“Hips Don’t Lie: The Assets Every Woman Already has to Succeed in Martial Arts”

You throw like a girl. You run like a girl. You hit like a girl.

Do any of those taunts sound familiar to you? Maybe you have never been the target of these invectives, but surely you have heard them at one point or another. All of these insults have one insinuation in common: being a female or acting like a female puts you at a physical disadvantage.

After a lifetime of hearing your physical prowess denigrated by others, some women, including myself, are hesitant to try new sports. I was especially hesitant to try my hand at martial arts. My trepidation was grounded in the belief that I wasn’t strong enough to be successful. I was also nervous about my supposedly implicit lack of coordination, because apparently this girl thing I was born into made me suck at almost everything sports related, right?

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Wrong.

In spite of my laundry list of fears, I walked into Absolute MMA in an attempt to cure my depression and shed a few pounds. Chromosomes be damned, I wanted to try Muay Thai. Imagine my delight when I learned that your hips, not your biceps, generate the strength of your kicks and punches. Before I started I was terrified that my lack of testosterone and Everest-like traps would make the sport impossible. My assumptions were all wrong; it turns out that the same hips that I am encouraged to gyrate in something girly like Zumba are just as powerful in kick drills. And what about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Surely that would be where my sub-par girly muscles would be a problem.

Chelsea applying an arm lock during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.

Chelsea applying an arm lock during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class.

Totally untrue.

My hips are an even greater source of strength in BJJ.

I was panicking about the fact that I didn’t have specific qualities, but they were qualities I didn’t need. Don’t get me wrong, strength helps, and there are times I want to growl at my teammates with huge muscles because I swear a little more strength would help with my cross-body escapes. But guess what? The strength will come as a result of training, and one day you look in the mirror and discover you have triceps. Or maybe you walk up the three flights of stairs to your apartment, and you realize that you just carried all of the groceries by yourself in one trip. It happens, trust me.

I am a woman, and I am good at Muay Thai and BJJ. I experience success because I work hard. I experience setbacks when I slack in my training. My success and my failure have nothing to do with my gender. I never thought my venture into Absolute MMA would amount to much. I assumed I would fail because most people expect females to fail in these pursuits, but the bottom line is this: I throw like Chelsea Kilpack. I run like Chelsea Kilpack. And I hit like a member of Absolute MMA.

Written by Chelsea Kilpack