Combat seems to be a form of human activity where differences between women and men manifest itself. Despite the predictions of some optimistic feminists, widespread of coed combative sports wouldn’t be anticipated. The female combatants who gave interviews for our club adhered to the same opinion. At the same time, there are no doubts that a well-trained female combatant won’t have any problems to give an untrained strong man no peace.
The most of female combatants prefer sparring with men in order to have tougher lessons rather than compete against them. In some combative sports (especially in freestyle wrestling), real coed contests are often held where women even sometimes win (mostly in matches among kids and teenagers). Nevertheless, some problems arise in the area of mixed wrestling contests (see the discussion in the section "Pro and Contra").
While an adult female combatant has little chances on the mat or on the ring against a man of about equal physique and talent, for girls the situation is quite different - young girls are capable to successfully compete with boys in some contact combative sports. The best example - freestyle wrestling where boy vs. girl matches are not a rarity at all, especially in American schools where freestyle (and similar "folkstyle") wrestling is widely popular. When girls just began practicing wrestling, it was a shortage of girls in American high school wrestling teams, so girls-wrestlers trained and competed with boys. The number of young female wrestlers has been dramatically increased since that time in high schools and colleges but coed training and competitions are still practiced. The reason is simple: girls proved that they are able to be equal to boys on the mat.
Many girls confidently defeat boys in wrestling competitions. For instance, Joey Miller, the prominent young wrestling enthusiast defeated the most of her male opponents in freestyle and Greek-Roman wrestling matches. That's how she explains this phenomenon: "Women's strengths are in their hips and legs. That is why so many girls are able to compete with the boys in folkstyle and freestyle wrestling using leg/hip strength and good balance. It is hard to turn girls where boys use their upper body to get their turns. That is why I am able to beat some guys that are stronger than me." Even some young male wrestlers admit that girls have some advantages over boys in wrestling. The school wrestling team member, Max T., says in his letter to the Yahoo message board "Girl pins boy": "Guys always try very hard to beat girls because of fear of be laughed at by their peers and even parents! In my opinion, girls have a better body build for wrestling, just by the way they are shaped. They have weight in their hip area (helps with a wide base of support for throws), they are usually shorter than males which helps with a wide base of support also, a girls legs tend to be stronger than a males as well. They also have a mental advantage because the guy is scared he will lose. Guys don't always win! If you don't believe me join my group and see how hard boys struggle against girls at wrestling!"
However, boys sometimes have psychological problems with that. First, they often experience psychological awkwardness; second, they are usually upset being defeated by girls. "I like it when boys cry," bragged Marcie Van Duser, a
14-year-old wrestler girl from Lake Arrowhead who beat 40 in freestyle.
In early and middle childhood, the difference in strength of boys and girls is not substantial and mixed wrestling is widespread in these age groups. Besides, young kids have fewer problems with body contacts than adults do during wrestling matches. (See also the article "Freestyle wrestling"). As boys and girls grow up and get mature adults, the physical differences between them get greater and coed matched make less sense.
There are quite many videos in the world web with man-vs-woman fights in different combative sports including "no-holds barred" fights in cages (see the clips below). However, in the most of them there is no real competition (including in the two cage fights represented below). Jiu-jitsu master and submission wrestler Shannon Logan stated in her interview for our club that she had wrestling matches with men and the men were grappling to their full potential because after the matches she felt like she had gotten hit by a truck (see the picture).
As to combative forms where punches or kicks are allowed (like boxing and kickboxing), abilities of women to withstand experienced male fighters in the ring are even more limited. Besides, athletic associations are very reluctant about giving permissions for mixed fights for reasonable apprehensions that such bouts would be dangerous for women. For instance, in an official letter Tim Lueckenhoff, President of the Association of Boxing Commissions, asked to withdraw approval of the announced Ann Wolfe versus a male fight. That's the Tim Lueckenhoff's arguments: "A boxing contest between a male and a female raises inherent safety concerns, as the potential for serious injury in such a boxing contest is far greater than in a male v. male or female v. female boxing contest. Such concerns are premised upon the significant differences in strength, speed and ability to take a punch. Moreover, the bones in a female are thinner and have less calcium, especially the skull and nose; and a female's brain is not as well equipped as a male's to endure the same force of a punch to the head." However, the history of men vs. women fightson the ring does exists, albeit it's not full of real events. Very often matches become very publicized which are not really competitive. For example, in the widely publicized boxing match in which Margaret McGregor met an untrained lighter man he didn’t deliver any punches (neither did she really hit him), so the match couldn’t be considered as truly competitive. In much more real competitive bout, the unbeatable female fighter Lucia Rijkerfought a Muay Thai boxer in the kickboxing match but the man didn’t feel uneasy to compete with the women in full strength and sent her in a deep knockout in the second round (see the section Boxing). To annoyance of some feminists and in defiance of their expectations, according to Lucia Rijker, women would never be on an equal footing with men in the ring.
At the same time, like in wrestling, facing each other on the ring (in boxing, kickboxing and other contact combative sports) young girls and boys experience fewer problems than adult combatants do. For instance, in October 1999, ten-year-old coming female junior star Amber Francis (Orlando, FL, USA, 1-0/1, 84 lbs) stepped into the ring to face a boy and she didn't let the crowd down. Fighting with true determination and passion, Francis edged out a split decision win over a tough fighting Richard Allen, (Orlando, FL, USA, 0-1/0, 80 lbs., 10). This was a great fight, that could have seen either fighter get the win. (See the article "Only two on the ring - He and She"
Many discussions have held regarding whether or not women and men should compete together in wrestling and other combative sports. Opinions about youth wrestling split approximately in equal parts. (See, for instance, the discussion "Is wrestling a co-ed sport?" As to boxing and other punch/kick sports, vast majority of people is against coed competitions.
These are a few the most typical opinions of the discussion participants in California (from both camps).
- Women should be and will be "allowed" to participate in everything men get to do. It's called equality. Wrestling is just another activity women have to fight to have the right to engage in.
- I think wrestling should be able to be co-ed just as any other sport they should have men and women teams and their co-eds and if he/she feels confident to go co-ed then why not.
- If the school does not offer them their own separate teams, there should be no excuse to exclude them from making it a coed team.
- What difference does it make who beats who? This is your time to shine!
- People are created equally and every one should be treated equal. If a girl or woman is not permitted to do the same as a male or boy is to then that sport and/or activity should not take place. Period!
- The minute a male touches her private areas during a match, there will be a sexual assault charge. What is this world thinking?
- If it is allowed to continue, then we will see more sex related lawsuits because the women are touched in places that they should realize that they will be touched in.
- Sure if the women want to get beat and have their bodies handled by men, let them.
- I see no reason for the co-ed because the first time a woman complains being injured by a man they will make a dramatic issue of it and a law suit.
Katherine Kersten, director of the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis wrote in 2001:
"Our society tends to frame the debate over mixed-sex wrestling in the familiar terms of physical safety and legal rights. Critics frequently note, for example, that the practice poses health risks for adolescent females. Teenage boys have significantly greater muscle mass than girls, and can injure them when wrenching their joints, or lying heavily on top of them.
On the other hand, mixed-sex wrestling creates legal risks for males. Boys who wrestle girls, or practice with female teammates, must touch them in ways that would constitute illegal sexual harassment in any other setting. In our litigious society, coaches take a risk whenever they have close physical contact with young female athletes. (Some wrestling coaches have refused to demonstrate holds on girls.) Wrestling officials also incur risks at mixed-sex matches, since they must break holds by thrusting in their hands near girls' chests or crotches.
But while health and legal concerns are important, they do not go to the heart of the problem. For the primary objection to boys wrestling girls is this: A civilized society should teach men that they must not use their superior strength to overpower and control women. If the sexes are to live in harmony, they must ground their relations in a kind of compact, centered in mutual dignity and regard. A fundamental tenet of this compact is that decent men respect women, and view using force against them as dishonorable and unmanly. My father put it simply: "Boys don't hit girls."
Wrestling contests between men and women strike symbolically at the heart of the compact that should govern relations between the sexes. Mixed-sex contests desensitize boys to the need to behave with respect toward girls at all times. In addition, they promote a double standard that is sure to prompt cynicism and resentment on the part of male wrestlers. Boys know instinctively that it's unfair to permit one wrestler (the girl) to choose whether she wishes to grapple intimately with a member of the opposite sex, while forcing the other (the boy) to do so against his will.
Perhaps it's too much to expect our rights-obsessed society to understand all this. But at the least, contemporary Americans should be able to grasp that mixed-sex wrestling is inequitable from an athletic point of view. The average male is markedly stronger than the average female, and has a faster reaction time and greater cardiovascular capacity. As a result, contests that pit men against women do not provide either sex with a level playing field. Is a matchup between the LA Lakers and the all-female Minnesota Lynx anyone's idea of "gender equity"?
Girls who want to wrestle should have opportunities to do so. If interest is sufficient, high schools can sponsor all-girls teams. (The University of Minnesota-Morris has one of the nation's only women's collegiate varsity wrestling teams.) On the other hand, if interest is limited, female wrestlers can pool their resources and form single-sex community wrestling clubs, like the rugby or fencing clubs that other athletes organize. But putting girls on boys wrestling teams is not a step toward the liberation of women. It's a step back from equality for athletes of both sexes, and a giant step back from common sense."
However, girls and boys keep practicing wrestling together. As far as physical strength and skills are concerned, girls younger than 15 are often better than their male opponents in practicing wrestling along with boys. Once they chose this sport, they demonstrate single-mindedness and dedication. Numerous videoclips are placed on YouTube where girls skillfully defeat and pin boys.
Besides freestyle contests, coed matches in submission wrestling are also popular among kids and teenagers, for instance, in regular tournaments held by one of the biggest promoters of submission wrestling, the North American Grappling Association (NAGA). In its tournaments girls between 11 and 16 year-old age participate. According to the terms of the association, "boys may be paired with girls if there are insufficient entrants to justify a separate division". Moreover, in some competitions, older female wrestlers also compete. "Exceptional female fighters can petition the Commissioner to compete in the male division. This may be granted in limited circumstances." Of course, such women exist, like Shannon Logan who is definitely qualified.
Coed training and sparring with men are very useful for formation of a woman fighter. Working out together wirh male fighters, women can learn a lot: techniques, speed, aggression, dexterity, boldness, toughness and many more. The female combatants interviewed in our club confirm that.
One of the most popular forms of mixed physical contests between men and womens is armwrestling - physical contest by arms. This is the most democratic and really folk combative sport, which assumes minimum physical body contact. That's why mixed contest in armwrestling are exceptionally popular.
Girls like to compete against men. If they lose they still look very womanly and prettily, even more than if win. Mixed armwrestling always run ardently and everyone has a good time. Female contestants have a good opportunity to attract general attention and to be subjects of admiration.
Several armwrestling matches between men and women
Tough grappling match between a woman and a man
Photos from the site AmateurWrestlingPhotos.com. Freestyle Wrestling
Photos from the site AC-Uckerath. Freestyle Wrestling
Photos from the site FighterGirls.com. Shannon Logan struggling against a man in the extreme bout
Coed grappling in NAGA Photos from the site "Grapplers.com"
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