Clearing the Way

511_lgKim Ferguson’s incredible journey in combat Martial arts is one I could not have even dreamed of for myself. She holds a black belt in Karate, a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under World Champion Leka Vieira and a purple belt under Eddie Bravo. She has even opened her own school, Blue Dragon Martial Art 10th Planet Burbank, a 10th Planet Affiliate. Kim is one of the very few women who competes, teaches, owns and runs her own school. “Pioneer” is the word I would use to describe a woman who started down a path that was barely there for women, made her way and is clearing the way for other women to follow. Kim is as smart and funny as she is ambitious and fierce.

Kim’s journey began in the Karate world when she enrolled with her son in a class at the YMCA, seeing from the start the martial arts as a family activity. She worked her way up through the ranks to earn a Black belt and a teaching title before she decided she wanted something more. What she wanted was a more practical martial art. After a JJ Machado seminar at the Inosanto Academy, she decided that was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She
began looking for the best, not the closest, and it was suggested to her that what was available were self defense seminars and anti-rape classes. Perhaps that might be what she was really looking for.

Luckily she wasn’t dissuaded, and continued her search. Finally, her perseverance paid off. She found Cindy Omatsu, the first woman to receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu outside of Brazil, and took her first private lesson. She couldn’t have gotten a better introduction, Cindy suggested Leka Vieira, who at the time owned the only school just for women and the first Woman black belt Champion. Kim then began training under Leka and Jocelyn Chang (who now runs Let’s Roll Jiu jitsu) at Leka Vieiras all women’s academy in Torrence California. Kim Ferguson had found “something more”. She trained hard then began competing, and consequently started winning.

She received her blue belt from Leka in 2005. In 2007 she started to focus more on No Gi training, and with Leka’s retirement started training both Gi and No Gi with Wader Braga (World No Gi Champion 2008), this evolved into solely focusing on No Gi. Soon after, Kim started training with Eddie Bravo. In a few months she was training at Eddie’s 10th Planet exclusively. She opened her own school Blue Dragon Martial Arts in October of 2008, beginning with kids programs at first and becoming a 10th Planet Affiliate a few months later. Kim holds the distinction of running the first official 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu kids program. She manages to balance growing this business, training, coaching, teaching, competing, and raising a family.

Kim is a fierce competitor. She won Silver at Regional Abu Dhabi, and Gold at the US Open. She encompasses everything that is right about this sport. Kim’s intelligence, tenacity, and persistence are not only some of her finest attributes, but enviable traits for anyone who seriously plays Jiu JItsu. Kim’s kindness and generous spirit make her a great student, a highly regarded teacher and an excellent coach.

I was lucky enough to meet Kim at the Gracie nationals for a moment. She was coaching and needed to be on the mat with her students. She was gracious and warm and then she was gone. Kim was eager to return and coach her young student to his own victory. Kim’s school, Blue Dragon 10th Planet Burbank Ca. has a thriving kids program in her “blended” style, which is an incredibly smart way to describe her multi faceted mixed martial arts program. Some of her adult friends and training partners asked her to start adult classes. Necessity being the mother of invention, this need led to the birth of 10th Planet Burbank. Be advised this is not just a “kids, women’s, or family gym” They offer something for everyone, from the mom getting in shape to the Pro MMA Fighter. Their two main Jiu Jitsu instructors Scott Epstein and Alder Hampel , train the likes of Chuck Liddell and Dan Hardy for the UFC.

She is further pushing women forward by offering a free women’s class on Sundays at her school, which provides a time and place for women to train and learn. Imagine starting out, without the discomfort many of us felt walking in the door the first time. Kim has created a welcoming environment with women who love this sport, and want to share it with other women. Not having to worry about getting smashed by much larger male classmates makes a difference. Rolling in an all woman class without the awkward close proximity most women feel when they start working work with guys is truly a much kinder, and gentler introduction to submission grappling/Jiu Jitsu rolling, and make the transition to the co-ed classes that much smoother.

Kim is definitely doing her part to get women in the door, and on the mat, whether they come in for weight loss, to learn and compete, or for self-defense. You can’t help but be inspired by a woman, who truly is a maverick in our sport and genuinely wants to propel us all forward to a time where Women-owned gyms, and full Women’s classes aren’t necessarily the rule, but they are no longer the exception either.

 

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