Women and BJJ: Femininity

[Jiu Jiu’s note: Part 2 can be found here. I also regularly respond to most all the comments, so it’s never too late to add your 2 cents to this article! ^_^]

I love feeling feminine. One of the drawbacks to doing BJJ is that, afterward, I often feel like I was tagging along with Steve Irwin and got dragged into the swamp by a croc and barely escaped with my life. Oh wait–that’s how I LOOK. I FEEL exhausted. πŸ™‚ And during the summer when it’s no gi and I’m nearly swimming in someone else’s pool of sweat–I LOOK like I lost that match with the gator, and I FEEL like it, too.

The Gator Won

This is the part of my article I like to call “I scour the Internet so YOU don’t have to (unless your name is Slideyfoot).”

On Jiu Jitsu Forums there was a post about the good and bad points of beautiful women in BJJ, namely the idiot boys who say things like “I’d like to get in her triangle,” and that women arealready struggling to gain respect and pictures of women in sports bras and black belts make that more difficult.

Graciemag hosted an interview with Michelle Nicolini, a black belt, which was more about what it’s like to be a woman in BJJ. However, it did yield this awesome quote by her:

Train, even if you’re wearing perfume, makeup, nails and a pink kimono, just train.Β There’s a very feminine and charming side to the world of Jiu Jitsu.

I very much enjoyed Megan’s article called New Lungs, a New Gi, and BJJ’s Femininity. In it she talks about how she enjoys that DURING the class she doesn’t NEED to focus on her looks–she feels just as sweaty and gross as the dudes, but AFTER class she wants to femme it up. She also brings up a great point–the difference between FEMININITY and SEXUALITY. (More on that later)

Sweaty hair in your partner’s mouth is NOT feminine.

Megan referenced a great article called Ladies First! The BJJ Renaissance and the Growth of Women’s Jiu-Jitsu in Texas. In it, it talks about the situation in Texas and included so many quotes by women in BJJ–why they love it, what it means for them, etc. Georgette Oden was quoted as saying Guys already usually think it’s cool, but women might not, until they see that other women are getting involved and enjoying it yet retaining their femininity.

I loved Meg’s Design Your Own Crazy-Ass BJJ Gi entry. It’s all about being feminine and yet functional. It is a “Death Star of girlie self-expression.”


There was a forum post over on Sherdog about why women don’t like BJJ, and one of the key points made, in my opinion, was that BJJ was NOT feminine and that women who did it were an exception to the rule.

Me sporting swamp hair. The croc lost this time.

Supporting this idea was an article I absolutely LOVED by Megan O called Hold My Medals while I Triangle Your Boyfriend. This article talks quite at length about how BJJ is one of the least feminine things this gal has done Within this amazing article she brings up a key point, one I will wax poetic about later: One of my fellow training partners has said on numerous occasions that she doesn’t want to be thought of differently or treated differently because she is a woman.

And finally, I would be remiss if I did not include The Feminine Mystique of Exercise and Sport by Katie, aka A Skirt on the Mat (okay SERIOUSLY get out of my brain, Katie, because you wrote this less than two weeks ago and I didn’t read it before I posted here. Looks like we have some synergy going. Or I’m just psychic-ly linking to you. Or we’re both just women in BJJ and femininity is a concern for us. I choose the psychic link theory, myself) and in it she said:

when it comes to the more intense, full contact sports, some women either downplay their femininity, or underline and highlight it with bold colors, but both are essentially attempting to convey the same message, β€œbeing a woman does not hinder my ability on the mat or in the ring,”

So there it is. To sum up the whole Internet: men and women are different. Women in BJJ do not want to be SEXUALIZED. Sexualization and femininity are NOT the same thing. Many women want to be feminine. BJJ is not feminine. Women who do BJJ either do not care about it or they do care about it. Let me sum up:

I’m in the pink! And yes, I’m exaggerating. We are not this polarized.

The glaring things I’m missing from most of these articles is: WHAT DO BJJ WOMEN WHO CARE ABOUT FEMININITY DO TO FEEL FEMININE? I am not at all talking about feeling like a woman. I have bewbs and and a va-jay-jay. I feel like a woman all the time, both emotionally and to my sparring partners who have been stuck in my vice-like half-guard :).

Analyzing the specific points that feel un-feminine: the gross feelings, the ultra short fingernails, the potential for mat burn and cauli ear, the sweat, the swampy hair. We don’t LOOK awesome. So how can we LOOK/FEEL MORE feminine?

CLOTHES
Wearing feminine colors–many women’s gis are in colors designed to appeal to women (ps. no, I don’t think Pepto Bismol is appealing to ANYONE). There are also fantastic rash guards out there that are distinctly feminine, including a pink one for breast cancer, some pretty surfer rash guards, ones with a feminine logo, and even Fight Chix’s rash guard. There are also some wicked cool patches out there, like Georgette’s “Female of the Species” patch, and even some Hello Kitty patches.

Georgette rockin the chica gis. Notice pink can be pretty and not look like it is the cure (or cause) of stomach aches!

SMELLS
Dear ladies and gentlemen, I do NOT mean to dump on perfume before you get on the mats. I mean smell nice. Take showers, wash your gi, wash your rash guards. When I smell like peaches and apples or roses, I FEEL more feminine. I also got some Peppermint Cooling Leg Gel from the Body Shop. Having peppermint smelling feet is not only kind for partners, but makes me feel like I’m having a spa day :).

TATTOOS!
Permanent makeup! Yes, I’m seriously considering getting permanent eyeliner while I’m in Korea. It’s common here, and I’ve been wearing the exact same eyeliner style for over 15 years. I’ll feel super feminine if I get this done, plus, it will save me time every day because I won’t have to wear eyeliner! πŸ™‚ I’ve also had eyelash extensions recommended to me.

I call this my “On the mat” look

PRETTY MOUTHGUARDS!
You can order some pretty rockin mouth guards now!

I would totally pick gold. This guy even has cool pictures on some of them!

TOENAILS!
I only recently discovered the miracles of pedicures! Holy crap! Way to feel feminine!

Yep, that’s my foot! I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and CUTE! πŸ™‚

SHAVE!*(edited to add)
When I have smooth legs, I feel much more feminine. I like to keep at least the lower half of my legs smooth. So really–I only NEED to shave up to my calf. πŸ˜€

Haircuts (added 7/17/2011)
I got my haircut so that it wasn’t this tangled, sweaty, gross mess. Now it is TOTALLY CUTE and looks like this:

Mad I tell you, MAD! πŸ˜‰

NO-NOs
I would LIKE to believe that these are common sense, but there is no such thing as common sense for people with no experience or background in BJJ, so let’s make it clear.
1. No makeup.
Your face is smushed up against your partner’s gi. No one wants your eyeliner or foundation on their gi.
2. No hair products. Again, no one wants your gel or hair spray up in their face or rubbing on their gi.
3. No jewelry. I really didn’t know this going into BJJ. I kept my earrings in for a week (they were the captive ball hoops). These can get grabbed or stuck to gis and you DON’T want them ripped out.
4. No long fingernails. Period. These break, cut, and maim both you and your partner.
5. No perfume. It’s obnoxious and you don’t want guys to go home smelling like they just had an affair. Or maybe you do, you vixen!
6. No wearing JUST a sports bra. We don’t want your bewbs and your sports bra to have a falling out. We don’t want to be focusing on your cleavage. Please wear something over your rack.
7. No going commando. Really. Just don’t.
8. No shaving RIGHT before class* (edited to add). THIS IS FOR MEN AND WOMEN. If you shave RIGHT before class you are opening up microcuts on your skin, leaving it perfectly hospitable to bacteria and staph. Shave, just at least a few hours before class.
9. No loose, long hair in class. Again, for MEN AND WOMEN. If you have medium hair or longer, it should be in a pony tail or put back somehow.

So the question remains: Gals, where do you fall on that VENN diagram (blue, pink or red)? I personally like being a feminine woman and I like doing BJJ–for me, it’s importantΒ  to combine the two. GALS–WHAT, if anything, DO YOU DO TO FEEL MORE FEMININE? GUYS–WHAT, if anything, DO THE BJJ WOMEN AROUND YOU DO TO LOOK MORE FEMININE? If you avoid going for the feminine look on the mats, why? Do you feel like you’ll be more sexualized if you look feminine? Do you feel you won’t be taken as seriously? These ARE concerns.

To the random negative Internetters who may be reading–fashion < BJJ. I don’t feel like it’s more important to look good than to be good in BJJ. I go to BJJ because I’m serious about my BJJ and want to be better. At the same time, I enjoy feeling feminine and don’t think the two need to be separated.

Edited 11/22/12 to fix broken links. If you find any more, let me know!

  1. How many Megs/Megans do BJJ and blog?! Wonder if they are Taurans too. Want to be part of an ARMY OF BJJ MEGANS! ;P

    Great piece, JiuJiu.

    • Hahahaha it’s true! I’m starting to believe you will all combine to become one big huge Megatron. Like the Meg + BJJ version of Voltron.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF7cuJ3V5HY]

      • LOL…I’m beginning to think there’s something to that “strong and able” meaning in the name Megan. GREAT post Jiu-jiu…There are just so many ways of expressing and dealing with femininity on the mats, and you covered them really well.

  2. I used to love doing my toenails, except I felt bad about leaving red streaks all over the mats =( So I nixed that.

    Honestly, I’m not super fond of the colored gis, but I do love my Fenom, and my women’s Atama. I want to put some of my fenom patches on my non-fenom gis, just because they’re super cool and remind the boys that while I’m one of them, I’m not REALLY one of them.

    • OH NOEZ! I hope this does not happen. If it does, I will need to color my toes the color of our mats. Then I won’t have to worry about it! πŸ™‚

    • I do my toes & my boyfriends toes (always in black) for bjj every week. We used to have the same problem! I’ve found that one or two coats of clear coat will keep the color from getting on the mats.

  3. I am for sure a feminine BJJ girl. I think in general, I am pretty feminine, I wear make up and perfume. I color my hair, and tweeze my eyebrows. I love high heels and accessories… but I’m not your typical giry girl. My favorite shoes are platform flip flops, which are very girly but they are adorned with skulls. Almost all of my accessories are metal and most of my belts are studded. Though, white animal print with metal studs. lol Anyway, my point is that I am feminine, but in my own way… and I try to being as much of that to the mat as I can. .. but that can be applied to me in general. I always try to put as much of myself as I can in anything I do.

    But as far as being a feminine BJJer (Jiujitsunista!) goes, I always shower and shave before class. … I don’t want to accidentally sand paper leg someones face off. I always have my toe nails painted, and I do wear eye liner. I specifically get water proof though, and I’ve never had it melt down my face, or get on someone else’s gi. I also wear a Fenom gi, which I think is feminine and very much my style… pink and black. … and the fight shorts I wear under my gi are obviously girl shorts. 99% of the time they go unseen, but on the rare occasion I get pants mid grapple, I most importantly don’t want my panties exposed, but this butt belongs to a girl, and if people have to see it, it will be covered in hot pink shorts.

    And I do all of that for me. Granted I don’t want people thinking I look like a troglodyte, but the effort I put forth is for my benefit. I like to feel pretty… I really don’t care whatever one else thinks.

    I think I am the most feminine girl in our gym, but I don’t think the guys take me more or less serious than the girl who says she wears grey tee shirts under her gi specifically to see how sweaty she gets. I think my general attitude and dedication shows them I am not there to do anything other than train.

      • I love my hot pink fight shorts. LOL – They say XOKO across the butt… However, I do keep them inside my gi pants to the best of my ability. hehehe … Though, on the rare occasion when they are seen, most of the guys have asked if they can borrow them. o.O

  4. Nice!! I’m in the pink too. I usually try to always sport a professional pedicure (because they tend to not rub off on the mat) and I like to wear loud girly colored rash guards (red, hot pink, teal and purple). I do like the idea of some really cool ‘Girl Power’ patches to put on all my gis (I have a couple of Powered by She ones that should do the trick). Plus, I do have a very beautiful dark pink Atama limited edition Kyra Gracie gi. I’m saving this for special occasions like Girls in Gis and women’s only classes (the guys at my gym aren’t too keen on the pink gi because they feel like your putting a target on your back, but, oh well, maybe I will have to change their mindsets)! I love being a feminine BJJ girl!! πŸ™‚

    • My professional pedicure has already rubbed off a bit on the mats. πŸ™ Ah well.

      Yep! I have “Powered by She” on my gis as well.

      I like the idea of the Kyra Gracie gi, but it’s SOOOOO Pepto Bismol colored! I wish it was a different hue. Ah well. πŸ™‚ Good luck on not being a target! πŸ™‚

  5. I’m in the pink area, and a pink gi! My school doesn’t have any other regular ladies training there (although a new white belt that started this month may stick with it!), and we don’t really have rules on gi color. I figure since I need to wear a gi anyway, it might as well be one I think it pretty. Toe nail polish is also an important thing to me, and with a high quality topcoat, it won’t streak the mat or rub off too quickly.

  6. Interesting post. I might have to think about it more and blog about it myself.

    I struggled with my femininity when I first started BJJ. It was awkward to step across that line so far into the masculine. This was the case, even though I am not terribly “girly”. This is probably going to sound cliche…but, the more I grow up and experience things, what femininity means to me is changing. It is not about my make-up or nice nails.

    I still like getting dolled up sometimes, of course. I LOVE dresses. And I can still appreciate a good hair day and I am slightly disappointed when it is going to get ruined by BJJ or the gym. But to me, being feminine — being myself — means being emotionally and physically strong, resilient and risk-taking, sensitive and empathetic, assertive, intelligent, and determined.

    I shy away from appearances on the mat that are shamelessly “feminine” (pink gis, too many flowers, etc.), AND shy away from those things that are overtly “masculine” (gorillas, sharks, pitbulls, etc.). I do not like the dichotomous gender stereotypes that they represent. More and more, gender roles are converging in North America, and I think that is a very good thing. For the most part, I think my sentiment towards this is reflected by how I present myself on the mat. Mind you, I am still a girl, and for some silly reason I will make a point of wearing a black rashguard under my blue gi instead of a blue rashguard. It just looks nicer…

    Also, I have boobs. That’s always going to be pretty feminine, and with zero effort!

    • I’m not a woman, so not sure if I therefore have anything meaningful to add, but I just wanted to say that I have the same issues with the connotations surrounding ‘femininity’ that Ashley does (unless I’m misreading her comment).

      I really don’t like the idea that a woman should feel she has to wear make-up, like pink, cover herself in flowers and assert her gender difference (i.e., must wear a dress, look attractive, and generally appeal to men). Wanting to do that, because it makes you feel good rather than as a result of some external pressure (which appears to be what’s under discussion), is something quite different. So I’m definitely not talking about you guys. πŸ˜€

      For example, I was upset when I saw that one of the presents (not from anybody I’m related to, thankfully) my niece got for her third birthday was a princess set, complete with high heels, a tiara and earrings. At only three, she was already getting gender roles shoved in her face. On the one hand, she did look like she liked the present, so perhaps I was just getting all uppity in my feminism (perhaps that’s true of the general comment I’m making here too). Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little sick as she toddled around on those heels, clip-on earrings jangling, being told what a beautiful little princess she was. πŸ™

      Of course, could be that I also don’t understand, because I actively avoid being ‘masculine’. I hate a lot of the stuff guys are supposed to like in order to assert their ‘manliness’ (e.g., cars, power tools, going out drinking with ‘the lads’, etc).

      • Slidey–of COURSE you have a voice! Plus, you can share what the women in your gym do as well! πŸ˜‰

        I understand what you’re saying, and I agree to some extent.

        I think that for many women, BJJ presents a strange challenge. Perhaps in their normal lives some women are not ultra feminine, but when they get on the mats they FEEL masculine, so they may need to do something more feminine than they normally do so that they can feel NORMAL. Like they’re normally in the middle, but BJJ pushes them to one side of the masculine/feminine spectrum, so they have to do the opposite to push them into the middle. I feel a tiny bit this way.

        On the other hand, I also believe in self expression, and I do love to express my feminine side. I like being girlie, and I like not being mistaken for a man on the mats. To be honest, I don’t want to be treated exactly like a man on the mats. I could get blasted for that, but I do want a modicum of respect shown to me–including not using overly rough language, keeping things appropriate, etc. I’m not interested in being “one of the guys” just as you are not interested in bonding with dudes over power tools. I AM interested, however, in earning respect by my showing up, applying myself, not worrying about my black eye, applying adequate pressure, etc.

        Thanks for recognizing the difference between external and internal pressure. You are absolutely right–I absolutely do not want to contribute to a NEED for women to be anything on the mats they don’t FEEL they want to be. (did that make sense?). I do not want to add to the external pressure. I wanted to create a great list so that if women were feeling a little too masculine for their own comfort that they knew some positive ways to express that.

        Thanks for keeping it honest! πŸ™‚

      • Unfortunately there is only one woman who trains regularly at my gym right now (although I’ve noticed at least three others recently, so hopefully they’ll become regular), and she definitely isn’t very girly on the mats at all. Though I think she may have worn a red gi in the past (no pink though, as far as I can remember). Here she is in action with my instructor:

        [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IJfVFyv3bU&w=640&h=390%5D

      • Slidey, seeing a three year old with the princess get-up would really bother me as well.

        I have to say, I really appreciate that you’re a male with the sensibility and sensitivity to critically look at the position of women in our society. A lot of guys are like “international women’s day? what about men’s day? ho-hum!” I don’t know how people can say that if they were to simply think about recent history. I mean, the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years for women and their role in society is phenomenal. I guess you could say I am one of those women who really don’t appreciate the “woman, make me a sandwich jokes”. That reality is still very recent.

        At the same time, I think a lot of work needs to be done for gender equality in the opposite direction. It should be okay for men to hold non-traditional male positions, like public school teachers, for example. It should be okay for men to be sensitive, caring fathers (and they should get paternity leave longer than one month!). It should be okay for little boys to dress as Daphne.

        I used to struggle with maintaining my femininity on the mat. Now I just want to roll and I mostly struggle with the perception of gender roles in general. It’s one of my favourite things to reflect on and is something I am very critical of, actually. So, thanks again for bringing it up, Julia!

      • Poo, video embedding didn’t work! Bah.

        @Ashley: Yep, with you on that one. This is going to veer a little off-topic, but one of the things that depresses me most is not only men who make silly comments about feminism, but the social pressures that compel a number of women to preface what they say with “I’m not a feminist, but.”

        I really hate the way it has become a dirty word, given that so much of what feminism set out to do has yet to be accomplished: e.g., equal pay for equal work. James Bond knows what I’m talking about. πŸ˜‰

        Then there is the outrageous way the media continues to report rape. I wonder how that story would be received by a woman in South Africa.

      • Slidey,
        Of course you have a voice, a very sophisticated voice. I wish more mothers would raise men like you. We, women in jits, adore you. ;-}

      • This is a subject which interests me intensely (perhaps too intensely to present an objective viewpoint).

        Feminine or masculine is in your head, not in your apparel. Some men need biker gear to feel masculine, and some women need tiaras and pink lipstick. But those things are just external accouterments that project or amplify what we feel (or want to feel) inside.

        When I put on a “man” costume, I feel like a clown. I have feminine female friends (and a few feminine male friends) who feel the same about the “woman” costume. I guess that means that we prefer androgyny.

        One of my best friends for many years was an extremely masculine woman who lived for her martial arts. She could have modeled for Swamp Hair/Gray Tees Under Gis Digest[TM]. However, all of that was outside; she was still feminine inside. Everyone who didn’t really know her assumed a nonexistent dichotomy.

        Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    • Ashley–thank you so much for adding to this conversation. I understand where you’re coming from and I HOPE you blog about it! Please include a link here if you do!

      What changed my mind the most about femininity was my living in Ukraine. The women there got dolled up to go to the store for a bag of potatoes. They were hyper-feminized. What I realized was that they took CARE of their appearance, and THAT for me is what is feminine. It doesn’t HAVE to do with wearing pink (funnily enough, I’m wearing a pink shirt today), but with how well put together you are. After seeing the difference between how they showed that care and the American PCVs who would roll out of bed and shove a cap on, I came to feel differently.

      Now, I prefer things that are a bit more…elegant? That’s probably the wrong word. I prefer shoes that are made for women rather than men. I prefer wearing necklaces. I prefer wearing clothing that fits and is suited for me–for example, I get my shirts tailor made. They last longer and they fit better. I don’t feel the need to wear a ton of makeup, and I honestly don’t even brush my hair, but my hair is so silky that it never tangles (before I get on the mat).

      I try to pick things I LIKE. Sometimes that’s the lilac gi, and sometimes it’s my krav maga shirt of a dude holding someone by the throat and about to punch him in the face. AWESOME!

      I also recognize that if a woman comes in and sees someone too dolled up it can have the opposite effect as well. In short–I try to be myself, and on occasion it’s me being a princess, and other times it’s me being a big giant nerd. And sometimes both. πŸ™‚

  7. Ahem πŸ™‚ I’M PIIIIIIIIIINK!!!!

    Y’all already know I am big-time into colored gis. Pink is fine (though, as a redhead, it took me a little while to accept it in my wardrobe.) But I dig green too, and yellow, various shades of blue from baby to mallard, purples and violets and lavenders, and OF COURSE the tiedye πŸ™‚

    I love me a pedicure, but I get Grappler’s Pedicure within 12 hours. What’s that? I am never off the mats more than 12 hours, it seems, and no pedicure, professional or otherwise, even with 3 (*THREE!*) coats of clear topcoat, can withstand mat abrasion. So the Grappler’s Pedicure looks like a normal one, with half-moon shaped areas on both big toe nails completely free of nail polish. *sigh*

    I don’t always wear a rashie. When it’s not a rashie, it’s a tshirt, some of which I got on Cafe Press, with girlie sayings like “Jiu Jitsu Girl– I Hug Till it Hurts” or brazen brags like “Tap or get owned!” or “You wish you could fight like a girl!”

    I never wear fightshorts/compression shorts under gi pants when training. Only in a tournament (because it’s damn hot in the academy 9 months of the year, but tournaments are videotaped!) I, like Kerawin of the splendidly-written In Sepia’s Res blog, love to wear girly underpants. (She blogged about this here: http://kerawin.blogspot.com/2009/07/bjj-journal-2-in-defence-of-my-sweet.html) I tie my gi pants string in a knot, and I have been blessed, blessed I tell you, with ample pelvic bones with which to support them. I am NOT WORRIED about pants coming down (I have such a struggle to get them off afterwards, trust me) thus I can afford to wear the same undies I wear normally during the day. In other words, I don’t have a drawer of grapplepanties set aside. I wear the same cutesy, frilly, whatever-y unmentionables on and off the mats. (Well, I bring spares for grappling, since they get all sweaty. But you know what I mean.)

    I don’t put on perfume or makeup for jits. I don’t generally wear makeup at all anyway– just lipgloss usually– but if I did, I’d be damn sure to take it off before rolling. There’s this girl, who sorta pretends to do jiu jitsu, while she dates a local instructor, and she freakin’ SPACKLES it on. And perfume too. I play a smash game and she stains my gis! But I take special pleasure in smearing her face up. Sorry, childish, there it is. As for perfume, whatever I put on in the morning as part of my toilette is still on me when I come to jiu jitsu, and there it stays. I get a lot of “you smell like strawberries” (from my conditioner) and “you smell like cookies” (from my lotion) and “you smell like cotton candy” (no clue!) At least I don’t smell like catbox.

    And– since femininity isn’t just appearance… I let myself laugh on the mats. If you get a goooood sweep on me and I’m in the mood, I’ll giggle. I tease my friends, I sneak up behind them for a good RNC when they’re chatting away, I play games. I’m a girl and my personality is so integral to who I am that I can’t put it in a box when I train (all the time anyway. I am fully capable of being serious. At times.)

    I love the article and the comments. Keep it up πŸ™‚

    • Nice comments, Georgette! Thanks for the link! That was a great read. I loved her article!

      I can’t wear lacy panties on the mat. No thongs, no lace. These are too sexualized for me. I don’t wear special mat panties, though. Just my plain black ones. I don’t care if people see those. Meh.

      I WANT TO SMELL LIKE COTTON CANDY. hehehe kidding.

      I also love to laugh on the mats and be a bit “soft” that way. Smiling, somewhat sweet, then CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE! πŸ˜‰

      Yay for pink girls on the mats! Well, yay for any girls on the mat, be they in pink, white, black, special grapplepanties or gramma panties. πŸ™‚

  8. Julia Johansen says:
    March 9, 2011 at 4:09 am
    I promise not to dress up your corpse in a pink gi.
    —————–

    Oh-ho….. that woman is coming to train with me next month, and that sounds like a veiled challenge to me…. we’ll see who’s the corpse, missy! πŸ˜‰

  9. I think something that is very NOT feminine is when a girl tries to become one of the guys on the mat. For instance, using immature, frat house vocabulary (sup, dude, bro, effin this and that, bragging how many guys she submitted or how drunk she got the night before). Then even the pink gi or painted nails can’t make you look feminine.

    • I think most of the things you mentioned are just plain rude, whether it’s guys OR girls. No one likes a braggard (unless, of course, it’s in jest–then it’s all good!)

      • Agreed! I try to keep my language less rough on the mats, and the only bragging I do is intentionally silly. Like when I say “Okay man, I’m going to kill you–completely dominate you–unless you get me in side mount, full mouth, half guard, scarf hold, but other than that–you’re completely dead.” πŸ˜‰

    • Some of us are like that all the time. I curse worse than most men I know, and I can drink like you wouldn’t believe. I think it’s more a matter of if it’s Forced or Real…..but I don’t brag. At all. Words mean very little.

  10. I love this post, especially your list of no-no’s, which unfortunately are not common sense. If we don’t want to be sexualized in jiu-jitsu, then we should make every effort to not present ourselves that way in class. For example, I have actually seen nipples when a woman is bending over, and it was distracting to me, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for the men.

    Like you said, though, femininity and sexuality are not the same thing, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel and be womanly. I definitely fall into to pink category, and I think it’s wonderful when women can fight with the boys and still be feminine.

    You and all the other women out there who celebrate the fact that they are female, instead of trying to downplay it, are an inspiration to me, and to other women out there who think they have to be “manly” to do jiu-jitsu. You don’t, you can be whatever kind of woman you want to be, and it’s okay. Just keep your nipples to yourself, please. πŸ˜‰

    • HOLY CRAP! NIP SLIP! ACK! I can’t believe that! That’s horrible!

      I agree–it’s all about expressing yourself and being yourself. If you are a butchy one-of-the-guys woman, BE THAT! If you are a hyper-femme, BE THAT! Don’t change the fundamentals of who you are in order to be in BJJ.

      Fantastic response, Gina! Thanks!

  11. Food for thought…don’t know how many of you out there are Moms, but I find that my motherly instincts more often take precedent over my femininity in my BJJ. I struggle with not wanting to “hurt” people I train with since most are teens and young adults and are all young enough to be my kids. It seems recently that it’s hindering my progression because I need to be able to apply correct shoulder pressure, use my weight, get heavy when neeeded, etc., etc., etc. Any thoughts out there. Just wondering how other BJJ Moms work through this. I’m confident that I will find my way through this obstacle one little baby step at a time, but would definitely welcome suggestions. πŸ™‚

    • I’m a BJJ mom and understand what you mean, to an extent. I am also the only female in my gym (and it’s been that way the grand majority of my many BJJ years) so I do tend to take on a more maternal role there. One thing that really helps is always having a fully stocked first aid kit in my gym bag. Tape, eye drops, and pain killers especially. It’s simple to put together and not very expensive…and I take care of everybody. It really does help! No need to worry about being too nice when you can fix them if you break them. Haha-just kidding, don’t actually break them.

      • Thanks Kim! I love the idea of a first aid kit. I think it will free my mind to work on my jiu jitsu and worry about any “boo boo’s” after!! Great advice! πŸ™‚

    • Debra, I don’t really have that problem anymore. I don’t want to hurt these kids, but… Once we get rolling, they seem to forget I’m old enough to be their mom and start working hard. Somewhere in there, I decide that I better use what I have, because they are certainly using what they have!

  12. I am always telling people things like, “Don’t do this kimura drill on your injured right arm!” or, “Did you drink enough water?” and they say, “Thanks MOM!” πŸ˜‰

  13. When I was first considering starting BJJ, I was very concerned with what it would mean for my “feminine image.” Not that I’m incredibly girly or anything, but it definitely bothered me. I was glad to find other feminine girls who practice bjj online. I don’t think I do anything super crazy in regards to showing my femininity on the mat, but I am definitely always showered, hair neatly braided in pigtails, and after practice I neatly fold my gi and tie it up with my belt. I don’t own any particular shorts, but mainly cause I haven’t found any that aren’t ugly pink/designed or are super annoying short. I am always wearing a rash guard or t-shirt from my school, mainly because I am usually going to the regular class afterwards, and that’s part of our uniform so it saves some changing time. I have a goal that when I loose enough weight to fit into an A2 I’m going to buy one of the Fenom gi’s for myself πŸ™‚

    • I am officially holding off on buying more gis until I’m solidly in a size A2. Woo hoo! I love my Fenom gi and its stickers that say Powered by SHE. Does it still bother you? Or have you settled into a comfortableness with it?

      • I am not really bothered by it anymore…it’s part of who I am…my teammates, friends, and family have been very supportive of me starting this new obsession…er…hobby (although I won’t lie, my mom gave me an odd look the first time I told her!) and having this great online community of females in all different places, stages in life, and bjj has helped tremendously. Also, I can say for the first time EVER in my life there is a female athlete that I totally think is cool in Kyra Gracie…and I would SO buy her gi…if it wasn’t PINK *puke*….give me purple any day, thanks πŸ™‚ lol

  14. I’m a pink!
    I have girly-gis and painted nails. I use bodybutter with nice smell so I don’t smell like a man and I’m very carful about what I eat before training. No one wants to roll with an onion.
    I don’t care if I look bad after training cause who doesen’t? At least I was pretty before starting πŸ™‚

    • Oh yeah! I used to eat kimchi during lunchtime. One training partner said YOU SMELL LIKE KIMCHI! (dope!).

      I agree–once I step on the mat I stop caring how I look. Really. I don’t worry about my hair or my sweat. Nothing like that. At all. I’m not worried about smudging my nail polish or about breaking a nail or even getting a black eye. LOL. But if I look down and see my super cutie toes I feel AWESOME!

  15. I love being feminine outside of the mats. When I step on the mat, I’m not thinking about or worrying about being “feminine” or not feminine. What does bug me is having my new pedicure completely messed up from scraping across the mats, but what can you do about that? Really nothing. Other than that, I’m concentrating on the moves and learning the techniques. Even when I forget and leave my makeup on, it gets completely trashed as does my hair, so there is really no point in trying to look good for bjj. I just go in clean, smelling fresh, and think about choking the guys out, or not letting them choke me out..lol Then I’m happy.

    • Every once in a while I remind the gal in class to take off her makeup. Heck–sometimes I’ve forgotten to take off my glasses during a roll, so I can completely understand forgetting to take off your makeup.

      Yep, when I’m on the mat I am not concerned about looking gross or weird. But I like to BE a female grappler, and that for me is feminine. That’s not the most important thing AT ALL, but it’s nice to have that self-expression.

  16. Great post! I love reading about other girls adventures in this male dominated sport. First thing I’ll let you all know is I hate pink, i am a bit of a Tom boy and on a normal day at work or play you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing pink. HOWEVER for some reason I am drawn to pink on the mats. My kimono has pink patches and stitching (the other has purple stitching) and my MMA gloves are pink too. I think it helps remind the guys that the person about to punch them or choke them is a lady! Lol. I recently cut my hair quite short purely for training purposes and to combat me feeling less girly on the mats, I paint my toe nails. I also make sure I have shaved my legs and showered before class so I don’t smell like the boys! However they still treat me like one of the boys (a blessing and a curse in this wonderful sport)

    • Nice! Oooh you reminded me of another no-no I need to add:

      Don’t shave your legs DIRECTLY before class. It opens up microcuts on your legs and leaves you more open to getting bacteria/staph, etc.

      It’s interesting that you have that love/hate with pink ^_^ I like that you are COMBATING feeling less girlie. πŸ™‚ What color are your toenails now?

  17. Pingback: Women and BJJ | Grapelo

  18. I’ve been thinking about what femininity means since this article was posted. I even looked up the definition, and as far as I can see it means a trait that is considered to be held by women.

    Well, most of what I do in a day is not considered feminine. I am a scientist, a physicist; I am the only woman in my department. I train to fight and I really enjoy competing. I don’t wear makeup or paint my nails. I have an ongoing hate relationship with shoes.

    Frankly I don’t like the idea of traits being considered male or female.

    However, I do wear a pink mouthguard and I have a Fenom classic gi with the pink Fs. I wear them because I think it is funny to wear a colour so associated with being a girl on the mat when I am fighting with men, something that is considered so masculine.

    Despite all of that I feel feminine, I am a woman.

    • I consider your comment a compliment. To make someone think about something can be hard in this day and age.

      I’m glad I left in some things that were gender neutral and yet could be used to make someone feel feminine–like the colored mouth guards. πŸ™‚

      I had a friend who transitioned from male to female and I remember feeling at the time that she was trying too hard–everything HAD to be pink or have flowers or be girlie. It felt a little false–and part of it was because she was overcompensating.

      I can’t believe you’re a scientist! Barbie told me math was hard so I quit (I kid I kid I kid!). πŸ˜€

      I had a colleague who taught English to non-native speakers. He was one of two men at our work and was surrounded by females. In his spare time he work a black leather jacket, rode a motorcycle and went hunting. He said it was to remind himself he was a man :D. I think that so much of this is how we FEEL. For example, some women may FEEL more feminine when she’s working on a car because she’s the only woman in a garage and being that only woman may make her feel that way.

      Is it important to feel feminine–maybe this is the key. I FEEL like a woman. I AM a woman. I have woman parts and my identity is in being a woman. There is nothing that makes me not feel like a woman.

      However, femininity is separate from woman-ness to me. For many years I don’t know that I truly felt feminine, and that wasn’t important to me. As I’ve gotten older it’s felt better to me to feel feminine. When I was in high school I wore men’s shoes, hippie skirts, men’s hats, big t-shirts. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I embraced my femininity. BJJ has made me want to embrace it more.

      Thank you in turn for making me think more as well. πŸ™‚ One thing I have grown to LOVE in my blog is the dialog, and you can’t have a dialog with only one voice.

    • Fellow physicist! Woohoo!! Well, I’m stay-at-home mom now, but I used to be… I think we are at an advantage in BJJ because we’ve already gotten used to being one of the few women or the only woman in the room. Plus, I was considered beautiful and my company cherished in college, purely by virtue of having boobs. All the girls were treated like princesses, whether we were girlied up or not, until it was time to work – then nobody cared what parts you had or how nicely you’d dressed them up, it only mattered if you knew what you were doing. Kind of like BJJ…

  19. I’m somewhat feminine, I guess. I like getting pedicures; that’s a nice, subtle way to reinforce my femininity. (Need to coordinate the nail polish with the mat colors, though; they sort of clash at the moment. :-D) Pink has never appealed to me, so I avoid wearing it on the mats. I’m waffling on whether to buy that black-and-pink Fenom gi, though … it’s one of the few gis I’ve seen that uses pink in a classy way, IMO.

    Probably the most girly thing about me is my hair. Outside of class, the length looks great and flatters my face shape. During class, I have it up in a tiny half-ponytail, but my hair’s so fine that it slips out and gets everywhere. I might cut it short again just to avoid the aggravation, but I’d be sorry to lose that length. On the other hand, showers will be shorter. πŸ˜€

    • Hahahaha I thought about matching our mats, too! Plus, then if it streaked the mat you couldn’t tell where!

      I love my black Femom gi. I forget that the log is in pink. You’re right–it is classy.

      My hair looks so much more girlie now that I have bangs. Amazing what a difference a haircut makes! Have you tried different ponytail holders? Perhaps some with some grip in it? Or (don’t dismiss it immediately!) some Vaseline in it? For me, Vaseline isn’t rude to wear–partly because our group will often put it on their face/ears/feet to prevent mat burn/cauli ear.

      Have you seen the new blue gi that Fenom makes? It’s on pre-order for only $65. Later it will be $85. It has a GORGEOUS new embroidered logo.

      If you do get a cute new cut, post a picture!

  20. God bless the black Fenom Classic gi with the pink gothic F. With my short haircut and less-than-feminine mannerisms, it’s probably quite often what saves me from getting injured by an overzealous guy. But the pink is subtle enough that I can be comfortable with it despite my typical preference for conservative guys’ clothes from the Gap and Hilfiger. I am a software engineer and don’t feel any great affinity to gender roles. I appreciated Laura’s post on all this. I guess I feel as feminine on the mat as off, which is more related to my gender than to much else. I feel as feminine as my boobs. πŸ˜‰
    Is there room for more feminine savvy in my style…absolutely. But for right now, my Fenom Classic is doing it.
    But, maybe I *could* pick up a matching mouthguard….
    ;-}

    • First time one of the guys saw me wearing the Fenom gi he said to me “that’s a girl’s gi”, then went back to rolling with his partner. I kinda wonder what he thought I was before that.

  21. GREAT article!

    I am admittedly a reformed tomboy who came to martial arts later in life (post-30). Between two kids (7 year gap) I was was an excellent mountain biker who spent a lot of time riding in the dirt with men. Mud-covered clothing, abrasions, bruises, and hideous (and itchy) poison oak boils do not make one feel feminine at all. A

    After my second child, I started martial arts (Kajukenbo, a hybrid art in which jiu jitsu makes up one of the five core arts, and MMA), I was sort of prepared to be de-genderized, at least during the workout anyways. I adopted some of the habits I had with mt. biking: Bring disposable face wash clothes, a change of clothes, and a brush to every workout. That way, post-workout, I can at least clean up (face wipes can be used everywhere) and feel somewhat back to normal.

    I agree with Slideyfoot that you should be able to wear a pink gi if it fits you and your personality but you should never feel like you *have* to wear a pink gi because you’re a girl. I instruct many teenage girls and I find it interesting that they almost NEVER want to use our pink “loaner” boxing gloves, and when they buy gloves they almost always want black. These are super-cute girls who are feminine and athletic and want to be taken seriously in class. I am happy for this new generation (but there is one girl who I have to continually tell to pull her beautifully straightened hair back during her class).

    I have one pink Atama gi, one black Fenom (with pink logo), and one white Gameness (Pit bull!) that was given to me. I wear whichever one is clean and I like to mix the pink, white and black pants and jackets. We are a non-traditional school.

    I wear waterproof mascara and lip stain (doesn’t rub off) but that eyelash extension is super interesting so I’m going to check it out in my area. Have you had it done and if so, what’s your feedback?

    I always take a bath before class.

    Love the “Thanks Mom” comment (above), hilarious! Not only am I one of the few women at my school but I’m also older than almost all the students and a worrier. I get the Mom comment at lot. At first it used to bug me but now I realize that the people who say it consistently really look to me as someone who cares about them and what happens to them, and still respect me as a peer in training (or I’ll beat them up)! πŸ™‚ I don’t have issues with hurting anyone simply because of the way we train. I guess once in a while someone gets actually, truly injured on accident but for the most part, we are controlled in our training and it’s still very physically challenging. In my opinion, if you are signing up for BJJ or Kajukenbo or MMA, you should reasonably expect to get hurt once in a while. It’s just part of the game.

    Regarding nail polish: Awesome tip from one of the mixed martial artists I train with: Gel nails for toenails. I never got pedicures because one day on the mat or doing heavy bag work (kicks) and it was a mess. Totally NOT worth it. I tried a new thing called “gel nails” (Google “soak off nail gels” — read about the pros and cons) and really recommend it for feet. I have had the same gel polish on for over 4 weeks without a single chip.

    The caveat is (this is more for fingernails) is that the manicurist has to rough up the nail surface to apply the gel, and this weakens the nail. So after trying a couple times on my fingers I stopped. It looked great and lasted at least a month, but when you remove the polish your fingernails are weak and if you’re in a sport where you’re grabbing (a gi), punching, wrestling, they break too easily. I’m in the process of letting them grow out and it’s taking a while.

    Thanks for posting on a great topic everyone!
    Jackie Uribe
    Tribull MMA, San Jose, Ca.
    http://www.facebook.com/queenofpain

  22. Pingback: Ahhh…so jealous! Fenom is now making a blue gi!!! « Karate Girl

  23. This thread is wonderful because I don’t think it occurred to me that even if a woman could be feminine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she likes gender roles and/or expects me or anyone else to conform to them. That is a breath of fresh air the same way it is to hear from Slidey, who is an amazing feminist. It’s nice that it doesn’t seem like anyone here wants anyone else to feel pressured to act/be/do/say/think/dress/etc in any way other than their natural inclinations. That’s wonderful. Jits peeps are awesome.
    Ashley rocked the hell out of this with her comment, “But to me, being feminine β€” being myself β€” means being emotionally and physically strong, resilient and risk-taking, sensitive and empathetic, assertive, intelligent, and determined.”
    I think it’s interesting that the other common “feminine” factor that popped up in a lot of posts is cleanliness. If all of these things are feminine, then to quote Laura, “I feel feminine, I am a woman.”

    BTW, Jiu-Jiu is like the coolest nickname-via-internet-poll ever. πŸ™‚

    [Totally off topic] Jiu-Jiu, when I was stationed in Korea, we had some Korean guys attached to our unit for translation and when they sweat it smelled like kimchi. To some of us delicate Americans the smell is, well undescribably difficult. It’s very courteous of you to refrain from kimchi before class. πŸ™‚

    • I really liked the Alanis Morisette quote that Stephanie used in her women in BJJ tribute video.

      “I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament”

      I also totally love the pictures of the little girl rocking the lavender gi with the pink bandaid on her brow.

  24. It’s really interesting reading people’s take on femininity….I guess I consider myself womanly without being feminine. I have a woman’s body and desires, a woman’s strengths, weaknesses, tears (my god am I a crier), and triumphs, but I rarely feel the need to be girly or feminine. Of course, I’ve never considered myself attractive either, so all the window dressing struck me as wasted effort. Lipstick on a pig as they say.

    I’ve always gotten along better with men than women, and have a very rough sense of humor. I try to keep my cussing and off kilter sense of humor in check at the gym, same as I do at work. This is the way I’ve always been, and I would hope people see that’s just me….I’m not trying to “be one of the guys on the mat”.

    That said, I like painting my toenails because I get a kick out of looking down and seeing ’em (sometimes I paint my husband’s too, lol), and a little laughter on the mat makes things more fun. πŸ˜€ I do wear functional plain black undies though….I want those suckers to stay where they belong, and any potential slippage would blend in with my black fenom gi.

  25. I know I’m late to the party, but I love this article! I’m an older lady and late to jiu jitsu (started in kickboxing and moved over to the BJJ program when it opened up). I definitely fall into the pink range, although the only colors we are allowed to wear are white or blue. I always have painted toenails, and I receive many compliments on the way I smell (like cupcakes, I’m told). Since I am such a mom-type presence at the gym, some of my classmantes have nicknamed me “Bad Mommy”. I love it!

    And P.S., my gym bag DOES contain a first-aid kit and healthy snacks for the “kids” who didn’t make time to fuel up before class!

    • Welcome, Bad Mommy!! Better late than never! πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the article.

      The other day I smelled like roses. Hmmm…cupcakes would be better, I think.

  26. oh hey…I totally came across your blog be cause I googled “weird bjj positions”…don’t ask. First of all, lovely bruise! I always end up bruised up after I train. It’s weird having to explain to people that I don’t get beaten up by my bf….I just like to beat people up as a hobby (and maybe some day hopefully on an amateur level)

    I am personally guilty of your #5 “no-no”. I mean, I don’t shower myself in perfume….just a spritz of body spray. I know it’ll wear off within minutes of the warm up session, but, I like to think that I can smell pretty while kicking someone’s ass. I always have my nails done too….and that’s about it for me. I am definitely on the black line between the blue and the pink on your graph, hehe.

    keep on rockin’ the bjj!

    • Awesome to see you here! Yeah–I really want a shirt from fight club that says “Yes, these are bruises from fighting. Yes, I’m comfortable with that. I am enlightened.”

  27. OK so this might get some hate…but i just wanted to throw this out there. I hate wearing underwear. As a general rule, I don’t (unless I’m in a dress. Hellllooo wind accidents…gahh) I run as well as do BJJ and underwear + running = irritating. It just kind of slipped into my everyday life and now its a habit. I have a gi that the pants slip a bit when tugged so i make sure I wear underwear then…but my other gi is extremely secure, and my fight shorts are long (all the way to my knees) and dont move either. On those days I see no issue with skipping underwear. i’m not doing it to be a skank or whatever…its just preferance. I get distracted while rolling if ive got a wedgie. No one that I train with knows this, I dont walk in talking about it. Also – if I show up right after class I have the reminants of make up on. I have a hard time getting it off or I completely forget its there. (The guys have told me that I occasionally look like a dead hooker when the mascara runs…lol) On these days I probably have on perfume too. I really don’t do these things intentionally, and no one has ever gotten mad at me for them. I don’t see those “no -nos” as disrespectful, unless a partner specifically says that your perfume may cause a breathing problem for them. Sorry if this makes me sound like a bad BJJ training partner, but I’ve had no complaints so far. Other than that, loved the post!

    • cmajor you are officially the skankiest follower I have! hahahaha kidding. Well, I don’t know you in person, so perhaps. πŸ™‚

      Still–a hearty ewwwwww to no undies on the mat!!! πŸ™‚ I’m trying to decide if no undies is better than a big whale tail or having a g-string sticking out. That is DEFINITELY skankier than no undies unless there’s an “oooops, my pants fell down and I’m wearing no panties” “accident” πŸ˜†

      For me, there is a difference between forgetting you have makeup on and refusing to take it off. There have been times I stepped onto the mat wearing full jewelry. And one time I forgot to take off my glasses while rolling. Also there’s a difference between having leftover perfume on and spraying it on right before you go onto the mats.

      These are all just opinions…ymmv. πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed it! And if you were my training partner I’d remind you you were wearing makeup πŸ™‚

  28. Oh gosh, no. Let me tell you a fun story about the skankiest jiu jitsu person EVER. (Oh and I’ve never had a pants pulled down accident…that would be awful) There was this girl that would show up because she “wanted to learn jitsu” …yeah. no. She was a 105 pound blonde girl that would wear tight tight tight yoga pants with lace on the top, low cut tight tank tops, and would tell me things like “Oh well you only beat me because you are SO MUCH heavier than I am!” (I’m 135….I told her to try rolling 50-60 pounds under someone then we’d talk. Also, I wasnt using my weight on her…) She would just flat give up during drills and not even try. Pout when she’d lose. Flirt with all the guys. “Ohhh haha thats not gonna work on me, I’m super flexible ;)” Shit like that. (Pardon the language but I hated this girl) Found out later that she was SLEEPING WITH THE INSTRUCTOR! WHATTT. And by found out, I mean she would tell me EVERYTHING! AHHH. I was horrified. 1. Thats my coach…so eew. 2. He has a gf…that was not her. 3. EWWWW. This doesnt even scratch the surface on how skanky, attention whoring, self esteem attacking, bitch face she was….Blegh.

    • We call those lovely ladies “mat whores” at my gym. My school is blessed to have between 4-6 women students (depending on who shows up on any given day) and we heap nothing but contempt on those types (which we have only heard about – thank goodness! – our gym is free of those)!

      And your coach should know better! No opening up the personal business in class!

      • bahaha…mat whore would be totally accurate. When I do club at school theres roughly 3-5 girls (myself included) at the gym I’m the only girl. I love my coach and he’s kind of going through a rough patch of people are really pushing him into marrying someone he doesn’t love and its freaking him out. Not that its an excuse to cheat but hopefully makes it more understandable. He’s a great guy and I’m going to be really sad when I have to change coaches (Probably moving after college) BUT It is nice to no longer have her around (She moved faaaaaar away.) The guys tease me that I’m their “Head Bitch” because I’m the girl thats been around the longest, and if any girls start acting a fool again I’m supposed to (in the words of a dear friend) “just triangle the SHIT out of them! then they won’t come back!” hahaha

  29. Thanks for the Interesting and informative post. I ran across it through a link that was posted on the Women Representing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu facebook page. We have about a dozen women that train off and on at the academy. Eight of them come to class on a regular basis. All of them feminine women in there own ways and each of them very very different from the next. Seven of them were in committed relationships with other classmates before coming to train with us and one of them is my awesome wife. The main reason for the consistently large number of women in class is the “family” environment. We are not a “fight club” and neither that mentality nor crude language are tolerated. I wish I could give you the women’s perspectives on this post but you are going to get mine for now.

    My wife can come off as rather tomboyish if you don’t know her. She has always kept her hair short and she has always been a jeans and tee-shirt kind of gal. She’s not into pink or other specifically feminine colored gi’s. Not that it would matter because we are pretty old school about gi’s here (white or blue only). It was only when she was entertaining the notion of competing in no-gi that we started running into problems with apparel. Guys shorts can be kind of “low in the crotch” and she was having to pull them up to her belly button for that coveted “grandpa” look. When we started looking for women’s fightshorts and rashguards, the vast majority of them looked like “hoochie wear” or that they used patterns and materials from the stripper warehouse complete with fur and purple leopard spots. It’s hard for me to imagine women designing this stuff. And what’s with that “extra seam” in the back of the shorts for extra accentuation of the assets? Maybe it has a specific functionality in structural integrity, I don’t know….

    This is one of the main reasons that my wife and I started our own business in GroundSwell Fitness. Outfitters seem to be catching up however. Manto now has a women’s rashguard that is pretty nice in kind of a “Hot-rod Red” color (although it still has the rather large Manto logo across the chest with two men grappling??) Jaco is also putting out some great items for women including their “Racer Tank” with sports bra that our female teammates seem to really like. We haven’t gone into production on our own women’s line yet but we do offer both Jaco and Manto products.

    • Hey! Thanks for the comment!

      One thing I HATE about tanks–the sports bras–is that they are always cut so freaking low. I HATE showing cleavage, but I wish they came up about HALFWAY between where a tank ends and where a rashguard ends. Otherwise I would wear them every freaking day. Grrr.

      If you make a women’s line, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make something in between a rash guard and a tank top. Something that has a shelf bra built in (hmm or maybe the option to have it in), and that ends just below the collarbone. That way there’s no accidental cleavage, but it’s MUCH cooler! ARGH!

      I appreciate you adding to the conversation instead of just posting a link to your stuff. I tend to delete stuff like that, but if it’s fitting with the conversation, please feel free to link to your things.

  30. Are we discussing femininity in BJJ or any competitive sport for that matter? Or are we more touching on the topic of self awareness and confidence? Femininity is a very subjective word.

    In the morning I wear a labcoat as a biochemist, in the afternoon I wear a clean rashi and boys boardshorts as a grappler, in the evening I wear oily jeans and work under the hood of my car and on the weekends I wear my stillettos,g and do pole stage shows…i wear and enjoy many different outfits but I feel just the same all the time.

    I first started grappling 8 years ago and For me personally when on the mat, I have little thought over my nails or my gi colour. Im fairly quiet and there to do a job, be the best I can be and not draw attention to myself as “the girl with great rack who, i reluctantly admit, can kick my ass” in the gym. Plenty of other opportunities in life to look/feel feminine.

    In my opinion grappling does not take anything away from a womens femininity.. As Ashley says, If your “emotionally and physically strong, resilient and risk-taking, sensitive and empathetic, assertive, intelligent and determined” woman by day…it will shine through in your grappling and mindset with or without the pink gi and nail polish…but in saying that whatever brings out the best in your grappling you should go with.

    • ZX10R I think this could apply to ANY male dominated anything. Perhaps you feel absolutely comfortable in that environment, but some women would understandably feel uncomfortable. Some women would understandably feel less feminine. And that’s okay. It’s also okay if you feel fully comfortable sweaty, dirty, messy–and perhaps the word feminine doesn’t seem congruent with the gym. That’s okay.

      For me, I had some personal challenges because femininity is important to me in some shape or form. It didn’t always. I was a sort of hippie when I was in high school–no makeup, formless clothes, etc. Now I don’t like wearing men’s shoes–I want feminine shoes. To each their own. This was simply intended to be SOME type of resource–a way to say–maybe you can cling to THIS. πŸ™‚

      You wrote: “In my opinion grappling does not take anything away from a woman’s femininity.. ” And I think that’s awesome and amazing for you. Others may not feel that way. You also said “Plenty of other opportunities in life to look/feel feminine.” And I agree, but this is one area in my life where perhaps that femininity feels the most threatened. And that’s okay.

      Thank you so much for joining in the dialog!

  31. Yeah Julia πŸ™‚ I can fully relate to your “i was sort of a hippie in high school, no makeup formless clothes…” hey so was I, its all a part of growing up and learning your true identity πŸ™‚ on the inside Im quite boyish, but on the outside I know guys look at me as anything but…
    Back when I first started (age 22) I was lucky enough t have really supportive males in my life, and I think those relationships probably helped me establish my sense of femininity and it flowed over into training and never bothered me to be sweaty and ugly at gym, coz when I got home and jumpd in the shower then went out for dinner…walahh all gorgeous again!
    Any male dominated sport is a great avenue for learning about yourself and others and also finding your inner confidence as a beautiful, strong woman. It also helps you gain confidence with men in general which are valuable life skills for woman to have.
    So you needn’t feel threatened girl πŸ™‚ if you can feel like a beautiful girl off the mat, your still a beautiful girl on the mat and that goes to all BJJ women! Plus the greater your skill set becomes in jits.. you will find the less swamp girl you look afterwards. Train hard, train smart!

    • Hahaha I HOPE I don’t sound threatened…I’ve definitely adjusted to the challenge of being a minority female. I really enjoy being a female jiu jitsu-ka.

      I feel much more comfortable now, which I THINK had more to do with me being accustomed to being active than to do with being a female on the mats. HOWEVER, I do usually have 2 ways of staying feminine on the mats:

      l love having super cutie toes on the mat. It’s a chance to show off an awesome pedicure! I mean–how often are we normally barefoot where strangers can see our toesies?

      Plus, I have a cute haircut now that works well and doesn’t give me swamp girl look.

      You are right–regardless of how boyish or whatever, dudes are still going to be hyper aware that I’m a chick. Honestly, I do those things above for ME, not them. I’m in class to be better at jiu jitsu, not get a boyfriend. I just personally love having cute hair and toes. πŸ˜‰

  32. Interestingly enough..
    I Actually feel a really strong Girl Power thing when I’m at Jiu Jitsu..
    In a way…it makes me feel..dare I say it… pretty…of course not DURING rolling I’m not thinking about that at all while I’m trying not to be squeezed and sweat pours all around my face, mouth, eyes..and half of it is probably not even MY sweat
    I guess for me…it’s definitely the Gis.. I have a Kyra’s Pink Atama & then a Black Bull terrier & I tend to just wear whatever shirt or rash guard I have laying around which I really love the way I feel in them..
    My hair goes all over the place, I only ever wear eye liner which I usually rub off before training starts so I’m not exactly “pretty” but I love the feeling of being “one of the guys” while remembering that I..am not a guy nor do I have to smell like one, or act like one (even though I do sometimes)
    I know it’s silly..but kind of anything pink makes me feel pretty so going for the pink Gi was really the right direction for me in terms of retaining my femininity during BJJ

  33. Out of interest, what do people think of this? To me, that is an offensive slogan and an offensive way of promoting it. I found it especially unpleasant when coupled with the line at the top of the site, which claims to be “empowering women world wide.” It appears to be “empowering” them to become glamour models.

    However, I’d be interested to hear what you guys thought.

    • Not so much offended as just over it. It KILLS me when I get e-mails from martial arts supply/clothing sellers saying, “Cindy, check out our online catalog. It’s great.” and then I find a lot of “ring girls” and models/actresses in their underwear with their t-shirts tied off under their breasts on the site! I understand that sex sells but come on! I want to be able to buy rash guards, gis, compression shorts and various other fight apparel items modelled by women who, oh, I don’t know, actually participate in a martial art!

      As for the actual slogan, to me it’s not necessarily offensive. I think the sentiment is kind of admirable, actually. If being a strong, confident woman who participates in a combat sport makes me a b***h to some people, then I’ll wear that label proudly. But I may be different – I do sometimes say, “I’m a woman so I guess I’ll go make you a sandwich” to my male friends, especially my male jiu jitsu friends, because we all know it’s a big joke and none of us really believes that women aren’t equal. They’ll also tell me on occasion that they are big strong men so if I ever need anything lifted up or pushed over, they will take care of it. My male friends respect me sincerely (as I do them) and what we say to each other doesn’t change that.

      • I hear what you are saying. I absolutely HATE HATE HATE the ring girl models. Absolutely.

        I’d rather it said something like “I’m a mean bitch” than to say “Never trust a bitch” One seems more self empowering, the other seems like something on a 50 cent album or something. Like they’re going to say “Bitches, man…you can’t trust them.” Ugh.

  34. It ranks right up there with the Tap-Out shirts and can be found next to them at Spencers poser shops. You could probably demolish any person wearing one in a matter of seconds.

  35. Pingback: Tell about YOUR BJJ blog | Jiu-Jiu's BJJ Blog

  36. Pingback: Women and BJJ | Open Mat Jiu Jitsu

  37. Pingback: Women and BJJ: Femininity Part 2 | Jiu-Jiu's BJJ Blog

  38. Pingback: The 5 Faces of Women’s Gis | Jiu-Jiu's BJJ Blog

  39. My kids and I started training bjj 2yrs ago and and my wife being a sideline sitting BJJmom she has started trying to train with us, and wants for than any thing to compete in a tournament. Here her story she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006 and went through a pretty difficult recovery, after surgry the could walk or talk, she didn’t recognize me, her 3 and 1 year old boys, or any one else in her family. I taught her how to walk, talk and function in every day life again..Until the tumor came back.last year and she underwent another brain surgry, surgery went great, despite Dr. orders she was up and walking around the hospital the day after surgery, she was an inspiration to everyone!.but two days after she was released from the hospital, she contracted Meningitis from the O.R. and spent 27 more days Im the hospital. Recovery is pretty slow du to the Meningitis affecting her mentality. To top it all off last week we found out the tumor had come back, the tumor is growing faster,a third surgry is not an option this time. It seems like she has lost all of don’t quit attitude, or motivation to do any thing. She keeps saying she wants a gray support brain cancer gi. And would like to get in touch with and jiu jitsu organizations that support brain cancer. I was wondering if you know of somewhere or any one who could point me in the right direction.
    Thank you
    Casey Willard

    Feel free to contact me for any info on her or her story

  40. Pingback: Jiu Jiu's BJJ Blog – The 5 Faces of Women’s Gis

  41. I’m late to the game on this post but if anyone out there is still reading:
    We have a new girl at our gym who wears just sports bras. She will change before class, which consists of standing next to the mat, stripping down to a sports bra and then putting on her gi. A few days ago she showed up to a no gi class and decided to participate… in just the sports bra.
    Admittedly she has a wonderful body but as another female in the class, I hear a lot of grumbling about it and I want to kindly talk to her but I’m not sure where to start, or how to politely ask her to put on some clothing. It’s hard enough being a woman on the mats, I’ve worked hard to get to ‘one of the guys’ status and I’d really prefer not to have her walking around as a reminder that yes, indeed I am a female with my legs wrapped around you. I just don’t need the guys in that mindset when we’re starting class πŸ™
    Am I overreacting here, should I simply continue keeping my mouth shut and ignoring it? Has anyone experienced something similar, how did you deal with it?

  42. This is actually pretty great. Some might want to act like this isn’t an issue (both men and women) but it really is, and everyone will find their own approach and solution. I personally like to leave all femininity off the mat. Not that I see anything wrong with it, I just enjoy the break. It’s nice to not care what my face looks like, or my hair. I feel very free and uninhibited. I have worked in male dominated industries for most of my life and grew up with three brothers, so I have no problem being “one of the guys”. Now, that said, in my outside life, I tend to be pretty feminine. Took my daughter to her class once in my work clothes with full make up and almost no one recognized me. Even my instructor did a double take. He said, and I quote, “oh, you’re pretty!” Still not sure how to take this, lol!

    • I think that for those women who started doing sports much much earlier – it’s much less of an issue. They learned to deal with it. I’ve seen Korean woman look HORRIFIED when I told them they need to remove their makeup. I finally told my instructor that I don’t want to be partnered with a woman wearing makeup – it felt like a Really Big Deal for me to tell him that. But seriously – screw that. I don’t want some woman staining my gi just because she feels self-conscious! That’s bs to me.

      I still struggle sometimes with my hair. I’m cool with the no makeup, but I want my hair to look awesome!

  43. If you get your toes professionally done. Get shellac. It doesn’t come of on the mat nor does it fade. My daughter loves her navy blue moyabrand gi so a day before a tournament we’d do her toes to match.

    • I LOVE getting my toes shellacked!! You’re so right – it doesn’t come off/fade/etc. My favorite look is the ombri nails with the main sparkle/color on the edge (think french tips). I like it because once it starts growing out and I need to cut the tips, it isn’t SUPER readily apparent that I haven’t had my nails done in a while, unlike when they’re a dark color all the way up, it’s really obvious when they’re growing out.