I Love A Good Bruise

Fun, outgoing, and bruised (literally). Those are three words that best describe muay thai lover Jody Bottone. A graphic designer by trade, Jody connected with us via twitter and began to show us how much she loved MMA and muay thai. Today she shares her kickboxing life with us all.

I have celiac disease which means I can’t eat gluten, not only can’t I eat it, it can’t even touch my food or I’ll get sick. It causes vitamin deficiencies in me which led to osteopenia. I lost bone mass and shrunk an inch because of it. I read an article about a woman who reversed her bone loss so I wanted to do the same, and I did. I no longer have osteopenia, although I did not grow an inch back!  I’m also allergic to a bunch of foods so I eat a pretty clean diet on a daily basis. I always exercised before muay thai but would get bored easily. I haven’t gotten bored yet and it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time. It keeps me in good shape and I feel not only the physical benefit, but the mental benefit as well. It definitely helps relieve a lot of stress. I’m just amazed at what my body can do.  I remember times when I would think to myself “There’s no way I can do that” and then I would do it. It’s such an amazing feeling. You keep doing that and eventually those “I cant’s” don’t creep into your mind.

I was actually looking to take some form of kickboxing, and I had never heard of muay thai before. I didn’t even know what MMA was. I just looked up kickboxing in my area and that’s when I found out what muay thai was. The funny thing is that when I started I wanted nothing to do with sparring but after a few classes I really took to it, and after a couple months I couldn’t wait to spar. Now I’m hooked. I normally don’t bring it up when I meet people. I get all kinds of reactions. Most people don’t even know what muay thai is! If I tell people I kickbox they think I do tae bo or cardio kickboxing. I usually just tell people I take a martial arts class. I think it’s intimidating to some people, or they think you’re a violent person.

I think it’s a little tougher as a woman because you have to work harder and you have to earn respect. Sometimes the expectations of women are that they can’t do what the men can do but it is simply not true. I’ve seen it. It also can be hard to find good sparring partners. Not all men feel comfortable hitting a woman in the face, so it can be hard to progress in sparring if you are around people like that. Most men that I’ve sparred with are usually bigger than me so I usually have a reach and height disadvantage (oh yeah and they weigh a lot more than I do) but that actually ends up being good as far as the learning process. It’s nice to spar with people your own size and its super awesome when you have a reach advantage, which happens very infrequently to me.  I’ve sparred with quite a few guys who punch me in the arm or don’t punch at all. They just defend and that definitely doesn’t help me learn. I wish more women would become interested in martial arts in general. It would be nice to see more women taking classes and in the ring. There really aren’t that many woman who fight muay thai or MMA in my area. There are plenty of girls who can’t compete because there’s nobody out there in their weight class. 

Are woman looked at differently? Yes and no, depends on the people. I’ve been around both types of people. It’s no fun when you’re not taken seriously just because you’re female but it does happen. The first gym I went to there were no girls who wanted to spar but I was very lucky to start sparring with guys who didn’t look at me different, they didn’t go easy on me at all and I’m so grateful for that. I want to be treated just like everybody else. On the flip side, here’s a cute story, the scenario is I’m the only girl at the gym and it’s time to spar. One of the guys says ‘I’ll go with the girl, I’ll take one for the team’… really he said that out loud standing right next to me. After we sparred, he told me I had better technique than any of those other guys. So I have to say it sucks when you work really hard at something and somebody’s first impression of you is based solely on the fact that you are a woman and they think you can’t do something. Don’t judge a book by its cover!

I really love to push myself. I’m sure most people who train in martial arts do, so injuries are very common. Something always hurts, usually my shins, legs and/or feet. You end up just pushing through a lot of stuff, you get used to it, and it’s just part of it. Somebody always has something taped up at the gym. You find other exercises that you can do when those minor annoyance injuries occur or you just double up on the other side. Right now I have tendonitis in my elbow so I actually rested for a little over a week. I’m not a fan of taking a rest, I always feel guilty but I’ve learned over the years to listen to my body. I also love a good bruise, but those of you that follow me on Twitter already know that, it makes me feel like I’m working hard.

As far as training goes, I don’t think there is a “worst part”. When it’s over is the worst part! I love muay thai class. I can’t think of anything that I don’t enjoy. I’m sure my instructors could think of a few things to make me cringe, it’s usually not the exercise but the amount of it we do. It can be brutal at times, but I love the challenge. You feel so good when you’re all done and you say to yourself “I did that!”

I’d like to have my first ammy muay thai fight this year. I wanted to compete last year but my life got really crazy, I moved, and switched gyms, so I’d like to get in there this year. I don’t have any long term goals but would love to be involved somehow maybe judging or clapping the sticks at the 10 second mark!

When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.

 

 

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Comments
  1. mandy main says:

    Hi Jody, you are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story. I feel the same way about yoga: the worst part is when it’s over. I love the ironic picture of your painted toenails surrounded by bruises!

    • Thank you Mandy! So glad you liked my story! That’s great that you feel the same about yoga, we all need to find something in life that we are passionate about! Always have to keep the toes nicely painted to help offset those lovely bruises :)

  2. bgddyjim says:

    My rule has always been never hit a girl, till she hits you – then all bets are off and it’s time to play rough… Try that route. Also, respect is over-rated. If a guy doesn’t respect you, chances are he never will, especially if you kick his ass. You’ll just get the “hey, I went easy on you because you’re a girl” dealio… What business is it of yours whether some guy “respects” you or not anyway? And if you can answer that one, why does it matter?

    Just a thought.

    • I feel when you’re sparring all bets are off anyway, when you spar you are supposed to hit and be hit, shouldn’t matter if you are a girl or a guy, period. So that rule never hit a girl until she hits you should go right out the window, IMO. If I followed that rule, never hit a guy until he hits me, then where would we be? I don’t need respect or feel that it matters, I’m actually pretty confident in my muay thai skills. I was simply saying that at times, not all the times, it sucks when you are not respected simply because of your appearance. I’m sure we can all relate to this in one way or another.

      • bgddyjim says:

        That’s because you weren’t raised to refrain hitting girls from the day you were born – sparring or not, it doesn’t matter, it’s a part of any decent man’s DNA who happens to be on the right side of the grass pumping air. Just look at it from our side for just a second – we’re disrepsecting you for repsecting the golden rule – hell, we can’t win!!! :D I know it sucks but it is what it is.

  3. I do look at it from your side all the time and I totally understand your point, I really do! I was asked if I’ve ever been treated differently because I am a woman and I have. Look at it from my side too please, how can I get better without good sparring partners. I am not putting anybody down, and I don’t feel disrespected by people who feel uncomfortable hitting a woman, that’s not what I was trying to say. Saying “I’ll take one for the team” to spar with a woman, that’s disrespectful. I was just simply stating that its not always easy being a woman in a man’s sport. No disrepect intended and you are right it is what it is (one of my favorite sayings by the way) :)

  4. PathBackFit says:

    It’s inspiring what you overcame to participate in MMA. I personally have never had a guy treat me differently because I’m a girl when I used to spar in WMA/HEMA. Sorry you experienced that. The guys I used to spar with (and there were no women besides me) understood that we were engaging in our sport and there’s a difference between that and just being somewhere hanging out. For example, they wouldn’t start striking me with a longsword unless we were actually sparring. :)

  5. Hi Jody! Thanks for the inspirational article! It’s great to hear about a woman taking on a challenge and defying labels. I have to say that after your article, I’m tempted to give Muay Thai a shot!

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