SoCal Women BJJ is an organization of women grapplers from all areas of California. We hold monthly open mats at different academies in California to promote the growth of jiu jitsu for women. It is the sole intention of the organization to support the women of this amazing sport by offering training opportunities with other women who train.
We also want to promote growth of the sport for women, which is what led to the idea of our event in Bakersfield. Immediately following the DC rape, that so violently impacted our sport and community, we held an open mat with an open discussion about the crisis. We sat down as a group and just vented about our concerns, our sadness, but most of all our sympathy for the victim and the situation.
We wanted to reach out and express our support in some way. We just could not seem to pinpoint a show of support that was not overstepping boundaries. Later in the year, one of our members came to me with the idea of grappling for charity. We scheduled the event and decided to make NVRDC.org the recipient of our funds (to make a donation, please click here). This is the organization that is helping in the DC case, the very case that sparked the idea in the first place.
The Grapplethon was scheduled for June 8th in Bakersfield,CA. The day of the event, women of all skill levels and all areas of California made the journey to Bakersfield to participate and unite. There were raffle items including tournament registrations, and gift cards that were given away. Women also donated money for UNITED patches that are an expression of support as well.
Mother Nature decided to give us a challenge at completing our six hours of grappling by presenting us with the hottest day of the summer: 109 degrees. But we were not bothered. We set the timer for five minute rounds, turned up the music, and got started. The enthusiasm of the 42 women participants was amazing! As always, girls were free to roll with whomever they chose. They rolled, then found a new partner, and rolled again. Technique was discussed and refined. New friendships were formed and others were strengthened as training continued.
We stopped training each hour on the hour to play a quick game of dodgeball and give away some raffles. Midway through the day, one of the girls did a Women Empowered presentation, that is a set of self defense techniques for women in crisis situations developed at the Gracie Academy. Women were encouraged to take part in the mini lessons and many reported learning a great deal. This added to the overall charity and goodwill message of the day and also allowed us a quick cooldown from the scorching heat!
We then continued training until our six hour grapplethon was successfully completed. Women were exhausted, sweaty, empowered, and accomplished as they walked away from the event discussing plans for next year's Grapplethon! Plans to make this an annual charity event are now under way as we see a need to reach out to people who are hurting and make a difference in some way in hopes that people will see our sport and the athletes involved for what they are: helpful, positive, intelligent, problem solvers.
Jill Baker is a brown belt teaching at Bakersfield BJJ in Bakersfield, California. She is also one of the main organisers of the SoCal Women BJJ group: their Facebook page can be found here