An Open Letter to The New Jiu-Jitsu Girl

Two girls rolling BJJ
Image: Anett Meszaros

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable or intimidated the first time you step take a Jiu-Jitsu class, just as long as you don’t quit…. you owe it to yourself to push through he fear and gain all the lifelong benefits.

This isn’t going to be easy. As the new girl stepping onto the BJJ mats for the first time, I’m sure you have realized that unless you’re doing a women’s only class, you’re one of the only girls (if not the only one). It goes without saying that the nervousness and intimidation you’re feeling are normal. After all, who wouldn’t feel a little uncomfortable in this kind of situation? Stop putting yourself down, and don’t let fear stop you from coming back to train. This isn’t going to be easy, but I promise that it’s worth it!

Techniques over strength

The people in this room are going to quickly become family. You’ll find yourself surrounded by people who support you both on and off the mats… this will take some time, but it will come. Make sure you respect everyone, even if they roll a little harder than you’re expecting. These guys will make you better and faster because you’re going to be forced to rely mainly on your technique instead of strength which helps you understand each Jiu-Jitsu technique on a deeper level.

 White belt awareness

You need to be aware of some things and others that you should keep in mind. The first is that your first few rolls with the guys may be a little weird for a couple of reasons. The people in your gym aren’t going to know how much pressure you can take or whether you feel uncomfortable. Always communicate with your partner, so they know if they need to ease up a little or if they’re able to go a little harder. Communication is key!

You can expect most men to go super easy in fear of hurting you. Not necessarily because they think you’re sensitive, but because, well, they don’t want to hurt you, obviously, but also because nobody in the gym wants to be known as “that guy.” Taking a look on the other side, you need to be very aware of your body. As a white belt, most will understand that you don’t know anything yet and maybe a little flimsy. However, being spazzy and rolling like you’re trying to prove a point is only going to get someone bumped or bruised. Nobody wants to be kicked or punched in the head, whether it’s intentional or not. So, try to be aware of flying limbs.

No dumb questions, ask!

Another essential thing to keep in mind is that there are no dumb questions. Professors and students notice when people are asking questions. If you don’t fully understand the technique they’re showing or why they’re doing it, ask! There’s no harm in trying to gain more knowledge. The better you understand the moves you’re doing, the better you will be able to execute them during training. With this being said, make sure you try the technique a couple of times before drilling your coach with questions. In the end, they do have other people that need help, so ask your partner. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn by just simply trying out the technique shown.

Explore in Jiu-Jitsu

The last thing that I’d like you to remember is that, well… you suck at the moment. Yes, you read that right, and yes, I said it. Does this mean that there’s anything wrong with this? Absolutely not! No one in the room will expect you to understand or remember anything you’ve learned for the first few classes and none of us start out like a pro; I certainly didn’t. You’re brand new, and you’re far from having any sort of grappling game. Explore all positions and try as many new things as possible, even if you think you look stupid doing them. This is how you learn what works best for you according to your body. Don’t be shy; just be careful and make sure you have fun.

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