The growth of Jiu-jitsu has been impressive. People today more than ever are familiar with the art and its many benefits which explain their attraction to it. A significant percentage of those people are women. Females are training and competing in the art of Jiu-jitsu more than ever in BJJ history. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) has even recognized this growth by adding additional Master’s divisions for women in 2018 at the Pan American Championship. Most recently, however, there have been incidences of women being victims of sexual harassment either by other male members from the same academy or, in some cases by the instructors of that academy. There are procedures to prevent sexual harassment. Jiu-jitsu schools bare the responsibility to make sure sexual harassment does not happen. A few practical strategies are women’s only classes, creating guidelines, education, and always being professional.
Women’s only classes
Every academy should have a women’s only program. Classes designed for just women are more appealing, less intimidating and make Jiu-jitsu more available to females. Women join Jiu-jitsu academies because they are interested in the art and to learn self-defense, not to meet their future husband. It is easier to learn and enjoy Jiu-jitsu when you do not have to think about establishing certain boundaries with the opposite sex. After all, you are paying for your membership and getting the most out of every class should be a priority.
Create guidelines and Educate
Guidelines exist because someone or somewhere along the lines ‘’messed up’’ as the saying goes ‘’one person can ruin it for everyone’’ holds true. Regardless, they are necessary to prevent sexual harassment. Developing training materials such as handbooks or seminars on sexual harassment will help with establishing guidelines. Educating people specifically on what counts as sexual harassment is always helpful.
Jiu-jitsu instructors should be familiar with what exactly is considered sexual harassment. Raising this sort of awareness is essential. It will make a difference the way BJJ teachers approach teaching and their students. Of course, these strategies are not meant to create animosity. The goal is not to create guilt and blame, but prevention and awareness. It will also help instructors to become better at recognizing sexual harassment if they see it.
Jiu-jitsu instructors should always be professional. Being respectful, considered, available, and leading by example all fall under the professional umbrella. Intimate relationships with students can have a negative impact on coaching. Students look at their professor as a role model and someone who is a mentor. Their actions will dictate how their students behave which is a further representation of a particular Jiu-jitsu academy. Sexual harassment should not have a place in Jiu-jitsu nor does anyone who supports it.
Jiu-jitsu is a sport that brings people together. Everyone has to be able to train under the same roof, but there should be boundaries. Often it is difficult to control and set those boundaries. Taking precautions such as having classes specifically for women, creating guidelines, and educating instructors can prevent sexual harassment. Let’s use Jiu-jitsu to teach women how to handle sexual harassment.