I got a comment on my “Women” page, and I want to bring it forward both to highlight it and for some group help:
So glad that I came across this blog. I just turned 31 and have been training BJJ for 10 months. I train in a co-gender class but am the only female participant. At first I was really shy coming to class, not knowing anyone and being the least experienced student, (not to mention the only female), but I saw great value in the self defense aspects of BJJ and forced myself to keep going to class no matter how uncomfortable I felt. Over time, I got to know the guys better and developed skills and it began to feel like I was part of the dojo family and I looked forward to every class–the shyness was gone. But now, things have changed. I can’t be certain who, but what I can glean from information given to me is that there is a jealous and insecure spouse who has made an issue with me training with the guys. I have never acted in any way inappropriate or have felt any inappropriateness from any of the guys, but now the rules for female participation have changed. I now need to come to each class with my own training partner. I am not allowed to show up to class and ask one of the guys on the fly–I need to have it set up before coming to the dojo. This has seriously changed my training. Now I have one partner. I don’t get to cycle through with different body types/skill level, I am confined to just that one training partner at each class. If my partner is sick or injured, tough luck for me–I don’t get to train. It still feels like a family but now I feel like I’m the black sheep in it. It doesn’t feel fair. I take this sport just as serious as any of the guys but my training isn’t being offered the same respect. A little taste at being a woman in a man’s world.
Just to ask first, is there any chance this is a religious thing? (E.g., are most of the guys are of a religion that doesn’t allow women to work with men in such close physical contact?)
My advice would be to talk to your instructor and explain that you are serious about training BJJ and are not there to pick up guys. That this limited training is not fair to either you or your partner. That you understand that some of the wives/girlfriends may be uncomfortable with you training with their husbands/boyfriends, and that you would agree to not train with those men, if he’ll tell you who those men are. Because once you know who not to train with, and they also know that you know not to train with them, then you can just amicably avoid each other when switching partners. And once he tells you, go talk to those guys before/after class and let them know that you’re aware of the situation.
Or, if he’s uncomfortable telling you who (at which I would call “weenie”), then ask him to be in charge of pairing you up with the “safe” guys. (The guys in your class, by the way, are first-class weenies for not telling you one-on-one that their wife/gf won’t let them train with you to start with.)
I would not, if I were you, insist that those men train with you.
Obviously, of course, be professional and focused in class.
Finally, is there any way you can meet these wives/girlfriends? Do they ever come to the gym and watch class? Although I don’t know what it means to be a jealous & insecure significant other, I would hope that meeting you might dissipate some of that.
I had 1 guy in my class who couldn’t train with me because of a jealous spouse. He had been avoiding me on the mat, though I scarcely noticed. Then we ended up paired up one day, and he told me that he couldn’t train with me and why. We switched partners. After that, it was easy to avoid being paired with him because I knew who I couldn’t work with. (There was another guy who didn’t like to work with me because he was Muslim [obviously not too strict, as he would work/roll with me if he had to and he never actually said anything about it to me — though he was rather obvious about trying to avoid me. I obliged and avoided him back. Again, easy-peasy to do once I knew who & why.])
Any body else have any advice? I have limited experience with jealous significant others; only the one instance, and it was handled easily.