Late 2012 I had the pleasure of meeting Liz Sussan along with black-belt, Eric Burdo here in Thailand, hosting them for a seminar at BKKBJJ. The couple run Richmond BJJ which recently celebrated their 10+ anniversary and both fixtures in the East Coast jiu-jitsu scene. So it's with equal pleasure that I get to share Liz's recent project, UNITED.

Whether you're aware of what's happened in the US jiu-jitsu community or not, I think it's fair to say we all share the bonds built on trust and mutual respect. With every practice at the academy we place our trust in others and we respect the power we yield with our knowledge and physical abilities. And its this trust and respect we carry with us when we leave the academy as better citizens of this world. This type of violence is nothing new and by no means a byproduct of BJJ or any combative sport but is by no means any less grotesque or deplorable. 

It's truly heartbreaking that it takes such events within our community at large to bring forth public discourse but let us bring out the positive and the very best in all of us to support those who have been made victims. -Luke

by Liz Sussan

Most jiu-jitsu practitioners have had serious reactions to the abuse and assaults being reported within our community. It has created a lot of discussion around rape and what kind of culture we want to create in our grappling community and greater world. People want a way to speak out and also a way to come together. I felt like we needed a symbol to show that we feel outraged but also thoughtful about what has transpired.

I worked with my friends to design a gi patch that would allow BJJ community to express being united against rape and abuse. The patches say UNITED with a teal ribbon and the ribbon has been turned into a BJJ belt. It’s been a collective effort between NHB Gear, Da Firma Kimonos and IngenuiTek who generously have donated their services making it possible to donate 80-90% of the sales proceeds to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

I’ve gotten sincere and amazing feedback from people. In just 3 weeks we’ve raised over $1,300.00 for RAINN. April is sexual assault awareness month and that adds to the importance of these patches. The patches sell for $ 10-12 each and can be ordered by emailing to Liz @ RichmondBJJ.com.

Liz Sussan's gi!