BLOG: Six reasons why martial arts is perfect for women

Nyrene Crowley.

Nyrene Crowley has trained in martial arts for six years and competed professionally full-time for three of those years. 

The New Zealand-born fighter says MMA has taught her things that she really does believe can change worlds for women, as it is something that saved her through a lot of her own personal experiences in life.

Nyrene wants to share her knowledge, experience and passion to build and grow the potential of women through Martial Arts right here in Aotearoa.

​Check out what she has to say in her blog below.

Yes, it’s another one of those goddamn blogs giving you the kick up the butt you hopefully need to get into Martial Arts! And lucky for you I’ve had two coffees already, so there will be NO skimping on excessive use of caps lock and exclamation marks to get the juices pumping!

Whipee lets go!

So if you don’t know who I am, my name is Nyrene Crowley and I have spent the last 3 years of my life fighting around Asia while being based in Bali, Indonesia. My life revolves around training Martial Arts and fighting. But it took time for me to realise and understand HOW Martial Arts was saving my life, and WHY I truly believe ALL women need to give it a go. Not just the fit women, not just the strong women, but EVERY single version of women as you are here today. So what are you waiting for?..Oh my blog explaining this…riiiiight.

1. Martial Arts makes us feel safe.

OK here we go ladies are you ready? Let’s start with the bloody obvious one, mArTial aRts iS seLf dEfenCe. WRONG… wrong wrong yeah, kinda pretty wrong. Any bootleg Cobra Kai wannabe, rolling around town trying to sell off what is left of his career by offering “Self-Defence classes for women”, is no more valuable than the gum you stepped on to try avoid his pamphlet in the first place.

Let me make this very clear. SELF DEFENCE IS NOT MARTIAL ARTS. Self defence is the response to danger to keep yourself safe, by utilizing techniques learned through a combination of Martial Arts practices. Heck, if someone twice my size and strength attacked me, I still don’t think I could defend myself completely. BUT point I'm trying to make is, few predators would even try. So this concept of people preying on the fear of women to get them to sign up really boils my blood.

Training in Martial Arts and in my case, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Boxing, Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu will teach you basic fundamental skills and techniques to make it more difficult for an attacker to succeed, possibly ever. Which, don't get me wrong. Is INCREDIBLY helpful. BUT, I actually believe the most invaluable learning for women practicing Martial Arts, is the indomitable feeling of strength and confidence that comes with realizing the ultimate capabilities of the human body. Capabilities that are tested and pushed every moment you commit to growing through this beautiful sport.

This is what I truly believe can keep our women safe, and discourages possible predators without even realizing. Martial Arts fosters this intangible sense of strength and power within people, that unintentionally presents us to the world as

“un - f%$& - with - able” (read that again). When a woman walks with confidence, a healthy self-esteem, brimming with strength and tenacity. It is not only incredibly beautiful, it is fierce and strong and most of all, intimidating for people looking for vulnerable targets. Which, my beautiful ladies…we ARE NOT. And that is how I believe Martial Arts makes us feel safe.

2. Universal community of like-minded people.

Boxing in Jakarta.

WSBC Boxing Club - Jakarta, Indonesia

One of the most fantastic bi-products of training in Martial Arts that people forget is that not only are you learning skills. But you are also now learning a universal language.

Yup. You heard me right (add that one to the CV…*fluent in the language of Martial Arts*)

I spoke about this a bit on my Instagram a little while ago (click the photo to see the video). But being abroad for 3 years in a continent that is considered ‘Third World’, never once in my entire experience did it hinder my ability to learn and understand the language of Martial Arts. No matter where you are. The adaption may differ slightly, and the language might require you to whip out the ol’ Google Translate every once in a while. But punches and kicks and movement never change, regardless of whatever location you find yourself in. And that. Is pretty damn cool. It also makes travel so much more exciting wanting to track down the destination gyms, and experience what type of training they have to offer in comparison to where you come from. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the anticipation of that global growth really gets me so damn excited!!!!!

oh…just me? Uhm okay sweet.

And, with this newfound universal language, you also have the experience and knowledge to confidently walk into any gym in the world with skills to not only learn new things, but meet new people. People with a similar passion for punching, that always seems to lead to some pretty cool female friendships, and dope experiences while you’re away from the comfort of home.

3. Healthy body, Healthier mind.

Gone are the days where Martial Arts and fighting held those age-old misconceptions of violence, testosterone, blood and gore. People are finally starting to appreciate the evolution of Martial Arts as a beautiful display of style, intellect, incredible discipline, mindfulness and in many many cases, practical therapy.

The obvious physical benefits of training in Marital Arts include improved cardiovascular health, better mood and a regulated nervous system from the natural release of phenethylamine (dopamine and possibly also inducing acetylcholine to the brain), sharper reflexes, better hand-eye coordination and so much more.

Women in particular actually have naturally better flexion through their hips which makes it much easier to adapt to certain movements over our male friends.

But being in the game for 6 years so far, I have witnessed the change in the development of how we now approach this type of training. Even at a beginner level. There is a clear understanding of the benefits of remaining calm through the chaos, in order to achieve the most out of your training.

Try telling this to beginner Nyrene who was unknowingly full of suppressed and misguided anger, and got her ass beat by a 12-year-old on her first sparring session. Tears and tantrums and all. Yes…. that happened. That 12 year old became a two-time World Champion by the way…(*lowkey justifying the painful memory…*cries* Shout out to Roezala Su’e haha. Love you)

You know one of the beautiful things about Muay Thai Kickboxing in Thailand, is a command that the trainers all say: “Sabai, Sabai” which translates into “Relax, Relax”. Relaxed mind means a calculated and clear mind. It also means a sharp and in-control mind. All of these in-turn foster a space of decisiveness, conviction and clarity. And when you are participating in one of the most physically and emotionally confronting sports in the world today, it can absolutely teach you so much about yourself and how you can become so much stronger not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I really do think that women could really benefit from that awareness of how our minds operate and how we can better respond to adversity in our everyday lives.

4. Functional movement.

Look, I’m not saying that Martial Arts is going to turn us all into street fighters so that we can learn how to punch people in the face (even though they may deserve it….let’s be honest here) But have you ever realized, that maybe that punch you are learning to throw is building the strength through your core, chest, shoulders and legs…yes legs! And not only now can you throw a mean jab, cross, but you aren’t so fatigued through the day, you’ll be finding it easier to lift heavy objects and have faster reflexes to maybe catch that phone as it is falling off the table for the 5th time this month (maybe not, but we can always try). What I’m trying to say is that the type of training involved in Martial Arts will indefinitely prepare us to better respond to the happenings of life. Functional movement is so important for the health of our bodies to keep up with life, and Martial Arts comes fully equipped to prepare you for this.

5. Small wins to earn those treats.

How much better will those treats taste when you really truly feel like you earned them! The commitment to the journey of Martial Arts is an everlasting one. One of growth, goals and achievements no matter how big or small. That is what I feel leads to the obsession of continual evolvement as a human being. An extra stripe on that Jiu Jitzu belt, that wrestling take down you finally get after hours and hours of drilling, the second you notice you don’t have to be reminded to keep that damn guard up anymore. These are all such small, but beautiful wins that we can take the time to really appreciate through Martial Arts, and I can tell you from experience. These small wins can have the most transcendent effect on the wiring of our brain, and the positive emotions that it can generate overall. And it just makes those treats taste oh so much better ! Take it from the self-proclaimed doughnut connoisseur over here. If you know...you know.

6. Martial Arts prepares us for life.

But…along with the highs must come the lows. Probably one of the most important but quite brutal parts of the journey of Martial Arts that not a lot of people talk about, is understanding that; like life. There will be real moments of challenge and difficulty and hurt and pain. Moments that make you question your capability, your progress and your purpose. Moments that break you physically and mentally. (Great advertising I know, stay with me I promise the rainbow is coming)

But never have I ever been in a more supportive and encouraging environment, to learn and grow through some of the toughest moments of my life.

We all know that life is laden with disappointments and sometimes sadness. But being a part of the training of martial arts and absorbing the full emotion of what has happened, but then learning how to work my way out of it, are skills you will not learn anywhere else. Martial Arts prepares you for the realistic nature of the beautiful life that we live in. A beautiful life that sometimes has little trip ups along the way, but one that you will always be ready for. Being part of this dysfunctional, crazy, driven, ambitious and intellectual Martial Arts family is a magnificent thing, and I will always be the most passionate advocate for women to give it a good go at LEAST once. I promise you, you wont regret it.

Right. Now where did those doughnuts dive off to..