This week I have honestly been scrambling for a story to write about. With it now being the holiday season and there not being many major tournaments going on, I was starting to hit a writer’s block and I was getting nervous. My state of despair ended, however, when I heard of the young jiu-jitsu talent Mackenzie Dern earning her black belt from her father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias.

Dern is the perfect example of a well-rounded athlete and person. She is very kind to everyone, yet ferocious in competition. She is a serious, hard worker who also has a light sense of humor with a pretty smile. She embodies what women’s jiu-jitsu should be all about, and this has inspired me to write about the growth of women’s jiu-jitsu and what it has become today.

When women started having their own division at the World Championships in the late 1990’s, no one seemed to make too much of it and, overall, jiu-jitsu for women wasn’t very popular. There were so few women competitors in those early days that there would only be two or three weight categories and the tournaments would bunch all the purple, brown and black belts against one another, just to have a decent-sized bracket.

During those tough early days, the jiu-jitsu community seemed to look down upon women competing, many feeling that their technique, athleticism and excitement would be incapable of matching the men.

A lot of those thoughts began to change though when a young Kyra Gracie burst onto the scene. Gracie would end up being one of the pioneers of the growth of women’s jiu-jitsu, just by her doing what she does best. Not only was she an amazing talent on the mat, but she also had one of the prettiest smiles in the sport, which made everyone fall in love with her. When Kyra came into the picture and gracefully dominated her competition, the world began to gain more respect for the women in jiu-jitsu.

Gracie was living proof that women could become just as popular as the men. She has shown that through her displays of tremendous technique and athleticism, and she has always been one to provide plenty of excitement during her bouts. However, Gracie hasn’t been the only one to do so.

Newer faces like Michelle Nicolini, Beatriz Mesquita, Gabrielle Garcia, Marina Ribeiro and Luanna Alzuguir have also gone on to prove that women deserve just as much of the spotlight as the men do by showing their skill and strength on the competition mat.

Now, with that, I return back to Mackenzie Dern, now the newest face of women’s jiu-jitsu. Although the women’s jiu-jitsu community has grown bigger and stronger every year, there is still more growth to be had, and I believe that Dern is the one that can take jiu-jitsu for women to a whole new level. Her talent and charming personality could be the keys to helping women someday become even keel or even higher than the men.

What do you guys think of women’s jiu-jitsu? Do you find it appropriate? Exciting? Comment below and let your voice be heard! Osss!

Photo: Kyra Gracie (white gi) (John Lamonica/Gracie Mag)

About The Author

Gianni Grippo
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Contributor

Gianni Grippo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia and trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York City. Besides being a big fan of the sport, Gianni is also an avid competitor and has ranked among the best in the World from blue to brown belt winning 6 IBJJF World titles and 7 Pan Championships. Still at 21, Gianni looks to continue to compete for many years to come as his main goals are to win the World championships at black belt and win the ADCC title.