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Girls in Gis is celebrating its 3rd birthday! It all started in September 2009, when Ashley Nguyen invited girls to her gym, Elite MMA, for the very first free open mat. Seeing more than 10 women training together was unprecedented at the time, everyone was a bit nervous and no-one knew what to expect. The first open mat was a huge success and from that day on, Girls in Gis has become a permanent fixture at the women’s BJJ scene in Texas.

Girls in Gis 2009

Girls in Gis in September 2009

Girls in Gis open mats have traveled all across Texas, from gym to gym, bringing women and girls together regardless of team associations. White belts have become blue, blues have turned purple, and a few purple belts have been promoted to brown belt. Many friendships have been formed and the number of women participating in Girls in Gis has grown year after year. Seeing 30-40 women at an open mat has become normal and this year a new record, 65 girls and ladies, was set at Gracie Humaitá Austin.

Girls in Gis in September 2012

What Ashley started, Shama Ko has carried on. She is the driving force and active leader behind Girls in Gis, scheduling events, promoting, networking, and organizing fundraisers. You can hardly ever see Shama on Girls in Gis photos because she is always behind the camera documenting the events.

Shama Ko at work

Girls in Gis facts:

  • 31 events
  • 15 different cities
  • 23 host academies
  • largest event at Gracie Humaitá Austin with 65 participants
  • longest drive to a GIG event – 13 hours round trip
  • most GIG events attended – Shama Ko 20, Lana Hunter 17
  • out of state participants from Oklahoma, Louisiana, California, New Mexico, Arkansas, Washington, and Virginia
  • over 20 sponsors in 2012

Donation drives and fundraisers:

  • GIG Wish List Drive benefiting SafePlace Austin women’s shelter in January 2012
  • GIG Volunteer Sponsorship Program in August 2012
  • GIG Food Drive benefiting Tarrant Food Bank in November 2012
  • GIG Toy Drive benefiting Toys for Tots in December 2012

Happy Birthday Girls in Gis!