by J.P. Silva
In March, the world celebrated Women’s History Month. Brazil joined in this celebration by holding a BJJ event exclusively for women, the Kyra Gracie Cup, which took place last Saturday, March 24.
The competition was named after multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu Champion Kyra Gracie, who organized the event. Kyra was the first female representative of the legendary Gracie family to receive a black belt, which was handed to her by her uncle, Renzo Gracie. Today, she is one of the most famous names in women’s BJJ. Her biggest accomplishments are being a five-time World Gi Champion (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011), and a three-time ADCC World Champion (2005, 2007 and 2011).
The Kyra Gracie Cup took place in Rio de Janeiro. 287 athletes participated in the event, and they ranged in age from two years old to elderly. There were also some UFC fighters there.
According to Tatame Magazine, the event motto was “From the youngest to the most experienced, any and every woman deserves respect and has the freedom to be and do whatever she wishes.” The event started with a children’s festival, where Kyra Gracie showed jiu-jitsu techniques to dozens of children. Athletes from all belts, weight classes, and age divisions got in the action on the mats.
Three matches amazed the crowd: Kyra Gracie, Malvino Salvador (her husband, who is a famous soap opera actor and BJJ purple belt) and UFC middleweight fighter Thales Leites “battled” against three representatives of Social Project Superação (Overcoming), which teaches jiu-jitsu to people with Down Syndrome in the city of Petrópolis, in the highland region of Rio de Janeiro.
On the mats, the athlete who shined the most was Tayane Porfirio, representing Alliance, who beat every opponent in the Super Heavyweight Division and in the Black Belt Absolute Division, submitting Karla Hipólito with a choke in the finals, and Bruna Valois with a foot lock. Another winner was UFC fighter Amanda Ribas, who, after ten long years away from Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions, put the gi back on and won the Black Belt Lightweight Division. In the Medium Heavyweight Division, the winner was Rafaela Bertolot (from GFTeam), who got a decision against Milena Beatriz in the gold medal match.
One of the objectives of the Kyra Gracie Cup was to motivate all women who practice or are thinking about practicing jiu-jitsu. Kyra herself always had a hard time coming up through the ranks because there were no competitions available to challenge her and make her grow.
“I felt the difficulties of being a woman and fighter in Brazil, so I know what these girls here today struggle with on a daily basis”, she said.
All the attendees of the Kyra Gracie Cup had access to complete medical support and beauty professionals, which provided hair and make-up before and after the matches.
J.P. Silva is a Brazilian Architect and Urbanist living in Brazil. He is a Purple Belt in BJJ and has 7 years of experience.