Tag Archives: fitness

Interview with a woman in martial arts – 4: Chloe (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)

bjj brown belt

Name: Chloe
Age:
25
Martial art style:
BJJ – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Years practicing martial arts:
8 years – brown belt

How come you started learning martial arts?
Well, I was going to the gym for workouts, but then I decided I wanted to do something different – a different activity to stay in shape and also something that would really challenge me. I also though it would be a good idea to learn some self defence.

Why did you choose BJJ?
They were offering BJJ classes in the same building where I used to go to the gym to work out. And I heard people saying that BJJ would be a good martial art for women to learn, for self defence. I thought BJJ seemed like a cool thing to do. My body type suits BJJ quite well too.

What do you like the most about BJJ?
It’s fun and it’s the best workout for the whole body. When you start practicing BJJ it’s like you discover and use muscles that you didn’t even know you had! You get in shape and you get stronger. And it also really boosts your confidence. I feel better about myself in general. Practicing BJJ has helped me grow as a person. And I also feel confident I could defend myself in most situations. I like it that it’s much more about skills than just strength. Like, I am the shortest person in my BJJ class but I can actually beat everyone except maybe one or two guys.

They say most fights end up on the ground and BJJ focuses a lot on techniques that are effective on the ground, for example to neutralise an opponent or attacker that is trying to get on top of you.

Are there many women doing BJJ?
I have heard that it’s getting quite popular among women – which is great. Where I practice now, we are only three women in total. But it’s ok. I mean I don’t mind that at all. To be honest I generally actually prefer facing the guys because it’s more of a challenge. If I win against them it also really proves how much I’ve learned in BJJ.  

Why, in your opinion, should women get into BJJ?
I guess for the same reasons I said I like BJJ – it’s a great work out, you get stronger both physically and mentally and it’s a lot of fun!

Do you feel you are ever treated differently as a woman doing BJJ?
You mean while training or in life generally?

Well, I guess both…
Not really, the guys where I practice know me by now (laughter). I might be rather small, but I’m much stronger than I look and I’m pretty good at BJJ! Underestimate me at your own peril (laughter)! My boyfriend doesn’t mind it now, but he felt really embarrassed by it at first, when we started dating. He is quite a big guy (193 cm – 6’4”) and he was pretty sure he would be able to take me based on size and strength alone. But I still kicked his butt (laughter)!

And for the record how tall are you?
I am 165 cm – 5’5”.

I can identify with your boyfriend there – I felt really embarrassed the first time my wife showed off her hapkido skills on me. It’s a male ego thing (laughter).
(Laughter) Yes, eventually he just embraced my skills and strength though and he says he admires it a lot! I go easy on him, but there’s times he does actually get me too!

Work out exercises without a gym

Joining a gym is a great way to stay (or get) in shape and I used to do that regularly, several times a week. But working out at home can actually be very effective too! In fact, the last couple of years, I’ve been working out almost exclusively at home, because I find it more practical and also saves me both time and money. In terms of building muscles and staying in shape – for me at least – it has worked just as well as going to the gym.

Here are a some exercises that I often do and that you can do at home any time you feel like it.

Squats

Squats are good exercise for leg muscles and the butt. To better keep your balance, it can be a good idea to stretch out your arms in front of you (instead of upwards, as the guy below does).

wo1

A variation on squats are the “frog jumps” (as pictured below). Personally, I think those are more fun to do.

wo2

Crunches

Some say crunches has the greatest muscle activation of all the exercises – including those performed with different kinds of abs machines and other gym equipment. So the simple and traditional crunches work very well. However if you really want to engage all abdominal muscles you need to do the exercise in various differents angles and motions. 

wo5

Push ups

Another very traditional form of exercise that is easy to do, is the pushup, which of course are beneficial for building upper body strength. They mostly work the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders, but can also help strengthen the lower back and core.

wo6

Burpees

The burpee is an exercise that really makes your whole body work and thus is great for building strength, burning fat and getting your metabolism going.

To do a burpee, you first stand up straight, then get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back into a push up position and immediately drop your chest to the ground. Bow your chest up, then return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible. Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.

wo3

Back extension

I find this is a good exercise for the back. Start by lying face down to the floor and then lift your chest and legs upward a few centimeters, hold a moment, and then slowly lower yourself back down.

wo7

Dumbbells lateral raise shoulder exercise

I would say this is my favourite shoulder exercise. Just grab the dumbbells as on the picture below to the left and then slowly lift them up until they are parallel to your shoulders, as the picture below on the right.

wo9

 

Dumbbells biceps curl

Another very traditional and simple exercise that really works!

wo10