Martial Arts

Maritime ladies in martial arts face challenges inside and outdoors the cage

A lady from Wolfville stepped within a cage for her first fist struggle on Nov. 19 at Struggle League Atlantic 6 in Moncton Coliseum.

Charlene Barkhouse placed on a dominant efficiency in her blended martial arts debut. She managed her opponent, Lumi Rhodes, by way of two three-minute rounds of preventing, earlier than climbing Rhodes’ again and defeating her with a chokehold.

“I wished a brand new problem,” Barkhouse stated. “I’m very goal-oriented, so having the chance to compete and to push myself, and one thing to work in the direction of makes a distinction for me.”

Maritime ladies in martial arts face challenges inside and outdoors the cage
Barkhouse in Moncton Coliseum earlier than her debut struggle at Struggle League Atlantic 6.   Jeremy Hull

Barkhouse is making an attempt to enter a tricky subject for ladies. Along with the same old obstacles confronted by feminine athletes, there aren’t sufficient ladies preventing within the area to get expertise competing. Even so, those who’re listed below are keen to journey lots of of kilometres for his or her subsequent struggle to allow them to get forward of their sport.

Barkhouse, 34, waited two years for her first struggle. She stated that there’s an viewers for ladies’s MMA, so promoters are providing alternatives, however the shallow expertise pool makes it exhausting to seek out matchups.

“Plenty of it has to do with COVID and discovering ladies to compete with in the appropriate weight class,” Barkhouse stated.

Barkhouse focuses whereas her coach, Peter Campbell, wraps her arms in preparation for her first struggle.   Jeremy Hull

“If I have been youthful, and I had extra time left, it might have held up my expertise and development,” Barkhouse stated.

She stated blended martial arts is a “passion profession.” Her struggle in opposition to Rhodes was underneath an newbie rule set, however Barkhouse stated she needs to show skilled and begin incomes cash.

Matt McGrath is the proprietor of Renzo Gracie Lot 36 crew in Prince Edward Island. He’s had a prolonged profession as a fighter and coach. His prospect, Maria Clinton, 24, travelled to the U.S. for her third struggle. Clinton needs to show skilled for her subsequent match, however she is struggling to seek out an opponent.

“If you wish to go additional, you’ve obtained to chop weight, and also you’ve obtained to play the sport,” McGrath stated. He stated ladies can discover a quick path to the highest as a result of there are gaps from the regional scene by way of the very best ranges of MMA, however there are harmful realities in regards to the sport that each one athletes want to contemplate.

Clinton stated martial arts are an effective way to spice up your confidence. She stated she doesn’t take into consideration the rigours of coaching or reducing weight.

“It’s undoubtedly harmful, however it’s a part of the game and it’s obtained to be performed,” Clinton stated. She went exterior of the Atlantic area to get a struggle at her desired weight of 115 kilos.

“No person within the Maritimes is keen to go that low,” McGrath stated.

For her final struggle within the Maritimes, Clinton fought Sarah Wilson, 34. Wilson is an achieved jiu jitsu competitor who trains out of Sprawl or Brawl in Glace Bay. She is competing on the Worldwide Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world championship in December.

MMA is a hybrid sport. Athletes mix grappling disciplines, like wrestling and jiu jitsu, with hanging disciplines like boxing. Many rivals prepare and compete in multiple martial artwork earlier than making the transition to the extra permissive guidelines of MMA.

Sarah Wilson is accustomed to coaching with males.   Jeremy Hull

Wilson stated she considers herself well-researched on weight reducing.

“When you find yourself on the lookout for aggressive benefits, weight reducing comes up,” Wilson stated. She dropped about 15 kilos to make 125 kilos for her MMA debut in opposition to Clinton.

“I really strive, as a rule, to not do it,” Wilson stated. She stated the monetary burden of her martial arts aspirations is larger than the bodily toll.

“I max out my bank card flying round to compete,” Wilson stated. “Combining touring and competing or touring and coaching. I name them my traincations.”

Wilson stated journey is her past love, however she hopes the standard and frequency of competitors grows within the Maritimes.

After her first struggle, Barkhouse stated she is comfy in her weight class, so, like Clinton and Wilson, she is increasing her seek for opponents. She stated she’s inspired that promoters are bringing in expertise, like Rhodes, 28, who got here from Ontario, however extra could possibly be performed to advertise ladies’s martial arts within the Maritimes. She stated gyms ought to add ladies’s solely courses if they need the native scene to develop.

“I’m usually the one girl at school,” Barkhouse stated. She stated there may be worth in coaching with each sexes, however the bodily intimacy of jiu jitsu might be horrifying for anybody who’s skilled trauma.

WTF Girls That Struggle is a ladies’s solely jiu jitsu group that had their first occasion in 2010. They maintain coaching periods and competitions all through the Maritimes. The founder, Courtney Pratt, 41, stated WTF is a assist group for ladies within the Atlantic area who wish to prepare and compete. Barkhouse and Wilson have each taken half in WTF occasions.

“After I was competing, these have been basement tournaments,” Pratt stated. “The game has come a great distance.” Pratt stated that good gyms try to be clear and welcoming at the moment, however that wasn’t all the time the case. She stated that almost all amenities are higher geared up for ladies now, however the ambiance could possibly be extra inviting.

“Girls’s solely courses make it clear that this sport is for ladies,” Pratt stated. She stated that gyms ought to put ladies in management positions to emphasise their significance to the crew and the setting. Pratt stated safer, adaptive weight class fashions would get rid of weight reducing and encourage extra ladies who prepare to compete.

“What when you had everybody register at their weight, and then you definately put them into their closest bracket?” Pratt stated.

Pallas Athena Girls’s Combating Championship is an all-female blended martial arts promotion in Calgary. Chief working officer Jennica Wheeler stated her firm hopes to capitalize on the hole she sees out there for ladies’s preventing.

“I do know that there’s an urge for food for it,” Wheeler stated. “We simply have to localize it so we are able to fill the venue.”

Wheeler stated her firm is one among two all-female struggle promotions in North America together with Invicta Combating Championships. Pallas Athena has a database of over 300 fighters from all over the world. Wheeler stated the promotion carried out properly throughout the pandemic, however they’re nonetheless making an attempt to ascertain an area core of fighters with a steady fanbase.

Wheeler stated she needs to set an instance for males’s and ladies’s blended martial arts promotions that others will comply with to get rid of unhealthy practices, like weight reducing, from the game.

“We’re an athlete’s first group,” Wheeler stated. She stated she needs to alter the tradition of the game so ladies will really feel empowered, not exploited, by blended martial arts.

Wheeler stated that fighters on the east coast who wish to get forward have to do what Barkhouse, Clinton and Wilson are doing; journey and get expertise. She stated that girls who’re keen to struggle in Calgary ought to get in contact with Pallas Athena.

Barkhouse began coaching 9 years in the past at Abhaya Combined Martial Arts in Wolfville. She stated she won’t take a struggle within the Maritimes even when she may discover one as a result of the ladies coaching within the area are a part of her prolonged crew.

“We’re fairly close-knit,” Barkhouse stated. “You don’t wish to be preventing in opposition to somebody out of your home-team-away-from-home.”

Charlene Barkhouse hunts for Lumi Rhodes’ neck to complete the struggle throughout their match on Nov. 19.   Jeremy Hull

Barkhouse stated she would prepare even when she weren’t competing due to the bodily and psychological advantages, however she feels most empowered when she is getting ready for a struggle.

In an interview after her match with Rhodes, she expressed gratitude for lastly getting the chance to check herself. She stated she was unsure about her future, however she had a good suggestion the place her subsequent coaching camp would begin.

“I’ll search for one other opponent and go from there,” Barkhouse stated.

Jeremy Hull

Jeremy Hull

Jeremy Hull writes for magazines on subjects from enterprise to vitality, however he’s happiest when writing about jiu jitsu or fly fishing. Jeremy was a writer-in-residence on the Canadian Movie Centre. His work is accessible at

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