I attended the women’s class Friday night. There were five women to start. Every time I would look up another woman would emerge and change from her work clothes into a gi. I finally lost count of the women training. There are about four of us now with about two years of experience each. Several of the other women have been training since the program started in October 2010. They’ve got some skills now. I no longer worry about hurting them or scaring them off. The last I heard the count was 15 or more women. I know of at least one more that will start training this month. There was another woman sitting on the bench watching the class. She seemed pretty disinterested at first. Slowly she became drawn in. She started watching with more intent. At some point she stood up and moved closer to the mat. While I was rolling I saw her standing by the edge of the mat. I could see excitement in her eyes and barely contained enthusiasm in her posture. She wanted to play, too. She’ll be on the mat next month. I’m sure of it. Jeff Messina has done an incredible job, building the women’s program. It’s been pretty amazing watching it develop. At the end of class I sat in the corner and stretched out. It’s not that I wanted or needed to stretch. I wanted to watch everyone roll and drink in the atmosphere.
The kids were in the cage laughing. (I call it the coolest playpen in the world.) The men were listening to music during the open mat. The women’s faces were glowing. They were happy. They have accomplished something that makes them feel confident, strong and beautiful. Then slowly, I became aware that the women’s class had spilled over into the men’s open mat. It was like a huge stone wall had quietly crumbled into nothingness. The women were rolling with the men. Some of the couples were rolling together. One of the teenagers was rolling with her older brother. (Brother and sister getting along! A miracle? No, just BJJ.) Toward the very end a few of the kids had escaped the cage and were rolling with their mom or dad. It was an incredible thing to watch. It felt good to be there.