Why I fight like a girl...

What does it mean to say 'Fight Like a Girl'?


I personally love the expression because it embodies the attitude I promote in my school, Brooklyn Wing Tsun. We constantly hear common expressions in everyday life like, 'Don't be a Pussy', 'You hit/run/whine like a girl', etc. I believe these sayings are dangerously misleading because it constantly enforces the idea that the female sex is less, weak, wimpy, uninspired and ineffective. Not only are we doing a disservice to women's incredible history in general but we are also condemning the humans of the future to think in this way. Here are some examples of why I believe it is awesome to fight like a girl. 


The example that stands out to me the most is our general concept of the underdog. As a culture our favorite stories about overcoming struggle (myths, legends, movies, shows, etc) usually involve an underdog hero. It is not always the biggest and the strongest that capture our imagination in a positive light, on the contrary these individuals are usually portrayed as the villain of the story, the dictator, the corrupt general, the terrible boss. Individuals that have some kind of advantage or power over our embattled heros. For instance, in the Star Wars series the resistance is a scrappy band of rebels fighting against a huge and powerful enemy, we root for the little guy, we want Rocky to win, we want the 'Frodo' character to rise to the challenge and find out what they are made of. This truly embodies the phrase 'fight like a girl' for me. Engage in battle like you already know you're out gunned, you can't fight fire with fire (brute strength against brute strength), you must find another way. The general perception is that guys are strong and women are weak so guys automatically have the perceived upper hand. But if you teach someone (man or woman) that does not believe they have the power to fight back against someone who is bigger or stronger or crazier than themselves, they learn to fight and live with heart, tenacity and have a certain finality or determination in their actions. The stakes are higher, we've everything to lose. This is the basic premise behind the legend of Wing Tsun kung fu system. They say this brutality efficient, smart & effective style was developed by a woman. The story is very empowering to women and people in general, especially those that feel smaller or weaker than your average 6 foot tall dude coming in around 200 something pounds. The short of the story is that a young woman named Wing Chun learned an awesome fighting system from a Buddhist nun and after her training she came back to her village and beat up a bully that had a history of public sexual aggression towards her. After she publicly beat him up the village agreed, 'Wing Chun's Kung fu is super dope!', hence Wing Tsun (Chun) Kung Fu. We literally teach people in our system how to defend themselves against bigger, stronger attackers. The idea is how do we defend ourselves against bigger, stronger or crazier people when these are most likely the individuals that are going to attack us in a real life situation? So as a Wing Tsun fighter you are constantly the underdog, you are the person that's not as strong as the person attacking you, you are the person that's not as big as the person attacking you and you have to overcome this with technique, principles and a very ferocious attitude. This is the total idea of the underdog and in my school I teach my students to fight with this attitude it, you are not as strong as your opponent, you are not as big as your opponent, but if I can teach you to fight a giant, you can fight anyone. You can be Rocky Balboa.


The next example, or fact, is that women are capable of giving birth. Arguably one of the most painful things any human has to experience. Women on the regular experience more pain than men hence can handle more pain and have a higher pain tolerance. They are tough! Most of us are not killed or injured gruesomely in war or through acts of violence and rarely experience these sensations in our life but every woman who has given birth knows the meaning of true pain. Alone this single act should be commended and heavily respected. It is odd that we don't have more admiration for this almost magical act that propels our species. 


We are collectively taught that if we are "less" we cannot affect change. Meaning that if you are a smaller person you cannot defend yourself against a bigger person, if you are a small organization you cannot affect change on a big scale, if you have a small voice you cannot be heard. This is a common theme in America where we are sold the idea that if you are not the biggest or the strongest that you can not compete, this seems especially true in corporate America but I am here to tell you that everything has a weakness, any big obstacle can be overcome or at least adequately challenged. I don't say that I can beat you, but I do say that I can give it a hell of a try.

It is a different skill set to be able to handle someone of your own strength and stature rather then encountering an opponent that is physically superior to you. You must adopt a different mental attitude and technical approach. This is one major difference between the principles of sport fighting and self defense. In a sport match I am paired with someone who is generally my same weight and generally my same skill set, someone who views me as an opponent. But on the street we assume that the person that is attacking us is either bigger or stronger or crazier then ourselves. Someone that views me as a victim, not an opponent. It's most likely not going to be someone of my same size and skill coming up to me with no weapon and bent on causing me harm. It's most likely going to be someone who's either bigger or stronger than me in which case I have to adopt the the motto to fight like a girl. I have to fight like I know this person is stronger than me, that I can take no quarter, no chances. We have a beautiful saying in Wing Tsun, 'fight with no mercy, with mercy no fight', meaning that if possible I attempt in all ways to avoid conflict and physical confrontation but if I do have to fight for my life or for someone else's I can afford my enemy no quarter, no mercy. Everyone's throat hurts when it gets struck, everyone's knee breaks, everyone's collar bone, everyone's nose. This is our mode of attack in Wing Tsun. You don't punch a fat guy in the stomach, you punch him in the throat.


I have had the honor to know many great women. Stronger and braver than most and able to endure tests of hardship that any human would be hard-pressed to pass.  My mother, sister and niece are all real examples of what it means to fight like a woman. Individually they have all had their own tests and challenges in life. Each responding differently but in each case you see the Rocky like attitude of going the distance, of fighting to the last drop, this shear will to persevere when you know the odds are against you. My Sije, Kung fu older sister, Sifu Nicole Daniels is in my opinion one of the best students of Sifu Alex Richter in the City Wing Tsun Athletic Association. She is not just good like 'She's really good for a girl', she's good like she will whoop your silly ass up and down the room....but seriously. Not just a skilled fighter but an excellent teacher & student, an excellent classmate, a good friend and a true inspiration in the ways humans should conduct themselves.


When your back is against the wall, when you are up against seemingly indestructible forces, when you know that you have to give it your best and fight with all your heart, this is when you are fighting like a girl, this is when you're fighting for your life, fighting against all odds. Luckily I have learned in the past years that the big can be defeated, the strong can be controlled and the seemingly meek or weak can rise to the occasion. The most rewarding aspect of being an instructor is when your student realizes that they have the power to fight back within themselves. The empowerment of the "weak" is the main principle behind my school Brooklyn Wing Tsun, I want to let the regular people of the world know that they can fight back, that they can stand up for themselves, that there is a way through or around this and that's what I teach at Brooklyn Wing Tsun Kung Fu. Maximize your capacity to effect change, to be the best human you can be.


Sifu Ethan Hampton