SA’s First Women’s only BJJ comp

If ever there was a throwback, this is it.   This is an article I did with Jess Mouneimne at Pretty Tuff  3 Years ago shortly after our first women’s only BJJ comp

Article First appeared on  Pretty Tuff


28 September 2013 saw the very first South African women’s BJJ competition held by Fight Prime in Greenstone Johannesburg.  The competition was much anticipated as this had never before been attempted, women’s BJJ in South Africa has never drawn women to compete and thus I was very interested to see who would come join in on the fun.  Ladies travelled from as far as Nelspruit and Witbank to compete.

One thing of which readers must take note, is that the majority of these ladies don’t have the novelty of training with high level women in the sport, Penny Thomas is our only South African born BJJ Blackbelt currently residing in Maui, Hawaii, comes through to SA yearly to host seminars. Therefor, we have the difficulty of training with men, which can sometimes be viewed as awkward, uncomfortable, smelly but also challenging and develops a physical and mental toughness that cannot be explained.

BJJ in South Africa has grown in leaps and bounds but this is not the case in women’s BJJ. It is growing, most definitely but women seem to battle to commit to the sport in this country.  Organisations like Australia’s, “Australian Girls In Gi” has grown immensely in the last 5 years starting with 20 odd women attending seminars to over 70 for 2013. I continue to stress the importance of BJJ for women’s self defense purposes and would love to see SA Girls in Gi grow to the extent that it has in other southern hemispheric counties.

 I believe our girls are on par with international standards.  Aside from Penny Thomas, Myself and Rhonda Hartzenberg have medaled internationally at the Abu Dhabi World pro, the worlds most prestigious BJJ competition and Danella Eliasov was a bronze medalist this year at the IBJJF European Open held in Lisbon Portugal.

That being said, the growth of women’s BJJ will hopefully do so exponentially with the help of competitions dedicated solely to us.  Nathan Raaths believes the Ladies cup was a success and has committed to hosting more female competitions.

I caught up with Danella Eliasov a decorated BJJ practitioner after the competition and asked her her thoughts:

“It was a great turnout. The most women I have ever seen competing in a South African tournament.  I really enjoyed competing and watching.  The level was really high which is exciting for women’s bjj in this country.  I think most of the fights were very technical and exciting.  I must say some of these matches were more technical than a lot of what we see on the ground at efc. The tournament was a great idea and hopefully will help the sport grow. Thanks to Nathan Raaths for organizing.”

Newcomer to the sport Liz McFadyen said:

“As a new comer to the sport and BJJ competitions I was seriously impressed with the high standard of ladies BJJ in the area.  Even though the amount of entrants were small the quality was by no means low.  In the short time I have been training BJJ the theory of BJJ being a sport of which a smaller fighter can out fight a larger heavier opponent.  I have heard over and over how technique will win over strength and nothing was more true at the All Stars comp but not only did the level of skill impress me, the level of passion for BJJ, the welcoming down to earth nature of all the ladies was refreshing. “

“Not one lady was there to prove their skill in BJJ but rather for the love of BJJ and the test you put your body through when pushing yourself past the full power of the game.  I loved witnessing the sportsmanship of the competitors, who very quickly would congratulate an opponent on a move well implemented after a tap out rather than anything bitter. My biggest concern was the small amount of beginner ladies there were. “

“One last thing that has made me fall in love with the sport, and another reason on how to grow it, is showing ladies how effective BJJ is for ladies self defense, the days of teaching a female to punch stomp on toes and kick is no more effective against a larger stronger attacker who’s adrenaline is pumping just as much as yours. BJJ teaches to close the gap taking away his fighting power. more women need to learn this and I pity the guy who ever tries attacking any of the ladies who entered yesterday- they don’t stand a chance.”


The competition had 10 entrants, a record, with girls in every weight category, full match ups from 55kgs up to 70+kgs were made.  Mountains above the odd one or two that would previously join the competitions and forced to compete in the men’s divisions.