Claudia Do Val On Getting Hurt and How To Say No To Male Training Partners

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Claudia Do Val found out the hard way that rolling with male training partners can end up in injury or uncomfortable situations.

Take from A Fistful of Collars– watch the full episode here


Chase Smith:        Do you find people come after you when you're rolling with them? Either you're doing a seminar series or just dropping in somewhere. They know you're World Champ, do they come after you?

Reid Connell:       Try to claim their gold medal?

Chase Smith:        Yeah, exactly.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, this happens a lot, but I started denying a bunch of training especially because my shoulder is injured so when I see people that come up to me like, "..."

Reid Connell:       Just itching.

Claudia do Val:     "do you want to train?" I'm like, "no, not with you." But yeah.

Hywel Teague:       That's tough though, right? It's tough to say no sometimes.

Claudia do Val:     No, not anymore. I learned-

Hywel Teague:       Not anymore.

Claudia do Val:     I learned that it's important, especially being a girl and I say that to all the girls when I go to the seminar is like, "you got to say no." Because its your coach's job to make sure that everything is in place, but a lot of men, they don't really understand the difference in strength between- We understand. We girls understand because the guys are so strong, but the guys, I don't think they really understand what's going on. So sometimes we have a 100 kilo guy putting his whole weight on a 50 kilo girl. Just hit pause, it's so easy. And the girl's being smashed like, "how do I get out of here, you're huge." I don't feel they understand that a lot and De La Riva, I don't think he understands that very well because when he matches the trainees, I'm like, "oh my god."

Hywel Teague:       He did make you roll with some big guys.

Claudia do Val:     Not just me even like because we have more girls now, but I see sometimes he's putting the tiny blue belt girls against the white belt guys, like, no! Don't-

Chase Smith:        If they die they die.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, because it's not that they're mean, it's just that they don't know any better. Because when you just started jiu jitsu, you don't know what you're doing so how ...

Reid Connell:       You're trying to win.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, so how can you measure how much strength? It's not they don't know, so it happens a lot. A lot of girls come up to me like, "what should I do?" First of all, you got to tell your coach like, "hey coach, I can't train with this guy because he's a little bit too much for me. Maybe in a couple years but for now, I can't. I'm afraid I might hurt myself." And if your coach doesn't do anything about it, well, that's a bad sign. You should maybe look for another location because your coach should be the guy looking out for you, should be the guy who wants you safe, but you got to be able like... you tell your coach or sometimes you can tell the guy. You don't need to be mean, like, "oh no, I don't want to train with you. You're awful." You can say, "yeah I'm a little bit injured today so I don't want to do that."

Claudia do Val:     Because sometimes a lot of people come and ask me for rolls, so I'll be like, "hey, I'm very injured. I'm not going hard, so if you're expecting some kind of training, I'm not going to be able to give you that much." Sometimes it goes well, sometimes they start going crazy. I just stop, like, "hey I'm not going do, like respectfully, I'm not going to do that anymore because I don't think you understand what kind of injury I have."

Reid Connell:       Great advice.

Hywel Teague:       It really is.

Reid Connell:       It's incredible, yeah.

Hywel Teague:       Because I think not that many people really are so open about that, right?

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, because-

Hywel Teague:       And not just women, actually. I'm thinking of myself, like, "saying no is not a bad thing."

Reid Connell:       Yeah, it's kind of a taboo thing, right? To say no.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, because people are like, "no, I'm tough. Can you say no? I would never say no. In my time I wouldn't say no." There's a lot about this you can't say no thing, but a lot of people are not athletes and even if you are now, especially if you are an athlete, that's what you do so you can't hurt yourself. But if you're doing that just for fun, why would you hurt yourself? Why would you put yourself in that position? So I think it's important to say no and a lot of people, they have this, "oh I can't say no because they're going to think I'm weak." It is a male dominant sport so here's that "yeah, girls shouldn't be here, girls are weak."

Hywel Teague:       Do you really feel that? You've experienced that?

Claudia do Val:     Me personally, no, but I hear a lot of stories because on the Instagram, they have a lot of Instagram for girls. They have Ladies BJJ and sometimes the open up for stories and a lot of girls they say, "I roll with everybody." They say this and that, so a lot of girls, they want to prove they're tough, and that's how you injure yourself and then you can't train for six months.

Hywel Teague:       But what you were saying there about the sexism that exists in jiu jitsu, do you really think that's a problem? Do you think that there are some guys out there who really think that women shouldn't be in the academy or that they refuse to train with them?

Claudia do Val:     I've heard some cases, so for example, this one time... it wasn't really sexism, it was just this guy. He wouldn't train with girls because his wife wouldn't let him.

Hywel Teague:       She would get jealous?

Claudia do Val:     No, she wasn't even there. He was like, "my wife asked me not to train with any girls. I'm not training with any girls."

Hywel Teague:       Wow.

Claudia do Val:     Which I kind of get because relationships are so hard and especially if the woman doesn't train, she doesn't really understand, so I kind of get it. You don't want to train, don't train, but I...

Hywel Teague:       Sounds like she doesn't really understand what jiu jitsu is though, right?

Claudia do Val:     But what I hear happening the most is like the guy, "oh I'm going to rest this round. Do you want to go?" And they'll train the girls for resting. So I see this happening, which I think is disrespectful, but one thing that happens a lot is that the girls, they misunderstand the taking care of your friend for the disrespect. Because I was saying about this thing where the female jiu jitsu pages on Instagram, so they were telling stories. So a lot of girls, they got really mad of the guys like, "oh I'm going to go easy on you because you're a girl." There's levels to that because if the guy doesn't want to hurt you, that's the right...

Chase Smith:        Attitude.

Claudia do Val:     Conduct. Yeah, that's what they should do. They should be careful not to hurt you, but then like, "oh I want to rest this one, so I'm going with the girl." That's disrespectful. There's a very thin line between being disrespectful and just watching out for your friend.

Hywel Teague:       Yeah, because if there's a difference of 20, 25 kilos, that's like 50 pounds or whatever between the two people then, you're not disrespecting them by not using your full strength, right?

Claudia do Val:     But I think it's also about the way you say stuff. "No, don't worry, I'm going to easy on you."

Hywel Teague:       Right, right.

Claudia do Val:     There's all the levels of- but if the coach says, "hey, go easy on her because she's a girl." I think that he's just watching out for the girl's safety and stuff, so there's like levels.

Hywel Teague:       Some people call that microaggression.

Chase Smith:        Yeah. Oh no. Let's not go down that rabbit hole.

Hywel Teague:       But it's an interesting topic though, right? I think what you're saying there about the interaction between men and women in the academy and the way the train together.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah.

Hywel Teague:       Have you ever had any problems personally with that? Have guys been too rough on you or...?

Claudia do Val:     Yeah.

Hywel Teague:       Really?

Claudia do Val:     Especially when I-

Reid Connell:       They don't get talked about too often.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah. When I just started training because I was like, "I was tough. Never said no. Trained with everybody." So there was-

Hywel Teague:       It's true. I saw it.

Claudia do Val:     So there was some guys, they were really, really tough. There was this one, he was a little bit crazy, he even laughed afterwards, like actually crazy and every time he would train with me, he would try a choke and he would punch me in the face. This one time he left my whole face red from trying to- and at that time, I was always crying.

Hywel Teague:       That doesn't sound healthy or funny though. I mean you're laughing, but that doesn't sound cool.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, it happened in the beginning where people were too rough and I don't think they were being mean, I just don't think they really understood the difference of what-

Hywel Teague:       What level was this guy?

Claudia do Val:     I think at the time I was a blue belt, maybe he was a purple belt?

Hywel Teague:       So you probably except somebody of a purple belt or above to be able to have that control, right?

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, but I see it happening a lot in the gym. Sometimes the girls they complain to me, "oh this guy is crazy." Because they just want the submission and I don't think they understand the difference in strength so it did happen a little bit with me in the past but nowadays, it's just like, "hey I'm not doing this. I'm not-

Hywel Teague:       It sounds like the easiest way to go about it, right? Just be smart.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, if I see people training like crazy and then they come up to me like, "do you want to train?" I'm like, "no." It did happen a few times by like... not serious injuries, but I got a little bit hurt because the guys were going a bit crazy, but whenever I see something happening, I go and I tap on the guy's shoulder because I saw it happening at the gym like, "hey you don't have to submit her five times. It's fine. She's a tiny girl." You don't have to, but yeah. I had that happen with me, but again, not that I think they're mean. I just don't think they know. They don't really understand the best way to...

Reid Connell:       I think it's good that you're steadfast in the no and you don't feel bad about saying no or anything like that.

Claudia do Val:     No, I don't feel bad anymore.

Reid Connell:       You should be the one deciding who you train with, right?

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, so I think that's something important. You should be able to tell people no because I think some gyms were like, "oh, you don't get to say no if a higher belt asks you to roll. You-"

Hywel Teague:       Oh it's like the rule, right.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, like-

Hywel Teague:       Don't refuse.

Chase Smith:        There's definitely pressure, for sure.

Claudia do Val:     Yeah, you don't get to say no. I think you should be able to tell no because it's important. It's your health.