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What Happened When My Son Got Beat by a Girl

What Happened When My Son Got Beat by a Girl

beat by a girlMy name is Claudette. I attend a lot of jiu jitsu tournaments with my son, James. James is 10 years old and he’s extremely good (speaking as a mother and a spectator). He’s won 11 of his last 14 matches. The last match he got beat in was against a girl; she was really good. I enjoyed watching her fight. I didn’t enjoy watching her beat my son, but it was a good match.

Up until that point, James knew both the sweet taste of victory and the agony of defeat. But this loss looked like it hurt him just a little bit more. Was it because he lost to a girl? I started paying more attention and realized that a lot of boys and girls were lumped together in their divisions. Someone explained to me that until they hit a certain age, boys and girls are physically equal. I was naive to this fact. The other two fights James lost were to boys, so he shrugged it off. Is it possible that my son had an ego at this early of an age?

My husband (James’ dad) went up to James and told him to “man up!”

Men don’t cry,” he sternly whisper-yelled at him. “You’re a man…a fighter!”

It was at that moment I realized how much pressure boys are under to be tough, but gentle; manly but sensitive; killer, but caring. It’s confusing. I noticed a beat by a girllot of boys being beaten by girls. The girls had great technique – not to say the boys didn’t – but the girls seemed less concerned about strength and more about the move. I don’t know if it’s an innate trait by us being the “weaker” sex, or if it’s how they have been taught.

Anyway, later that night I spoke to my husband and asked why he was upset about James losing. He said, “I don’t want to raise a soft kid.” I replied, “Would you rather him grow up thinking it’s ok to beat up women?” There was silence. We were now charged with the task of raising a young boy into a respectful man without feeling like he had to compromise who he is. How are we doing that? It’s still a work in progress, but here are the steps we are taking.

1. We encourage our son to train with more of the girls in his school, especially the ones who are better than he is.

2. We also explained to him that in some sports, school subjects, situations in life, women are going to be better. It doesn’t mean you are bad or that you suck; but you should open your mind to learn from everybody.

beat by a girl3. We told him to treat everyone as an equal (notice I did not say treat women as equals). We believe everyone is equal despite their given strengths and weaknesses. If he faces another girl in a fight, respect her enough to challenge her skill and fight a good fight. We are sure if she is fighting she realizes that she will meet tought opponents. We also told him after to every fight to always say “good fight,” whether he wins or loses. Fight like a champ and show respect like a champ.

4. My husband and I started training. Sometimes my husband allows me to win in front of our son (yeah, right, I totally kick his butt lol) just so that he can see daddy practices what he preaches…and that mommy is awesome!

5. And finally, we encourage him to support and cheer on his female teammates and encourage them like he does his male friends.

So far, it seems to be working. He is more courteous and aware of his interaction with girls, and he is now a great training partner for most of the kids in class, including the girls.

If any of you have kids who compete in jiu jitsu, make sure you have the talk with them. It may not seem like it on the surface, but sometimes it can affect them in ways we don’t see. I love it that there are girls out there who can kick butt! But I also love knowing my son knows that it is not an embarrassment or a bad thing when he loses to a girl. Women and kids rock!


  1. You also may need to have another talk to your husband about language used with your son. Comments about boys needing to “man up” and “men don’t cry” can be quite damaging and is related to higher rates of suicide and poorer health outcomes for boys/men. It also gives the impression that boys and men should somehow be tougher than girls/women which isn’t great in a sporting context either. Just something to think about.

    • I agree. And we have spoken about it. But at the same time, I realized we have to get our daughter out of the “princess” mentality. I think we raise our kids with gender roles and it does do some damage. Girls are taught to rely on a man, and men are taught to never show emotion. We need to empower our daughters and train our boys to be gentlemen, emotions and all.

  2. I second this comment. Gendered concepts like “man up” and so on do a lot of harm.

  3. I wrestled a girl once when I was in 5th grade. Our coach drilled some sexist stuff in our heads about not losing to a girl etc. She was much bigger, I ended up winning easily, but it was nerve wracking to be burdened by sexist pressures. One of the most nervous I have ever been for a match before. A few years later I ended up having a female teammate, in both 7th and 8th grade. She was tough, I had great respect for her, and she ended up placing second one year in our divisional tournament. Guys used to be scared to wrestle her, some would even forfeit rather than compete against a girl. I never understood that.

    I sometimes will see people posting about how they don’t like how boys and girls wrestle each other at a young age, that it can “scar” a young boy to lose to a girl. I don’t believe that at all. I’ve seen my teammates lose to girls badly before when I was a kid, they ended up fine. I’d say that by far the worst aspect is the sexist pressure we put on a young boy, that part of it that says you can’t be a man if you lose to a woman. Patriarchy is an awful thing. When you’re taught that you are better, smarter, stronger, and superior to someone else it creates a divide. It’s not unlike white supremacy in that regard. What happens when you realize that inferior being is your equal at better at something than you are? Sure, it shatters your psyche, but why? For no good reason. It’s all a human creation to believe these divides and pecking orders exist. A girl can be damn good at BJJ, better than guys her age. Nothing wrong with that, we can all learn from each other in that regard. I like these parent’s approach. I’d like to see this kind of attitude permeate the wrestling community at a younger level too, very good article.

  4. This is a great article and it seems the couple (mostly the mom) have their heads on straight. Teach kids that failure is merely the price you pay in order to become better. Also, teach them to have respect for everyone regardless of gender and everything else.

    The Gracies teach this all the time and use this to show him or her how important it is to not take this personally and to enjoy the process.

    • If you think all the Gracies do this then you are either delusional or need to do some more research.

  5. Last year my 10year old daughter competed against a boy at a tournament, she won. It was a nice match, we were very proud as this boy was a little bigger than her and she did great. When we got home she mentioned that she does not want to compete against that one boy again, we asked why? After the match ended, the boys father dragged him under the bleachers and slapped him several times and yelled at him for losing to a girl. She watched and heard all this. I just wish she would have told me sooner… Our sons compete and have won and lost to girls, it makes no difference to us.

  6. I hope this lady’s son doesn’t run into the Triangle Queen because manning up will not be enough…:) on a serious note, my daughter Cora aka Triangle Queen fought 90 % of her matches against boys. Sometime it’s unavoidable. Trying to find a 12 year old Orange belt girl is like trying to find gold, they are rare and hard to come by. So she settle to fighting boys and yes many time making them cry. Most of the time, it’s their ego or pressure from their parents. I see this so often among kids who don’t know her reputation. Those that do know of her, they take their loss very well as they already gave her their respect. It’s those boys who has no respect for the girls who usually take it hard after they lose to a girl and same for their parents.

  7. All of the PC bs aside, I think the best approach to this is the practical and honest one–to explain that losing to a girl proves a very simple point. The true power of jiu jitsu means that even a girl can beat a boy! Isn’t this why we all train? To beat a stronger opponent? True that kids up to a certain age are equal physically, but a girl winning over a boy is really the greatest example of why we all train this great art, and should be motivation for us all to focus on technique over strength.

    • I wish I could upvote your comment, Think clearly.

  8. Your husband is a tool. I hope his life ends soon.

  9. Your son sounds weak.

  10. Hey … it’s just a great sport! It is a matter of training, experience, weight difference, flexibility etc – but very little one of gender. The headline may indicate that some parents possibly still have a potential harmful way of teaching outdated stereotypes.



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