Where Have all the Women Gone?

Where Have all the Women Gone?

    It was a typically cold and misty morning  in the northern China, and the walls of the Shaolin Temple stood strong before its destruction. The temple housed many Buddhist monks and nuns who practiced meditation and kung  fu. But Ng Mui, a Buddhist nun, escaped the destruction of the Shaolin Temple and continued to practice meditation and kung fu in the nest of the Tai Leung Mountains.

    One day a young girl named Yim Wing Chun (beautiful springtime) met Ng Mui. Yim Wing Chun was being forced into a marriage and wanted to help. Ng decided to help her and suggested she agree to marry only if the thug she was to wed could defeat his prospective spouse in a contest.

    After six months of training, Yim was able to turn her suitor's physical strengths to her advantage and won her freedom. She made several modifications in Ng's system, re-emphasizing speed and linear motion rather than power and strength. She devised chi sai  (sticky hands) practice, which develops sensitivity to an opponent rather than emphasizing on clashing and strength. The idea is to anticipate and counter by turning your enemy's force against him.

    Yim Wing Chun continued to practice and Ng, before her death, reportedly told the girl she had become the future of the art and bestowed the name wing chun on the style. Wing Chun is equated with simplicity and economy of motion, and has been passed on to the women of today.  But where have all the women gone? Wing Chun is just one example of the great contributions women have made to the martial arts. Since the martial began, some women were reportedly fierce fighters. But who were they?

    History gives us some clues. For example, in Arabia, the women of the hashashin (assassin) were so fierce in the fighting arts that they were given the name "Daughters of Death" by the fearful French. The French Foreign Legion, British soldiers and explorers, who were all known for their nerve, courage and who faced death daily, took every precaution to avoid these women. The women of the hashashin were experts at extracting  information and would slay upon command, as did the men.

    In the small village of Gundari on the Filipino island of Samar, there lived a blind princess, daughter of the village chief. She practiced the art of kali, which uses weapons on its teaching p of angular attacks. According to Floro Vabrille, who currently lives in Hawaii, some of his best training came from the isolated village high in the mountain where most men did not survive the journey to reach Princess Josephina. Her skill and sensitivity were alleged so great that she could anticipate when her opponent would silently switch a weapon from one hand to the other.

    There have been other outstanding women martial artists, too. They have taught, fought , performed  and competed according to the highest standards. And yet, we don't hear very much about them. Why not? Should women really take a seat back in the martial arts? Or do they belong in the forefront, where they can spread the arts and perfect their skills?

    The purpose of this column is to present interesting topic concerning women in the martial arts. We will also profile inspiring role models, and will discover where all the women have gone. It is time for the Western world to explore the many attributes and skills women offer the martial arts.  


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