BJJ Interveiws: The Part Time Grappler Interviews the Winners of the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition Part 3 of 4

The Part Time Grappler Interviews Mr Evan Mannweiler, Mr Aaron Shiels and Mr Francisco Arias, winners of the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition, Part 3

In this 3rd part of 4, our artists talk about the inspiration behind their work

What was the inspiration behind your winning design?

EM: I've studied a lot about Americana, the kind of themes and ephemera that represent America's history. The pin up is a good example of that- a sort of retro, achronistic symbol that doesn't really have a place in mainstream society anymore yet still pops up again and again. I love beautiful women and I think of a lot other BJJ guys do too. The pin up is a great way to celebrate beauty- its been used nearly as long as humans have been drawing. It is both a great motivator, as seen with soldiers in WWII painting planes with pin ups, and elsewhere as a sort of ridiculous assertion of masculinity.

Evan's Pin-up

As an artist I've done a lot work along that line, sort of embracing for better or for worse the mainstream notions of what it takes to be a man. Ultimately, that changes who all of us are, I think. Anyway, I had wanted a BJJ Pin Up and had looked high and low for one. All of us red-blooded BJJ guys have found (or will find) Kyra Gracie, Gazzy Parman, Penny Thomas...and there are others...beautiful women who all have phenomenal grappling abilities, far better than almost any of us will ever have. I love them as symbols because for men they're beautiful and somewhat dangerous. For women though they're inspirational- they are both incredibly accomplished grapplers and still connected with that feminine side. I think that's an example that can really help get women involved in BJJ. The problem with pin ups is that they can be interpreted as sexist pretty easily. That made me hesitate working with pin ups for a long time. Eventually I decided to draw up my own with no real intention of using it for anything other than maybe my desktop background. I found the contest though, decided to use my drawing and built the rest of the gi around her. I tried to make the rest of the gi into the gi I'd wanted or never seen. I've got a decent eye for design and tried to put it to use making something that I'd be happy to wear, happy to face my training partners in, and most importantly, happy to put my name on.

Aaron's Scorpion

AS: As you can see from answer number 1 from the above question, I love computer games, and my favourite of all time, which I always have memories of playing this game in the arcade and then @ home when I got my first games system, is Mortal Kombat. 1 of the main characters (and my favourite), with questionabley the most popular catch-phrase from the game was 'Scorpion'. I thought of this on the first night the competition was announced and got straight on with designing it!!

FA: Seymour said crazy. So, I brainstormed a number of completely buffoonish, ridiculous idiotic designs and this one seemed to be the best.

Francisco's "I'm Lovin' Jitz'"

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slideyfoot said...

The problem I have with emphasising the 'beauty' of women in BJJ is that it tends to overshadow their grappling skills, especially when they're expected to be 'feminine' rather than simply good athletes.

Kyra Gracie is a perfect example of that, as you can see from going on pretty much any BJJ forum ("ooo, I'd like to be in her triangle," etc).

Not that I'm saying that was the intention with the pin-up design, but as noted, it is difficult to escape that sexist interpretation.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thank you slidey. It is definietly something worth keeping in mind. I spent years getting punched in the stomach and kicked in the face by very beautiful and elegant (and very very fast and technical) female karate-ka so that kinda beat any potential sexism out of me, excuse the pun. When I walked into my first BJJ club and looked at women, all I could see was someone who can potentially choke and armlock me instead and to me that was an upgrade! :o)