Prelude to a conversation I had the other day, but I was mentioning how friends who I have rolled with since almost the beginning of my BJJ journey are still at the same belt and how I think this is a sign of a great academy. Too many academies will promote based on time and well of course money… and that leads to belt promotions that are very obviously when rolling. I have openly said that I have been training for five years, exactly since January 2009. What was next said was that “People who say they have been training for “X” amount of years are full of shit” because unless they are in the gym 6 – 7 days a week training then those years are not worth anything. I thought wow… the same person who is saying this claims to have been training for 12 years, while I fully know he was out for a year and a half. Even if I do not training 6-7 days a week, but maybe 2 days a week then that is not “training”. Random thought from a friend, but isn’t that doing more than the person sitting on the couch?! I think it is. I could only take that comment as a direct blow to me and trying to bring me down and make it sound as if I was full of shit, and every seminar and private and ounce of mat time I have accumulated was worthless. That conversation definitely put a little fire in my eye and struck a wrong cord, but that made me think back to when I began and the people I met along the way. 2009 was when this journey really started and I remember going to competitions and unless there was a round-robin or absolute the female divisions were slim pickings, maybe 3 people in a division but with combined experience. I recall an ADCC Tournament in Austin and I was paired up with two intermediate girls, I had my butt handed to me but that was kind of how it went… you got who showed up. Starting from 2009 to 2014 and so much has changed, at almost every tournament the women’s divisions are now PACKED. To me this is amazing and a great time for women’s Jiu-Jitsu, it makes me think about how it was in 2009 to present day. I was thinking about how hard it must have been for the first females to compete when there wasn’t even a female division. My personal women BJJ Heros include: Megumi Fujii , Gazzy Parman, and Leka Vieira. (If you are not familiar with these ladies just click on their names for a Youtube highlight video). Those three women were my role models and the ones I wanted to be like on the mats. I found out that one of those women may be coming to Texas for a seminar in the future and that makes me so excited because I am really a nerd when it comes to the history of Women BJJ Pioneers. The struggle to train and the fight to be recognized in BJJ has been an on-going battle that is still fought today. In fact, recently one of those battles was won when IBJJF added a new women’s weight class. WOW… did you see that, were you apart of that, because THAT was history for future female competitors!
No matter what happens, the struggle and fight will continue maybe not like the pioneers as I mentioned above… but there will always be someone out there who is going to Hate and who is going to try and bring you down, make you feel worthless and try to destroy everything you have become. If we let people around us defeat our self-worth, motivation, and desire then we have let down those who valiantly fought to give women a chance to train, compete, and become legends ourselves. The next step is to realize how Great You Are, and what you are willing to do to get back up and keep fighting. It really is a fight that has been going on from the very beginning, and unless you are willing to fight for it then all is lost.