A little more than five years ago, I found jiu-jitsu for my oldest son because he was getting bullied on the bus. Within a few weeks, I was doing a free parent trial. At the time, I had no idea how that first step onto the mats would change the course of my life. Like many beginners, I thought: “I’m not sure jiu-jitsu is for me.”
The one, higher-rank female training at the time was a wrestler with a lot of experience, and I didn’t identify with the sport as closely as she did. Joining was just my way of sharing an activity with my boys and of giving myself a new fitness routine. I had played soccer while growing up and, while I began on co-ed teams, there were plenty of girls-only teams by the time I was eight or nine years old. Yet here I was in my thirties, and I remembered how it felt to be one of the only girls out there. I didn’t let it stop me but I felt like I had to prove I was worthy of the instructor’s time, that I could present a bit of a challenge to my male training partners, and that I could earn a place on the mats with them.
“I allowed my perception of this male-dominated sport to make me feel like a visitor.”
Did the males do anything specific or intentional to make me feel unwelcome? No, this was mostly my perception. Growing up, I was always a “tomboy,” I allowed my perception of this male-dominated sport to make me feel like a visitor. I never thought jiu-jitsu would center me when I felt scattered, become my foundation when I felt that I may break, and become such an integral part of my life. I realize now, that my journey in jiu-jitsu may not have continued — and certainly wouldn’t have led me to where I am today — if I hadn’t encountered a few prominent women in jiu-jitsu who showed me that we do belong. One of the first women who inspired me is Jennifer Gay from She-Jitsu. It wasn’t because she is a world class competitor (I still don’t identify with that) it was because she talks about real life, is a woman, and trains jiu-jitsu.
“Maybe there are other women like me out there… Maybe I do belong in the sport.”
I recall that at first glance, it was just a cool brand and so I ordered a couple of shirts. When my order arrived and I put it on, it occurred to me that She-Jitsu’s thousands of supporters meant there was a female audience in jiu-jitsu. I thought: “Maybe there are other women like me out there, and they’re not all former wrestlers or competitive athletes. Maybe I do belong in the sport.”
Fast-forward to today, and there is no doubt in my mind that She-Jitsu helped pave the way for My Bruises Are From to have an audience. I couldn’t be happier to connect with She-Jitsu and with The Mighty Dames in a fun promotion. Thank you, Jennifer, for being one of the first to show me that we do belong on the mats. You are appreciated for everything you do related to empowerment and self defense, bringing women together in jiu-jitsu, and improving the community through awareness and positive dialogue.
Thank you for being supportive of My Bruises Are From, and for letting us be a part of this awesome #jj4lifechallenge — check it out on FB and IG for cool technique videos from She-Jitsu, The Mighty Dames, and My Bruises Are From ladies!