There are a ton of sites that list various reasons why women should learn BJJ. I’ve listed some of my favorites at the bottom of this post because they’re a great reference for any woman interested in starting BJJ classes.
There are also another ton of posts that list why women actually learn BJJ. Subtly different but equally important, these unique stories of women who have become loyal supporters and high-level practitioners serve as motivation and encouragement for other women in BJJ.
But as great as these posts are, it’s always bothered me that they are always titled with some variation of the question, “Why should women learn BJJ?”
It seems like a valid question but what it’s always sounded like to me is a response to an unspoken, and thus supposedly understood, stance that women shouldn’t learn BJJ.
And that, my friends, is BS.
It shouldn’t matter why anyone decides to learn BJJ. That reason is your own and no one has the right to question it. What matters most is how you learn BJJ.
There is no I in BJJ*
I’m not talking about learning styles, like being a visual learner or a hands-on learner, etc. What I mean by “how you learn BJJ” is the way you approach the art.
You can have aspirations to be the world champion but if you focus your learning only on yourself and ignore things like being a good training partner (both in words and action), it will hurt not only your learning, but also the learning of your fellow teammates.
And for me, hurting your teammates is the worst thing you can do in BJJ.
Because a BJJ practitioner must always remember that you can’t learn BJJ by yourself.
Sure, there are videos online and thousands of people who practice in their garage but if you are a toxic presence on or off the mats, no one is going to want to help you learn – no one is going to want to train with you.
The beauty of this art is found in the interaction of different people and their different styles. BJJ is young but constantly evolving because these spontaneous combinations are what give birth to new ideas and techniques.
In BJJ, the possibilities are limitless.
So who are we to limit who or why someone should or should not learn BJJ?
Because BJJ requires a partner and to share physical closeness with that partner, the most important thing when learning BJJ is not why but how practitioners learn and train with each other.
And that “how” should be centered in respect and appreciation for the art, teammates, and last but not least, yourself.
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Links for women thinking about practicing BJJ (which may also be interesting for anyone else interested in BJJ):
- A compilation of responses to the question “Why Should Women Grapple?” shared by Stephen Kesting
- Georgette’s “Why women (and men) should train Brazilian Jiujitsu“
- Leah’s unconventional take: “Why I Think All Women Should Do BJJ: and Why I NEVER Recommend It“
- And all of the posts on BJJ Grrl’s “women” page
* Yes, I know there are in fact four I’s in Brazilian Jiujitsu. But actually, when using the correct spelling of the Japanese kanji characters 柔術, jujutsu contains no I’s. Interesting, right? For more, see my on-going series “BJJ-J: Learning Japanese Through BJJ,” which covers Japanese words and phrases I’ve encountered while training and living in Japan.
To read more about the reasons why BJJ is spelled the way it is, read All JuJitsu’s informative post, “Is Japanese Jujutsu Different from Jujitsu or Jiu Jitsu?”.