Respectfully Training BJJ Together Across Genders

Aug 29, 2023Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ Across Genders

Using Communication to Find the Right Intensity

Both men and women can struggle to find the appropriate level of intensity when training across genders. Male training partners may use too little resistance due to concerns about hurting a female partner. This “wet noodle” approach robs both partners of productive training. On the other hand, men may use too much strength and pressure against a smaller woman. This prevents her from practising and developing her own offensive techniques.

The solution lies in constant communication between training partners. Women should speak up if the training intensity feels unproductive in either direction. Men should check in as well – “Is this pressure ok?” Adjustments can be made round-by-round to find the optimal intensity. The goal should be challenging all partners enough to grow their skills, without risking injury.

Being Mindful of Size and Strength Differences

When rolling across gender lines, be mindful of differences in size and strength – just as you would with any training partner. A 200-pound man should not use the same pressure on a 115-pound woman as he would against another 200-pound opponent. The focus should be on technique over strength.

That said, women generally don’t want to be treated like delicate flowers either. Completely smashing your partner nonstop prevents them from working on their own offence. Find a balance of allowing your partner to work, while still challenging them enough to improve their defensive skills. Smaller partners need to learn how to survive underneath bigger opponents.

Respecting Preferences in Training Partners

Some women and men prefer not to grapple across genders for religious, cultural or personal reasons. This should always be respected without question. For example, some conservative practitioners may train within their families but not with unrelated training partners of the opposite gender.

The gym should not develop a broad culture of men and women avoiding each other on the mats. But individuals should feel empowered to decline any potential training partner for any reason politely. Jiu-jitsu depends on trust and comfort between partners.

Being Mature About Incidental Contact

When bodies are tightly intertwined on the mats, incidental contact to sensitive areas can happen. An errant knee or elbow will sometimes make contact with the chest or groin area. This should be acknowledged quickly and maturely by both training partners and then moved past.

“Oops, excuse me” is sufficient – no need to dwell on it or make it more awkward. We all have vulnerable body parts in grappling. How training partners handle inadvertent contact says a lot about their emotional maturity.

Keeping Hygiene in Mind

Sweat and odors are realities of grappling training. For comfortable rolling, all partners should show up with good hygiene. Gis and gear should be freshly washed. Breath and body odor should be neutralized. compressed shorts under spats reduces skin-to-skin contact.

Women may be particularly sensitive to strong body odor given differences in olfactory senses. But fresh hygiene makes training more pleasant for everyone. If an academy makes cleaning gear and washing belts mandatory, comply graciously.

Wearing Appropriate Training Attire

Women should feel comfortable wearing typical grappling attire like compression tops without scrutiny. Conversely, revealing tops or spats without shorts are never appropriate. Find gym-appropriate athletic wear that makes you feel confident without attracting unnecessary attention.

Rash guards under the gi can prevent chest contact between partners. But they are prohibited in competition where fingers can get caught. Academies with forced rash guard policies are trying to encourage a professional training environment.

Being Cognizant of Bruising

Due to societal perceptions, women with bruising are sometimes presumed victims of domestic violence. Thus, men should be a bit gentler with smaller female partners when applying certain techniques. Unnecessary squeezing and crushing pressure can be backed off a bit without sacrificing technique.

Don’t avoid challenging female partners entirely though. Some bruising may occur naturally in training. If concerned about visible bruises, women can wear rash guards, tights or long sleeves when appropriate. The goal should be developing skills, not injuring each other.

Training with Mutual Growth and Respect

Jiu-jitsu training partners depend on each other to improve. By tailoring intensity to each unique situation, men and women can help each other reach new heights. Forget about gender, appearance and size. Through sweat, pressure and technique, grappling partners can achieve mutual growth. Training across gender comes with challenges but also immense rewards when done thoughtfully.

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Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
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