By Violet Bennett
Following the death of George Floyd whilst in police custody, there has been a surge of protests that
continue daily across the world. These aren’t just for Floyd and his mistreatment, they are protesting
the deeply entrenched systemic racism that has instigated and prolonged the suffering and
mistreatment of BAME individuals for centuries. As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete, I waited to see what
the Jiu Jitsu brands I patronized and even personally represented would contribute. I was also
interested to see how high profile athletes would use their platforms.
However, to my perhaps naïve surprise and dismay, the vast majority of brands were silent. That is
not to say that silence necessarily indicates complicity; there are many extremely valuable forms of
allyship that happen behind the scenes. However, the silence of those with a significant social media
presence on the matters of anti-racism, equality and representation within their own teams and
organisations concerned me and many others. Compared to other similar subcultures, such as
surfing or skateboarding, the Jiu Jitsu community was relatively quiet.
If you’re part of the Jiu Jitsu community, you have surely enjoyed the break it gives you from your
day to day life – the few hours of peace in which all you need to focus on is training. It’s important
that we recognise that the space we love most needs to be one that is consistently welcoming to
everybody, and it is up to us to continue Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s history of being a martial art that attracts
people from immensely diverse backgrounds. There has been significant backlash against bringing
‘politics’ into Jiu Jitsu, and individuals who have shared anti-racist resources or spoken out have
been criticised for doing so. However, Jiu Jitsu doesn’t exist in a politics-vacuum, nor is it a space
where we should choose to ignore issues of human rights. With this in mind, I wanted to provide the
Jiu Jitsu community with a way to show up for the Black Lives Matter movement whilst also
representing the sport they love.
A presale of Black Lives Matter rashguards has been created, with all proceeds being donated to
charities that directly support the futures of BAME youth. While designed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in
mind, these rashguards are perfect for any activity that gets you sweaty! Rashguards can be
purchased here with all proceeds being donated to Black Lives Matter
and The Black Curriculum. Worldwide shipping available.