Rew Mitchell of Awakening Fighters: Inspiring and Connecting Women Fighters [Interview]
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Whilst doing the daily rounds searching for martial arts gems, the BookMartialArts.com team stumbled across Awakening Fighters. On entering the site you are instantly greeted by a bold statement - “The ultimate resource for the female fight community”, so we had to check it out and see if it lived up to its claim. As you might have guessed, because we’re writing this article – it did, what an interesting website, we were sucked in for some time!
If you’re a female martial artist, female fighter, or a female fight fan, you really need to check Awakening Fighters out. We weren’t sure where to start with this article because their website seemed to cover so much. In the end, we simply decided to shoot them an email and see if we could talk to someone. Rew Mitchell, CEO of Awakening Fighters replied and agreed to answer some of our questions. Read on!
Q: For the benefit of our readers, what is “Awakening Fighters”?
A: Where do I start?! Ok, essentially we’ve built a platform for supporting and promoting female martial artists around the globe. Our goal is to be a catalyst in the changing of public perception towards women who practice martial arts or compete in combat sports. We feel that there is still a lot of work to do on social awareness and acceptance. Women have practiced martial arts for as long as men but all too often they are promoted based on looks and not skill or technique. We wanted to create a respectful place for women to showcase themselves, and hopefully, do it in such a highly polished way that would ultimately start to have an impact on how other outlets in the industry promote females.
Q: Do you feel women are misrepresented then?
A: I would say that most of the time yes, because it’s just how media and society is today, unfortunately. For example, when you walk into a store a look at a magazine rack, 95% of the covers will have heavily photoshopped photos of women, or oppositely they will have celebs snapped looking their absolute worst. This happens regardless of what the magazine is about. Back to combat sport however, I must say that there are a few websites that are doing great things and have a very similar ethos to us, such as Wombat Sports, WMMA today and MMArising to name a few that started way before us. I don’t want to name the websites that I feel are doing damage to public perception because they don’t deserve it. Oh and Muay Thai is a whole other story, there are many female bloggers that are bringing great respect to the female side of things.
Julie Kitchen “Queen of Muay Thai”. Image credit: Rew Mitchell for Awakening Fighters
Q: When was Awakening Fighters formed, and did you expect to be where you are today?
A: It was formed back in May 2012, in some regards we have surpassed what we had expected back in those early days. However, financially, we still haven’t gone anywhere so it’s difficult to keep it going. It’s a struggle, but the constant response we have from the athletes keeps us going.
Q: We were very impressed with your database, tell us about that?
A: Ah yes, this is our strongest point for sure. Our global female martial artist database is for both female martial artists, and female fighters. There is a distinction there, and we are inclusive of both. The difference is that one competes in bouts, and the other does not but is a practitioner of a martial art. We list both and feel that the more ladies that add themselves the stronger the message of empowerment becomes. It’s a real eye-opener to see so many female athletes listed in one place. At this time, we have around 10,400 athletes from Amateur to Professional, from Practitioner to Master - in every discipline you can imagine. We are also proud to list retired athletes and practitioners because these are the ladies that paved the way for future generations and they should be celebrated and not forgotten.
Image credit: Rew Mitchell for Awakening Fighters
Q: What is the database used for?
A: That is up to the user. We’ve been told that the database gets used for many different things. For Awakening, its main purpose is to catalog history and inspire others. We’ve been told by quite a few athletes that they have used their profile to help get them sponsorship, which is amazing! We know that female fight fans use the database to follow their favorite fighters and that writers gather info from the profiles to help with their articles. Much of the information we have is uniquely listed on our website because we actively speak with coaches and athletes. We know that some commentators use our database, as do promoters who are looking to find a last minute replacement. All in all, we just aim to inspire others ladies. Seeing an athlete’s accomplishments all listed in one place is great for the growth of females in martial arts.
Q: How do you manage such a large scale project?
A: It’s difficult, especially with no money. The database is updated 160hrs a week if you take into account the team members that are working on it. It’s also very ambitious because we are striving to treat every martial art equally. Right now we are just managing to keep on top of MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Boxing. We are working towards being able to start covering more martial arts with the same amount of resources. We urge female martial artists from all disciplines to get in touch.
Q: If you had to pick one profile to showcase your database, which would it be?
A: That’s a “nasty” question! Haha. I guess it would have to be Valentina Shevchenko’s profile for a few reasons. She’s very well known, she practices multiple disciplines and she has helped us complete the information.
Valentina Shevchenko. Image credit: Rew Mitchell for Awakening Fighters
Q: If a martial artist is interested in getting a profile what do they do?
A: All they need to do is email us at [email protected] and request a profile questionnaire. Once filled out we will build their page. They are then encouraged to send us updates whenever they want, it’s all free.
Q: What other reasons are there to visit your website?
A: We have a Female Fixtures and Results listing that is updated everyday. The listing shows the most comprehensive schedule in the world for female fights. We currently only list MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and Boxing but a usual month has between 150 to 300 fights. This listing is global, the most countries we’ve had listed is about 50 I think. This really is the best listing of it’s kind.
We also have a side project called Awakepedia. This is still in it’s infancy, but it’s a martial arts encyclopedia. We created this just for the love of it, it’s fun to click around. Although we add approximately 300 athletes to the database, we do only currently add one or two articles to the Awakepedia section, but it’s fun.
Sian Edmunds of “The Edmunds Sistas”. Image credit: Rew Mitchell for Awakening Fighters
Q: What can we expect in the future for Awakening Fighters?
A: The most exciting thing is that we are working on hosting events, starting with Muay Thai. This will be either later this year or early next year. You’re actually the first person I’ve shared this news with! We are also launching a forum and a shop in the next couple of months. There’s so much to do, it’s endless. We’re so fortunate that we love what we do!
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