The following is a guest post from Gracie Barra’s Karen Peters, who spearheaded the Together All Power (T.A.P.) movement to help achieve competitive equality in female master divisions and get more master women on the tournament mats.
The Masters Women are moving forward, looking to set record numbers again at Pans this year — and other select tournaments in 2020. The BJJ Masters Women’s group on Facebook is exploding in numbers (3,500 worldwide) and with enthusiasm in moving forward in organizing ourselves.
An interesting side note: Facebook analytics and discussions in the group suggest that the fastest-growing Master Women’s demographic is white belt 40 – 45-year-olds, or Masters 3s. This suggests to us that the Masters 2-7 divisions will be very robust in the next 5 years. This inspires us more than ever to organize ourselves and keep supporting the older woman grappler.
A group of us from various parts of the U.S. met in Atlanta for a TAP BJJ Masters Women’s pilot retreat this last weekend. Many met in person for the first time, bringing to life on-line relationships formed in the BJJ Masters Women’s group. It was proven that the support the women in the Facebook group find so extraordinary translates to in-person connections and time shared on the mat. We had awesome instruction, rolled to our heart’s content, and had in-depth discussions (with a number who could not attend in person calling in) about how to better organize ourselves in the FB group, and select “target” tournaments to draw out the masters women to fill the divisions.
As is, there are so many IBJJF tournaments that the numbers of masters women at each tournament are diffuse and divisions are left unfilled. The master men face the same challenge as well. Yet the women are fortunate enough to have built an international community of 3,500 master women where we can communicate, organize ourselves, support one another, and feel connected to a larger, living, breathing community of BJJ women that is highly invested in collectively moving jiu-jitsu forward. We made history at the 2018 Pans, and broke records at both Master Worlds since then. We will do it again at 2020 Pans.
Watch how we do it — by coming together as a larger team, a community of Master Women who fight fiercely on the mat but work together to move everyone in jiu-jitsu forward. That unique ability, to fight like crazy then raise each other’s hands up and work together off the mat seems inherent in jiu-jitsu, and is the exact power the Master Women have harnessed.
Also in Atlanta, during the retreat, it was announced that an alliance has newly formed to unite and empower women in jiu-jitsu — Women’s Jiu-Jitsu Alliance. WJJA is a non-profit organization invested in uniting and moving women of all ages in jiu-jitsu forward. TAP has climbed aboard, along with Elevate Jiu-Jitsu Magazine, and Warrior Forged Project (self-defense seminars for girls and women). Other organizations are currently joining the alliance as well. It’s an exciting time for women in jiu-jitsu, as we continue to grow in exponential numbers and build community worldwide.