I Fight Like a Girl
By Anna De Leon,
With the tournament season officially closing last weekend, I can’t help but reflect on my jiujitsu journey. The bruises collected, hours spent on the mats, and of course my promotion to blue belt. What does it mean to be a woman in a sport dominated by men? It means that I can move as fast as they can or even faster, execute positions to gain control and eventually submitting my opponent all the while looking soooo damn fine! Yes, my sick pressure passes are as unapologetic as my braids, and my red toe nails reflect the warrior in me because I fight like a girl.
How can a woman exude femininity in a grappling centric sport where you are covered with gear from head to toe? Sounds like a fashion horror story, right? But I have found the following pointers to be helpful in choosing the proper gear which will help you execute moves without skimping on style.
Sashay to the mats in style
- The Sports Bra: choose one with good padding, which doesn’t mean upping your cup size. I mean padding for protection when you spar. I have seen sports bras which have metal clasps in them, forget about this. You would not want anything hard pressing onto your skin when you can’t breathe already due to the 2 layers of clothing that you are wearing plus the weight of your opponent if they managed to get control and pass your guard.
- The Rashguard: The rashguard may be uncomfortable but it was made to protect your skin as contact with the Gi can cause irritations. The rashguard is meant to be tight but not too tight that it chokes you. I am particular about my sleeves, I want them tight as it protects my skin from being pulled (which causes bruising). There are so many designs to choose from and this is where you can be creative with your jiujitsu outfit.
- The Compression Pants: I prefer compression pants to shorts as it protects my shins, which are so prone to bruising. When sparring gets intense (and it does) your Gi pants might accidentally come undone, you wouldn’t want to be DQ’d for mooning the audience, right?
- The Gi: The Gi jacket can’t be too short or too long as this will prevent you from executing key moves. For me, a little above the wrist for the jacket, and a little above my ankles for the pants, is perfect. Your Gi also can’t be too tight upon purchase as some do shrink. There are so many brands to choose from and there are a variety of designs too. The most common colors are black, white and blue. You can also have a plain one and have patches sewn into it.
Look like a beauty, roll like a beast.
Can you look like a beauty and roll like a beast?! Absolutely! However, on most occasions we do end up looking like a hot mess after 2 hours of training. A mess but hot, nonetheless.
- Make up: Can you wear make up on the mats while sparring? If it has the same staying power as what Synchonized Swimmers wear, why not? However, it’s advisable not to as a form of respect to your sparring partner who may be wearing a white Gi. I normally head to the gym after work and what I would do is I wipe off all the face make up. The eye make-up, if any, doesn’t really rub off on your training partners.
- Hair Style: I have tried several hair styles out there to securely keep my hair off my face when training and they have all failed… miserably. A bun or a regular ponytail will not hold. The only hair styles that have worked for me are Dutch braids and a high ponytail with the braided tail. Having your hair all over your face can contribute to you losing your breath and focus while sparring so keep it in check.
- Nails, Hands and Feet: Short nails are a must. I had to, however, shift from normal polishes on my toes to gel ones as some drills would make your toe nail graze the mats resulting to ruined nail polish. I think that having nice toe nails makes for tighter triangle chokes!
- Skincare and Hygiene: Because it is a contact sport and sparring can get intense, you may find your face flat on the mats, cheek to cheek with you sparring partner’s Gi, (which may have been mopping the mats from previous rolls), having superior skin care regimen and hygiene is a must. Here are my four commandments –
- Thou shall not linger in your training clothes after training. Take off that sweaty, germ infested gear immediately.
- Thou shall not touch your face after training without washing your hands
- Thou shall invest in a gentle, anti bacterial soap or body wash for your body and for your face. Don’t forget to tone to remove deep seated dirt from skin.
- Thou shall wash your Gi EVERYDAY. No excuses. Other protective gears like knee pads should be washed every 2 days.
Starting this journey in 2015 has changed my life in so many ways. I have formed solid friendships through this sport. I learned to stand alone and fight for what I deemed was right and just. Jiujitsu has given me humility, loyalty, and a sense of belonging because your team becomes your family. It has strengthened my belief that nobody is too old to dream another dream, set new goals and smash them. I am now a firm believer, more than ever that women can excel in such a grueling sport, exhibiting both their fierceness and foxiness, unapologetically because YOU can BE BOTH. OSS!
ANNA DE LEON
Life devoid of makeup and fashion is life lived in mediocrity – a sentence that Anna has lived by since she discovered her 1st Vogue magazine at the age of 9. Empowering women through beauty has always been her passion and she believes that women can rule the world in their stilettos, red lips and razor sharp intelligence.
Find more beauty articles on Illustrado here.