-- Jonna B.
I had the pleasure (or horror?) of refereeing for the Philippine BJJ National Championship last week. I could be the first female BJJ referee in Southeast Asia, but that remains to be verified. What I know is that it's hard to be the third man (or woman) on the mat!
The responsibility of taking care of the players and making the right calls is just too much to handle for someone who has seen how some refs have been harassed, cursed and mocked by the disrespectful players and coaches. My hands were literally cold, as if I'm the one competing! As the competitors touched hands, my goal is not to take down, nor jump to guard, but to keep focused on the match. It's such a different, disorienting feeling!
Luckily, I only refereed six matches -- four ended by submission, and two conceded to their teammate. My coach was there to check on me, too, and to readily protect me should someone start harassing me. It's a thankless job, and people who harass refs should experience for themselves how hard it is to see and take note of every little detail that happens on the mat. Every BJJ player should also understand the BJJ rules to avoid unnecessary argument with the refs. I've heard of players complaining about something ridiculous, just because they are ignorant of the rules. But no matter how nerve-wracking it is, I will do it again for the love of the sport.