Women take center stage at Arizona

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Mackenzie Dern at Copa Bela. Photo: AZBJJL

On April 16th, in Mesa, Arizona, it took place the Copa Bela, an all-female tournament for juveniles and up. The Arizona Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu League has been promoting the Copa Bela since 2012, and Gracie Mag was there covering the event.

GracieMag caught up with Heath Flicker, AZ BJJ League’s tournament director, to update the Arizona competition scene.
How was the event turn out?
“It went well; it was two tournaments in a one-day event. We started the day with the Spring Kids Cup, ran twelve mats (IBJJF mat size), and finished the tournament with nearly seven hundred kids in four and a half hours.
After a thirty-minute break, we switched the podium banner and started the Copa Bela tournament utilizing six mats. In the first Copa Bela in 2012, we had thirty-six competitors. Last weekend, the event reached one hundred and sixty competitors.”
Does AZBJJL still follow the IBJJF rules?
“The AZBJJL always attempts to follow the IBJJF Rules and Regulations as close as possible to prepare the competitors for the more significant IBJJF events.
We have been promoting tournaments and providing the opportunity for thousands of local and out-of-state competitors to get more competition experience for the past two decades. As a result, Arizona has a solid competition scene with many world champions, from blue to black belts, breaded in the State; it’s not by accident.
Like Mackenzie Dern, for example, she competed in the first event in 2001 as a yellow belt and won the Absolute Pro Division of the 2012 Copa Bela as a brown belt.”
What is next for Copa Bela?
“This year’s event was the first one since 2019. 2020 Copa Bela got canceled due to Covid, and we didn’t have an opening for last year.
In five to ten years, the goal is to turn Copa Bela into the biggest all-female tournament in the World. Our goal is 1000 plus competitors from four years old and up. We would also like the event to include an annual convention with seminars and activities dedicated to the female jiu-jitsu community.”
To know more about AZBJJL’s next event, the 2022 AZ State Championship, on June 25th at the Bell Bank Park in Mesa, Arizona, please visit www.azbjjl.com.

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