By: Shama Ko, Contributing Writer
Tara Arrington’s varying roles leads to lasting bonds and friendship
SEPTEMBER 3, 2012 – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu may not be considered to be a girly activity, but grappling has caught the interest of several females around the globe. Over the past year, more female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu organizations, women’s gi companies/brands, programs and tournaments have surfaced. Companies are now spotlighting/sponsoring BJJ female idols and role models. More marketing campaigns are centered on women in the sport. Media outlets are featuring women in jiu-jitsu with photo shoots, interviews and videos. Women in BJJ and MMA have become the next hot thing.
Meanwhile, as the number of new females in the sport rises, some of the more senior women in the community are evolving and growing by taking on additional responsibilities outside of the traditional roles of a student and competitor. By taking on these roles, they are raising the bar and changing the way women are seen in the industry. Women are becoming instructors, business owners, writers, photographers, referees and promoters. Among these women is Mohler MMA purple belt Tara Arrington.
Arrington’s roles in the past few years have also extended beyond the traditional reach. She is a student, competitor, instructor and referee. In the last six years, Arrington has spent the last two years teaching kids classes and the past year teaching women’s classes and refereeing. Arrington is also studying to get her master’s degree in chemistry.
This is the story of how she got started in BJJ and where she is now.
Interview – Tara Arrington
How did you find BJJ? What got you to start training?
In 2006 I was into body building and some of my male lifting partners mentioned taking classes at a local BJJ school; we all agreed that we were going to start together but in the end I was the only one that signed up.
Of all the roles that you take on, which is your favorite (competitor, referee or teacher)? Why?
Teacher because that is the role that resonates with me the most.
When did you begin teaching? How did you get started?
I started helping teach beginners and kids at the end of 2009 and I then began a women’s class every Sunday in August 2011.
When did you start refereeing? What was it that inspired this progression?
I began refereeing in the beginning of 2011. I felt like becoming a referee was the next logical step for me after my years of ring coordinating and score keeping. I wanted to give something back to the sport of BJJ and take the opportunity to learn the game from a competitive perspective. I was very involved with tournaments for several years and was actively seeking and attending rules meetings, through IBJJF and NAGA, as often as I could. I developed my skills in understanding the rules through a team of coaches which gave me the confidence to step on the mat as a referee.
Has refereeing and teaching benefited your training? How so?
Yes. Refereeing has exposed me to a large amount of jiu-jitsu from talented competitors, giving me the opportunity to see first-hand, different games and identify what has historically been successful. It has also helped me to put the pieces of the game together along with giving me an appreciation of tempo and timing.
Teaching has definitely helped me the most. Having to break it down for someone else and lay down the technique has helped me. I have to understand why my foot is where it is, where my hands go, all the fine details.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve gotten from BJJ? Why?
Friendships; I have met some of the most amazing people through the sport of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and have created long-lasting bonds with some of these wonderful people.