One of the best things about jiu jistu is that it allows you for a few moments to forget everything beyond the person in front of you and the mats below you.
When there’s someone before you that’s constantly trying to take your arm for a submission, it makes you forget what language you speak, what you’ve been through in life, and even what you had for breakfast.
The list could go on and on. But for me, one of the best things it allows you to forget is always going to be your gender.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman. I think it’s the best deal we can get in life. But as a woman, training in jiu jitsu is easily one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made, especially considering how out of my comfort zone it was.
I was a sickly, shy little girl with no sports experience whatsoever. Yet, one day I found myself in a gi and on the mats, saying hello to a bunch of people I had never met before. Why? Because all my life I thought I’d never understand what was so great about sports, until one day I got a taste of jiu jitsu in a PE class.
It just felt so different from volleyball, badminton, even muay thai or any of the other sports introduced to us girls in PE. Something about the fact that a tiny little guy can win over a huge monster by just choking him out fascinated me like nothing ever did.
For the first time I saw a sport where the guy who can punch harder doesn’t win, where the guy who was bigger didn’t necessarily have an advantage, where a scrawny, weak little girl can tap out a guy by just knowing where to put her hands and which points were necessary for control.
Ever since we were little girls, we were so used to hearing from everyone what we could and could not do. The world has wasted no opportunity to set up stereotypes regarding what exactly it is that we’re supposed to be.
We can’t sit with our legs spread out wide because it’s unladylike. We can’t get into fights with boys because we just won’t win. We can’t walk in dark alleyways because someone might be tempted to do something nasty to us. Now, let’s compare that to what they always say to little boys.
Defend your little sister because she’s weaker than you. Carry a girl’s books because you’re stronger. Always learn to avoid a fight with a woman because that’s what a gentleman would do. Granted, this is all great advice given with best intentions. But we can’t deny the fact that it doesn’t make us women feel too confident in ourselves as people.
Jiu jistu takes care of all of that. What I love so much about it is that when you put on your gi, it’s like you’re stepping into another world. No longer are you the weakling that everyone has to take care of, the little girl who people are always afraid of breaking.
It’s understood that when you step into this world, everyone knows why you’re here. To train. For the first time in a girl’s life, appearances don’t matter. No one cares that you’re attractive if you don’t show that you’re serious in training.
You could be miss universe for all they care but you still won’t be chosen to represent the team if you only show up for training to flirt with the guys. Unlike the world outside the mats, you’re not judged by how your body looks, you’re judged by how well you use it.
And what’s great about training in jiu jitsu is that the only thing anyone cares about is if you’re trying your best. They don’t care if you don’t get it right on your first try, what matters is that you try again. They don’t care if you fall, what matters is that you get up.
And they don’t care if you’re red-faced and looking like you’re about to pass out, what matters is that you don’t give up.
If you’re scared to give it a shot, don’t worry. What’s so fascinating is that wherever you go, it’s the same. It’s like the world has discovered a magical little nook where girls can go to be treated as equals.
Every guy in there knows that if they try to hit on you it’s bad sportsmanship. If they accidentally graze your chest they’re not supposed to make a big deal about it. If you’re rolling and find yourselves in each other’s crotches you’re supposed to keep a straight face.
It’s great, because in jiu jitsu you’re not treated as the weaker sex, you’re treated as an athlete like everyone else. Where else in the world can a woman expect to find this? Definitely not between racks of clothes in the mall.