Recently someone who I don’t know shared a link to Ginger Snaps on a message board, in response to a teenage girl who trained with adults, and most of them didn’t want to roll with her. The person who shared the link thought that she might benefit from reading my blog, and they described me as “a tiny, shy woman who is mad keen on jiujitsu and gives a brutally honest account of her journey.” They didn’t mention that I’m middle-aged, so I don’t know if a teenager can relate to me or not, but I definitely know what it feels like to have everyone in class turn their backs on you when it comes time to partner up!
In the early days of my Jiu-Jitsu training, there was a 13 year-old boy who trained with us in the adult class at the dojo, and more often than not, he and I ended up as partners. Since no one else really wanted to work with either one of us, we usually trained together. I actually enjoyed working with him, but I didn’t want to be his partner ALL of the time.
One day during class, he was across the room from me when it was time to partner up, we were as far away from each other as we could possibly be, but everyone around us ran away and quickly found other people to partner with, as usual. When I saw that the boy and I were the only people without partners once again, it was basically the straw that broke the ginger’s back, and I became so frustrated by the whole situation that I actually walked out of class, and I didn’t return, at least not that day.
Instead, before going home, I went into Shihan’s office and I cried. I told him that I felt like I was being left on the sidelines in Jiu-Jitsu, and I didn’t know what to do about it. He said “You know that happens when you try to corner a cat, don’t you? It comes out fighting.” I took that to mean if I wanted a place in Jiu-Jitsu, and people weren’t giving it to me, then I had to take it. Yeah, not so easy for a shy person.
That was the only time I’ve ever walked out of a martial arts class, and even though it took me a little longer to really find my place in Jiu-Jitsu, I eventually did. I no longer have any problems finding a partner, and I feel completely accepted in my school, and by my teammates. There are still a few people who I don’t think really want to roll with me, but it doesn’t affect my training anymore. I once read that even Caio Terra had a hard time finding training partners when he first started, because of his size, and look at him now! So, I guess my advice would be to just hang in there, it does get better.