What is it like to experience BJJ for the first time as a woman?
This is a question you may be dwelling on if you are a girl interested in trying a BJJ class. Since the sport has been male-dominated for years, it can be a valid question and one that I spent a lot of time thinking about myself.
I remember the day that I decided I wanted to try a class.
My husband had already been perusing jiujitsu for about 8 months. When he first started, he tried to get me into it too, because he loved it so much and thought it would be great if we did it together. I had no interest at that point whatsoever. I saw BJJ as a good way for him to de-stress and exercise. If you asked me then if I thought jiujitsu was a rough, male-oriented sport, I would have said yes. That’s because I didn’t know enough about it and made my own assumptions as many people do.
There was a day that we were asked to come into the gym as a family to get a photo for Gracie Parramatta. I watched my husband’s class after the photos were taken but I wasn’t paying full attention as I was preoccupied with my young son. George encouraged me to head upstairs and try the women’s class. There was no way I was going up there!… but then he got me thinking…could I really do this??
It was about 6 months later when classes had opened back up after being closed for COVID-19. I had been doing home workouts and had been getting frustrated at always trying to think of how to exercise at home. My husband was very excited to get back onto the mats after them being closed for 4 months and asked if I could book him into the class for that night.
As I went into the Gracie Parramatta timetable online, I was scrolling through the classes…Women’s classes, Strength and Conditioning, Mobility, and lots of General Gi and No-Gi classes. I was genuinely surprised at the variety they had to offer! This wasn’t just a bunch of guys wrestling in a gym. This was a well-organized and versatile timetable, dedicated to offering everything for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – fitness, flexibility, and self-defense.
So, there I was, looking at the timetable on my laptop. Something clicked in my mind and I decided I would try a class that weekend….I booked myself in for that Saturday.
If I’m being honest, that entire week leading up to the class, it was all I could think about. There was something about trying something new that made me incredibly excited…and nervous. I had some experience being a grappling dummy for my husband while the gym was closed but that was the extent of it…
One factor that really made things easier for me was knowing that Gracie Parramatta offered women’s classes. Especially as a smaller female, I was glad to know that I would be with women for the first class and could continue doing so until I felt comfortable enough to try mixed classes.
Walking into the gym for my first lesson, I was shaking like a leaf. They found me a Gi to wear and that’s when it hit me that I was really doing this!
I walked upstairs and found myself in a room full of friendly faces. The coach, Wendy, introduced herself, along with some other girls in the class. My nerves were still there, but I definitely felt more comfortable seeing these friendly faces. As the class began, I found myself enjoying everything in the warm-up, and even learned how to do a backward roll after never being able to do it my whole life! My heart rate was up in the first 5 minutes, so I knew the next 55 minutes would be a good workout at the very least.
The rest of the class was mostly about getting out of my comfort zone. The idea of making close contact during a sport was so foreign to me. My partner, Steph, was super accommodating and helped me throughout the process, explaining small things here and there as we drilled techniques. After class, the coach, Wendy, made sure to ask me how I went and if I had any questions – this support was really great and was above and beyond what I expected.
Thinking back, I had tried many sports in my life; I had a figure skating career for most of my teenage and young adult life. I also did dancing, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, and more.
None of these sports compared to the experience of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Reflecting upon the whole experience, my nervous anticipation, although completely normal, was unjustified, as everything went so well. It wasn’t just my own luck either, as I now see new people all the time, having such a great first class too.
It’s now been almost 1 year since I started BJJ and I have been going to classes regularly and enjoying it thoroughly!
I’ve even had the opportunity to participate in Gracie Parramatta’s Internal Comp earlier this year and am about to experience an external competition this weekend. I have to say that being at the Gracie Parramatta gym now feels like home, with so many familiar faces – people that I know and trust. It’s also so great to see so many new people come in to try BJJ for themselves, and I get very excited for them, knowing the boundless opportunities ahead of them.
I hope this reflection of my experience trying BJJ for the first time can help you and provide some reassurance that it’s a great way to learn self-defense and stay fit!
Gracie Parramatta holds Women’s classes throughout the week as well as General Classes, Mobility and Strength & Conditioning Classes. If you’re interested in trying a class, your first class is FREE and all you have to do is book via the timetable here.