Why Every BJJ Girl Should Be Attending Female-Only Jiu-Jitsu Classes

Photo Source: Lou Armezzani

As the popularity of jiu-jitsu has risen among women around the globe, so has the popularity of women-only classes in BJJ. In fact, many academies that have a significant number of female students proudly advertise that they offer classes specifically for them.

Since jiu-jitsu is known for being a sport in which men and women can and do practice with each other, some people question the necessity for having women-only classes. But the truth is that having and attending female BJJ classes can be beneficial whether it’s your first time training or you’re a seasoned practitioner who rolls with guys all the time.

Black belt Lou Armezzani, who owns and runs Pride Lands BJJ in Monaca, Pennsylvania, includes a women’s class in his weekly class schedule because he’s seen firsthand how effective it can be when it comes to introducing women to such a male-dominated activity. “It is less intimidating, and women can be in a comfortable environment. Not everyone is an intense, outgoing extrovert; women-only classes are a great way to introduce BJJ to women who may have never given it a shot otherwise,” he says. He even offers a free ladies-only class to any woman or girl who’s interested so they can get introduced to jiu-jitsu with as little pressure as possible.

For those who are either male or never felt awkward or uncomfortable while doing jiu-jitsu with a man, it might be hard to understand why rolling with guys might make some women uneasy at first. But when you consider how many women are sexually harassed and assaulted every day (and how many start jiu-jitsu to protect themselves from such scenarios in the first place), it makes sense why experiencing such close contact with men they don’t know very well could be intimidating or even scary. For those women who want to ease their way into the sport rather than diving in head-first, women-only classes are an ideal way to get used to the dynamic of jiu-jitsu step by step.

Even if you’re not a beginner, though, both you and your female teammates will benefit from you attending the women’s classes at your gym. Anyone who’s trained with or fought against a woman after being used to only rolling with men can attest to the fact that grappling styles really do differ between the sexes. Having the chance to train strictly with women even once a week can really work in your favor when it comes time to compete. Plus, your experience will help the other women who might not have been training as long as you. “Having experienced women there to assist the new girl who is nervous and intimidated is a great help. Collectively building the camaraderie as a group and learning jiu-jitsu is empowering for women,” says Armezzani.

Of course, one of the coolest (and most useful) benefits of training jiu-jitsu as a woman is how you gain the ability to dominate people who are bigger and stronger than you, so it stands to reason that once you’re comfortable enough, branching out into the mixed-gender classes is a must if you want to get the most out of your training. And honestly, it probably won’t be long until you’ll want to train with the guys if you got your start by doing women-only classes. But according to Armezzani, there’s really no rush. “Yes, there will come a time when training with the guys will be highly encouraged, but until the female student develops a core base in jiu jitsu, training with women is fine. It’s all about how can we create a comfortable, non-intimidating learning environment for women.”

Oh, and if anyone thinks they’re clever for asking why “male-only” jiu-jitsu classes aren’t a thing, Armezzani has some words of wisdom: “Every class is always a majority ‘male-only class’… stop being a complete ass.”

Considering all the benefits that having women’s classes can offer to female students, there’s really no reason for either seasoned or brand new jiujiteiras to avoid showing up whenever there’s a class designed specifically for them. In fact, they may be the key to creating a world of jiu-jitsu that has just as many women as men.


  1. As a Christian, I believe God has created men and women in such a way, as to make them unique, both physically and emotionally. One way they differ is in their ability to make war and do physical violence. Men have bodies designed for it, while a woman’s body is more equipped for nurturing. There are exceptions of course, but they should not be held up as the standard. I take no issue with women in vulnerable situations learning self defense appropriate for a woman’s context, but I do think that men and women rolling around in a combative way, engaging in activities which are clearly masculine in nature, actually puts women in greater danger, with men more apt to believe the old adage “if you want to act like a man, I’ll treat you like one”.


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