Many years ago my oldest son Micheal asked me, “Mom, what’s the hardest part of rapeling?”
“Why, going over the edge. After that gravity takes over.”
As with anything in life, the most difficult thing is that first big step. The same is true with martial arts. I’ve frequently been told by noobs, that there concerned about martial arts being too hard. Then I tell them that they’ve already done the hardest part. At which point I get a really crazy look. Then I clarify.
“The most difficult part of martial arts is stepping onto the mat that very first time.”
This is an email I received from someone who is considering taking BJJ, but still has some reservations. I thought you guys could help her by reading her survey and then providing support by writing your thoughts and well wishes in the comment section below.
Thank you guys. You are the bestest!
Ran into your post about how to get more women into BJJ and wondered
if you’d be interested in my perspective. I am very interested in
starting BJJ, but haven’t so far. Part of that is purely practical – I
don’t currently have transport to where it is taught. I would like to
think that I will go to a class as soon as the transport is sorted
out, but in truth I don’t know. It’s kind of intimidating.
1) What is the general region of the world in which you reside?
2) How old are you?
3) Do you have a significant other?
4) If you do have a significant other, how do they feel about you
training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
5) How many children do you have? If so, what are their ages?
n/a all three
6) What element of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu do you find interesting?
The way it’s intensely physical while also requiring that you tune in
mentally. I’m one of those people who ‘lives in their head’ so
something that needs me to be very active while keeping me thinking is
appealing and much more likely to keep me interested and motivated
than half an hour on threadmill or something similarly boring.
7) What element of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu do you find offensive?
I don’t know about offensive, having no experience, but offputting:
– a large part of the online BJJ community is rather sexist-macho,
with a whole lot of objectification of women going on. Seeing that
almost everywhere makes me expect it at the school I intend to start
at (which is the only available), and that’s intimidating as hell. I
get that it’s probably not like that at every school (though my local
one is a good candidate for the stereotype sadly) and once you’ve been
somewhere for a while you’ll probably settle in okay, but as out of
shape, complete newbie… man I don’t know if I could keep coming if I
didn’t feel acknowledged as a person rather than as ‘the new chick’. I
am less concerned about physical safety than about emotional safety
(the feeling that your wellbeing matters to your training partners and
instructor, and that it’s safe to be inexperienced, unfit, bad at
something or otherwise feel vulnerable).
– (over) competitiveness in training. I think both of these depend
hugely on school culture.
8) If you only had two hours in a week to train in Brazilian Jiu
Jitsu, what day and time would be most convenient?
a week day evening, I think
9) How much would you pay to train two hours a week in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Maybe at most €50 per month. I think having either a non-contract form
or a very short contract could help getting people to try it – like a
1-month/4 class tryout contract.
10) What would your reasons for training be? (fitness, self-defense, sport, etc)
I specifically enjoy grappling, but I’d also go for having fun,
learning new cool skills, getting fit.
11) If you currently train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, what things about
your school made you stay?
Different take on this question: what could attract me?
– a school that clearly has space for women, both practically (female
changing rooms, showers, etc) and in the atmosphere. No super macho
‘man up’ crap, no smashing people for imaginary ‘points’, no sexist
comments or atmosphere. (and I think this is only really possible if
you have instructors who are leading by example, paying attention and
correcting this stuff when it starts to happen)
– a women’s class… I think I’d start out there and probably very
quickly go to normal classes, but I think it would be helpful to get
over the first intimidation factor/discomfort with all the physical
closeness etc in a class with other women.
– Are there other women training there? White belts only or coloured
belts too? Are they part of the team atmosphere? I think this tends to
be a really important indicator or how welcome women are in any given
group. If school can’t keep its female students, presumably there’s a
reason.. and not just, as Sherdog assumes, that ‘women don’t like BJJ’
– More general, a school that has a specific plan for newbies,
something more than ‘chuck you into a class and get tapped 600 times’.
If a school told me that the first (few) classes they put newbies with
an experienced training partner to go over basics (or whatever other
approach to the first few lessons), that would give me the impression
that they are interested in specifically teaching me, rather than just
hoping I pick up basics by osmosis and at the mercy of a random
training partner. You can’t play until you have some tools to play
12) If you have left a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, what things made
you leave… and what could have been done to keep you there?
13) How were you introduced to BJJ?
I have grappled with friends a few times and really enjoyed it, I’d
like to do it more often and get better.
Hope this is helpful.