From Students To Leaders: The Future Of Women In BJJ

If you look out on the mats of one of our Foundations BJJ classes, you’ll see something that is becoming more common in jiu jitsu schools: female practitioners.

It’s not just a few token women either. Many of them are filling the ranks of the jiu jitsu classes.

All schools have some women in them, but it’s uncommon to see as many women as you do in a Foundations class at SBG Montana.

It’s gotten a lot better, since I started training at SBG when there were few female black belts to look up to. If SBG and other schools keep moving forward, then BJJ in the next ten years will look a lot different.

But if we want to create a supportive community where women are driven to train, then we have to think about what we need to do to keep new female students around.

Curriculum

A well-thought out women’s curriculum provides women with the skills to do really well in their first year despite BJJ being a male-dominated sport. It will teach them how to use technical skills to get out of tough spots even when you’re rolling with someone the size and strength of Hulk.

Men, because of their natural physical strength, have an advantage over women, because they can brute their way out of a tough spot.

Women don’t have that advantage. Women have to rely on skill and technique to get the advantage of their opponent. That’s what I teach in my women’s class.

For women, their fights are more technical, making their matches more exciting to watch. This will help when it comes to narrowing that gap and making the pay more equal. SBG is already at the forefront of that.

Community

Women also have something bigger which gives them an advantage: how they invest in other women.

If you have the kind of school with an alpha female or an “it” girl in the class who beats up all the other girls, then that kind of environment doesn’t attract new female members. There’s no room for female members. When you socially ice them out or roll too hard before they’re ready, then they’re not going to have a reason to stick around.

If you are more concerned with proving something and always being the alpha female, then you will always be the only girl in your school.

If, however, you view your training not as an individual but as a team effort, then you’re going to have the kind of school that attracts women and that has a strong following of women.

Leadership

A woman’s role in BJJ doesn’t end with a black belt promotion or placing in an IBJJF tournament. Women practitioners can reach further than that by striving to be coaches in their schools.

Not just any coach, either. It’s easy to lump women into kids classes and other classes for women, but they have the greatest impact in adult coed classes.

Having a female coach in an adult coed class gives women the opportunity to teach all those things they were learning, while they were rolling with students who were bigger and stronger.

It makes a statement to new female practitioners that this is a supportive environment while also sending the message to all students that female leaders are valued in the school.

To our female assistant coaches, BJJ classes are not just for male instructors.

The best quality about women is how they invest in each other and bring others up. Let’s use our strengths to make the future of BJJ a sport for women.