Historically BJJ has been a male-dominated sport, though there are more girls and women training now then ever before. However, it can still be very intimidating for a female to walk into a BJJ academy to begin training. While it is true that there’s usually a higher level of intimidation for females beginning BJJ, some of the reasons why both men and women avoid giving it a try are very similar. Below are just a few of the most common excuses, and why you shouldn’t let them stop you!
The intimidation factor. The rise of MMA has been amazing for the popularity of Jiu Jitsu, however it is also responsible for making it an intimidating activity for most people to try. If your exposure to BJJ is from seeing people fighting in a cage, you tend to think that you need to be an MMA savage in order to do it. NOPE! There is an ocean of difference between what you see on TV and what your experience is like when you walk into a high-quality school to begin training. Think of it this way- Tiger Woods dominated the PGA back in the 2000’s. Tons of people picked up golf as a hobby as a result, with no expectation that they had to play or compete on a world-class level in order to enjoy it. And they had a blast learning to play golf. Jiu Jitsu is EXACTLY THE SAME. As a new beginner, you should not be expected to swim in a ‘shark tank’ and get mauled by the more experienced students. AND, you won’t ever have to (unless that’s your goal). It’s a welcoming activity for all genders and ages. Most good quality schools will take awesome care of beginners so they can enjoy their training without being indimidated!
The fitness factor. “I’ll begin taking classes when I’m in better shape.” Wait… you want to take classes to get in shape, but you want to wait until you are in better shape before you start taking classes? See the problem with that circular logic? Everybody starts somewhere, and to be real honest Jiu Jitsu is an awesome exercise program for people that tend to hate exercise programs- simply because if you find it enjoyable you don’t notice that you’re putting in some work here and there. You just realize one day that you are in a lot better shape than you were before (sneaky ninja-style fitness!). Nobody should make you feel bad for your current level of fitness when you start a new activity, especially if that’s why you are there in the first place. After decades of athletic training and countless hours in weights rooms, on mats, and doing other activities, I can tell you that most people want to be supportive and helpful toward beginners. And again, if you’re in a school where that’s not the case- find another one! (I know a place… 😉 )
The unknown factor. Fear of the unknown is hardwired into humans- it what kept us alive from the time of the Croods until present day. If you don’t know what you don’t know, you’ll probably come up with scenarios that are worse than anything you are likely to face in real life. “What if I have to train with a big smelly person I’ve never met?”, “What if I can’t do the techniques?”, “What if I pull a hammy and my arm falls off?”. Most schools offer a free class so you can get an impression of what the classes are like. It’s a great way to get a taste of the school structure and dynamic before dropping any money into a contract. My school gives everybody a 10-day free trial so you can take SEVERAL classes before making a decision about signing up. Ask some of the other beginners what their experience was like when they started. Ask if the school has a written curriculum (that you will have access to if you join). Can you learn from the instructor/ do you feel comfortable with him/her leading the class? If you can take a few classes, you should be able to get a good feel for what a school will be like if you join. Hey maybe even see if they offer free seminars from time to time!
Think of it this way, one year from now, you will be you. But will you be a version of yourself that is capable of defending yourself, be more confident, have made some new friends, and be in better shape? Or will you be the same you that you are today? I have NEVER had someone come into a Jiu Jitsu class as a beginner and say ‘Man, I’m glad I waited so late to start training!’. It’s actually quite the opposite, they wish they had gotten up the courage to try years ago. So what are you