This is the second profile in our Society Nine Storytellers series where badass women in our community share their personal evolutions as they work to find the meaning of femininity, strength and power.
My passion for movement began its development at the age of three when I discovered gymnastics. At that stage in life, gender and sexuality were still within the realm of innocence, but I did notice a sense of inequality between me and my male counterparts. I struggled to comprehend why girls were forced to wear sparkles and leotards, while boys could coexist in more natural and comfortable attire. Some might say I was a tomboy from the start.
Around the age of 9, I found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Having outgrown the skill set of the coed youth classes, I advanced to an adult men’s class. At this time, gender differentiation had still not crossed my mind. They were wonderful and respectful practitioners who challenged me instead of overpowering me, all the while sharing our training and skills as grapplers like we were pieces in a chess match.
At 12, I found Krav Maga (contact combat) – Israeli self defense. Although I understood that we were learning something incredibly practical, I had no experience in real world application, or understanding of a person’s capacity for violence. Training was simply learning a new skill-set. Regardless of strength, speed or experience, anyone can learn to defend against any sized attacker by utilizing a strong sense of self worth, intuition, positioning, leverage, and explosiveness.
As high school rolled around, these skills translated well into the sport of wrestling. My teammates were athletes, the type of people I was used to, but this time they were boys of my same age. They were a supportive bunch of goofs who taught me to spit and make crude jokes, but despite the camaraderie I began to develop a sense of shyness and frustration. I found myself wedged between a social norm and a childhood innocence while being told I had to wear a bra to contain those parts of my body that were distinctly different from those of my teammates.
For as much as this practice of humanity’s oldest and most animalistic sport is revered, it is also ridiculed. Males are deemed gay for rolling around on the ground with each other, and females are simply not understood for choosing a “man’s” sport. “Don’t wrestle like a girl,” people would say; but I continued to train, gracefully ignoring the stereotypes. And then one day I encountered the inevitable. Our team had a dual meet, and my opponent didn’t want to wrestle me because he was afraid to lose. The next weight class was taken by the weaker girl on our team, so he forfeited our match and bumped up to hers. In an effort to humble this boy’s ego I jumped up a weight class and gave him no choice. He needed to see me as an athlete, not a girl. I threw him around until I tech-pinned him, which in short means an ass kicking. That is one of the only times I have felt true aggression override the peaceful warrior within.
I continued into college wrestling, at which point a women’s team made sense now that there were extreme size and strength differences between the sexes. It had become clear that I was not just an athlete, but a female athlete. When Crossfit came into my life, I was happily shocked to see so many women lifting heavy and pushing their physical boundaries in Crossfit’s testosterone-driven atmosphere. When yoga came into my life, I noticed the slow and attentive movements with breath inevitably deterred the more masculine crowd, although yoga is the most challenging and demanding practice I have found. As with anything, balance is the most optimal and sustainable state of being.
In all of my teachings, I aim to combine the duality we exist between, urging men to let go of damaging stereotypes and women to cultivate the physically able part of themselves.
I meet more and more women who use this ever-present mental toughness to push physical boundaries. In clients I see that awesome inner power as they maintain their femininity alongside the intensity of training. They experience that strength in body feels good before necessarily fulfilling desired physical results. Myself and others are continually influenced by these women fighters, weight-lifters, wrestlers, nature enthusiasts, yogis, movers, and incredible teachers.
In a combat dome at a festival, a guy about twice my size challenged me to a fight, and despite his best efforts I proceeded to dominate the match.
Afterwards, a woman stopped me to communicate how much it meant to her to see what we are capable of.
It was then evident that remaining true to my passion for movement is my vehicle for continual self-growth and outward inspiration. I do not resist vulnerability, but allow for the possibility that living well will be seen, accepted, and reciprocated. Living out our truths is like a dance – like redirecting a punch without strength, moving with the push and pull of a match, or positioning ourselves in a place of greater ease and joy so we can flow with life’s natural state.
Jazzy Green is a Fitness and Phase C Krav Maga Worldwide certified instructor, has trained at The Olympic Education and Olympic Training Centers for wrestling, is a Level 2 MovNat certified instructor, a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified instructor, and has coached middle school wrestlers to professional adult male and female fighters to first-time movers. Her accomplishments include two-time California female state wrestling champion, second in the nation for freestyle wrestling, third for folkstyle, and was seventh in the nation in college. She strongly believes in connecting with all of nature for an understanding of our part as humans. For the past seven years she has been teaching all that she can share. Her desire is to help people who need a hand getting on their feet.
All photos by ILL GANDER