Jiu-Jitsu for all – Helen Darlington

What is your name?

Helen Darlington

What do you do for a job?

Health Improvement

Academy you train at?

Gen Dai Martial Arts. Manchester, England.

How long have you being doing Jiu-Jitsu and what belt are you?

4 months. White Belt.

When did you start training BJJ?

May 2015

How did you find Jiu-Jitsu?

I do Karate, so when my martial arts school branched out to include BJJ, I made the move to develop my ground game and become more of a complete martial artist.

I have watched BJJ classes before and been encouraged to join in by my karate team mates, but it looked scary and intimidating, especially letting someone in your personal space, and it looks so awkward to me as I have two sisters and went to an all-girl school, so didn’t grow up wrestling around with boys. But, only after a few months, I have found that Jiu Jitsu can be quite addictive, so much to learn!

At the moment I am just learning how to survive, but know it will teach me how to hunt.


What’s your favourite thing about stepping onto the mats?

The respect. After rolling, you shake hands and say thank you, the respect team members show for training partners in my favourite aspect, it is difficult to find that in other sports I have trained in. From experience in these sports, you perform a move well with good technique and other girls are jealous and make you feel like you are “showing off” in a performance sport! (Gymnastics). In BJJ, training partners encourage and congratulate you and it makes you feel like you have progressed and achieved something. You feel close to each other very quickly, like they have got your back, like a family of brothers.

The sense of team work is powerful. The ability to lose again and again, and be proud to keep trying. Resilience is the most powerful transferable skill.

What are you goals for 2015/2016?

During training, I want to be able to assess where I am in situations, determine what my immediate goal is, what possible obstacles are in the way and a method to achieve my goal. So at the moment, I just want to improve my problem solving skills.

I want to complete a female training camp at the end of August 2015, to see what it is like to spar with another female as I am the only female in my class and train in a male dominated environment. I actually really like it, as the saying goes, “If you want to be a lion, you must train with lions,” but the experience of training with someone lighter will give me more of an idea of what works and what doesn’t and then how to progress my own game…. do I need to be faster with a female? Is the lower body stronger than their upper body?

During 2016, I want to enter my first BJJ competition. I want to see how I stack up against others, to test and challenge myself out of my comfort zone. I also want to compete for my Martial Arts School/team and represent them, they made me who I am, gave me all my skills. I want to make them and my coach Colin Robinson proud of me.

What would you tell anyone who is just starting out doing Jiu-Jitsu?

I would say, you are going to make so many good friends and connect with so many people. You will become part of a team, a family that will always be there for you. You will get to know all your training partners on a personal level and they will get to know you.

You will be learning the best self-defense in the world and you will become so bad ass! BJJ has a game for everyone, sometimes the bottom game is the best game.

You will gain confidence and mental discipline and an awareness of your body and how it works. Great conditioning for the body and exercise for the mind.

At first, you will feel like you don’t know what you are doing, everyone seems to know the moves and how the moves string together in nice flowing sentences like a new language, and you don’t even know your AB, err what do I do now…..C.

You will wake up the next morning feeling like you have been run over by a bus, and that is after every session! But my advice to anyone just starting BJJ like me really is you will fall in love with the sport. You will be able to use good technique to beat someone twice your size.

Above all BJJ will change your way of life and your perspective.

About the author


Richard Presley

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Richard is the owner and primary writer of Attack The back. Check out my About Me Page to learn more!

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