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.