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Fighting for a Crack at Recognition
Martial arts: Fighting for a crack at recognition
Margaux Thorpe (bottom) and Tabitha Avery prepare for the big event. Picture / Glenn Jeffrey
By Michelle Whiteford
If you cross wrestling, judo, jujitsu, and aikido you will be in store for a serious fight. Add that it is being fought by women and it becomes competitive.
This style of fighting, a form of mixed martial arts, has caught the attention of K1 kickboxing event organiser Dixon McIver.
His next show "Kings of Oceania" is being held next weekend at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere, and will introduce three fights by women from Mania Gym in Auckland during the halftime break - middleweight, four-person tag and the club championship fight.
Belinda Dunne from Mania believes women in fighting is the next big thing but admits it has been hard for them to overcome the image that they are just pretty little girls who get into a ring and roll around a bit.
"We weren't taken seriously until recently as competitive fighters so that's what we've been working towards overcoming and I think the girls have done that," Dunne said.
"It's fantastic that women's fighting has been included at the K1 because it is a very public platform and it gets people to see that women actually do fight seriously and hard and it's not some sort of a game."
The style fought by Mania has changed over the past few years from big hair and lots of flips to a more realistic, self-defence style.
Dunne says this occurred around the time that stunt work became involved in advertising and television programmes like Xena and Hercules.
"In the last four years the gym has become completely self-defence, martial arts and wrestling, so we've completely left that behind.
"It's been hard for us to put it behind us because we were so well known for it," she said
IN THIS style of fighting there is no striking to the face, kicking, biting or scratching, which has also proven to be more acceptable with the public.
"What we hear from both television and McIver is that the public don't want to see women bleeding from the nose and the mouth.
"That's partly why our form of fighting is a lot more marketable. They don't want to see you laying into a woman but they do want to see you fighting hard."
The women-only gym, which is the only one of its kind in New Zealand, has around 180 members, with 50 using the fighting style. And the growing interest and public profile is increasing the calibre of fighters.
"The fact that we're getting out more into the public means the girls are getting more competitive, they're fighting harder than they ever have," said Dunne.
The women have been fighting only each other but recently started fighting outside of the club.
Dunne says because of this the girls did not mind losing fights because of the supportive and close nature within the gym. But now there is a ranking system, and opportunities to fight at events and against opponents from Australia, they are fighting to win.
"We've got a show in November where we are bringing over four Australian fighters, one of them is the Australian MMA champ, and the girls are really excited."
"We're going down to the Wako [World Association of Kickboxing Organisation] fights in Timaru in October and that's a big fighting competition. That is ideally what we want, to be in front of a fighting audience."
"IN THIS style of fighting there is no striking to the face, kicking, biting or scratching, which has also proven to be more acceptable with the public."
I don't know, I like that stuff in chick fights.