Shakia Harris had an interesting (aka frustrating) experience she wrote about concerning competing at a tournament. Apparently the tournament organizers offered cash prizes for the winners of absolute divisions, but then combined the men and women’s absolute divisions. I really can’t recall if any tournament I have been to has offered a cash prize. Other than the Abu Dhabi ones, but otherwise it’s just a shiny medal, a pat on the back and I’m on my way back home.
On one hand I can kind of see why they combined the two genders: historically less women tend to attend tournaments in general, and then a fraction of those women opt to compete in an open division. With (presumably) limited funds for absolute divisions, why spend the extra money on what will be a smaller division and absorb them into the belt rank of their male counter part? Then you are not handing out cash for 10 absolutes, just 5.
The problem is that it’s a lose-lose situation: while unintentionally, you are discouraging some women to compete, and you’re even putting men in sort of an awkward position. The guy wins, congratulations, you just beat up a girl. You lose, also congratulations, you were beat up by a girl. I do realize this is a sweeping generalization and not all guys feel this way, but the situation can put some guys into a weird headspace, and many women would rather avoid the whole situation all together. It would have to be a pretty high reward for a lot of women to risk competing in some local tournament with the possibility of going with a guy in the mindset that he’s going to win “no matter what”. The jiu jitsu community in general is pretty awesome and supportive, but you have to admit there are some kooks out there.
On the other hand, a co-ed tournament is an interesting concept, and I would be interested to see if that would, or could, ever happen. But, something like that I think people would be more willing to do if the rules were stated outright, and not sprung on them at the actual event.
What do you all think? Ladies, would you compete against a guy in a tournament? Do you also think the tournament organizers should have separated the mens and womens absolute divisions, or if nothing else been a little more clear from the start as to what the tournament entailed? Maybe this is something people in the area already know: I really don’t know, I’m not familiar with the tournament she went to- it could have just par for the course, or if anyone there would have been just as surprised.
Let me know!