Big BIG props to Camilla Hansen of Checkmat BJJ and Steven Burton of Alliance UK who faced each other at the UK Premier BJJ Open on 26 February. Camilla was the only female purple belt to register and the guys in the men’s division welcomed her into their own division. Huge respect to the men’s purple division for agreeing to compete with Camilla and for taking her seriously as a player; check out Combat BJJ’s video of the fight. To me, this match has a particular significance for two reasons. Firstly, mixed competition is rare in the UK. Secondly, as noted in my reflections on the status of women in BJJ, Camilla, herself, posted on EFN in 2009 regarding competition between men and women:
As Camilla Hansen’s excellent posting on EFN demonstrates, women are barred from competing against men at most UK tournaments. While Hansen notes that the Nordic Open allows mixed competition with a 5 kilo advantage, it remains aberrant in Anglo-North American grappling tournaments to offer mixed competition.
I think it is tremendous that the guys in the men’s purple division were brave enough to invite Camilla on to the mats. Not an easy choice. Posts on mixed competition on EFN and elsewhere provide evidence of some rather unfriendly views that suggest if the male competitor either wins or loses it is a hollow victory for the champ; it’s easy to beat a girl, right? I am feeling the love, big time, to see competitors with a more advanced mentality; very heartening.