Some people think that you have to be “Facebook worthy” before daring to discuss your experiences in a public forum. It’s a shame that this attitude exists, because I personally find so much value in reading about the experiences of other people, especially other women, in combat sports as told in their own words. Historically, much has been written about women, and the voices of women that have made it into the public sphere have had to come through a thick editorial filter. The internet allows people to express their views and experiences without censorship, and while this can be both harmful and beneficial, I believe that in its capacity to allow women to speak freely about their own experiences it is invaluable.
Because it’s International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a few blogs and – yes – Facebook pages which are run by women whose shared experiences have added value to my own.
Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu
My favourite blog at the moment is that of Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu. A self-professed introvert, she has shared every aspect of her journey as a Muay Thai fighter via Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course her blog. Having fought one hundred times in Thailand, become fluent in Thai, and immersed herself into the culture, spirituality and customs of Thailand, Sylvie should have no trouble being seen as “Facebook Worthy”, even by the staunchest of opponents of the concept of fighters writing about themselves. What makes her content so valuable, however, is the fact that she started sharing her experiences from the very beginning, giving others – and particularly women, who often lack close contact with other female combat athletes – an insight into the sport of Muay Thai and how one woman deals with her unique challenges. As a liberal arts graduate, Sylvie also writes beautifully, making her prose highly evocative of her surroundings and a pleasure to read, whether or not you have an interest in Muay Thai.
I’ve read every one of Livia’s blog posts. This accomplished BJJ purple belt is a physiotherapist, and former gymnast and cyclist. I find it easy to relate to her quest to be successful both in her sport and in her career. As an athlete and a physio, she shares useful insights into her training methodology, injury management, sports psychology and goal-setting process. She is also unusually honest about her technical development.
An Australian Muay Thai fighter who periodically travels to Thailand to live, train and fight for extended periods of time, Natasha writes in her blog with brutal honesty about her own experiences, and regularly includes interviews with other female fighters. She is not afraid of discussing many of the “taboo” issues that female Muay Thai fighters sometimes face. Ever wondered if it hurts to get hit in the lady-parts? Need to know how other female athletes handle sparring, fighting and making weight at “that” time of the month? Natasha Sky tells it like it is.
You can also connect with Natasha via Facebook.
The Guerreiras – BJJ and MMA for Women
This blog is run by women who share the voices of many women who train or compete in BJJ and MMA. The value of this blog is that the women who are featured are often at the beginning of their combat sports journeys. As such, it answers a lot of legitimate questions for women who are just getting started in combat sports, and helps to normalise the experience, making the concept of getting started much less prohibitive. Sometimes the voices of highly-accomplished and experienced female combat athletes can be intimidating to beginners, so the fact that this blog devotes a lot of screen-space to the discussion of white-belt experiences is very valuable.
Among the issues they have discussed are the process of getting comfortable with grappling training after experiencing sexual assault, the challenges encountered in transitioning between different combat sports (like BJJ and judo) and the challenges of being a female coach in a male space.
Who are your favourites?
Male or female, I’d love to hear about whose shared experiences have added value to your training, life or thoughts.
Happy International Women’s Day!