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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

16 June 2014

Interview - BlogChat #2: BJJ Grrl Talks About On/Offline Communities

Here's the second part of my interview with BJJ Grrl. This time, she talks about the amazing community of bloggers in BJJ, which crosses over with the equally amazing community of women in the sport.

Can: Yeah, I am always telling people there is a really awesome community of female bloggers online. You mention the women training page – which is amazing by the way, I love that page.

BJJ Grrl: I should probably revisit it, I would have more to say now.

Can: Yeah, definitely! Again, out of all the bloggers on the internet, you are the one who I think has the closest mindset to my own. The same kind of idea, putting all your experience down.

BJJ Grrl: Some days there are things I don't want to talk about, but maybe it will help somebody. Suck it up and write it down anyway. But yeah, I definitely need to revisit that page, especially the aggression section, because I need to talk about the new thing I'm going through in my head. If I did the technique right and it sucks for you, well, I did the technique right. It's supposed to suck for you. Instead of, "Oh, I don't want to hurt you. Is that uncomfortable? I'm sorry. I'm supposed to be choking you unconscious right now, but if it hurts you I'm not going to do it." I've got to get past that. Still working on it.

Can: Have you thought of building that page up into a more expansive FAQ, like the one I did, or was it that you had a specific set of questions you were interested in answering and you've achieved that?

BJJ Grrl: I kinda just wanted to do it very general questions, the big ones that come up, especially for new women that start training. But yeah, I do need to revisit that one, I'll probably make a list.

Can: A number of bloggers have found they've gone from doing those kind of blogs, the articles you've done, they've proven popular – and I know you've gotten a lot of hits on that page, a ridiculous number of comments – then the blogger has progressed from that to writing articles for websites, magazines etc. Is that something that interests you?

BJJ Grrl: I guess I would kind of like to, but I haven't gone looking for it. I guess for the most part, I still think "Nobody else feels about this the same way I do, no-one else will have this experience," then of course they all say, "I felt exactly the same thing." But I still feel like the oddball out.

Can: Have you had any internet fame, as 'BJJ Grrl'?

BJJ Grrl: Sometimes. I've shown up at women's open mats and people have gone "Gasp! You're BJJ Grrl!" Occasionally somebody from my academy, I'll say something, and they'll be "Oh yeah, I read that on your blog last week." They read it too: crap! It's not anonymous! [Laughs]

I can totally get how people go on the internet and post terrible things, because when they're posting, they're thinking "These aren't real people. They don't know who I am, I'll never meet them." But people are real. I've had people at tournaments come up to me and be like "Oh hey, I commented on your blog!"

Can: Do you see a separation then, between your online and offline life?

BJJ Grrl: I think it's just my brain is kinda weird.

Can: For example, a number of times online friends have become offline friends, like in my case and indeed this trip and this conversation we're having now, with Adrienne sitting right there next to us.

BJJ Grrl: I'm trying to think how I even heard about that first open mat, when I met Chrissy, Adrienne and the others. I don't even know now. I may have read it on a forum, maybe NHB Gear. I think I had done a tournament, with US Grappling, and Chrissy had invited me to the forum. Once I met everybody and kept coming to tournaments, that's how I met most of the women around here.

Although there was a funny incident, a women posted on my blog. It was a comment, asking for advice. So I gave her some advice, then she made another comment about where she trained. It turned out she was thirty minutes from me. I was like, "Come up on Saturday! We'll hang out, do jiu jitsu."

That actually happened twice, from opposite directions. Two different women came in, because they'd found me on the internet, then found out I lived very close to them. "Oh, I'll come train with you."

Antwain: Did they ask you for a lot of pointers?

BJJ Grrl: They were both beginners in jiu jitsu, so asked things like "How do you deal with guys that go way too easy on you and you know they are going too easy? How do you get them to see that you want to train?" Or one of them, I think she didn't know what to do, she was getting beat up all the time, because they were all bigger than her: they were going too hard.

It's weird when people ask me advice, because when I need advice, I'll ask Chrissy mostly, or Addy, or Val. So I ask questions: why are people asking me questions? Ask the people who know these things. [Laughs]

Can: That's a good point: do you guys have any questions?

Adrienne: Actually yeah, I do. How much time a week do you spend? Training is one thing, but then taking your experiences and putting it down in blogs, this and that, I'm just curious to know how much that hobby takes over your other time. To me it seems very consuming.

BJJ Grrl: And it used to be, I used to spend a whole lot more time on it. I would agonise over my post, it had to follow almost a format but not quite. I'd need to talk about this, get the whole class in there, did I miss a technique, did I miss this. Now I do it when I get to work the next morning and I'm drinking my coffee. I'll write it up. That's one of the reasons they are so much shorter now, because I'm writing them at work as I'm drinking my coffee.

But yeah, I was spending a whole lot of time doing it. I would do it immediately after class, so I was staying up until midnight, writing posts. This is kinda silly. So, now I agonise over it far less. Sometimes I look over it after I've posted it and find a glaring typo...meh. Whereas before, I'd re-edit it, I've thought of something else, I should add that.

Adrienne: Like over-analysing it?

BJJ Grrl: Yeah, though it seems to me I haven't been doing it as much now, over-analysing. In fact, last week I trained on Friday, I completely forgot to write anything until Monday. Part of it was that I'd been out of the habit because I'd been injured, so kinda forgot about it.

Adrienne: So have you always blogged? I know you talked about the weightlifting, but is that something which accidentally happened? Or did you set out with "You know what, I want to start blogging," an active decision?

BJJ Grrl: Total accident. Yeah. Just that the online journal for the weightlifting program I was doing led to it. Although I've always written, so it's a natural thing. I also learn really well when I write things down. It helped me, going back after class and writing down everything that I'd done.

Can: Do you ever revisit posts?

BJJ Grrl: I do sometimes. If I feel like I'm having trouble with something that I've had trouble with before, I'll see what happened the last time. [Laughs] Or if I notice a spike in traffic on a certain post, I'll go back and read it. Sometimes it's interesting, I'll think "Oh, that's why somebody might be reading it."

Can: So you're not obsessive about stats, checking page views and the like?

BJJ Grrl: I used to. I really used to, but I made myself stop doing that. It just seemed silly. I'm competing to be best blog? I should be training jiu jitsu, or working or whatever I'm supposed to be doing at the time. That was part of the staying up til midnight thing, obsessing about "well, if I said it this way, would more people come?" At some point I decided, that's just silly. [Laughs]


  1. Super interview. Good to see the person behind the blog.

  2. I noticed recently that BJJ Grrl has swung from over-analyzing in her posts to me thinking, "Man, I wish she had put in a little more about X or Y, she posted about trouble with Z a few months ago and she mentions Z here, but not whether she resolved her problems or felt better about it..."

    I kind of miss the slightly more involved posts.