Thursday, May 04, 2006

Results of an informal survey on women martial artists

The results of my informal survey comparing Women to Men in the Martial arts.

I received information from approximately 30 dojo, from 3 continents, North America ( U.S. and Canada), Europe ( England, Ireland, Scotland), and Australia.

Many martial arts styles were represented in this survey:

Shotokan made up about 1/ 4 of the responses. The next largest response came from Tae Kwon do, and then I placed all the other martial arts into a united category. I did not receive many responses from the grappling arts styles such as Judo/ Aikido... so I was unable to make a comparison in hard/ soft styles.

First question:

1. How many women train in your dojo of Kyu rank compared to men?

The overall results from this survey shows that an average dojo will have close to 45% of women compared to men. The New York City-based research firm Simmons Market Research did a survey in America which received a result that 48% women train in martial arts compared to men. Therefore my little survey results are quite close to the official one. Simmons Market Research also found out that “ for the most part, participants are young. Sixty-three percent are between 18 and 34, compared with 25 percent who are between 35 and 49 and 11 percent who are 50 or older. “ **

I did learn something interesting when I looked at the various Martial arts styles:

Overall 45% which translates to about 1 woman to 2 men.

Shotokan 77% which translates to about 3 women to 4 men.

Tae Kwon Do 48% very much meeting the overall average.

Other arts 26% which translates to about 1 woman to 4 men.

Women in North America participate at 51%, while European women are at 37%, and Australian women at 34%.

2. How many women in your dojo are of Dan level?

Overall only 26% of women training in martial arts will achieve Black belt.

A lady has a higher chance to achieve Shodan in Shotokan:

Overall 26%
Shotokan 46%
Other 27%
Tae Kwon Do 4%

According to the numbers that came in the European women ( 34%) achieve Black belt more than North American (30%) or Australian ( 5%).

3. How many Black Belt women are Instructors?

Overall 22%
Shotokan 40%
Other 17%
Tae Kwon Do 0.5%

Again, European women become Instructiors at a higher ratio ( 43%) than North America ( 22%) or Australia ( 10%)

So, according to the above results, the best place for a woman to be if she wants to become a Sensei is training in Shotokan in Europe, and the worst place would be training in Australia in Tae Kwon Do..

I’ve had various Sensei estimate from their experiences that out of 100 new white belts only 1 will achieve Shodan rank level. If I applied the information that I’ve unearthed through this survey, that would mean that (overall) out of 400 new white belt women, only 1 will achieve Black belt.

This informal survey did not have a large data base to draw from, so I would caution anyone from quoting the information contained within it. It was just a fun project. This information is being cross-posted onto a couple of forums by myself.

** quote from


[Mat] said...

Is my english interpretation wrong?

Should it be saying that 77% is about

about 3 women to 4 PEOPLE (not men).

Because if I get it right in my mind, saying that it's about 3 women to 4 men, it's 7 persons. Ans 3 out of 7 is like 43%.

- Just wondering - You know it's not my first language.

Also, when you say that 26% of women will reach black belt, is it 26% of women who start out, or is the proportion of black belts in the dojo 26%?

Martial arts are a Macho field. :) Although I get that they were created by men for men, there is actually a dojo near where I live that is exclusively for women. Taught by a woman, for women. They teach a derivate of Chito-Ryu karate - Ryusei Karate-do. The club is called Onna No Karatedo Dojo.

Well, good day! And a big hug!

supergroup7 said...

I was looking at ratio, Mat. 3:4 is the same as 3 women to 4 men.. So ( the way that I'm looking at it..) 100% would mean 1 woman to 1 man.

The proportion of black belts women in the dojo is around 26% in average. You will find some dojo with no women at all, and some with lots of women black belts.. but the average is around 26%.

I don't know just how "macho" martial arts is, from what I've been researching, women have trained themselves to become phenomenal warriors. A native Canadian friend of mine told me that the women warriors of a tribe were sometimes more fierce than the men. I'm going to be researching all that up soon.. I just need more time.

Big hugs back to you!

[Mat] said...

Got the ratio thing.

Pardon my sometimes wandering french mind :) and thanks for that.

And yeah, I do believe that women are more proficient fighters. Every woman karateka I've met until here has been training harder than most guys that are in the class.

I remember in Shotokan, there was this girl (brown belt) she was a very serious fighter and fists would end up in my face (gently, mind you) without me even realizing what had just happened ;) I'd go : Woah! Where did that come from.

I've also met a girl with 23 years of training in karate - she's 28. She's almost scary in kumite. Always wins. No matter what. She leads the fight. Like a dance. It's both scary and beautiful to see.

Sometimes, I wish I had stayed in shotokan just to take advantage of those sempais and the kumite training. I really miss that. And I feel I need it too. I love the style I'm in, but I feel that the whole kumite part is being let down.

Anyways, I disgress.

I do believe that women get to be pretty fierce fighters.

And on that note, isn't it representative of the general pressure that's being put in society on woman? How many times have I heard that term : Superwoman.

Train, work, take care of the family, perform, be beautiful, etc etc etc.

I wonder if that translates to martial arts training...?
In older societies, yes, women were sometimes the fighters.

Here are some women in history you might want to look up :

Sharifa Fatima
- The kings of Persia were reported to have female bodyguard. ---- I wonder if there were "benefits" thrown in there?

The Wing Chun style of fighting was suposedly developped by women. (don't remember the names)

Found a link:

Good research!

Ruth said...

I've just found your blog. It's really interesting for me to read a karate blog. I've just returned to training (shotokan)after a 5 year break to have children. I'm really enjoying it again now - although my kata are very rusty!

Best wishes


mere said...

I just discovered your blog-its excellent! I am also a 1st kyu-style is Shidokan. I love reading other women's views on martial arts. Good luck with your training and testing!

supergroup7 said...

Welcome Ruth, and Mere,

I'm glad that you are enjoying my weblog. I'm hoping to place more pictures on it one day, but I'm rather lax about doing that sort of thing. A picture speaks a thousand words, and since I love talking, and chatting.. it seems that the picture would steal my limelight.. ha ha ha. ( Just joking) Actually my digital camera is acting funny, and making all sorts of little white dots on each picture. My friend says that this is because it needs the sensor cleaned. I barely get my house cleaned.. I really do not have time to run to the nearest digital camera fix it shop to get it cleaned. So.. it may be awhile before I get more pictures on this blog.

supergroup7 said...

Hi Mat..

I'm following up on the hints that you have provided, and finding other interesting things such as the very first prosthetic is recorded in history as being a Warrior Queen who had an iron leg attached to her so that she could continue fighting. I'm going to pull together what I've learned and place it on my blog.