Picture this: You get a DM from a white belt woman on Instagram. She introduces herself, says that she’s trying to be more involved in the online BJJ community, and has found inspiration in your posts. It’s a little forward, maybe, but hey, who are you to discourage someone from pursuing friendships in the jiu-jitsu world?
So you let the conversation continue, and she starts asking you about your game plan. She’s a little nervous about competing, she says, and she’s further discouraged because one of her teammates told her that she should give up on triangles. After all, her legs are short. “Have you had a lot of success with triangles?” she asks, seemingly looking for inspiration and reassurance.
But then comes the real question: “Can you triangle choke the men?”
It’s a subtle alarm bell that many women don’t think twice about. But for the hardened, jaded veterans of the jiu-jitsu side of social media, it’s an almost sure sign that the “white belt woman” is actually a man jerking off to the thought of being choked out between a woman’s thighs.
Look, I know this was a hell of a plot twist for some of you, so before we get into the nitty-gritty of the topic, I want to get a few things out of the way.
Number one: I get that everyone has their “thing.” I don’t judge or shame anyone turned on by the idea of being dominated or choked by women. It’s pretty tame, as far as fetishes are concerned, and as long as everyone involved consents to the nature of the activity, I don’t think it’s a big deal.
The problem with these interactions, though, is that they aren’t mutually consensual. The women who receive these messages often think they’re having a genuine conversation with another woman (or even another man). Until the conversation takes a turn and they end up receiving inappropriate pictures from someone who definitely did not just want competition advice.
Number two: Yes, this is absolutely A Thing. While most jiu-jitsu practitioners can’t imagine enjoying being choked out between someone’s legs, there are lots of people out there who do get off on being smothered in a woman’s (or man’s) scissor choke or mounted triangle. There are sex workers who get paid a lot of money to do this in person. You can also get paid via services like OnlyFans for photos, videos, or dirty conversations about these types of physical interactions. Again, there’s no shame in any of this, as long as it’s consensual.
Sometimes, the red flags pop up quickly, and it’s easy to tell that the person messaging you has one hand on their phone and the other on their third hook.
What’s particularly troubling is that these people will often exploit women’s desire to do BJJ because of previous victimization, such as domestic abuse or sexual assault. Jiu-jitsu can be a significant source of empowerment for women, and these people will try to infiltrate BJJ groups on social media under the guise of being a woman or helping a female friend or relative.
Below is a conversation I had that raised all the red flags right off the bat and, helpfully, checked off a bunch of boxes for how to tell if someone wants advice or has ulterior motives. This guy posted in multiple jiu-jitsu groups pretending like he had a little sister who needed help defending herself and then started messaging women in the groups.
While, yes, it’s easier just to block these people, it’s also fun to mess with someone who’s trying to mess with you.
When appealing to my sense of compassion didn’t work, he switched tactics in a desperate attempt to get me to reveal my secret jiu-jitsu techniques. In the end, he decided blocking me was easier than paying me.
While the examples above are pretty obvious in their intentions, these trolls are getting smarter, and they know that word travels fast within the female BJJ community. They’re swapping out their fake profile pictures of models wearing BJJ gis in favor of photos of forty-year-old moms. They’re putting more effort into their fake profiles, copying the bio format of other actual female BJJ athletes. They’re waiting longer before testing the waters with the “red flag” questions, then backing off before asking more and escalating the interaction.
Sometimes, there’s an internal battle between wanting to help someone and wanting to avoid unpleasant interactions. It sucks having to go through life questioning people’s intentions and wondering if you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings by ignoring or blocking them if they actually are seeking genuine advice. Remember, though, that your safety and comfort are more important than the possibility of hurting a stranger’s feelings, whether or not their intentions are genuine.
If you do decide to engage, even if the person seems completely normal at first, be on the lookout for these red flags:
- They ask you to give descriptions of times you’ve submitted (especially choked) other people
- They focus on your (or their) ability to dominate or choke a man
- They start talking about scissor chokes, mounted/reverse mounted triangles, or normal triangle chokes
- All of your mutual friends or followers are BJJ women
- They don’t have a lot of followers but follow almost exclusively BJJ women
- They lay it on thick with the compliments or try to “challenge” you
- They ask to video call you
When in doubt, ask yourself if this feels like a normal conversation. Do the BJJ women you know actually talk like this, or is something “off”? Does this person seem to have an understanding of healthy boundaries between internet strangers, or does it seem like they’re trying to win your trust right off the bat? Could they find the answers to these questions in a Facebook group or via Google search?
If you feel uncomfortable, it’s probably because your brain subconsciously understands that this isn’t a typical conversation between two jiu-jitsu practitioners. It’s ok to risk being “rude” by stopping your responses and blocking them. If their intentions are genuine, they’ll find their answers and support elsewhere on the world wide web. If they aren’t, you’ve successfully cut yourself off from being someone’s unwilling fantasy participant.
Obviously, if you do want to engage with these people, the choice is yours. Do it for free, do it for money, do it for the laughs. But always, always stay safe.
Averi is a brown belt under Nick Hughes of Trinity MMA and an ambassador for Grapple Apparel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @bjjaveri.