Women in BJJ advertisement

Women in Advertising:

Whilst only a handful of brands of resort to it, a hotly discussed topic between women who train is the apparent sexualization of women used for advertising purposes. In this article I will put forward the viewpoints of both women and men who train BJJ. Yet again I reached out into the depths of the UK BJJ underground to gather as many viewpoints as possible. Thanks to all those who offered constructive opinions. The women whom these advertisements could potentially influence fall into two simple categories: Those who train, and those who do not.


Those who train: “At best, she would be indifferent. At worst, offended.” – general consensus shared through a quote from Vikki Todd.

As females that train, seeing models pose in a sexual manner does not anger us all. It doesn’t “offend” us all. One thing is for certain; we don’t go running off in search of that brands products. In fact, a majority of people, both male and female, shared that they often boycott those brands. Those who train usually know what brands they like. What weave/size/fit their favourite gi is, and they make their purchases based on advice from training partners and reviewing sites.

This goes for guys as well. We all know which brands have stood the test of time, and continually produce good solid products. Many of the guys that shared their opinions felt insulted that it was suggested that a woman with no gi trousers on and an open gi top would sway them away from purchasing from their favourite brands. Yes, if she’s hot, they’ll probably stare a bit. Something a few women still have trouble accepting. However, the guys see a clear distinction between that hot chick on an advert, to their female training partners. Many suggested that sex was a distraction and that nothing sexual crosses their minds when rolling, as a part of Jiu Jitsu that makes it so addictive is the total focus it promotes whilst rolling. Many of the men who offered opinions to me, said that they would much rather see a recognised athlete modeling a gi. The thought process of “Oh, {insert name here} endorses that brand, they must make good products“.


Those who do not train:

It’s hard to predict what would attract someone to buy from them. Perhaps an image of an attractive girl half naked would persuade a few ladies to join Jiu Jitsu with the mind set of “she trains and is sexy, so maybe I can train and be sexy too” (a technique that ladies who train would not fall for, as we have become wise to the fact that 99% of the models used do not train BJJ). However, the apparent intimacy of our chosen past time is a well acknowledged barrier to beginners (both male and female). Perhaps an image of an attractive girl half naked would actually make ladies think “well, maybe I don’t want to train BJJ if that’s how men will view me”. Females who train know that our training partners treat us equally and we experience very little in the way of lude comments. Now, here’s the confusing part- most men who train BJJ do not view women in this way. So you have certain companies giving women who do not train, a false portrayal of how men will view them if they decided to start training. From that perspective, there is absolutely zero positive outcome from using that kind of advertising.

A comparison was made to women posing sexually when advertising lingerie but this analogy was quickly shut down by guys, not girls, might I add. One could presume that ladies who buy lingerie are doing so with the intention to look and feel sexy- something we aren’t particularly looking for in a gi, wouldn’t you agree? The age old argument of “sex sells” was expressed by a small handful of guys, again shut down with the argument that if sex really does sell, why aren’t all brands doing it? Very few men shared the viewpoint that these sorts of advertisements would encourage women to start BJJ. A viewpoint shared with women.

Summary When I look at the number of responses and opinions I received for this article, I noticed a pattern. Regardless of gender, most people shared the following 3 viewpoints: l Using sexual images of women in BJJ advertisements would NOT encourage women to train l People are not so stupid as to sway away from well established and thoroughly reviewed brands because of a sexual advertisement l Positive use of role models was a preferred method of advertisement (both male and female athletes). If you think about it, very few respectable, well established brands resort to this form of lazy advertising. Perhaps they are hiding something? Poor quality products? Top brands don’t need to advertise this way, so maybe it’s a trait lesser brand share. Most brands use positive images of their sponsored athletes to persuade people to purchase from them.

This doesn’t go un-noticed. It is appreciated and commended by both male and female BJJ practitioners as it promotes BJJ in a respectful and inclusive manner. We are one of very few sports where men and women train together and help each other progress. Me? I’m of the opinion that if we all close our eyes long enough, these lame brands with their lame advertisements will all just disappear. As very few people seem to want to buy from them anyway.


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