SHOULD WOMEN HAVE FULL-CONTACT TOURNAMENTS?The controversial issue of full contact tournaments for women seems to be hotting up in Kyokushin. Apart from discussing things between yourselves, why not write to SHIN and air your views nationally?
The following articles are by women, and it’s great to get ideas `from the source’ (as it were), so please, ladies – pick up your writing gear and perform. Your opinions are particularly valued and sought, but we also want to know what’s going on in the minds of the male of the species.
This really is an important step that’s being considered very seriously by the National Committee in particular, and all `thinking’ Kyokushin people in general. Let’s all share what we believe to be pros and cons of the matter, so that an intelligent, informed decision can be made one way or the other.
IN THE QUEENSLAND FULL- CONTACT TOURNAMENT held on Saturday 21 June, women were involved in full-contact competition. It was extremely successful with the women involved, and applauded by both our fellow competitors and spectators alike.
There were four women competing – Sue-Ellen Shields (2nd Kyu, Coolangatta), Donna Mann (8th Kyu, Coolangatta), Yvonne Gulliver (9th Kyu, Brisbane), and myself (Margaret Sherlock, Brisbane).
No-one was a loser. Each woman fought to the best of her ability, and the spirit shown was overwhelming and a credit to all. Donna and Yvonne, being newcomers to the tournament scene, showed incredible tenacity and sportswomanship. They have also expressed their willingness to enter the Nationals if they are conducted under the same contact rules as adhered to during the Queensland tournament. The only variations between the women’s and the men’s competition were firstly that thigh kicks were not permitted, and secondly chest protectors and shin pads were allowed.
The decision against thigh kicks was twofold: firstly, as the competition was an open one the weight difference in some cases was up to two stone, and secondly, what woman wants the dreaded Kyokushin Shuffle?! Admittedly we all came out with the odd bruise or two but nothing more than what usually occurs in the dojo.
Opposers to contact for women are worried about the ability of the female anatomy to take heavy blows. The chest protector protects the chest from heavy blows which could otherwise be extremely dangerous since the blows have not been disproved to be cancer forming. The other area of concern (which is not protected) is the lower abdomen which houses the ovaries. This area has never been taught to me as an obvious weak spot, and hence a focal point of attack. Blows, whether it be a kick or punch, are directed mainly to the diaphragm, rib cage, chest and sternum. Women are well aware of their fragile areas and I believe it is a matter of commonsense that one woman would not purposely go forth to brutally hit another woman in this region. Shin pads are worn to protect both the aggressor and the defender, as they soften the power of kicks and protect the shins from heavy blocking.
Admittedly, I have been apprehensive about contact tournaments, but after competing in one I found it to be nothing worse than what we are already involved in while training in the dojo. Because the voice of the Kyokushin sisterhood is weak, this year could be our last chance at supporting the principle of contact tournaments for women as otherwise we may well be forgotten.
The Kyokushin fraternity will not know what women want if we do not speak out.
MARGARET R. SHERLOCK, Shodan, Brisbane.
If such a tournament should ever take place, I would praise the ladies involved and be proud that Kyokushin was able to bring such a tournament about.
I do feel there should be definite rules that exclude certain techniques, purely for the protection of the competitors. Breast guards would have to be worn, also arm and shin pads would not go astray!
Whilst wearing guards of any kind, I do not see how we could classify such a tournament as full-contact. Without their use injuries that could occur, might possibly cause trouble in later years. I wonder just how far all ladies involved would be prepared to go for their sport?
Weight and grade divisions would be necessary. I have noticed from past tournaments, and from pleas in our newsletter, the difficulty in sometimes finding competitors for non-contact tournaments. Therefore, difficulties may arise in trying to find competitors willing to participate in full-contact tournaments. Due to the possible lack of competitors, we may have to look at the possibility of having some form of handicap on grade and weight. Semi- contact is an area that also needs to be looked into.
I recall the publicity in 1985, between two women from another style, who tried to proceed with a full- contact fight. Before this fight could take place a Government authority intervened to stop it. However, with the women wearing full padding the fight eventually took place, but was classed as semi-contact. I do not know whether they restricted any techniques. Maybe we could look at the possibility of trying to arrange semi-contact tournaments.
We all know and accept that there are chances of injury occurring within the dojo, and out on the street, but the thought of possible injuries after such a tournament, does not appeal to my peace of mind. I personally, would not be willing to take this risk.
As the full-contact rules stand, fighting full-contact tournaments (in its true meaning), is asking a lot more than I am personally prepared to give.
CHERYL BAILEY, 4th Kyu, Liverpool.
Women who want to fight full contact need to ask themselves several questions:
1. Are they trying to prove they are as tough as men by competing at the same level?
If so, then surely there is no reason why they should not theoretically, fight men of the same body weight.
2. Are they prepared to face the possibility of injuries which could include:-
(a) Facial disfigurement (temporary or permanent).
(b) Damage to reproductive organs.
(c) Excess bruising to upper chest area which could eventually lead to cancer.
3. PADDING – How much protective padding should they wear? If they are heavily protected then what is the point of full contact anyway?
In all fairness, I think one of the main reasons women have been asking for full contact, is because of the problems they encounter at light contact tournaments.
The degree of contact allowed can vary greatly, and competitors do not know where they stand. It can sometimes be a no-win situation. If they try to follow the rules they often find themselves losing the fight, if they increase contact they receive chui’s.
It is useless to practise in the dojo for weeks on end to perfect touch contact techniques, and then find it’s a different story on the day.
How many times have women been told that THIS TIME contact will be kept light?
It is a major responsibility, and I realise a very difficult task for referees to control contact. However, they set the standard, and continued excessive contact should be penalised by disqualification.
If light contact fighting is more clearly defined and women are given a fair go, then perhaps many will not want to fight full contact.
In summary, I believe that full contact for women would be a step backwards for Kyokushin Karate.
Do we really want to see women knock each other out? It will prove nothing, and the publicity from such tournaments could discredit our style.
In retrospect, this whole controversial issue is perhaps, academic anyway.
The final decision could well rest with the proposed Martial Arts Licence Board.