I’m no expert, but here are a few things I wish someone had told me when I first got started.
- Relax and have fun! Arrive early and hang out afterwards to stretch and chat and watch and learn.
- Air out your gym bag and your gear after every class, and use something (I like Wet Ones antibacterial wipes) to wipe down your gear as needed).
- Cut your nails as short as you can stand.
- Do not wear jewelry.
- If you won’t have the time to wash your face before class, switch to waterproof mascara.
- MMA gyms are mostly full of men – and teenage boys. If you wear a low cut tank top and have any amount of breasts, some people will be distracted/stare. In Muay Thai, we look at our opponents chin/chest area (so as to be able to watch hips/legs/knees as well as hands). If there’s a lot of jiggle going on, who can blame them? Wear a T-shirt.
- Invest in some padded sports bras; not for lift but for modesty (and in grappling, chafe protection!). You will sweat like you’re in bikram yoga, then have moments of stillness during which you will not feel cold but that won’t keep your headlights from coming on, if you catch my drift.
- If you just wear yoga pants (no shorts over), you’re at risk of causing distraction with camel toes (I get it, it happens!)/your fantastic tush. If you’re comfortable with that – go for it. Personally, I want to be known as a good training partner at my gym and not as a “cute girl” so I’m not. I loveeee my yoga pants and my fantastic tush, but I heard guys making comments about some women early on, so I adopted my layers (compression shorts + thai shorts for MT, yoga pants under shorts or board shorts for grappling).
Tips for Women Starting Out in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)/No-Gi Grappling
- If you’re concerned about the “personal space” aspect, start out in Gi class/BJJ
- In no-gi, wear a rash-guard or T-shirt up top. On bottom, I like to wear yoga pants with shorts over. Sometimes I just wear board shorts, but personally my knees get cut up by the mats pretty fast if I don’t have protective fabric over them.
- Make friends! Not only does it make going to training more fun, but the number of techniques can be overwhelming, and one of the best ways to get a handle on them is through EXTRA drills and rolling outside of class. Make some friends/training partners and set up times to meet during open mats/before class/after class. A few minutes of extra practice makes a world of difference.