03 June 2011

Women in BJJ

So I am writing this mainly for a good friend Mr. Suleman Yousef. He is the owner and operator of a place down in Miami called Monsters Training Center. He asked me if had anything I had written anything for my blog about the intimidating aspect of jiu jitsu for women or something for supporting women who did bjj. I had two that were close but they hit on specific groups inside women’s BJJ, one on pregnancy, and one on making it past your blue belt. So I’m going to try and do this without sounding too cliché.

Before I get too into keeping women in BJJ I’m going to go ahead and tell why I started. I’ve never written about it mainly because it’s not the easiest to talk about. My senior year of high school I had a close friend that I had known for 7 years try to rape me. He was bigger, stronger, and would have succeeded but when he went to pull off my pants I caught him in the groin with a knee. After it all happened I went through a pretty bad year, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress, and even after I started college, I rarely left my dorm room unless it was to go to class or work. Sophomore year I knew i couldn’t keep it up and started to look for self defense. A friend of mine had an MMA fight and he suggested I look at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I found a school ten minutes  from my University and wandered in after emailing the man that ended up being my coach for 4 years.

There are plenty of reasons women start, Self-defense, interest in martial arts, social aspect, getting in shape, etc. Whatever the reason Brazilian jiu jitsu is a great way to achieve these goals, make friends, and be in a low pressure situation.

For women it’s not the easiest to get into this sport. Martial arts area male dominated sport to begin with, throw that into rolling around on the ground with guys in really close contact, it’s scary. The attrition rate is high, but schools are starting to target women and trying to help bridge that level of awkwardness. Women are encouraged to come in and there is more cross training that is starting to be done. There are extra classes, women’s only seminars, and when ever possible coaches try to make sure a higher ranked female is around when a new female is coming in to train. All these things help keep women coming back and it helps them get acclimated to training such a close contact sport.

Women will face some adversity in training martial arts, especially BJJ that guys aren’t apt to deal with. My coach Robert was explaining to a new female why she was only rolling with me and one of the higher ranks and no one closer to her size and skill level. He very simply said “The worst pairing I can do is a new young guy and a new adult female. The guy won’t want to lose and will most likely end up hurting her to prove his dominance” Men may not realize it, but how badly do you want to walk into practice and lose to a female every day? Most will claim they don’t care, but it has been engrained into us socially, that the man is dominant and takes care of the woman. Women are the weaker sex. Physically females just don’t have it in their genes to be muscle bound. Along with that mindset, for a woman to come in and here guys at the school say things like “don’t be such a girl”  using overly derogatory language (hey it happens), can be a turn off to a school. Yes you want to portray a real look at the school but if there are kids training there, do you really think the parents want to hear the language too? Finally we seem to notice smells a little more than the average guy. And smells usually lead to fears of dirty stuff, and getting gross diseases like, ringworm, impetigo, etc.

The benefits for joining Brazilian jiu jitsu are numerous for women. It’s great exercise. The camaraderie of your teammates is amazing. Learning something that could help you defend yourself against an attacker, boosts your confidence.  BJJ is a great release for frustration or any pent up energy. When you do find those females in BJJ you’ll find a small community within BJJ that love to support each other and work together to make things better for the whole group.

So guys, get your female friends, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, daughters to try BJJ. It may not suit everyone but those ones that catch the BJJ bug, will thank you for it later!


  1. Great post and great points regarding environment...

  2. Very nice, especially, "The worst pairing I can do is a new young guy and a new adult female. The guy won’t want to lose and will most likely end up hurting her to prove his dominance”. My coach started a women's only class once a week, to ease the girls into the regular class. It's working well. We now have almost twenty women training at our school. The program is only eight months old and it seems to have really good student retention statistics. One thing the women did, was they started their own facebook page. They use it to coordinate training schedules and provide emotional support to each other.