To celebrate the release, I'm hosting some awesome interviews and guests posts that look at women in male-dominated areas, gender-stereotypes, and, truly, people with passion.
Today, my guest is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ninja Ben. If you couldn't tell, Ben is a guy. I know, I know. Above, I talk about celebrating women in male-dominated areas, so, why is today's guest a guy?
- Fierce is about passion for a sport/lifestyle/art. Celebrating passion, regardless of gender, is part of Fierce and part of celebrating its release.
- I know, first-hand, that our guest strongly supports females in mixed martial arts. He has experience working with and coaching men and women.
- I don't know that Fierce would be here--at least not yet--if it weren't for Ben providing my introduction to mixed martial arts.
- BJJ is an absolutely amazing martial art that, I believe, doesn't always get the attention it deserves.
- Quick BJJ intro: BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is a component of MMA, falls under the umbrella "grappling", is considered the "ground game". It's designed to teach a smaller person to defend themselves against a bigger person. It involves using body angles, weight distribution, joint locks, chokes etc to submit your opponent.
B: Survival. I was 17 when I began training in self defense and MMA in earnest, and I thought that good striking, mediocre wrestling, quickness, and brutality would allow me to best any opponent. I believed that if I were just “good enough” (a perilous phrase indicating stubbornness) I wouldn’t need to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, i.e. a ground game. Once I started sparring in MMA, however, I became exceedingly apparent that without a ground game I would be crushed in a matter of moments by anyone who knew even the most basic BJJ techniques and concepts. I had to evolve or die. So I started learning everything I could about BJJ, and now it is one of the things that I am most passionate about in all my life.
LG: How has Brazilian Jiu Jitsu impacted your life outside of the Dojo/Gym?
B: I cannot begin to count the ways. Each person needs a metaphor to be able to translate, analyze, and interpret life with. The metaphor is a tangible microcosm by which you can more easily access and understand the macrocosm of your life and the events therein. My metaphor is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Thus, it has helped me mature and gain real self confidence. It has connected me more deeply with myself and humanity. It has helped me find peace during times of strife, and it has allowed me to meet some of the most influential individuals in my life.
LG: Do you feel training with women in BJJ/boxing/MMA is different than working with men? If so, how?
B: I feel that there are inherent differences in working with different sexes--so, yes. The first major differences are the physical ones, but please understand that, in my opinion, these are relatively minor. Men’s and women’s anatomies are simply different, so some techniques change in order to accommodate this. Additionally, women are very rarely as strong as males of an equivalent weight. What this means, for men working with women, is that they may have to remove some of the strength element, and rely more on speed and technique when they train with women.
Understand this is not the same as going easy on a training partner because they are female! It is training in a manner that allows both practitioners techniques to be practiced and tested in a manner that is technique focused (as training usually should be anyways)
LG: Do you feel like its different coaching women and men? If so, how?
B: Yes, very. The major difference here is that men and women have different psychology, and have been typically socialized in very different ways. Thus, when helping students or athletes bring out their best selves for learning or competing, you have to approach men and women very differently.
I believe that to truly coach men and women equally as well, it is most important for the coach to empty themselves of their own psycho-socio biases which allowed them to be successful at whatever it is that they are coaching: The goal of a coach is not to help them become you, but to help them become a better version of themselves in whatever it is that they are training.
About Ben: Ben has been training self-defense and MMA for 12 years, and BJJ ten years. He is a purple belt in BJJ He has trained in various martial arts, and was a professional coach for 9 years.
A note from LG: If you couldn't tell, Ben is a fantastic coach. Thank you, Ben, for sharing your thoughts with us.
My question for YOU: Do you guys do any coaching/teaching/instructing? Does your plan of attack for these things differ between the genders?
A few words about Fierce...