As a grown-ass woman training jiu-jitsu in Lincoln, Ne., I sometimes feel like I am on an island by myself. We have a good jiu-jitsu community here, and it’s growing, but we don’t have the numbers that other places do. For the first Cornhusker State Games last summer, there were four woman in competition, and that is from the entire state of Nebraska.
Besides myself, there are only two other females that regularly train jiu-jitsu at our dojo. One of them is my daughter, and the other one is Sara, who is 14 years younger than I am. I rarely roll with either one of them. 99% of my grappling is done with men. I’m starting to think that this is detrimental to my training, especially to my mental state. I don’t really get a chance to test my skills against anyone who is even close to being my peer.
I think this leads to me believing my skills are worse than they are, because I spend most of my grappling time getting submitted by boys. I look at them and I think “I have tattoos older than you are!” I have no idea what it’s like to face a woman my age, because it’s never happened. I remember one of my competitors at the state games saying to me afterward “I’m glad I didn’t have to fight you when you were my age!” I took it as a compliment.
So, I try to remind myself that I am NOT, in fact, the worst jiu-jitsu player to ever live, I am just the oldest. Just kidding, Conan is way older than I am! I think it’s more about the gender, rather than the age, of my opponents anyway. I am a woman, I should be rolling with other woman more often than I do.
On the plus side, all of my grappling with men will help me if I ever need to use my skills on the street, because it’s doubtful a woman will ever attack me. So it’s good to get used to the feeling of being physically dominated and controlled by someone much larger and stronger, and to learn how to remain calm so that I will be able to escape. As I am increasingly able to tap the boys out, I can tell I am improving. Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t another woman my age for me to fight, because I would probably just tear her up, and then I would have to feel bad for beating up an old lady.