British Martial Arts with the feminine touch
Last weekend I visited The Martial Arts Show Live at the Birmingham NEC in England. I’ve practiced various martial arts over the years including Wu Shu Kwan, Kick Boxing and Judo, so I have always had great respect for those at the top of their disciplines. Photographing martial artists has always been on my to do list, and it has been becoming an ever growing ambition over the last year – specifically female martial artists.
At this point I would like to digress a second, say a thank you to someone and explain why. My girlfriend (Ashley) is a gorgeous athlete – rugby specifically – and she has inadvertently inspired me to be more outspoken about my beliefs regarding women and contact sports. My belief is that the typical male view of “women should not compete in contact sports” is utter sexist nonsense. Any man who says this has not seen women competing in contact sports. I couldn’t possibly put men down who compete because all contact sports are exciting. There are however slight differences between the sexes. In my experience men tend to rely on brawn all too often and play the ridiculous Alpha Male game. Where as women use their brains more, and this usually means competitions are more technical. I’m not for one minute suggesting they are any less brutal! At least, this is how my mind perceives it as I watch both male and female contact sports.
Coming back to the typical male view of “women should not compete in contact sports”, this really needs to change. Society as a whole is missing out. My life is ultimately richer than that of someone who refuses to watch women compete. It’s that simple. I believe society is close to a tipping point where women’s contact sports are going to be recognized by the majority for what they are – equally as exciting, and sometimes more so to men’s contact sports. This is in part due to the global success of the MMA giant UFC having their attention pricked by the incredible Ronda Rousey back in March. There is a shortage of female competitors in the martial arts world, and the reason is simple – society drums in the nonsense “it’s a mans world” to young girls all over the world. I can’t wait for the tipping point to finally tip, I want to see more competitions, I want to see more competitors, I want to play a small part in the raising of social consciousness. My passion and my photography is my tool.
When I saw who would be attending The Martial Arts Show I knew that it was time to get my arse into gear and stop procrastinating. My goal was to approach four of the attending female martial artists and exchange creative ideas and contact details. Each of these athletes were extremely friendly and happy to work with me in the upcoming months. The calibre of the martial artists in question really is awe inspiring, collectively the list of their achievements is mind blowing.
Julie Kitchen (Muay Thai)
55 fights with 47 wins, 8 loses,1 no contest, 13x World Champion and 23 Belts. A charity supporter and mother of twins, who from what I have witnessed will be champions some day too. Julie is an ideal ambassador for women’s martial arts…. and she’s British!
Rubie Planson (Traditional and Extreme Martial Arts)
British, European and World Champion in various martial arts titles. Rubie’s talents go beyond “human”. Her performances will render you speechless. Another ideal ambassador for women’s martial arts… and she’s British too! …Boom!
The Edmunds Sistas (Tae Kwon Do & Performance)
Both young black belts and very good too, winning numerous competitions. To look at them, you would never know… until they start throwing their legs around. Yet another couple of jewels in British martial arts.
For the men out there that disagree with female contact sports… I’d advise not saying it in earshot of these women, you’d be unconscious before you finished your sentence. Hehe. Ah, but then no you wouldn’t because women don’t suffer from Alpha Male Syndrome do they.
Over the next few months I will be building a working rapport with these amazing ladies, and from that shared trust will come some incredible photographs. I’m very excited…. or as Joe Rogan would say “I’M PUMPED!”
I will now stop rambling and let you take a look at a few photographs from the The Martial Arts Show. Below, I have also included links to their websites… you should go check them out!