Meet the ladies behind JiujitsuHairProbs, Madisson Larson and Sophie Gomez. Both reside in the Pacific Northwest –Madisson is in Oregon and Sophie is in Idaho. You may or may not have seen their booth at tournaments. Their mission is to create safe and fun environments for anyone and everyone who stops by their booth (They also welcome direct messages on their Instagram, too). They want to take away part of the nerves of competition by allowing them to take care of your hair so you can take care of focusing on getting gold- and yes, they help boys and girls.
How did you get involved with jiu jitsu?
Madisson– “Around 2017 after going through a very tough and dark phase in my life, I met a friend who introduced me to Gracie Barra Portland (at the time), and their cardio kickboxing classes. I fell in love with the whole environment of the gym and the positivity and support shown in all the sports they offered there.”
“After going through a divorce in 2018-19, I took the plunge and tried my first jiu jitsu class in Canby, OR. I was instantly hooked. I started to feel so strong and empowered, like myself again. From there I worked hard, training 5-6 days a week, 2 hours at a time. I competed in my first tournament in 2019 (where I first met Sophie) and won gold. I had never felt so proud of myself, especially with almost my entire incredible family there to support me. I received my blue belt from Fabiano Scherner at American Top Team Portland in 2020 just before Covid. From there I’ve never looked back. Not to be cliche, but Jiu jitsu has saved my life in every way.”
Sophie- “Growing up, I was an avid competitive cross-country skier until I graduated high school in 2010 and moved to the central coast of CA where I went to college (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). I didn’t ski any longer and I needed to continue training in something, and stumbled on a martial arts gym there called The PIT S.L.O.”
“I started training there in 2011 and never looked back! My coach and I immediately connected, and we fell in love (and now recently married). A few years in, I started helping manage the gym and we eventually moved out of California in 2016 here to Boise, Idaho. We sold his California gym, and started a new one together in Boise under the same affiliation and name, called the PIT Idaho.”
“We started in our single car garage, and eventually grew it large enough to have a commercial location. During that time, we traveled to Portland (2019) to compete at Grappling Industries and this is where Maddy and I met! We staged our stuff next to each other, smiled, and started talking – the rest is history!”
How did JiujitsuHairProbs get started?
Madisson– “When we met at the Grappling Industries Portland in 2019, we exchanged Facebooks and started a conversation through Messenger after Sophie returned to Idaho. I told her I was a hairstylist and she started asking me questions about keeping hair healthy and protecting it from getting torn out.”
“I had a few hairstyles I would rotate between at practice such as double Dutch braids and making small sections with soft hair ties into pigtails. We searched for some sort of social media account helping girls and boys to keep their hair back for sports and found nothing. We proposed doing some sort of jiu jitsu hair before/after photos testing out different hairstyles we found on Pinterest. We immediately had interest from our following who would share the hair tips with other people in the jiu jitsu community. We decided to have my brother-in-law, Cameron Craig, design a logo of Medusa braiding her snakes shortly after. From there it just kept growing!”
“Then in 2020 we had the idea of doing braids at the tournaments to take one thing off their plate on an already intense day. We had our first ever JiujitsuHairProbs braid booth at Grappling Industries Boise and it was very successful. We are so grateful for the people who have supported and believed in us from the very beginning, and we have many more exciting things coming that we can’t wait to share.”
What are your top tips for styling hair for bjj?
“Clean parting is everything. If you want your style to last the longest, make sure you use tools like a rat tail comb or metal tip comb to sharpen your partings and smooth out your sections. The more loose hair you have the faster it will get pulled out while rolling.”
“Try out a few different styles to figure out what will work best for your hair type. There is no one universal style that will work for everyone. We try to post many different styles to test out. If one doesn’t work well for you, don’t give up and go back to your bun, try a new one!”
“Avoid buns as best you can. Buns tangle up and knot the hair. A bun + jiu jitsu leaves you with broken and unhappy hair. If you must use a bun. Put it in a ponytail with a soft hair tie first, then braid the ponytail, wrap it around itself and secure it with another hair tie. Kendall Reusing posted a great video doing this; it is so quick and easy!”
What are some favorite hair products to recommend?
“It’s so hard to pick just one! My number one favorite product for smoothing and strengthening is Olaplex #6 leave-in treatment. Use it every day after showering. This product has absolutely transformed my hair, personally.”
“I have to also recommend the shampoo/conditioner we had the pleasure of collaborating with @Jitzsoap (on Instagram) on developing. We wanted a shampoo/conditioner anyone could use to clean, strengthen, moisturize, and smooth the hair after even the toughest training days. It’s all natural, cruelty free, and has a fresh clean scent with tea tree, peppermint, jojoba oil, castor oil, and argan oil. Being a hairstylist, I’ve tested many different hair products and I can honestly say I always reach for my JiujitsuHairProbs shampoo/conditioner. We’re happy to send out free samples to anyone interested in trying it, as well!”
In your opinion, who has the top five best hairstyles of bjj?
“Helena Crevar. Her pigtails are legendary, and she is an absolute phenomenon at only 15 years old smashing the craft!”
“Catherine Fuhro Perret. She has the brightest/warmest smile, coolest dreads and rightfully one of the greatest of her generation.”
“Ffiona Davies. Even though her hair is short, she is always putting the cutest braids in her hair for competition days. So exciting and technical to watch and learn from.”
“Elisabeth Clay. Always looking savage with her half-shaved hair and battle braids on top! Nobody can rock that look like she can.”
“Vanessa Waltz. Not only is she very influential in the women’s jiu jitsu community, but she always finds the cutest ways to style her short curly hair. Whether it’s big bold dreads or the cutest curly space buns, she is always shining!”
What’s next for JiujitsuHairProbs?
“We definitely have some top-secret plans for the expansion of JiujitsuHairProbs that we’re not quite ready to announce in full detail yet. But we can promise that there will be some very exciting opportunities coming available! We hope to build a team of strong, inspiring and hardworking girls who want to help others and enjoy the jiujitsu/sports community with us.”
“Currently, we announced a new design for our apparel that we’re in the process of designing to be released. We will be traveling to many more events this coming year and getting as many people in their battle braids as we can get our hands on.”
* You can find them on Instagram (@jiujitsuhairprobs), Facebook, or their website (www.jiujitsuhairprobs.com).
About the author: Mindi is a purple belt under Headnod HQ in Granite City, Illinois under Josh and Steve McKinney. She is affiliated with TAC Team BJJ. When Mindi isn’t on the mats, she is writing, working in women’s ministry, or across seas as a volunteer missionary. Instagram: @fomindi82