1 Jan 2000

Interview with Camilla Hansen


Camilla Hansen

13th March 2009

MEERKATSU: What first attracted you to BJJ?

CAMILLA HANSEN: The challenge. I have been interested in martial arts since I was a kid, and when I started at university I saw they had a BJJ class running. I went along having no real idea of what grappling/submission wrestling etc was. In my first class I got schooled by a bunch of people, took it as a challenge and kept coming back.

MK:Why do you enjoy competing?

CH:It is interesting to spar with somebody who match you skill, strength and weight wise. Also it is a good chance to go against somebody who has a different game to what you are used to, and gives you a chance to realise where the shortcomings in your own game are. Plus I like the adrenaline rush.

MK:Why do you think BJJ attracts so few women?

CH:Maybe 1 out of 50 guys who try BJJ out actually stick with it for 2 years or more. I believe the same statistics apply to girls. However as a lot fewer girls actually try out BJJ (or martial arts in general) the number of girls who train is very small. It is my impression that where martial arts in some ways are natural for men to take up (or at least try out), it isn’t as natural for a girl to just go and see what it is about.

MK: What differences do you notice between sparring with a guy and sparring with a girl?

CH:I find it hard to point out specific differences between sparring with men and women. I generally try to adapt my game to each of my training partners: some people you have to go light on, some you can go hard on, and some you have to give everything to avoid becoming mat fodder. It is not really gender specific.If I have to mention one thing, it is a question of size and strength. The majority of the girls I spar with are smaller and less strong than I am (or the people I am used to sparring with), which makes me focus more on technique than strength. But if I happen to train with a guy who is smaller and less strong, my focus is exactly the same, it just doesn’t occur as often.

MK: What reactions do you get when you tap out a guy?It depends on the person.

CH: I have had everything happen within the range of some guys using all their strength to “get back” at me and prove something – to others who just think its great - to one or two who have simply not resisted and let me tap them again and again. Luckily most guys just accept it and continue. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Everybody gets tapped.

MK: Do you think guys underestimate how technical and strong female players can be?

CH: Again it differs from person to person. I think it very much depends on how their previous experiences with women in BJJ have been. If they have had a wallflower or two in the club, who everybody had to treat with kid gloves, it will in many ways colour their expectations of other women’s proficiency in BJJ.If on the other hand they have trained with women who could hang with the guys, and were every bit as technical and strong as the average guy their size, their expectations will be coloured by that.

MK: Do you think categories at BJJ and subgrapp events should be mixed gender?

CH: I would love it to be! But I can see the arguments for and against.

MK: How do you react to male dominated or sexist banter in the gym?

CH: Sticks and stones. I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 15. I have gotten used to the environment I guess. Most of the time I can laugh at it as well. It is however my impression that guys generally play it down a bit when there are girls around.

MK: In tournaments, do you find there is a general camaraderie between female competitors, or is it all tension and focus?

CH: General camaraderie. The few times I have competed I have been pleasantly surprised with the friendly attitude between competitors.

MK: What are your future goals in the next few years?

CH: I have never really put up goals. I just want to get better at BJJ in general. When I started out I didn’t even consider competing, but I have found I enjoy it. It could be fun to try going for some of the bigger competitions.

ENDS (c)2009 Seymour Yang

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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