Friday, September 9, 2011

Kyra Gracie Interview

This has been circulating around the internet, but in case you haven't seen it, here is an interview with Kyra Gracie about what her experience as a woman doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been like. So inspiring!

If you are a woman who does BJJ, have you encountered any of the same struggles? What has been the hardest part for you practicing Jiu-Jitsu? What advantages have you noticed, as a woman training in this sport?

For me, one of the hardest parts about being a woman training bjj is dealing with my desire to "prove myself" to the guys. When you really boil it down, it is my pride. I want to show them that I can do this just as good and legitimately as they can.

The funny thing is, there have been only a couple of times when any guy has said anything negative to me about training as a female. In fact, the guys I train with are by a great majority very encouraging. They want me to improve and help me to do so.

So why do I still feel like I have something to prove? I guess it comes down to my own insecurity.

A few weeks ago, the result of that insecurity was embarrassingly apparent. I was grappling some guys I hadn't grappled in a long time--maybe 6 months or so--and I had wanted to make sure I didn't fall into some of the same pitfalls I had encountered the last time I grappled them. Unfortunately, I was so determined NOT to get on the bottom, that I started using a lot of strength and going bananas. In one grapple, Fabio actually stopped me and told me I was using too much strength. He told me to calm down and move more. After class, I talked to him about it and said I didn't know why I had reacted that way.

He said something along the lines of, "I do. It's because you were grappling a man. You grapple big, strong girls all the time and you move with them. You don't try to match strength for strength. But when you grapple a man, you use strength. You wanted to prove something. But why? You don't have to prove anything. You already have the proof around your waist."

I realized he was right. My pride was getting in my way.

I know some women really ARE put down at their gyms. They have to deal with people who don't take them seriously because of their gender. It makes me angry to hear some of the stories.

Fortunately, that hasn't been my experience. But if I am not careful, I will victimize myself by creating a stigma in my mind that no one has branded me with in reality. If I don't watch myself, I can use my gender as an buffer to protect my pride, or to muddle friendships because I am too sensitive about the subject. I don't want to do that. It would almost be like crying wolf when there aren't any real wolves around.

For those of you who have to deal with real criticisms and ignorance, take a page out of Kyra's book and don't let them get you down. Keep training hard. Keep learning. The proof will be shown on the mat in time.


Veronica said...

How did you deal with needing to prove yourself when you were a white belt? When the proof wasn't around your waist? Most days I get so out muscled and so smashed on that I feel like I'm going to be a white belt forever sometimes. Then, when guys use less strength and more technique I get offended and feel like they are going easy on "the girl" in class. Maybe it is just pride, but I'm having a really hard time getting past it.

Megan said...

This is a really good post. I still don't know how to manage staying genuinely calm all the time. The internal is always so much...bigger than the external.

I've been trying lately to focus on why I'm training...what my REAL goal is to get out of my training. I'm considering writing a mission statement or something so I don't get caught up in efforts and conflicts that don't bring me any productivity.

A.D. McClish said...

@Bug-- I know exactly how you feel. I can tell you that the good news is, your instructor knows how you feel too. He can tell the difference between someone who is using technique and someone who is using muscle. He can tell when you got caught in an armbar by a mistake you made, versus when you get your arm pried off by a man in beast mode.

I know if can feel like you're not getting anywhere sometimes, but keep in mind that you are training with the same people all the time and as you get better, they are getting better too. You adapt and they adapt. So, it might feel like you're not making progress when you actually are. When a new person comes in and you grapple them (if that person is anywhere near your size), you will see how much you've progressed.

Also, I know everyone says this, but try not to worry too much about rank. If you are worried about how good you are doing during a grapple, then you are dividing your attention away from handling the task at hand. I was shocked when my instructor told me to order my blue belt because I was still getting smashed a lot. But he gave me the belt because of my technique, not because I was "winning" every grapple.

Hope this helps! Hang in there and keep working hard! You will get there. :)

@Megan: I haven't managed it either yet. lol You're right. I should keep the purpose of training at the forefront of my mind and not focus on inter-gym drama (especially if I am making it up ion my head! lol)

Shark Girl said...

Thanks for this post. I hadn't seen the video yet.