In September 1974, Black Belt Magazine published a letter from Karen Swanson, a school teacher living in Tallahassee, Florida. Swanson thanked the editors for their recent hire of the New York historian and martial artist Valarie Eads to write a reoccurring column in their magazine on female fighters titled "Fighting Woman." Swanson described herself as an active feminist who wanted to learn self-defense under the guidance of a female teacher. Swanson lamented that there were no female martial arts teachers in north Florida and therefore she had been forced to look for a male instructor. Swanson explained that most male martial arts instructors in her area refused to teach her, citing their low opinions of women and their lack of a suitable woman's dressing room. She believed that in the face of sexist attitudes of instructors and classmates, most women gave up, leaving only "a few crazy ladies" who Swanson did not identify specifically. These women refused to surrender their place in the martial arts community, ignoring sexism and continuing their studies. Swanson revealed that eventually she found a man willing to teach anyone willing to train seriously, even a woman. She ended by encouraging women to push for quality in the dojo just as they demanded it in the workplace.
Thrasher, Christopher David
"A Few Crazy Ladies: How Women Broke Down Barriers and Created a Place for Female Martial Artists in Florida, 1974-1983,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 93:
2, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol93/iss2/6