Looking at Jiu Jitsu, it’s quite obvious that it is a very male dominated sport. This isn’t because there is a sign on the door saying “No Girls Allowed.” Naturally, if you see a class full of the opposite gender, you tend to second guess your decision to try it out. Most women also simply believe that it may be an uncomfortable experience therefore they shy away from it. One of the most common reasons for this is that they feel it is too intimate of a sport and prefer to stick with fitness that is more cardio based and end up ignoring self defense altogether.
SELF DEFENSE FOR WOMEN
Of course, self defense is the number one reason I believe women should learn Jiu Jitsu. This art is designed to help weaker or smaller opponents dominate larger ones using minimal strength. This leads me to the question I have been asked often: “Why can’t there just be an all-women’s class?” Firstly, there most definitely can be however most schools don’t have enough women to make a completely separate class. Secondly, if you look at Jiu Jitsu from a strictly a self defense aspect, as a woman, you are most likely taking this to learn how to defend yourself against a male attacker therefore it is extremely important to train with men. Jiu Jitsu teaches you what to do when you are taken to the ground which is unfortunately what happens to most women when being attacked. This is not to scare you, but to help you understand why grappling is such an important skill set to have.
OTHER KEY BENEFITS
Keep in mind, there are other reasons why Jiu Jitsu is amazing for women. It will teach you to love your body for what it can do for you, it builds confidence and self esteem, and it also is an amazing social setting as you become part of the Stasis family. In Jiu Jitsu, you don’t have to ‘dress to impress’ which is such a relief and also an empowering feeling especially since everyone else is there for the same reason; to train and to learn. Lastly, mental training! There is a lot of thought and mindset work that happens through the process of learning Jiu Jitsu and here at Stasis, we add yoga to the mix. Yoga alongside of Jiu Jitsu can really help strengthen your mindset in order to have better mental stability and emotional control.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BEGINNING YOUR SEARCH
In all the years I have been training and teaching, I have seen many women try a class and get addicted to how much fun they have while learning something so vital but also have seen a handful of women leave. There are many factors at play and I wanted to share this in order to help women feel more comfortable and confident in choosing the right academy for them.
1. CLEANLINESS OF THE ACADEMY
If an academy is well maintained, it is confirmation that the owners and staff take cleanliness seriously. There was a time when a few of our team members travelled to California for a tournament and needed to find a local academy in order to put in a couple hours of training to keep our minds fresh and sharp. My wife found us a local school and when we arrived, the pungent smell of sweat and dirt hit us the moment we opened the door. If it was a science fiction movie, you’d have seen green odor lines coming off the mats inside. Speaking of the mats, they looked almost brown in colour from it being disregarded. We definitely didn’t train long, maybe an hour, before we ran out of there as fast as we could in order to take a well-scrubbed shower to make sure we didn’t catch an infection of some sort. The moral of this story is to show you why it is important to look for a well maintained and very clean facility. It makes a huge difference for both men and women.
2. VIBE OF THE ACADEMY
When you first enter a Jiu Jitsu academy, take a moment and see what vibe you get from the look of the space, the way you have been greeted upon walking in as well as the way the students and staff are interacting with each other. That first impression is important. If you immediately get the vibe that the students “train rough all day everyday bro!” then you may want to walk right back out that door. That is not the attitude that martial arts needs. There is a chance that if you get that momentary bad vibe that you may be misinterpreting something but for the most part your gut feeling will be able to tell you if this is a place you want to be. When looking around the academy, a few things to keep in mind is to make sure that it feels like a non-judgmental atmosphere and notice if you feel genuine care from the instructors and owner. Another big thing to note is if the academy has a properly structured Jiu Jitsu program. This shows that the academy most likely, has a genuine care of the students development. If you find out that the curriculum gets updated as new things are learnt, that's even better! That shows that they have the willingness to adapt and adjust for both instructors and students.
3. HOW MEN TRAIN WITH YOU AND OTHER WOMEN
This can be a controversial topic so I am going to be as clear as I can so that it doesn’t spark a fire amongst anyone. As a 5’11 man, weighing 215lbs, I feel I have a responsibility to be a gentleman when rolling with women. This means that I disregard the fact that some people believe “if she wants to train with the guys, I’ll treat her like a guy.” When training with women, I use the correct resistance so that they have a minimized fear of possibly injury but won’t feel that I am going too easy on them. When a man lets them, women get every move without even trying, it is insulting. The women are there to practice, learn and improve so they still need proper resistance. This is why I stress in my teachings the importance of understanding and learning how to use the proper resistance for a variety of training partners.
4. COMPETITION OR HOBBY?
Right now, the craze seems to fall under ‘competition’ however that is not the end all be all so don’t get discouraged when looking around for an academy. There are plenty of schools that facilitate a casual training atmosphere with wonderful training partners. When you start to determine the kind of training you want, you will easily be able to see what sort of Jiu Jitsu environment is needed to get you there.
...you need to be able to judge this for yourself in order to be comfortable with your academy and training partners. Truly figure out what type of person you are and then it will be easier to make decisions from there. Otherwise, you might find yourself mixing in with the wrong group. If you made a mistake in your choice, take it as a learning experience and allow yourself to grow from it, making the changes that are needed going forwards.
It can be a scary decision, especially for women taking on a male dominated sport. I truly hope this list has helped eliminate some of that nervousness for your search and that you keep these tips in mind when you take a visit to your local Jiu Jitsu academy. We would love to see the number of women joining Jiu Jitsu grow and here at Stasis we strive to provide that comfortable, welcoming, family environment for all.
If you have more questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us.