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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Women: Take the Leap!

Woman in BJJ

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is for everyone. At the same time, your experience doing it will be painted by who you are. When you decide to join a gym, you will likely be one of the few women who train at your respective gym. This can be a powerful and liberating experience, but it is not easy.

To the Women who are currently thinking about taking the leap and joining the martial arts community, we know that starting something new is hard enough. Doing it will make you realize that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms are ultra-masculine spaces, which can be intimidating as a beginner, male or female. It is important to know this space is a positive environment to be in, there is a culture of respect for all on the mats. No matter your race, creed, or gender.

In Jiu-jitsu, there is a hierarchy system symbolized by belts. Having a higher belt does give an individual a higher degree of respect and authority to speak and teach certain aspects of the game. Since he started training, black-belt instructor Alex Martinez has seen a huge growth in female competitors and practitioners. There are plenty of highly skilled competitors for women to look up to and find solace that this sport is inclusive for them.

Breaking all barriers

It is common to see a smaller amount of female practitioners but the number continues to increase. More and more women are starting to participate in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu which is a great thing for the overall community. Everyone starts their journey for their reasons and we all have the same goal when walking through the doors – leave the gym a better person than you came in.

brazilian jiu jitsu woman

Watching female competitors go at it is every bit of entertaining as their male counterparts, these individuals are badass. We are looking forward to going to ADCC this year in Las Vegas to watch the best female and male competitors compete for the world titles in their respective weight divisions.

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Benefits of Joining a BJJ Gym

The benefits of doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu go far beyond just physical exercise. The social aspect of the sport, increased sense of security, mental well-being, and boost of confidence you get from training are unmatched. Making friends and feeling a sense of belonging to a larger community helps a ton when you are doing an activity that helps define who you are as a human.

The Jiu-Jitsu gym is a sacred space for people who practice. Many use the mats as a way to consciously get their mind off of what is going on in the outside world. When you enter the gym, you will find a group of people who have become very present in the pursuit of getting better at their craft.

Along with all of that, Jiu-Jitsu keeps you in shape, increases your cardio, and burns fat incredibly fast! When looking for a fun and interesting sport to try out, look no further than BJJ!


Women have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for decades but only recently have been able to compete in the sport. In 1985, Rio De Janeiro held the first tournament in which female athletes were able to qualify and compete. Since then, hundreds of corporations have supported the women Jiu-Jitsu community. Today, many classes, and seminars consist of strictly female training in order to give the girls a little more confidence and comfort when stepping on the mats. 

Brazilian JIU-JITSU Women

Roughly there are about three million people that practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a year. The majority of those people joining gyms are new white belts and an even smaller percentage (about 5%) are a woman. When millions decide to practice but few are resembling a demographic, the competition will be few but every bit mighty.

High-level female Jiu-Jitsu competitors:

There is a wide variety of incredible female athletes in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu. Here are a few of the most well-known grapplers out there.

Yvonne Duarte:

Yvonne Duarte is an incredible athlete known for being the first woman to reach the rank of black belt in the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Her influence on the grappling martial art has inspired thousands of competitive female athletes to follow in her footsteps. 

Mackenzie Dern:

Mackenzie Dern is a household name in the Mixed Martial Arts and Jiu-Jitsu community. This influential athlete took her first Jiu-Jitsu class at the age of three and since then has won many titles including ADCC World Champion, NOGI World Champion, and many more. She was ranked the No. 1 Jiu-Jitsu athlete in the world back in 2015 and 2016.

Gabi Garcia:

Gabi Garcia is arguably the best female grappler on earth. Not only is she a great training partner, but she is also an incredible competitor. This talented prodigy is a 9x Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, 11x Pan American Champion, and 4x ADCC World Champion. Gabi’s incredible strength and muscle mass go unmatched in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu

We have watched plenty of women’s BJJ tournaments and Super Fights, and the competitors are astonishing. We encourage you to take the leap if you are on the fence and take that first class at your local gym.

brazilian jiu jitsu woman

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Protection, Self-Defense, and Taking the Leap

You never know how great something could be for you until you immerse yourself in the activity. Plenty of women we have come across say they were always interested in potentially doing the sport but never pulled the trigger. If you are interested, try it out. You have nothing to lose. Even if you do not want to compete, you will be learning a valuable skill that will teach you more about yourself and how to defuse or disarm situations Along with that, being in a combat sport such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can build your overall self-confidence. The road from white belt to black will be challenging, to say the least, But in the end, you will find that all of those hard training sessions and stressful situations will be worth it.

Self-Defense is something people do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for. Live rounds simulate this. BJJ gives us a great way to feel safe in our own space and body. Strength does play a factor in the game, you will most likely find yourself integrating weight training into your workout routine at some point. The technique is truly how you win and paying attention to detail will pay dividends. Getting better in  Jiu-Jitsu is a very personal journey. All that matters is your development.

How to progress quickly as a female athlete

At times, Jiu-Jitsu may become frustrating and upsetting. Many women struggle with the mental difficulty of the sport. This challenge is due to Human nature and biology. The majority of women are not as gifted physically as many men. Females have less testosterone due to their sex meaning that it can be difficult to grow muscle as a woman. Along with that, typically women are not as aggressive or physical as men which makes it difficult to excel in a combat sport. Despite all of those setbacks, here are some ideas of how to hasten your progression in the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu as a woman.

1. Compete Often:

Nowadays every Jiu-Jitsu competition in the U.S allows female athletes to compete. Competition is one of if not the best way to progress as a student of the Gentle Way. Competition shows what techniques you need to work on and leave room for progression in the gym.

2. Roll with everyone: 

Female athletes should not just train Jiu-Jitsu with other women, practicing with your male counterpart can give benefits that you may not have even been aware of. For one, practicing with guys at your gym is typically a physically demanding task due to the strength and build of the male body. This means that consistently rolling with bigger, stronger guys will increase your strength, endurance, and self-confidence!

3. Stay patient and enjoy the process: 

The sport of Jiu-Jitsu will put you on high hills and leave you in low chasms. Like everything else in life, your BJJ journey will be filled with challenges you must overcome. It is important to keep your patience when faced with adversity. In order to progress fast in Jiu-Jitsu, you must learn how to enjoy the process.

As we continue our journey in  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we hope to see more women that decide to join the movement and start to practice for themselves. The female counterpart is filled with such incredible talent, determination, and willpower. We hope this article was helpful to you if you were on the fence!

Happy Rolling!