Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Should Guys Roll With Girls?

I could only go to BJJ once today (Thursday the 3rd- I'm writing this kinda late at night!), but it was the mixed levels/competition class so there was a lot of rolling. I was the only girl in class today- normally there's at least 1-2 more but I think people's schedules have just been crazy lately. I rolled with a 17 year old blue belt male and felt I was able to execute my techniques very well. I was able to mount some pretty good offense and was able to deal well against his sweeps. However, I noticed that he was significantly more aggressive when rolling with the guys in the class.

My philosophy for when men roll with women is that they should treat girls like men who are the same size as the girl is. For example, if you are 170lbs and you're rolling with a 130lb girl, the guy should roll as though he was going against a 130lb guy, assuming the two are the same belt level. He shouldn't muscle the girl around, but he should NOT go too easy and let her pull of techniques. I've gone against guys who think they're rolling at the black belt finals of the Mundials, guys who let me pass their guard (what?!), and guys who treat me no differently. I'd rather roll with the last category than be injured in the first one and not improve my game in the second one.

I was a little disgruntled about this and spoke to one of my friends at the gym and he said "Well yeah he wasn't going to go nuts against a girl". My response was that he should never "go nuts" against anyone but he should have used the appropriate resistance. If I ever rolled with Shaolin, I'm sure he could arm triangle me about 100 times in a five minute period, but he wouldn't. He roll against me but probably be able to neutralize all of my attacks and execute his own game appropriately while keeping a good flow. That's what a more experienced person should do against someone who isn't the same level.

This makes me wonder if all the guys at my gym and other gyms have this mentality. It's hard to tell, but I feel as though I might just tell the people I roll with the be a little more aggressive. You aren't doing girls any favors by going lighter than you would against a guy who was my size. If the guy is bigger, he should try and use his technique and hold back on his strength when rolling with a girl, or anyone who is smaller than him for that matter.

I'm not sure how many people actually read this, but I'd like to hear some feedback on this topic.


  1. I just started BJJ recently and there's one girl who trains in the group. She's super tiny so I can literally lift her up with one arm. I'll admit I was pretty apprehensive about rolling with her, because I wasn't sure how to go about it (lots of issues come to mind). But, it all just kinda happened naturally. I know I can keep her from submitting me just by sheer strength, but that's not really fun for either of us. So instead, I try to let it flow as much as possible, not making it too easy on her, but not making it frustratingly difficult either.

    There's a guy there who always goes "soft" when he rolls with me because he knows I'm very new, so he tries to go super easy on me. To me, it's annoying because I feel like I'm being toyed with, and also, it's kinda insulting (though I'm always first to admit how much I suck at this). I wish he'd just let it flow organically, but I guess it's not very organic if he's delaying tapping me out. Anyway, I keep that in mind when I'm rolling with a girl. I'll focus on my own technicality, or I provide enough resistance to make it realistic if not somewhat challenging for her. I'll admit I have never tried to submit her (I don't think any of the guys have)--something doesn't seem right about that. Are we wrong about that?

    From personal experience, a lot can be learned from constantly being submitted, so maybe I would actually be doing her a favor. Maybe she'll even appreciate it.

  2. Tap Dummy, thanks for posting a response.

    I don't see why you wouldn't try to submit a girl. Don't crank anything too fast but you should always go for submissions if she is at your belt/experience level. I don't think anyone likes getting caught in submissions, but once you get caught in them consistently, you figure out what you're doing wrong and how you can improve your submission defense.

  3. Great post and an interesting perspective. How I roll against a particular person in class depends on how they roll with me.

    I'm small and don't have a lot of muscle (5'4" under 120 pounds), but will go all out against a spazzy white belt on their first day if they're going crazy. If, however, they happen to be rolling in a calm and controlled manner, then I work to obtain ascending positional transitions and work some of my weaker game.

    In my experience, it is very rare for women who are new to BJJ to be spazzy, but new guys frequently are.

    For folks with color in their belt (assuming they've learned not to spazz), I try to roll with intentionality and focus on technique. As the lightest guy in my gym, I will always be among the weakest. But my technique can get better and better.

  4. Ugh, sorry to hear that this is happening to you. That's such an annoying attitude. I haven't encountered it myself yet...I'm presently the spazzy white belt and the boys at my gym sub me right and left while still teaching me in the process, which is great balance...but this seems to be a common attitude that a lot of women run into elsewhere and it's pretty appalling. I have a section on my blog with my feelings about guys and girls rolling together and like you, one of my points is that if a guy is the same size as a the girl, they should both be treating each other the same as two guys of the same size rolling. It should never be about gender and it's sad that some guys seem to think it is. Nice post though. I hope the attitudes change and you don't have cause to continue being disgruntled!