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  • Writer's pictureJess D

Why Somen Men Don’t Like Rolling with Women in BJJ

When it comes to training jiu-jitsu, some men have their reasoning why they err on the side of caution when it comes to rolling with women.

Jiu-jitsu is a sport for everyone and although it started off very male dominated, women have been kicking ass and taking names for quite a few years. I’ve been lucky enough that in every gym I’ve trained at, I’ve been welcomed and protected by most of the men in my bjj gyms, especially when I was the only girl. I was treated like an equal, a fellow teammate despite my gender and that sense of community is one of the driving forces that have been keeping me training for almost ten years.

Although some males are open to training with and helping their fellow female teammates be their best at bjj, some men don’t want to roll with women. Any man who feels this way has their own reasoning. This topic came up for me during a discussion with my friend and fellow MMA practitioner Jourdan, who after reading the Storytime about the creepy guy at my gym expressed his own fears in training with women and why he’s selective about the women he trains with. This prompted me to talk to my friends about the reasons why men don’t like rolling with women. These reasons come from not only my conversation with Jourdan but my other male friends and things I’ve heard around the gym.

1. Men don’t want to hurt women

It’s very likely that you will get hurt in some way when doing bjj. For those of you reading this and have been considering doing jiu-jitsu, this isn’t meant to scare you. It’s just a reality of any contact sport that you do. But I believe that most people in any jiu-jitsu gym want to train in a way that makes sure their partners are safe and still get the full health and skill benefits of the sport. Sometimes people get hurt despite your best efforts and it’s a terrible feeling when you accidentally hurt someone. Be it something slipping or not recognizing when someone is tapping for you to stop. Seeing someone writhing in pain because you hurt them is the worst, and no number of apologies and the person saying “it’s okay” can make you feel better about hurting someone in the moment.

Sometimes, no matter what, there are just some guys that want to go 100% hard 100% of the time and they don’t want any holds barred when training. So, to fulfill this, they will usually pass up women to train bjj with just to avoid the guilt of hurting them automatically. They most likely don’t want to be seen as the dude who hurts girls or trains to hard or can’t control his strength or power. So, when the coach says find a partner, they will deliberately avoid making eye contact with any woman or if you ask. to train, they will just say no. After a while, you start recognizing these dudes and YOU avoid them all together. Usually there are plenty of other people to train with anyway. `

2. They want to respect their wives/girlfriends who don’t train

This might seem silly to people that have trained for a long time. Their partners who don’t train know the drill and are even friends with the women at the gym. But there are some women who don’t understand the concept of proximity when it comes to bjj. When they just happen to come by the jiu-jitsu gym to meet their partner and see them rolling around on the ground and laughing with some chick, their emotions become too much, and they tell their partner they aren’t allowed to roll with women at the gym anymore.

I know quite a few dudes, mostly in China, whose partners have told them to delete their female training partners from social media, stop talking to women at the gym, and will even go to the extent of even stopping by the gym to pop up and see if their man is following their rules. In some stories I’ve heard, their overprotective attitudes were justified because their significant other had betrayed their trust. But I think most of the time, the wives/girlfriends were just creating scenarios in their own mind.

3. They have little to no time for women who come to the gym to be sexy and meet men

There are always people in the gym who are trying to better themselves in some way: physically, mentally,emotionally, etc. Since most bjj gyms are mostly men, all of these men who are becoming their better selves attract women who are looking to find a boyfriend or a husband. Sometimes these women have no interest in jiu-jitsu and dress-up in a way that’s counterproductive to proper bjj training (i.e., short shorts and sports bras with their boobies popping out).

I mostly saw this in China where girls would come to the class knowing that there were going to be a lot of muscular and attractive (and foreign) dudes training there. A lot of times, the coach would kind of see through this behavior and pair the women together so we can help each other. Of course, the booty short chicks will be uninterested in anything we had to say. Many other times, if those girls would go to an attractive guy who had no time or interest in meeting a random chick, those dudes would call one of the girls over to help. I also believe there was a bit of discomfort with training with someone who was half naked. Which brings me to my next point…

4. They don’t want any sexual harassment claims

In the time of #metoo, being called out as a sexual predator is a stain that no one wants attached to their name. Because of the proximity that jiu-jitsu has when people are training, I can understand the fear of someone claiming that you touched them in an inappropriate way. Also, in recent times, many coaches and gyms have been called out as predators in the bjj community and their transgressions have been highlighted accordingly. If you’ve read my article about the creeper in the gym, I’ve had a guy make me feel super uncomfortable to train with him. But, because I went to and trusted my coach, the problem was taken care of as soon as I mentioned I was uncomfortable.

But of course, accidents happen when you’re rolling. I’ve had many a dude accidentally graze my boobs and then apologize profusely. I think when you’ve been training as long as I have, you start to realize that stuff happens. But, when it comes to new women in the sport who might not be comfortable with their male training partners yet, they might think that certain comments or techniques were intentionally made to be inappropriate towards them.

A guy, to avoid this all together, might just not roll with women they don’t know or are not friends with. As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, my friend Jourdan avoids rolling with any women he doesn’t know. After discussing his fears, I completely get where he’s coming from. I think that all of us in the sport of bjj hate the fact that there are some people in society that make it harder all around for people to feel generally safe, especially in a close contact sport.

5. They don’t want their ego to be bruised

This is something I experienced first-hand being a blue belt when first arriving to China. In my article about what BJJ is like in china, I mentioned an instance where I wanted to roll with some guys, and they said they were too tired to roll with me but not tired enough to roll with each other. Of course, I made up all kinds of scenarios in my head about why that was because it seriously bothered me. When talking about it with my other male Chinese friends, they mentioned that they might not want to lose face by tapping to a foreign female blue belt.

Although this happened to me in China, there are so many instances I’m sure happens all over the world. I think many of us can admit that the male ego is quite fragile. BJJ is a sport where strength can be added to skill in order to dominate your partner, which even while writing it seems so masculine. If there is a guy that has this mentality, they might avoid rolling with a woman all together to not even bare the shame of tapping to one.

When it comes down to it, everyone should be comfortable training at their bjj gym. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I used to get offended when a guy didn’t want to roll with me. Now I’m realizing that:

1) Men's comfort in training is just as important as women's and,

2) There are so many other people within my bjj gym and within the bjj community that want to train with me and allow me to be a part of their growth on their BJJ journey.

Now my question for you: if you’re a woman who trains BJJ, what reasons has a man given you about not wanting to roll with you? If you’re a guy who trains, what reasons have you had to not train with a woman? Most out their reason gets posted on my Instagram @blackgirlwhitegi_bjj.

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1 Comment

Mar 08

Thanks for the great post! At my gym the guys who don't ever train or roll with me are the giants. I'm very small, even for a woman, so I chalk it up to that, because almost all the others seem alright with rolling with me, at least once in awhile.

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