Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Girls Go Hard

My sister-in-law Steph got hurt last night during practice. Rib injury. She thought it might be broken, so we went to the ER. Thankfully, it is just badly bruised and not fractured.

This whole thing brings back up the issue of girls grappling in BJJ. I know injuries happen to everyone, but being smaller and not as sturdily composed, I think we women tend to be more easily damaged. It has nothing to do with how tough we are. Steph was not really angry that we was hurt. She was angry that it would put her out of grappling for a little while.

The guy she was rolling with felt really bad about it. Clearly, he wasn't trying to hurt her. But could it have been avoided? And if it could have, should it have been? I mean, this is a self-defense sport after all. A random guy on the street isn't going to be worrying about not crushing us. But still...I don't know. I go back and forth about wondering where the balance lies between watering down training intensity because we are smaller and training stupid because we don't want to be treated "like girls". I don't know if I'm making any sense.

I don't like the idea of a guy going easy on me solely because I am a girl. If they want to take my size into consideration, the same way they would for a male comparable to my size, that's fine. I appreciate that, actually. But even so, if I'm honest, a guy my roughly my same height and weight is likely to be more dense and stronger than me. So what does that mean as far as training goes? How can the guys--and the girls that roll with them--figure out where the balance is in order to keep training as safe as possible without sacrificing the actual sport? I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Steph, hope you heal up quick and get back on the mat soon!


Anonymous said...

It's ironic that we just had a discussion on this on Steph's blog just recently. I think we both concluded that we don't want the guys to go technically easy (giving up positions and stuff,) but there are some things the guys could think about when training with women.

1. Don't muscle stuff on the girls that would never work on the guys.
2. It's ok to win.
3. It's ok to lose - don't spazz out just because a girl is catching submissions or positions on you.
4. Mind your weight <---- Come on...don't hurt your teammates. If you have 100lbs on your partner, don't put it all on their ribs. Just use enough to pin them when appropriate.
5. Girls are intuitive. If your mind starts straying we'll know, but if you're honest, we will know that too. Just focus on bjj and your grips will be fine.
6. Listen to your partner. If you are not sure about your intensity, ask them.

All that being said...sometimes injuries just happen. I guess it depends on whether or not he followed rule no. 4 to determine whether it was preventable or not.

Georgette said...

I think it's especially dangerous when it's a whitebelt. No offense to them, but they lack control. I'm super impressed with the guys I train with because they are very good at riding that border between realistic alive training with substantial resistance and "I will crush your floating ribs with my knee because I can."

I think about this a lot. I'm interested to see where the discussions go.

Laura said...

Yeah, I understand what you are talking about. I think about it too and I don't have an answer.

I do feel that the girls at the gym seem to ride a real fine line between healthy and hurt. And it can be anyone who pushes you over the edge, not just the whitebelts.

But just like Dr. Seuss says, I don't want the guys to go technically easy. I just don't want them squashing me with all their weight or reefing my arms with all their strength.

However, accidents happen and I know that I tend to push the pace of a roll (I try to get the heck out of the way when a guy is coming towards my chest) so I am partly responsible.

I wonder how often women who train get hurt (not bruises) and what is the most common injury.

Jiujitsunista said...

Personally, I want someone to grapple me the way they would grapple a man my size.

I realize if I am being attacked on the street, a 200 pound man isn't going to only use 140 of his pounds to attack me... but ya know, I don't need live action attak-age in class.

If I want to be tested in that way, I'd ask one of my larger instructors who is controlled enough to use all of their weight against me and NOT hurt me. I can see if I could fight them off with their weight behind them, safety.

And on the street, if I get tossed onto my rib cage, I'm not going to lay there, and wait for someone to come rescue me... I'm going to be full of adrenaline. When I get hurt in class, I know I am safe. I am going to stop moving as to do as little more damage as possible. I don't know if my elbow is broken, or my rib is cracked when it happens... and there is no need to push it.

Meerkatsu said...

Allie have you tried rolling no-gi with guys? I don't do a lot but when I do I find I lose much of my strength-based grips so when I spar with women, it's a lot more equal (lb for lb) than compared to training with the gi. sorry to hear about Steph's injury, hope she gets back to the mat soon.

Liam H Wandi said...

If the resistence is progressive, it won't catch you by surprise. The problem is usually that people are unaware (ah...there he goes on about awareness again :) ) of how much attributes they are using (e.g. I wasn't going dead hard/fast/explosive was I?) and how they are using it (a 150lb can easily injure a 220lb if they move in jerky way)

I have a very heavy side control/mount. I use my weight well and can make life feel very sucky even for people my size or bigger. It's something I've worked on for years. Having said that, I have never ever injured anyone with it, because

1. I never just land on them with it from the guard pass like a sack of potatoes.
2. I use as much as I need for each person I'm rolling with.

"After four decimal places, no body gives a damn" :)

While it is true that you might encounter someone trying to hurt you in a real life situation, your AAPROACH to that in training should be progressive. Very progressive! and your training partners should respect that.

Another example is slamming when being triangled. Yes it's realistic and yes you should know how to counter it, but that doesn't mean it is to be used out of context :)

I wish your friend a speedy recovery.

leslie said...

Dr. Seuss, I really like that list, both here and on Steph's post. And Laura, I think you hit it with "I don't want the guys to go technically easy". Easy with the weight on my ribs because you weigh a lot more than me, yes. Loose on that armbar to let me escape (and get a false sense of my jiu-jitsu), no.

That's why I love my high blue, purples, and brown -- they go technically hard on me, making me mind my details and timing, but they don't ever just crush me with their weight or power. I don't get away with anything sloppy, which means I tap a lot, but I can almost always see exactly what I/they did that caused me to get caught.

Megan said...

That's funny that you posted this, because I was just thinking the other day that women probably get hurt less frequently. I guess it all depends on the care your training partners take.

A.D. McClish said...

Wow, a lot of good advice popped up on here. Thanks guys!!

@ Dr. Suess: Love that list. Maybe we should print it out and give to to a few people at our school! lol No, I think our guys are careful and respectful for the most part. #4 is the only one I see on a regular basis with some people, and I think it's because they don't realize how much the weight difference matters. It's like you said at the end of your comment. Sometimes injuries just happen.

@ Georgette: I completely agree. I feel safer when I roll with the higher belt guys because they have the control to go back on an armbar and not crank my arm off. Plus, they know they can school me so they aren't as worried about proving anything. ;)

@ Laura: I wonder if girls actually do get hurt more or if people pay more attention when we get hurt because we are girls. I know most people who train are usually working with one injury or another.

@ Stephanie: Absolutely. You should be able to trust your training partners. That's why we roll together -- to learn and grow -- not to get our faces smashed into the mat.

@ Meerkatsu: That's an interesting way to look at it. My first instinct would be to want the gi because I feel more secure having more handles to grip them with, you know? But they also have handles on me, so I can see your point. We don't usually go no gi at our school, but it's something I'd like to try.

@ Liam: It sounds like you have the right idea -- being aware of your weight and the size of your opponent. Sometimes my instructor will make things really tight and use his weight more than normal, but never in a jerky, hard-hitting, blow-to-the-gut type of way. You can be tight, keep pressure and put on submissions without beating your partner up with your body weight.

@ Leslie: Couldn't agree more. There's a fine balance between going easy in the sense that a higher belt is letting a lower belt work and going easy in a way that is condescending.

@ Megan: I think the responsibility lies with both partners. As much as I think the guys need to be aware, us girls have to know how to roll smart. If you know someone is spazzy, play a safer, more defensive game. And--something I am trying to work on--speak up for yourself!! If someone is scaring you by rolling like a jerk, stop and tell them to take the intensity down a level.

Laura said...

No, I don't think the girls get hurt more often, just that it doesn't seem to take as much force to hurt us.

A.D. McClish said...

Yeah, Laura, I would unfortunately agree with you on that one.

jo said...

I don't mind going full bore with the boys mostly - the main thing that irritates me is once I have the sub - they would rather injure themselves than tap. I have been hanging from a 250lb guys arm in an armbar position more times than I can count. I'm like, really? Are we learning anything here? (I finally did learn to just skip the armbar and go for the heel hook so I guess we did learn something)

Rolling with larger people can be rib crushing but I figure it just makes me appreciate smaller people more. I don't have enough training partners to be picky and fighting big guys makes me better in the long run. Probably.

A.D. McClish said...

That's a good way to approach it, Jo. Steph and I have problems with stubborn tappers sometimes. Our coach told us to let go of the arm bar then choke them out. If they don't tap to the choke, let them go to sleep. That's not going to cause any permanent damage, but it get's the point across!!