You’ve seen the Instagram posts. Various podium photos from competitions have popped up on your Facebook feed and once again, you hear that familiar voice: I’d love to try BJJ.
This positive thought is often fleeting as self-doubt creeps in and you question whether you could be anywhere near as successful as the familiar faces continually making waves on the BJJ scene.
It’s easy to forget that the master was once a beginner. The women–and men–you look up to all once had a white belt tied (often badly) around their waist and no doubt face planted the floor on more than one occasion.
With the New Year signifying a fresh start, I encourage you to try BJJ! Here are some top tips for Women looking to start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!
Finding a Good Academy
Without a doubt, this is one of the most crucial factors to bear in mind. An academy should feel welcoming and treat all members with respect.
While it is natural to initially feel anxious, if this doesn’t subside because of the conduct of the instructor or the other members, this isn’t the academy for you. This by no means indicates that you’re not cut out for BJJ – you simply need to find a different school where you will thrive.
So how do you go about finding one?
Don’t just rely on Google Maps to find out which academy is closest to you. Connect with others through social media platforms, read online reviews and always inquire about attending a free trial class.
Some schools will even grant you an entire week of free sessions so you can really get the feel of the club before signing up.
A good relationship with your teammates and instructor is an absolute must. It might take you a while to find an academy that feels like home, but don’t give up.
You’ve found an academy that looks promising and are preparing for your first class. Expected etiquette varies across different clubs, but there are some general practices that you should follow to ensure your classes run smoothly.
- Avoid wearing make-up. Quality BJJ uniforms (called Gis or Kimonos) are not cheaply replaced. Staining your training partners’ apparel with make-up rarely goes down well.
Most people wash their Gis on a low temperature to avoid shrinkage and cosmetic stains don’t always come out easily.
- Ensure to cut your fingers and toenails short to avoid scratching your teammates. False nails are inappropriate for the same reason.
Short nails also prevent the likelihood of them bending backwards when gripping the gi, which can be painful.
- Never, ever wear shoes on the mats! It can transfer the bacteria from the soles onto the mats, which might lead to skin infections as people train barefoot.
Many fighters pack a pair of flip-flops in their training bag so they can easily get on and off the mats.
As mentioned above, the conduct expected by members differs depending on the academy. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to observe what others are doing in the class and follow their lead.
Introduce yourself, explain you’re new to BJJ and you’ll find that people will help you. They also had to step on the mats for the very first time and will understand your apprehension.
At the end of the class, it’s standard to thank the instructor and your teammates.
This is sometimes done by lining up in belt order and shaking each other's hands as a mark of gratitude and respect and sometimes as a more informal gesture of words. Either way, be sure to express gratitude to your coaches and training partners.
BJJ – Just for Men?
Absolutely not! While there are unquestionably more males than females practising the art, the idea of BJJ is that a smaller opponent can dominate a larger individual using technique.
While a combination of technique and strength is helpful, don’t be discouraged if you only weigh 50kg.
Women’s BJJ is growing and there are a wide range of weight categories to accommodate females who wish to compete, and you will be matched against other women in the same weight category.
In the gym, this is more challenging because of the genetic make-up of the male anatomy. With very few exceptions, men are stronger and more powerful than women, which can prove frustrating.
That said, never hesitate to politely tell your training partners if they’re applying too much pressure or causing you discomfort.
Once you get used to rolling with heavier people, you’ll be amazed at the techniques you can execute when fighting someone your own weight.
As your BJJ progresses, attending open mats (sparring sessions) specifically for women will enable you to fight females of a similar size.
There are several BJJ groups on Facebook that advertise these and are well worth visiting if you get the opportunity to do so.
A Final Word…
I often hear the following comment from women: I’d love to train BJJ but I need to get in shape first. Waiting until you’re in shape before beginning Jiu Jitsu training is akin to a child putting off starting school until they’re clever enough.
If you want to get in shape, increase your self-confidence and learn to defend yourself, then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the martial art for you.
As Lewis Carroll succinctly comments: In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. I guarantee that your only regret related to BJJ will be that you didn’t start earlier.
A big thankyou to the author Teanna Taylor! Be sure to follow her on Instagram to keep up to date with everything she's doing.
And a massive thank you to you, the reader.
Take care and roll smooth.
The Smoothflo Fightwear Company
P.S Don't forget to stop by the store!