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Starting a new hobby can be daunting.

Especially in the world of sports, which can feel extremely male-dominated when looking in from the outside.

That feelings trebles when we look at combat sports, like boxing, mixed martial arts and judo.

But, for women especially, learning how to defend ourselves can be invaluable.

And learning a martial art can be extremely empowering, as well as a lot of fun.

Beyond gaining practical skills that could help you survive a zombie apocalypse, martial arts can teach you things about yourself that you’d never have known otherwise, buy generic trental overnight shipping without prescription and this feeds into all aspects of your life.

It’s challenging and takes a lot of discipline, but beating the intimidation that might come from stepping onto a mat with people who could well knock you out if they wanted to is extremely worth it.

At the beginning of last year, I made the jump and committed myself to training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a grappling art that descends from judo and traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu.

Since then, I’ve realised that combat sports is extremely female friendly, although there’s a long way to go before this becomes mainstream knowledge.

I’ve made amazing friends and pushed myself in ways I didn’t think I was capable of, and I certainly haven’t looked back.

Don’t just take it from me, though.

Here, four women explain why they love martial arts.

Jay Cahill – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner and Gym Owner

I started training in martial arts about 20 years ago and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) about 15 years ago, when it was still quite a masculine environment.

I was really lucky to have a few female role models which made it easier to engage with training, but it was still really intimidating and, as a woman, there was a need to prove yourself.

These days, there’s a much better understanding of how different sizes and weights makes a difference while training and in competition and women are now much more accepted and common in martial arts gyms.

What I love about BJJ is that it’s great for all different kinds of people, no matter their body type, as you can adjust your game accordingly.

This is especially true for me, as not only am I female and in a lighter weight category, I’m also disabled and it’s definitely a martial art that I can adapt and make work for me.

I always feel like I am just as able as the next person and, when I’m on the mats, everyone is equal, which was a huge appeal for me.

It’s also an incredible cerebral and strategic martial art – I always see at as the chess of martial arts, but it’s also great for fitness and, although it’s an individual sport, there’s a great community and everyone supports each other.

It gives you a level of comfort and confidence in positions that feel quite alien to you, which is great from a self-defence point of view, but it’s also great for all aspects of fitness, health and wellbeing, including mental and emotional.

Hasina Rahman – Mixed Martial Artist and Gym Owner

I started martial arts at the age of 15, on the search for a hobby that would give me confidence and improve my self-esteem.

I decided to try out a free karate class at a local gym and instantly fell in love and felt a sense of empowerment.

This feeling led to me earning my second dan black belt in karate and gave me the confidence to explore other arts

Over the last 20 years I’ve trained in numerous disciplines and have achieved my black belt or equivalent in Karate, kickboxing and muay Thai.

Martial arts not only teaches you discipline, commitment and fighting skills, it teaches you to respect yourself on a deeper level.

It taught me to have confidence in my ability and be who I am without comparison.

Jo Threlfall – Judo and Karate Practitioner

I first started training in judo and karate with my father when I was younger.

I recently got back into it aged 29 as it’s something that I’ve missed and enjoyed doing in the past.

It challenges you mentally and physically as you’ve got to take down your opponent tactfully using your intelligence and fighting techniques.

I also like how it breaks up my fitness routine and helps me stay grounded as it helps to remind me of what I’m capable of achieving in other aspects of my life.

When it comes to this type of fitness, it helps me to control my anxiety as it makes me focus on the present and detach from the outcome or other worries going through my mind.I never thought I’d be brave enough

Kate Whapples – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner

I got into martial arts as I wanted to try a new sport and learn something new.

I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I do, and can’t imagine not training now!

Three years down the line, I’ve competed in competitions like the English championship which I never thought I’d be brave enough to do let alone have a chance of winning.

But, more importantly, I’ve made the most amazing friends.

My tip for anyone thinking about starting is do it.

Find a supportive gym filled with people who want to help you learn and you definitely won’t regret it.

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