Abi DeBass ’24 recently won a gold medal at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Jiu-Jitsu CON International, held Nov. 9-11 in Las Vegas, NV.
“Though I had an uncontested bracket, I elected for and won an exhibition match and came home with a gold medal and a promotion to yellow belt,” explained DeBass. “Participating in and winning at this championship was a great personal achievement. Much of the time in jiu-jitsu competition I step onto the mat expecting to lose, as most of my competitors are male, often giving them some distinct advantages. It is very hard to participate in a sport that is strongly male-dominated.”
Prior to this competition, DeBass had never competed against a female of equal size or technique. At the tournament she and another competitor were the only females of their age, weight, and rank in their brackets. IBJJF allows for competitors in such a position to elect to fight outside of their individual divisions if both agree.
“My match was with another female who was ranked two belts above me,” she said. “It was scary waiting to compete knowing that she had potentially longer training, more training, and more experience than I had. We were both thankful to have a worthy opponent and it was very rewarding to finish with a win. This also showed me how different it is competing against a female versus a male.”
In February 2022, DeBass will transition from competing as a junior to an adult and looks forward to joining more competitors as there are typically more adult females than there are those in youth and junior divisions.
“I look forward to stepping on the competitive mats as a female adult,” she said. “I also golf competitively and will be focusing on that for the next term. Spring will bring an exciting mix of golf competitions with some jiu-jitsu mixed in when possible.”