Breaking down barriers: promoting diversity and inclusion in Jiu-Jitsu for women

Jiu-Jitsu is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. The goal is to gain a dominant position and control one’s opponent by using leverage and joint locks. It is a popular sport for both men and women, and has been gaining in popularity in recent years.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in Jiu-Jitsu cannot be overstated. By promoting a safe and welcoming environment for all people, regardless of gender identity, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the sport. This article will provide an overview of the history of women in Jiu-Jitsu, identify the barriers that prevent women from participating, discuss ways to overcome those barriers, and highlight some of the successful initiatives that have been implemented to promote diversity and inclusion.

Early Martial Arts Training

Women have been training in martial arts for centuries, but the practice was largely confined to the private sphere. In the early 1900s, a few pioneering women began to teach and compete publicly. One of the most notable was Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu master who traveled around the world teaching the art.

Notable Female Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners

Throughout the 20th century, a number of notable female Jiu-Jitsu practitioners emerged. One of the most influential was Dr. Rhonda V. Cobham-Sander, an American-born practitioner who became the first woman to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Recent Developments

In recent years, women’s participation in Jiu-Jitsu has increased dramatically. More and more women are competing and teaching, and the number of all-female tournaments has grown. In 2016, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) announced the Women’s National Ranking System, which has helped to promote and reward female athletes.

Despite the recent advances, there are still barriers to female participation in Jiu-Jitsu. These include economic, physical, and social barriers.

Economic Barriers

The cost of Jiu-Jitsu classes and tournaments can be prohibitively expensive for many women. This can prevent them from taking part in the sport, even if they are interested.

Physical Barriers

Women who train in Jiu-Jitsu can face physical barriers, such as being outweighed by their male opponents. This can make it difficult for them to compete on a level playing field.

Social Barriers

In some cases, women may be hesitant to join a Jiu-Jitsu class out of fear of being judged or intimidated by the male-dominated environment. This can prevent them from accessing the benefits of the sport.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help overcome these barriers and promote diversity and inclusion in Jiu-Jitsu.

Financial Assistance

Organizations such as the Women’s Grappling Foundation provide financial assistance to help women cover the costs associated with participating in Jiu-Jitsu.

Creating Safe Spaces

Instructors can create a safe and welcoming environment for female practitioners by ensuring that all students are comfortable and respected.

Educating Instructors

Instructors should be educated on how to recognize and address issues of sexism, racism, and homophobia in the classroom. This will help create an environment where all students feel welcome and accepted.

The efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in Jiu-Jitsu are paying off. There has been an increase in the number of women participating in the sport, and the retention rate for female practitioners has been much higher than for male practitioners.

There are a number of organizations, events, and athletes that are helping to promote female participation in Jiu-Jitsu. These include the Women’s Grappling Foundation, the IBJJF Women’s World Championships, and athletes such as Mackenzie Dern and Talita Nogueira.

Social media campaigns, outreach programs, and advocacy campaigns are all effective ways to raise awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusion in Jiu-Jitsu. These efforts can help to attract more female practitioners and ensure they are welcomed and supported.

Diversity and inclusion are essential to the success of Jiu-Jitsu. By breaking down the barriers that prevent women from participating in the sport, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from its many benefits. The efforts to promote diversity and inclusion have already had a positive impact, and continued efforts are needed to ensure that everyone can feel welcome and included.

Dixon, L. (2019, April 11). Women in jiu-jitsu: Breaking down barriers to participation. Jiu-Jitsu Times. Retrieved from

Lima, A. (2019, November 15). The women’s grappling foundation: Inspiring female athletes in jiu-jitsu. BJJ Heroes. Retrieved from

International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. (n.d.). Women’s national ranking system. Retrieved from

Commonly Asked Questions

How can we spread the love and promote inclusion?

Tips for Promoting Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace

  1. Get to know each other. Spend time talking to your co-workers and getting to know them on a personal level. …
  2. Practice active listening. …
  3. Be open to different perspectives. …
  4. Lead by example. …
  5. Celebrate diversity and inclusion!

What are the three major challenges to having a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace?

What are the main challenges to having a more equal, diverse and inclusive workplace?

  • Finding the funds. It can be tricky to explain why it’s important to invest in EDI initiatives, especially if these ideas are unfamiliar to your organisation. …
  • Getting the support. …
  • Having the right resources.

How can we break down diversity barriers?

10 Ways to Show Diversity Some Love

  1. Educate your organisation. …
  2. Gather data at every step. …
  3. Let go of the ‘right fit’ approach. …
  4. Explore beyond traditional talent pools. …
  5. Reword your job descriptions. …
  6. Look into diversity partnerships. …
  7. Allow some flexibility in your processes. …
  8. Set up mentorship programs.

What might be holding back diversity and inclusion?

Unconscious bias

It’s likely that we have an inclination to those who are like us – in terms of race, gender, or orientation. This automatic discrimination or judging can be a huge roadblock to creating a diverse and inclusive environment.

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