Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Stranger Between My Legs*


 Before starting BJJ, many women worry about having a strange man between their legs. Will it feel awkward? Will it feel sexy? Will he get aroused? How can a nice girl put herself in that position with so many different men on one night? And then do it over and over again?
When I tell other people I practice BJJ, the first thing they ask is, “What’s that?” When they find out, they usually screw their face up into a twisted knot. You do what? With whom? Where? It’s like I said that I eat newborn kittens for breakfast. For some reason, putting men between your legs in order to control their bodies and lock their joints is not as socially acceptable as one might think.
I’m not normally shy about my body. Never really was. I’m no exhibitionist, but as a long-time exerciser, I have learned to feel comfortable with the parts I have, to see them as tools. I have two arms, two legs, like most people. I use them to run and cook and do all sorts of neat stuff. I didn’t think I’d have trouble adjusting to The Stranger Between My Legs. But I knew there would be an adjustment period, and worried about how the men would adjust, too.
I looked to the Internet to help me feel more comfortable with this potential awkwardness. In my search, I found this great on-line community of femme fatales. Three bloggers in particular helped me work through this. Leslie helped me feel comfortable being a woman in jiu jitsu. Georgette helped me see that a woman could appreciate the sport. Slideyfoot showed me that guys get over it. They roll with women and take them seriously.
Armed with this assurance, I dove into BJJ. And guess what? For the most part, no awkwardness. In fact, I am surprised at how completely The Stranger Between My Legs becomes just a sparring partner. It’s the closeness of grappling. We are so close to each other’s bodies that our partner’s body feels like an extension of our own.
Sometimes we don’t talk to each other, we just use our bodies. For example, you’re in the heat of grappling, and you get too close to the wall. Does your partner say, “Hey, you’re gonna crack your head. Let’s move!”? Or does he just drag you by the feet away from the wall? When you’re repping a move and you need your partner in your guard, do you say for the 10th time, “Would you please get in my guard?” Or do you just grab him with your legs and pull him toward you? These are very intimate movements. How quickly our bodies become familiar tools to our partners. How fast is the transition from Stranger to Partner. Socially acceptable? I don’t know. But it sure is a lot of fun.

***

I got some great rolling tonight with another white belt. He’s on the small side so my sweeps actually have a chance of working. Our skill levels are about the same so it’s a real challenge and I actually have a chance of submitting. The New Girls came again. Everything worked out fine. There were only two of them so they partnered up. 

* Wish I could take credit for this phrase, but it's all Georgette. Thanks, gal!

19 comments:

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA :)

    Love you girl. I'm tickled I played any part in making another femme get more fatale!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. ; )

    Oh, you created a MONSTER!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. great post!! it's weird to think about how nonchalante we are about things like pulling someone into your guard and i never even though about how i'm always getting dragged back into the middle of the mat if we're close to the wall or the edge. I've trained for a bit now and sometimes i think i loose sight of the ways of human nature and societal expectations instead of being understanding when a married man is hesitant to roll with me I always attack with the "WTF is your problem!!" mentality and even though it sounds crazy that can be said with many situations, granted at our gym they always come around it's just that it takes time to adjust to the needs of bjj..
    ..oh goodness here i go ranting again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @shakiaharris: ''when a married man is hesitant to roll with me I always attack with the "WTF is your problem!!" mentality''


      don't do that. that seems completely classless of you. the problem is obvious. they don't want to roll with you. its that simple, (its not just the ones that are married) And if you can't accept that then dear i say ''WTF is YOUR problem?!

      Delete
  4. You're right...I rarely think that a man might have a problem rolling because he's married. But I know some do. I guess I think that because I'm married and my husband's okay with it, then why wouldn't they all be? Plus I know I'm not out to man-steal or anything. For me personally, I would have a harder time doing bjj with men if I weren't married.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's interesting. I've heard that Rickson's academy for ages was no-women-allowed on the say-so of his wife (they're now divorced)...

    I'm married, but I don't think it makes any difference to my jiu jitsu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Georgette: ''I'm married, but I don't think it makes any difference to my jiu jitsu''

      trust me it does, you'll just have to wait to find out once what is different from before.

      Delete
  6. Wow--a jealous wife! Perhaps she had reason to worry and that's why they're EX.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ''Wow--a jealous wife! Perhaps she had reason to worry and that's why they're EX.''

      Nope. Doubt it. don't make excuses for her.

      Delete
  7. As a fair noobie (4 months) I literally, have never even thought about anything sexual when rolling. I will admit to being overly careful (and being choked for it) when rolling with a lady. However as a young gent it could be that that i feel less cultural stigma about mixed sparring/practicing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for your comments, Anon, and congrats on four months. I'm up to about 6 now. I am glad that you use "caution" while rolling with the ladies . . . I'm working on my next post right now which is about how I feel some noob guys, (tho they are twice my size), since I have a bit more experience than they do, are so fearful that the tiny, old woman will submit their masculine butt that they roll extra spazzy with me. This has led to injury on my part and feelings of guilt on theirs. Thanks for reading. : )

    ReplyDelete
  9. I get turned on when I roll with women and men. How do I hide this? Is this a problem?

    ReplyDelete
  10. @ anon - wear a cup if you are a guy. If you are a girl, they are taking it way too easy on you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was a hilarious post. It is a shocker at first, but only the first time you are with a given partner, or a sudden "whee, whoa" when some skin shows that shouldn't be showing--you do get used to every particular partner "as a person" in the immediate physical sense, but they are just warm bodies. I have never had a sexual thought while grappling. I am towards the end of a "period of beginner shock", which is still there, but fading. Last time, someone's wife came by, but didn't come into the building, she kind of circled around outside and scowled in periodically for some reason, I don't think she was necessarily checking out the "female her guy was rolling with". I would feel kind of bad if I thought I was scaring anyone off by my mere presence as a female. I get that social reaction ("you do WHAT, how CAN you") as well, one of the more difficult challenges to be sure. In fact, outside the possibility of getting a serious injury, I would say the isolating social aspects, the "weird or suspect for doing it" attitudes and "consolation rolling" stuff (aka "feeling like the fat kid in gym class") are the only things that dampen my enthusiasm.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Anon: Yeah, it's hard to talk about it with non-grapplers. I suppose I could feel the same way, though, if I didn't know anything about it. Sometimes if I'm sitting out a round and watching, I think, "That's what I do? Nah...that's not me." Then I roll and it's so much fun.

    HATE the consolation roll. Did a post on that early on, and 9 mos. in I still feel that way. Now I just immediately go to the side and wait for an invitation. I know, weak, especially after almost a year. If the other girls are free I approach them, but rarely another guy unless he's sidelined with me and looks like he might want to go.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another way to get more mat time with the guys I think is not to ask them to roll but rather to "teach you something". Especially when they are tired and might not want to look like they are just lying around being tired, it helps everyone be active but not full-on if that's a good mode to be in at the time. "Would you show me such and such?" And sometimes they are happy to do that. You can take it from there and "scrounge" some learning action in the form of "what if I did this then and you did THAT". I bring my notes along and I look at those, being the nerdy student. That seems to make it easier, it takes that particular one-on-one "I choose you!" vibe out of it that they maybe do not like, LOL.

    Still, it is hard, you can see on their faces that a lot of them really just do not want to roll with girls. I want to learn this, but I hate feeling like I am creating a problem with my presence, so...we shall see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ''but I hate feeling like I am creating a problem with my presence''

      oh please! don't act all innocent. you know guys don't like rolling with girls, they only do it if they have to or some for some sexual thrill. don't force guys to spar, because you wouldn't want to be forced to spar with certain guys thats for sure.


      ''Another way to get more mat time with the guys I think is not to ask them to roll but rather to "teach you something"

      LOL no that doesn't work.....you girls are so clueless its hilarious.

      Delete
    2. Perhaps. However, I have head from more than one male partner that they actually prefer rolling with women because the roll is more technical and less strength-driven. Now, maybe you would say they are all actually pervs covering up their perviness with the sheepswool of "learnin." Maybe. But, maybe not. Everyone is different. In the end, I am not a mind reader and I don't have time to delve into the recesses of each person's psyche to see if they are lying. I have to go with face value, unless there is evidence otherwise. If someone is an overt perv (and I've never encountered this in all my years and various gyms), well, that's another story.
      And thanks for calling me clueless. sniff sniff.

      Delete
  14. That is a great way. I feel like guys might not want to roll with me for two reasons: 1) if they're really good, it's not the workout/challenge they're looking for and 2) if they're on the newer side, they re afraid I'll actually tap them and, oh, the shame. Your way takes all that out of it. They become the "expert" and are publicly asked for advice. Great way to go about it. Love the nerd notes!

    ReplyDelete