The greatest essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. Happy training in 2020!
Supporting women’s bjj since 2009. Powered by She!
We are happy to announce that our redesigned A3Short size women’s gi pants are now available. Based on customer feedback we felt there was a missing option between A2Curvy and A4. It was time to get rid of a slow seller A3 and make A3Short size for curvy, average height women. A3Short is a roomy pant with a shorter inseam and fits women who are in size 14 (US size) pants and about 5’5”-5’8” tall. First color in stock in A3S is navy, white and black to follow.
Two women-owned apparel brands, Distant Klash and Fenom Kimonos, partnered up to bring you a limited edition women’s gi design for this holiday shopping season. Distant Klash was founded in 2016 by Kelly Kusumoto, a Bay area native, 2008 California HS Women’s Wrestling State Champion and an artist. We loved her wrestling inspired minimalist style designs so much that we approached her with the idea of designing a gi. Kelly was very happy to collaborate with us and the final product is outstanding.
The collaboration gi jacket is made of 550 gsm pearl weave plus fabric and has beautiful, blue and white embroidery on both sleeves, lapel, back and front. Pants are made of soft, brushed canvas and feature over-sized embroidery on the right thigh. The gi has blue contrast stitching, decorative tape inside the jacket and comes with a custom nylon drawstring cord. This is a limited edition gi: a perfect gift for someone special who loves neutral colors and cute, comic inspired design. We asked Distant Klash owner and creator Kelly Kusumoto to talk a little bit about her art, wrestling, and how her company came about. Read below and happy shopping!
Why wrestling? What attracted you to wrestling? Do you have any other athletes in your immediate family?
Growing up, my mom put me in a variety of sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, gymnastics and swimming. But at the time I saw sports mainly as an activity and not so much as a passion. While I was in middle school I began training in a Japanese form of karate called Shorinji Kempo and quickly became excited by it. It was fun, but more importantly it felt like I could communicate with someone very directly without actually having to use words.
However, one issue that I had while doing Shorinji was finding sparring partners. Older members found me too forceful and kids my age would avoid me for the same reason. At the end of the year they would hold a ceremony where they gave awards and recognition to people who had improved and had done well throughout the year. As a little joke they gave a an award for “Most Aggressive Sparring”. I was super excited to be positively acknowledged for being strong. It was a very proud moment for me.
When I reached high school a friend who was on the wrestling team encouraged me to join. At first I wasn’t very receptive of the idea, but eventually I decided to do it. I saw it mostly as a way to expand upon the martial arts I knew at that time, like learning new words in a language.
My first practice was during the summer after freshman year and I found myself in a very new environment. There were a lot of things I had to adjust to. I was thrown into a world where I was pushing my conditioning and strength training to an extreme. I had to learn how to handle being in an environment where all my training partners were boys. Perhaps the most difficult part was just being around people who did not know me and did not want to wrestle a girl. I found myself feeling a bit isolated and lost. Despite those challenges I stayed focused on the training and I felt that this was the environment I could learn to thrive in. It gave me a chance to fully express my aggressive energy without any restrictions.
In terms of having athletes in the family, my dad’s side of the family practiced judo but I was never taught any. Instead, my dad loved to roughhouse with me as his way of interacting and playing with me. I feel that as a result of those play sessions I began to associate the idea of fun with activities that were very physical.
You became a state champion in California. How did you achieve it? What is life like for a wrestler?
As a student athlete my practices would go until early evening. I did not get home until 6 or 6:30. By the time I got home and washed up, there were only a few hours left to eat, do homework and prepare for the next day. Even simple things like staying awake during class was difficult because I was so exhausted from practice.
The greatest impact wrestling left on me was how to control my diet. Growing up I knew that junk food was bad, but I did not really care about my health. With wrestling I began to refrain from eating junk food. I quickly learned that it was not practical to eat before practice unless I was okay feeling sick and sluggish during practice. I just started to be more careful about what I ate and how frequently. Often times I struggled to eat enough calories because it felt like I was burning more than what I could actually consume.
On a weekly basis practice was after school for three hours, five days a week. Once the season got going there would be a tournament every Saturday. In my first few years of wrestling I was so bad that I would try to do extra drills at night. I was quite desperate to improve so I also practiced visualizing to try to perfect the moves I had learned.
I think what added to my desperation was being the only girl on the team. I wrestled with boys exclusively so I did not have a sense of how my skill level measured against girls. In my first year I went to a few tournaments at the JV level with boys and barely won any matches. I decided that during off season I would hit the gym to become physically stronger.
By junior and senior year I was beginning to feel more even with the boys and I was slowly gaining some confidence. During my senior year I decided to go to more girl tournament and after having wrestled with boys for so long I found myself doing very well in the girls’ division. I placed 1st in almost all of them.
At the girls’ state tournament I was very nervous and did not perform as well as I usually did. I could not pin anyone and was feeling really anxious. By the time I made it to the finals I was really getting nervous. I got caught in a head and arm throw and was very close to getting pinned. The realization that I might lose snapped me back into a better head space and I ended up winning the finals.
Do you still go to your old high school to coach kids?
I used to coach only at my high school but I have expanded my reach to go to any high school with female wrestlers. If they ask me to come and help, I will do anything I can to make time for them. I feel like I can relate to the struggles that these girls are going through because of my experience as a girl wrestler. I understand their frustrations and do my best to lead by example. I know that it is also very comforting for them because sometimes it is difficult to discuss gender specific issues with a male coach.
In college you decided to quit wrestling and focus on graphic design. What prompted that decision?
During my childhood I drew a lot and wanted to purse art in college. However, I was also excited about wrestling and wanted to see how far I could take it. I finally landed on the decision to go wrestle on a woman’s team at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and pursue an Arts degree there.
However, within a few months I was starting to feel very unsatisfied with both the wrestling and the art program. The wrestling program had a lot of problems but simply put, I did not like the coaching. I did not feel challenged and was starting to get very homesick. To make matters worse, the art program was also very weak. It felt like a high school program and I could see that this was not the right path for me.
I wanted to get out of Kentucky as soon as possible so I left after my first semester. I came back completely broken. I felt like I had disappointed a lot of people and did not know where to go next. I ended up going to a community college where my coach was teaching at. I was able to wrestle under him for one more season. Once again I was wrestling among all boys. Wrestling in college was even more difficult than high school but it was a great experience that washed away all the bad memories from the Cumberlands. I decided to let wrestling go and just focus on art. I got my associates degree and transferred to an art college in San Francisco.
Talk a little bit about your brand. How did you develop such a cool minimalist style? Where did the name come from?
During my time in school I learned how to design logos. Logo design is really different from traditional illustration in that everything is purely symbolic. The goal is to create a design that conveys a lot of information using as few lines and shapes as possible. I got the hang of this pretty quickly and really loved the impact and strength of a clean minimalist design.
I made the first DK design of the two boys in a wrestling stance several years after I graduated college. It actually took me a while to figure out how to draw it because it is very difficult to simplify human movements. As I was drawing it, I began to realize why there were so few wrestling designs that were available. It is really hard because it requires making a lot of design choices for the size and placement of each body part.
However once I was done I was very excited and so relieved. I felt like I was able to accurately depict who I was. All this time I had been going back and forth between my identity as an artist who likes cute things, and as a wrestler who loved to be tough. It almost felt like I was living a double life but now the two worlds could merge together
At this point in my life I had graduated college and I was no longer a part of any wrestling team. I still had a lot of nostalgia lingering from my wrestling days. I think many alumni wrestlers like myself struggle with a lack of identity when they no longer have the time or place to wrestle. The wrestler inside of us never really goes away, so the name Distant Klash was born as a reflection of what wrestling means to me now: a fight from the past, a “distant clash”.
I want it also to represent the younger generation who work hard and train for their next fight. I always feel honored when I am allowed to be a part of their journey to becoming the best wrestler they can be. For them, their wrestling career is still alive and strong and their future is a soon to be “distant clash”.
What are you plans for DK future?
Although DK currently focuses on martial arts, I would love to expand out to other sports. Wrestling is my favorite sport but I have a deep appreciation for all types of movement whether it be in dance, sports or any other physical endeavor. Movement is one of many ways people express themselves and I want to create art that allows people to see that.
Even personally speaking, the wrestling designs I made have allowed me to share my passion for wrestling in a way that overrides any preconceived ideas they may hold. When I tell them that I wrestle, I can tell them what it is really like and how it has positively impacted me. It may seem like a small change but I definitely feel much more confident when I can openly express who I am. I want to be able to extend this feeling to other athletes who may also be in the same predicament.
Gracie Barra black belt Vanessa Wexler is hosting a one-day women’s jiu-jitsu winter camp on December 1st. The camp is held at Gracie Barra Colorado Springs, the gym she co-owns with her husband Bryan. The day camp includes gi and no-gi seminars, discussion panel, food, hot chocolate, raffle, giveaways and much more. Half and full day tickets are available and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to TESSA, a local safe house for women seeking help from domestic and sexual violence in Colorado Springs. The much needed donations will help TESSA to continue providing legal aid, counseling, children’s programs and other services to women going through hardship.
9 am Check-In
9:45 am Warm up and group photo
10 am No-gi seminar with Vanessa Wexler
12 pm Lunch provided for full day ticket holders and craft corner
1 pm Gi seminar with Vanessa Wexler and group photo 2
3 pm Snacks and raffle
3:30 pm Women’s panel: Discussing all things BJJ for women
4:30 pm Yoga
Finished by 6 pm
Fenom Kimonos is supporting the camp by donating a gi to the raffle and the lucky winner can pick whichever color, design, and size she likes from our product line. Good luck ladies!
Dani Harris, a BJJ blue belt out of Vision MMA in Cincinatti, Ohio, is organizing a women’s only no-gi tournament on December 7th. The tournament will be held at Backwoods Grappling Academy and the winner of each division takes home $125.00 prize money.
We asked Dani a few questions about her life and how this event came about.
What do you do in real life?
I am originally from Louisville, Kentucky but recently moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to be part of a growing group of dental practices in this area.
How long have you been training? Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
I wrestled in high school back in 2010. After graduation, college and in the beginning of my career I found myself out of shape and bored. In 2014 I went to a gym to try something different, cardio boxing, and saw people doing jiu-jitsu. I gave it a try and have not looked back since. I am a blue belt and train at Vision MMA under Shawn Hammonds. My primary jiu-jitsu coach is Jeremy Pender.
I train primarily no-gi because I also fight MMA. I train in the gi now about once a week. I try to compete as much as possible, from MMA to small tournaments to IBJJF to super fights. I am usually always game to get in a good scrap.
How did you come up with the tournament idea?
I used to be the leader of the Kentuckiana women’s jiu-jitsu club and hosted seminars in the area with female athletes, including MMA fighter Cat Zingano and Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Randi Miller. I handed over my position in late 2017 to focus on my own training and to coach high school wrestling. I am currently training for IBJJF no-gi World Championship and this tournament is an effort for me to raise money for flight, hotel and registration fees. Michelle Day, also a blue belt, from Louisville will be rooming with me and competing alongside me.
Hosting a tournament seemed like a good opportunity for me to get back in the women’s bjj community in the organizing role and to continue encouraging women to stick with the sport and compete. I have cash prizes for the winners because ladies train hard and we love cash prizes just like the boys! I have a few super fights lined up: a kids super fight with two 9-year-old girls and a brown belt super fight with two very experienced female martial artists, Marissa Pender and Gina Elliott.
What weight and belt brackets do you have and who else is involved with the event?
The tournament is broken up into 4 brackets: white belt 135 lbs and below, white belt 136 and up, blue/purple belt 135 and below, blue/purple blet 136 and up. The rules are IBJJF rules and the entry fee is $40.00.
The tournament will be held at Backwoods Grappling Academy in Carrollton, Kentucky. The owners of the gym, Randall and Emily Prince, are my very close friends and they are the main sponsors of the event by providing the venue. They have always supported my crazy dreams and ideas, I cannot thank them enough! Jacob Propst has helped me with some cool graphic design and marketing/social media ideas. Helm Raiments, no-gi clothing company, has offered 20% off code to all women who register for the tournament before November 15.
Any final words?
I absolutely love hosting women’s bjj events, seminars and now a tournament, so this definitely is just the beginning! I plan to continue my efforts of growing women’s jiu-jitsu in the Midwest and the Southeast for as long as I can. My heart is in the sport and with the people of this community. I look forward to one leaving my day job and making the greatest hobby my career. I aspire to be a female gym owner who can provide a safe and fun environment where girls and women can thrive and grow through BJJ. The sport has saved my life in more ways than one and I love being able to share it! Anyone interested in the Tri-State tournament, please contact me on Facebook.
We are happy to announce that this holiday shopping season we are offering a layaway option. Our layaway plan allows customers to make a small deposit and pay the remainder in 2 installments before December 20th which allows us to ship the product out just in time for Christmas. We are releasing new women’s BJJ gi designs starting this weekend and not everyone is able to purchase the gi of their choice immediately. In many occasions customers have to wait for the next payday and by that time the desired size may already be sold out. The layaway plan secures the wanted color and size and it is completely interest free. However, there is a cancellation fee of $15.00 if full payment is not made by the deadline. Please contact us if you are interested and happy shopping!
When we started making women’s gis in 2009, the production was limited to only three sizes: A1, A2 and A3. Over the years we have added more options including curvy and tall sizes. The addition of A2Tall, A2Curvy and A4 have made A3 practically obsolete. With great sadness we are discontinuing our current A3 size. However, A3 is not completely disappearing; we are replacing it with a brand new A3Short size. Based on customer feedback, there is a need for a size A3 width but not so much for the length. A3Short is made for someone in A2Curvy and A4 height bracket (5’6”-5’8”) but A3 weight bracket (175-195 lbs). If A2Curvy pants are a little too snug but A4 are a tad baggy then A3Short will be the perfect size for you. Happy shopping!
We are excited to give you sneak peek of the new premium cotton pearl weave women’s jiu-jitsu gi that is in production. Pre-production sample arrived this week and exceeded our expectation by a mile! Take a look at this gorgeous, detailed embroidery on the pants and gi jacket. We are also making royal blue version of the same design and both colors will be available at the end of November. As always mix and match, regular, tall and curvy sizes will be available. We are giving away this A2 sample to one lucky Fenom lady. Happy training!