I am taking a break from narrating my first tournament to bring you a special Brazilian jiu jitsu news update.
Some of you may remember the last time I cheated. I had been practicing jiu jitsu for about 3 ½ months. I was going to an out-of-town conference. I found a gym near my conference and sent them an e-mail request to visit. I thought the gym might raise their eyebrows at an e-mail from a woman. I sent it from FirstInitial LastName, so my sex would not be divulged. I knew, of course, that the recipient would think I was a guy. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t want to reveal my sex. Was it because I was afraid they would reject me? Was it my own feelings about being a woman in a male-dominated sport? For whatever reason, I went to the gym, eyebrows were raised, but in the end everything worked out very well.
Fast forward to August. Shark Girl is vacationing. I have been without jiu jitsu for almost a week. I found a place near my rental that has BJJ classes. I e-mailed them and asked if I could visit. This time, feeling confident that I have some jits cred (heck, I’ve competed!) I proudly announced my femaledom. Their BJJ classes were listed as men’s, but they had other women’s martial arts classes. I asked if it would be possible to visit, and if it wasn’t, could they recommend a place nearby.
I received no response. I waited three or four days. I decided to call. No answer. I left a message. I said I would call back. Tonight, I called and here’s what happened.
“Hello, Mixed Martial Arts School, Guy speaking.”
“Hi. I left a message yesterday about your classes.”
“Oh, yeah. To be honest, where do you train? We don’t really train women here.”
“Yeah, there’s no interest. We haven’t had any interest from women.”
“Yeah, and we have, like, classes every day.”
“Well, I guess I was the first woman at my gym. I’m comfortable training with men. I noticed that it says you train only gi. Is that true even in summer? I only brought stuff for nogi.”
“Yep, only gi.”
“Okay, well could you recommend a place nearby that would be able to accommodate me?”
“Hmmm . . . there’s a place [too far away] . . .”
“Okay, thank you.”
I am going back and forth in my head about how I feel about this.
Should I feel:
· Annoyed that he didn’t take a request from a female seriously
· Pissed that he doubted my jiu jitsu commitment
· Upset at a missed opportunity to train
· Disappointed that I didn’t push further; he could see that women can really like BJJ
· Cowardly for giving him an out with the gi
· Relieved—I dodged a bullet; obviously women aren’t welcome there for BJJ
· Other: ?
I suppose the answer is that I should feel what I do feel, and that is all of the above. Plus I feel a little dirty. In his tone of voice there was something that said it was wrong for me to want to train. We haven’t had any interest from women. (Ummm . . . you’re getting interest now, Guy.) It was like he thought I had some creepy ulterior motive. Like I got my kicks from having strange men in my guard. Like I was some kind of deviant.
Sigh. This will be a good time to rest my joints and tendons. But the truth is, I don’t want to.