Who says fighting is a man’s sport?

Jessica Branco will make her MMA debut Sept. 2 in Montreal. Photos courtesy Robert Strukelj
Jessica Branco will make her MMA debut Sept. 2 in Montreal. Photos courtesy Robert Strukelj

Since the early Roman times, when men would strap on their armour and prepare to battle each other in a coliseum filled with people, physical combat has been thought of as a man’s domain. Even in today’s supposedly enlightened society, a woman starting in any martial arts training program is often greeted with gender stereotyping and harassment from friends, family and co-workers. This response is often based on misinformation and prejudicial myths.


However, it hasn’t stopped many women from taking up a hard workout using their fists and any other body part that can hit a punching bag. Mixed martial arts is a relatively new full contact combat style. Fighters can use different skills from other combat sports. It’s a popular workout that entails strengthening the body and mind, and it’s catching the attention of females across the globe.

Even though women have not achieved the kind of success that male martial artists have, female fighter Jessica Branco sees a consistent growth in the sport’s popularity among women.

“I think girls will one day reach a point where we’ll be just as popular as male fighters in MMA. It’s different but can be just as entertaining. When girls fight, we get crazy,” she said.

One of the most challenging steps is always the first one. “It’s really intimidating when you arrive and want to sign up. Guys don’t take you seriously and I really wanted to make my place so I had to prove myself,” said Branco.

It won’t be long before Branco makes her presence felt, as she’s set to make her MMA debut at the Centre Pierre Charbonneau in Montreal on Sept 2.

Beyond the benefits it confers in fitness, self-confidence, safety and increased agility, martial arts is also fun.

An all-around fighting trainer, who boasts more than 25 years of experience, Maximiliano Ferraiolo has appreciation for the skill and strategy behind martial arts and knows a strong work ethic is required to be successful. “I’ve trained a lot of women and I really respect those dedicated to training and fighting,” he said.

Weight loss often drives women into martial arts, but they get hooked on it for different reasons. Ferraiolo says it’s about health and wellness for many women. “Recreational fighting is very popular amongst women. They train hard and don’t have to worry about preparing for competitions. Many of the girls don’t want to get hit but rather come for a gruesome workout.”

Peter Quieti, an all-around fighter, says people are now open-minded about introducing females to the sport. “Martial arts itself became so popular and people don’t care if you’re a guy or girl, black or white. They’re opening the doors to everyone.”

According to Ferraiolo, more women are also growing a passion for watching MMA. “I find that [Georges St-Pierre, Canadian mixed martial artist helped grow this sport’s popularity and if you go to a bar to catch a UFC fight, there are more and more women who follow it.”

As a religious fan of MMA fighting, Jakub Kaliszczak is quick to notice that the number of women watching UFC is rapidly multiplying. “There are more women in bars coming to watch UFC events and I’m definitely not complaining, I think it’s great. You can see that women like to see men fight,” he said.

Kaliszczak referred to a comparison which hasn’t changed from centuries ago: “It’s like gladiators from the Roman times, where everyone would enjoy watching, including women.”

For a free martial arts session contact Maximiliano Ferraiolo at the Académie Sportive du Parc located at 7290 Hutchison by calling 514-670-9935 or logging onto www.parc.academie-sportive.com.

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