One woman's journey into creating a women's jiu jitsu program
Article #16, by guest writer Chrissy Linzy [FAQ Entry]
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The day of the first class, I couldn’t really think about anything else. What if no one showed up? What if I forgot everything I wanted to show? What if jiu jitsu techniques magically stopped working?
None of these things happened, of course. I had two students for the first class, and have had at least two students for nearly every class since then. I have designed the classes so that the warmup, the self defense move of the week and the two BJJ techniques all tie together somehow so that there are common motions being repeated.
At the end of each class, we do some positional sparring and then review the techniques from the class. During the first class, I covered details of mount escapes and then my “rules” for maintaining mount. The positional sparring was solely to maintain mount, without working for any submissions. I wanted to make sure that the women become comfortable with making adjustments in their posture and base automatically, before thinking about submissions.
Since most of the women that have been attending classes are fairly new to jiu jitsu, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the basics. I want these women to feel confident in the co-ed classes, and to have a lot of repetitions of the fundamentals. I also spend a good bit of time on the principles behind the movements so that the women understand other places that these movements will be effective.
Nearly every jiu jitsu academy talks about posture while you’re in someone’s guard, but I try to point out what good posture is from every position so that they’re always thinking about how to be safe, even if they don’t quite know what to do next. This is where I think that the positional sparring is the most helpful. Now that I have 3 months or so under my (blue) belt, I’m going to start making a few changes. I’m going to drop the second BJJ technique and add in more sparring. A lot of my students are teenagers, which means parents are very prompt about picking them up. This means that they expect class to end right at 9 PM, so the teenagers are missing out on the open mat time after class ends.
Right now, I have a few students who are planning to compete at US Grappling’s Dominion Grappling Championships, so we’re spending July and the beginning of August working on tournament strategies and on what to do if the plan goes awry. We’ll have some women coming from other academies to visit for classes between now and August 7 to help prepare for the tournament. In addition, I know I’m going to be getting a few new students in the next week or two, and I’m excited about seeing the program grow. Planning the lesson is one of my favorite parts of the week, especially when I work out the alternate ways to explain things, or to accomplish a particular technique with a different body type. I feel like it makes me a better instructor and a better grappler.
Chrissy Linzy has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 5 years, and is one of the owners of US Grappling, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling tournament circuit that travels across most of the United States for events. She (rarely) blogs at www.clinzy.com.
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