The Post Pandemic BJJ Dream
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The 2021 IBJJF Calendar is stacked with events for the rest of the year, leading up to the grand finale, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The 2021 Worlds.
It was a slow start at first. Bouncing back between the wild wild west that is Texas and the lawless beaches of Miami, the federation began to bring back the competitions we all longed for during the agonizing months of the Covid Lockdown(s).
Now every month leading up to the 2021 Worlds is stacked with opens from Atlanta to New Orleans. The 2021 Pans just ended ushering in a new wave of post-pandemic champions. A new rise of fearless competitors, able to finance and risk trips to these super spreader events. We are still living in a Pandemic after all!
Brazil is desperate to follow suit. Lockdowns vary from state to state, allowing IBJJF and UAEJJF to pull off a few competitions. Sulamericano and Rio Winter have all wrapped up. Brazilian Nationals will be a 9-day event held at the end of October attracting athletes from all over Brazil and neighboring countries.
Europe on the other hand has remained a no man’s land this year in respect to competitions. With a grand total of zero IBJJF events held in 2021, it is impossible for black belts outside of the United States to earn the qualifying points to compete in Worlds.
Full-time athlete Yasmira Pires Dias (Yas) from the Brazilian Power Team (BPT) in Portugal, like any other athlete, is hungry for the chance to claim that World Title. When we first met Yas at the 2019 Europeans she was making her way through the crowd on crutches, there to support her teammates in any way she could.
Now, cut to 2021 and she’s fully recovered and ready to rise up in the IBJJF rankings. Like any athlete, she was anxious to claim a spot on the podium as World Champion. Blackbelts, however, are required to accumulate a number of points to be able to compete. This points are obtained by competing and winning in local or region tournaments of which there have been a grand total of ZERO outside of Brazil and the United States.
Well there’s got to be some kind of Post-Pandemic exception, right? Wrong! When Yas reached out to the organization to see what she could do about these unattainable qualifying points, she was met with indifference:
“Go to the U.S. to get the points”.
Injustice in IBJJF practices and policies
People say that the mats make us equal, but there are athletes all over the world that are living breathing contradictions to this supposed equality. Yas is one of the fortunate to navigate her way through the complicated immigration process to get the highly coveted American Visa but to demand that an athlete travel back and forth from America to compete in Open in order to be a World Champion is systemic racism at its finest. Injustice in IBJJF practices and policies
Where is the equity for European, African, and Asian athletes that want an equal opportunity to be crowned World Champion?
This is an awesome effort being put forth by this specific federation but does absolutely nothing to help Yas become the new 2021 World Champion or to mitigate the other inequality that athletes face on a daily basis.
United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu (UAEJJ) Federation has been the saving grace for athletes outside of the U.S. Since its inception in 1997, His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been funneling money into the sport. Their Grandslam tour not only gives athletes a viable option outside of the limited IBJJF events, they actually pay their athletes cash prizes, as well as complimentary plane times to World Pro for each GrandSlam winner