It has become clear from popular representations of open hand combat that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling are becoming a stronger part of the mainstream consciousness. Surely, the popularity of the UFC and MMA more widely and the fundamental importance of grappling skills for this arena has influenced this, and while portrayals of fighting still emphasise ‘flash’, there is greater and greater use of more practical ‘smash’ via BJJ and grappling arts in these representations, for instance the cobra choke in Inception. While ground and pound to a rear choke is increasingly apparent in popularised representations of fighting on television and the big screen, it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, rare to see women showcasing grappling skills in fight-fantasies (and let’s leave surrender of an ‘ultimate’ nature to one side – keep it clean, people!).
There are popular representations of female grappling, however, and I was very excited by the overhead sweep to mount/ground-n-pound in Lady Gaga’s Telephone video; I friggin’ LOVE that sweep! The most recent pop culture representation of women’s grappling is Britney Spears’ doppleganger cat fight in her Hold It Against Me video in which she attempts to RNC herself (yes, the technique is atrocious, but that’s not really the point here). So, as far as I know, Ms Spears is the first A-list – is she still A-list? – female celebrity to go all BJJ, albeit within the context of some crazy kung fu mania, and thus marks some sort of milestone of yet indeterminate connotations for women in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Can you offer an earlier popular representation of a woman practicing BJJ? Comment below!