At one point when I was rolling with Brick on Wednesday, after I passed to half guard and had him in a crossface and underhook that he couldn’t escape, he asked me “Why are you so strong?”, and I replied “Jiu-Jitsu!”, because it’s the only kind of strength training I do. His question actually surprised me, because he’s a big, strong guy, and since most everyone I train with is stronger than I am, I don’t usually feel particularly strong myself. During the warmups in the advanced class on Monday, when I had to fireman-carry Tumbleweed and then drag him across the mat by the collar of his gi, I did not feel strong at all, but doing things like that is how I have earned my muscles!
I’m aware that I am stronger than the average woman my age, but since the change has happened gradually, and I don’t spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, I don’t think I realized how much muscle I’ve gained from BJJ until a couple of months ago. I hadn’t had an occasion to get very dressed up in the past few years, then I recently had a wedding to attend, and as I was going through my closet to find something to wear, I started trying on my dresses, and I discovered that none of them fit anymore. I couldn’t even get some of them on, because they were all too tight in the shoulders and upper arms, due to my new musculature. There was just one dress that I could even wear, and only because it was made of sufficiently stretchy material.
Instead of being upset that none of my dresses fit, or excited about the prospect of shopping for new ones, I was just pleasantly surprised to realize how much stronger I’ve become in the past few years, thanks to BJJ. I weighed 114 pounds when I started grappling, but I’m pretty sure that the entire 11 pounds I’ve gained since then is all muscle, and it don’t think it makes me look manly at all. I actually don’t try to use a lot of strength when I’m rolling, because I prefer to approach it more intelligently and efficiently, but every muscle that I have was built by and for Jiu-Jitsu, so they all serve a purpose!