BJJ Grrl

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

All in the hips

on April 29, 2009

So good to be back. Business trip up to New Jersey for 3 days. No jits. Lots of time in the car. Not a lot of sleep; wasn’t my bed, wasn’t my pillow. Bleh. Got in around 11 last night; showered & in bed by 11:30; slept in until 10:45 this morning.

I took Jiu-jitsu University and a notebook with me and was planning on really tackling this analysis. Instead, I had to get up too early and stumble around to meetings. At the hotel at night, I just wanted to sleep. I’ll get there, eventually…

Perry/our academy is hosting a kickboxing tournament next weekend, so some of the local kids are starting to show up for training with us. (Which, in some ways, is really funny — you train all year somewhere else, but when you need real instruction before a tournament, you come to us…) Quite a few of them showed up for BJJ tonight, and then did the kickboxing class afterward. I think one or more of them has entered one of the MMA matches at the tournament. Rather interesting how many of my guys didn’t want to mix in and roll with them. I definitely stayed away.

Rolling to warm up. Started with Will. I think we were moving pretty good. My hips were moving, at least. It was nuts: creating angles, catching angles, chasing when he tried to pass my guard. Hitchhiker escape at one point, and a bump sweep, too. Still under side control and mount a lot, though I think I escaped a few times on my own.

Then with TKD Mike. Hips not moving quite as well, though still decent; caught under side control and mount, and once in back mount, though I seem to recall actually getting out.

Scott next. He was agressively working his butterfly guard, and I had a hard time passing. Did get around a few times, though he could easily reverse me and take it again.

Drilling was armbar from guard and then the basic knee-through guard break and pass, mostly because the visiting kids were doing them all wrong. (And one of them had been “instructing” his partner [another one of their group] during their roll about how to do an armbar from guard, which was completely and terribly wrong.) Good to review, though. My armbars felt better than usual; I think my hips were getting higher and around better.

One more roll, twice as long as the previous ones. Rolled with Stephen. Doing okay still. Hips moving. Took his back for a few seconds; somehow found mount a time or two also. Actually hit the elevator sweep, too.

A few of the guys started doing some padwork after class. I hung around and did one real pullup (hands over) and 2 chinups (hands under). Arms toasted, though. Then did a few sets of front squats with the Oly bar and then one set of front squat/push press.

Crazy view spike this weekend from a forum post on Sherdog asking “How come women don’t like BJJ?” (Thanks, slidey=) Basically the guy was saying that because he didn’t see a lot of girls training BJJ, that girls must not like BJJ. Which, I think, is making a judgment and isn’t really the right question. Those of us who do it love it, and when you have a base of girls training, more will join. So it’s not that girls don’t like BJJ; we do, once we start it. So, rather, it’s that there’s a barrier to getting girls to start BJJ and stick with it.

(And besides, we could ask why so many guys don’t show up to class when invited or come to a class or two and then leave. Why don’t all guys do BJJ, either? I don’t know the statistics on how many guys start and then quit because they “didn’t like it” for some reason, but I think it might be quite high. [And I’m curious what their reasons might be. Why start? Why stop?])

There were good answers about the contact level and sweat and other things that would throw off most girls from most sports, not just jiu-jitsu specifically. I think the answer for most girls is that they don’t start or stick with jiu-jitsu because there aren’t other girls doing it. Not just because it’s hard to be the only girl (though it sometimes is), but also because we girls like a supporting community when we do something.

That can be other girls and that can be the guys. We want to feel that we’re safe in what we’re doing and that someone is keeping an eye on us and our partners. We don’t want to feel as if we’re everyone’s grappling dummy, but we also don’t want everyone to treat us with kid gloves. We want to be included, none of this “boys vs. girls” stuff, and yet we want you to remember that we are girls and we are different from boys. (Yes, we want it all.) And we want to have friends.

I’m the only girl on my team. On days when I think I’ll never come back because I’m so angry, upset, or frustrated, I come back anyway because of my guys. They’re my friends. They’re superamazing and awesome. From the beginning, they worked with me and included me and made me feel as if this was a place I wanted to be and these were people I wanted to be around. They look out for me in class, they make me do crazy things after class, and they make me eat more than I should. I’m still a girl, but I’m also part of the team.

So if your school is having a hard time retaining women, don’t immediately blame it all on the women not being able to handle it or not liking BJJ — check out the team dynamic. You may be giving off a vibe that turns women off. (That might also impact your dating life, too… Oops, now I’m meddling!…)

Or maybe I’m just different. Maybe I’m oblivious to lots of things that turn off other girls. I do admit I’m not very good at being a girl most days, and I didn’t have too many female friends growing up. I’ve seen several guys come through our school who, if the entire team were composed of guys like them, I don’t think I would have stayed. Something about them — some vibe, some creepiness factor, some something — that I just didn’t want to be around.

Anyway, rambling now. But I still don’t think it’s a matter of women “not liking” BJJ or close-contact sports; I think it’s more the personnel involved.

I started to continue rambling on, and then my post length more than doubled, so apparently I have quite a bit to say on the subject. (Or I’m just verbose, which is also possible.) So I made a new page called “Women” to hold any further musings on women and jiu-jitsu.


5 responses to “All in the hips

  1. slideyfoot says:

    Cool post: glad that thread proved inspiring!

    The “why don’t more women train” question seems to crop up fairly frequently on forums, but most of the time, its both asked and then answered by men, which really isn’t very helpful.

    You’ve now provided something far more relevant for linking, which could be very handy. 😀

  2. leslie says:

    @slidey: Bah, I’m still thinking about it! (Even wrote a whole new page just because of it, and yet I’m still thinking about it!) And I was distracted all during class last night thinking on it, too, and on some of the responses given by some of the guys in the Sherdog thread.

  3. slideyfoot says:

    Would be good to have articulate and web-savvy female BJJers like you to present an informed perspective on those discussion threads.

    The comparable thread over on the EFN is much better, mainly because there are more regular female posters and its also a far smaller community, many of whom know eachother in the ‘real world’. 😉

  4. leslie says:

    Been reading that one, too. (Mostly reading while at work, so trying not to read too much or respond to anything.)

    I’m mostly a lurker online. I find it hard to jump in to conversations on forums. Something to work on, I suppose, if I ever get more time. 😛

  5. jiujitsu365 says:

    You are right about the men showing up a few times and then quitting. I can say that I have rolled (BJJ) or sparred (Judo) at least 200 different guys because so many show up for a class or two and then never come back. Ever!!!

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