Brag & Win January gi giveaway winner is Courtney P. from Canada, and Jiu-Jitsu Gypsies fourth anniversary open mat raffle winner is Carolyn N. from Florida. Courtney is a black belt and the organizer of WTF-Women Who Fight, a women’s jiu-jitsu group dedicated to the growth of BJJ in Eastern Canada. Carolyn describes herself as a broke college kid, and a brand new white belt who has been using hand-me-down gis. This is her first brand new gi. We are very happy for both ladies and we hope the new gis spark joy!
Dallas photographer, Maryna Matorina, captured this fantastic Fenom action shot at IBJJF Austin Open and we absolutely love it. It represents jiu-jitsu at its finest: staying calm and collected while applying a submission in a nerve-wrecking situation. Tournaments are some of the most stressful events for kids and adults alike: butterflies in stomach, adrenaline pumping, teammates and instructor watching, opponent’s team yelling. At times it feels like a total blur; time is frozen and there seems to be serious miscommunication between the brain and the body. The brain goes blank and your game plan that you drilled for months has left the building. Even though it is a popular belief that there is no losing in BJJ, only learning, it feels great to submit your opponent while serene and rocking a gorgeous gi. Congratulations!
Our newest women’s gi jacket is made of premium, pre-shrunk, brushed pearl weave fabric. Pants are made of pre-shrunk, super soft cotton drill fabric. The gi has oversized, immaculate tropical flowers embroidery on the pants, trademark F, and smaller tropical flowers accent on sleeves. If you are in between sizes, we recommend to go with a smaller size; it is not a shrink to fit gi. The gi retails at a very affordable 115.00 dollars, and as always, mix and match in regular, tall, and curvy sizes are available. Enjoy the endless summer vibes, and happy shopping!
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 been testing out a new women’s gi size in the past couple of months. A0 Tall size is a hybrid size between A0 and A1. It is perfect for someone tall and slim, someone in A0 weight, 85-120 pounds, and A1 height, 5’2” – 5’5”, bracket. If regular A0 is too short on you, and regular A1 is too wide then A0 Tall is an ideal choice. A0 Tall joins our other very popular tall sizes, A1T and A2T, and after minor tweaks we will make it permanent in our product line. At this time we offer the new size in black pearl weave, navy pearl weave, white bamboo, and white premium pearl weave in Mandala and Tropical Flowers designs.
We asked one of our customers to give us feedback on the new size. Amber is 5’4”, 117 lbs, and this is what she said,
‘I absolutely love my navy blue pearl weave Fenom gi. Being 5’4 and rooster weight has made it very difficult to find a kimono that fits properly. A0 Tall length is spot on, the arms are fitted properly so my opponent doesn’t have extra material to grab, the chest is slender and gives me a shaped look instead of a blue block like most. I have washed the gi for a couple of months now and the color has not faded! That is saying a lot for a navy blue. I don’t notice any excessive shrinkage either. Usually a gi that starts out at a good length ends up shrinking too much to pass competition regulation. I cannot say enough amazing things about this cut and really feel that Fenom succeeded exceptionally well in making a kimono that fits my body type.’
Queens of the Mat is a women’s jiu-jitsu group that was started by Keri Wittekind in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a three stripe purple belt at Club MMA, and recently began teaching women’s jiu-jitsu classes at NKY Martial Arts Academy. Keri kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her life and her Queens of the Mat project.
1. How did the Queens of the Mat get started, and how did you come up with name?
It all started with a casual conversation with my coach Jeff Robison about three and a half years ago. I mentioned that I had gone to an all women’s open mat at a particular gym he was asking about. He told me that if I ever wanted to do something like that I could but he said I had to name it.
From that conversation Queens of the Mat was born. I think jiu-jitsu is a game of chess, and the most important piece of the chess board is the queen. As women, we are queens of our own domain, and my selfish take is that Cincinnati is known as the Queen City.
Queens of the Mat was founded on three pillars. First is the open mat, a free non-competitive environment for girls and women to train together. Second is that we always benefit a charity by collecting goods as a way to give back. Third is that we go out to eat after open mats as a way to just do life together off the mat.
2. What do you do in real life?
Right after high school I went to college. I did two years of school but ran out of money, and I decided to enlist in the Army. A recruiter told me I could get paid to jump out of a plane so I said yes! For two years I packed parachutes, followed by two years of admin work. At the end of my four years I came back home to Cincinnati, and joined the Ohio Army National Guard driving a dump truck, and went back to school. I stayed three years in the National Guard before getting out for medical reasons. I miss the community of the Army. The jiu-jitsu community has been the closest to the military community I have ever experienced: a melting pot of people. For the last few years I’ve worked in various roles within the pharmaceutical industry.
3. What has been the hardest part of your training? Which belt level has been the most challenging?
The hardest part of training is finding a balance between training, and the rest of my life. It took me a long time to realize that it is okay to miss class sometimes but also that it is okay if not everyone agrees with my involvement in jiu-jitsu. It is not my responsibility to make sure they like what I do.
I think each belt level has had its own challenges. Blue belt was particularly rough because of crazy life events like a bad break up, an injury that required surgery, job loss but also having to find a new gym. Purple belt is rough right now because I’ve hit my first big plateau in a long time but teaching has really helped.
4. Do you ever feel like quitting? What can you tell women who are struggling and can’t find the desire to train any more?
A lot more than I care to admit! But I know it’s not a real, lasting feeling. When I start feeling that level of frustration, I’ll take a couple of days off training, and refocus by doing something random like an aerial yoga class, and go back fresh. I would tell women to take a step back, take a day off or a week off, and get back in the gym. Don’t give up. Work thru it. If you are hitting a plateau, quit focusing on what is not working, and instead focus on another part of your game. But also training with other women is incredibly helpful whether that is in your own gym, an open mat or seminar.
5. Do you go to any other women’s jiu-jitsu camps and open mats?
Absolutely! I love going to camps, seminars and, open mats. It is always good to learn from, and work with women. For me it is also nice to just be a participant sometimes.
6. Who is your BJJ idol?
I look up to a lot of people in jiu-jitsu, especially the women who have paved the way. I had a chance to train with Emily Kwok shortly after getting my blue belt in 2014 at Groundswell Grappling Concepts. I was in the midst of a huge plateau, and had not figured out how to get thru it. Those of us attending the camp went out to dinner as a group at the end of the day. It was an informal Q&A, and I asked Emily how she overcame plateaus as a lower belt. She shared a story about baking cookies that completely changed how I looked at my plateaus. Her openness and vulnerability to share that with me has been one of the biggest lessons in my journey.
7. How many events have you held so far and what plans do you have for the Queens for 2019?
We have had 14 Queens of the Mat events, of those three were on the road. We average about 25 women but have up to 40. The best part is when a new jiu-jitsu lady comes to a Queens of the Mat event. I love that she gets to see so many women on the mat together, and our amazing community so early in her journey.
It is hard to pick a favorite event but two have special places for me. The winter open mat is special because it benefits Shriners Hospital for Children, and it also represents our anniversary. The other open mat that is special to me is our fall open mat which benefits the Fisher House at the Cincinnati VA. As a veteran myself, I wanted a chance to give back to the other community that I love.
I’m working on 2019 as we speak. We will definitely be at Ohio Combat Sports Academy in Columbus, Ohio on March 30th. We have been invited to Indianapolis but no date has been set. Of course we will have open mats in Cincinnati as well. I also want to start looking into new merchandise if the women want it. I know I do.
8. Tell us something interesting about yourself that not many people know.
I’m a big fan of Broadway musicals, and their soundtracks. I even have a “Wicked” Pandora station, and the soundtrack to “The Greatest Showman” is currently in my car cd player. And yes, I sing along quite loudly!
It’s time! Our annual women’s gi sale is happening this Friday from 6am to 6pm CST or until we are sold out. Let’s empty the warehouse! Happy shopping!
*Quantities are limited, no rain checks. Please limit two gis per person domestically, three gis per person internationally, no reselling. Please inquire about sizing before purchase to avoid returns. Please allow extra 2-3 days of processing and shipping time.
Women’s jiu-jitsu open mat Girls in Gis got started in Houston, and the first DFW area event was held in December of 2009 at Alvarez BJJ. On November 11th, women and girls once again are gathering at the same place to celebrate the 9-year anniversary of Girls in Gis. The highest ranked women in 2009 event were purple belts; this year there are five black belt instructors leading the open mat. The first open mat at Alvarez BJJ attracted 25 women and girls which was unheard of at the time. It was so unusual to see a group of women training that even men stayed and watched.
The instructors are Fabiana Borges (Gracie Barra), Danielle Alvarez (Alvarez BJJ), Chelsah’ Lyons (MG Dallas), Karen Lingle (Genesis) and Nathiely de Jesus (Rodrigo Pinheiro BJJ). In 2009 Nathiely and Danielle were white belts, Chelsah’ and Karen had not found jiu-jitsu yet; they started training in 2010 and 2012 respectively. All these ladies are now black belts and high-level, decorated competitors with world champion titles in gi and no-gi. At that time Fabiana was a multiple time Brazilian National Champion in different belt levels, had been a black belt for two years, and was on the move to the US to join Gracie Barra American Team.
From 2009-2015 Girls in Gis event flyers were exclusively designed by Fenom. The font on the first flyers was abandoned in the middle of 2010 and replaced by the swirly font that is used by GIG until this day. The flyers were provided free of charge to help the women’s BJJ organization that had yet to produce income. Years later when GIG started earning profit from t-shirts, patches, gis and participation fees, it was time to hand the flyer design work back to the organization.
Lots has changed over the years. During first years of GIG, all events were free of charge, less formal, and organized in Texas. In recent years GIG chapters have opened up in a dozen states, and most events require a suggested donation in addition to online registration. Brand ambassadors help schedule, oversee and run events. Thousands of women and girls have participated, some have quit training, some are on break but many more are still training and rising in the ranks. The goal the get more women into jiu-jitsu has been achieved, the number of female black belts have sky-rocketed, and tons of other women’s open mats all around the country have sprung up. We wish Girls in Gis a very happy birthday and can’t wait to see what happens next!