The Importance of Having Women In Jiu Jitsu

While I don’t exactly agree with the tactics used in order to get them to join, I do believe it’s pretty crucial for academies to encourage women to train in jiu jitsu.

Actually, I feel like you need to have a good mix of people in general for a successful academy. But women are important to have training I feel for the following reasons:

1. It’s an opportunity to see the essence of jiu jitsu- watching a smaller, presumably weaker person against a heavier opponent. It also should force force those who train with women to be more technical. That’s what we’re all told, right? All of this was created with the smaller, weaker person in mind- technique over strength? Well now students have a chance to see these principles in motion, and better yet an opportunity to become more technical themselves. Granted, that’s not always the case: I’ve trained with plenty of girls who would much prefer to smash and use strength, but as it’s been pointed out, due to their size and muscle composition more often than not women are forced to be more technical.

2. I’m sure this is going to win me no favors in the jiu jitsu community and I hate to play into stereotypes, but we’re all adults here so I’m just going to say it: I feel like when you see a woman in an academy, or multiple women there is an image then that the academy is one that can be accepting of all types of men and women, a place of respect and a (somewhat) willingness to be accommodating. Granted, I will be the first to admit that not all that glitters is gold and looks can definitely be deceiving, but let’s say you are Mr. Joe Average, wife, two kids, 9-5 job: you want to get fit and you abhor the idea of running on a treadmill. You hear about this thing called jiu jitsu and want to give it a try- what academy would you, a newbie, be more willing to attend? One with a bunch of 6 foot, 200+ pound dudes or the academy down the street that may have those huge dudes but also a couple of chicks in the mix? Personally as a woman I would go for the latter. I would think many guys would make the same choice, and not for creepy reasons. You’ll have people who would opt for the first academy, but I feel that is such a smaller group of people and really gives you a narrow customer base to work with.

3. And let’s be real, it’s better for the school owner’s profit margin- it makes absolutely no sense to ignore half of your potential customer base, in relation to the previous point. As much as we all love the sport, for many it’s also their livelihood. Again, there are some dudes who would be totally into the “boys club” sort of MMA/jiu jitsu gym, but that’s such a smaller pool of people to work with, you’re alienating potential customers and that’s money you are essentially letting walk out of the door.

So, in reference to the beginning, why don’t I agree with gym fees being waived, or discounts being given to women to take Jiu jitsu classes? Personally I don’t think it’s necessary- maybe i’m just nutty (just a little) but to me it shows a lack of faith from the instructor that they can impart that love and same amount of passion for the sport as they can to their male students. If the program is good, if the atmosphere and culture make women feel respected and welcome, it should stand on its own. At most, if the instructor is that worried about women rolling with guys he should sit them down for a talk and go over appropriate conduct when rolling with women.

And also in total honesty, even if academies do everything right some women won’t stay, just like guys quit Jiu jitsu. It happens- the academy may be doing everything right and it’s just a scheduling conflict, or life events that keep someone, male or female from continuing in the sport. But, with a respectful, positive atmosphere I really feel academies can invite, and keep women in their Jiu jitsu programs, which is beneficial for the academy and sport as a whole.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Importance of Having Women In Jiu Jitsu

  1. Our jiujitsu class doesn’t do any specific outreach or catering to women – but our numbers are still climbing. Today we had a class evenly divided, males & females. It was pretty awesome.

    I really like your point about the environment. Yeah, we have a few of the jock types you’d expect, but they’re still cool [despite that, lol]. We have a strict no-egos&attitudes-policy. We’re not here to beat anyone up or ‘win,’ we’re here to learn. As my instructor says: we all have day jobs. So we might be mostly men, but most of them are young fathers. (We started a kids class last month because so many of the guys kidlings wanted to learn.) Many of our folks are older, and in all sorts of fitness and abilities – many have old injuries to work around. Same goes for the women. I for one love the environment that creates – it makes it approachable for all sorts of folks, male & female alike, so they’re less intimidated to start where they are.

  2. Pingback: May 10, 2013 | BJJ News

  3. Leaahh

    I think there’s a threshold for women joining BJJ gyms. When it was just me and Angelica, we’d only get high-level female visitors mostly, because apparently we were “intimidating.” But then we got a few permanent lower belts, and our numbers started to slowly climb, like we had passed over a threshold for entry. I think this is an interesting phenomenon.

  4. codemonkey76

    I think sometimes getting the 2-3 initial girls that stay and are regulars are a necessity for attracting more female students. That is the hardest part for a small gym. Most girls don’t want to be the only girl in an all male gym.

    I have offered discounts in the past to try to break through that threshold, So far, I have only got my one stayer. I have had plenty of girls try it out but only one has stuck with it.

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