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Women and BJJ

March 10, 2008

After viewing the only women’s match at the Newaza World tournament I thought this would be a valid time to address women and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

We need more women in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Personally, I’d love it if my girl practices, but she’s more of the walking/hiking type of sports girl. But I haven’t given up hope yet.

Actually I believe if more women practice BJJ then it’d validate the technique over strength notion that jiu-jitsu supposedly champions.

For the Women
Positive arguements for women concidering jiu-jitsu:

  • It’s fun.
  • It tones, lifts and shapes like no other form of exercise.
  • It’s a safe low-impact sport.
  • It deals more with technique rather than strength.
  • It has “self-defense” applications from day one – learning how to deal with an opponent while on your back.*

Tips for women wanting to join BJJ:

  • Watch a class first. If the class is friendly, safe, not dripping with testosterone i.e. not crazy competitive, and it suits you – by all means, try it out.
  • Please use a sports bra under your gi. If modest, use a rash guard and a sports bra.
  • Put your hair in a ponytail. For really long hair, a braid will do.
  • Trim your finger nails. Actually everyone should do this.
  • You will be placed in “awkward” positions.
  • If there are no other women in the class, partner up with the small guy. Go easy on him.
  • Stay away from the overtly macho guys or the big smelly guy staring at you.
  • Don’t be afraid to drill with other people HOWEVER feel free to decline rolling or sparring with someone you feel uneasy about.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the instructor questions or to voice your concerns.
  • If you end up joining, buy a gi. The school should have in-house gis but on one want to continue wearing them after their first class.

For the Men
Behaviour tips for men with women in their gym, school or academy:

  • Do not stare.
  • Smile.
  • Above all be friendly.
  • Check your male pride at the door.

When rolling with women who are beginners or white belts:

  • Remember she is not your competition.
  • Easy on the submissions. Crank an armbar and she gets hurt, everybody loses. You just lost a training partner and she can’t train until she gets better.
  • Work on your technique. I’m sure you can smash her, but does that mean you should?
  • Do NOT persue the matter of sparring with her if she does not want to. No means no, dumbass.

When rolling with women who are blue belt and beyond:

  • Remember she is not your competition.
  • Easy on the submissions. She’ll be able to defend a lot better at this level, but if you don’t have a submission within 5 sec of attempting it, LET GO. If she was your size and had your strength, do you think you’d still be able to “muscle” a submission? Um… no.
  • Work on your technique. Jiu-jitsu is all about technique. See the woman with the colored belt you’re rolling with, yeah she’s got mad technique. Why do you think her belt is colored?
  • If she’s of a higher belt and she submits you, do NOT go Captain Caveman on her the next time you roll together. She’s a higher fucking level belt. Of course she’s going to submit you. Don’t take it personal. If you do you’re a dumbass.

*NOTE: Anyone concerned with self-defense should be aware of ALL the facts when it comes to grappling and self-defense. Self-defense is a topic far more dense than it appears to be. I submit the following articles to further one’s knowledge on the topic. Real self-defense training, and the pros & cons of grappling. I will re-address this in another post…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2008 2:38 am

    great article! you pretty much summed up everything for us girls.

    i just got my blue belt last month (i’m the first female blue belt of our team and the second home-grown female blue belt in the Philippines) and in my experience, most guy newbies that i roll with would really muscle it out and most of the time, i get injured because they use too much strength. i guess their pride can’t take getting submitted by a girl. so as much as i can, i avoid them. i roll with guys whom i know will use technique over strength, no matter how big the size difference is. i learn a lot from them. i have tapped out some guys, even tapped out a small guy blue belt when i was still white. but the good thing is we both learn from our mistakes and we both study our moves, and from then on they stopped treating me like a wimp and started giving me due respect 🙂 i now take care of teaching the basics to newbies for their first two weeks on the mat.

    thanks for writing this.

  2. May 17, 2008 3:51 pm

    Hello Jonna,

    Thank you for commenting 🙂 and congratulations on getting your blue belt! Yeah, and most of the time when I would get injured it’s usually because I try to use strength when I shouldn’t.

    Best of luck on your training and teaching the newbies!

  3. July 29, 2010 4:48 pm

    I would add: “You will be put in ‘awkward’ positions, but after about 2 weeks you probably won’t notice” 🙂

    Though every once in a while I see two guys in North-South position and it makes me laugh inside.

    It did take about 2 weeks for the hyperawareness to go away, and I’m happy to say I rarely if ever notice at the end of 2 months.

    Nice article!


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