Written by Contributor Writer Kara Weightman 

In today’s society, the term “like a girl” has become and insult and demeaning phrase. People saying you throw like a girl, run like a girl, hit like a girl or even people saying stop acting like a girl if they are being weak. I have always been proud to be a girl, so when did “like a girl” become an insult or a sign of weakness?

When I was a little girl, like most girls, I was enrolled in dance and gymnastics classes.  For the first couple of years, I enjoyed these sports. But as I grew up I began to lose interest in them. As I got a little bit older I stared playing soccer,
however my heart still wasn’t in it. When I was ten years old, I saw a friend do Karate and I instantly fell in love with martial arts. That winter, my parents enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do classes.

Tae Kwon Do is the oldest form of martial arts originating from South Korea. The whole point of martial arts is about self- discipline, self- defense and mental growth as well. After my first lesson, I was in love. I had lessons once a week and would practice on my own at home.

When I first started when I was young, people thought it was just a cute thing this little girl was doing and that like most other sports that I played, something I would just drop after a couple of years. That was not the case.

When I made it to green belt, which is about half way till black belt, I was 16 years old and ready to head into my first competition. I was required to compete in at least one competition by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) who is known for the Junior Olympics for martial arts. So I decided that the AAU tournament would be my first competition that I entered.  I would be competing in two categories, sparring and something called forms. They divide you up by your belt ranking and age for who you will compete against. Now most tournaments also divide you by boys and girls, in the AAU, this was not the case. Boys and girls of the same belt ranking and age would be competing against each other. When I told people that I would be fighting against boys, I got a lot of discouraging responses. Some people told me that I didn’t stand a chance because guys are just naturally stronger. Others told me that it wouldn’t be fair to the guys because if I beat them, it would embarrass them because they lost to a girl, but on the other hand if they beat me, it would look bad because they “beat a girl”. Comments like these made me very discouraged. Why should it matter if I was fighting a guy or not? We were both the same belt, which indicated we both have equal skill set.

All throughout the time I was in martial arts, I always got mocked because I was a girl in a sport that involved fighting. I was told that sparring and fighting “wasn’t for girls”. I thought to myself, well why shouldn’t it be?

I am now 20 years old and finished with a red belt (which is two away from black). Throughout my time in martial arts I earned two gold medals, two silver medals, three first place trophies, two-second place trophies and one-third place plaque, and yes, many of those were earned from competing against men. So yes, I do “fight like a girl” because I am a girl and that is nothing that I am ashamed of.