Women do karate too – Period

I love going to karate, focusing on my training and working hard in class.  However, there was a certain time Every . Single . Month that I dreaded putting on my fresh white gi and stepping into the dojo. Yep, you guessed it, i’m talking about my period. As it is a subject generally not discussed in our society I had no idea how to handle this situation from the age of 11. It was hard enough dealing with it at school let alone at karate.

Faced with the prospect of embarrassing myself every time I perform a mae geri (front kick) or sit into my kiba dachi (straddle leg stance), I could no longer focus on karate but was constantly stressing and trying to get a glance in the mirror every opportunity I could to check my dignity was still in-tact and my gi bottoms didn’t resemble the Japanese flag. Now looking back I realise that bleeding is nothing to be embarrassed nor ashamed about, to be honest its pretty amazing that we can be bleeding and still show up and kick ass.

After years of being self conscious and paranoid at karate, my Dad knew I struggled with my heavy periods and came up with a genius idea. He bought me a pair of tight training shorts …. and I haven’t looked back since! I use them as an extra layer of armour that keeps everything in place and acts as another barrier against leakage – yes, unfortunately its happened to me too. But now when that time comes I can save myself a lot of worry.

Probably one of the only perks about my Dad being my Sensei is that I could let him know the situation before class, especially as my periods were very painful and heavy. So he understood why I may have been holding back in class. With that being said, I’m sure I’m not the only female that practices karate that has this monthly struggle. If so, when you get chance I encourage you to let your instructor know before class why your energy may be lower than usual, or that you have got bad cramps or back ache. Its completely natural and understandable, we don’t have to pretend like it’s not happening. Karate is very much a masculine practice with yang energy, however as females we must embrace our ‘SHE power’ and our Yin – feminine energy, and respect our bodies particularly during this time. Periods shouldn’t stop us from doing what we love. But we must listen to our bodies and if we need to slow down a little, that’s fine. I know its hard to put your gi on while on your period, but I always feel better afterwards. Exercise can help PMS (premenstrual syndrome), physically and emotionally.

I hope this post helps somewhat, if not at least you know that you are not on your own with this one. And if you are a guy reading this…maybe your sister/mother/partner or even training partner will appreciate you reading this.

If this post resonates with you, I would love to hear your comments or feedback.

Afiya Richards x