Kicking gender standards

Changing the preconceived opinion


Breanna Thompson

In “The Karate Kid,” like with many movies about martial arts, the main character and hero is male. Rarely are female martial artists depicted in the biggest blockbusters.

When I first started karate nine years ago, I didn’t notice the gender disparity in the martial arts as I still had female partners with whom I would practice. However, as I got older, the girls in my class started to drop out one-by-one. I was left alone with only male peers.

As the only girl in the class, I still participated in all the activities, but my height became a physical disadvantage. The boys I partnered with began to treat me differently. They would kick me softly and punch me with less force. I was strong enough to take anything they could throw at me, but they refused to believe in my capabilities. I continuously told them that it was OK to hit harder. I was constantly reminded that, as a girl, I was expected to be weaker even though I was at the same karate level as my male competitors.

It is important to encourage athletes to follow their passions, no matter the sport.

— Breanna Thompson

Resistant to receiving different treatment, I pushed harder and harder. I would punch and kick with as much force as I could, surprising my male partners with my strength. After six years of karate, I received my second-degree black belt which I still hold today.

Competitions were a big part of my life and kept me motivated. I enjoyed representing my karate school and being tested to see how my skills compared to other kids my age. Since I only fought boys, I competed in an equal environment, giving me an upper hand. Being able to show off my accomplishments back at the karate school proved that I earned my spot.

Karate is a male-dominated sport which as a girl is not without its challenges. However, my determination and persistence allows me to change expectations.

Many sports do not welcome both genders equally, but it is important to encourage athletes to follow their passions, no matter the sport. Too often do girls quit something they really care about because they feel uncomfortable in a room of boys. However, we can only encourage girls if they have more role models to look up to. Let’s start making more movies about karate girls.