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If you’re a woman, getting started in MMA can be an arduous experience. But don’t fret, there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way, in fact, it's actually quite normal. Getting started with training MMA is challenging enough, however, once you add the variable of being a woman in a male-dominated sport, that difficulty can become inflated to unreasonable heights.

And although women in MMA have become more common today, that doesn’t necessarily make things any easier.

And many times, these challenges can even interfere with your training, and as a result, prevent you from progressing as quickly as you’d like. But as luck would have it, there are things you can focus on and do that will help you ease through the growing pangs of adapting to this new and exciting hobby! 

Here are 5 training tips to help you continue making progress. 

ONE - Ask Questions

I get it, it’s intimidating to raise your hand in class with everyone listening and eavesdropping on the questions you have. You may refrain from asking for help because you’re scared that your question is dumb and that others will judge you for it. You don’t want to look inept in any way. But here’s the deal; as a beginner -- you ARE inept. And that’s okay, it’s just the way that it is, nobody starts out as a pro in anything. 

We all begin at a novice level. And you know what? Your more experienced classmates know this, because they’ve been there too! So trust me, they’re not judging you. In fact, more than likely, they’ll have more respect for you for asking the question in the first place, because it demonstrates you’re serious about improving and doing better. 

And if you’re truly that intimated; try speaking with your instructor after class and ask them your questions then. 

TWO - Don’t Forget to Stretch

MMA requires your body to be at its optimal. This includes strength, speed, focus, and yes, flexibility. Flexibility is necessary not just for fluid movement, but also for getting out of tough and tight positions like an armbar or full mount. And the best way to achieve that loose and limber demeanor is pre-game and, more importantly, post-game stretching. 

Take 5 minutes or so before and after class to stretch your muscles, limbs, and joints. Your body will thank you afterward, because not only does stretching warm you up for sparring, but it also makes your movements more languid and unhurried, which can go a long way in preventing injuries. Aim for doing dynamic stretching before class, which help warm up your muscles, and static stretching after class to cool down. This removes lactic acid, the chemical in your muscles that induce post-training muscular stiffness. Without post-training stretching, you’re more susceptible to injuries and strained muscles. 


THREE - Consume a Balanced Diet

As it pertains to training, this is one of the most important tips. Eating the right foods fuels your system. It provides your body with the energy it needs to go the distance -- not just on the mats, but in life as well. 

Ensure that you are consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and eating good quality protein. All of these things will make a huge difference in your training. And as a beginner, when you see these improvements taking place, it becomes incredibly rewarding and the motivation to continue will amplify itself. 

FOUR - Study Others

This can be your classmates and drilling partners, your instructors and teachers, or of course your idols as well. Study their techniques, their setups, their styles, etc. And then try them out for yourself! Why reinvent the wheel, right? Just take what you learn from others and see how it fits your style. If you like it, keep doing it. If you don’t, then forget about it. 

Watch MMA videos on YouTube, read articles on it, learn about women who practice MMA in Canada, the States, Europe, etc, and see what they do and how they do it. This will help you to learn new techniques to try, as well as refine and polish your game.  

FIVE - Keep Showing up

One of the most discouraging things about starting MMA is that you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You’re the lowest in the pecking order. Everyone will be better than you, everyone will make you tap, choke you out, and submit you. You must accept this as just part of the process and commit to showing up to class every week. 

Your consistency is what will improve your skills, and over time -- permitting you keep showing up -- you will begin submitting others. But your skills can only get to that point through time and repetition. So make a committed effort to show up every week to class, and eventually, you will see those improvements. 

As a bonus tip - remember, there is no shame in tapping. When your muscles or joints start to feel like they are reaching their limit, tap. An injury can happen very quickly in Jiu-Jitsu and it is more beneficial to concede and be able to train your defence to that technique, uninjured, another day.

In conclusion - ask questions, don’t forget to stretch, eat a balanced diet, study others, and keep showing up. You’d be surprised at the progress you make and what you can accomplish!