HALIFAX: Courtney Pratt, formerly of Port Hawkesbury, broke new ground for women in the martial arts by becoming the first female in Nova Scotia to be awarded a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“I’m a really big advocate for women in the martial arts,” Pratt told The Reporter last Thursday from her Halifax home.
“When I got the black belt, that showed it’s attainable. It’s something women can aspire to.”
Pratt is the second woman in the Maritimes to posses the belt level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A friend of hers from New Brunswick garnered a black belt three months before Pratt, who was given the belt on October 7.
Having women achieve the black belt level is a great way to progress the sport, Pratt said. She’s also helping to get women involved by heading up a women’s team in the program she helps run.
“For my program in particular, we generally have 35 adults on the mat and on a given night, ten of those are female,” she said. “On the east coast, that’s relatively unheard of.
“The martial art is amazing. It might sound cliché, but it really does a lot for your confidence and, in general, the way you feel about yourself.”
Pratt, along with her fiancé Stephen Greencorn and fellow trainer Nicholas Michael, lead BJJ classes at Bushido-Kai Academy in Halifax. The three of them built the program together over the last seven years.
“We went from grappling classes to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program under MXT International, that’s our affiliation and how we get graded,” she said. “We built this program with the help of our team and the help of the owner of [Bushido-Kai Academy].”
All three instructors received their black belts together.
“It was surreal,” Pratt said. “My fiancé had been doing Jiu Jitsu a year longer than I had, so I suspected he was getting his black belt. I wasn’t sure about myself or the other instructor. It was so cool to see my two best friends there get their belt with me.
“It’s not easy. There are physical demands and injuries, you have to overcome slumps, but all of that contributes to how much the belt is worth in the end. You love it, and you keep doing it. There are hard times, but you just keep doing it.”
The founder of MXT International is third degree black belt Max Trombini, and he came all the way from Brazil last May to scout out who at the Halifax program was in line for a black belt. Two weeks ago, a black belt under Trombini, Edgard Lucke, visited the club for a seminar.
It was at that point the black belts were awarded.
Pratt offers free women’s classes once a week, and anyone looking to try the sport is welcome to come out.