Observation: Girls, Boys, and Sparring


Over the last 15 years I've had the privileged of taking a new group of students from basics to sparring. Here's what I've observed. If I have a class of 40 students, 20 of which are girls and 20 of which are boys, when it comes to sparring: 1. The best person at sparring in the class will be a GIRL.

2. The majority of the BOYS will be better than the majority of GIRLS at sparring.

3. The worst person at sparring in the class will be a BOY.

It doesn't stay this way, each student will progress in their own way in their own time, but there are some interesting phases in learning that come after this. 1. A number of GIRLS, no doubt inspired by the GIRL #1, will become more confident and act more aggressively during sparring. 2. BOYS will pair of with other BOYS with endless bouts of "trial-and-error" as they try to figure out how to win against GIRL #1. BOY #3 will do this as well and eventually not be considered the worst or least skilled student at sparring. Then, 3. When GIRL #1 stops dominating and winning all of the sparring games and a BOY, or a group of BOYS, become the best students at sparring, the GIRLS will pair off with other GIRLS with endless bouts of "trial-and-error" until they figure out how to win against the BOYS.

What happens after that? Well, to use a metaphor, the pendulum of "who is the best" and "who is the worst" will stop swinging as wide as it does at the start. A new and different phase in sparring will emerge. But. . . . Nothing tickles me as much as when GIRL #1 emerges from the ranks and how the boys deal with it.

First boy loses, "Hahaha! You got beat by a girl!" Another boy loses, "Hahahaha! You got beat by a girl too!"

The boys who heckled loses, "Shut up! You lost too!"

Everybody loses, "Wow. . . she beat everybody." :D

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