GB Student question: “I want to bring my girlfriend to try Jiu-Jitsu. Will she like it?”

With Jiu-Jitsu addicts spending 2, 3 or 4 nights a week (or more!) at bjj class, many male students would like to bring their girlfriend (or wife) along to try a class to see if it is a activity that they can enjoy together.
It is a great idea to find a common activity that you can socialize with other like minded people, spend time together and stay physically fit all at once.
While we at Gracie Barra believe in the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu for everyone – that women especially, can enjoy a lot of positive things from Jiu-Jitsu, there are a few considerations that will go a long way to making the experience a positive (and not a negative!) one for her. And most importantly, make her want to come back again for the next class.
From an interview on GB Blog with Prof. Fabiana Borges, she shares some advice on introducing women to jiu-jitsu.
GB: How do instructors adapt the jiu-jitsu class to make it more fun and friendly for new female students?
Prof. Fabiana Borges: “In my experience ladies need to understand the why, so they are able to learn it.
Most of ladies aren’t used to wrestle as kids and it hard to get used to that.
So be patient. I would say a lot of specific training on the beginning instead if live rolling, so they don’t get frustrated.”
Based on this author’s experience of seeing many different pairs of guys and girls come through the Gracie Barra school, there are definitely some helpful tips and some potential pitfalls to avoid. You want your girl to enjoy the class enough to consider coming back again.
Let’s take a look at some practical advice for the guys to introduce your girl to try Jiu-Jitsu.
    1) Focus on the self defense aspects of Jiu-Jitsu first.
    I’m sure that your De la Riva guard game is on point,..but to the new student off the street it doesn’t make much sense when it comes to their understanding of learning self defense. At one gym, I saw 3 girls who were curious about learning Jiu-Jitsu, try a class, only to have the instructor try to teach them some advanced DLR Guard sweeps on their first day! The self defense benefits of a sick DLR guard were not apparent to the young women; the girls were confused and quickly lost their enthusiasm for learning bjj. They never came back. Perhaps a better approach would have been an introductory lesson in basic self defense for common street situations like a wrist grab, or escaping someone bear hugging you. The practical benefits of a woman seeing a self defense scenario that is identifiable will help her experience the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu for real life.
    2) Don’t try to show off.
    I’ve seen guys who loved Jiu-Jitsu, they finally got their girl to get on the mat, and what did they do? In their enthusiasm they showed all of their advanced rolling, spinning, inverted techniques…awesome huh?!…to confused looks from the girl. Instead of being impressed and inspired, she quickly became overwhelmed and had no idea what the moves were. I recall watching another well meaning guy spend 30 minutes trying to teach his completely new girl how to perform inverted rolls across the shoulders. She wasn’t getting the movement and her frustration and growing discomfort was obvious. I explained to her great relief that mastering inverted guard on her 1st day was not essential to learning Jiu-Jitsu. See tip #1 – keep it basic. We understand how the guy wants to show his girl how awesome he and his moves are…but it doesn’t do much to encourage her to come back.
    3) Let the head instructor do the teaching.
    Sure, the guy may be a blue belt and could show her a ton of cool moves…but both parties can rapidly become frustrated when the other person isn’t “getting it right” and the person teaching starts to use a frustrated tone. In a similar way that one should not attempt to teach their partner to drive a car (which dissolves into frustration, arguments and hurt feelings) it is better to have the Professor correct the move. Receiving too much correction from ones partner can quickly lead to squabbles and defensiveness. It is easier for her to get the feedback from the head instructor – who is a patient, experienced teacher. Everyone involved has a better time.
    4) Arrange for her to work with an experienced female partner instead of her having to be the guy’s partner.
    This will help her feel more comfortable with some of the close physical contact on the ground in a class surrounded by strangers. Their body weight and height will most likely be closer, so performing the moves with a female partner will be easier and less frustrating. Additionally, the prospect of meeting a new friend and having a training partner to look forward to seeing at the next class can be a bonus in her decision whether she wants to come back again.
See also on Gracie Barra : Drilling : How To Do It Right
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia