Talia Vaughan: Women's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
My name is Talia Marie Vaughan, I am 24 years old. I am a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a strength and conditioning coach. I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for 17 years and supplementing my BJJ with proper strength and conditioning training for 4 years. I am a BJJ world champion at brown belt (2018) and a quarter finalist competitor on the Eddie Bravo Invitational broadcasted on UFC Fight Pass. I am currently working as hard as I can to become a black belt BJJ world champion as it has been my dream since I was 7 years old. I love what I do; however, being a woman in two different male dominated environments can be incredibly difficult especially when you are trying to make a living in both of them. Even though times are changing and women are starting to make more of an appearance in both combat and strength environments, we still don’t get the recognition we deserve.
For years, I was a part of the largest and most prestigious women’s competition team in the world. I have never met harder working individuals in my entire life, yet social media platforms found that it was more appropriate to highlight the men’s training over the women’s. These same social media platforms highlight the men’s divisions over the women’s, even if the women’s divisions offered twice the amount of submission finishes than the men’s.
The same struggle of being a female BJJ competitor applies to being a woman in the strength and conditioning environment. Working in something as masculine as a weightlifting gym as a woman can be incredibly difficult because most men don’t acknowledge that the female coaches are just as credible as the male coaches. I work with other female coaches that refuse to train men to avoid being disrespected. I, on the other hand, have a completely different approach. I know I am credible and knowledgeable enough to train men. I studied and learned the concepts of strength and conditioning, and I am a high level athlete and I know what it takes to push past the threshold of being average to being the best version of themselves regardless of what sex they are.
All women should have the opportunity to express themselves and their capabilities through strength and combat environments in the same way men can. Women are incredibly timid to express their true strengths because of the way some men still view them. Everyday, progress is being made to accept the different roles women are capable of playing; however, we still need change. I swear to myself, my clients, my teammates, my friends and family that I will do my best to represent the female community. I am a woman, I am strong, and I believe that is beautiful. Strong women are beautiful and should embrace their strength, because that’s how we force change. I hope I can be a voice for women around the world who feel the same way as I do. This is the passion that defines me.