Women come in all sizes, just like men come in all sizes. Women and men of all sizes train jiu-jitsu. Being a small man in BJJ is awesome. Everyone admires the speed, flexibility, and athleticism of the rooster, and light feather weights. Being a big man in jiu-jitsu is even more awesome. The strength, and powerful explosiveness are the envy of the young, and the old. No-one complains about the size of the heavy and super heavy weights; they are the mighty kings of the mat.
Being a big woman in jiu-jitsu is a disadvantage. The strength is immediately considered a bad thing, and the woman is being subjected to name calling, and ridiculing. Gabi Garcia is taking a beating from internet trolls after every title win. She gets called a freak, a man, a dude, a bigfoot, and an assortment of other names.
The latest IBJJF European World Championship open weight final match between Mackenzie Dern and Gabi Garcia was outstanding! Both ladies did an excellent job but Gabi got her achievement discounted, again, due to her size. Comments like “Gabi is playing typical big person jiu-jitsu”, and “she is using her strength” didn’t take long to appear. When you sign up for the open class, you know that you may end up fighting someone much larger, much smaller or someone your own size. So, if it is expected, why make the size difference an issue?
And can we please stop with the bullying, and name calling? Enough already. It’s getting old. Big women are not supposed to compete in men’s division just like small men are not supposed to compete in women’s division. Jiu-jitsu women train as hard as men, yet are constantly judged based on their looks, and not on skill. Just because a woman does not meet your personal criteria of attractiveness does not make her a man.
To the men who defend women, and stand up to the disrespectful meatheads: Thank you! You are fantastic! We appreciate it a lot!
Cynthia M. Solis said:
Amen!! Awesome article!!
amen! I’m big not in height, but in weight. I always outweigh any girl on the mat, Some refuse to roll with me, I’ve learned to brush it off. People are just ignorant and are missing out on a great experience. I’d love to roll with Gabi.
come train in ATL with me i will roll with you! ❤
– a tall girl
love this article. i’m not a small girl at all: 5’8.5″, 171 pounds. and that is not 171 pounds of muscle. i have been 140 in life, and i’ve been 263 in life. whatever size i was, someone always had a comment. reading this being a month in to BJJ training is uplifting and revitalizing. thanks for posting it. in a short time i’ve become a huge fan of BOTH these ladies, for various reasons.
Oh crap, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be attracted to Gabi. 😦
Gabi is a ‘freak!’ That is not name calling, but a complement. She has been gifted with athleticism and talent rarely, if ever, seen before in the Jiu JItsu world. As far as playing ‘big person’ Jiu JItsu, so do I. Wouldn’t be strange if she played a game that didn’t fit her body type? Personally, I love to watch her compete. I learn a lot from it.
Some other freaks in the Jiu Jitsu world? Andre Galvao, Roger Gracie, B.J. Penn… the list goes on and on. My point is, sometimes the name callers get it right, even if they don’t mean to. Gabi is a freak, but only in the best of ways. If only I were a freak like that. 😉
A decade in BJJ said:
Something I posted to facebook where an acquaintance linked this article.
I disagree (on some of the major points). The author is patently wrong that size and strength aren’t derided when it comes to bjj for guys. Frankly I wonder how long the author has been training, that’s how ignorant the comment “No-one complains about the size of the heavy and super heavy weights; they are the mighty kings of the mat.” sounds. Hell, the long-time joke in many circles was about the “praise” you hear from opponents or coaches “You so strong” (think Brazilian accent). That was just a way to say “You kicked my ass but I want to diminish that”.
On any mat, any day, you will hear what some bigger guy gets (positionally or sub) dismissed because of their size–and **rightfully so frankly**. There are guys up here in XXXX that have much better technical skills than I do but for whom I present serious problems because of my strength and size (and stubbornness). The author is completely correct that giving a fuck about the physical appearance of female competitors is bullshit and disrespectful.
The comments about Gabi are indeed often disrespectful and despicable but comments about her playing big person jiu jitsu are neither disrespectful nor wholly incorrect. I say that as a fat-ass with over a decade in this sport who well knows how to use his size. Size is a physical attribute, like flexibility, that can be exploited to one’s advantage. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately it is also an attribute that can be exploited to cover gaps in technical ability. That’s a bad thing in training, a good thing in competition, and totally relevant in evaluating competition results. And yes, you do see bigger guy’s performances–particularly in ADCC–dismissed at the open weight level. Open weight wins by SHW’s aren’t considered with nearly the same regard as wins by smaller guys. Again, that’s not unreasonable.
Cliffs: You’re absolutely, and unfortunately, right about the disrespect shown to female competitors (generally). You’re wrong about differences in how strength is viewed among male bjj practitioners.
Hey Decade, thanks for sharing your perspective, seems to me that you have some insecurities to deal with, even after all these years on the mat. Trust me I know -apparently I am pretty strong… for a chick (when dominating a guy). It gets worse, when competing with women, even in heavyweight, the only reason for a win was that “oh well, she had quite a few pounds lot on you” (that’s nice, but I also had about two decades on that person, so I think we’re even ;).
So, yeah, I understand your insecurities as a the big person on the mat – having said that, the point of the article was that no one diminishes the accomplishments of males competing in the heavy and super-heavy weight categories, or even when these guys compete in open weight. We’re talking Rodolfo Vieira, Bucheda, Drysdale, Roger Gracy, etc –
The problem Gabi faces is that the Open weight class is often the only challenge she’ll get at any given tournament as there are just so few blackbelts in her weight class. So, unlike her male counterparts, she can’t blend into the crowd and since big folks just move different than the smaller ones, her style is a sharp contrast compared to her smaller opponents.
Cliffs: big people move differently and though they may appear “less technical’, it’s not that they are covering up poor technique with brute force. I’d argue the opposite – we’re using different techniques, optimized for our bodies, not the ones that that work for small, agile players (berimbolo much?)
Big Girl BJJ
Extremely well put mate! Everyone is different, nobody has the right to judge! We are all one!!!!!!
Reblogged this on The Curly Haired Chronicles..
Jiu Jiu said:
I always find negative comments about size disheartening. I posted about this once on my blog: http://jiujiubjj.com/women/bjj-and-women-think-before-you-post/ Dismissive, rude comments get back to folks in our community, ESPECIALLY dismissive, rude comments about women – there are so few of us, and it seems we are all just a few degrees of separation apart.
I can more understand the comments about “playing a big person’s jiu jitsu” because that’s talking about her strategies, and I think that those kinds of comments typically come up even in men’s open mats when you have tiny guys paired with big guys. HOWEVER, competition is EXACTLY when you’re supposed to use all the tools in your arsenal! You’re SUPPOSED to use strength/size/advantage in addition to your skill. Your goal is to WIN!
I can also see that “calling it as it is” and complaining can often appear the same online, especially when we have no voice to help us give context. Ah well.
I liked the intent of the article except where it says GABI’S ACHIEVEMENT WAS DISCOUNTED….. in no way is her technique and hard work discounted, she trains 24/7 her size does not afford her a discount on her success especially in a sport/ art based on using leverage at any size. Its 100% hard work no matter your size, no discounts based on body composition. Saying her victory is discounted is the same as calling her Shrek its just a polite approach.