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Today is international women’s day and in my feed I have this post ‘Where are all the women in Karate‘ from Karate Jesse. He also gives a nice piece of history

…the wife of legendary master Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura was also a famous martial artist! … Legends also says she absolutely refused to marry a man who a) wasn’t a martial artist and b) couldn’t defeat her in a fair fight. Many men supposedly tried and failed. Although we don’t know if master Matsumura actually fought her, we do know the two were married in 1818 according to records.

A woman after my own heart, although I prefer it that my partner isn’t a martial artist. Makes it mine and mine alone. I think there is a film that had this trial for marriage in it.

Women have been in martial arts far further back than I realised. Just recently a fellow black belt pointed me toward a recent BBC documentary about the history of British martial arts. It included these ladies. All of whom could have been covered in more detail.

Sarah Mayer

Sarah Mayer who was the first non-japanese woman to receive a black belt in Judo.


Edith Garrud

The suffragettes who learnt Ju Jitsu to protect Emmeline (also called Emily) Pankhurst from the police arresting her again. They were led and trained by Edith Garrud.

Suffragette demonstrating Ju jitsu

On a side note a book written by Mrs Roger Watts is going for £175 or more on amazon.

Pauline Laville-Bindra

Britain’s first karate woman was Pauline Laville-Bindra (nee Fuller) not only a student and black belt but also the founder of Blitz UK’s leading Martial Arts Supplier. Half the uk wear her Gis. Not to mention her role in expanding UK karate and being a founder member of several governing bodies.

Pauline Laville-Bindra Black belt

I love this photo, she looks like she is really enjoying herself.

So we come back to the question of why aren’t there more women in martial arts. We have these great role models to follow. None of whom are particularly macho looking or acting.

As the sole adult female black belt in our club, I don’t want to be noticed just because I am female. I’d much rather be noticed for an outstanding technique.