Are you tired of Zumba classes where you feel ridiculous flailing around to top 40 hits? Do you only hit the gym to burn calories and find yourself either dying of boredom on the treadmill for an hour or doing the latest workout some Instagram model promises will get you glutes that salute? Does the thought of walking alone to your car at night terrify you because you don’t think you’d be able to defend yourself against a plastic bag? Well, jiujitsu to the rescue!!! Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) is an incredible martial art from which any person, especially a woman, could benefit. Check out five out of my million reasons why women should train jiujitsu!
Jiujitsu doesn’t focus on aesthetics.
Today, women are bombarded with slogans bragging about calorie burn, toning (god, I hate that word!) of glutes and arms, and how quickly you’ll be bikini ready by just two 20 minute workouts a week. Seriously, my eyes nearly roll out of their sockets each time I see something like that. You won’t find that in BJJ. Jiujitsu builds an appreciation for the things your body can DO rather than the way it can look. When you’re a half hour deep into an open mat and your hair is flying out of its bun, the eyeliner you swore you removed before class is smeared and making you look like the joker, and your gi feels twice as heavy from absorbing all your sweat, the last thing you or anyone is concerned with is looking “cute”. The focus is on keeping your partner from taking your back or FINALLY catching them in that arm bar you’ve been itching to try. You learn to want to improve your skill, not how your arms look in tank tops. In jiujitsu, there are no aesthetic expectations. No one cares what you look like under your gi nor is there a prerequisite look you need before you’re allowed to train. You get out there, drill your heart out, and take another step towards gaining discipline and training your inner warrior.
But it will make you WORK!
The above is NOT to say you can’t get an insane workout with BJJ. During my most intense fitness competition preps, I was weight lifting for about an hour and doing 80 minutes of cardio EACH DAY. Believe me, that doesn’t hold a candle to the exhaustion I feel after a 45 minute open mat or a one hour technique class. After a BJJ class, you’ll find yourself sore in ways you’ve never been before. Your legs will probably burn from trying to keep someone from passing your guard. Your abs will ache from the constant bracing annnd your fingers and hands will be throbbing from all the gripping and collar chokes you’ll try. It’s an odd sense of accomplishment when you’re sore in a new spot the day after class. This swell pride makes you go, “YES! I learned something new and trained so much!”. While few people take on jiujitsu as a form of weight loss, there have been some women who have experienced great results by supplementing an already balanced diet/exercise regimen with BJJ. Julia of jiujiubjj.com is an AMAZING example of someone who started off training jiujitsu as a self-proclaimed overweight woman, and throughout her journey with BJJ, has made incredible progress towards her fitness goals. Weight lifting may have built my muscle, but BJJ is what taught me how to use it!
BJJ can be therapy
This one is a bit hard for me to write about, but I want to share this with other females who may have had to endure the same thing. Sexual abuse as a child left me with PTSD that made me flinch at anyone’s touch. For years, I would hyperventilate while walking alone at night, fearing that every moving shadow was out to hurt me. I never took part in team sports as kid because I couldn’t bear the idea of someone coming near me. Jiujitsu has been HUGE in helping change that. When I first started, I refused to practice with anyone but my boyfriend. Even rolling with other females wasn’t something I was comfortable with. You’d think that such a high contact sport like jiujitsu wouldn’t be a good idea, but I didn’t realize just how much it would help. In a BJJ class, no one is forcing their will upon you. You are ALLOWING them to practice with you. You are permitting that person to take the mount to drill a technique or to submit you. Realizing this is what changed EVERYTHING for me. It became easier to breathe and remain calm if I was getting choked. My head was clearer during take downs and I’ve learned to welcome taps as learning experiences. Being dead awful at BJJ sparked a fire of determination to prove and empower myself. Allowing someone the power to hurt you, but trusting that they won’t and knowing you can do something about it if they do, is one of the scariest, but most liberating things you can do. Overcoming a trauma is never easy, but the empowerment built through BJJ and the therapy that it can bring are priceless. I’ve even known women in my classes who have been able to leave toxic relationships after gaining confidence through BJJ. Knowing they had the tools to defend themselves and building self-worth through new skills gave them the courage to break away. Jiujitsu requires you to be fully present. There is no half-assing a session or letting your mind wander. Needing to be on your A game against an opponent in class makes you leave your problems off the mat. Having that outlet into which to channel emotion is the most therapeutic thing a person can have.
You’ll learn to kick ass and take names
Because no Why Women Should Learn Jiu jitsu list would be complete without good old self-defense. 🙂 It’s an unfortunate truth, but a real one: women are the victims and targets of violence all too often. On average, women tend to be physically smaller than males. Not only does this seemingly make us easier prey, but also instills a sense of fear in a lot of females. I’d bet dollars to donuts that most women have some kind of pepper spray doo-dad on their keys right now. That’s all well and good, but BJJ teaches you to help keep yourself safe using your OWN body and skills. Take this woman who was able to fend off an attacker using self-defense moves she’d learned in ONE class! The average thug on a street is unlikely to have any combat skills and you should be able to give yourself every last advantage you can. Knowing how to defend yourself in an attacker situation is not only invaluable, but potentially lifesaving.
Sadly, women DO NOT get many widely available, fun, constructive, athletic outlets nowadays. Rather than fostering skill, we’re told that movement is only as worthwhile as the lift it can give your bum or the amount of cookies can it “burn” off. Eventually, physical activity becomes a chore and vegging out on the couch to Stranger Things with tortilla chips sounds way more appealing than spending an hour working up a sweat. BJJ is a completely enjoyable way to learn something new and be active while doing it. It’s a welcome break from the monotony of daily life and you walk out of each class with a sense of accomplishment. If nothing else, jiujitsu is just FUN! It’s exhilarating to get on the mat and spend a five minute round playing human chess. Each move is carefully calculated. Each counter is executed with purpose. There is nothing routine or mundane about BJJ. With each session you attend, you grow more, learn more, and enjoy it more.