I am sure, as long as there are men and women who train together at an academy, these observations and questions will arise. Exactly how do I roll with a woman? Its a valid question. One that's not easily answered.
The reason this is somewhat a controversial or heated argument is that people are all different. We are all looking or striving for different goals. Jiujitsu isn't any different. When you place two people head to head and ask them to try and TAP each other its inevitable what going to happen. A battle of wills. We ask our students to "Leave Your Ego at the Door"... This is something hard for the newer people to do seeing as they are limited on mat time and technical skill.
Generally speaking, a whitebelt will use what they have in the beginning to accomplish the goals we set forth (GET THE TAP). Most of the time what they have is what they come in with, strength, size, flexibility and so on. Without proper technique, they tend to fall back on these attributes which got them thru life up to this point.
On one hand you want partners to be able to work together and feed off each other. To follow directions and accept knowledge from the instructors and other students around them. To learn and grow together. On the other hand, Jiujitsu is about personal growth and understanding. Finding your own game to play. Setting goals and working toward them. The ego can play an important roll with your growth in Jiujitsu.
The EGO is a tough nut. We ask partners to be comfortable on bottom and relax. Let your partner work technique. Train as if you are the smaller person. Tell them that losing is part of learning. We ask all of this when we have been taught our entire lives that winning is the ultimate goal. Controversial to say the least.
So, how do I roll with a woman? Well, not all women are the same. You have some that train defensive, for self defense purposes. You have some that are aggressive and look for the kill. As a student (man or woman) you must always assess the situation. You try and let your technique run the match. On average, most men can smash most women. But is that the goal? When you find yourself with a smaller partner, look to work a defensive game. Don't run away from training with women because you feel you will not get a good roll. Far from it. Because they want push you. Escape bottom. Put yourself in compromising situations. Work out of side control, mount, back control. Try not to use strength. Try not to use your size. This is an excellent opportunity to work defense with a partner that's not going to crush the life out of you. Or maybe they will depending on the partner. I can attest to the fact that you can learn a tremendous amount from rolling with women and smaller partners.
When I am rolling with any partner, including women, I assess the situation. Partners size. My size. Partners strength. My strength. Partners skill, my skill. I then roll accordingly. As the instructor, I put myself in the losing situation most of the time for the betterment of the student. Allowing them an opportunity to work out of a difficult situation or attempt sweeps and submissions in order to learn. This can be difficult not only to do at times, but for me personally with an EGO that tells me to win.
Ego can be a Jiujitsu career killer. Many women and men have turned away from Jiujitsu due to this. I hate to see anyone leave Jiujitsu because they feel they are being smashed, bullied or ignored.
The essence of Jiujitsu is to teach the smaller, weaker person the ability to overcome the larger stronger person with leverage and technique.
Owner and head instructor of Davis Martial Arts Academy in Humble Texas