On Saturday, March 1 the 2nd Inspire Bay Area All-Female Open Mat brought an outstanding number of females together. The leader of such a powerful movement is brown belt Kristina Barlaan of GMA Institute of Martial Arts.
Since returning to her hometown in the Bay Area, she has strengthened the community in a saturated area of women in Jiu-Jitsu with two open mat events so far. The first Inspire was held in September and the capacity was reached at 100. The second event, less than six months later, brought regulars and new faces alike to a cap of 120 participants.
The Inspire open mats work as a catalyst for females to gain new grounds both as a community and individuals. The hours spent together create lasting bonds and a network for advice, experience and news. Structure for the events include an inspiring speech from Kristina, who teaches, competes and lends a helping hand wherever, a warm-up, techniques to practice, a raffle of many prizes and time to roll with one another.
Women traveled from all ends of Northern California as well as Southern California and Texas. The youngest participant was 13 and the oldest was 68 and 62 academies were represented.
To start, each participant was encouraged to pair up with someone they don’t know and the higher ranks sought out the lesser experienced. Kristina situated the group with drills: jumping guard, toreando to knee-on-belly, kimura set-ups, and an ab workout that resembles a synchronized swimming routine. For technique, Kristina showed various ways to set up a choke from closed guard with the help of local black belt Stephanie Moon.
The raffle offered prizes from gis to DVDs to journals to clothing and supplements. Multiple companies and brands gave support to the event and patches were given to all. Black belt Lana Stefanac took over the duties of name drawing and stuck around for the girls to pick her brain during the time set for rolling. The open mat set rounds for all the belts to train with one another and the training lasted for well over an hour.
By the end of the day new friendships were established and the community of females expanded its network.
You can check out photos of the event in a full gallery here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/graciemag/sets/72157642175025124/
Catch the next event by following Inspire on facebook: www.facebook.com/InspireBJJ