Can Women Train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu landscape is roughly 85%-90% men. (An ‘official’ stat may exist somewhere, but this percentage is my observation based on our numbers at Tai Kai Academy, tournaments, and my experiences with the sport for over a 25 years.) Our academy actually has more women than most jiu jitsu academies, but more on that later.
Not only CAN women train, but I believe they SHOULD train. Men get so many benefits from their jujitsu training: physical fitness, weight loss, muscle tone, social interaction, friendships, emotional balance, stress relief, healthy hobby, etc. NOT ONE of those benefits is gender specific. Not only these, but I personally believe that there is no better form of practical self defense for women than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The main Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) positions, closed guard, mount, back, side, etc. all take place on the ground with one person dominating the other. When you picture some of the worst case scenarios, or attacks that can happen to women, many of these attacks involve positions that look very similar to jiu jitsu positions, most obviously ‘closed guard.’
I think that is one of the most common reasons I’ve heard from women about why they don’t want to train. While some of them enjoyed the technique, many women don’t like the close contact involved in live rolling. Knowing that the close contact and the realistic situations are what makes the training both ‘real-world’ practical and essential, how do we help women to overcome these barriers?
First, choosing the right jiu-jitsu academy is crucial to your success. It really is the make or break element to a woman’s future in the sport. As with most things, this part of the culture is led by the Instructors at the academy . If he or she is respectful, encouraging, and inclusive of women, most likely, the entire academy will be as well. If the Professor makes you feel like the exception, or awkward, or too fragile, then it’s going to be very difficult to get the most out of your training experience at that academy.
Women’s Only classes are not essential… In fact, in my opinion, women’s only classes can limit the growth of female BJJ practitioners. This may be a little controversial, but I stand by my opinion. . In my experience, separate training has never produced equal results.
Both male and female BJJ practitioners benefit from rolling with a wide variety of training partners. Women, especially those learning for self defense purposes, need to practice technique on men. Men and women, even those who learn and practice in the same academy, roll very differently. It’s important for women to roll with men to understand how their physicality changes the game. For men, it’s important to roll with women because women rely much more heavily on technique, especially at the beginner levels. At the white and blue belt level, women are far more likely to push their ego out of the way, experiment, and try out new styles or the technique of the day in the end of class matches. Everyone has something they can learn from a training partner who approaches the sport from a completely different angle and the only way that learning can happen is when everyone is training together.
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