I'm going to offer my opinion on the 'controversial' blog post by Pedro Sauer black belt, Keith Owen entitled:
"Can women really handle Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?".
This will be largely irrelevant if you haven't read his post. So, read this first: http://keith-owen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/can-women-really-handle-brazilian-jiu.html
It's only short. Don't be so lazy. Do it.
When I read this blog post, I felt like I had read the frustrations of a guy who has nothing but respect for womens jiu jitsu, and is confused as to why no women seem to stick at it (at his gym). That's pretty much what I read. Maybe I'm not reading enough into it, because he is getting ripped apart by ladies online over how sexist his post was.
Ok, so the title is a little controversial. Would you have read it if it wasn't? Probably not? If you share the same attitude as me, you would have read that title and said "Yes. Yes we freakin' are", and continued on with your day.
It reminds me of the old Yorkie bar adverts:
|Mmmm.. Yorkies are Paleo, right?|
In response to witnessing the advert, you could either;
a) Cry about it, then play the sexist card or
b) Say, "Screw you, Imma have a yorkie whenever I damn well want one."
It depends on your outlook. Your mentality. I find myself rolling my eyes at petty excuses for "sexism". Ultimately girls, you're entering into a predominantly male dominated sport. As such, you will be probably be exposed to male banter. Male banter is fantastic, and often quite sexist.
Last year I lived in London. Whilst there I trained at Mill Hill under Nick Brooks (Roger Gracie). I remember sitting on the mat waiting for class to start, when Nick looked down at the mat, saw me and Sophie there (the only 2 girls) and shouted "What the f***?! 2 f***ing girls?! That's 2 too many!".
If you're a delicate wallflower, you might have burst into tears and thrown around your sexism card (again). It made Sophie and I both smile, and then the class began. Sexism? No. Banter? Yes. I freakin' love banter.
But this post isn't about banter. It's about serious sexism. *Serious face*.
So anyway, let's look at each section of his post and try to work out why exactly so many women have their tails in a twist.
"Make no mistake, I WANT women students in my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program. The problem is that they never seem to stick. They will even come in and DEMAND to try it out. I politely let them know what BJJ is and what it's all about up front. I let them know that they will be grappling with men. Many of them say they understand, but when they get on the mat and I’m not sure they really do."
- Fair enough. He makes it clear that no extra special measures are taken because she is a women, the expectation that she will be rolling with men is made very clear at the start. Neeeeext.
"My guys are very nice, respectable gentlemen (some schools are not) and treat the ladies with respect (or I’ll kill them). I treat the women students like any other male student, having someone show them the positions of Jiu-Jitsu and showing them basic moves. They know they will typically be the only ladies in the class. I never force them to roll until they are comfortable. I let the ladies know that they can ALWAYS confide in me if a man does something that makes them feel uncomfortable. I have never had a complaint!"
- Again, fine. Not forcing them to roll until comfortable, but will still be expected to ultimately roll with men. Sounds about right to me.
"The ladies always stay for a short time but they ultimately quit. Some of them have gotten pregnant (from their husbands or boyfriends), some move and some just find out, just like the men that it’s very hard to do Jiu-Jitsu (even though my class is very technical) and they simply quit."
- Fair enough. *Nods*.
"I find this disheartening because if any women can get a black belt, it’s from me. I have given out a number of blue belts to women as a matter of fact. It then makes me want to do a male only class because we don’t want to waste time on someone who is just going to quit even though we are excited to have her and we try to take care of her and make her feel welcome. My male students are usually married and take a bit of a risk with their spouses by wrestling around with the opposite sex. But I always seem to accept women into the fold and try to do my best hoping that they will be the kind of person that can handle the challenge of Jiu-Jitsu"
-This section seems to be the one that has caused a bit of upset. I read the first sentence as a;
"I promote and support womens jiu jitsu, and if anyone would give a talented, hardworking chick a black belt, it would be me- only problem being none stick around long enough to earn one from me!".
However, many girls have read it more like this;
"My standards are so diabolically low, that even a woman can get a black belt from me! (A WOMAN!) ".
It depends on how much of a chip on your shoulder you have. I don't have one. So I don't read that statement as remotely insulting/offensive/sexist. State of mind again?
The only part that is a little dodgy is the whole- married men taking on a "risk" when rolling with women. As if we might pounce on them whilst rolling and steal them away from their wives.. Uh, nah mate. Not really. Not at all in fact. Neeeeext!
"Now, You know I'm not the kind to sugar coat things. If you’re a women taking BJJ, you need to be tough! You need to be committed to getting your next belt. You need to take lessons from an instructor that is on your side and wants you to succeed AND COMMUNICATE WITH THEM. Your significant other has to be comfortable with you being in a class full of men. You need to understand that certain men are not good to roll with because of their ego and you should be discerning about how you choose to roll with. You need to realize that you are going to get grabbed in places that you might not want to be grabbed or have someones face in an awkward place as they try to pass your guard. You will have a man in-between your legs (that guard again) for much of the time because he is stronger. You have to be good at being drenched in male sweat from an exhaustive roll, The challenges are many but I believe it is exactly what you need in order to survive a self-defense street encounter."
-WORRRD. The part about being discerning about who you roll with is 100% right. Quite often, the odd prick will turn up at training. Y'know, the type of guy who refuses to roll with you because you're a girl. They are a minority, and they rarely stick around. If I get refused a roll by that dude, do I cry? No. Do I play my sexism card? No. I think "Screw you blud, I'd smash you anyway" and then roll with someone who I enjoy rolling with, someone who I gain something from rolling with. Simple.
"I know that many of you will say, “You should start a women’s only class” but really I don’t have the time in my schedule and I’m not sure I can attract enough women to take the class when I have a stand up martial arts program that most women seem to like better. I’m to the point now where I just say “I will do my best to take care of you and make your experience a safe one while you’re here but you need to look internally to see if you can handle wrestling with men.”
- If I owned a gym that had no girls, I wouldn't spend my time creating a girls only class. It's a stupid idea. They only work once you've built up a solid base of girls at your club. That base of girls could then invite their friends/sisters to a womens only class to introduce them to BJJ. That's how I would imagine those types of schemes would work. Again, not really my thing. In fact, I view womens only classes as inverted sexism (Nope, not reverse, I prefer inverted).
Why? Because we moan and moan and moan about wanting to be treated like the guys. As a woman, rolling with men is and should be an expectation every instructor enforces at their club. To go on about being equals, and then demand womens only classes does nothing but boggle my mind. The same girls would go ape over the thought of a male only class!
What I do support are "women open mat" sessions which many find important when training before bigger competitions. We need to get used to rolling with other girls before a competition. This sort of thing isn't really necessary for guys, because they have a chunk of guys to train with at the gym, whereas a female may not. I view womens only classes and womens open mats as too very different things.
"If you are a women and you get a purple belt or above in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then I want you to know that you are a very special and awesome person because you have the intestinal fortitude to be able to stick with something that’s difficult for many stronger men let alone a women. Some will ask, "Why a Purple Belt?" because no one gets a purple belt without being able to tap others out. This means tapping men...So...Go tap some men.
Remember ladies it ain't easy but stick with it. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is made for you!"
- If anything in this paragraph offends you as a woman, then I've lost a little hope in womankind.
If I was this guy, I'd feel like I can't win! This article is about
retaining WOMEN practitioners.
Not men. So the argument some women are making about loads of white belt men not sticking to jiu jitsu either (so why are you picking on us girls) is irrelevant. He acknowledges that some men find it too tough and therefore quit. It's much more apparent in us women because there are fewer of us training to begin with. I don't find that insulting or sexist. I consider it a valid observation.
How could this guy retain more women? That is the essence of this post. He could have just thought "Oh man, women don't seem to want to stay in Jiu Jitsu. Lame". And done nothing about it. Instead, he wrote something, essentially asking for input from the jiu jitsu community. Yet, all the women seem to be doing is stabbing the guy in the face with a blunt instrument (electronically speaking).
Could someone please enlighten me. What is the real problem with this article? Have I totally misread it? Is any of this article really sexist? Or are people getting a little too easily offended?
If it is the latter, I appeal to women in the jiu jitsu community to MTFU. Please please please stop being so damn sensitive. You enrage my soul.
.. If you found that last bit offensive. Then, tough.
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