* Article from www.hercanberra.com.au
– OLIVIA PHENGRASMY –
BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU (BJJ). WHAT IS IT YOU ASK? PEOPLE IN PYJAMAS ROLLING AROUND LIKE NINJAS?
No, it’s a form of martial arts – the gentle art they say – and I’m going to give you a women’s perspective on this sport, from an average chick that gave it a try and fell in love with it.
I started my journey back in March with Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Canberra. I was told through the grapevine that Canberra was lucky to have instructor Renato Lima Vieira teach this martial art, and being the unfit person I was, I signed myself and hubby up straight away. He gave me crap, betting I wouldn’t go, but you never bet a strong woman that she won’t do something. I now train six days a week.
In the beginning, it seemed so daunting. Firstly, I couldn’t stop laughing at myself in the Gi (or kimono as some call it). I then had to get over the fact that I had to be in very close contact with men. Lots of men. Rolling around and sweating on me (fully clothed of course in our pyjamas, oh I mean Gi).
It was very different from my Fernwood days. There are no fancy change rooms or blissful music in the background. It’s just a lot of people who leave their ego at the door and have so much respect for each other and the martial art. I’ve also since found out that some of the men were very reluctant to roll with me (a “girl”), and so for whatever reason, that made me feel much better.
What I’ve found to love about the Gi is that once you put it on and step onto the mats, it doesn’t matter what nationality or what age you are or what material possessions you own that make you the important person you feel like you are outside the academy. When you’re there, you all respect each other and the peers with a higher belt than yourself.
I’ve rolled with men who are general managers, police officers, secret security personnel and public servants, all of whom are probably very important outside the gym (even considered heroes), but at the academy, they are just another person going through this journey with me.
Each session we stretch, then the professor lines us up by belt colour, and we bow and start warm ups. This includes running, rolling, push-ups, sit-ups and lots of ninja stuff. Then we get onto the techniques. While I love learning the techniques (which normally then turn into drilling and rolling) I would love even more to do these drills and start rolling with men my size, or even better – women.
What a wonderful day it would be, to walk into an academy full of women.
Strong women. Women with love and respect for each other, who all come together to lift each other up, to train, to get in better shape, have fun, learn some self-defence and get that one step closer to becoming a ninja (ok, maybe not a ninja but we can pretend).
Women who help each other grow, learn from each other’s mistakes and one day kick some butt (all in the name of sport, of course).
So why aren’t there more women learning BJJ? We feel strong, confident and capable, so how can I convince more women to join me and start their own journey?
If I can get you all past your preconceptions of training with men and ensure you that the men in the academy are all respectful – even more so to me because I am a woman and I am smaller, will you join me? Join me to learn a martial art that could one day, help protect or save you? Join me in your weight loss journey and have fun doing it? Overcome your fears of being up close and personal with people of the opposite sex (they don’t bite)?
Let’s change the stereotype of women in BJJ from ‘just pretty girls in Gi’ and show the men that we can do it too – become just as good as them, fully clothed. For any of you girls who might say to yourselves that these techniques don’t work in real life situations, you can have the chance to test this in competition format against women in your weight division or even choose to compete in open weight division.
If competing isn’t your thing, whether it’s intentional or not, you walk with an extra bounce in your step, chin held high and with the confidence of knowing you can handle yourself like the lady boss (queen, let’s say), that you are.
So to my fellow queens, join me in my journey and start your own. I promise it will be so much fun.