The following article was written by a good friend and long time (female) training partner. She is one of the best Brazilian Jiu jitsu practitioners I have the pleasure of knowing.
She has asked to remain anonymous.
This is her advice for any women looking to start Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
It took me 3 attempts up and down the stairs to the entrance of the gym before I managed to open the door and walk in.
The class had already started, I sniffed in the musty warm air, the smell was a mixture of the odors of bodies and an unnamed disinfectant. I peered over the ledge and could see 30+ gi wearing bodies intertwined.
Nervous sweat, prickles running down the back of my neck and dry mouth. “Oh god”. Trying to not throw up. Suffering from severe social anxiety, claustrophobic, introverted and with a distaste for physical contact this room is exactly what my nightmares are made of.
If you can get this far you, you are already a winner to me.
I made my way to the entrance of the mat, stumbling over the piles of discarded shoes and stood there awkwardly waiting for someone to notice me. “Don’t be too weird. Act casual. You can’t back out now. ” I told myself. I must have looked exactly the opposite of this mantra I was repeating, as one of the colored belts stopped mid roll and looked up at me with a puzzled look on his face.
He asked if I was okay, I managed to blurt out something about wanting to join, he nodded and said someone would be with me soon. I remember looking at the steam coming off his shoulders and thinking he looked like a superhero.
2 years-ish prior: I made the decision to step outside of my comfort zones, well some of them anyway. I wanted to “Be a MMA fighter girl”. Looking back on my mind set always makes me laugh but that is how it began. I set out my very logical path to MMA fighter girl dreams:
- Muay Thai for the punches and kicking stuff
- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the ground stuff
- Heaps of gym and weights
Prior to this my idea of fitness would be the odd yoga class, death metal jumping around gigs but only at the back where no people were, marathons (movie ones not running around ones) and sleeping. I was 49kg and 29 years old. The first 3 months were a blur, I remember crying in my car after each class and it taking me three sessions to understand what pummeling was and how I could make my hands swim under arms like that.
I’ll be the first to admit I am a slow learner.
My standards are so unachievable high I always set myself up for disappointment but that is another story. Big ups to my first instructors, the amount of patience you all had and I’m assuming a fantastic sense of humour to put up with my shit was amazing.
Jiu Jitsu rule #1: Never cry on the mats, cry in your car or in the bathroom after.
Jiu Jitsu rule #2: Never talk about jits *insert Fight Club joke here*
Needless to say I gave the whole “MMA fighter girl thing” a good go but I remember looking through the windows into the gi classes when I was playing punch face and thinking “Why am I in here when I want to be over there?” And let’s face it girls shouldn’t play punch face…*Queue the “oh no she didn’t” haters*
Side note: You can be whatever you want to be, but can we leave the elbows to the face to the boys? 🖤
Fe-male Beginner Essential bag items – This is the chick kit for jits.
If you are a beginner starting you should be making min 2-3 classes a week ideally 3-5. With 1-2 weight training session and recovery stretching / sauna per week.
In saying this, I know that it can be pretty intense coming into a class so another approach would be starting slow and building confidence in a women’s only or a fundamental class once or twice a week.
Yes, it’s hard. If you are kind to yourself, do not give up and keep showing up you will be successful. There is something so perfectly satisfying when you can use controlled violence on someone bigger and stronger than you and slowly with techniques break them down until you get the tap. I wish every small person could experience it. #purefuckinghappiness
Fenom kimonos are legit and cater to women’s bodies, fast deliveries and good quality product. Tatami Estilo Women’s range are one of my favorites but I find I have to shrink in dryer 2-5 times before I get a good fit.
BJJ Hack: If you are light on cash check out your digital buy sell, you can usually always find a second hand gi or ask the club you are going to join if they have any special deals. Go to your local fightwear shop and try on a bunch so you get a good understanding of your size. Make sure the sleeve reach your wrists and do a low squat if it feels like your booty is gonna burst outta there, try the next size up.
Jits peeps are friendly af and you’ll probably find a gi to use until your precious turns up. Gi’s will shrink in the dryer so always buy size up if you are unsure.
Your first white belt
It’s funny how a little bit of material can mean so much, guard this with your life. Always wash it, don’t listen to anyone that tells you otherwise. Gross.
1 pair of leggings
Of course you can rock up in your Lululemon sexy activewear but they will get destroyed and this isn’t Mums and Bubs Yoga coffee group darling.
I’m on my 2nd pair of Scramble grappling spats and on my 6th year of jits. They are pretty worn but have taken a pounding, 10/10 would recommend you can’t go wrong with these bad boys.
BJJ Hack: Any lycra leggings $10 from whatever retail store near you or I heard whispers Ali Express have cheap shit ones too.
I may be biased but my go to top is Sohei. I like the thickness of the top, the fit is perfect and the designs are pretty hawt. They have a good range and have matching leggings on one of their rashies if you are OCD that way.
If you are planning on competing in no-gi, make the investment of getting one in your jiujitsu belt colour, i.e.WHITE.
BJJ Hack: Any lycra activewear top from the Warehouse will do. I prefer long sleeves for cleanliness and less skin on skin touching, stay away from singlets or anything cotton.
1 or 2 high intensity sport bras
Please for the love of Hercules don’t come to class with one of those push up singlet activewear tops it’s disrespectful and will probably make the dude that rolls with you feel super uncomfortable.
BJJ Hack: Nil – Invest
Trust me you will want to train when Aunty Flow is visiting, if anything you’ll want to train harder. Nothing has matched the comfort and trust I feel in these babies.
BJJ Hack: Cheap as online and you aren’t destroying the environment. Or buy from your local organic store and support local. Win/Win
If you are going to be training no-gi which I highly recommend you do, invest in thicker panty liners. Jiu-jitsu is close contact high intensity sport and you will want a little extra protection.
BJJ Hack: Adult Depends liners are half the price to standard women’s liners, these are a legit item for your training bag. It’s weird I know and might be embarrassing going to the supermarket to get them but who cares, get over it. They are a good thickness and will make you feel more at peace. #saynotothecameltoe #lifehacks
Sports undies for training.
Trust me you don’t wanna ruin your $30 lace knickers.
When I first started training I was so paranoid about smelling like a pretty girl so I used to spray men’s deodorant on before class. Don’t do this. Just smell pretty and kick ass.
Keep a shit ton in your bag, hand out to other girls when they need them. Make new friends.
Cuz you never know.
For rubbing off all the makeup BEFORE getting on the mats.
For those 10 steps between the changing room and the mats …you won’t wanna wear your heels trust me.
A small towel
For the tears, sweat or whatever Water bottle
Most clubs will have club clippers but I can’t deal with that. BYO everyday. Cut your nails shorter than you think. They will get destroyed and yes you can deal with having short nails.
Just remember this is hard work, you will learn to love it but you will also hate it too. It will push you out of your comfort zone and crush your ego. It will rebuild you and turn you into a kinder person… Well sometimes anyway, other times you’ll be a massive bitch but that’s okay too.
If I could tell the fresh white belt me one thing it would be to just relax and give it time. Jiu Jitsu is a holistic sport, if you are experiencing troubles in your personal life it will manifest in training and you will learn how to overcome them. It’s cliche to say but jiu jitsu has saved my life but it has and continues to tear down the walls I have put up to hide from the world.
Give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen? Well you could get super badly injured that you can never train again but like that probably won’t happen.
Thanks for reading.