Yo, Respek!

One of my most favorite quotes of all times, made popular by the movie "Spider-Man," is "With great power comes great responsibility." The most basic of needs as a human is the desire to be respected by others in all areas of our lives (i.e. work, personal lives and hobbies). Having respect can give individuals the power to influence and inspire others (regardless of whether the intentions are good or bad). Having respect from others can make us feel valued and boost our self-esteem. However, it is often forgotten that respect is something that has to be earned. It is not one of our inherent rights as humans. We cannot demand or coerce people into respecting us. It is through our morals, principals and most, of all, our actions that we earn respect. In my opinion the most valuable type of respect comes from within. Confucius explained it best when he said, "Respect yourself and others will respect you."

I think that as women sometimes we put more importance on what others think of us rather than developing self-respect. Perhaps it's because we are still considered the underdog in many of life's situations. Or maybe it's because as women we must stand up against more oppression and battle more stereotypes than men. Then again it could be because we are more prone to be openly sensitive and tend to have more self-esteem issues. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that women had less rights than men. In my grandmother's generation, women were restricted by society on how they should act and behave. Women were supposed to be submissive, helpless, vulnerable and weak. The worst part of this oppression was that the dreams of some women were limited by society's social and gender constructions.

Now-a-days, women have more options than ever before. However we still face negative stereotypes. Some of which are placed on us, and others are consequences of ours and or others actions. It's unfair that strong and assertive women are sometimes misinterpreted as bitches or have their sexuality questioned. And then those who are passive or quiet are seen as weak. Although the times have changed, but the struggle for equality remains. This is especially true in male-dominated fields like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Women are constantly battling stereotypes. It is especially discouraging to me that there are old Brazilian terms for self-destructive women who train at academies for the wrong reasons and no known term for strong and empowered women in Jiu-Jitsu. These women whom perpetuate negative stereotypes for others can diminish the efforts for those who are serious and devoted to equality in the sport. It Is through our accomplishments in competitions and on the mats that we can defeat these obstacles. Our sportsmanship, attitudes, personal conduct and over all demeanor will shine through. Through these efforts we can earn respect from fellow female competitors, male competitors and people with in the BJJ community. Now of course, everyone wants to be recognized for our contributions and successes. But as I said before, no-one can respect someone who doesn't adhere to the standards they expect of others.

That brings me to my next point: Why is it that some women feel they need to compete with each other and bring each other down in order to feel better about themselves? As women, we should not be competing with each other and rip each other apart. Instead we should be supporting and encouraging one another, especially in this small community of BJJ. We should also strive to be the champions we are and bring out the strengths within each other. Perhaps we shouldn't worry so much about what others think of us and instead focus on living up to our full potential as athletes and people. Meanwhile, remembering that we must also be conscientious that our conduct can affect not only our own reputations but that of all women in Jiu-Jitsu. Not to mention the reputation of your academy and team.  I am not perfect by any means and don't claim to be, but I strive to be the best person I can be on and off the mats. By being an active competitor and throughout my successes I have been told by parents that I am one of many female role models to the "future" females in Jiu-Jitsu. That's something that I honor with great responsibility.

Even as a grown woman, I have role models of my own like Leticia Ribeiro, who I think represents one of the many strong women in Jiu-Jitsu. I also have the utmost respect for women like Triin of Fenom Kimonos and Ashley of Girls in Gis. I am extremely grateful for their contributions to the community in Texas. We need more organizations like these that bring women together in positive and encouraging environments. Together we can fight the negative stereotypes and bring out the best in each other. Doing this, we can all be positive role models for the "future" generations of females in Jiu-Jitsu. When it comes to respect one thing to keep in mind is: although it's hard to earn, it's so very easy to loose.


  1. Great post. We love that spiderman quote as well. I agree, we do need more to unify those of us girls who are training to fight the stereotypes and to get others involved.


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