by Lana Hunter
I’m a blue belt who has been studying jiu jitsu for about 3 years and in my entire jiu jitsu journey, I have been the lone female at my academy. As I started to compete, I realize the importance of having female training partners. Two years ago Ashley Nguyen also realized this and began inviting women training all over Texas to come to an all female training session.
I attended my 10th Girls in Gis training this past weekend, and this training session was a special one because it is the 2 year anniversary of this all female training session! When I think about this fact, I am amazed and incredibly proud to be part of such a dedicated and motivated group of jiu jitsu women. The group has been practically self-run for 2 years, with no formal administrators. Each month, a female from a different gym would volunteer to host the 3 hour training session. The training session usually consists of the resident female or professor teaching a few techniques, drilling it, and then rolling in open mat.
Sometimes 10 women would show up and sometimes 30 would attend! This was just fantastic for me, considering I am the only female at my academy, and rarely get to train with other women. These training sessions have been happening consistently for the past 2 years, and to me, this attests to the strong jiu jitsu community present here in Texas. The training sessions have definitely strengthened the sense of connection, bond, and camaraderie among all the women training jiu jitsu in Texas. All of the jiu jitsu professors have been very supportive as well, and I have always felt welcomed at every academy that hosted a Girls in Gis session.
There were about 40 women in attendance, ranging from kids to older ladies and this is definitely our biggest group so far! There was also a range of experience levels there as well, with some seasoned purple belts to a few girls who have never stepped on the mats in their lives! The ladies came from all over the great state of Texas, one person traveled over 7 hours to attend, and we have had one gal come from Louisiana! I was happy to see the familiar faces of girls I have trained with the last 2 years as well as plenty of new faces I’ve never met before.
Several people and organizations have also made 2 year anniversary Girls in Gis session very special. The Fight to Win/World Grappling Circuit tournament will be sponsoring all the women in attendance for the next upcoming tournament in Texas! Fenom Kimonos, headed by Triin Seppel of Dallas, raffled away one of their awesome gis specifically made just for women. Shama Ko, a purple belt, was active in spreading the word and gaining the group tons of coverage from various jiu jitsu publications. Joshua Lauber of Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu in San Antonio, donated 40 Gracie Mags to the participants. The local news station came out to interview a few of the women and document the event as well, and most importantly, there was a celebratory cake!
Ashley, the founder of Girls in Gis, welcomed everyone to the group and explained the purpose of the group which was to have a training session for women to roll with other women in a fun and noncompetitive environment. Most women did not have many female training partners their weight and size at their academies, but present here were women of all different sizes and skill levels in one room. Everyone was encouraged to help each other during training.
We began with a fun warm up that also encouraged everyone to get to know each other. Ashley had us in 3 lines doing bear crawls, frog jumps, and shrimps but the catch was that you had to learn the name of the person behind you when you came back. Ashley then showed a couple techniques and we were encouraged to partner with a training partner we never met. We would drill the techniques and then for the next technique we were encouraged to grab a new partner! One of the girls I drilled with was a girl who had never trained before and this was her first experience on the mats. I was happy to show her the techniques and talk about the awesomeness of jiu jitsu. I remembered how confusing jiu jitsu can be to a newcomer, plus I enjoy teaching and explaining why we did the things we did. Then I demonstrated the bow and arrow choke on her, warning her to tap as soon as she felt uncomfortable. I choked her lightly but she tapped quickly and I remembered how being choked for the first time can be an uncomfortable sensation! After drilling we got to the fun part—rolling! I had about 6 or 7 rolls and boy, were the ladies tough!! Several of the ladies present have medalled at the Pans, Mundials, and American Nationals, so we definitely had some serious competitors present on the mats! I have competed in all those competitions the last 3 years and definitely feel the more I train with women, I am more prepared to compete against women.
I definitely feel like my jiu jitsu family has been extended through the Girls in Gis session and I have grown very close to some of the ladies from all over the great state of Texas. I hope women from across the nation and the world can come together as we do on the mats to experience the friendship and bonds that are forged during a sweaty roll on the mats!
What the women are saying..
This group and the organization have meant a lot to me. I have met and been able to train with an amazing group of women. –Rebecca, blue belt
Thank you Ashley and Shama for an amazing event! My daughter and I had a great time today. It will always take my breath away to see so many women on the mat together! –Debra, mother to a jr grappler
Awesome! Went to my first one, and I wish I started going to these sooner!!! –Ketra, blue belt
Thank U! to the organizers of Girls in Gis for making the womens jiujitsu community more Unified! –Helen, white belt
As a first timer, I had alot of fun and a great workout……haha…my body is still sore…..we should meet up more often –Agnes, 1 day old white belt!
The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast! But we are certainly very in favor of anyone enjoying jiu-jitsu, regardless of gender!