A very impressive 1400+ fighters showed up at the Arnold Classic this past weekend to put forth all the hard work that it took to apply what they’ve learned over time. I was very glad to see about 50, if not more, women to show up and put out the effort that they did! NAGA was very organized and the gentleman running the tournament, Kipp Kolar, kept it running smooth and everyone got out of there within reasonable time. It’s great to see BJJ tournaments run like the one this past weekend. Sandbaggers beware: NAGA is watching.
No-Gi was the first up in the women’s division, beginning with the flyweights working its way up to heavy. The order went from Novice to Beginner, Intermediate and lastly advanced. All the women fought hard and used some great technical skills. I got a chance to speak with Theresa Taggart, a purple belt from Twisted Fitness in Madison, WI. She dominated in the flyweight division with great movement and skills in gi and no-gi. Her final match in gi was won with a very technical and tight triangle mount. It was exciting to watch someone compete with her skill level.
The only other advanced division was the middleweight division with some really tough competitors. One of which, came all the way down from Canada to bring home two gold medals. Sheila Bird is her name and boy is she tough. Sheila worked through her first opponent without worry and took the win in the finals by a flying armbar in less than 2:00. She then swept through the gi division and too her second gold of the day. Where did she come from? Bird is a brown belt under Roy Harris out of BDB Martial Arts in Calgary, Alberto Canada and has been training for about 10years. She had just competed in the FILA World Cup and won with the same flying armbar that she used to take her championship spot at the Arnolds.
I must give an honorable mention to Christina Domke, out of Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin, who set out to Columbus with her team to compete when their transportation had broke out in flames and burnt up all their gear. They still made it, but were unable to compete. I hope we get the chance to see her in future events.
A round of applause to those who competed this weekend! I hope to see the competition keep growing in the near future so that we women can get the experience to make us better grapplers, fighters or whatever you set out to be!
Please enjoy some of the photos that were taken from the event.