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The Suck, Satisfaction, and "Sorry" of All-Women's Jiu-Jitsu

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

"Embrace the suck."

~ Ben Baroni, Blue Belt, Owner - Impact Martial Arts LLC

I used to sleep in on Saturdays. I'd wake with just enough time to get myself and my son ready for his 10AM #JiuJitsu class. We'd always show up close to 10, while the adult BJJ class was still rolling. I'd watch and think "Oh that's cool, wish I could do that." But something was always holding me back from actually joining.

To be honest, I never gave much more thought to the idea than "Wish I could do that". I never let my brain wander far enough to realize "Oh wait, I totally can." Plus, the thought of waking up early on a Saturday morning made me nauseous, as did the thought of rolling with a bunch of sweaty men I didn't know. Also, most importantly, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to self-improvement. Mentally the drive is there, but was severely clouded by the mental exhaustion of my corporate day job.

I never once stopped to think why I didn't want to wake up early on Saturday so that I could overcome it, or why I was so apprehensive to roll against strangers, or why I couldn't overcome my laziness, put aside the weariness, and just do it. Then the universe decided to do for me what I could not do for myself. It seemed to say, Let's see how far you can go if I give you this opportunity. In September 2022, the owner of my son's Martial Arts studio, Ben Baroni, put a message out to several moms of martial arts students gauging interest in an all-women's Jiu-Jitsu class. It was one of those "choirs of angels" moments.

I had been #complacent and desperately #unhappy with my lack of activity, and the thought of coming home from my stressful corporate management job to go lift weights on repeat in a gym full of strangers was not motivating enough to get me there regularly. So when I read Ben's message, I knew immediately that signing up for this class was the next right move.

The structure of a formal class brings with it a sense of accountability and focus that I've never been able to recreate with self-guided gym routines. I am one of those people who requires external influence, guidance, and continuous renewed motivation in order to be successful when launching any new exercise routine. Plus, knowing that I'd only be rolling with women who were also brand new to the sport was the foundation required for me to build this next chapter in my life. On October 4th, 2022, I met Torri Popovich, a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu and coach for the class. She taught us how to shrimp, how to bridge and roll, and at the end of class, Torri thanked us for sharing our energies. I was hooked.

Five months later, this class has evolved into weekly sessions where I am surrounded by incredible women using this Martial Art to harness their #power and realize their untapped #potential. Ben also opened up the Saturday morning class (you know, the one I used to watch and think "Wish I could do that") to us ladies. So on Saturdays, I roll against men, and I leave with bruises and a runner's high. While I was once still sleeping at 8:30AM on Saturdays, I now leave my house excited for the morning class. Saturday's co-ed class initially shook the foundation built by the women's class. It sucked. The first time I rolled against a dude, I realized I was entirely overwhelmed and that these men very literally could kill me at any time. Obviously, they never would even consider considering that, but the threat was real when I was lying on my back trying desperately to escape their mount. A young student submitted me four times in a row, and I left with several bruises, aches, and pains. But that was also the day I experienced my very first runner's high - I left with a feeling of #euphoria that last for hours. Since I have now experienced both an all-women's Jiu-Jitsu class and a co-ed class, I realize there are stark differences between the two. Each has their own benefits, but at the end of the day, the all-women's class is where I find the most benefit, the most comradery, and the most centralized feeling of power. The co-ed class is where I find the most challenge, the most exercise, and the most will to simply #survive. So, I decided to lay out the Pros and Cons of the women's class in order to pinpoint and eradicate my #weaknesses in the co-ed class. Pros of an All-Women's Jiu-Jitsu Class:

  • Things are generally more comfy-cozy

  • Our coach is a badass powerhouse of a woman; ultimate inspiration

  • No rolling against sweaty stranger men

  • Can't accidentally knee someone in the balls

  • Lots of laughter

  • New friends, more badass powerhouse women

  • Mutual confusion, mutual apprehension

  • All of the constant, flowing encouragement


  • I say "I'm sorry" constantly

  • More hesitant to face and embrace the Suck

  • More hesitant to apply the Suck (aka pressure) to my partners

  • Absolutely cannot help myself from talking and explaining myself

  • When I DO roll against men, I'm dead (both during, and after rolling)

  • If I'm defending myself in a real life-or-death situation, it would be more likely against a man

  • Did I mention how often I say "I'm sorry"?

Biggest Takeaway: Women apologize. A lot. For things that we're not even really sorry for, or that we don't need to apologize for because we carry no fault for what transpired. I accidentally scrape someone in the face, "I'm sorry". I do a move and they make the smallest of noises, "I'm sorry". A higher rank corrects me on a move, "I'm sorry". Why in the fuck am I apologizing for learning? I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Why are we so inclined to apologize for our arbitrary actions, for our mistakes? "Sorry" is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as "feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment, especially because something unpleasant has happened or been done". Am I really feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment when I say "I'm sorry" for getting my grip wrong? Absolutely not. Sounds more like I'm telling a lie every time I utter those words.

An apology is "an act of saying that you are sorry for something wrong you have done". Have I done anything wrong by making a mistake or someone else making a noise? No. Am I feeling sadness, sympathy, or disappointment about it? Definitely not. So yes, I'm lying to my partner - but more importantly, when I apologize for things that don't matter, I'm lying to myself. Not to mention, what would a real apology even mean to someone who has heard me say "I'm sorry" 10,000 times already? Boy who cried wolf here. It would mean nothing. They would barely even hear it. For me, the constant apologizing originates from an underlying desperation for my partner to understand I carry absolutely zero malintent. I want my partners to like me. Because society has taught me that's how women are supposed to operate. If I cause you pain, I don't mean to hurt you. I'm just drilling. But on the streets, in self-defense, isn't that the goal? The whole point of training in a sport like Jiu-Jitsu? To HURT my opponent? At the very least, hurt them to the point where I can escape while they cup their balls and blink through tears. I'd never say "I'm sorry" for that, so I'm done saying it now. Yes I've learned moves, I've learned mental chess, I've started to learn the art of folding clothes with people still in them. But I've also learned that in order to survive, I need to be unapologetic. Just as I've learned that I need to fully embrace the Suck - both on the mat, and in every single facet of my life. The unapologetic woman, who embraces the Suck, who leaves every class with satisfaction, who no longer says "I'm sorry" over nothing; she is the woman I am becoming. With all the thanks to the hundreds of years old art of Jiu-Jitsu.

If you are a woman in the Akron/Canton area and are both ready and willing to take the next step to embrace the Suck and quit saying you're sorry, you will be welcomed with open arms at our class. Visit for more information on all programs offered by Impact Martial Arts, LLC.

Are you ready and willing to be unapologetic and embrace the Suck in your own life?

  • 0%Yes, finally!

  • 0%Not quite yet...

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