I’ve been wanting to write this specific blog for a long time, and I feel after this recent article from flograppling.com it is the perfect time for me to share my thoughts. https://www.flograppling.com/articles/6092898-why-its-lazy-wrong-and-unfair-to-compare-tayane-porfirio-and-gabi-garcia
Over the last two years I’ve been searching the internet for a woman in the limelight in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who was facing the same struggles and demons I was . I had an unpleasant experience my first competition that has sent me through some very mentally difficult hard times, and anxiety. I was grasping for someone who prevailed through similar experiences and uses their size and strengths in a different way.
Though Gabi Garcia has had her fair share of experiences on the issue of being a larger woman and how she pushes through the negativity, I’ve had a harder time personally relating to her. She is very accomplished, but her game relies more on strength, being pressure heavy and aggressive, which is not a game some larger jiu jiteiras want to have. There can be negativity associated with women who use strength and size, where for men it’s a bit less controversial. Size comparison of women in society and sports has, and will always be an issue.
I discovered Tayane Porfirio about two years ago. After reading as many articles as I could about her, I saw so much of myself and my own experiences in her. People are always comparing her to Gabi, when actually; the two of them are quite different. Tayane’s game is very technical, she takes pride in that. She prefers to work from bottom using lasso guard to set up a sweep and then transition to a dominate position moving into a submission attack. She is flexible for her size, and has a speed advantage as well, something you don’t see with larger BJJ practitioners. Tayane specifically tailored her game to prove to people that she could be successful without using strength and power.
Seeing someone like her make her way through the major competitions and dominate her weight class and in the absolute division, is such an inspiration. In the way she has inspired me me I hope that I can influence other women as well, to continue and even give jiu jitsu a try no matter their size.
Finding Tayane has helped me focus purely on technique, and working from bottom. I want my size and strength to be the last thing someone comments about me and my game ever again. This might be something me, and other women my size deal with for the rest of our lives, but priding ourselves on being technical will hopefully dim the stigma.
I could probably write for days about my experiences as a larger jiu jiteira and how difficult it can be to find positive role models or someone we can relate to because of our size, but I hope other women look up to what Tayane has done, and find inspiration in her like I did.
Til next time!