May 2, 2012

FILA Exclusion of Russian Female Grapplers

Thanks to Liam at The Part Time Grappler for sharing this letter from Elena Zenkevich aka: Kimatsu.  Elena is a black belt in Judo, accomplished Sambo practitioner, and avid competitor in competition world wide.  She is so passionate about growing the sport of BJJ in Russia that recent news from FILA stating they would not offer heavyweight categories for an upcoming competition pissed Elena off (as it should).

I will let you read Elena's words and offer your own opinion of the matter.  I will say this, FILA is RIFE with corruption and issues at all levels and they are notoriously political.  I sincerely hope this exposure will encourage FILA to open up their weight categories and encourage ANYONE to come compete since BJJ is practically unheard of in Russia.  After all.... isn't that the spirit of competition??  Come one, come all.  Lets see who the best is!

My name is Elena Zenkevich aka Kimatsu.

I’m a BJJ blue belt training and competing for Alliance BJJ Russia Team (75+ kg open weight division according to FILA regulations). I’m also an instructor of Vologda Alliance BJJ Team and have around 16 students, including 5 girls.

Today I would like to share with you some of my thoughts regarding the future and perspectives of Russian grappling, currently under FILA regulations.

It’s not a secret that the number of national-level BJJ & Grappling tournaments here in Russia is not that big. And for this particular reason it’s very important, and interesting, for every competing athlete to always take part in such events, whenever they are held.

The latest news about Russian FILA Grappling Championship (Gi & No-Gi) that will be held on March 31st – April 1st 2012 has aroused the interest of both me and my students.

Therefore, we got in touch, in advance, with Russian FILA Grappling Federation in order to obtain more specific information about the application and taking part in the competition in general.

I was VERY SURPRISED to find out that we can’t participate in this event simply because the Federation has limited women’s weight divisions at 58kg No-Gi and 64kg Gi. All the other heavier categories existing under the International FILA Grappling Regulations have been excluded by default.

What exactly is the reason for such discrimination?

Maybe there is no interest in regards to heavy divisions AT ALL? No, it’s not this. Men compete there in all possible weights. Is there a lack of women athletes competing in these weight divisions? No, neither this. We DO EXIST, but Russian FILA Grappling Federation is not interested in us for some reason.

Or is there a lack of heavyweight women-grapplers mainly in Russian FILA Federation?

This is probably the only logical reason I see.

In other words, does Russian FILA Federation hold a national-level championship for their own athletes and in their own interests ONLY? Are they interested in their own sportsmen getting all the titles and medals? So what is the difference, after all, between small local tournaments and national-level ones if strangers aren’t allowed to compete, just so they don’t spoil the picture…?

It’s a pity that all this is happening, but worse is the fact that it can become a common practice here in Russia. If it does, then what kind of sport development and fair play at a national level can we speak of?

I would really like to know if this is a common practice only here in Russia or does this often happen in other countries too? For me, this brings more questions than answers…

Best Regards,

Elena Zenkevich aka Kimatsu:

BJJ 35, Vologda Alliance BJJ Team, Russia


Please share this letter with your friends and all those interested in this sport. We would highly appreciate if you could help bring awareness of the whole international BJJ and Grappling community on this issue. Thanks!

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