Until recently, a real physical contest between a male and a female was difficult to imagine. Women participated in combat activities with men normally performed in combat shows (like WWE or foxy boxing), trained with men, playing fun-wrestling with men and participated in so-called "private wrestling sessions". Nowadays, women successfully compete in every single area of combat sports and martial arts. As to mixed-gender contests, the most successfully young girls compete against boys in wrestling. Coed wrestling teams became quite common in American elementary, middle and high schools. Another area where girls successfully compete with girls is grappling and BJJ. In Thailand girls routinely fight against boys in Muay Thai bouts.
So, the most common areas where real contact mixed-gender fights can be seen are the following:
- Freestyle or Folk-style school wrestling
- Grappling/BJJ - children & juniors
- Muay Thai - children & juniors (mainly in Thailand)
- Sparring/Training - any combat sport
- Private wrestling sessions with predefined terms between a female wrestler practicing this form of men's entertainment (or dominating) and a man who pays for that.
Mixed-gender fights in other combat sports areas are less likely.
However, if exclude young wrestlers and grapplers, the most of full-contact coed contests are usually waged in training purposes as sparring. Reputedly, coed sparring and training is very useful for female athletes. They are also good for developing self-defense skills for women. And still real coed competitions are not a fiction either because there are quite many strong, skillful and trained female athletes in many of combative sports. “The boys are intense, but the girls are more calm, so we balance each other,” says Rachel Koltsov, 17, female wrestler from the Bronx Science High School, New York. Besides, girls usually are more disciplined and obeying the rules and regulations.
However, many mixed 'fights' still represent various shows, mostly with erotic flavor. These forms of entertainment belong to "Show industry of women's fighting".
Combat activities seem to be ones in which differences between women and men manifest itself (see Appendix below). Despite the predictions of some optimistic feminists, widespread of coed combative sports wouldn’t be anticipated. The female combatants who gave interviews for Female Single Combat Club adhered to the same opinion. At the same time, there are no doubts that a well-trained female athlete won’t have any problems to give an untrained strong man no peace.
One of the earliest documented materials was dated February 29, 1916. The article stated, “Helen Hildreth, the Lady Pugilist, was having the best of it in a mixed fight with Johnny Atkinson when Police and Boxing Commissioner Fred Wenck jumped into the RING and ordered the fight stopped “Grupp’s Gym, N.Y.C.” This is not saying that this is when mixed matches all started, but at this time, it is the earliest documented incident of a mixed match.
Joanna Haegen, a very famous female boxer from the 1950’s had a mixed boxing match with Norm Jones and defeated him in a four-round decision in Michigan City in 1952. If any boxing match should be declared the “first” the Haegen/Jones fight was the closest to equivalency of that honor. Haegen was also on the Steve Allan Show and had talked about her four mixed matches, even though this information has not been confirmed.
The famous female combatant Marion Bermudez is, probably the most noted past fighter to mix it up with men in the ring. One headliner said, "Woman Boxer BEATS MALE RIVAL In Golden Gloves, dated July 1975". "Miss Marion Bermudez, 23, connects with a long right to the face of Edwardo Parras en route to scoring a first-round technical knockout victory in the Phoenix Golden Gloves tourney. Fighting in the 125-pound novice class, the Arizona State University engineering senior is the first female boxer to score a victory in a nationally sanctioned tournament in the United States." Later, she fought Fernando Granillo and was knocked out in the first round. Marion Bermudez became the first woman in history to win a Full Contact kickboxing bout in a professional tournament against a man. Bermudez was dropped but she got back up and then dropped her male opponent Anthony Suarez. This angular young lady with the Latin good looks has won over 250 trophies to karate and judo competition, facing many MALE rivals weighing over 200 pounds.
The prominent female boxer from 1970s, the great female combat enthusiast and the author of the best WEB recourse dedicated to women's boxing (WBAN), Sue "Tiger Lilly" Fox fought against a man too. She said, "There was one exhibition I wish I had never done that was against my karate Instructor... A local TV crew was filming me for a feature story in 1976. I kicked him in the mouth, snapped both of his front teeth off the roots, cut his lip that needed stitches... and the TV crew made it worst when they handed him a business card, asking him to call the station as soon as he found out how many stitches he would take on his mouth!"
As it is said, in some combative sports (especially in freestyle wrestling), real coed contests are often held where women even sometimes win (mostly in matches among kids and teenagers). Nevertheless, some problems arise in the area of mixed wrestling contests (see the discussion in the section "Pro and Contra"). In fact, adult women compete against men in real combative sports quite rarely.
While an adult female combatant has little chances on the mat or on the ring against a man of about equal physique and talent, for girls the situation is quite different - young girls are capable to successfully compete with boys in some contact combative sports. The best example - freestyle wrestling where boy vs. girl matches are not a rarity at all, especially in American schools where freestyle (and similar 'folkstyle') wrestling is widely popular. When girls just began practicing wrestling, it was a shortage of girls in American high school wrestling teams, so girls-wrestlers trained and competed with boys. The number of young female wrestlers has been dramatically increased since that time in high schools and colleges but coed training and competitions are still practiced. The reason is simple: girls proved that they are able to be equal to boys on the mat. For instance, Joey Miller, the prominent young wrestling enthusiast and a friend of FSCC defeated the most of her male opponents in freestyle and Greek-Roman wrestling matches. That's how she explains this phenomenon: "Women's strengths are in their hips and legs. That is why so many girls are able to compete with the boys in folkstyle and freestyle wrestling using leg/hip strength and good balance. It is hard to turn girls where boys use their upper body to get their turns. That is why I am able to beat some guys that are stronger than me." Even some young male wrestlers admit that girls have some advantages over boys in wrestling. The school wrestling team member, Max T., says in his letter to the Yahoo message board "Girl pins boy": "Guys always try very hard to beat girls because of fear of be laughed at by their peers and even parents! In my opinion, girls have a better body build for wrestling, just by the way they are shaped. They have weight in their hip area (helps with a wide base of support for throws), they are usually shorter than males which helps with a wide base of support; also, girls' legs tend to be stronger than boys' ones as well. They also have a mental advantage because the guy is scared he will lose. Guys don't always win! If you don't believe me join my group and see how hard boys struggle against girls at wrestling!"
Many girls confidently defeat boys in wrestling competitions. For instance, Joey Miller, the prominent young wrestling enthusiast defeated the most of her male opponents in freestyle and Greek-Roman wrestling matches. That's how she explains this phenomenon: "Women's strengths are in their hips and legs. That is why so many girls are able to compete with the boys in folkstyle and freestyle wrestling using leg/hip strength and good balance. It is hard to turn girls where boys use their upper body to get their turns. That is why I am able to beat some guys that are stronger than me." Even some young male wrestlers admit that girls have some advantages over boys in wrestling. The school wrestling team member, Max T., says in his letter to the Yahoo message board "Girl pins boy": "Guys always try very hard to beat girls because of fear of be laughed at by their peers and even parents! In my opinion, girls have a better body build for wrestling, just by the way they are shaped. They have weight in their hip area (helps with a wide base of support for throws), they are usually shorter than males which helps with a wide base of support also, a girls legs tend to be stronger than a males as well. They also have a mental advantage because the guy is scared he will lose. Guys don't always win! If you don't believe me join my group and see how hard boys struggle against girls at wrestling!"
However, boys sometimes have psychological problems with that. First, they often experience psychological awkwardness; second, they are usually upset being defeated by girls. "I like it when boys cry," bragged Marcie Van Duser, a 14-year-old wrestler girl from Lake Arrowhead who beat 40 in freestyle.
In early and middle childhood, the difference in strength of boys and girls is not substantial and mixed wrestling is widespread in these age groups. Besides, young kids have fewer problems with body contacts than adults do during wrestling matches. (See also the article "Freestyle wrestling"). As boys and girls grow up and get mature adults, the physical differences between them get greater and coed matched make less sense.
There are quite many videos in the world web with man-vs-woman fights in different combative sports including 'no-holds barred' fights in cages (see the clips below). However, in the most of them there is no real competition (including in the two cage fights represented below). Jiu-jitsu master and submission wrestler Shannon Logan stated in her interview for our club that she had wrestling matches with men and the men were grappling to their full potential because after the matches she felt like she had gotten hit by a truck (see the picture).
As to combative forms where punches or kicks are allowed (like boxing and kickboxing), abilities of women to withstand experienced male fighters in the ring are even more limited. Besides, athletic associations are very reluctant about giving permissions for mixed fights for reasonable apprehensions that such bouts would be dangerous for women. For instance, in an official letter Tim Lueckenhoff, President of the Association of Boxing Commissions, asked to withdraw approval of the announced Ann Wolfe versus a male fight. That's the Tim Lueckenhoff's arguments: "A boxing contest between a male and a female raises inherent safety concerns, as the potential for serious injury in such a boxing contest is far greater than in a male v. male or female v. female boxing contest. Such concerns are premised upon the significant differences in strength, speed and ability to take a punch. Moreover, the bones in a female are thinner and have less calcium, especially the skull and nose; and a female's brain is not as well equipped as a male's to endure the same force of a punch to the head." However, the history of men vs. women fights on the ring does exist, albeit it's not full of real events. Very often matches become very publicized which are not really competitive. For example, in the widely publicized boxing match in which Margaret McGregor met an untrained lighter man he didn’t deliver any punches (neither did she really hit him), so the match couldn’t be considered as truly competitive. In much more real competitive bout, the unbeatable female fighter Lucia Rijker fought a Muay Thai boxer in the kickboxing match but the man didn’t feel uneasy to compete with the women in full strength and sent her in a deep knockout in the second round (see the section Boxing). To annoyance of some feminists and in defiance of their expectations, according to Lucia Rijker, women would never be on an equal footing with men in the ring.
Muay mixed fight in Thailand.
The Huffington Post
At the same time, like in wrestling, facing each other on the ring (in boxing, kickboxing and other contact combative sports) young girls and boys experience fewer problems than adult combatants do. For instance, in October 1999, ten-year-old coming female junior star Amber Francis (Orlando, FL, USA, 1-0/1, 84 lbs) stepped into the ring to face a boy and she didn't let the crowd down. Fighting with true determination and passion, Francis edged out a split decision win over a tough fighting Richard Allen, (Orlando, FL, USA, 0-1/0, 80 lbs., 10). This was a great fight, that could have seen either fighter get the win. (See the article "Only two on the ring - He and She"
Many discussions have held regarding whether or not women and men should compete together in wrestling and other combative sports. Opinions about youth wrestling split approximately in equal parts. (See, for instance, the discussion "Is wrestling a co-ed sport?" As to boxing and other punch/kick sports, vast majority of people is against coed competitions.
These are a few the most typical opinions of the discussion participants in California (from both camps).
- Women should be and will be 'allowed' to participate in everything men get to do. It's called equality. Wrestling is just another activity women have to fight to have the right to engage in.
- I think wrestling should be able to be co-ed just as any other sport they should have men and women teams and their co-eds and if he/she feels confident to go co-ed then why not.
- If the school does not offer them their own separate teams, there should be no excuse to exclude them from making it a coed team.
- What difference does it make who beats who? This is your time to shine!
- People are created equally and every one should be treated equal. If a girl or woman is not permitted to do the same as a male or boy is to then that sport and/or activity should not take place. Period!
- The minute a male touches her private areas during a match, there will be a sexual assault charge. What is this world thinking?
- If it is allowed to continue, then we will see more sex related lawsuits because the women are touched in places that they should realize that they will be touched in.
- Sure if the women want to get beat and have their bodies handled by men, let them.
- I see no reason for the co-ed because the first time a woman complains being injured by a man they will make a dramatic issue of it and a law suit.
Katherine Kersten, director of the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis wrote in 2001:
"Our society tends to frame the debate over mixed-sex wrestling in the familiar terms of physical safety and legal rights. Critics frequently note, for example, that the practice poses health risks for adolescent females. Teenage boys have significantly greater muscle mass than girls, and can injure them when wrenching their joints, or lying heavily on top of them.
On the other hand, mixed-sex wrestling creates legal risks for males. Boys who wrestle girls, or practice with female teammates, must touch them in ways that would constitute illegal sexual harassment in any other setting. In our litigious society, coaches take a risk whenever they have close physical contact with young female athletes. (Some wrestling coaches have refused to demonstrate holds on girls.) Wrestling officials also incur risks at mixed-sex matches, since they must break holds by thrusting in their hands near girls' chests or crotches.
But while health and legal concerns are important, they do not go to the heart of the problem. For the primary objection to boys wrestling girls is this: A civilized society should teach men that they must not use their superior strength to overpower and control women. If the sexes are to live in harmony, they must ground their relations in a kind of compact, centered in mutual dignity and regard. A fundamental tenet of this compact is that decent men respect women, and view using force against them as dishonorable and unmanly. My father put it simply: 'Boys don't hit girls.'
Wrestling contests between men and women strike symbolically at the heart of the compact that should govern relations between the sexes. Mixed-sex contests desensitize boys to the need to behave with respect toward girls at all times. In addition, they promote a double standard that is sure to prompt cynicism and resentment on the part of male wrestlers. Boys know instinctively that it's unfair to permit one wrestler (the girl) to choose whether she wishes to grapple intimately with a member of the opposite sex, while forcing the other (the boy) to do so against his will.
Perhaps it's too much to expect our rights-obsessed society to understand all this. But at the least, contemporary Americans should be able to grasp that mixed-sex wrestling is inequitable from an athletic point of view. The average male is markedly stronger than the average female, and has a faster reaction time and greater cardiovascular capacity. As a result, contests that pit men against women do not provide either sex with a level playing field. Is a matchup between the LA Lakers and the all-female Minnesota Lynx anyone's idea of 'gender equity'?
Girls who want to wrestle should have opportunities to do so. If interest is sufficient, high schools can sponsor all-girls teams. (The University of Minnesota-Morris has one of the nation's only women's collegiate varsity wrestling teams.) On the other hand, if interest is limited, female wrestlers can pool their resources and form single-sex community wrestling clubs, like the rugby or fencing clubs that other athletes organize. But putting girls on boys wrestling teams is not a step toward the liberation of women. It's a step back from equality for athletes of both sexes, and a giant step back from common sense."
However, girls and boys keep practicing wrestling together. As far as physical strength and skills are concerned, girls younger than 15 are often better than their male opponents in practicing wrestling along with boys. Once they chose this sport, they demonstrate single-mindedness and dedication. Numerous videoclips are placed on YouTube where girls skillfully defeat and pin boys.
Besides freestyle contests, coed matches in submission wrestling are also popular among kids and teenagers, for instance, in regular tournaments held by one of the biggest promoters of submission wrestling, the North American Grappling Association (NAGA). In its tournaments girls between 11 and 16 year-old age participate. According to the terms of the association, "boys may be paired with girls if there are insufficient entrants to justify a separate division". Moreover, in some competitions, older female wrestlers also compete. "Exceptional female fighters can petition the Commissioner to compete in the male division. This may be granted in limited circumstances." Of course, such women exist, like Shannon Logan who is definitely qualified.
Coed training and sparring with men are very useful for formation of a woman fighter. Working out together with male fighters, women can learn a lot: techniques, speed, aggression, dexterity, boldness, toughness and many more. The female combatants interviewed in our club confirm that.
One of the most popular forms of mixed physical contests between men and women is armwrestling - physical contest by arms. This is the most democratic and really folk combative sport, which assumes minimum physical body contact. That's why mixed contest in armwrestling are exceptionally popular.
Girls like to compete against men. If they lose they still look very womanly and prettily, even more than if win. Mixed armwrestling always run ardently and everyone has a good time. Female contestants have a good opportunity to attract general attention and to be subjects of admiration.
In the recent years, after women got allowed to American combat units, mix-gender contests in grappling and MMA became quite common. In fact, once women are considered as equal in this last men's bastion, they are not granted any indulgence in mixed fights either. And if a woman is weaker than her male opponent she can be punished even by knockout (see the photo at the left). In Military Mixed Martial Arts there is no separation for gender but women are given 10-15 lbs advantage. Women fight against men and many of them beat guys. See video in Military.com.
By Terrt Williams. February 2014
The Size-to-Strength Relationship
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, women generally produce about two-thirds the amount of total strength and applied force that men produce. Women are also physically built so that they generally carry two-thirds as much muscle mass as men. This proves that there is, in fact, a difference in strength, that men are typically stronger, and that most of the difference is based on body size and muscle cross-sectional area alone.
Practical Application of Strength Differences
Because human muscle tissue is made up of the same thing regardless of gender, all human muscle responds to stimulation in the same way. If a woman trains with weight that meets her thresholds, she will gain strength at the same rate as a man who trains at the same level of intensity, relative to his threshold. Progressive overload, or the idea of periodically increasing resistance load to challenge the limits of strength, is key to building strength and power; both men and women can achieve this. It can be seen, however, that women tend to match the strength of men more closely in lower body muscles than in upper body muscles. For examples, squats and lunges come easier to women than pushups or pullups.
Functional Differences Between Men and Women
As sure as power lifting and other muscle building sports and exercise programs are more challenging for women, many flexibility-related movements are more challenging for men. Because muscles are essential in the flexibility equation, it must be credited to women that they have the muscular strength advantage in certain areas. While men are taller and broader, built to carry and lift, women are more inclined to use muscular strength for tasks related to flexibility, coordination and balance. It has been proven that although men typically have better performances in sports such as sprinting, distance running and swimming, given the proportional difference in height and muscle area, women are actually stronger in these events. In the absence of external-weighted load, women can be considered to be the supreme sex in sports reliant on rhythmic use of muscular coordination.
Making it Plain
All in all, it is true that women are generally not as strong as men. It is also true, however, that much of this lies simply in how the bodies of men and women are built for different purposes. Because of differing size and function, the same muscles groups and potential for strength-gain work on different scales.