Saturday, February 12, 2011

I...think BJJ has made me bilingual...

No, I don't speak Portuguese...yet. I'm sticking with my decision to not touch it until I can "flow" in Mandarin almost as well as I can in Spanish, and I need to get some work done in that area.

I mean in the languages of men and women. My first day in the gym, I felt like I was immersed into a pool of manliness. Nothing particularly offensive (ok, a few smells were) but the environment was a lot more slanted in the direction of the less-fair sex than I was accustomed. I got used to it quickly.

Ever since then, I've felt like I was getting a real life and rare look into the way men bond. You know how people say women bond by talking and men bond through playing sports and physical activity? All of a sudden I was seeing it up close, and I got it. I started feeling closer to people without very much conversation and it hit me. "This is what guys mean!" I immediately called my best friend, with whom I reveal all my revelations on society and people and myself.

Well, last night, I called on her ear once again. I came home last night feeling like I'd had a long, in-depth conversation with each person with whom I'd sparred. I can't tell you one word that was said. I just know we talked. Afterward...I felt...almost tired...emotionally. Not in a bad way, but in the way you feel after you've had a heart-to-heart with a friend. It got me thinking...and wondering if this is just me.

Now...I'm stoic, but I'm also highly sensitive to emotional that I think about it, that's not really a contradiction. If I live a life of relative emotional calm, any ripples will be noticed. I think spending time bonding in male ways has left me picking up on not only the signals men pick up, but also all those waves and undulations of the human spirit that we women just instinctively receive and process non-stop. Doing both simultaneously registered with me as a sort of emotional overload.

Maybe since NAGA and Grappler's Quest are hovering around, and a belt test is coming up, people are just emoting more lately, but it's definitely something I wasn't looking for when I started training. That isn't to say that good things are only things that are deliberately sought after.


A.D. McClish said...

I never thought about this the way you explained it, but I think you have something here. I have felt a lot of the same things you were describing. I also think it can be hard sometimes to be one of a handful of females who regularly train. Sometimes I feel like the guys don't understand my side of the spectrum, you know? It's not a source of conflict. It's just there. I feel foolish sometimes when I, well...act like a girl! lol

fenix said...

I think you both have a point. I do know that guys handle stuff differently. When I was younger, I didn't "get it", but having spent time in male dominated sports and professions, and watched guys interact with one another, I agree that there are some fundamental differences in how things are seen and how things are expressed. A lot of the time, things get complicated when behaviour is viewed through the lens of another gender and interpreted that way.

In very many ways, I find men much more straighforward. I used to fall into the trap of reading too much into things, and interpreting men wrongly. Ha, still do sometimes!

My sister, who has a Ph.D. and a career in male dominated scientific research, and who holds a black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, said the following when I told her of some of my experiences in martial arts:

"You have entered the mysterious male world... It is interesting how males give you RESPECT if you do mix it with them. They get rid of their inhibitions and their preconceptions more easily than women but it's all performance based. Interestingly I have observed the same phenomena in the male dominated world of science. You must dish out at times! Otherwise, no respect from the blokes. But if you are feisty, at the right time, they will be very nice to you."

That correlated with my observations. And that's why when a girl reacts emotionally (teary) to some set back, it doesn't cut it with the guys. They think we are weak and "girly", when in fact the tears are from frustration and anger rather than pain or sadness.

It would be interesting to hear some guys out on all this.

Trudy said...

This is so fascinating Megan. To have a unique exposure to the differences in how men and women communicate and express emotion is interesting...and I can see how it could be emotional overload as you mentioned.

What really blows my mind is how the bonds are developing without much conversation. For most women that would be unfounded but it makes practical and psychological sense that it works that way in the gym with the men.

Great post.