Monday, March 14, 2011

I Show Up

Husband is making me post this. Husband said I had to because there are other women out there who need to know how long it will take before they feel comfortable. There are still times when I’m self-conscious because I’m the only girl. But I don’t feel like an outsider anymore.

Saturday afternoon after class I came home and said, “I feel like I’m a real class member.”
            “What do you mean by that?” Husband said.
            “Well, I don’t feel like a total loser, like people don’t want to roll with me anymore. I don’t feel like the ‘new girl’ that everyone’s waiting to see how long she’ll last.”
            “That’s something,” he said.

When I started BJJ, Husband reminded me that to gain respect, you gotta show up. If you show up and make it important to you, people respect that. So, I’ve been showing up. I’ve been showing up for 3 ½ months. I finally feel comfortable most of the time—like I’m now a member of the group. I know that to get here, I’ve had to show up consistently and practice hard. I’ve battled muscle pulls and kidney stones and still showed up. I’ve had to be tough, not sensitive. I’ve had to be fierce, not timid. I’ve also had to be serious, but not too serious. After all, it’s so much fun.
I’m sure there are some places where women never feel accepted, or some women who felt at home right away. Do men feel like it takes some time to earn their place? I’d love to hear how long it took before you were comfortable at your gym.


  1. I've trained at eight different schools now, and each time it has taken a little while to settle in: I'd guess a month at most. Initially I'll talk to whoever I'm drilling with, gradually speaking to more and more people as I train with an increasing proportion of the school.

    This is made easier for me if the school is part of the Roger Gracie or Gracie Barra team, particularly as I'll sometimes know the instructor from elsewhere (e.g., I already knew my current instructor Kev from seeing him on the mats at RGA HQ).

    I also think it is possibly easier as a blue or purple belt than a white belt, because then you sort of have an automatic entry to speak to your peers, which tends to be a smaller group than white belts.

    You've also already 'proved yourself' to an extent by having a rank higher than white, although on the other hand, it means at a new school people want to see if you deserve it.

    I've not yet travelled to a new school with my purple belt, so given the expectations people have of that rank, could be interesting. Possibly painful too, especially if there is a beefy white or blue belt looking to squash the small purple. ;)

    Having said all that, I also think that BJJ is a very inclusive, social sport. Dropping in to a new place, I've never found it awkward to start up a conversation (which is a big thing for me, as I'm fairly introverted). People are always keen to ask about your training and welcome you to their school.

  2. I was joking with a friend the other day about how gyms can be a little like the mafia. You have to prove yourself to become accepted, but once you are in, you are in for good. And I think as a woman we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves in the BJJ world as it primarily belongs to the men folk. Though, I will say once the initial acceptance happens women gain respect more quickly then the guys do.. or at least, that seems to be the case in our gym. With all the girls, once they have proven their dedication, it is almost instant little sister-esque status. Where as guys come in and out like a revolving door, so it takes a bit more time for them to stand out among the crowd.

    Anyway that is awesome! Yay for feeling accepted!

  3. It definitely takes guys a while before feeling accepted! I remember butterflies in my stomach for a while whenever I'd arrive for class after I moved to San Diego.

  4. @slidey: "Your Purpleness" will just have to armbar the arrogance out of those beefy dudes!

    @Stephanie: heh! Cute mafia analogy! So, that's what Al Pacino was doing at my gym! Thanks for the support.

    @Caleb: Thanks for your comments. Do you remember how long it took before you felt like you belonged? Did you practice jiu jitsu beforehand?

  5. Heh - unfortunately, there weren't any instructions on how to engage magic armbarring power in my purple belt user manual. I'll just have to rely on my usual tactic with beefy guys: curl up into a tight ball under side control and hope they don't hurt me. ;p


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