On September 27th 2015 Girls in Gis returns to Nevada for the Girls in Gis Nevada Chapter Grand Opening. The festivities will mark the beginning of regular Girls in Gis events throughout the state of Nevada. To mark this occassion, we have an amazing celebration planned. Drysdale Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has graciously opened their doors to us to host this celebration. We have tons of giveaways from our sponsors Phalanx, Detales,Neocell , Fuji and War Tribe Gear. We are so very honored to have black belt Sophia Drysdale as our host for this event. Sophia is Australia’s first female black belt. She is an accomplished competitor, mother of two, figure athlete/model and ambassador for females everywhere. We caught up with her to talk about her Jiu-Jitsu journey and where the path is taking her.
When you began training in Australia where there any girls training at that time? Any girls competing?
There were quite a lot of girls training, so from white to purple belt I had some tough opponents and some good training. The problem was that most of them stopped training. It was when I was purple belt that I moved to The States to continue my journey.
Much later a new wave of talented female BJJ practitioners were moving up the ranks. These ladies are purple and brown belts now and are competing internationally.
What was the dynamic being a female training at that time? What struggles did you face?
Back in the day the females had to prove themselves to the guys to be accepted. The training was scary at times since I was often paired up with really big and not technical dudes. I was scared for the possibility of injuries sometimes during rolling but it was lucky that back then I was such a freak having come out of about 10 years of gymnastic training that gave me the strength at least to deal with these situations.
I understand now why so many women started and dropped out. The issue wasn’t so much harassment but or outright bullying but a complete lack of tolerance for women or smaller and less strong practitioners.
What advice can you offer to a female that is the only girl training at her academy?
Don’t be discouraged. And give yourself props for being a trail blazer at your gym. Once there is one solid and dedicated women in the class, more women will follow which creates a wonderful dynamic in the gym. But make sure you speak up and get the training you need. Ask your coach to be mindful with training partners, ie, to not always put you with the kids or the beginner uncoordinated white belt (which in my opinion is the partner that leads to the highest risk for injury.) Make sure you get the support from your instructor.
As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy owner challenges to you see in getting women to begin training? What about retaining women on the mats? How can we change that? How have you changed that?
I feel that I am an integral part of the reason that women join and stay at the gym. I really focus on making them feel welcome regardless of level, and or circumstance. The fact that the ladies start their training with a women’s class increases the retention rate by more than double I believe. My goal is to make every woman/girl who walks through that door empowered, welcome and part of something special.
As the first black belt female in Australia you’ve made a huge impact and are a huge inspiration to Aussie girls. You’ve been in the United States for some time now and have built up quite a following and continue to inspire girls here. What are your BJJ goals and how do you want to contribute further?
Thank you! I am slowing down with competing in BJJ and focusing on teaching. I feel that although competing puts you in the spotlight it requires so much focus where the energy is needed for yourself. I want to give my energy to all the ladies training. I want to help guide them and make them feel great about themselves and their BJJ journey. But BJJ is just one aspect. I am working on fitness programs and nutritional programs and I have also started the teaching self defense seminars which also helps to empower women and make them feel confident and independent and strong. My focus is on helping to make every woman recognize how powerful and strong they!!!
Join us in Vegas! Additional info and registration at: www.eventbrite.com/e/girls-in-gis-nevada-las-vegas-tickets-17107100799