My YouTube channel recently surpassed 1,000,000 views. My Channel consists of 100s of hours of my training, video journal updates and every fight I’ve had (minus 2). I find it hard to wrap my head around anything I do or have interest in being acknowledged a million times, but there it is and it’s awesome.
I’ve made it clear that I am an advocate for women sharing their training, fighting, thoughts and experiences on the internet. While Muay Thai is growing in popularity in the West and there are always more women participating in combat sports as each year passes, by and large the gym experience for women is still a relatively isolated experience. This can be because there aren’t a lot of other women (or any other women) in the gym; or it can be because it’s difficult to explain the love of one’s art/sport to friends, family, spouses and coworkers who don’t automatically accept it as may more readily be the case for men who engage in these same arts/sports. There is a growing wealth of resources online for folks pursuing martial arts and even mixed martial arts, but by and large the voices are not of women. That doesn’t mean these resources don’t speak to women also – they certainly do and we get a lot out of any shared experience – but there are aspects of the female experience which are missing and I’ve found that connecting with other women online is invaluable and much-needed. The more women there are sharing their experiences, the better.
And it’s not easy to do so. Many people are naturally shy and women tend to not want to single themselves out. I had to convince myself I was speaking into a void for a long time in order to even put my thoughts up online – because who am I to think anyone cares? – but once I started hearing voices back from the darkness, voices that shared my struggles and shared in my triumphs, I realized that something much bigger than I am benefits from the audacity of speaking one’s mind. There are so many things that one misses out on because of shyness and very, very few things to gain from being shy. It doesn’t always feel good to expose my flaws to the public or to reveal my struggles while I’m still wrestling with them, but it does feel good to know that this discomfort means both more (in the context of sharing) and less (in the context of ego) than I realize. I’m asking for women’s experiences and opinions, your experiences, and I know I’m not the only one; so writing (blogging) and recording videos is requested, add to the pool of experience and support for all women.
It’s a matter of fact that the majority of gyms are owned, operated and used predominantly by men. The general M.O. is to keep everything close to the vest: training is hidden and there are secrets to the trade that each gym has mastered, finessed, perfected… whatever. And fighting is the culmination of each particular gym’s program. For the most part – and not every gym is of this mind – “tape” on fighters is guarded as an important game piece on a board with extremely limited players. So, there is definitely not a lot of sharing of one’s own fights online unless it is to a closed or limited audience.
There’s more to be said about this matter than what can be fit into this piece, but the simple fact is that Muay Thai needs exposure of its fighters in the West in order to grow. Female fighters need to advocate for themselves which sometimes means grappling with the rules, intentions or opinions of their gyms, coaches and trainers. Even the top female fighters in the game (like Julie Kitchen, for example) have male coaches/husbands who speak for them and PR their public images when it is far more rewarding (for fans) when the fighters speak directly to them and for themselves. It’s inspiring when a fighter’s voice can be heard and it’s really exciting when that voice is from a woman because it is still so rare.
It’s not as “rah rah” as just trying to populate the internet with female voices amidst all the others. There’s also a method to this which is that the more anyone shares of training the greater the benefit to us all. I initially started this channel as a way to share what I was learning with Master K. The countless comments I’ve received over the past 4 years about how amazing Master K is, how his teaching is so valuable and how everyone wishes they could train with him has affirmed my motives. And there’s still very little like what Master K has to offer anywhere else on the web. Sharing technique is not a matter of releasing secrets – we all learn the same Muay Thai – that’s what my Thai trainers have been telling me – and it is how we make it our own that establishes advantage over opponents. Sharing is rather is a way of preserving and reestablishing the strengths of the techniques we are taught.
Many gyms now do not necessarily teach Muay Thai as separate from an MMA program and as a result the particular techniques of Muay Thai, boxing, or distinctive elements of Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling are being watered down. Being able to go online and learn something, see a different way of doing things or refine a technique that might not be emphasized in any particular class is invaluable. Being able to see women learning these techniques, applying them and even working out details of how they can be adjusted or perfected on an individual basis needs no quantification – it’s just awesome.
And I’ve met incredible people through this YouTube channel. I’ve met people who have offered me more than I can ever hope to offer in return and I sincerely consider them part of my fight family and dear friends. I could not possibly have gained that without first giving something of myself, despite shyness or the apparent insanity of self-revelation to strangers online. It’s not only worth it, it’s pure profit. And I really encourage others to start sharing their experiences online in whatever capacity you are able. A million views can’t be wrong.