Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Piper and boys wrestling girls

In Over My Dead Body, Son, John Piper dogmatically condemns the thought of boys wrestling girls in athletic meets. He makes two basic points:
  1. Full-contact wrestling will necessarily send a sexual message
  2. Boys should be raised to honor and protect women, not attack them
Men being men, Piper probably has a point in his first argument. Sad, but true.

His second is weaker and incomplete in how he applies it.

Of course I agree that men should protect women, and never mistreat them. But what is the purpose of wrestling? If it is simply an athletic competition, then Piper's arguments make a point worth pondering. But is it a facet of teaching the girls self-defense?

I was karate-dad to three boys, and then joined the class myself. I remember very vividly the first times my oldest son sparred vigorously with a girl. He and I both had very mixed feelings about it. So I thought it through, and here's where I ended up:

These girls were in karate partly for the athletics, but even more to learn self-defense. Their dads wanted them to be able to protect themselves when no one else was there to do it. And against whom would they need to defend themselves? Who would be the likelier attacker, in "real life"?

Suppose we forbid boys from sparring girls, or tell the boys to hold back. Then the girls will learn to defend themselves — against attacks from other girls, or from gentle, restrained men. How useful is that?

I'm father to boys and a girl. If I had put my daughter in a karate class, and felt she was getting only gentle, dainty sparring sessions, I'd find another school. I would want her to be prepared if necessary to unleash an instant, intimidating, and witheringly-discouraging self-defense against any single-helix pre-limbic mutoid who was fool enough to attack her. I would want him to count that as the single worst day in his life, featuring the single most foolish decision he had ever made. I would want him to wake up every day after that praying that he didn't attempt anything so miserably moronic and self-destructive. If he lived another 50 years, I'd want him to look back on that day as the day he made a choice so appallingly bad that it changed the course of his life.

Clear enough?

Be shocked if you like. Fathers with daughters are nodding and saying "Darned straight!"

And would she have gotten there through a course of slender, waiflike partners who merely nudged and tapped?

I don't think so.

So I encouraged my son to spar with gusto, because of our concern for his female sparring partners.

He did, and I was proud of him for it.

I faced the same thing when I sparred children. Now, of course I held back, sometimes a lot. I mean, I'm like fourteen feet tall and weigh 1400 pounds. Last thing I wanted to do was actually hurt a child.

I did once unintentionally make a sparring partner cry, a youngster. I felt like a 6'1" pile of manure. I got a stern talking-to from Sensei (that I shouldn't feel bad)... and I went on. But my reasoning was the same: who is the likelier and worse threat to these kids? Other little skinny kids? Maybe. Big hulking grownups like me? Probably, sad to say.

And so, likewise, I wanted my little tiny sons to have vigorous sparring-partners. Because that was a big reason why they were there.

So Piper makes a point, but only one point. And it needs to be balanced by the fact that these girls are not in fact living in a world where (A) all men are gentlemen, or (B) they'll always have a man with them to protect them.

As some sage once pithily observed, "Wishing don't make it so."


The Squirrel said...

"Darned straight!" says the man who's daughter is on a collage campus everyday.

The Squirrel

DJP said...

There y'go.

The Squirrel said...

However, I would agree with Dr. Piper in regards to High School or Collage competitive wrestling. When I was that age, all it took to incite sexual temptation was to have a pretty girl in the same county! In our over-sexed culture, coed wrestling would quickly become a specticle. Competative sports are different from the martial arts in many ways.

The Squirrel

DJP said...

As a character in a show once observed, "I'm a seventeen year old boy. Looking at linoleum makes me think of sex."

Perhaps an exaggeration, but not as much as one might wish, for the 17yob's.

Unknown said...

"Darned straight!" says the man who's oldest daughter walks to school everyday, and who's youngest daughter probably will too.

Just curious Dan, would you recommend karate for girls? I have thought about it, but have went back and forth. Suggestions?

DJP said...

In a word: yes.

Look for a Christian teacher, though, who teaches the art without the comic-book Eastern philosophy. I would also visit several dojo's. Ask when the classes are for your daughters' ages, and go watch. They can start as young as 4 or 5, depending on the dojo.

Unknown said...

Dan, thanks for the info. The big drawback for me was the whole Eastern philosphy thing, and I wasn't sure how to approach that. I will look around and see what I can find. Thanks again!

DJP said...

I've had well-meaning people warn me that karate is necessarily anti-Christian in philosophy. If it had been, I'd not have participated. It can be taught that way; auto-mechanics can be taught that way, too. It's techniques and moves.

Jerry said...

I would hope that John Piper sees this and responds, but I have a hard time seeing him disagreeing with your comments about self-defense training.

I read his article, and agree that young men should not be participating in wrestling against females. As the father of a daughter I want my girl to be able to defend herself, but would never let her into a wrestling ring with guys.

DJP said...

I would hope that John Piper sees this and responds....

Yes. That's going to happen. (c;

Well, I asked the question: is wrestling taught as self-defense? For instance, if one's knowledge of karate comes only from martial-arts movies, you think it's all standing and striking and kicking. But at least our method also involved "ground-sparring" — i.e. wrestling.

It was the part I hated, but Sensei said most fights end up on the ground, and you need to know what to do.

Trinian said...

I wonder if getting slammed into the mat because his mind began to... wander... isn't exactly the sort of lesson that a young man needs to learn.

Doug Hibbard said...

I've seen churches offer karate/martial arts classes with qualified Christian people doing the training. One guy in Memphis who does that is very plain that he learned karate with the Eastern Philosophy, and later got saved. Wanted to redeem the training, and pass on the skills. Probably not a bad idea.

I would disagree with your statement about wanting the man who attacked my daughter to wake up and regret it for 50 years.

I'd prefer the punk not wake up.

DJP said...

OK, there's that.

But I was thinking "redemptive pummeling."

Of course, if the choice is him or her, that's no choice.

James David Beebe, Jr. said...

My pastor's son recently forfeited a wrestling match rather than wrestle a girl. I look forward to Dr. Piper's response. Thanks for bringing this up.

The only self-defense I know is the traditional American martial art, shot-gun. I intend to encourage, maybe require, my children to take karate or something -- and I'll want them to be prepared for a realistic attack ... but I don't think boys should wrestle girls in a public venue. The spectacle element makes it inappropriate. Like sex education, that should be done in private (not from the pulpit).

DJP said...

If I may reiterate: I am most expressly taking issue with the argument, "Don't wrestle girls because men should treat women with respect."

I'm saying the point of self-defense classes is to be prepared to repel those who don't.

DJP said...

You know... I just realized that my title could be read wrong.

Jeff said...

I had the opportunity to attend several wrestling matches where there were boy/girl match-ups, and please keep in mind I do not advocate boy/girl match-ups, but by the end of the match there weren't any sexual thoughts. The kids were too tired.

Cheerleading, in my mind, is far riskier.

Sometimes Piper makes me rub the back of my neck and say hmmmm.

Charley said...

Apples and Oranges!

Competitive wrestling is not the same as self-defense training.

Under no circumstances should a young man wrestle a girl. Period!

I tend to shy away from martial arts because it is so difficult to separate the actual self-defense from the eastern mysticism.

If the true concern is training your daughters/wives to protect themselves in a hostile environment, then go to a course designed for just that.

Oh...and concealed carry for them wouldn't be a bad idea, either!!!


Anonymous said...

I think you're actually agreeing w/ Piper in that you are honoring and protecting women by giving them tools to defend themselves. (Although I don't know that Dr. Piper would agree with you, but he should. Does that make sense?)

But there is a BIG difference between karate and similar sports and wrestling. Big. And I think he's absolutely right on that count.

DJP said...

April...I don't know that Dr. Piper would agree with you, but he should. Does that make sense?

It makes perfect sense to me that Dr. Piper should agree with me, yes.


Mike Westfall said...

I saw the title of this in my RSS reader, and thought it was about Piper Palin.

Shame on me. I need a retributive pummeling.

trogdor said...

As someone who had quite a few fights in my younger days, and an avid MMA fan now, I can absolutely without reservation recommend wrestling for self-defense. A superior wrestler can ragdoll much, much larger opponents, completely humiliating them while delivering a severe beatdown at their leisure. If I was to seriously train for fighting, wrestling (possibly mixed with judo) would be the primary skill, with a healthy dose of submissions, and enough striking to be competent.

Seriously, if your daughters can wrestle well, and know just a handful of simple submissions (a few chokes, arm bar, kimura, maybe a heel hook or knee bar) they can immobilize any punk who tries anything.

GrammaMack said...

1. Would wrestling or doing martial arts against a girl lower a boy's inhibitions against treating women roughly?

2. Would it possibly do the same to other males watching?

3. Would learning self-defense with other girls giving their all achieve the same thing without the possible problems?

4. Should fathers teach self-defense to their daughters, not restraining their own strength in the process?

I've not been blessed with daughters myself (three sons and four grandsons--so far!), but I don't think I'd be comfortable watching any male manhandle any female, regardless of the setting.

DJP said...

Thoughtful questions, thanks.

Of course, I can't say what almost anything "would" do for anyone, I'm sure you'll grant.

But I can tell you, for instance, that one girl named Missy earned a black belt. Nice girl, feminine; affectionately (and respectfully) known as "The Flying Legs of Death" for good reason. I don't think watching her (or any of the girls in the dojo) had the effect that concerns you on any observer who could rub two neurons together and get a spark.

Girls fighting girls is a good suggestion, but no, I don't think it'd have the same effect.

A capable father is a great suggestion. And I'd say (as I neglected to) that a father should keep in touch with the lessons.

Kim said...

Having grown up with three older brothers, I can testify to two things: 1) I wish I would have had at times the physical strength to repel them, and 2) I am pretty sure that the desire to have that physical strength was a pipe dream. Even if a man and woman are similar size and weight, I still give odds to the man coming out on the winning end unless that woman disables with a well-practiced self-defense move.

Flashback: I'm 15 years old and my 16 year old brother is hanging me upside down over a railing by my ankles. I don't know as if wrestling or karate would have helped me there.

Totally in favor of self-defense for women; not entirely sure about competitive wrestling. Why not wrestle girls instead? I see Piper's point about the physical contact issues when boys and girls wrestle. I am wondering if it isn't more intriguing to a young boy watching as opposed to competing.

Not sure if wrestling contributes to the absence of treating women without respect. I was treated with a huge lack of respect and not protected and cared for by my three older brothers, all via the use of their speech.

The Squirrel said...

"I'm a seventeen year old boy. Looking at linoleum makes me think of sex."

The Fall does raise its head. Yes, indeed!

The Squirrel

ps - My daughter wants me to get her a handgun, brush up on her training, and get a concealed carry permit... Wasn't happy when I told her state law says 21...

REM said...

My son is part of the Gospel Martial Arts Union (gmau.org) and loves it. Good stuff.

I agree for the most part. Sensei's worth their spit recognize differences in gender better than Harvard profs. That is why they show some wisdom in teaching self defense to ladies and then move on to the styles/belt progression. There is really a need for it (for all people-alongside Biblical conflict resolution) and it is wise.

RT said...

I don't know, but it strikes me that any girl wrestling in the same weight class as a boy would be - how shall I put it with my accustomed delicacy - less than alluring. The sexual argument may be a little overblown. I remember when the Navy integrated females into the fleet and it was supposed to be the end of the world - floating brothels, etc. The reality was much different. The workload, the focus, the disciplined environment all combined to minimize the sexual issues. I suspect the same would be true for any serious athletic program, properly coached and supervised. I certainly agree with Dan that unless you intend to lock the womenfolk in the house you had better train them in self-defense, which is truly the best way I know to "honor and protect" them.

Stefan Ewing said...

I'm not a martial artist (alas)—though there's someone out there with the same name as me who's a taekwondo instructor—but I gather that hapkido (another Korean martial art) is effective for self-defense: it turns and uses the aggressor's strength against him/herself.

Stefan Ewing said...


Sorry, sometimes I use gender-inclusive language in spite of myself. Puts kind of an ironic spin on things.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Mark said...

I totally disagree with females facing men in athletic competition as a matter of course, but I agree that in sparring involved with self-defense training they should face men and often, because that will prepare them for the worst.

I'm also against women fighting each other in violent contact sports like MMA.

~Mark said...

"But I was thinking "redemptive pummeling"


~Mark said...

"Flashback: I'm 15 years old and my 16 year old brother is hanging me upside down over a railing by my ankles. I don't know as if wrestling or karate would have helped me there."

Kim, I'm the youngest of what were 8 kids, 5 boys 3 girls and while we had our skirmishes, mom and dad both made sure that we remembered that if any one of the girls was even looked at crossways by a guy ALL of us boys were to make sure he knew she came from a family where she had protection. :)

LeeC said...

I started with a EMA background but I have been heavily involved in Western Martial Arts for some time now. Some of the techniques are very similar (body mechanics and kinisthetics do not change.)

I have taught, and plan on teaching my daughter to defend herself, but I have never been comfortable doing groundwork with women. I do, to help them learn to defend themselves, but I'm not comfortable with it.

Part of me says that my lack of comfort with it is reassurance that it's ok for me to do it if you follow me.

I think it's a liberty we have to use within the limits of the discernment the Holy Spirit gives us.

LeeC said...

BTW one of the most disrespectful things you can do in most of the schools I have been in is to not give them your best.

Carol Jean said...

I read the Piper post to my 15 and 17-year old sons today and my 17-year old was HIGHLY INSULTED!! I was surprised at his strong reaction. He was really offended that I would think he needed to hear something like that - duh!

I think that there is an innate, God-given desire that men/boys have to treat women gently as God commands. Sure, it's been corrupted by the fall, but it's lurking within nonetheless. It must be overcome/ignored/quenched in order for a boy or man to wrestle a girl.

Dan, I think you're making a category error. Training girls in self-defense and girls wrestling boys for sport and entertainment are not the same thing. In the former, there is specific instruction for a utilitarian purpose. In the later, you end up with a gladiatorial spectacle.

However, probably in either case (although I'm not familiar with karate-style self defense classes) you end up with the issue of members of the opposite sex inflicting pain and injury on one another. Maybe that's not the intention, but it is a fact of life with the sport. Wrestling is second only to football in injuries.

We were discussing this with our barber the other day (former state wresting champ and wrestling coach). He recalled his 3 broken noses during high school matches and various other season-ending injuries by teammates.

@RT: This same barber was a medic in Desert Storm and was recalling how at the start of the war, MANY women were running around trying to find men to get them pregnant so they could avoid being deployed. Maybe not floating brothels, but gender issues nonetheless.

Carol Jean said...

Trinian said, "I wonder if getting slammed into the mat because his mind began to... wander... isn't exactly the sort of lesson that a young man needs to learn."

That's called the "laying on of hands without the spirit."

DJP said...

Carol Jean, I believe you've misread me.

RT said...

Carol Jean: Your medic friend was probably in the Army. And of course I would never assert, even in the Navy, that there are no gender issues. Interesting the nature of the problem you cite in contrast to DJP's linoleum-inflamed hormones. Need I point out that a deliberate, cynical ploy to avoid arduous service is categorically different than garden variety lust?

Rachael Starke said...

"single-helix pre-limbic mutoid"

Another my-eyes-are-tearing-up-I'm-laughing-so-hard classic.

I used to fall into the "no daughter of mine is going to fight for sport" camp. And I did really love Piper's statement about boys fighting for girls, not against them.

But you do make some excellent points about the self-defense angle. It's interesting - growing up, I was kind of a tomboy with a "don't mess with me" attitude. My sister was a lot more "frail" both in her physical appearance and how she carried herself. She unfortunately was accosted on at least three occasions growing up, one time nearly being dragged into a car by a gang. Thinking about it now, I'm actually kind of sad that my parents didn't see a pattern and find some way to teach her to appear less vulnerable.

Does anyone know if there are programs that focus on the elements of these disciplines that are most helpful for self-defence, separate from the sport and competition aspect? Or perhaps there's just a good self-defense program that someone could recommend? My girls are quite young (oldest is 8), so they don't even go beyond our street corner without me, but it would be good to keep them in mind for the next few years.

DJP said...

Oh, absolutely. For one, my dojo had classes dedicated to kids. For another, Sensei would regularly give self-defense classes for women, teaching specially-tailored techniques for them.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

You know... I just realized that my title could be read wrong.

Actually, (and respectfully), I think your title may be spelt wrong.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

And (to interact with the substance of the post, rather than the spelling...)

As a mom of three boys, I tend to agree with Carol Jean, learning self-defense (and practicing it with males) is a different category than wrestling for sport or entertainment.

I think I would still have a hard time telling one of my boys to "let her have it", but I'm with you on your reasoning. Talking it through with the boys ahead of time sets the tone and the motivation.

Interesting thoughts by everyone..

BTW, same old Julie, different profile pic.

The Squirrel said...

Don't worry about it, Dan. Julie corrects my spelling, too :-)

The Squirrel

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh my goodness, if I triple post here you're going to have to start calling me Stefan ;D


You hit an important nail on the head with that appearance of vulnerability. I've seen that in action too.

DJP said...

Yikes on spelling.

Who's arguing for girls wrestling boys for sports and entertainment?

Herding Grasshoppers said...

You could call me nit-picky, or you could say that I have a strong desire for people I view as highly intelligent and cogently expressive not to be viewed as otherwise because of a minor spelling or grammatical error.

Or I'm just OCD about spelling.

Scrabble, anyone?

(Definitely a game where women usually dominate...)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Who's arguing for girls wrestling boys for sports and entertainment?

You're not. That's the point. That would be, well, gross.

Self-defense, self-discipline, etc. on the other hand, is a great thing.

Sorry, I'm getting scrambled. My boys are done with their math and I need to corral them for history... the age of exploration.

Aaron said...


First, I'd have to wonder about a woman who wants to wrestle. I'd be genuinely concerned if my daughter chose that as her sport of choice.

Second, wrestling is very useful as defensive tactics training, although I seriously doubt that's the primary motivation for these female wrestlers. Wrestling is a bit different than Karate because for the most part, you aren't flailing on the ground together in close intimate contact.

In my profession, I receive a lot of defensive tactics training. Now I have ground fighting training too (since stats show that most real fights end up on the ground). We do not practice against women although many people (mostly women) think we ought to intermix the sexes so that the women can have more realistic practice. Personally, I'd refuse. Not because of the reasons listed above, but because inevitably my hands, feets, or face would wind up somewhere inappropriate which could lead to a whole host of consequences. I just could not imagine being a coach and having to deal with coed issues that could make me lose my job and career in a heatbeat.

Lastly, as for women in the military, sex on ships is still a problem. The NCIS guys I have worked with spend a lot of time dealing with that. I just don't see how you can expect to have men and women together every hour of the day for months on end without interruption in close contact under stressful situations and NOT have sexual attraction be an issue.

Oh yeah, I'm going on 34 and looking at linoleum still makes me think of sex. Arguably, sex drive gets worse after you actually get to experience it.

Lastly, I'm considering Krav Magna for my daughter. I will say that its odd that so many people enroll their daughters in self-defense, yet don't teach their kids to swim at an early age. Water deaths far exceed death or injury by rapists.

Anonymous said...

I confess that, in a way, this makes me glad that I don't have a daughter. How sad is that?

Aaron said...


Are you English? Americans generally use "spelled" not "spelt."

DJP said...

So, you're saying she spelt "spelled" wrong?

Anonymous said...

p.s. I always appreciate the piquant discussions here. Thanks, Dan.

LeeC said...

"I confess that, in a way, this makes me glad that I don't have a daughter. How sad is that?"

Oh I don't blame you. I have a beautiful fair skinned red headed 7 year old daughter. We are looking into buying a house, in todays society I hope that I am pardoned for being concerned about the fact that most of the places we can afford she would stand out like a giraffe in a herd of cattle.

At the very least I wish her brother was the one five years older. I am going to train her hard, and pray the Lord saves my children soon and then comes to take us shortly afterwards. :)

The Squirrel said...

Everyday Mommy - I confess that, in a way, this makes me glad that I don't have a daughter. How sad is that?

My Ol' Pappy always said, "When you have a son, you worry about your son. When you have a daughter, you worry about everybody else's son."

I don't know how true that is, because I don't have a son... :-)But I sure do worry about everyone else's son!

The Squirrel

Kim said...


if any one of the girls was even looked at crossways by a guy ALL of us boys were to make sure he knew she came from a family where she had protection. :)

Yeah; my brother beat up a guy for me once, but he sure had fun hanging me upside down. I did throw a loaf of bread him prior to that incident, so maybe I was asking for it. This is what happens when parents leave four teenagers 15-20 home alone for an overnight getaway.

DJP said...

Interesting how more details about this story are leaking out.

Kim said...

I guess that should read "three" teenagers and one twenty year old home alone for an overnight getaway. My 20 year old brother was supposed to be the wisdom... haha.

DJP said...

SS - I've only the one daughter; she's only dated one lad — and she married him!

Poor yoot caught the full brunt of my lifetime of fatherly gatewatching in our first meeting. That he survived and moved forward speaks very well for him.

Carol Jean said...

DJP said, "But what is the purpose of wrestling? If it is simply an athletic competition, then Piper's arguments make a point worth pondering. But is it a facet of teaching the girls self-defense?"

Hmmmm...I guess I was reading that to say wrestling, as a way of teaching self-defense - good.

Therefore: girls wrestling boys in high school wrestling tournaments - good.

.....because they are learning self defense that may one day protect them from some crazed, sex-starved maniac in a steroid-induced rage (not to be confused with a high school wrestler).

OK, in re-reading, I'll take back my hasty category error accusation : )

OTOH, I'd need to know more about the dangers of sparring in a self-defense training situation before I'll give you that one. I know when my son took karate all the sparring was done while on their feet and with protective gear (big punchy things for the hands, etc.)

Carol (who just resisted the urge to hijack the thread with a lengthy rant about Title IX and Olympia Snowe)(someone pat me on the back - please)

Doug Hibbard said...

Okay, I'll take redemptive pummeling.

I think the gist here was discussing whether girls should *never* have physical contests with boys, or whether there were reasons for it occasionally.

I think the perspectives are worth noting:
Piper is concerned for what boys learn by wrestling girls.

Phillips is concerned for what girls won't learn if they don't spar with boys.

And probably, if you aren't teaching your son that he needs to respect women the other 160 hours a week, the 8 hours of wrestling/karate practice are not to blame. And if you are teaching him, he'll be able to come to grips with it.

And if you are instilling in your daughter that boys should always treat her with respect, you better balance it with the fact that should and do are two separate things, and preparing her for that fact.

Which is something I'm not ready for with either 2 daughters or 1 son. Right now, I just want all the bad folks to stay on that side of fence, and lined up down the barrel. But, life happens.

I will, however, have nightmares about the 14-foot tall 1400 pound Dan Phillips in a karate suit.

Anonymous said...

You weigh over 1000 pounds Dan?

I can relate to this somewhat. I took a self defense class and we eventually had to grab each other so the other person could break free. The maneuvers we used were pinching and squeezing various areas of the thigh and arm.

My partner was a girl, and so needless to say, I let her do it to me more than I did it to her. even afterward, I felt kind of guilty for doing it.

So I dropped the class, I realized it would probably get worse.

(I also dropped it due to the push-ups, I can't stand push ups!)

DJP said...

I'm sure I looked all of that to those tiny little knee-highs.

Anonymous said...

"Okay, I'll take redemptive pummeling."

I dunno Doug, the "Not having him wake up" style seems more....righteous....lol.

I love how committed you both are to ensuring the defense of women. We don't treasure them enough.

God bless!

Fred Butler said...

How do you all find time to be over hassling Phil at his blog and here hassling Dan at his?

Its virtually the same group of commenters. Don't you people have lives!?

The Squirrel said...

Fred Butler - Don't you people have lives!?


The Squirrel

Jeff said...


Closed my business, looking for work, raising my nephew, this is as close to a life as I get.

I'm off to track practice to try to be relevant to teenagers.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an assumption in both articles and in the comments on this site that, size being approximately equal, girls are almost always weaker than boys. Weight training for girls used to be practically taboo. Now it's very common. Yes, most teenaged boys have a natural advantage, but female strength is now more "acceptable" in our society, and, therefore, the male advantage has, I believe, shrunk. Girls have a better chance to win, and, in fact, are sometimes winning wrestling matches, and not just because boys feel they have to hold back. If a boy forfeits a match today, I would guess that the first reason people would come up with is fear of losing to a girl.

I'm not saying that boys necessarily SHOULD wrestle girls. I just don't think we need to hold to the stereotypes that were much more accurate decades ago.

Mike Westfall said...

> I'm off to ... try to be
> relevant to teenagers.

You mean you died your hair black and got a nose piercing?

Anonymous said...

"Its virtually the same group of commenters. Don't you people have lives!?"

I haven't had a life for years....lol.

Rachael Starke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachael Starke said...

ahem... edited for rather unfortunate typo...


So.... when Peter calls me "a weaker vessel" worthy of honor, he's not referring to my frame? What is he referring to? My brain? You want to go there? :)

And FWIW, I think I could probably preach better than a couple of men in some pulpits in a few remote places. Doesn't mean I should. (Not trying to boast at all. So could a turnip. But I digress.)

But re: the topic of stereotypes, I think another one worth considering is this idea that it's only young men whose minds and hormones would go in unwholesome directions. Men have to set a watch over their eyes, but most women I know have the same challenge with physical proximity and touch.

As far as it seems to be argued here, martial arts is about sparring by deflecting bodily contact. And given that self-defense is also 100% about deflecting bodily contact, I completely get the connection, and I'm already thinking about calling a friend who teaches judo about it.

But wrestling, by its very definition, is all about sparring through direct, ongoing bodily contact.

Um. Nope. Not gonna happen.

DJP said...

First version's funnier.

Herding Grasshoppers said...


"Don't you people have lives?"

Are you kidding ;0

In the brief moments between reading about Magellan's voyage, piano practice, audiograms, peanut butter sandwiches and settling various disputes about who would win in a battle between Godzilla and the Iron Giant, whose turn it is to sit in that seat, or what might hypothetically happen if one brother held a lit match while another brother was "out-gassing" (Lord have mercy) this is a respite of adult conversation (don't take that euphemistically), sometimes witty repartee, and often spiritual challenge.

And, Aaron, you're right about spelled/spelt. I have a vague memory of a earlier conversation involving that, (Libbie?), and was making a joke. Spelt is a species of wheat.

But I see that the post title now refers to "wrestling" rather than "wresting", which does have a somewhat different meaning.

I know, I know, it's a tangent. With no redeeming value, spiritual or otherwise.

Have a great day.

Aaron said...


The problem is that men are naturally larger than women. But in wrestling, everyone is reduced to a common denominator: weight. So a 100lb woman will wrestle somebody in that weight class. I remember my best friend in high school was a wrestler (I always made fun of him because I played basketball). I would eat more to keep my weight up (all the running keeps you pretty trim). meanwhile he was starving himself to get his weight down for matches.

I would not allow my daughter to wrestle (or I'd at least do my very best to prevent it.)

Gilbert said...

Interesting thoughts. I enjoy wrestling...as a sport and for self-defense practices. Keeps this 40 year old limber. But...

I can see both sides of the issue of men wrestling women. Bottom line: if it's a temptation, don't do it.

Interestingly, I am a volunteer at our local YMCA. Up until recently, we had one woman in our otherwise all-men roller hockey league for adults. It's rough out there, and even though it's a non-checking league, you still get unintentionally slammed into the boards.

Finally, I'd challenge DJP to a wrestling match, but then he'd go for the sword and I'd be done for.

P.S. To the author above: we do have lives. And as soon it stops being below zero here on the wind chill in Chicago, we'll start living again. ;-)

The Squirrel said...

OK, just FYI. I'm in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval history re-enactment group, and we put on armor and fight with blunted weapons. It's full contact (no grapling), so the armor is good. Women and men fight each other, with no distiction.

A very skilled young lady entered the list, her opponent said, "My lady, I could never strike you."

She said, "You're right, you're probably not skilled enough to get through my defenses!" And she proceded to beat the tar out of him. It was fun to watch.

She's about 5 foot nothing, and very feminine :-) And every inch a Lady!

The Squirrel

(& no, I wasn't the guy... but she beat me, too, in the same tourniment)

DJP said...

I'd like to see that on YouTube.

SolaMommy said...

Question for the guys: would it be embarrassing for you to lose to a girl in a wrestling match?

I'm just wondering why guys would even want to wrestle girls...

Stefan Ewing said...


Hey, back-to-back nitpicky comments are my trademark! I'm expecting a royalty cheque....

Stefan Ewing said...


Your last comment evokes echoes of the substance of the message of a certain pastor who's come in for a lot of discussion on a certain other blog today.

The Squirrel said...

Took place long before YouTube. This was back in my younger and skinnier days :-) The breastplate is a little snug, now.

You can probably find examples of SCA fighting on YouTube, I've never looked.

I've seen some of the lady warriors wear tee shirts that say, "Soft women in hard clothes"

The Squirrel

DJP said...


1. Duh. But

2. To be perfectly candid, I'm a very gracious winner, but a poor loser under most circumstances. Although....

3. For some reason, less so at karate. As a rule, if I lost, I was thumped fair and true, and learned and was challenged by it, set myself to do better next time. (Sparring was my favorite karate activity.) And...

4. ...now that you mention it, there were girls who definitely bested me. And no, I really don't remember sulking. They were just really good (and really young and limber), and I was happy for them. But

5. Always happier still, if I won.


Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

PS to Mommy:

I barely noticed your last sentence.

It goes back to where I took my post. I didn't "want to [do karate with] girls." I wanted to do karate. And, in doing, to serve. And, in doing karate with girls, to help them to be better equipped to beat big hulking guys like me to dollrags.

Or, more to the point, big hulking guys who are unlike me.

Stefan Ewing said...

Seeing an ancient Babylonian squirrel do anything—not least joust a lady in mediaeval garb—would definitely be YouTube fodder.

The Squirrel said...

Yup, keep it up, Stefan. Just keep it up... :-)

The Squirrel

Anonymous said...

A squirrel in Armor....

Squirrel, have you been reading Redwall or watching Sword in the Stone or Watership Down lately? lol!

I agree with Dan, i'd love to see it. Heck, I'd love to do it! Do you need film makers?

SolaMommy said...


Totally with you on the karate/self-defense thing.

I'm just thinking in terms of wrestling that a high school boy would feel like a total wimp if he lost out to a girl in front of everyone. I'm not really understanding why a coach would decide to integrate a meet. This is really where I was going with that last sentence, not where Stefan was alluding... ;-)

The Squirrel said...

ESPN's Amazing Games did a segment on us back in the mid 90's. I wasn's in it, but I know just about everybody who was... & I've got it on VHS, somewhere...

The Squirrel

Stefan Ewing said...


I meant the said pastor's penchant for going on about the alleged unmanliness of men in this day and age (for which there is some truth), and where he goes from there. I assume you know what I mean by that. Not the other stuff that he's getting in so much hot water for.

SolaMommy said...

Stefan: O Rly? I haven't heard much from Said Pastor, so I was unaware...sorry 'bout that!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Shinar Squirrel,

We see a new side of you!

The combination of your 'screen name' and the idea of medieval battles, brought this picture to mind, from your blog

Wow. Let's see if I followed Mr. Wizzard's instructions and managed to make that work.

Susan said...

Wait...94 comments already??? Without having read the comments, I'd said you've either hit the sweet spot or pushed the wrong buttons, Dan!

Stefan Ewing said...

The Squirrel:

When said lady was about to defeat you in the joust, did she say, James Bond one-liner style, "The writing's on the wall"?


Sorry about being so vague as to lead to that misunderstanding. That was pretty dumb on my part. I'd better quit while I'm ahead.

Susan said...

1. Stefan said: "Seeing an ancient Babylonian squirrel do anything—not least joust a lady in mediaeval garb—would definitely be YouTube fodder."

A certain valiant knight in Prince Caspian comes to mind. Reepicheenezzar, anyone?

2. Julie--the link works, but this slow mind fails to see the connection....

Susan said...

And speaking of learning self-defense, a friend of mine who is a police officer once gave an informal self-defense session at church. Virtually all attendees were women save one. When my friend divided us up for practice, I was in the group that had the only guy, and we had to take turns to "fight him off". I remember thinking how uncomfortable it was for me (we had to sit on him!) and wondered if it would have been better for us to fight off a girl instead. (Other women in my group also thought the same thing.) But Dan's point is well-taken, and it makes a lot more sense to me now.

As for Rachael's point on appearing vulnerable, I remember that when I was in high school, there was a guy in one of my classes who harassed some of the girls by putting his hands where they didn't belong. The girls complained but never really confronted him and told him to stop. One day I fell victim to his harassment. I don't remember if I did it right then and there, but I eventually stared at him in the eye and yelled at him to stop. He tried to play dumb, but I wouldn't let up--I firmly told him that if he were to ever do it to me again, he was "going to get it". He never did it to me ever again (can't say that about the other girls who never confronted him, however).

The Squirrel said...

Ok, here you all go...

There's also a link to the SCA at my blog.

The Squirrel

Aaron said...

Is this you squirrel?


Some of the swords I have, I doubt a woman could wield for very long. I'd be interested in seeing what types of swords were being used. Chainmail is also particularly heavy. 30lbs is no big deal to my 6'4" 250 lb frame, but I wonder how a 130lb woman would handle it.

Susan said...

Um...I'm almost speechless, Aaron.

Susan said...

(About the squirrel, that is.)

Herding Grasshoppers said...


I'm amazed that my attempt at making a link actually worked. The picture I was thinking of was down at the bottom of the post. Think "Star Wars"... light saber duel, like a sword duel.

I don't know.

I think my boys are trying to talk me to death today, and my brain is a wee bit scrambled.


The Squirrel said...


I love it! Thanks :-)

Two things to consider, armor is evenly distributed weight, and these girls are in shape!

Swords? 3 to 5 pounds, and there's technique involved that reduces fatigue.

The Squirrel

~Mark said...

"p.s. I always appreciate the piquant discussions here. Thanks, Dan."

Everyday Mommy, is that your way of saying lovingly that the discussions around here are nutty? ;)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for responding to my comment.

"So.... when Peter calls me "a weaker vessel" worthy of honor, he's not referring to my frame? What is he referring to? My brain? You want to go there?"

No, I don't. As I said, teenage boys (and, by inference, men) have a natural physical advantage. What I said was that the advantage seems to be shrinking. I'm almost 60. When I was in high school, it was very rare to see a girl with any upper body muscle tone. Now it's much more common (not that I go searching for it). Title IX has made a difference.

"And FWIW, I think I could probably preach better than a couple of men in some pulpits in a few remote places. Doesn't mean I should."

As I wrote, I wasn't saying that boys and girls should necessarily wrestle each other.

"But re: the topic of stereotypes, I think another one worth considering is this idea that it's only young men whose minds and hormones would go in unwholesome directions. Men have to set a watch over their eyes, but most women I know have the same challenge with physical proximity and touch."

This is an excellent point. Thanks for making it.

The Squirrel said...

And here is a video from CBS.

This is a hobby I've not been real active at in about 10 years. You've got to have weekends free, and I've always got something to do on Sunday mornings... :-)

The Squirrel

Unknown said...

Problem here: I am 21 and a male and I will never be able to defend any woman in reality. In order to control my epilepsy and seizures my medicine causes me to not be able to digest my food properly so I essentially live like a bullimic with out actually wanting to be one. I am five foot 9 and 123 lbs. My arms are skinnier than a 12 year old girl at my church. The truth is that while I agree with Piper in spirit because of my medicine in reality I would be of no use. And also Piper is against guns so that can't help me ;)

Stefan Ewing said...


I hear you. That's why we don't have to rely on our strength (or wits) alone, but have a supernatural Intercessor in Jesus Christ, the commander of the heavenly host (Joshua 5:13-15; 2 Kings 6:17).

That doesn't mean that we are immune from all physical harm, of course, and even if we do experience divine intervention or protection in a particular situation, it may be more subtle—such as a physical confrontation being averted before it even begins.

Stefan Ewing said...


That's just mind-boggling. You must have been moved to come up with your squirrel armour, in unconscious anticipation of this very blog post many years in the future. There cannot be any other possible explanation. ;)

Stefan Ewing said...

Just to be clear regarding my comment to Grigs: Of course, I'm not blind to the many physical perils that can and do befall Christians, just as they do non-Christians. And I'm someone who's concerned about his own ability to defend himself or others in an assault, too—but then, you, like I, probably don't go around looking to get into trouble, and probably try to avoid getting into situations where there could be trouble.

The sad tragedy last Sunday of Pastor Winters in Illinois is just one example where in the end, trouble could not be averted; the New Testament contains a dozen examples, starting with Jesus Christ Himself.

But nevertheless, as believers, we are not absolutely alone in a world where life is "nasty, brutish, and short" (to quote Thomas Hobbes), and we can be sure that God will keep us here in this earthly life as long as He requires for Him to fulfill whatever purpose through each of us that He decreed to fulfill before the foundation of the world.

DJP said...

She said "piquant discussions," Mark — not "pecan discussions"!

DJP said...

Piper's against guns, Grigs?

Well, if I see a post on that, perhaps I'll have to differ with the good doctor yet again.

Aaron said...


I'm often told that my gifting is prophetic in nature. But, I didn't come up with this one in advance. It just so happened that I recently ordered some armor from this guy and recalled that he had pictures of armor for a squirrel.

Grigs: Having great strength wont keep you from getting beat by anybody that has been trained properly. In fact, in my defensive tactics training, people like me who have great strength, tend to do techniques poorly because we can rely on strength. Those who are weaker tend to learn the techniques more quickly. For example, being 6'4" and 250lbs, I can use my strength to throw an average person to the ground. But if I came up against somebody equally as strong as I am, I would have great trouble unless I used proper techniques that rely on balance and form. If you use proper technique, it doesn't matter how small you are, you can take a person down of any size.

LeeC said...


Nice harness, James River Armoury perhaps?

Yes, you have probably met me.
If you do Facebook you can find me as Lee Craven (theres 2 besides me, but I think you can figure out who I am.)
I retired from that around 2000, started around 84. And yes, one of my first SCA fights was against a 5'4 redhead that when we faced off very distinctively cocked her head and blinked her eyes at me and I thought I cannot possibly hit a BLAM! BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!!! And when my head cleared she had left the field.

In the SCA it is a "little" different because however rough it is it really is a very safe hobby/sport, but I am still not comfortable with it. There especially you had the women that wanted to prove that there is no differencve between the sexes also. Which is an entirely diffeent topic.

threegirldad said...

Piper's against guns, Grigs?

Not exactly.

DJP said...

LeeC - thanks for a badly-needed good laugh.

LeeC said...

You are very welcome. :)

I figure if I am going to get tent-staked by a girl like I'm a moonstuck cow the event should at least redeem itself with some humour for others.

I won't go into the particulars of my much earlier first jiu jitsu tournament where I was tied into a knot by a Japanese girl I had almost eight inches on.

Perhaps these experiences might have some influence on my views on this topic....lol!

Just last night we we're doing dagger versus unarmed drills. We have a woman in out group. I am still working out the best way to deal with things.

Deferr to others who don't mind grappling with women?

Do so, but compromise techniques that require hand placement I find innapropriate?

Here is a sample of what we do using 14th and 15th c German and Italian masters.

Their application is a bit different than ours, but this is still a good representation of the art.

The Squirrel said...


The rig is Youngforest, actually. I have the honor of being Duke Alan's senior (& mostly inactive, or is that "most inactive?")squire. My helm, not pictured, is from Illusion Arms.

& you're very right about the rampant feminism in the SCA. Let's face it, it's a bunch of modern day pagans, for the most part.

Sorry, I'm not on Facebook... What kingdom are you?

The Squirrel

philness said...

I can see where Piper is coming from with wrestling in the sense of grappling around on the mat as one has to do in Judo. I'm pretty sure if I were in that situation I would get those type messages. But with Karate there's not a whole lot of grappling on the mat is there? Wait maybe I'm thinking about kick boxing not going to the mat.

DJP said...

Philness, I think the schools differ. I'm not multi-disciplinary, but I thing our Sensei said his school (shito ryu Cerezo-kai karate do, if I'm remembering the spelling correctly) is unique in its emphasis on "ground-sparring."

LeeC said...

Dropped you an email Squirrel to not go too far off topic here.

~Mark said...

"?She said "piquant discussions," Mark — not "pecan discussions"!"

~I'm just glad somebody caught that before people started thinking I was just plain looney. (As opposed to the very special looney qualities I possess.)