Las Vegas, Nevada – One of the most interesting aspects of the upcoming Black Belt CBD Invitational is the fact that the women competitors will be paid on the same scale as the men. This is uncommon in the world of jiu-jitsu. There are definitely some inequalities that exist in the sport when it comes to the genders. As the number of women taking part in jiu-jitsu continues to grow so will the need for equality in all areas. The common defense of this disparity is financial concerns. We’re even guilty of this in our distribution of editorial content. Our female readership measures about 10%. We overwhelming focus on men when it comes to technique articles and covers, something we can definitely improve upon. In the tournament space, the differences are apparent in the number of divisions available to women. Just this year a movement spearheaded by black belt Carlos Melo managed to generate 3000 signatures in a short time span asking the IBJJF to add an equal number of Masters divisions for both the men and women. Despite an initial decline to add by the federation they responded to the outcry of support and added female Master’s divisions to create parody with the men. Bravo Carlos and the IBJJF! One area however where disparity still remains is in the purse payouts for women in many invitational and tournaments with a payout. I remember having a conversation with Mackenzie Dern and her negotiation with one promotion that’s no longer in business. What was being offered to her and a big name rival was much less than other headlining male competitors. To this day we’ve never had more web traffic from a match result than when Mackenzie beat Gabbi Garcia at the World Pro in Abu Dhabi.
The upcoming Black Belt CBD Invitational, taking place this Saturday night in Las Vegas, is one such event that looks to set the standard of equal pay for equal work. The Invitational will host two men’s divisions and one women’s. Competitors in each four-person bracket will be battling for a $30,000 winner take all purse! That’s big money, and given that there are only four competitors in each bracket means two wins gets you the money! Not bad for potentially just a few minutes of work.
The main person responsible for this event is Krista Whitley, she’s the CEO and founder of Altitude Products. Altitude produces multiple brands in the cannabis and wellness space. Their latest product to hit shelves is a line up of CBD products designed specifically for the needs of jiu-jitsu athletes called Black Belt CBD. I recently spoke to Krista about the Invitational and the decision to have such a high purse for all. She relayed to me that at Altitude the entire leadership team is run by women and a majority of their board is also female. “It’s only right that women are paid equally for their efforts and that applies to jiu-jitsu too” said Whitley. This weekend’s event will host a number of big names in jiu-jitsu. In the women’s division Ana Vieira, Catherine Perret, Luiza Monteiro, and Gabrielle McComb Lima (filling in for Bia Mesquita) will battle it out in the gi to see who goes home $30,000 richer!
If you don’t’ yet have plans next Saturday 10/20, or even if you do I’m sure you can cancel them, tickets are still available HERE.