Back in February there was a nice story about a young lady wrestler in North Carolina beating the boys to be the first female state wrestling champion. Belated congratulations on that, Heaven Fitch!
Predictably, a lot of insecure bros on social media trashed her victory. A strong theme in their pathetic mansplaining was that males are obviously going to hold back when fighting females. Actually, that’s not so obvious, and I doubt many of them had any actual experience sparring with women.
But I have a little. And it’s a good story.
Once upon a time I was really into martial arts, and for a while I was involved in a small MMA club that had produced some real fighters, nobody elite but genuinely competitive. That place had a seriously gritty atmosphere: blood stains on the floor, stale vomit smell.
I am not a big guy, and the only person in the club anywhere close to my size was a woman… and our champion’s girlfriend. And so I trained with her routinely, lots of quite “intimate” grappling. She was quite pretty, and her boyfriend was a hulking monster, always watching — mostly bemused, I think. Every now and then I’d be locked in some weird jiu-jitsu knot with her and I’d notice him watching me and chuckling.
I never held back, not even close: not to protect her feminity, and not for her intimidating boyfriend.
When you’re training/sparring with someone, it should take a few minutes at most for competitive excitement and survival instincts to eclipse any neurotic hesitation. Any male who continues to hesitate… well, that’s just a form of weakness, and not only he will lose, but it will be fair and square.
But I doubt any of those boys actually held back at all while being beaten by Heaven. I bet each and every one was desperately scrambling to protect their pride.
Addendum: I trained at that club regularly for several months and then rather abruptly decided to quit one night after watching one of the biggest guys hit a heavy bag, making it swing wildly on its chain with a single punch. I was daunted by the power of that hit, and I suddenly felt absurd: not in an ashamed way, just a pragmatic self-awareness that I wasn’t exactly playing to my strengths and talents by studying that kind of martial arts. And that was the end of that particular adventure.