It was an interesting question posed on social media- they expressed frustration regarding their impression that in order to compete against more women, they had to sign up for an IBJJF tournament, which let’s be honest costs a lot of money. They person expressed frustration that they had to drive for a longer period of time and hand out more money than say going to a smaller tournament closer to home, and asked why so many women chose to sign up for IBJJF tournaments. And her question is totally reasonable: it does seem a little silly to pay over 100 dollars to drive 2 to 3 hours to wait another couple of hours to fight someone that may potentially train like, 45 minutes away from you and the two of you could have duked it out at a local tourney for 60 bucks.
There are a couple of factors that play into this: first and foremost, it’s one of the better known tournament organizations, and whether anyone likes it or not, it’s pretty much a gold standard when it comes to gi competitions, especially when it comes to their rule set. From what I can tell a number of other tournament organizations use IBJJF’s rule set as their own, so walking in you should have a good handle on what’s allowed. Some commented on this person’s question stating that IBJJF is one of the best run tournaments out there. I think when it comes to the bigger tournaments- Pans, Worlds, etc. they more or less smoothly, but there have definitely been times where they have messed: the displays shorted out, during this past Pans there was a mess up in their bracketing and scheduling software and a bunch of us who were supposed to fight on a Saturday thought our divisions were pushed up to a Friday night (we found this out after dinner 45 minutes away from the venue and the divisions were supposed to “start” in 30 minutes, so we were pretty much all freaking out to some degree until we were able to get a rep on the phone to assure us it was a mistake), there was one time where one of our girls was basically forgotten in the bull pen when her competitor didn’t show up and she was basically left there waaaaay too long- they are by no means a perfect organization, but they get it right more times than they get it wrong.
Also, from what I can tell it’s one of the first tournament organizations that really set out from just the local scene and decided to extend their reach- it’s sort of like the GoPuff of the industry: for anyone who may not be aware of what go puff may be, it’s basically a convenience store on wheels. Say it’s late at night and you suddenly fall ill and need some pepto bismal, or maybe you’ve gotten the munchies due to whatever shenanigans you’re up to and could really go for some junk food, but you’re all out! You log into the app, pick out your items and go puff will deliver those items to your door.
There are companies that are now trying to recreate that service and push into that market space, but since (as far as I know) GoPuff was the first to offer this service, so it has the brand recognition and had a chance to establish its presence as the main service. And even if they weren’t the first, IBJJF is possibly of the longest running and, to my knowledge, still expanding tournament organizations out there.
So you have a recognizable, long running tournament with a clearly established and well known rule set- that frankly you know top competitors compete in, and are motivated to do so now because of the points system they recently implemented as a qualifier for some of their larger tournaments…. it’s no wonder that women tend to gravitate toward those tournaments. It would be nice to see more women in local tournaments, but really I’m happy to see women competing anywhere, and if that’s at an IBJJF tournament, so be it.
Will there be a change? Honestly, probably not. There are a good deal of tournament organizations out there, but unless they can find a way to top IBJJF’s popularity in the market- maybe by specifically reaching out to women? It will probably remain the same.
If there’s another tournament organization that you would love to see take off, please by all means let me know. Otherwise, have a great day everyone!