Bad Gyms

speak-up-with-everyone-against-you

Standing tall

I’m back in college at the moment, writing is the last thing on my mind at the end of a long day. But, I wanted to put something out there. Something I’ve had on the back-burner for I while. 

A few months back, I learned of a girl through a group I follow on Facebook. She seemed nice, and incredibly motivated to pursue the path of Bjj. However, as time went on, I learned she was contently being harassed by the guys in her gym. She was the only girl there and I guess the guys took advantage of that. She would come to the group with stories of how they told her to roll naked with them, that all girls trained that way, then they would laugh at her if she tried to retort. She also spoke of how her coach began rolling with no-one else but her, and hurt her a lot in the process, also, he would also laugh at her if she complained. I made me so sad to hear of someone, simply trying to pursue the same path I did, being treated in such a way.

The few photos I could find of her and her club, showed most of the guys were very young and probably a bit cliquey, which makes sense (if you’re thinking in terms of teen movies), but being young and excitable does not excuse this behaviour, and when I heard the part about her coach, I felt, well ill. Your coach is the one who is supposed to protect you from these things, weed out the bad apples and make the gym a place safe for everyone. To hear he was involved in the harassment was simply put, disgusting.

I’m the only girl in my gym too, but my experience has been vastly different. I work with guys who, sure in the beginning seemed a little apprehensive to work with me, but it was probably their first time working with a girl as it was mine working with them, there was bound to be some friction. However over time, the guys became my family, I work with the biggest and the smallest, the fasted and the most inflexible alike. I have never had a problem with them. I think of myself as profoundly lucky, though hopefully not in the minority.

Being treated the way this girl wrote about is simply not okay, acting in the way her gym partners and coaches did is not okay. Never let them or anyone else say otherwise. It doesn’t matter who you are, boy or girl, if you’re being treated in anyway badly at your gym, get out. It’s better to take time out and skip a few lessons whilst finding a new and better place, than to go through that. If Bjj is something you’re passionate about, start. Find a place that welcomes you, that treats you as an equal on the mats, no matter your background.

I’m not sure what became of her, I kept going back to the group page to see if she had posted recently, and last I heard she was asking about new gyms in her area. Other girls from the group were lining up to have her join theirs, so hopefully she is safe in a new gym, practicing the martial art she loves, with kinder and more like-minded people.

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2 thoughts on “Bad Gyms

  1. Reading your post compels me to share my own story at a bad gym.

    Before I found proper teachers in the USA and later the UK, I was stuck in a small kickboxing club in Singapore. I was never hurt by the coach or the other students and, since I was a guy like the rest of them, I was never sexually harassed.

    That didn’t make the bullying easier to bear though. I was slower than the other students so I would often get laughed at. By the coach and the other students. I think he was just a bad coach though, because when my American teacher tried to teach me the same technique (the uppercut), it took him less than 15 minutes. I spent years in that kickboxing group and throughout those long years, I was always laughed at for being “slow”.

    Anyway, that’s the low level harassment. The real threats came later when one guy I used to know in the army came into the group. I didn’t have a good time in the army (as a conscript) so I was often spaced out (especially after the two suicides during my first 5 months). The other guys thought that was funny. So anyway, this ex-army guy joined our kickboxing group and started making fun of me. He would open his mouth wide and pretend to be one of the “special students” at the “special” schools for mentally abnormal students we saw on TV. Then he would go, “Yeah that’s our platoon idiot! That’s him!”

    Naturally, I got upset so one day I yelled at them during one of their teasing sessions.

    Then the coach got in my face and told me, “If you act like this in my class, I will tear you apart, understand? Three strikes and you are out.”

    Afterwards, the senior students took his cue and threatened me the same way, “If you act out, he will tear you apart.”

    Not as bad as what the girl in your post went through, but it was still bad enough to stagnate my growth as both a person and martial artist. I continued to stagnate until I met my first proper teachers in America.

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    • Thank you for your reply. I am truly sorry to hear about your past gym experiences, how you were treated was horrible just as how the girl in my post was treated horribly. Harassment is harrassment, regardless of the type, or who does it. I myself, don’t think I would have lasted long under the same circumstances. I hope you are doing well now that you have left that situation, and are becoming great within the art you love.

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