Today I went to a free event for women called “Inspire”. It was held by a woman Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion and there were over 100 women jiu jitsu students along with 4 other women black belts. Included in the roster was the teacher of my Women’s Grappling Class, who just made black belt in BJJ and has been competitively grappling for some time.
Just seeing all the women, the different shapes, sizes, hair, and gi’s was really something. We did some warmups and then pair work on holds together. Now I am pretty heavy and squishy at 193 lbs, and it isn’t easy for me to show up and put on a what feels like cloth armor. I keep having to pull up my pants, re-tie my belt, re tuck my jacket and ignore my blubbery front gut that hangs out. I feel like a fat monkey wrapped in a blanket, but that’s what makes BJJ what it is:
Messy, gritty, sweaty. Close up. Faces and bums and crotches and chests and everything gets mashed, wrapped, choked, grabbed and clambered on. There is something incredibly liberating about it, but it takes courage to show up and continue showing up. Part of me still can’t believe I get to do this and walk away afterwards without some woman unleashing her deep inner rage, and hating, beating or killing me.
One woman who was big walked by me and mentioned in passing that she was glad someone close to her age was around. I went up to her later and asked what age she was talking about, it came out that I was much older than she. But I learned something valuable as well: She told me she loved BJJ but that her weight, which was up in the 200’s was a problem because she has found it hard not to hurt some of the lighter women she grapples with because of it. So size and weight can matter, though the general idea about BJJ is that anyone of any size, age, and gender can do it.
I could easily lose 70 lbs and not miss it. I have thyroid and hormone imbalances that need to be treated and life problems which need addressing. The leader of the event told a personal story of how and why she got into BJJ. Her story took me by surprise. I did not expect this young woman champion to have suffered from the issue I have had all my life: that of self worth. in relation to my being a woman.