Tag Archives: women in bjj

Girls in Gis Event in Philly: Sept 29th!

It’s about a month away, but the Girls in Gis organization is coming to Philly, with Valerie Worthington and Angela Vogel. Our gym is doing a team outing that day so I don’t think any of us will be able to make it, but for anyone in the area, you should go and check it out!

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Have a great day everyone!

 

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Jiu Jitsu Needs You

I think most, if not all of us walk around with a little doubt as to whether or not we are the right “fit” for jiu jitsu. We watch video clips of amazing competitors and their fantastic submissions, we see images of top level competitors on our social media feeds- there is enough content out there to make us second guess if we are actually a right fit for the sport. This can also come up in more direct ways- going over a technique in class that maybe you just don’t feel you are the right fit for in terms of body type. Your arms and legs are too long/short, you’re not flexible enough, so one and so forth.

We know that (for most of us) we need jiu jitsu: it makes us feel good, it engages us, it creates a family and a sense of camaraderie- it pushes us, takes us out of our comfort zone and usually as a result we are the better for it.

But believe it or not, jiu jitsu needs you too. Yes, you. You, with the short little arms and legs. You, the Master 5 heavy weight. You, the white belt that may be 110 pounds after a large meal. Jiu jitsu needs people of different sizes, heights, abilities. And not just because teachers need their mats filled with students sort of need- when you think about it, the inclusion of so many people with so many body types going against one another could be one of the one of the things that promotes evolution in the sport. Someone comes up with a technique that works best for them because as someone with a particular body going against someone else who can or cannot do something, and so they begin to use it, and then it becomes popular among the rest of the community.

I always like to say jiu jitsu is for every body, but not for everybody, and I still definitely believe that. It’s a sport that has more to do with grit, ingenuity, and creative problem solving then being a certain age, height or weight or having a certain range of abilities. And more importantly, it’s a sport/martial art that needs that sort of variety to keep it going, to keep evolving as time goes on. So keep in mind even though you may wonder if you are the right “fit” for the sport, make no mistake- jiu jitsu needs you.

Just some food for thought- have a great day everyone!

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Larger Women & Training in BJJ: A Tale from Both Sides

I’ve mentioned this before, but I was pretty big when I first started jiu jitsu- I was pretty close (if not over) 200 pounds, which isn’t really a great look for someone who is approximately 5’3 and had very little muscle definition at the time.

When I started jiu jitsu there were a few girls that took some classes- they were definitely smaller than me, and while they meant well, there were a few instances where a thing would happen: they would become frustrated while training with me and would either make some sort of back handed compliment about my size, or there was what I call the huff- unconsciously or consciously letting me know that it wasn’t my technique but rather my size that was causing a problem for whatever they were trying to do. I can’t recall what specifically was taking place at the time, but as Maya Angelou once said, people don’t always remember what you do or say, but rather how you make them feel. And in those instances I felt large and awkward and almost not welcome in the space.

It doesn’t really make sense to a lot of guys, I know- the dream for a lot of dudes is to be as big and muscular as possible (and technical, of course), to be a juggernaut on the mats. For women it’s a bit different however: a lot of larger women are made to feel uncomfortable about the space they take up on the mat. Do I think it’s an intentional act? No, actually- I think for the most part people just do stupid things without any real malicious intent: we’re just not so great at interacting with other humans sometimes (I sort of jokingly say this occasionally, ‘people-ing is hard’).

As someone who has been in that situation, and as someone now who trains with larger women, I am sensitive to that feeling and try to make women of all shapes and sizes feel welcome on the mat. I very specifically remember training with a woman who was a bit taller and heavier than I was, and I asked her why she wasn’t really going for certain techniques. It took her a moment, but she admitted that she was afraid that she was going to hurt me. I basically told her not to worry, that I would be fine, so just go for what she needed to and let’s roll.

And I hope you all do the same: welcome people as they are, and try to make them feel as welcome in the space as possible. As I’ve mentioned before here, jiu jitsu is for every body: tall, short, thin, fat and a wide spectrum of abilities (or lack, thereof). And while this is not always the case, I would hope that your mats are filled with all kinds of body types, filling your academy with variety and a chance to roll with those way different than you. Understand that while someone may be larger than you, that is a great opportunity to work a different kind of game- maybe you won’t be able to work the same kind of sweep in the exact same kind of way that you have been doing to everyone else, and that’s ok- in fact use the training as an opportunity to adjust your game that it can work on someone with a different body type. There’s practically never a reason to not have someone feel welcome on a mat space, especially when it comes to just their body size.

Have a great day everyone!

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Happy Friday! I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

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Happy Friday! Just a friendly reminder that a good deal of jiu jitsu is about aggressive cuddling all your friends….

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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Happy Friday! Trust, in One Photo

Happy Friday everyone!

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This was from the Girls in Gis event where I taught a mini seminar a little while ago… It takes a good deal of trust to just hang on someone while they stand there, hold on to you with one arm and chat about what to do next.

Fortunately Sarah and I have been training together for over 8 years and have gotten to the point of speaking only in half sentences sometimes to one another. While not every training partner relationship needs to be this way, I do hope you have training partners that you feel you can trust to not let you fall.

Have a great weekend!

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