- remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped"

I am lucky to be an MMA coach.  I am female, 5’1” and about 125 lbs.  I work out sometimes three times per day, everyday (okay sometimes I take a day off).  I am telling you this so you understand how serious I am about what I do.  If I am going to make you do 10 -  3 minute rounds sparring on the ground, standing up, or on the bag, plus plyometrics, plus cardio and weight training and every other thing that makes you a good fighter….I make sure I can do it also.  I know how much it sucks, I know the feeling of wanting to throw up (and succeeding)  I know how great it feels and the sense of accomplishment when you are done with a great workout.  I also know the feeling of not thinking you can throw one more punch or roll one more time. I am not a couch coach.  I am there with you.  How you train in the gym is how you are going to fight in the cage, and life is far too precious to be in that cage unprepared.  It is our job as coaches to protect our amateurs, otherwise we will have no pro fighters.

 I have such great role models, coaches, family and friends to help me out.  My first coach is my husband.  He is a boxer and I am overjoyed to work with him since, in his mind, someday boxing just might save the world.  He is also a black belt in Karate and a middle school principal.  Imagine that, working with him, not only do I have to make sure my technique and stamina are good, I also have to make sure I am not chewing gum and that my grammar is correct.  My second coach is a good friend, he was the Romanian National Olympic Team Coach and has many fights under his belt, some in the cage and some should have been in a cage if you know what I mean. He was also in the military.  I would also consider my Kravmaga students my coaches as well.  Being a successful Kravmaga instructor I get to witness people go so far above their comfort level.  My job as a Kravmaga instructor is to get them there no matter how tired or sick they may feel.  This is reality based self defense, you have to have the mindset of  fighting to stay alive and get home safe.  We build their fighting spirit at each class.  This is the part that lacks in some fighters – they can only go so far.  You have to possess ferocity and viciousness.  We need to incorporate that same fighting spirit into our MMA training. Seeing the joy and pain in their eyes as they beat the hell out of things while gasping for breath makes me realize that skill and technique are not the only components of a good MMA fighter. You must have that fire and the will to win the fight no matter what.  Of course every fighter wants to win, but you need to go past that, you have to know you will win.  Self Defense training can compliment MMA training because the number one rule is you have to get home safe, so no matter what, these students are going to get home, whether sick or tired, or anything.  Same in the fight, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, you better finish that fight and win. In your mind you must repeat…I will do what I have to do legally to win this fight – that is what I am here for.

When I first saw Gina Carano’s debut MMA fight, I was absolutely awed by a right hand that she threw at her opponent.  She threw out that hand with such ferocity.  That is what its all about when it comes to female MMA fighters.  By nature we are more nurturing than men (some of us anyway)we are not fighting some thick jawed (no offense men)chiseled face, burly man, we are fighting someone with much more delicate features.  You might find you have a mental block, how can you possible break that cute giggly girls nose?   If you want to be a successful female MMA fighter, you need to forget about that, do not let it sidetrack you and get in the way of your victory.  You both know the risks involved, she as much as you.  Your jobs are both to protect yourselves the best you can.

Be yourself, when you are out of the ring, you don’t have to be a tuffass outside the cage, but when you get in that cage you are a monster.  You go and you keep going and you don’t stop until the fight is over and you know this and have prepared for it, as our friend Bas Rutten says "Now you are ready"!




Women in Mixed Martial Arts
Article by Dara Belic

In mixed martial arts, a growing number of women compete under the same rules as

 men, which means punching, kicking and body-slamming. This increasingly popular - and violent - sport is attracting women around the globe at amateur and professional levels.

Mixed martial arts is a combat sport held in a "cage" with walls of metal fencing. A match is won when one fighter either forces the opponent to submit-much like in wrestling-or knocks the opponent out-much like in boxing and kickboxing.

The rules of competitive MMA have evolved to increase its practicality and safety immensely, said Rick Hines, advisory board member of the International Sports Combat Federation (ISCF), a widely recognized MMA sanctioning body.

"Less than two decades ago, MMA fights had practically no rules and were border-line illegal in this country," Hines said.

The first popular bouts in North America, Hines said, were sponsored by U.S.-based Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) during the early 1990s.

"The UFC originally had no weight classes and no style barriers," Hines said. Currently, MMA is at its most popular, with gross pay-per-view income from UFC events exceeding $200 million in 2006.

And while thousands of men around the world train and compete in MMA, hundreds of women do the same.

Out of the 31 promotional organizations for professional MMA that exist internationally, one is solely for female fighters and six have included female matches on their event cards.

"More women have become involved in the competitive aspect of MMA in the past seven years than they did for decades upon decades since the emergence of boxing, which to me says a lot about the safety of the sport."

Since the early 1980s, approximately 200 boxers have died from ring-related injuries, mostly head traumas, and many more suffer from brain damage.

In contrast, there is only one documented death of an MMA fighter from a cage-related injury.

"In boxing, the goal is to knock your opponent's head off, figuratively speaking," "In MMA, you can win by causing your opponent to give up and give in; you don't always have to be a vicious head hunter."

Hines agreed that the diversity in how MMA fighters can achieve victory in conjunction with the sport's elevated safety regulations has increased women's participation.

"An MMA fighter can become a champion without having to sustain or dish out blow after blow to the head," said Hines. "Knowing this, women feel more comfortable stepping into the cage."

There are 79 professional female MMA fighters ranked and registered with the ISCF and 46 of them fight out of the U.S. Many are role models for athletic women interested in cage-fighting.

Chicagoan Esli Kilponen, 22, is training for her first amateur MMA fight. Watching professional fighters Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie "go at it" in their televised Elite XC debut a year ago solidified her decision to compete.

"I had been training in Krav Maga for two years when I saw them fight," Kilponen said. "Gina Carano is such a bad-ass!"

Kilponen, a married data analyst and student who trains 20 hours a week, began sparring and working on her ground game while seeking an opponent via the Internet after watching Carano.

"Although I've gotten a tremendous support from my husband, friends and coaches, the one frustration I've faced is that there aren't enough females out there who want to fight, so finding an appropriately matched opponent is difficult," Kilponen said.

On January 25, Kilponen will fight 18-year-old Ashley Hartanovich in FCE's first female MMA match. MMA promoter Brian Angelo, co-owner of Fight Card Entertainment (FCE), set up the fight for Kilponen in the 115-pound weight class.

"When a true MMA fan looks at two eager women step into a cage to fight, he or she sees real growth in a sport that faced an uphill battle for years," said Angelo, whose company started promoting Illinois-area MMA fights in 2006.

Although women fighting may raise eyebrows, many people support female MMA fighters because they respect them as athletes.

"Women learn the same techniques and fight for the same reasons as us," said Ron Doyle of Team Revolution, who has been training for two years and recently won his first fight at an FCE event.

"We fight because we enjoy pushing ourselves to the limit," Doyle said. "Whether male or female, we as fighters respect martial arts as a discipline and we respect MMA as a competitive sport."


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