The momentum for women in BJJ continues to grow and grow
HOUSTON, TX – I’ve been supporting Women’s BJJ for as long as I’ve support Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a whole. In my early days of the sport I always thought it was cool to see top competitors like Leticia Ribeiro, Hannette Staack, Hillary Williams, etc. perform on the world’s biggest stage alongside their male counterparts. The talent pool on the female side was smaller back then. I think the divisions were even combined with purple-brown-black often having to compete in the same divisions and prize money being infinitely smaller (practically non-existent) compared to even now. But one thing I knew was that as BJJ grew, so would the women in the sport. I looked forward to that.
Fast forward a few years to about 2009 in Texas and that was when Girls in Gis came about. I was training at Elite MMA at the time and I still remember when one of my former training partners, Ashley Freeman Nguyen, came up with the idea for Girls in Gis. For her, she simply wanted to create a venue for women immersed in Jiu-Jitsu to train together and empower one another. Then as it is now, most of the gyms around are typically male-dominant environments numbers-wise. And so she figured it would be awesome to take a Sunday every once in a while when girls could get together, share knowledge and roll.
Looking back from the present day with the perspective of having been there early on as both a fan of Women’s BJJ and a supporter of entities such as Girls in Gis, I continue to marvel at how BJJ, and jiujitsu for women specifically, has grown. I reflect back on articles such as this one I wrote back in 2011 and think of how cool it’s been to see how BJJ has made such a positive impact on all those women’s lives and continues to every day. Likewise I’ve photographed all five Girls in Gis Anniversaries to date and the attendance keeps growing and growing, with much thanks to GIG leaders including Shama Ko and Lana Hunter.
Momentum for women’s BJJ keeps growing as well thanks to trailblazers like Mackenzie Dern and Dominyka Obelenyte, just to name two of the new age competitors who represent the sport, and women BJJ’ers, so very well.
Anyways, before I ramble on any further let me just say keep up the good work to ALL the ladies out there representing not just Women’s BJJ but the entire flag of Brazilian jiu-Jitsu. As I said previously in this rare editorial, it’s really cool to see you guys doing your thing and flourishing. Whether you’re a man, woman, or child, BJJ enriches all of our lives.
Here’s a few photos from the latest Girls in Gis (GIG) held at Team Tooke last weekend in Houston.