My Letter to Black Belt Magazine

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    Chad Moechnig
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    Jess
    Post subject: My Letter to Black Belt Magazine PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 2:42 am

    Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 1:44 am
    Posts: 8
    Location: Oakland
    Black Belt Magazine just ran an article in it’s June edition that had me foaming at the mouth with rage and indignation. After writing the first draft of this letter, I took a deep breath and edited out most of what I really wanted to say (just so they couldn’t refuse to publish it because of the language issue) but it’s still a rough draft, so please forgive any editorial flaws I haven’t smoothed out yet. I just felt compelled to share this with other women who really train who can understand what I’m writing about without accusing me of being some kind of mean, embittered, castrating, bitch – which is what I’m almost sure to get on the mma.tv board where I also posted this…(no doubt because I’m an idiot with a self-destructive craving for verbal abuse written by keyboard warriors who often don’t even TRAIN. Sigh.).

    Jess
    http://www.opendoorbjj.com

    To the Editors of BLACK BELT MAGAZINE:

    Dream girl??? Maybe that’s true… however, the most obvious fantasy in your ‘Dream Girl’ article, was the black belt tied around Kerri Kasem’s waist on page 148 of your June edition. The editors of Black Belt magazine should be ASHAMED. Have you no respect for the very symbol of knowledge, sacrifice, courage, and honor your magazine is named for?
    What about the REAL female grapplers and NHB fighters out there? Did you ever, for a moment, consider doing an article about one of THEM? This article just shows a smile, female, white belt, demonstrating holds obviously unfamiliar to her- incorrectly. (Probably because she learned them within 15 minutes of taking these photos so that she would look marginally convincing for the shoot.)

    How dare you claim that Kasem is ‘Leading the pack’ in pioneering women’s efforts to break into the universally male-dominated sport of MMA? What about all of the actual female combat-athletes who have been committed to this sport for years? Why write an article about a model pretending to be a martial artist when there are so many truly knowledgeable, committed, and experienced female fighters out there who continue to go almost completely unrecognized or appreciated?

    I’m delighted that Kasem does seem to have a genuine enthusiasm for the sport and has started taking BJJ classes so that she’ll actually have some idea of what she’s talking about when she interviews the fighters. As a female martial artist, I’m grateful that she’s at least making an attempt. However, I think it says a lot about the culture of martial arts in general that the woman your magazine has chosen as its poster child for the MMA/BJJ ‘feminine ideal’– isn’t even a competitor! She’s a frikkin’ MASCOT playing ‘dress-up’ in her boyfriend’s black belt! “Tuff-Girl Lite! smile, yet refreshingly un-intimidating! Spunky – but without the nasty threat of ego-threatening competence! Tuff-Girl Lite – a smile martial arts babe you don’t have to take seriously! All the ass…half the calories!’

    If this was an article published in Maxim, or FHM, or Playboy…okay…no problem! Dress up a hot T&A model in a camo bikini and have her prance around in front of the camera wearing a black belt. FINE. There’s a time and a place for everything, and personally I love the fact that a lot of guys think tough chicks are hot. But Black Belt Magazine is probably the most widely read martial arts magazine in America, if not the world. As such, you have an obligation to respect the individuals your publication is supposed to honor regardless of whatever gender they may be, i.e. REAL martial artists. Heck…as long as whatever girl you feature can legitimately kick ass, I don’t have a problem with Black Belt jumping on the T&A band wagon. That isn’t the issue. Who cares if the breasts are fake, as long as the martial artistry is real? However – in case you haven’t realized it yet, by claiming this fragile, inexperienced, novice is an accurate representation of a well-trained, female, combat-technician, your magazine deeply insults those of us who actually are. Seeing Kasem ‘demonstrate’ MMA techniques was not only embarrassing; it was a slap in the face to the women who spend hour after hour, year after year on the mats; all so that one day they might simply achieve a deeper understanding of this extremely complex and dangerous sport.

    If you want to profile a pioneer in women’s MMA, why not do a story on Debbie Purcell, Erin Toughill, Erica Montoya, Olga Bakadopolis, Jessica Ross or Shelby Walker? You want a gorgeous grappler gal to demonstrate a position for you? How about black belt Leka Viera? Or e-Bay’s infamous Gazzi Parman? Not only are these women knock-out gorgeous…not only do they know what they’re doing…but each and every one of them has worked her piece of the collective butt-off for years without reward or even acknowledgment. By putting everything they have on the line, these fighters have forever fundamentally redefined what it means to be a female martial artist.

    THAT is what I call true dedication, THAT is what I call real enthusiasm and THAT is what you should be writing about!

    Jessi Taran –BJJ purple belt under Master Ricardo De La Riva

    1st place BJJ U.S. Open 2001, 2002
    1st place Arnold Classic 2002: Submission Wrestling
    1st place Arnold Classic 2002: BJJ

    http://www.opendoorbjj.com

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    themannon
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 3:39 am

    Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 2:39 pm
    Posts: 29
    I understand your anger, but they’re running a business. smile sells. Thats the bottom line (pun very much intended).

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    luvmachine
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 10:46 am

    Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:18 pm
    Posts: 76
    i agree. Its a magazine, i would guess, that is predominantly read by men. Some eye candy could make a potential seelling point to some people. Dont take it personally. Blame the attitude women are still getting in the MA and MMA world. It’s still going to take time to gain full equality.

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    chad
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 11:44 am
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    Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 7:16 am
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    Location: Laguna Hills, CA
    Hi Jess,
    I met you a long time back at Hooknshoot and did an interview with you..
    I have to agree with you 100% on this topic and glad you wrote to black belt….

    For women to be taken serious and that is what this site was built on to promote women in real sports. Things like Black Belt sellling looks before reality sucks!

    Chad

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    scarce
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 1:32 pm
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    Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2004 4:31 pm
    Posts: 791
    i have yet to read this black belt article,,,

    but if what you say is true…

    i will grab the editor by the neck..(pencil neck)

    toss him across the room….

    and throw some hot mexican beans on him…

    latino scarce/ support female mma….

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    Rikki
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 3:02 pm
    Instructor

    Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 6:56 am
    Posts: 915
    Location: Lexington, KY
    Quote:
    i agree. Its a magazine

    But it is a magazine ran by martial artists for martial artists. They should take it seriously. Like Jess mentions in her letter, there were plenty of good looking women who are true fighters that they could’ve featured.

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    gretamobetta
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 6:16 pm
    Pro Fighter

    Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 7:06 pm
    Posts: 137
    Location: Milwaukee WI
    Jess, You Go Girl!!!!!

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    kneesandelbows
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 6:29 pm

    Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:45 pm
    Posts: 21
    I totally agree, and I haven’t even seen the article nor do I read the mag.

    Good for you, I hope they do publish it, and do a follow up article.

    I have a feeling Keri has a totally different idea of what being pounded from Mount means…

    …oh god I’m so mean.

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    resonant evil
    Post subject: send it!!!!!!!!PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 3:15 pm

    Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:00 pm
    Posts: 9
    Location: nashville
    I know they are trying to make money for their mag, but they are insulting a number of their readers doing it. It is Black Belt not Maxim.

    The letter sounds good.

    Send it!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Jess
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 3:42 pm

    Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 1:44 am
    Posts: 8
    Location: Oakland
    The thing is, I dont mind it if men view women as ‘smile objects’ and that isn’t why I’m objecting to this. Heck, I’m not gonna date an ugly GUY either. I have a word for a guy I like and respect, but dont view with any form of smile objectification…’Freind’.

    The thing is, there are PLENTY of women out there every bit as ‘marketable’ from a smile appeal/T&A perspective as this ‘Black Belt Barbie’ they have sitting on their collective laps like somekind of inflatable ventriloquist’s dunmmy; who have a hell of a lot more experience and insight than this clueless groupie who gets her submissive thrills from being choked out by fighter dudes. I’m not saying that the magazine or the UFC shouldn’t make money by catering to men’s more primal interests….hell that’s what the UFC is all about! But for God’s sake, if youre going to profile a martial artist…profile a REAL martial artist. If you’re going to profile an interviewer dont try to pretend she’s something that she isn’t.

    Jess

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    TrickyNishidake
    Post subject: Re: My Letter to Black Belt MagazinePostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 5:12 pm

    Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 4:30 pm
    Posts: 3
    Location: Washington
    Jess wrote:
    She’s a frikkin’ MASCOT playing ‘dress-up’ in her boyfriend’s black belt! “Tuff-Girl Lite! smile, yet refreshingly un-intimidating! Spunky – but without the nasty threat of ego-threatening competence! Tuff-Girl Lite – a smile martial arts babe you don’t have to take seriously! All the ass…half the calories!’

    That is the best thing I have ever read. 😀 Funny as hell, and it completely captures that whole phenomenon. I love it.

    Anyway I agree 100% and SHAME on the editors at BB mag. Tell em where to stick it. Would they have shown Joe Rogan or Eddie Bravo or any male MMA commentator in the same way? Perhaps Bravo in a thong and boxing gloves, pouting fetchingly while he shows off just a hint of ball-cleavage….. I think not.

    I remember when I first saw Kasem at (UFC 50 I think it was) with her huge feathered-cause-of-the-hole-in-the-ozone-layer hair, fake nails, fake tan and fake smile. She didn’t even know the correct terms for submissions. Watching a whole fight announced by her and that other dipstick who always gets his sentences all backwards was just plain sad. I cried bitter tears wishing Rogan would come back, lol. Seriously, were they really letting Casey Kasem’s daughter announce for the UFC???? This was like seeing Bush win the presidency…utter shock and disbelief…

    And when she interviewed fighters post-fight in the octagon the fighters were putting thier arms around her waist, grinning like dogs and treating her like a Barbie doll and SHE WAS LETTING THEM! She didn’t step away or be like, “Hey do I KNOW you?!?! Get your mitts off!! You don’t cuddle up to ROGAN when HE comes in here do you??”

    At that moment, looking at this fake and baked piece of fluff smiling like an ass while the fighters copped a feel and she struggled to hold up a microphone bigger around than her heroin-chic arm I thought to myself, “Aw shit.” 🙁

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    Jess
    Post subject: PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 12:00 am

    Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 1:44 am
    Posts: 8
    Location: Oakland
    The funny thing is that I put this up on the MMA.tv discussion forum just on a whim. I totally thought that I would get all of these guys critisizing me for being some kind of man-hating, hard core, unfeminine Feminist (as that’s what usually happens when I post there 😉 ). Much to my complete astonishment, nothing could have been farther from the truth – most of the people who responded to my post thought it was a GUY who wrote this and that I was the one being mysoginistic!!!! (Though in a humorous way). Just when you think you’ve got em figured out….;-)

    Jess

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    Mark Grassman
    Post subject: PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 11:07 am
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    Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 1:18 pm
    Posts: 1011
    Location: Evansville, Indiana USA
    Does anybody have a video clip of her getting choked out 8) ❓

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