Question: What's it like being the only woman? Related Question: Do you miss having the company of other females?
I’ve been asked this question since Year 1 but I’ve only answered it in person. As of fall 2016, I’m no longer the only female student at the Center, but still the only one in the Shaolin/Taiji program.
The short answer was/is: It’s the norm and I didn’t know what it’s like to NOT be the only female.
Training wise, I follow the same schedule. If I compare myself to the guys, the limitations due to my gender are probably power and strength (in the muscles, ligaments and tendons). Strength is not the same as power and a person with less strength can still generate more power than a person with more strength. Limitations due to my small stature are shorter range (for striking and kicking) and less mass to 1) help me stay rooted against a larger person with skill and 2) to execute takedowns. On the flip side, my frame allows me to be faster and I’m a smaller target. In Dr. Yang’s research in Qigong, his conclusion is that women are stronger internally while men are stronger externally. Each body type has different advantages and it’s up to you to train your strengths and exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.