We are kicking off a new Brag and Win series. Every month one lucky lady will win a Fenom gi of her choice. All you need to do is tell us something good you have done in the past month, no matter how big or small, or something good that happened to you. Let’s hear it!
We have started a project to map out female BJJ black belts in the U.S., state by state. This database is for the women’s jiu-jitsu community as a free resource for anyone who wants to find a gym with an active female black belt practicioner or an instructor.
So far we found about 160 ladies through friends, IBJJF rankings and social media. There are probably another 30-40 black belts whom we somehow missed.
If you can help us complete the project, we would greatly appreciate it. Check out the black belt list and if you see a name that is missing the year of promotion, instructor’s name or current location, and you can help us correct it, please do. If you know of a female black belt who is not mentioned, please comment and we can add her. Thank you and happy training!
Some people say that belts and stripes are not important. Do you agree or disagree? We disagree. The wear and tear on your belt shows the hard work, hours on the mat and your dedication to jiu-jitsu. Stripes show your progress and that you are a step closer to your next goal. Why shouldn’t we be proud of it?
Let’s see the most worn out, unrecognizable color belts out there. Is your belt falling apart at the seams? Do people ask if you are a gray belt? Do you sometimes hope that no-one grabs your belt when rolling so that you don’t have to see the white filler slowly ooze out and hear the dreaded ripping sound? Has the belt served you well and is soon ready to be displayed in a shadow box to enjoy its retirement years? If so, send us a picture of your belt for a chance to win a brand new Fenom hemp belt.
Photos can be submitted on Facebook, Instagram or via email. Winners will receive a belt of their choice in any color and size. Five random winners will be picked on August 2. Good luck and happy training!
Leticia Ribeiro started her jiu-jitsu training in Brazil, at Gracie Tijuca academy, in 1994. She fell in love with the sport, trained 2-3 times a day, and received her blue belt in three months. Leticia holds nine world championship titles, seven in gi, and two in no-gi. She has been competing at the Worlds ever since the women’s divisions were introduced in 1998. She received her black belt from Royler Gracie, and Vinicius Aieta in 2000, after winning her first title in the black belt division. In 2008 she moved to California, and started leading Gracie Humaitá female team. In 2013 she opened her own academy, Gracie South Bay. Leticia is a third degree black belt, IBJJF Hall of Famer, and one of the busiest instructors teaching women’s jiu-jitsu seminars and camps all over the world.
Which belt level has been the most challenging for you?
White belt was the hardest for me. When you start training, you don’t even know how to move your body. Everything is new, even hip escape, and shrimping are difficult movements. When you get closer to the blue belt things become easier. You start to understand the game more, have better control of your body, and breathing. That’s when the fun really starts! I felt that after my first armbar. I thought: I love it, I want more!
Tournaments were tough back when I started training. There were only two divisions, and all belts together for women at the first Worlds in 1998. After a few years they separated blue belts, later on purple belts, and now we have all belts separate. I’ve seen the evolution of the women’s jiu-jitsu from the very beginning. I’m very happy with the progress. We have lots of good, technical fighters now. When I was a white belt, we did not have a lot of girls but I was lucky to have Leka Vieira to look up to. She was always two belts ahead of me, and had her female team. She has always been a huge inspiration for me.
What advice would you give to women who have a hard time in training?
My advice to all the women who train BJJ is to keep going! Be confident, and be patient with yourself in the learning process. The hard times will pass, and the armbars and chokes will come. It is great if you want to compete, but it is also okay if you don’t want to compete. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, it will help you in different aspects of your life.
It takes away all the stress at work, kids, family, and everything else that can disturb your day or sleep. Many people say that they don’t go to train because they are too tired from work. To me it sounds like an excuse. No excuses! After work get your gi, and go to class. I can guarantee that you will feel much better after training. Enjoy being on the mat not just to train but to enjoy your team who is your new family because your jiu-jitsu academy should be your second home. Good luck and good training!
Summer is the season that you look forward to all year, gripe about when it arrives, and are sorry when it’s gone. – Anonymous
As the weather warms up, sweaters and boots are packed away into the far corners of the closets, and colorful shorts, tank tops, and flowy dresses come out to play. Flip-flops are the go-to footwear in summertime. You can never have too many pairs!
Make some memories this summer in pretty Fenom flip-flops. Get a pair for now and one for later, and enjoy the sunny season.
Our Black Belt Corner series continues with Kris Shaw. She started training in 1997 in Texas but soon moved to Manhattan Beach, California, for work. In California Kris continued her training under Rigan Machado, and received her blue belt, and purple belt from him. In 2000, Leka Vieira came to Rigan Machado’s, and founded the legendary womens jiu-jitsu team. Despite not speaking any English, Leka built a very successful team, and the ladies won some major trophies. Kris was an active competitor at that time, and won several championships in Brazil, and the US. In 2004, Leka established her own academy, which was the first all female academy anywhere. Kris followed her instructor to the new academy, and received her black belt from Leka in May of 2005.
Currently she trains under Mauricio “Tinguinha” Mariano, and a few months ago was promoted to 2nd degree black belt. Kris is a mother of four young daughters, the owner of BJJ Legends Magazine, and on top of that teaches kids’ BJJ classes.
Which belt level has been the most challenging for you, and how did you overcome the challenges?
Black, black, black! Definitely black belt! My ortho is telling me that I have to quit training forever! I have a bad knee, and I need a knee replacement but I’m too young for the surgery, so it’s a catch 22. I feel my game slipping away. I want to feel the glory days, and run through everybody but now everybody runs through me. I have family commitments that I try to balance. The other weekend I was at a kid’s birthday party but I really wanted to check out Five Tournament. I don’t compete anymore, and I don’t own an academy. I’m getting older, and the white belts are getting younger.
You don’t really overcome getting older but I do make up for it by networking. I reached deep down, and figured out that the reason I still do jiu-jitsu is because of the people. We have a special, magic bond. Fight someone and you know that person. You can’t lie while you’re sparring. The pretenses are stripped away, and pretty much if you hang through a competition class, I like you!
What advice would you give to women who a have hard time in training?
Is it your inner defeatist monologue? If you have an hour to get to class, and you’ve planned to go to all day, and that voice starts, you can’t go because if you leave now you will be late. You can’t go now because the couch is so comfortable. You can’t go now because the dog will miss you. Recognize it, turn it off, and go to class. Don’t argue with it, just turn it off! Everything else is out of your control, whether or not you get to class is within your control.
Self-doubt is horrible, and it affects us all. It still creeps up on me. Again, you have to recognize it to stop it. Here’s where a BJJ BFF (best friend) is the helpful. My BJJ BFF has gone through the same things I have, and vice versa. It’s funny because it’s like a script. I tell her, “My instructor didn’t even LOOK at me today!” And a week or a month later, she will tell me that her instructor doesn’t even know if she is alive. So if you can, get yourself a BJJ BFF.
Retail therapy. Buy some new gear. You have to go to class if you just dropped $180 on a new gi! Now counter that with some philanthropy. Give an old gi, give a new gi, go to a grapplethon, and roll for charity. Go to a women’s open mat and help a white belt.
I definitely don’t have all the answers but I hope you stay on the mats and reach your goals!
Sweaty Betties is one of the oldest women’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu training groups that offers free training to the Bay area ladies. Sweaty Betties was founded in 2008, its home base is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Oakland, CA, and the group is open to anyone who wants to learn and have fun doing it. The group leader Mollii Khangsengsing sat down with us to talk about what Sweaty Betties is all about.
We wanted a name that is both catchy and reflects the essence of the group. We are passionate and serious about training but we are also playful, super silly, and we love to have fun! We feel that naming ourselves Sweaty Betties was appropriate.
A Betty is a term used to describe a chick who is chill, self-confident and athletic, which originated in the surf and skate scene. Sweaty is an accurate description of us during training, plus we liked the rhyming sound of Sweaty Betty. In fact, our original name was Sweaty Betties, Hot `n Ready. The word hot has a double meaning: the heat beauty and the heat of the fight. We dropped the Hot `n Ready for simplicity purposes.
Sweaty Betties recently celebrated its 4-year anniversary. Tell us a little bit how it all started.
When I started training about 5 years ago, I was one of the two girls practicing BJJ at my academy. Being the smallest in terms of stature (I’m 4’11” and 90 lbs), I struggled both physically and psychologically, which was actually an unexpected element at the time. The physical challenge was tough but manageable. However, the psychological challenge took a toll after a while. In terms of the psychology behind being small and female, meant investigating not only strategies in fighting larger men but also investigating what it means to be a small female jiu-jitsu fighter.
After the first year and a half I, I found myself at the crossroads of making a difficult decision, quitting or finding a solution to my size and gender situation. A friend suggested starting a support group of BJJ women. I started searching for avenues to make it happen and with the support of a handful of people, Sweaty Betties was born.
The importance of connecting with like-minded and supportive community cannot be emphasized enough. Because of Sweaty Betties, I was able to turn my difficult situation into a love affair with BJJ. After three and a half years the love is still going strong!
In 4 years our group has grown into a very diverse mix of ladies in terms of age, skill level, social, economic and educational background.
Do all Sweaty Betties members compete?
About half of the members compete on a regular basis. Each of us has our own connection to jiu-jitsu and competing is not a requirement. Many of us practice jiu-jitsu to improve overall health, learn self-defense, and increase self-awareness. Whatever the reason, we support each other.
There are multiple factors that motivate us. Each class begins with a good strength and conditioning work out, followed by a quality curriculum taught by Vernie Inocencio, a charismatic black belt.
Throughout the year we bring in special guest instructors like Judo specialists, wrestling coaches, yoga instructors, MMA fighters and more. Most importantly, what keeps us coming back is the overall environment. We make a conscious effort to create a safe, fun, friendly, and supportive place to train and hone one’s skills. This is all done for free (with a donation suggestion for the teacher)!
Other motivating factors include visits to other academies and attending seminars as a group. We also have meetup groups for jiu-jitsu related “homework” such as specific training, strength and conditioning, jogging, etc.
Yes, one of the biggest components to our group is community building. Every year as a group, we celebrate our anniversary by doing something fun off the mat. It’s usually a day trip. For instance, last year we went to the Russian River, and this year we spent a day at Lake Tahoe by the Yuba River. These outings help us get to know each other on a more personal level, and create a strong community of female bjj practitioners. Did I mention that most Betties love to eat? Whenever we get a chance, we do it together!
You are behind very successful Leticia Ribeiro camps in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Any other events in the works for this year and 2013?
Leticia’s camp started in 2010 as a three-hour seminar. The event was so successful that the following year we added a 3-day camp in San Francisco. Since the first seminar, the number of attendees have steadily increased, and Los Angeles camp in May of 2012 had over 70 women attending from as far as Canada and Brazil.
The success of Leticia’s camps is beyond anything I could have imagined! Now in its third installment, Sweaty Betties will host another Leticia Ribeiro Women’s Grappling Camp in December of this year in San Francisco. We are also exploring other projects, such as BJJ non-profit organization for youth and women, particularly those from under served and at risk communities. Finally, we are discussing the possibility of hosting an all-female competition at some point.
Thanks Mollii and keep up the good work!
Thank you Leia Asanuma for your contribution in editing!
Registration link to the camp: http://leticiacampsf2012.eventbrite.com/
Over the past few years we’ve come across lots and lots of great photographs but some are more memorable than the others. Here are a few of our favorites. We hope you like them as much as we do!
Not so gentle art…
or is it?
Feels good to break the second place curse!
I can’t believe my parents signed me up for this!
Ladies are having a blast, guys
hate it not so much!
The best part of this photo is the background, two little girls taking notes 🙂
What’s going on over there?
A hug is a handshake from the heart.
Calm but dangerous.
Two friends training together…
and competing against each other.
Our fenomenal woman this month happens to be our sponsored athlete Hana Fisher. Her coach calls her The Cheetah, her opponents say she is one of the nicest and toughest blue belts out there. She is strong, talented, and beautiful. Everyone meet Hana Fisher!
I was born and raised in New York City. Two years ago I moved to Memphis, TN to finish my BFA at Memphis College of Art. I am a 4th degree blue belt at Memphis Judo & Jiu-Jitsu / Marcelo Garcia, and I also work at my gym, I do a little bit of everything, managing, graphic design, sales, etc. We have a great team and family here at Memphis Judo & Jiu-Jitsu, and I get to go to New York every few months to see my family and train with Marcelo Garcia. I love it!
How did you get started in BJJ?
I actually started training in San Da and Muay Thai Kickboxing about 8 years ago, and watched the Jiu-Jitsu guys train everyday, and I was never interested in ground work. But one day my coach told me I had to try Jiu-Jitsu, and from that day on I was hooked! I trained for about 2 years of no-gi before I was forced to start training in the Gi. At first the training was miserable, it wasn’t until I moved to Memphis that I fell in love with the gi. Now I love both gi and no-gi. I think I dream more about the GI, but I am told that my no-gi game has a lot more confidence.
Both of my parents are artists. I grew up in SOHO, a really artsy part of New York, and my dad had a studio space in our apartment filled with huge paintings he was working on. My mother is a photographer, but she studied children’s fashion design. I was naturally attracted to super bright colors and patterns. Anything that appeared loud, I loved! I went to the “FAME” school for high school and studied art, and then in college I studied graphic design, and a variety of other arts. It has been hard to balance training and artwork.
I used to try to keep my two passions separate but now I have given in and my art is heavily inspired by BJJ. I spend my days training and my nights sketching, illustrating, painting, and touching up photographs. I think I have found my mental and physical balance.
Does anyone else in your family train, and what do they think of BJJ?
No one in my family is really athletic. My parents are artists and my brother is a scientist. My family was not too excited about my love for BJJ, but now that I have been doing it for while they are accepting it. I let them come to watch me compete for the first time last March for the Abu Dhabi WPJJC trials. I think they were shocked, but my mother says she sees how much I love the sport.
My biggest achievement so far, I would say, was winning the WPJJC trials and going to Abu Dhabi. I went to the trials confident, and telling myself that I had to win because I would be sent to Abu Dhabi on my 30th birthday. On that day, I was the most confident I have ever been on the mats. I had my teammate from Memphis, and my whole Marcelo Garcia family cheering me on. If it wasn’t for their support, I don’t think I could have done it. This year, I have set a goal to win no-gi Pan Ams and Worlds, win the WPJJC Trials and go back to Abu Dhabi, and of course next year first place at 2013 Worlds!
What is your favorite submission?
Triangle! Triangle! Triangle! It is my absolute favorite submission. I drill it every day, I even dream about it. 🙂 The head and arm triangle is also a SUPER SUPER favorite of mine.
My role models are my coaches Alexandre Meadows, Joel Gingery, Marcelo Garcia, and of course his wife Tatiana. She has been a mentor for me both on and off the mats. I learn more about life, and about myself everyday from these guys. They are the superheros of my life.
What do you think of the women’s open mats and seminars? Do you have many women who you train with, and who helps you to get ready for tournaments?
I wish I could participate in more women’s seminars! My friends always send me the information, but I think living in Memphis makes it really hard to travel to the seminar locations, unless I happen to be in New York or California at the same time of a seminar or an open mat.
We have a lot of women now that have recently started training, almost all of them are competing as well, and are completely in love with BJJ! It’s awesome to see other women with the same passion.
When I’m getting ready for a tournament I train with my entire team. I train mainly with the guys, because they are bigger and the more experienced grapplers. I do privates almost every morning with my coach Alex Meadows, a black belt under Marcelo Garcia, and he pushes me harder than my mind and body can stand. I sweat, cry, sometimes bleed, but I am stronger after every training session! He is my best friend, and the greatest coach. He helps me take my BJJ game to another level.
I also go to New York to train at Marcelo’s gym a week or two before I compete. Nothing prepares me like being in my hometown training with the best in the world. There are some awesome women as well who teach me a lot!
Is there anything else interesting you want our readers to know about you?
BJJ changed my life! I lost 80 lbs doing what I love, and I owe every bit of my happiness to the mats!
7-time world champion, and Gracie Humaita female team leader Leticia Ribeiro is continuing her women’s only event series with a 2-day seminar in Florida. Leticia is one of the most sought after female instructors due to her charismatic personality, very unique teaching style, and extensive competition history.
This seminar is organized by Amazonian Women’s Jiu-Jitsu, a Florida women’s BJJ group, that is led by Stephanie Dodge. The seminar will be held at Level 5 Fitness Jaco Hybrid Training Center, at Delray Beach. Private lessons are also available before and after the seminar.
To register for the seminar and private lessons, please go to: http://leticiaribeiroflorida.eventbrite.com/
If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie at: email@example.com