Home > Gender, Judo, Learning, Women > Two types of girls.

Two types of girls.

(Please keep in mind that this is merely an observation of mine and that in no way am I hating on my gender.)

With the start of the semester, I have been attending some practices at Penn’s judo club. Penn’s club is working to improve its program recruitment and retention, so most of the students are NEW new, like plucked from the street. Some come in not knowing what judo is at all.

Since Penn’s club has so many new people, I’m considered an “experienced” player although I’m a mere green belt. When it comes time to partner up, I usually grab one of the few girls that have shown up, not just because of the match in size, but because I think it can help them ease into being comfortable on the mat.

In just a few practices, I realized how easy it is to tell whether or not a girl has played sports before. It’s not just from their physical appearance or how coordinated they are; it has to do with their confidence and curiosity. When I work with a girl who has played sports, they’re usually pretty excited to try out the techniques. They seem glad to know that I (mostly) know what I’m doing and can tell the difference in the way the execute a throw and how I do it. They want me to explain how the technique works so they can get the hang of it. They always ask how long I’ve practicing judo, and we end up engaging in other types of friendly chit chat.

Now, the girls who have not had much experience playing sports are sort of repelled by me. When I partner up with them, they look like they’ve been divvied out a punishment. They apologize for not knowing anything yet or if they forget a part of a technique.  I know I like working with more experienced players because they’ll be a safe training partner and I can learn from them. But with these girls, it seems like my experience intimidates them rather than comforts them.

In many ways, judo is an individual practice, but you do train with other people. Your teammates help you improve and motivate you to keep going. I hope that I can figure out how to better relate to the girls at Penn’s club who are less athletically inclined. In the other aspects of their life, these young women are probably capable and confident. I hope they can find further confidence on the mat. If you can handle all the pain and sweat that comes with judo, you’ll probably start to believe that you can handle anything.

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Categories: Gender, Judo, Learning, Women
  1. September 21, 2011 at 13:48

    “….They apologize for not knowing anything yet or if they forget a part of a technique”. I usually remind this type of person that every starts off not knowing anything. The best Judoka in history was terrible when he/she first started. It is funny to think of an Olympic Judo gold medalist as a spazzy White belt but I guarantee you he/she was when he first started.

  2. September 21, 2011 at 14:40

    Exactly, Eric! I usually say something like, “It’s OK. It’s your second class. You’re not supposed to know this yet.” Or I remind them that we all come to class to learn. Sigh. I just hate it when people get so nervous in class.

  3. Ali B.
    September 29, 2011 at 00:26

    All these blogs about Judo is really making me want to do it…

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