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Pregnancy and martial arts training

Increasingly more women are taking to training in martial arts for self-defense to counter the increasing intimate partner violence.

I met Anyango in my consultation recently; she is six months pregnant and feels vulnerable and “disarmed “by her pregnancy. She is a black-belt Karateka, who now feels unsafe to train as her baby bump enlarges. This has made her feel very vulnerable due to her past experience of violence from her partner and in the tough neighborhood she lives in.

Previously, with her regular training, she has always moved with confidence and been able to fend off any physical challenges. Yet now she feels “cornered”

I reassured her and advised on moderate safe training during pregnancy.

Domestic abuse is a huge issue in society and by encouraging more women into the martial arts we can take a stand against this.

The benefits of martial arts training for women is very much easy to see. Increased strength, fitness, confidence but most of all is the realization that being female does not mean automatic status as victim.

Martial arts has many benefits but for women, it is a path that will help to reduce abuse in society, even through a small amount of training female students become more empowered and confident and if this helps just one woman to stand up for herself and not to tolerate domestic abuse it would be a huge achievement.

Domestic violence is the most common cause of injury to women ages 18 to 44 in the Kenya. After abuse starts, it usually continues. And it's likely to get worse over time. Abuse that starts with a slap may build up over time to kicking and shoving and finally choking.


Pregnant women should avoid being breathless for long periods. This is because you could be depriving your baby of oxygen. If you feel yourself becoming breathless slow down and breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly and deeply until you recover.

Check your heart rate at regular intervals and ensure it does not exceed 140 beats per minute. . If your heart is racing so is your baby’s! Drink plenty of water. Remember that even in the beginning, your body is working overtime to sustain two people.

Listen to your body. If you are experiencing discomfort, your body is telling you something. Stop the exercise you are doing and tell your instructor immediately. Pregnancy is not the time to test your endurance limit!

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