Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ground Skill Is The Equalizer

"I don't want to get choked."
"The arm locks scare me."
"The boys will just overpower me."
"I'll just get smashed in to the ground."
"I don't want to do all of that... touching."

These are the excuses I hear from women on the subject of taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. I have to admit that they are all valid concerns. However the thread running through all of the above excuses, and the other ones that you hear is always: "I am afraid of the great strength difference between men and women." Well... Except for the touching ones... That we can address later.

I am all about truth here, so let us face the truth. As a woman, going in to a BJJ class you will be easily overpowered by the men in the class. They will out weigh you by 20lbs to 100lbs. Even if you find a man your own weight in the class, he is going to be stronger than you are. That is the way the sexes are built, and there is nothing you can do about that. The only thing you can change is your attitude and your mind set.

I have always been a relatively large man. I have never weighed less than 175lbs in my adult life. Most of my adult life I have weighed between 190lbs and 210lbs. However I have had women, who weigh less than 110lbs, tap me out, pass my guard, and render my pin positions worthless. How were they able to do this? Perfect technique.
Men are at an inherent mental disadvantage when it comes to technique. Their entire lives men, especially large men, have used their size and strength to overcome physical challenges. It is ingrained in their psyche that if they can't do something the reason is that they are not strong enough, or the other person was too strong for them to succeed. Therefore, when they are working on something that is technique centric, like golf, or BJJ, it takes quite a while for them to come around to the thinking that they can't just muscle their way to success.
Women, on the other hand, grasp technique centric tasks very quickly. Quite unlike the men, women understand that there are many ways to skin a cat, not just bash away at it.
I have always been amazed at how women, using perfect technique, overcome larger and much stronger male opponents. If they go in to their training looking for the best technique, they always seem to come out on top.

However, in BJJ class, what happens when the technically perfect woman runs in to the technically perfect man? Size and strength win again. With all training being equal, the woman looses. Women must accept this as truth, and work to perfect strategy and deception to prevail against an equally proficient male opponent.

What about all of the touching, and the possibility of injury? Well... If you are hung up on this there is little that can be done.
There is the possibility of injury in any athletic setting, especially in Martial Arts. In my experience, purely anecdotal evidence, I have seen more people injured kickboxing and doing Tae Kwon Do than I have ever seen injured doing BJJ.
With the touching aspect and the fear of one of your training partners injuring you, it comes down to one thing... Trust. Do you trust the other members of your gym? If not, why are you training there? Find a place where you can trust the people you train with. Nobody, including the men, want to get an injury. It is up to you to tap out at any point where you feel uncomfortable, or if you feel you are in danger of injury. There is no shame it tapping. I do it all of the time.
After a while you know what is simply uncomfortable (pain), and what can cause an injury. In the beginning, I tapped to side control. Don't worry if you do to.
Touching... Again it comes down to trust. Everybody is there to learn Jiu Jitsu, not to grope anybody or to get a cheap thrill. Know that the vast majority of the men working out with you in class are not thinking of you in a sexual way. They are trying to practice their BJJ. If you feel that one of the guys IS trying to touch you inappropriately, tell the instructor or one of the senior students IMMEDIATELY. I, and every single guy I know who have women in their classes, would never allow this kind of thing to stand, ever. It comes down to having respect for everyone in the class. If you don't think that the people in your gym would give you respect, don't train there. Find a place that will.

Just for fun, here is a video of a woman versus a man in a grappling event. The woman uses perfect technique to choke her opponent completely out. It is a thing of utter awesomeness!!

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