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By Tom Bell

Leoni Munslow believes the upcoming super seminar is more than an opportunity to learn a technique or two. Munslow, of New School BJJ, will travel to Gracie Barra Nottingham to host a seminar alongside three more highly respected UK based female competitors: Vanessa English, Yas Wilson and Gret Zoeller. It will take place on Sunday 10th May, 12-3pm.

Money raised from the event will help represent UK BJJ at the Mundials, which take place later this month in California, USA. Attendees will get the chance to learn from four of the best female competitors the UK has produced, with two brown belts and two black belts teaching and rolling on the day.

The seminar has gained support and momentum, with the UK BJJ community praising the idea to bring together and showcase techniques and talent from several schools, in an affiliation free event, for a small price of £20 to learn from and roll with several world-class athletes.

Talking exclusively to Jiu Jitsu Style, Munslow spoke with excitement ahead of the weekend:

“The seminar was Vanessa’s idea. Basically, we were trying to get girls together for a good training session before the mundials anyway and it was suggested that we do a seminar. A few people were spoken to and it’s now going to be Yas, Gret, Vanessa and Me. We were also supposed to have Anna Mayne, but unfortunately she can’t make it this time. The girls that are teaching are high level, not just UK, but world-level athletes. Everyone is doing really well! Gret medalled at the Worlds, Yaz and Vanessa both won the worlds, me, Vanessa and I think Yaz as well have won the Europeans.

We have a good, solid based there and I believe it’s exciting to have us all teaching from different academies, together and that’s why we wanted to do an open seminar, not a women’s only seminar, not a Gracie Barra or RGA seminar, a seminar for everybody.”

Munslow currently holds a brown belt under Felipe Souza and can be found listed as #2 in the world under the IBJJF rankings. As aforementioned, Wilson is a former brown belt world champion, picking up gold in 2013 and is a black belt under Roger Gracie. Both English and Zoeller hold brown and black belts respectively under Victor Estima, with English a former world champion at purple belt and Zoeller also earning a place on the most prestigious podium in the competitive world.

“There will be four of us teaching, but we want to do some sparring as well, so we’re going to have to break down the time that we’ve got and look at how we do it really,” explains Munslow. There will be some techniques taught, but there’s definitely going to be sparring. It’s a good opportunity for anybody who wants a good sparring session."

If the official Facebook event is anything to go by (found under ‘Support Women’s BJJ UK’) the mats will be full of competitors, and success could potentially lead to a super seminar road show, with the possibility of London and Manchester being future locations.

“We’re definitely looking at other seminars like this taking place,” says Munslow. "We’ve already had people request it to be in London so we’re definitely up for it. We’re not going to have time before the Mundials, but it would be fantastic to hold a seminar at another venue in another city."

Women’s BJJ has really been in the spotlight in recent times and has seen a spike in support, with the likes of Polaris Pro pledging to hold women’s matches at all their future events and several women’s only open mats taking place up and down the UK – putting affiliations aside and bringing the jiu jistu community together.

“I think the open mats are really good for getting girls together, getting competition focused and training with each other,” says Munslow. "Those sessions are really good and important for getting women together and getting them competition ready. It’s very different fighting women, especially when you’re not used to it."

Munslow believes this is an opportunity to help further women’s BJJ in the UK, as well as UK BJJ in general, and can help send a message that has arguably fallen on deaf ears in the past: “I think all four of us have proved our credentials as athletes and good BJJ players. I think it’s not just about being good ‘for a girl’ but we’ve proved ourselves and we’ve shown our games and that we can teach people.

We want to keep it open and we want to have people come along and say ‘oh yeah, I want to train with her because her back attacks are awesome’ or ‘I want to go and train with Yas because I’ve seen her up against Angelica Galvao and the very best in the world’. Anyone who trains with a girl in their academy will know they come to train and they aren’t just there to be a training partner.”

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May 05, 2015 — Jiu Jitsu Style