‘’I’m not the type of person who does yoga’’: Women, ‘hard’ martial arts and the quest for exciting significance

Mark Mierzwinski, Catherine Phipps

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter explores the experiences of women in two ‘hard’ forms of martial arts — Muay Thai and mixed martial arts (MMA). Muay Thai, also referred to as ‘Thai boxing’, is a ‘standing striking style where practitioners utilise their fists, shins, knees and elbows to strike their opponents’ (Spencer, 2009, p. 122). The ability to use elbows and knees to gain an advantage over an opponent differentiates Muay Thai from other ‘stand-up’ martial arts. The ‘clinch’ is a further unique feature, which refers to stand-up grappling that involves facing an opponent and wrapping both hands behind their head in order to control them by pulling their heads down (Spencer, 2009). Muay Thai is one of the many fighting styles used widely in MMA; indeed, MMA is a broad term that encompasses ‘any activity which entails an amalgam of unarmed combat styles’ (Sánchez García and Malcolm, 2010, p. 45). While many different particular martial arts are used by MMA practitioners, there are three dominant approaches: striking (e.g. boxing, Muay Thai, tae kwon do); submission (e.g. judo, jiu jitsu, sambo, wrestling); and ‘ground and pound’ (e.g. freestyle wrestling, Russian sambo) (Spencer, 2011).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGlobal Perspectives on Women in Combat Sports
    Subtitle of host publicationWomen Warriors around the World
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-43936-9
    ISBN (Print)978-1-137-43935-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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