Questions for female fighters

Taken from the thread "Sparring with no power", in an attempt to explain why I feel I have to use power when sparring (Here, power and strength are used interchangeably):

1)I have to admit that I am afraid I will be tapped out if I don't use strength. And, in most of the cases, I will be tapped by someone who was using strength and not technique. Am I supposed to be ok with that?

2)I haven't got good technique (yet) but at least I fight strong. If I give that up, what will happen to my identity? I know I shouldn't care about what other people think, however, I don't want to be considered "a girl", if you know what I mean.

3)What about all these people who post "I have to cool down when sparring with a woman, can't fight too strong, etc." Won't my "transformation" justify these statements?

I would appreciate some input from female fighters!


It's easy, you should sometimes use a bit of strength, like everyone does, especially when put in tough positions, but don't spaz out, which could get your training partners hurt (because a knee or elbow in the head or something). Try to master good BJJ movements on the mat, in particular hip movements.

Also try to let go of your ego. That goes for all of us.

But don't use NO strength and just be limp (unless your a blackbelt and just showing off :) )

my answers in reverse order.

3) who cares what people post about sparring with women ... If a guy has to support his ego with negative statements about sparring with women, it isn't your problem and you should consider the statement to be a symptom of a deeper pathology or problem.

  1. Most experience BJJ folks will tell you that they had to use strength in the beginning and as they developed technique and progressed they could use less strength. Don't worry about being labeled a "girl". Think of yourself as a "girl - who practices BJJ and in a few years, will be a very dangerous girl or lady . . . . ;) Be patient with yourself and you will find that with time, your technique will improve and you can rely less on strength. For now, be glad you have it and try to be relaxed and use strength selective - to escape or to finish . . . and concentrate on relaxing in between when you use strength.

  2. If someone taps you out with brute strength - you don't have to be okay with that. Just learn from each submission - whether it was achieved from strength or technique. You need to learn what you did wrong and what you can do next time to avoid the submission

Good post jayhoff,

I will also add that if you're fighting against people who use brute strength, it is YOU who will develop better habits in the long run. Sure for the first several months or years even, people with a good deal of brute strength can plow their way through - but that means you're forced to rely on technique, which in the end pays HUGE dividends.

This is one of the reasons smaller fighters tend to be a little smoother - they're always practicing against people who are much stronger than them.

It seems that the consensus is to

a) Stop caring what other people think

b) Concentrate on the benefits you can gain from these situations.

c) Continue training so that you can mess them up later! ;-)

"try to be relaxed and use strength selective - to escape or to finish . . . and concentrate on relaxing in between when you use strength."

Very good post.


When you say "I will be tapped out if I don't use strength", are you talking about EXPOSIVE STRENGTH or ISOMETRIC (holding a position) strength?

In other words, are we talking about holding onto your arm for dear life so that someone doesn't finish an armbar, or are we talking about grabbing the person and trying to bench press them off of you?

Just relax....relax....relax....EXPLOOODDDEEEEE!!!!!!!!

The secret to good BJJ.

Your welcome.

It is impossible to do Bjj, or any physical activity, without strength.

Thank you all for your replies!


my instructor says I should be less rigid and tense, when sparring.

To achieve that, I was advised to relax and not to use strength when sparring.

In my reply, I said I don't feel I can control how much power I use because I feel I have to adjust to my opponent's way
(For example, when he tries to force my arm into an armbar, I have to resist by holding my arm back, using strength of course).

Another complain. Please, feel free to comment:

When I achieve something good in class (get a good position, resist a submission, tap someone out, etc) I get the comment "she is strong". I don't remember hearing "good technique".
Why is that?

Get some more technique under your belt. When you start pulling moves without having to use 100% of your muscle, they'll start commenting on your good technique instead.

It is also possible that people say this because they want to take away from your accomplishments. This isn't necessarily a particularly bad thing, people deal with setbacks differently.

Sometimes if I've been fighting someone who actually outweighs me and I completely dominate them, they'll remark how "strong" I am. Good technique, ALWAYS feels strong - regardless of how much "force" you're using. I'm not saying that my technique is particularly stellar, but compared to some it's OK.

Just don't let it bother you - training is difficult enough without having to worry about other peoples problems.

The little people have it real hard in the beginning....but its "pay me now" or "pay me later." I try to think that if what Im doing feels real hard I need to let it go and move on cause I aint muscling nothin unless Im fighting a 100 lb girl. Thank god I dont train with small girls- damn me thinks it would be really hard to learn w/ a strength advantage.

chicken nugget is right, one of the problems that big guys have to overcome is reverting to strength if it's possible. Powering out a kimura instead of setting it up properly, just forcing the guy over for a sweep instead of setting it up properly etc.

Having said that, if you've been training for a couple of years you should know when you're using strength and when you're technique is OK. Sometimes people just say you're using your strength regardless of how good your technique is.

There's been times when I've had one of andres "Aikido" nights and everything came with very little physical effort - the comments? Wow Rob, you're really strong - this was from a guy who was 3 inches or so taller than me and a good 30+lbs heavier.

A lot of BJJ is about introspection and attempting to be as objective as possible - which is only possible really with a good instructor. Meditate on your motions and ask your instructor questions, he will be able to guide you in the right direction on these issues.

Good luck and train hard!

Ignis Aurum Probat, Miseria Fortes Homines