Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Girls Get Scared Too

My first trial week I tried out both the gi and no-gi classes. Of course, no-gi attracts more of a crowd with MMA aspirations and I'm guessing that's why the guys were bigger. I still remember doing laps and feeling small. That's something that almost always catches me by surprise. I come from a tall family, my father is 6'5" and his brothers are all 6'3"+. My younger brother is 6'7". Still, me being 6' tall, and 190lbs, the bulk of my life is spent around people that are shorter than I am. There was something slightly unsettling running laps with so many men that were larger than me...I felt like I was in bootcamp or prison or the French foreign legion. After a female blue belt explained to me how easily she's thrown in some moves, it sunk in how the more petite ladies that walk onto the mats must feel. Much respect to them.

Still though, being a larger woman doesn't mean that you're impervious to the concerns of being dominated by a male. I told a cousin that I had started bjj, and his response was "Why? Nobody's gonna mess with you." True...people don't normally mess with me. I remember my first day of high was my first time in a public school and my head was full of stereotypes of what it would be like (nevermind the fact that it was a magnet school). I was in a particularly crowded part of the hallway and I noticed one of the upperclassmen look at me and yell out "I bet none of ya'll b**ches'll mess with her." I was terrified, but no one ever did mess with me. That said, your average 5'8" guy isn't the one that approaches me (not that he couldn't pose a threat). I get the 6'11", 325lb guys and bouncers, and that's who's shaped my perception of what I see as the standard potential male threat.

I've started one-legged shrimping and it's starting to feel more natural. I just started really making a connection between the drill and when it should be used while rolling. I never knew when it was appropriate, but now I can somewhat feel when it will put me in a better position.


Georgette said...

Christy Thomas, co-owner of our academy and 3 stripe brownbelt, is tall and muscular like you. It's a trip rolling with her (I'm a foot shorter and about 50 lbs lighter) but even her height and leverage advantage doesn't truly make her the equal of a guy, even a shorter/smaller guy. I love how jits lets you craft your own game, taking advantage of every strength and hopefully accommodating every not-so-strength.

Jiujitsunista said...

I too am on the large side for a woman. I'm 5'9 and normally 145ish, but drop a bit when I compete.

Even though I am roughly the same size as a few of the smaller guys, I am no where near the same strength wise, and I am no wuss. =)

I've never gotten to grapple another woman who taller then me.. heavier then me yes, but not taller.. and I do feel that height off sets some of the weight difference... or at least, someone who is 20 pounds heavier, but shorter still feels smaller to me.

It is interesting to see how the different body types work in Jiujitsu. My sister in law, whom I train with 99% of the time, is 5'4, and we tend to have pretty opposite tastes in escapes and submissions. I don't know if it is just personal preference, or that I lean toward things that work well with my go-go gadget legs, and she works thing that adapt more to her small frame. One thing I do know for sure though, while I may have much more reach then she does, she can get much tighter then I can in a lot of places. Yet, Jiujitsu is something we can both do well. ... or at least I hope we are both doing it well. hehe

Sorry for my random tangent!

Megan said...

The chance to create my own version of the game is a huge perk for me. I actually like the fact that I don't have too many people to pattern myself after.

You're dead on regarding large females being different than males. There are so many other factors (flexibility, hip width, muscle density) that come into play. Thanks for reading!

Megan said...

@ Stephanie

It's funny that you say shorter feels smaller to you. When I roll with guys that are shorter, but more muscular than I am, it's pretty intimidating. I feel much more comfortable with a guy who might be heavier than I am, but around the same height. Probably because I understand his weight distribution better. When shorter opponents (male or female) get locked around me, I find myself struggling.

Georgette said...

At 5'2", I hardly ever lock my legs around anyone... conversely, my knees fit inside of people pretty easily. I just need to stop compensating for shorter limbs and less weight/strength by putting more of my bodyweight on top of people. Makes me so sweepable!

Megan said...

Never thought about it, but you've got me thinking about rolls with shorter opponents...I remember a lot of side control and half guard, but almost no full guard. Helpful.