The Guerreiras

BJJ and MMA for Women


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BJJ Newbie: Two Months In

Kim ArmbarI’ve been practicing BJJ for nearly two months.  I take both an all-women’s class and a co-ed class and the other day, one of my friends asked me which I liked better.  “Both,” I think I said… or maybe it was “Neither.”  They’re different- it was apples and oranges to me. I thought about it later and here’s what I’ve decided.

After the co-ed class, my upper back is sore, my arms are tired and I’m generally spent.  I’m practicing mostly with people larger and heavier than me who use their upper bodies much more effectively than I can… and ever will.  Yes, I speak of men.  The upside is that I worry less about hurting them and actually enjoy the rolling a little more because I’m not worrying.  I worry.  A lot.  

But in the co-ed class, even the girls I work with are so used to working with men that I get tossed around by them, too.  So, in essence, it’s fun for me.  I laugh so much.  I feel privileged to work with a higher belt who can put me on the floor with grace and style.  And control- that’s important.  I’m working with people who know what they are doing.  I might get pulled off my feet, but I’m usually kind of lowered to the floor instead of actually thrown, or rolled over a shoulder in a way that enables me to come out of it unscathed.  Let me tell you, it’s appreciated.  I like my work-outs to NOT include dislocated anything.  I find the guys in the co-ed class are very encouraging.  Since I still get to claim Newbie status, even in a roll my male partner will say “Well, do something!” and I’ll say “I’m thinking!”  And he’ll suggest a way to take him down.  Sometimes it even works! Chivalry is NOT dead!

After the women’s class, I’m spent and my abs are killing me.  A women’s center of gravity is in her pelvis and the women’s class is all about making that work for us.  It’s Pilates on steroids, and fun in a completely different way.  As a woman, I care about the whole person.  I want to know about your day, how’s your mom, did you like the restaurant you tried last week?  The woman’s class is a perfect meld of strong women who care about each other way beyond BJJ, but we don’t shirk the work, which is why my abs hurt.  

I have found myself trying to use what I learned in the woman’s class more often when I’m rolling in either class.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s more “for me,” or I just understood the technique enough to remember it later.  All I know is that I only go to the women’s class once a week but I can recite how it will sound from memory: “Hips off the ground…pivot…use your legs…keep your hooks.  Ladies!  No slackers!”  I love the lack of sympathy in a sympathetic environment.  I think they call that irony.  I’ll have to look it up.  

There are some important things that are the same in both classes, besides having awesome coaches.

Practicing a technique with someone else is like dancing.  If I’m sweeping (knocking that person over so I can be on top), my partner will tell me if it “feels right” or “feels smooth.”  And then they will do the same technique to me so I can experience how it works… or is supposed to.  When we both have it down, it’s so satisfying.  

Also, I have found in my adult life that unrelated grown-ups rarely touch each other.  We might shake hands or pat a shoulder or fist bump, but it’s “hands-off” most of the time.  If you watch children play, you’ll realize how odd that is.  Human touch is so important to everyone.  The one thing in both the women’s and co-ed class that has struck me the most is the ease at which people lean on each other or sit in close proximity and maybe knees are touching.  People hug more.  We end classes with the teacher walking the line of us and thanking everyone for coming and doing their best.  We follow and do the same, congratulating, clasping hands and hugging, telling each other “Good job today!” And people are winded and smiling… and happy.  Like when I was little, playing with my friends.  I like that.   

Take good care.

11898603_394310494097466_2160295540693197329_nKimberly Petit is a white belt newbie at Fenix BJJ in Nashua under Kyle Briere and Fenix BJJ in Lowell under Raphael and Juliana Carneiro.  Kim owns a machine shop in Nashua, NH with husband, Marc.  She also handles the marketing for Dewzen drag racing accessories and is “team mom” to the sportsman racing team of husband and daughter.   She likes to read and write romance in her spare time.  As an unpublished novelist, she fully appreciate the dedication and effort it takes to be a blogger and hopes readers enjoy a very inexperienced but honest viewpoint of a sport she still knows so little about.

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To Date or Not to Date: Dating in the Gym

38e006d52cf14cf05469aac11f8397e0Now I know that I’ll catch a lot of flak for this one no matter which side I take, so just know this is purely written from my own experiences. I’ve made a lot of good decisions throughout my martial arts journey, and I’ve made a lot of bad ones. Deciding to compete even though I hated the idea = good. Training hungover = bad. The decisions that aren’t so clear are my decisions to date in the gym.

I have a lot of teammates who throw around the phrase “you don’t sh*t where you eat,” or some variation of that. BUT… Those teammates? Normally happily-attached to a significant other, whether that significant other trains or not. It’s easy for them to say, “Don’t bring dating into the gym,” since they are all set.

It’s HARD to date outside of the gym if you train regularly. I’ve tried, believe me. A super nice fellow will offer dinner and drinks. The thoughts that run through MY head? Um, I don’t want to miss no-gi class, so maybe Thursday. No, no, Thursday we’re learning the counter to last week’s attack. Saturday? But I don’t want to miss open mat!!! Ok Sunday. Sunday it is. If I feel up to it after training all week…”

It’s nearly impossible to get into a healthy dating groove without forcing myself to take some time off. So, I have tried the teammate dating thing. I’ve dated instructors, and I’ve dated guys who are serious about training, and I’ve dated guys who just stuck around long enough for me to hope that we could be one of those rare mat couples, only to have them quit after a month or two.

The pros?

Well, duh. Training is fun, dating is fun. Combined? AWESOME. I tend to roughhouse anyway (I’m like that annoying second grader who pokes the boy she likes with a pencil to show a crush), so to get to roughhouse with someone who knows how to roughhouse back? Yay! There’s also something different about training with someone you are seeing off the mats. There is an increased level of comfort and trust, so (at least for me) rolling becomes more experimental, and you can push yourself a little harder and beyond what you’d normally be able to do.

Another pro is obviously you don’t have to sacrifice training time for social time. It’s a lot of fun to go train in the gym- whether you work with each other or other partners- and then come home and crash together. Your partner will understand why you can’t go out the night before an important tournament, or why you are watching what you eat.

Obviously the biggest pro is having an on-demand training partner. Feel like drilling the move you learned that night? Well, call up the man friend (or woman friend) and practice away, then sit back together after and relax.

The cons, wah wahhh…

Well. Of course it’s not all puppies and rainbows when you choose to “bring dating into the gym.” Some people outright disapprove. I personally keep it VERY on the DL if I’m dating a training partner. No special attention, no extra long rolls, no flirting, etc. Because it makes some people very uncomfortable.

Also, we spend so much time fighting to be seen as equals in the gym, I honestly think it’s detrimental if I DO make a show of our upgraded relationship. I want everyone to know 100% that I am in the gym to train, not to meet the future mister. If you start making positions into sex jokes in the gym, the wrong person can overhear and then feel uncomfortable next time he/she winds up in that spot with you. So in that sense, yes I do think it’s important to leave your dating life outside the gym. Heck, be all sorts of sexy at home with positions- it’s a pro I neglected to discuss (aka purposely avoided), it’s fun and a great way to keep things interesting. Just don’t do it in the gym.

And then obviously the biggest con… The break up. No matter what happens, there might be some awkwardness. If you can’t agree to act like adults, things can and will get messy. I have been lucky- I still train with everyone I’ve dated and have had no problems. It’s something that you need to keep in mind when you do make the move to transition from just training buds to dating.

So there you have it- my two cents on dating in the gym. I wish it was as black and white as, “Don’t date training partners.” If you train actively, you are often times spending more time with your gym mates than your best friend or family. You just don’t have a lot of free time to go out into the normal world and meet “the one.” You build up an incredible level of trust with training partners that you won’t find in normal friendships. Shared schedules, a mutual understanding of why it’s AWESOME to practice foot locks on each other, being okay with wet gis hanging everywhere in the house, knowing that Saturday nights are best spent watching fights and vegging out in pjs- who wouldn’t want to try finding that?


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From the Newbie: BJJ, the First Month

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Kim, left, with teammate Kate after a night of training.

It’s been a little over a month and I am happy to be a BJJ Newbie.  Four weeks ago, I might have summed up my knowledge of jiu-jitsu like this: It is a kind of martial art where you wrestle on the floor and try to make your opponent cry uncle.  That’s what everyone in the class I saw appeared to be doing as I was trying to get a workout in at my husband’s gym.  It looked fun, which, I have to say, our regular workout was not.  And, it turns out; actually having fun is a key component in wanting to workout…go figure.  

I began my odyssey towards fitness by deciding I didn’t want to look like the “before” pictures when compared to the buffies that were “sooooo hot” at the first gym my husband joined.  I’ve done Cross Fit style classes, yoga (which I do like), trail running, weight training, spin class, etc. and the thing of it is, it’s all work.  I do it to be fit, not to have fun.  So I was staring at a bunch of adults rolling around on the floor one night, and I turned to hubby and said, “Maybe I should try that.”  “Do it,” he said.  “You’ll like it.”  He knows me pretty well and I trust him, so I showed up to the first class and borrowed a gi.

I laughed more in that first class than I have laughed in years!  I loved it.  But here is the disclaimer: BJJ is not for the people who value lots of personal space and can’t handle being sweated on (and maybe bled on) once in a while.  When I was describing the uh… physicality of the class to my best friend, she was a little… horrified, I think.  She likes her personal space nice and empty.  Me, I could care less.  Actually, I cared more as I worked closely with someone than I thought I would.  I was mentally there.

Here’s a quick rundown of how my first class went.  Feel free to use your imagination.  

After we bowed to the coach, we did a warm-up and drills, rolling and stretching and “shrimping,” which is an escape drill I will let an expert describe, because I’ve seen pictures of shrimp and I sincerely hope I do NOT look like that.  Then, we got a partner and I was told to straddle and choke him until he tapped out.  Really?  I get to choke someone on the first day?  Yay me.
It’s actually harder than it looks, even when they lie there and LET you.  I tried, coming nowhere close.  

“Use your wrist bones.” The coach told me as he walked by.

“Wrist bones?  For what?”  I asked and my partner showed me.  He choked me using his wrist bones.  Got it.  It works.

“Actually sit on my chest.”  He reminded me a little later.  

“Well I don’t want to squish you.”  Also, I didn’t want him to think I’m heavy….

“Yes, you do.”  So I tried to forget a lifetime of habit and let all my weight sit on his ribs.

“Grab my gi at my hips and put your knee in my tailbone and arch your back.”  He explained and I did what he said and it worked.  I opened his guard.  Amazing.

On and on we practiced.  Guard.  Escaping from Guard.  Mount.  Choking from Mount.  I was sweating, apologizing for my ineptitude, and giggling because… well because I’ve been married twenty years.  This is the closest I’ve been to a non-husband in a loooooong time.  But it wasn’t too awkward.  Mostly funny.  I’ve never been shy.  And then practicing was over and we were going to roll.

“I don’t know what that means,”  I said.

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Learning to pass

“We’re doing just what we’ve been doing with more pressure.”  My partner told me.  “For five minutes.”

“Wait…what?”  And the timer started the countdown.

My first roll was completely abandoned within one minute because I couldn’t remove the man/child sitting on my ribs and I couldn’t stop laughing!  Seriously.  I’m sure he thought I was a lunatic.  

Rolling during my second class was more of a kamikaze use of whatever brute force I had to try to get to a mount position.  Everyone was nice considering I was everywhere doing essentially nothing.  I was a spaz, and I’m just lucky my classmates are patient.  I tore the skin off both of my big toes and my right knee that day in my desire to do my best.  

After few days off to let my wounds heal, I went back to class with a new goal, to actually learn jiu-jitsu… so my body parts would continue to serve me well and my classmates would continue to suffer my meager attention.  It was a mature approach to something that felt so much like play to me.

Flash forward a little over a month.  The rolling at the end is still the best part of class, and I hope I am considered a respectful newbie.  I get tossed a lot, but I actually like that and I’m learning how to land without it hurting.  I know a few simple techniques but they usually go out the window when we’re rolling.  I still laugh because I’m really enjoying myself.  I know my goal is to submit, or finish my opponent and defend against them trying to do the same to me.  I sweat, I’m sore sometimes, and I have bruises on my body but I also have what I’ve lacked from most other forms of exercise; motivation.  My husband said it best.  “You seem happier.”  And I know why.

BJJ isn’t work with a little fun for me.  It’s fun doing a little work.  That’s how I like it.  

Take good care.

11898603_394310494097466_2160295540693197329_nKimberly Petit is a white belt newbie at Fenix BJJ in Nashua under Kyle Brier and Fenix BJJ in Lowell under Raphael and Juliana Carneiro.  Kim owns a machine shop in Nashua, NH with husband, Marc.  She also handles the marketing for Dewzen drag racing accessories and is “team mom” to the sportsman racing team of husband and daughter.   She likes to read and write romance in her spare time.  As an unpublished novelist, she fully appreciate the dedication and effort it takes to be a blogger and hopes readers enjoy a very inexperienced but honest viewpoint of a sport she still knows so little about.


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Switching from “Typical Sports” to a Martial Art

Soccer, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, softball– you name the sport and I’ve probably tried it. My life has consisted of athletics. So, when my friend asked me to try HapKiDo, I thought I knew what I was getting into. Turns out martial arts is a lot different than I expected. I quickly found that mastering a new technique requires a different approach than hitting a 55-mph fastball or shooting a 3-pointer. I’m not saying that one is harder to accomplish than the other, they are just different beasts.

While repetition is key and practice still makes perfect, I’ve found martial arts to be more mentally taxing than any of the other sports I’ve played. During a sports game you have to know the field and think about what will happen two steps ahead of the play, which can be very difficult. In martial arts, you see a punch coming at your face and have to avoid it while setting yourself up for a good follow-up. One of my biggest struggles with martial arts has been getting out of my own head. My training partners often told me to “just stop thinking.” While there is some time to hang back and think about the opportunities in front of you during a sports game, time gets really tight in a fight and sometimes you just have to act. Martial arts has taught me to rely on my body and know its strengths and weaknesses. In a moment’s notice, I have learned that I can trust my instincts to act without much thought.

Any type of physical activity has the ability to grow us outside of that discipline and make our lives both happier and heathier. The goal setting and strong work ethic that gets developed in the gym is usually carried on into other areas of life. In my experience, martial arts built my character up even more than the other sports I’ve done. To this day, almost any time I step into a dojo to train, I’m forced out of my comfort zone. It has allowed me to gain a new confidence in my abilities. Reaching the end of my comfort zone has taught me what it really means to trust. In all sports, trust is a very important component of a team but the trust I gained in martial arts was in myself. Learning new techniques in martial arts forced me to have faith in myself and believe that I was good enough inside and out of the gym.

Overall, I think I’m trying to say that signing up for a HapKiDo class three years ago was one of the best decisions of my life. If you are thinking about getting started with a martial art, go for it. Know that it will be difficult and frustrating but the work you put in will be multiplied and greatly enhance your life. If you are a martial artist, know that there are benefits to other sports as well. Being versatile outside the gym can benefit you in the gym as well. As difficult as it may be to set aside time to cross train, I highly recommend it because it will expand your limits both mentally and physically.


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From Runner to Muay Thai Kick-Boxer

“Knowing I was out of the running game indefinitely was too much to bear.”

I remember feeling my calf quiver, snap, and then immediately give way. With no strength and excruciating pain, I was stranded a good five miles out from home and had to take an Uber back.  I had spent the entire harsh winter carefully treading on black ice and running through snow banks.  So the first “perfect” spring day, I took advantage of it entirely.  Maybe a little too aggressively, obviously.  As a seasoned distance runner, I knew better than to push the boundaries, putting myself at risk for serious injury.  And because of that, I was left dealing with the consequences.  A torn Achilles tendon, to be exact; 4-6 months of recovery.

I cried, A LOT. Not because of the pain, but knowing I was out of the running game indefinitely was too much to bear. In the first month post injury, I worked on recovery through daily yoga. I quickly grew bored.  Don’t get me wrong, it helped significantly but it didn’t quench my thirst for that adrenaline rush I craved.  I needed to pursue something a little more…challenging.  What is a runner to do when she can no longer run? I needed to find something else to fill the void.

Conveniently during this time, I had been chatting with my cousin about this exact dilemma.  She was in the same position as myself; sidelined due to a running injury.  She had recently joined a boxing gym, and suggested I join her for a class. Fighting arts is a field of sport I never considered in my life, as it never peaked my interest at any point.  So walking into the class, I didn’t expect anything to come from it.  Boy was I wrong.  First off, I had unknowingly joined a Muay Thai class. For those of you not familiar, Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is extremely physically and mentally disciplined and is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins.  

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Muay Thai class at Fenix Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Woburn with Coach Mark Raposa.

I was definitely so far out of my element and comfort zone. The majority, if not all, of the class was involved in some other sort of MMA/BJJ/Boxing.  My first class was a blur. I had tried to retain as much information as possible and it left my head spinning. For some reason though, I was interested in learning more. I wanted to conquer this mysterious ancient combat technique I knew absolutely nothing about.  So I continued to return to classes, week after week.  I learned how to deal a deadly jab, a powerful punch, a long and strong kick, a mean uppercut, and much more.  The mental strength of Muay Thai is what surprised me the most.  Muay Thai is a mentally challenging game, comparable to the dance between a predator and its prey.  Once I learned this, the art of the sport became much more clear.  I learned to observe body language before my opponent’s attack.  A quick observation of their right hip moving slightly helped me prepare swiftly to block a kick. The game is swift and I had to rely on my body’s instincts rather than over-analyzing my next move.

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Vegan boxing gloves from Vehement.

I gave myself a few weeks of classes before I made the commitment to the sport.  Once I did, it was time for me to invest in gloves.  This might be the exciting part for many, but I dreaded this.   I adopted a vegan lifestyle many years ago, meaning I do not consume anything that was once an animal or that came from an animal- including clothing products, etc. Majority of gloves are made of leather and I was not willing to compromise my ethics for this.  So as you now understand, the prospect of purchasing boxing gloves did not appeal to me entirely.  Non-leather gloves were far and few between. Many of the female oriented gloves were pink and so not up my alley. No offense to the women who love pink boxing gloves, but I’m definitely not one of them.   I then came across a German company called Vehement. They boast the world’s first sustainable fight gear, void of all animal products. Utilizing their own creation called Battleskin- a durable, vegan leather- the company has won many awards for their products.  A tip for any vegan fighters out there who are looking for an eco-friendly gear company; definitely check out Vehement. Their product is top notch and has been known to surpass several top conventional product companies by a long shot.

As a runner, I’ve been through it all. Many injuries throughout the years, testing countless running shoes, training strategies, proper fueling and hydrating techniques, marathons, early nights in and even earlier runs, etc.  I had grown cocky and restless through it all.  I had forgotten what it was like to actually work hard for a goal. Muay Thai humbled me and that was exactly what I needed.  I had forgotten how thrilling it is to start from nothing and mold myself into something.   Now, it being four months from my injury, I am content with how this has turned out.  Muay Thai taught me how to strike like the snake and strategize like the wolf, all with the ferocity of the bear.  In turn I have become a stronger, more patient, evolved, and well-rounded athlete. Is that not the epitome of athleticism?

headshotMarissa is a beginner in Muay Thai. She has trained for four months at Fenix Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Woburn with Mark Raposa. She began training after a running injury sidelined her from her marathon training. Besides Muay Thai, Marissa enjoys running, cooking & baking, collecting tea, and snuggling with her cat. Find her on Facebook: facebook.com/marissa.hughes.117 or Instagram: @thevegan_vixen


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Tomorrow, September 12th, YoloBJJ Presents the Female No-Gi Invitational

Women’s Brazilian Jiu-Jit10421450_10100402118498603_5214790955615689046_nsu is growing. There has been a movement in recent years to give women the same prize money as men in tournaments. Many cash prize tournaments will only offer money to the male divisions, or will offer a prize to the women that is significantly less, citing the lack of female turnout as a reason. This year, Marcello Garcia and Dominyka Obelenyte petitioned the IBJJF to give equal pay for all bjj fighters. Tournaments such as FIVE Grappling have begun offering the same amount of money to male and female divisions, and have elicited an enthusiastic response from the female bjj population.

The Midwest is about to join in women’s jiu-jitsu history when the AGC launches its First Ever Female No-Gi Invitational in 12002948_10100402118503593_5179434785369070830_nHamilton, OH. Attracting women from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Canada, and even Brazil, this tournament is about to raise the bar for women’s jiu-jitsu in the Midwest. From IBJJF World Champions, to UFC fighters, to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, this invite will highlight 16 women in a no-gi, all subs legal bracket with a $750 prize, plus a $50 bonus for every submission by the winner. We are not just being given equal pay at this tournament; we are being celebrated as the main event.

This opportunity is exciting for me, not only because of the offered prize, but because of the opportunity to compete with 15 other high-level women so close to home. Even at blue belt, I had to travel quite a distance to get matches. As a purple belt, it can be difficult to even get one match at a local tournament. It is my hope that this tournament will inspire more high-level ladies to come out in the future.

10406957_10104741806433759_7007156582405231948_nNikki Sullivan is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She travels all over the country competing in tournament after tournament. If you would like to watch her progress you can find her athlete’s page on Facebook: Nikki Sullivan BJJ


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How Do You Deal With Bad Training Partners?

6a01901e204628970b01bb085785f8970dA particular match sticks out in my mind when I think of bad training partners.  I had been training for less than a year and I was rolling with a guy that had been training for a few months.  I wouldn’t really call him a training partner, we trained at the same place and he was there just as often as I was but we had never really sparred.  I was selective of who I trained with because of my size and skill level.  He was stronger than I was (and I wasn’t at the skill level yet where I could effectively counter the strength disparity) and that resulted in being put into an armbar.  Now I wasn’t good at much else but my escapes were better than his armbar so I had my arms how you are supposed to (the arm in the sub gripping the bicep of the other arm, while that arm is cupping the inside of his thigh that is over my head.)  I push his leg off and attempt to either sit up or pin his leg to the mat with my shoulders and he swings his leg back and puts it back on my face.  We do this song and dance for a bit, longer than he obviously wanted to and so he became frustrated.  The answer to his frustration: He straightened out his head side leg and brought it done hard on my face.  I gave up the armbar simply to be done with him.   Unfortunately for him my boyfriend (now fiance) had been watching (my fiance was a blue belt at this point and had quite the size and skill advantage over the guy I had just rolled with).  Not only had he been extremely disrespectful and rough with me, he had just gotten done with rolling with another girl (small and newish) before he asked me to roll and had elbowed, kneed and generally been an a-hole while rolling with her.  My boyfriend had seen all of this and so kept a close eye on me as I rolled with the guy.  As soon as I tapped my boyfriend was up and asking the kid to roll.  I didn’t stick around to watch, I was annoyed and so found an upperbelt instructor that I knew would  be respectful of my size and skill level.  The kid didn’t come back to our school and instead went to another school that I assume would put up with his antics.  Did he learn a lesson from being smashed by an upperbelt due to his behavior?  Who knows? 

How does your school typically handle rough guys/gals like that?

At the beginning of each semester when we typically of a huge influx of new members the instructors always go through the ae0fc57382536e2a751245ecb7f270d3typical etiquette protocol.  They would explain showering, trimming nails, washing your gi/belt etc.  They also go over etiquette as far as rolling is concerned.  They explain what you can and cannot grab, illegal submissions that sort of thing and then they usually end with how you should roll with people smaller and less skilled.  Don’t slam anyone, don’t bench press small opponents (there is no technique associated and it could end with you in an armbar), don’t hurt them, don’t smash them (not the good kind of smashing that is done with pressure and great technique-that kind of smashing is encouraged).  If you belong to our club and you smash a smaller person (especially the women) then they will smash you to teach you to roll more calmly and with technique.  This is done as a way to teach them how important good technique is, it is easy to just throw around someone that you outweigh by 100 lbs but a lot harder when the person is your size and a few belts ahead of you.  The only issue I have with this is sometimes the guys are too afraid of being smashed by the upperbelts and so avoid the women at all costs for fear of being accused of being rough.  They may fear that if they beat us we will cry foul and they will get unnecessarily punished.  My fiancé is very good about talking to them after his roll with them.  He also will roll with them slowly and smoothly so they can see that you don’t need muscle and extreme aggression to succeed in BJJ.  If they were very rough (especially if they hurt me-which hasn’t happened in a very long time, I’m at the level now that even if I can’t submit a larger opponent in a given amount of time I can at least stay safe) he will smash them for the amount of time he has (sometimes 5-10 min depending on what the timer is set for-or if there is a timer) then he will talk to them about calming down, rolling with respect and not relying on strength.  Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.

If that doesn’t work I know I can go to my instructors about a training partner that is making me feel unsafe.  There was a person that I had trained with awhile back that was very aggressive.  They seemed to think that if they weren’t moving that they was losing, no matter what, so they had the tendency to flail and to just try to overpower their opponents.  I never had issues when I rolled with them ( I had almost 3 years of training on them) but some of my other female training partners who had been training for less than a year did.  After continued efforts to get this person to calm down it was finally taken to the instructor who talked to them.  It seemed to help, at least they tried to be more aware of what they was doing. Again, not all cases end this way.  There are some people that no matter what you say will never calm down, they will always be rough. 

So how do you deal with those guys?

You don't want to be the sad pug :(

You don’t want to be the sad pug 😦

I pose this question because of something I came across as I was perusing the BJJ subreddit.  The OP (original poster) asked the BJJ subreddit subscribers how to deal with a very aggressive training partner who he had quite a few injuries from.  OP had talked to the guy, telling him he was really rough, to which he got a response along the lines of “I like to go hard”.  The guy in question obviously believed he wasn’t in the wrong, to him others just couldn’t handle his style of BJJ.  The OP went on to explain that others at the school had talked to him to no avail.  In a case like this where the guy is dangerous and doesn’t seem to understand that he is dangerous my suggestion would be to kick him out of the school, but if the instructor doesn’t want to take such extreme measures (even if it’s in the best interest of his students) then my next suggestion would be to simply tell him no when he wants to roll.  If he has an issue then explain to him why.  Either he will get tired of having few training partners and will calm down or he won’t and at least you won’t have to deal with it.  I’m not in the habit of turning down training partners but I’ve been lucky to have really awesome ones for the most part.  There are a few that I will roll with only if I have to so I’m not getting stuck sitting out.  I will also roll at least once with all new people and use that experience to gauge whether or not I roll with them again.  If they are super spazzy I’ll give them a couple months to calm down before I go back to rolling with them. 

Everyone has dealt with a rough training partner I presume.  I’ve trained with rough female training partners as well as rough male training partners, just because women tend to be smaller and weaker doesn’t mean they cant be way too rough.  Ego effects us all.  The thing I love most about BJJ is that it is such a humbling experience but some people have a harder time being humbled than others.  If you find yourself dealing with someone who is a little too rough for your comfort talk to them, talk to an upperbelt and talk to your coach. If it’s a constant issue then simply don’t roll with them.  Don’t be afraid to say no to someone.   You are in charge of your training and if you find that there is one person who is having a negative effect on your training then cut them out.  You can’t train if you’re injured so stay safe and don’t put yourself in situations that could get you injured.  

Alex HeadshotAlex is a Blue Belt under Tim Sledd of Small Axe/Atos. She has trained for four years at various schools including Small Axe Bedford, Indiana University BJJ Club and Vortex Martial Arts. Her favorite techniques include s-mount and guard stuff. Her other hobbies include sleeping and trying to find more time in the day to sleep or train. Find her on Facebook  facebook.com/alexandra.vangorden or twitter: @AlexVanGorden.