After learning of the women's open mats in London and Girls in Gis in Texas, I hoped for the day when we would have something similar in Florida. Thank you Stephanie Dodge for making it happen.
Stephanie created the Amazonian Women's Jiu Jitsu community just a few short months ago. It all began with a Michelle Nicolini seminar that she hosted last November. After seeing the great interest from women jiu-jitsu practitioners in the tri county area, Stephanie worked with other schools to begin hosting monthly women's open mats. The third mat will be held Saturday, May 12 at the Armory in Jupiter. (I cannot think of a better way to spend my Mother's Day weekend!)
Stephanie wanted to create a forum where "women with any skill level, age and from any gym can come to train with other females without fear of intimidation. We all train together to make a better community for women's bjj."
Admittedly, I approached my first open mat with slight hesitation. Chances are good that I may have to fight some of these girls in a competition. Do I really want to train with them and let them see how I roll?
I decided that these mats will be a great place to try new moves. I have no regrets! Participating in this group has been beneficial to me on so many levels. If you are a girl in the South Florida area who is training or interested in training, I suggest that you seriously consider trying one of these sessions.
My favorite five reasons for attending a female open mat:
1. It has helped me realize what I know. The mats are attended by students of all ages and at all levels. I rolled with a couple of girls who have only been training a couple of months. I enjoyed teaching them as we rolled and encouraging them in their training. While helping them, I gained confidence in what I know.
2. It has helped me open up my game. The mats usually begin with warm up then instruction from local female black belt Sofia Amarante. By working with Sofia and the other girls I am able to pick up new techniques.
3. The experience of rolling with girls is invaluable. I am one of three girls at my school. I truly believe that girls roll differently than guys. Guys are stronger and girls are wiggly. Rolling with different girls helps me to work with the squirmers.
4. We are growing a local female jiu jitsu community. While we are all just a handful of girls in our schools, we are a sisterhood in our community. When traveling to tournaments we can cheer for one another as a community.