Gender and Jiu Jitsu: Helping Men Understand Newbie Women
By Bruce Fergusson
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) but it wasn’t anything like this!
When I began my journey into BJJ, there were few female instructors around me and they all seemed to be men. There were even fewer female students at the academy where I trained.
So, what did I expect?
Well, I expected that I would have to deal with some sort of sexism or misogyny from other male students, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the girls in my class treated me like one of their own and were very supportive of my learning experience. They encouraged me to push myself beyond what I thought was possible. And they weren’t wrong! My confidence grew and so did my skills.
So, how come I never encountered any sexism while training with other males?
Well, it turns out that most of them are just like me…men. Not only do they tend to be masculine, but they’re also probably pretty insecure about being men. That insecurity manifests itself in many ways including a lack of confidence in teaching others how to roll with them.
The truth is that if you train with guys, you’ll get the same results! It doesn’t matter if they’re young or old, strong or weak, smart or dumb, civilized or savage…
Wait a minute?
What’s that you say? You’ve already encountered some sexist men during class?
That’s right! And it can be a real drag in the beginning, but you’ll survive. Trust me!
In fact, dealing with sexist males is part of the initiation into the world of BJJ and MMA. This is one of the main reasons why you should train with males so that you can learn how to deal with this sort of behavior.
Dealing With Insecure Males
The first thing you need to know is that many men are insecure about their own abilities and they tend to compensate for it by picking on others. This BJJ training environment provides an excellent opportunity for insecure men to release some pent up anger without fear of retaliation.
The second thing you need to know is that these men are also a little afraid of you. Not only are you able to defend yourself, but you’re also proving that the opposite gender is better at this art than they thought. This tends to make them a little jealous and react irrationally towards you.
But here’s the thing; they’re only doing this because they WANT you to be better than them and they’re envious of your skills. You understand this and you use it to your advantage.
You ignore them! Let them talk and rant to themselves while you focus on your own training. In time, they’ll either get bored of behaving like that or they’ll eventually start asking you to help them with their techniques (because you’re better than them). Either way, they’ll leave you alone.
Just remember that time is on your side when dealing with insecure males. You’ll always be better than them if you stick with it and that will eventually be apparent to them. Patience young grasshoppa!
So, why should you deal with sexist males as opposed to females who aren’t dicks?
Well, because while most of the male population is insecure, some of the female population is too…well…’bitchy’. You need to have thick skin in this sport because a few girls can be vicious.
Some of them are just jealous of your obvious talents, others have daddy issues and then some are just naturally mean. But as I said, if you deal with sexist males, you’ll be fine. Females can be a little trickier because they’re also sneaky in how they sabotage you.
For example, I had a instructor who would constantly pair me up with males when we were supposed to be practicing escapes.
Sources & references used in this article:
Women fighters as agents of change: A Brazilian jiu jitsu case study from Finland by A Kavoura, M Kokkonen, TV Ryba – Global perspectives on women in …, 2015 – Springer
Implicit transfer of life skills through participation in Brazilian jiu-jitsu by AE Chinkov, NL Holt – Journal of applied sport psychology, 2016 – Taylor & Francis
Towards the “undoing” of gender in mixed-sex martial arts and combat sports by A Channon – Societies, 2014 – mdpi.com
Anxiety and Emotional Intelligence: Comparisons Between Combat Sports, Gender and Levels Using the Trait Meta-Mood Scale and the Inventory of … by MM Fernández, CJ Brito, B Miarka… – Frontiers in …, 2020 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The Grumpy Grappler by BJJ LIFE, BBY JIU-JITSU – philosophycommons.typepad.com