I expected to be over it by now.
Jiu jitsu can do amazing things for the body image of a woman who hasn't dealt much with the physicality of her body during her life. I've fully accepted being heavier than all but one or two of the guys at the gym. I've come to take pride in the usefulness of my long legs when it comes to spider guard and triangles. I don't shy away from applying my full weight in knee on belly anymore...but there's still something there and I thought those cobwebs would have been swept clean by now by an arsenal of amazing sweeps. (my sweeps suck btw)
That photo? That's from my last trip to Japan. Upon meeting me (having already known my even larger brother), the lady in the picture remarked "We...we are Hobbits!" apparently now being left with the impression that American women normally come in Amazonian proportions. Just last weekend, at the seminar with Sofia Amarante, she remarked at how small I made her feel, which didn't surprise me and I honestly found it funny. Afterward though, it made me think...this is a woman who trains with the massive Roberto Abreu
...he's not that much larger than me, so I would have assumed she'd be used to feeling tiny. But that made me realize that there is a genuine difference between being a large woman and being a large man that extends beyond the hard facts of height and weight. Basically, I present as bigger than a man of my same height and weight just because I'm female.
As an aside, I find the need to differentiate "Big girl syndrome" from "Fat girl syndrome"...the terms seem to be used interchangeably, but I've gone through periods in my life where, yes, I've felt and been technically overweight, but there are also periods where I've been asked to and if I modeled, so I can't rightly or fully claim that. Perhaps a better title is "Amazon Syndrome", because regardless of weight, I am large, and every now and then, I'm reminded of my little abnormality.
This past Friday, locked in the guard of a new green belt, holding off his muscling, the feelings inched their way in...always being taller than all the boys in class, being referred to as "big man" by a guy in gym class. I sat in his full guard, watching him struggle and muscle and fatigue himself until I freed a leg and passed to half. I bore my weight down with no shame, no sensitivity and watched him push with very little success. There lies one of the struggles of the blue belt...as a white and green, I would always wonder if the guys were being nice and simply letting me settle my weight and hold them down. This time though, I could see clearly in his face that he was trying his hardest and my weight was simply too much to move. I went back and forth in my head, wondering if I should play "little man" as to not further my reliance on my size when it comes to passing...what would Gabi Garcia do?
...after all, I'm still pretty helpless against the bigger purples...but then my ego kicked in, I decided I wasn't going to let a lower belt dominate me, and dropped a little more shoulder pressure and tried a new half guard pass Parrumpa
had taught us just before the belt exam.
I have found little peace on the mats in my odd mix of size, strength and gender...feeling like a behemoth one roll and a rag-doll the next. I am still that un-girl that the boys feel less shame in being partnered with
but am relatively easily muscled into an Americana (the pushups have helped a bit). I genuinely thought that, by blue, I would have mounds of clarity. While I am much better at understanding and using pressure instead of weight and controlling the momentum of my own mass, I still feel quite confused in the sea of my own size.