Female MMA star teaches women’s self-defence class

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Matt Gardner
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Women’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) veteran Charmaine Tweet stopped by Prince Albert over the weekend to teach a seminar in women’s self-defence and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The day-long class, which was held at LDP Martial Arts, taught a variety of defence techniques rooted in the fighting art of muay Thai.

“I basically come more from a muay Thai background, which is a martial art based on damage,” Tweet said.

“I’ve never really been in an altercation on the street before -- I had one. So I just kind of went, ‘What can I show (the students) that’s going to cause the most damage to an attacker and allow them to get away?’”

Muay Thai is known as “the art of eight limbs” since, in addition to teaching people how to fight with their hands and feet, it also utilizes the elbows and knees.

“I wouldn’t recommend punches for self-defense -- just having your hands bare, you tend to break them,” Tweet said.

“I showed them elbows and kicking … We’re going to be working on knees today, (since) knees are really, really effective if you know how to throw them right.”

About half a dozen women attended the seminar on Saturday, with students including both gym regulars and others just visiting for the day.

LDP Martial Arts owner and instructor Lucian Phillips was able to organize the seminar in part due to his friendship with Tweet’s husband, an MMA promoter.

“She’s a pro MMA fighter and she’s also a world champion kickboxer,” Phillips noted.

“So I just kind of thought, and my wife thought, that it would be a great idea to bring her up here to show other women that it’s not just a guy’s sport, because right now, the gym is predominantly male -- guys that compete in jiu-jitsu, guys that compete in kickboxing, guys that compete in MMA.

“We’re always getting asked for women in self-defence. But the whole thing is, if you want a self-defence course, you’ve got to train. So we brought Charmaine up here to kind of show them what her training does.”

Tweet -- nickname “Not So Sweet” -- did not originally intend to focus on muay Thai and kickboxing when she first started training.

After moving to the United States and meeting her coach Duke Roufus, she was told Roufus had a boxing school and decided to investigate for herself.

“I was interested in boxing, and I walked in the door,” she recalled. “I said, ‘I’m really competitive, I want to box, I actually want to fight.’

“They kind of looked at me and said, ‘Well, yeah, you could box, but you have the perfect build for a kickboxer. Would you be interested in that too?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’

I wouldn’t recommend punches for self-defense -- just having your hands bare, you tend to break them. Charmaine Tweet

She added, “Long story short, I’ve never had a boxing match.”

In addition to working with Roufus – one of the MMA’s best-known trainers – Tweet has also fought Ronda Rousey, the current UFC women’s champion and the highest-profile female in the sport.

Despite losing that bout, the fight was a learning experience for Tweet, who subsequently tried to focus on her own strengths rather than worrying about counteracting those of her opponents.

The growing popularity of female MMA is a testament to changing social attitudes towards women in traditionally male-dominated sports.

Tweet suggested that such evolving views mean women today have more awareness of their own strength and a greater sense of self than previous generations.

“Women’s MMA is evolving, just the same as women are evolving as we go,” she said.

“We’re stronger, so I find it’s more of a natural fit for us nowadays than say it would have been 20 years ago. “

While Phillips plans to host more women’s self-defence classes at LDP in the future, exact scheduling will depend on the level of interest in the community.

He pointed out that while a one-day course such as Tweet’s is a valuable introduction, mastering the art of self-defence is really a way of life, and he invited local residents to try one of the beginner classes at LDP.

“It’s a thing that you have to do on a regular basis in order for it to be effective,” he said.

“Just like any job, if you take any skill that you have, you don’t go to a course and take your three-hour course or whatever it is and then come out of it and say you’re a master … You have to understand that that is just the beginning, and hopefully they seek out the knowledge on their own or start training.”

As for Tweet, despite recently being asked to audition for a role in the film Kick-Ass 2 (“I didn’t get the role obviously, but I can’t wait to see it”) she plans to concentrate on her MMA career for the foreseeable future.

“I’m 35 right now, so that gives me a couple good years to get going, and female MMA is really taking off right now,” she said.

“It’s really getting into a good spot, what with Ronda just fighting on the UFC a few weeks ago, being the first female match on the UFC … It’s only up from here and there are a lot of things I want to do with it still.”

Organizations: LDP Martial Arts

Geographic location: United States

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