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.