BJJ Grrl

"Be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically." ~Sensei Keiko Fukuda

A grappler who’s a girl, or a girl who’s a grappler?

on November 6, 2008

Only 1 round of the Couture last night, but my hamstrings were so stiff today! Oh dear, now I’m going to have to do more. 😛


Goals for the night: same things as on Monday.

Didn’t get a chance for any of the three.


Decently large class tonight. Warmup, then a few rolls.

Started with a guy who was sweeping himself a few times; he’d be in the better position, but he’d go to move and pull me with him and drag me in to mount. He’d realize what he’d done and sweep me back over.

Then had the guy who just lays on me. Was really getting frustrated with him because I couldn’t make him move at freaking all. Caught myself at one point wanting to punch or kick. So made myself spend the rest of the round just holding him in guard and stopping his guard break attempts. Again, though, this guy is the one we think might not be all there up top, so we’re supposed to go easy with him — but it’s hard to go “easy” with someone who has no concept of what they’re doing. Anyway, much cranky.

Drilled double-under pass after you break guard. Justin emphasized again and again and again — and threatened up/downs for the rest of class if we did it anyway — that this is not about throwing their legs over. Instead, it’s all position and pressure.

Drilled with Nick. He was joking that if I could do it on him, I could do it on anybody. His legs are heavy! Some of the newer guys were having trouble, so Justin was working with them a lot. Nick got bored with drilling it, though, and then bored with showing me little details (like getting their hips up), so we were sitting and watching the other guys. Something came up — I forgot what started it — and Nick said that Tim had told him & Justin & Adam that a lot of the guys go extra hard with me so Tim doesn’t want those guys to roll with me. Nick said he thinks it’s that they don’t want to tap to a girl. So it’s not just me thinking this.

More rolling after. Started with a blue belt. With the other guys, he goes out hard a lot of times, and I’ve heard even the purple belts say he’s sometimes too rough. But I’ve rolled with him before, and he’s always using technique, body weight, and pressure to move around with me. And tonight, while doing all of that, he was also coaching me through some stuff. He caught me in a kneebar when he got mount once, by keeping his hips down just above my knee and grapevining his foot behind my ankle; he just caught it, though, and then told me that he’d caught a kneebar. He said to tell him when I felt a little pressure in my knee, and then he slowly applied the kneebar; didn’t take much and I tapped. As we sat back up, he showed me what he’d done to get it. Another time, I was trying to break his guard, but his legs are so much longer that I couldn’t quite do it; he said that I nearly had it and just needed a little bit more leverage, so he showed me how to stay in almost the same position but get my back elbow in to his hip/thigh to force his leg out a bit more.

Last round was with Will, the guy with previous experience from yesterday. He pulled me in to his guard early. I kept trying to break it, but he’d pull me down. And then his foot kept ending up in my face if I’d try to posture up. I figured he was trying to get it under my chin or all the way across, so I’d bump back down and use my head to move it away. I thought he was going for triangles, too, because he kept grabbing his shin over my neck, except both my arms were in. So pretty much that entire round was me trying to get out of his guard and him trying to get his foot in my face. Neither of us succeeded. Afterwards, I asked him what he’d been doing; he said it was Rubber Guard. (So, I’m guessing, what I thought was a poor triangle attempt was instead a Mission Control attempt? I don’t know much Eddie Bravo, and what I do know, I don’t know is.) I’m sure Justin has done it on me, since some of the setup looked somewhat familiar.

No class tomorrow because of the home football game, and no class Saturday because of Adam’s fight.


After class, one newer guy ran over to another, all excited, and started whispering. (A little too loudly, though; I heard him. Most of the others guys were gathered around Justin and Nick, who were working something.) New guys #1 and #2 are both about 5’7″, 150lbs.

NG1: “Dude, guess what? I almost tapped that big guy.”
NG2: “What big guy?”
NG1: “I don’t know his name. Over there in the red shorts.” (I sneak a peek: Nick.[1])
NG2: “You almost tapped him? With what?”
NG1: “A rear naked choke, dude. It was sweet. But he got out right before I got it all the way in.”

At which point I walk away and try hard not to laugh.

[1]Nick: Purple belt. 6’2″, 220 lbs. Super nice guy who rolls very relaxed with almost everyone (especially white belts, though he has been known to tear it up with some blues, purples, browns, and blacks). Often lets you work right up to a submission, and then just magically moves out of it.


My mom and I were talking about politics (it’s her favorite subject) when I got home, and we got off talking about how people identify themselves and the order in which they place those identities. That, combined with Nick’s comments about the guys earlier, gave me my post title: A grappler who’s a girl, or a girl who’s a grappler?

I think of myself as a grappler first and a girl second when I’m in class. I’m not out on the mats to be a girl; I’m out there to grapple and to learn. I’m still a girl, but it’s not my primary identity on the mats. Maybe that’s why I get so frustrated with myself when I can’t do what I see the guys doing; I’m not thinking of being a girl, of being different from them; I’m thinking of myself as a grappler.

Some of the guys seem to be able to do that with me, too, at least to a degree. They do recognize that I’m a girl — it’s hard to miss, I’m sure — and that I’m not as strong as they are, but other than that slight concession, they don’t treat me any differently. They drag me out to flip tires, do perfect pullups, do the Couture circuit; invite me with the group for food after class or over to watch the fights. And they have no problem working with me and letting me practice on them.

And then there’s the rest of the guys, who seem to see me as a girl. Not even sure if they’ve got the “grappler” identity included. Either they don’t want to roll with me at all but get stuck or they want to roll with me and go 110% so they can make me tap more. The ones who don’t want to tap to a girl, and yet they have relatively little problem tapping to other white belts — and none tapping to the blues & purples.

… … I had a dramatic climax in mind for that, but I lost it in the middle of writing it all. Oh wells.

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3 responses to “A grappler who’s a girl, or a girl who’s a grappler?

  1. I don’t pretend to be a RG master, but sounds like a Kung Fu Move attempt… or even a gogoplata attempt? I took a phenomenal private from an Eddie brown named Denny Prokopos when I was in San Francisco and we blazed through a ton of material in an hour. Makes for great re-watching I’m sure, if I ever made the time.

    Regarding the girl/grappler or grappler/girl concept– consider rolls that are dates, vs. rolls that are rolls. One is a nicey-nicey event, polite and gentle and really not a challenge. The other isn’t; it’s just a real roll, without gender differentiation. (I can’t take credit for the term; that’s our purple, Shama’s, idea.

    Keep up the entertaining writing and musings…

  2. leslie says:

    I have no idea, and I couldn’t see much from my angle. The guy was hanging around afterward so I didn’t want to ask Justin about it in front of him. All I knew was that he wanted that foot/leg around in front of me, so I didn’t want to let him have it. We do work in some Eddie Bravo stuff, but it’s never introduced that way; instead, it’s “We’re working a sweep from half guard,” and I later find out through my interweb ramblings that it’s Old School.

    *snort* at the “rolls that are dates”: those are also the ones where you’re watching the clock, trying not to look directly at him, and vowing to never let yourself get put in this position again. Oh, wait, maybe those are just how MY dates always seem to go. =P Contrast that, though, to just hanging around with the guys after class or to watch the fights; we’re just friends, and it’s fun and I don’t want it to end.

  3. grappledunk says:

    I totally get the date roll vs roll roll concept! I’ve had more than one roll in which I’ve promised myself never to go out on the mat with him again (several because they were just plain boring, and one notable time when there was a sweaty, rashguardless moob smooshed into my face…)

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