Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is such a massive love of mine. I have been so busy doing it, I haven’t blogged about it and that’s just not like me.
I often talk to my clients about how girls are labelled from a very early age as being ‘good at sports’ or ‘bad at sports’. I was certainly identified as the latter and the label stuck with me into later life. Particularly for girls, once you’re labelled as being not sporty at school, the opportunity to play sports may not arise again until University, where the level is higher and opportunity for a spot on a team smaller.
Taking part in sport is something I feel should be available to all young girls and women. The physical and psychological benefits of being successful in a physical endeavor, really does change how people see themselves and often the success starts seeping into the other aspects of their lives. However, age, fitness levels and lack of confidence can all play a part in why people who aren’t naturally athletic, decide that they never can be.
Luckily in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, you will have none of these problems.
For the uninitiated Brazillian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ is a ground based martial art. It is often referred to as human chess but reminds me a lot of cats cradle, as you are constantly finding yourself in awkward positions that you need to find your way out of (but that may just be me lol) The aim is to submit your opponent but you can win by collecting points as well.
There are loads of blogs out there about why women should train BJJ. Often they focus on the self-defence element and while important and true, it wasn’t the reason why I started this sport so I am not going to focus on it here. Instead this is specifically aimed at those women who are a bit reticent about taking up a martial art.
1: Time, hard work, determination and the will to never quit will always match or beat ‘natural talent’ in the end. In Jiu Jitsu, everyone cultivates their own game over time. Your game is made of your strengths so in BJJ, the saying ‘Talent is a pursued interest and anything you are willing to practise, you can do’ has never been truer.
2: It is team sport but you fight on your own. You know that feeling of giving the ball away in football or dropping the baton in a relay and letting the side down? Well, that doesn’t exist in BJJ. When you fail, you only really fail yourself and it is nothing a tub of ice cream and a silent sob won’t mend.
3: Being heavy is no longer a stigma, it can be a strength.
4: Age is no problem. EVERYONE is welcome on the mats.
5: Even sporty people don’t have a clue what they are doing when they start. Your lack of athleticism, will go unnoticed as you all try to figure out what a ‘guard’ actually is.
6: Practicing Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and being strong of mind are synonymous. As a white belt, everyone has something to teach you, but even as you go up the ranks there are always lessons to learn. In my opinion, this cultivates a community where people are listening to learn, not to just respond. This can translate into every area of your life and build your character as you build your game.
7: In BJJ there is no time for vanity. This is a sport where you will find yourself truly pay attention to what your body can do rather than what it looks like. That said, I defy anyone to find an exercise where you sweat as much in an hour.
8: BJJ will also make you see where your body is weak. Because you are addicted to this sport, you will find yourself wanting to do more exercise and eat better to make sure your body is the best it can be, so you can be the best you can be. There is no doubt, that you will become a fitter and healthier version of yourself.
9: You get to be part of a team and a wider community that all have the same determination to better themselves as you do.
10: You will realise that you can win against the odds. Make no mistake, being a women in this sport is not easy. The majority of your sparring partners will be men. You will feel broken, sore and frustrated when you feel that you can’t see any progress. You will fail more times than you succeed and you will find your mind defaulting to thinking about BJJ, which makes you feel somewhere between in love and crazy. But I promise you the journey is very fun and addicting and despite the challenge, there is nothing stopping you from being great at this martial art, except you.
If you want to try Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, I wholeheartedly advise you to find out where your local class is now.
If you are based in London or you are already Gymbox Member, come down and visit us on the mats at RGA Gymbox Farringdon. Or keep an eye on the RGA Gymbox website for the launch of our brand new Tuesday night ladies only class.
Or if you happen to be closer to Stevenage, check out The Basement Martial Arts, for a family friendly club with an exceptional standard of teaching.
I hope to meet you all soon, just don’t beat me up too badly, ok??