So Natalie (prof. Andrew’s wife, and Arashi Do Whyte Blue belt) has had a wee project over the last 2 years, called the Edmonton Women’s Open Mat.
The goal was to bring together women from different schools, and different affiliations, who might only ever meet in competition or not at all, and create a community of support, to help women stick around and thrive in a largely male dominated sport/art, being ambassadors for women in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in each of their represented schools.
Many of these women had never even trained with another woman, or someone their own size!
Almost every month, Natalie would send out emails to all the local schools, explaining her goal, and bit by tiny bit (and fighting no small amount of hesitation from the owners and teachers, wary that this was some scheme to steal their students) she gathered a collection of students representing almost all of the schools in Edmonton and surrounding area.
Aaaaaaand this weekend, 23 of them gathered, from 4 different affiliations, and 8 different schools to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the Women’s Open Mat! They rolled for a couple hours, and then stuck around and ate food together, and lots of new connections were made. It was such a wonderful thing to watch as an outside observer, and as someone who has watched all the incredible opposition that Natalie has come up against in her pursuit of building this community.
And of course, because I am now constantly armed with my new camera, I took about six thousand pictures! you can check them out here if you like!
Finally! Natalie gathered some INCREDIBLE sponsors to support this event with some wonderful prizes. Thank you so much to the sponsors, 8786, Women’s Balance Health, BC Kimonos, NEP Canada ULC, who provided awesome gifts and coupon codes, and to Prof. Mike and Drew for offering free registrations for their tournaments, Mind Body Soul and The Submission Ace Winter Classic. Please check them all out, to thank them for supporting women in Jiu Jitsu!
PS, go and make sure to “like” Natalie’s new fbook group for the open mat, here