By: Julie Jarnagin
I’m not sure what I thought women who trained Jiu-Jitsu were like. I only knew that I wasn’t one of them—or so I thought. Turns out, Jiu-Jitsu is for so many of us. Whether you’re a mom who never even envisioned herself as an athlete like me or a hardcore competitor, training Jiu-Jitsu provides so many benefits that you might just find yourself obsessed with it. Here are a few reasons I believe women should give Jiu-Jitsu a shot.
Self-Protection – Now that I train Jiu-Jitsu, do I think I could use the moves I’ve learned to protect myself in a fight against a bigger, stronger person? Maybe. But more important than the techniques themselves, I truly believe in my ability to stay calm in a high stress situation now that I train. Jiu-Jitsu classes put me out of my comfort zone every day. I know what it feels like to have someone heavier than me pinning me down. I’ve felt what it’s like to get thrown to the ground and need to quickly keep fighting. Through Jiu-Jitsu I’ve practiced controlling my breathing, managing my adrenaline, and looking for opportunities to escape. Because of my training, I believe that I wouldn’t freeze, and I wouldn’t give up. I would do everything in my power to fight back and get myself out of the situation.
Friendships- It isn’t easy making new friends as adults. As a mom, it’s even harder to build relationships that don’t revolve primarily around kids. In Jiu-Jitsu you must trust your training partners, so bonds form quickly and naturally. An added benefit is that friendships made on the mat have nothing to do with how much money you make, how your home is decorated, or how you look—because let’s face it, we all look a mess when we’re training. I’ve formed a tight circle of Jiu-Jitsu women who mean the world to me, and I’ve met so many guys who I know would have my back and my family’s backs if we needed them.
Health – Jiu-Jitsu requires muscle strength, core strength, cardio endurance, flexibility, and coordination—all while you’re trying to strategize your next move. It’s a workout that doesn’t feel repetitive or boring because of the infinite things to learn and discover. At almost-forty, I’m probably in the best shape of my life because of the sport. Maybe even more notable than the physical benefits are the benefits to mental health. Many say the workout, the community, and the focus required alleviate anxiety, depression, sleep problems and more.
Confidence – There aren’t many things in this world that are as completely humbling and as utterly confidence building as Jiu-Jitsu. On the mat, your weaknesses are exposed. If you deny or try to ignore your shortcomings while training, you’re only going to get yourself into more trouble. Instead you’re forced to face your weaknesses and work through them. As you learn more, it’s empowering to see yourself improving. It feels good to realize you’re pushing through your fears, insecurities, and comfort zones. You begin to understand that none of those things should be holding you back—in training or in life.
Curious about Jiu-Jitsu? Try a few classes. If you’re nervous, call your local gym and ask if there’s a ladies-only class. If not, ask the instructor if there’s a class when a welcoming female will be there to train with you. Even if there isn’t, try it anyway. The more women who train, the more other women will want to try it. You never know. You might just get addicted.