We're a bit of an enigma in BJJ. Women that outsize men. Most discussions on training with women will focus on advising men how to train with smaller, weaker bodies...but what do you do when the body is larger, possibly stronger and female?
So, rolling out of my previous post on Christy Thomas, and to make up for my stupidly missing a seminar by Gabi Garcia, I want to get this theme started. I've written on it
a couple of times before, but hadn't talked to any actual men about the situation. (I'll definitely be doing more in the future, so if you've got any stories, tips or questions, hit me up.
First up, the man himself, Slideyfoot
and my favorite BrownBelt Instructor, Ryan Gallagher of American Top Team West Palm Beach
. I don't have any experience with Slidey (though I hope to in the future), but Ryan was one of the first to comment on my size/strength and was instrumental in shaping my perspective. I was glad to see them both answer my curiosity about the control of larger women vs. the control of larger men.
How accustomed are you to training with women?
: Very used to training with women: my first training partner in 2006 was a woman, then from about 2007-2009, my main regular training partner was also a woman.
: I’m pretty well accustomed to training with women. As an instructor I like to train with my students as often as I can. That being said, I have quite a few students that are women. I often train with some women to begin my live training session for the evening. I feel this gives me the option to not have to be forced to use strength when I train.
What was your first reaction to rolling with a larger woman?
: I was pleased: I generally find women more mature, considerate and controlled then men. The machismo that can often rear its head with men (particularly if they are young and strong) is also rare in women. Rolling with a more powerful woman meant that I had to rely on technique, but could do so without being as concerned about injury as I would be with a larger man. That's not to say there are no good training partners who are larger men: I have had the pleasure of training with several very helpful but very large men. However, I've found that to be comparatively rare.
: Training with a larger women is no different than training with someone else for the most part. Sometimes this forces you to become even more technical because of their size and strength. When training, you always want to try to be as technical as you can, utilizing leverage and correct technique as much as possible. Sometimes training with a male that uses a lot of strength you find yourself trying to match them and at times becoming a little rougher with them to prove a point. Personally when I find myself training with a woman that is larger and that is strong I will always avoid taking the path of strength because she is a woman. This only leaves me with the option of using my technique and speed to overcome this obstacle.
What difficulties (if any) do you have now?
: With larger women? None, except that I don't get to do it as often these days due to the smaller number at my club. If you mean with training in general, my main problem is probably not taking enough risks, being too passive and relying too much on my defence. However, I think the benefits of training that way outweigh the negatives, with the biggest plus being a reduction in injury and therefore a longer lifetime on the mat.
: I don’t find any real difficulties that I wouldn’t normally have with anyone else.
How does it compare to rolling with men in general?
I feel the only difference with rolling with larger men than women is that I always try to avoid using strength and I find myself not playing as tight of a game against a woman.
Have you learned anything or do you have any advice to guys who may be new to the experience?
: I learn something with any individual that I train with. My advice to men that train with larger women is to treat them just like you would anyone else. Sometimes you will even find women that would be offended if you didn’t treat them as such. Don’t let a woman win just because she’s a woman and you’re trying to be considerate. They need to win and lose just like anyone else to better their jiu jitsu. I always try to avoid winning by solely relying on strength with anyone but most specifically when it comes to training with a woman.
: I would highly recommend that men train with women generally, particularly small men, as you will probably find that often women are the closest to you in size. In regards to training with larger women, this is also especially beneficial to smaller men, as you have the opportunity to focus purely on technique (because you can't fall back on strength) without an accompanying risk of injury (generally: there are exceptions, though I haven't met any large women who were uncontrolled).
Thanks to both Ryan and Can!