Sorry that I have been MIA from the blog for a while. I had a very hectic week at work followed by being gone all weekend for a women’s grappling camp. For those of you who have never heard of such a thing, check out their website here, http://www.womensgrappling.org/wordpress/. I found out about these camps over the summer right before they one in VA but I wasn’t able to go then so this was the first time I attended one.
It was overall a really great experience. The instructors, Valerie Worthington, Hannette Staack and Emily Kwok, were fantastic. I have never trained with a female black belt before, let alone 3! The thing that really surprised me about camp was how many high belts were there. There were more purples and browns than blues and white belts made up the minority. It is definitely not what I’m used to. I get really excited when I find a female blue belt!
It was almost a surreal experience to have 30 women to train with. As I have touched on before, I am used to being paired up on the basis of “you are both women” with not much attention paid to experience or size. Here there were actually options of women to train with at various sizes and ranks. It was really exciting. Everyone at camp was really enthusiastic because, I suspect, everyone was happy to have this experience. Also BJJ girls are just awesome so who wouldn’t be thrilled to be hanging out with 30 of them?
The drilling was not the latest, greatest, fanciest moves that are winning all the tournaments but more solid, basic stuff which I really enjoyed. Being in an environment where all of the people have had the experience of being the weaker or smaller partner meant that the instructors could focus on tricks to handle that. Mixed in with the BJJ drilling were BJJ games such as pass, submit or sweep, ambush jiu-jitsu and technique races. And of course there was much rolling.
Rolling was also quite different than I am used to. It is not that you use completely different girl-only moves when rolling with another woman but it is liberating to know that you do not have to worry as much about getting crushed or muscled into submissions or injuries. I could let that go from my mind and just have fun working technique. If I had it to do over again I would be braver about asking the higher belts to roll but I am always hesitant about asking people I don’t know to roll.
There were also a lot of social activities mixed in. There was a roundtable at Emily’s house in which the participants had the opportunity to ask the more experienced women questions about BJJ. That was fun and it’s always comforting to hear that you are not the only one experiencing issues in BJJ. I was really excited when the discussion turned to how to avoid aggressive people who refuse to tap to a girl. We got some good advice but a prevalent solution seemed to be that you just have to crush them once. While I love this from a philosophical standpoint, sadly I do not possess the skills for it(yet). There was also dinner, breakfast and a social activity (bowling this time) but I did not participate in these due to work and time constraints.
Getting the chance to train with a large group of women was awesome. If you are a woman who trains jiu-jitsu I highly recommend you seek out opportunities like this. Sadly I know that a camp like this is not something that is feasible for everyone but small groups of women are organizing all over to find like-minded women to train with. If you can’t find a group like this, try creating one!