Two things to throw out to the group. The first is a concern and the second is a genuine point of confusion.
A couple days ago, I posted about how chasing rank can cause problems. Actually, the gist of the article was that worrying about rank at all can really be problematic. Well, yesterday, I ran into a guy who used to train with us. I’m not sure what kind of terms he left under, but he’s a nice guy, so while I’m pretty sure the school he trains at isn’t very popular round our parts, I’d doubt this particular kid burned any bridges.
He’s been training for about three years and is a blue belt, which isn’t at all surprising to me. We talked a little, and I asked him about his angry ear that looks like a purple potsticker. He seemed pleased that I noticed. At some point, he mentioned really wanting his purple belt. He’s a young kid… I’d put him in his early 20’s, although he may not even be that old, so I wasn’t really all that surprised. It’s human nature, after all. What really gave me pause, though, is that he equated purple belt with opening his own school. I genuinely don’t get it. In BJJ, it’s not… uncommon for a purple belt to run a school, but it’s becoming increasingly less so as more black belts exist. This was a situation that arose out of necessity, where at one time a purple belt or even an experienced blue were quite literally the only guys around competent to teach.
I wouldn’t want to do it. So, when he seriously suggested that he really wanted his purple belt because it specifically (in his mind) equated to being able to legitimately “do [his] own thing,” I had to work hard to keep the shock off my face. What makes this even scarier is that HIS instructor is a purple belt who has been training for about 4 years total.
There is a depth of knowledge that a school owner needs to have in order to run a good school. Regardless of how skilled at purple belt the instructor is, he is a purple belt. There are just things he or she won’t know… and what’s scary is that he or she might not even know it. So, what happens when a purple belt trains another guy up to purple belt (whether graded by a black belt who visits once or twice a year, or not) that lack of depth compounds.
Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t rolled with any of these guys in a long time. They may completely rock. But I just don’t know. My spidey sense is tingling.
Okay, the next one has to do with women in BJJ, and this might get me flamed. But before I go on, I want to be clear that I’m really just asking for clarification. I have a genuine respect and admiration for the women who train in BJJ. But that leads to the question: Do women want to be treated like training partners or treated like female training partners?
What I mean by that question is, I’ve always found it pretty easy to ignore gender and roll with women just like I would any other training partner. What that means to me is that I adjust my game and intensity as much as I can so that it’s appropriate for my partner. I roll with new guys (“guys” in the generic, non-gender specific way) differently than I roll with experienced guys. I roll with heavier guys differently than I roll with lighter guys. And everything in between. So, a tough blue belt who is lighter than me is simply that, regardless of gender.
Up until now, I’ve been under two impressions. First, that this is appropriate in that lighter guys don’t gain technique if they’re not given opportunities to work technique. Second, that this is appreciated and even desirable for women because they’re not there to be girl jiu-jitiero… they’re just there to be jiu-jitiero.
I’m beginning to think I have it all wrong, so I’m looking for some help. Georgette’s posts got things started. But it’s Leslie’s post on the discussions had at a girl’s grappling mini camp that really threw me for a loop. I can understand women’s classes and the like. I get that. But this post has me baffled. At one point, Leslie wrote, “Val also mentioned that it sometimes might actually be good for the guys to see that what they’re doing is reducing you to tears, especially if you already have the reputation as a “tough chick,” because if what they’re doing is too much for you, then it’s too much. Maybe nothing else will get through to them.”
I genuinely don’t know how to react to this. What are you trying to convey by crying? What needs to get through to them? After reading that, I immediately thought about how bad I’d feel if I ever made a girl cry on the mat. Then I began wondering if I had and just don’t know it because they cried in the bathroom. Then I thought, “would a dude ever cry?” And THAT led me to wonder, “What the hell is going on here?” My brain is broken. What’s too much? If it’s too much for you, why wouldn’t it be too much for a little dude, too? Or the other way, if it’s not too much for a little guy, why is it too much for women?
The biggest question in my mind is what do you guys (and this time, “guys” actually means women) want? Is it important to remember that you’re women? Or would you rather be a training partner first?
So, no conclusions here. I’m asking for help. I want to get it. I’m not challenging you guys on this. I’m just trying to understand, because I just don’t.