Do you have a women’s only BJJ class in your academy? This is a subject I’ve been really researching lately, given that the number of grappling ladies has increased in my academy, and I’d like to provide them with the best possible BJJ learning experience. To that extent, the subject of having a women’s only BJJ class is not a question of whether you should have it, but whether it should be the only option for a group of ladies to train Jiu-Jitsu?
As far as I am concerned, I have to say that I believe women and men should train Jiu-jitsu together. However, this I not always an option, and sometimes a women’s only BJJ class is a necessity. Come to think of it, I do believe that women should have at least one class per week where they can only train among themselves, but should also participate in classes with men. There’s a logic behind this that I’ll try to explain in this article.
A Case For Women’s Only BJJ Class
When is a women’s only BJJ class a good idea? There are plenty of reasons to have one (or more) in your academy’s schedule. No matter how much we try to be professional about it, mixing men and women won’t always be seen as just sports by everyone involved. I’m not talking about unwanted advances and the likes, but the fact that people are training with someone from the opposite sex means they approach rolls differently. Women, at least those that I’ve spoken to about the subject, hate being treated like their children just because men are stronger. In that sense, a women’s only BJJ class brings about a training atmosphere of equality, in terms of how training partners look at each other.
Another reason to have such a class is competition. Ladies training for tournaments will have a more realistic expectation if they can train with women only, regardless if it is their size or bigger/smaller. Training with men has its benefits as I’ll share later, but a women’s only BJJ class will provide benefits mixed classes can’t.
Another reason to implement women’s only classes is religion. Depending on where you’re at in the world, mixed classes might not be an option. Sometimes, people won’t train just because their religion doesn’t allow them, despite wanting to. A women’s only BJJ class solves this, for both ladies and men that have certain religious views.
Finally, there’s the question of beginners. When girls begin training, getting thrown into the craziness of a BJJ class with both men and women, from technical training to rolling can be scary. Having dedicated women’s only BJJ classes means you can provide a more comfortable environment for beginners, and does help attract more women to the sport.
A Case For Mixed BJJ Classes
Despite all of the above, there’s something that we need to take into account – women themselves don’t like to train exclusively with other women. It is a notion shared by every woman I’ve talked to on the subject, and I have done my fair amount of research,. White to black belt, all the grappling ladies claim that they do like to take part in a women’s only BJJ class, but not exclusively. Namely, women think training with men helps them progress and improve, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Training with men means a lot more than just training with people who are stronger. It also means training with a lot of different belts, as BJJ is still a more male-dominated sport. It also provides an opportunity to test out skills against different body types and try and figure out technical ways of dealing with stronger opponents. Plus, there’s the academy togetherness that will only work if people know each other. That said, just like with any class, I believe there should be groups according to belt level, and that beginner cases should have really limited rolls, especially when there are both men and women on the mats.
An open mat is a perfect opportunity to let people of all groups and both sexes mingle and have fun rolling. For the ladies, it is imperative to train with men, as it will improve their game, but only in cases where they’re not being speared, or getting completely killed. Three’s a middle ground that men need to find when rolling with women, but that’s only possible if they can roll and train regularly with female training partners.
The Best Of Both Worlds
What’s the solution to the question of a women’s only BJJ class? Figuring out how to balance one, or a few per week, so that ladies have access both to an exclusively female class, and mixed classes. The benefits are there for both men and women in mixed classes, as long as everything I set up correctly and coaches keep an eye out for the beginners.
One option that I’m considering for my academy is to organize a women’s only BJJ class at least once per week, but one that is going to be led by a female instructor as well. On top of it all, allowing the ladies to have an additional open women-only mat seems like a good idea, especially for the competitors. Moreover, it will allow culturally different members to join the gym and advance without religious or philosophical reasons preventing them from enjoying the Gentle Art. It is an experiment that I certainly hope will work, and I’ll most definitely write an update after giving this system a try.
All In All
A women’s only BJJ class is a must, really, for any academy. However, it doesn’t have to be black and white, in the sense that women should only go to the female-exclusive classes, and not other classes or open mats. On the contrary, there’s a definite need for a dedicated women’s class, but it can’t be the only way ladies train. Both men and women need mixed classes to truly be able to learn how the artworks, both for sports and self-defense reasons.