Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jiu Jitsu: Love and Hate

Seriously, jiu jitsu , at least for a woman living in Korea, is bipolar. One day, its fun and challenging; the next day it's dull or angering. Is this a problem other women jiu jitsu players have?

Okay, to be honest with you, I hate sparring with most women, too. I will not blame a man there. The truth is if you squeal when I do a move or cry when you get a slight bruise; I don't want to deal with it. If you have long hair, I don't want to deal with it. If you have long nails, I definitely don't want to spar with you. These are things that I have experienced doing jiu jitsu with women, and I hate them. Therefore, I cut off all of my long, beautiful hair. Do I like having long hair, of course, but at the same time, I don't mind having short hair and it's a little more convenient when playing jiu jitsu. Am I saying you should cut off your hair? Of course not. You can play with long hair, just make sure it's secured firmly on top of your head and out of the way when sparring. As a consideration to those I am sparring with, I also clip my fingernails weekly. They are never past my fingertips. The truth is when you grab someone to do a move, there is always a chance that you will scratch them; no one likes for you to draw blood. Of course, no one really likes bruises either but bruises aren't really messy and its a part of the game so you kinda have to get used to it. Also, it's dangerous for you too. Nails get caught on clothing often and get get ripped off which is very painful (and bloody...trust me on this one.) And now to the squealing part, yes, jiu jitsu is painful, but no one is really out to intentionally harm you. Everyone is just trying to get in a position of submission or win the game. That is the purpose of jiu jitsu. If you get bruised or a bump a long the way, do not cry or squeal. That just makes other people feel bad. It really is poor manners. Have I wanted to cry? Yes. Have I wanted to scream out in pain? Yes. But out of manners, I don't. Also, I spar mostly with men; so I know that if I scream or cry, they will not spar with me any more because they will think that I am too weak. All of these dislikes go for men to....I hate sparring men with long hair, long nails, and that squeal and cry. (****Ok side note here: I know from the sound of it, I seem like a very boyish sort of girl. I can assure you that I am not. I am quite possibly the girliest girl you will ever meet. I wear skirts or dresses everyday. I am definitely a high heels and make up person. I always have my toes painted. I'm girly even down to my favorite color, my favorite color is pink. Koreans consider me very much a "cutie style" person. I have what they call "egy-yo".)

So with so many sacrifices, I am continually asking myself why do I play the game. I play because this kind of fighting came naturally to me. I instinctively defend myself. It is fun at times, but it is also very painful. So why do I keep doing it? In my heart, I feel that I have to for two reasons. One, self defense. Two, it is a full body workout. We'll start with the latter. If you have met me in person, you know that I am not a small person. I could easily be very fat. If you know me well, you know I eat very little and still am not small. Therefore, I have to exercise excessively to stay fit. Jiu jitsu provides a good exercise for a short amount of time (I do not depend solely on jiu jitsu though, I run for my cardio workout). Now on to self defense, as a woman, I know what it is like to be in a situation in which I was completely helpless. I wished with all of my being that I was stronger and knew how to defend myself and others. I wanted to learn a kind of fighting in order to defend myself and others. I tried tae kwan do, but it was really repetitive and kind of boring and I never really got to try anything for real. It just seemed like a lot of pointless moves. I also tried kickboxing but once again too repetitive and it required a lot of repetitive prep work before actual sparring. There is judo, but that's mostly just take down here in Korea. The mat training here is kind of limited. Also, I would run into the same trouble in judo as I do in jiu jitsu. So jiu jitsu it is...

Now, here are the reasons I love jiu jitsu. As I said before, it is a really good exercise. Also, I am good at defense naturally. Also, it requires flexibility which I have a ton of. It requires technique which I am good at learning. I have a lot of technique. So most of the time, I get to spar the more challenging people because of my technique. I spar the biggest or the strongest or the quickest. But usually, only one time. I only get one chance. If the guy feels like I am not challenging enough, he will refuse to fight me again. If the guy feels like he could lose to me, he will not fight me again. Very rarely, here in Korea, will I find a guy that will except the challenge of fighting me continually. Do I mind fighting guys that are too big and could crush me every time? Not really. I want to practice. The truth is, if someone attacks me in real life, they aren't going to take one look at me and think "eh, she's not challenging enough...I'm just gonna walk away." Yeah, that doesn't happen. It makes me feel good when I am asked to take on the big guys. To me, it is the highest praise you could give me (on my jiu jitsu skill of course). Many people tell me my jiu jitsu is good, but they never want to spar with me which is pretty insulting to me. I feel like you are saying that I'm good, but I will never be good enough. These are the same people that are chatting me up after class or asking me out on a date. Really??? I'm sorry if you really cared anything about me, you would help me to learn to defend myself properly. So I feel like to them, I will always just be another pretty face. So, I dislike them intensely. No matter how much they compliment me; I will always dislike them. Yes, I know I keep getting back to the negatives...ugh...grrrr. Okay, so another positive, because I have technique, people often ask me for advice on what to do in certain situations. Even though my Korean is bad and there are other people that speak Korean that are better than me, they ask me because I'm weaker so they know that I can teach them how to fight the bigger and better people. Strong people don't always realize that it is difficult to do certain moves. Another positive, if a person really wants to train jiu jitsu, they ask to spar with me so they can learn. There are very few men, here in Korea, that are willing to sacrifice their humility to spar with me, but there are some. I also love the challenge of fighting someone that is bigger and better than me. It doesn't matter to me if I win or lose. I want to be the best me that I can be.

Lately, jiu jitsu for me has been unpredictable and very up and down. Even in the same day. For example today...I walked in and one of the long time kickboxers asked me if he could spar with me. He explained that he wanted to learn jiu jitsu, but he wanted to train with me because I had technique but I wasn't very strong. So he felt like he would learn more. After sparring for a short time, he was tired. So I was left alone. I sparred with no one. Seriously, I came down from a serious high quickly. The truth is jiu jitsu is a good exercise...only if you are sparring. I honestly have no clue how to get people to spar with me. I tried to go easy on people...even just taking positions with no submissions. I tried going my hardest and submitting people continually. I have never once complained about being hurt. I have never cried out or screamed when I was hurt or in pain. I have done everything I can to play this game...what am I doing wrong? What do I need to do to be able to practice? Seriously, I just want to exercise and learn how to defend myself. Has anyone else been through this? How can I get past this challenge?


Anonymous said...

good post - I think a lot of girls would/should like BJJ if they got into it in the right way

Your attitude is spot on/ I think most girls who train feel the same, while they dont wanna get smashed they do come to train so treating them like retards isnt that cool

Melanie Chastain said...

Thanks!!! It's good to know that I'm not alone, and that it isn't a cultural barrier thing!

Anonymous said...

hahah well I can't say I have had the same experience (I'm Jamie btw), just that I agree with you.

You have to remember some people are just pussies it isn't because you are a girl or because you are white. When you are at the gym pay attention to how often and how much time is spent; by the guys actually sparring each other.

I know it is slightly condescending to say, but just focus on what you are doing and getting better. There isn't much you can do about people ducking you or being too aggressive or whatever. No learning environment will be ideal, but it is possible to suck what you can from each experience.

Melanie Chastain said...

i figured that it was you after talking to you a bit about this sort of thing. you are right as usual! i really do appreciate your advice and your help at the gym. i feel like i have gotten a lot better this past year, and i really am getting used to the ducking. and it is really nice to have some one like you explain to me the moves and finer points that i cannot see with my eyes.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog while searching for judo in Daejeon lol. Must say it was a pretty good read. I would also like to start training in either BJJ or Judo, only problem is don't know where to go and also my work. Where do you train in Daejeon? If I have time during the week I would love to check out the gym you are training in. My name is Randy by the way.

Melanie Chastain said...

Hi Randy!
We actually had judo at our gym last year, but our coach was in a bad accident. One of the guys trained in judo and often teaches some techniques. I train in Tanbang Dong. My gym is about a block away from Tanbang Station and the Homeplus. It's called Dunsan Jiujitsu Club. Jiujitsu classes start at 7pm Monday through Friday. Although, there are usually people sparring throughout the day. The fee is 70,000 won per month. If you'd like, I can meet you before to show you where the gym is, either at Tanbang Station or the Homeplus. The sign is only in Korean so it can be difficult to find. If you're interested or have more questions, feel free to e-mail me at melaniechastain@hotmail.com.