Women are increasingly taking to training in martial arts for self-defence. Take Anyango whom I met during my consultation recently, for instance. She is six months pregnant and feels vulnerable and “disarmed” by her pregnancy. She is a black-belt Karateka, who now feels unsafe to train as her baby bump enlarges. She feels vulnerable due to past experience of violence from her partner and the tough neighbourhood she lives in.
I advised her to moderate her training during pregnancy. Domestic abuse is a huge issue in society and by encouraging more women into the martial arts, we can take a stand against it.
The benefits of martial arts training for women are many. Increased strength, fitness, confidence, but most of all is the realisation that being female does not mean automatic status as victim.
Martial arts has many benefits but for women, it is a path that will help to reduce abuse in society. Even through little training, female students become more empowered and confident and if this helps just one woman to stand up for herself and not to tolerate domestic abuse, it would be a huge achievement.
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Domestic violence is the most common cause of injury to women aged 18 to 44 in the Kenya. After abuse starts, it usually continues. And it is likely to get worse over time. Abuse that starts with a slap may build up over time to kicking and shoving and finally choking.
Important Safety Points
Pregnant women should avoid being breathless for long periods. This is because you could be depriving your baby of oxygen. If you start feeling breathless, slow down and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth and deeply until you recover.
Check your heart rate at regular intervals and ensure it does not exceed 140 beats per minute. If your heart is racing so is your baby’s.
Drink plenty of water. Remember that even in the beginning, your body is working overtime to sustain two people.
Listen to your body. If you are experiencing discomfort, your body is telling you something. Stop the exercise you are doing and immediately inform your instructor how you are feeling. It is not right to test your endurance limits during pregnancy.