Belt Rank: Black
Academy: Relson Gracie Austin
Instructor: Grand Master Relson Gracie
1. What do you do for a living?
I own & operate my Jiu Jitsu academy, The Relson Gracie Austin Association. I teach 6 days a week.
2. Are you a mom? A wife? A girlfriend? A sister? A daughter to awesome parents that let you do Jiu-Jitsu?
Currently, I'm a sister, a daughter and a new aunt! I do what I want & haven't ever met anyone who wanted me to stop training. Sometimes, people have disliked the training, sport or concept but I’ve never been told to stop.
3.Where you a tomboy or a girly-girl growing up?
I'm very much a girl and I love to play hard. My parents brought me up to use my brain and try things out on my own. I have always been very interested in sports and physical adventures, especially when the outdoors will be involved. I gravitate towards men (except for my most awesome ladies) because they usually like to play the most with less regard of getting dirty, destroying clothes, going all out on an adventure, etc. I enjoy riding bikes, hiking and exploring outdoors.
4. Did you grow up doing other sports?
In middle school and into played volleyball then basketball took over. After high school, I trained in some muay thai but that was limited and then Jiu Jitsu took over completely. I love playing almost anything. I really enjoy riding bikes.
5. How did you find BJJ?
I was introduced and lead into Jiu Jitsu through an ex-boyfriend. He was my instructor up until mid-purple when I decided he was ill-equipped to handle our relationship and being my instructor. I spoke with Relson and he took over ultimately at that point.
6. How often do you train?
It never seems like enough but I'm on the mats everyday.
7. What is the one thing that keeps you from training some days?
Teaching, not because it’s a burden but I can’t drop the ball. I really don’t want to half-ass my instructor roll and the duties that go into that.
8. Have you ever wanted to quit?
I have never even considered quitting. I sometimes would like to wake up and be able to jet set to competitions and go on a vacation. It’s hard to not pack the gi. It’s hard to go somewhere and not be able to get on the mats. I don’t think I will ever stop training.
9. What drives you or inspires you to keep training?
It's my life. I feel good when I'm on the mats and the level of tired from training is something I look for and use to relax. I'm not even done learning and when I meet new people, I get further inspired. I like to know why they do things or how they let Jiu Jitsu guide them.
I really enjoy seeing people discover something in themselves which they had never been aware of or known their own potential. I like to witness the Aha! moments.
10. Do you compete? Why or why not?
I've competed plenty and because I truly enjoy it. I haven't been able to keep up the pace since I'm concentrated on my academy & students. I have gotten in one here or there but have failed to devote the necessary time to myself for the intent to knock out a series or just compete on a normal schedule.
11. Where do you think the drive inside you to fight comes from? (whether you compete or not)
I'm not fighting. I'm playing. I use my training and technique to hone my skills so that I won't have to fight or if made to do so, will be able to protect myself from many dangers. I was born competitive. I have natural tenacity. I want to beat you or ensure that you cannot be me.
12. What are some of your biggest upsets either in training or competition?
My biggest upset in competition has been me submitting the first competitor in my blue belt worlds match and then being judged to a loss by points - the referee was removed from his duties but I wasn’t allowed to proceed in the bracket and that was disheartening.
Also, competing in my first brown/black division in the worlds in CA, I lost to ‘my#1’ Penny Thomas in the finals leaving me at a proud and grateful second place. I would have loved to have won (DUH!) but being so close is a crazy feeling and we both fought hard to the end that day.
Having to choose something about training, I'd say not being able to resort to using strength with guys & not being able to be selfish and be a student all the time.
13. What are some of your best accomplishments either in training or competition, on or off the mats?
My best accomplishment is my personal growth. I can see my gradual maturity and how I let certain things affect me has surely changed. I know my worth as an instructor, friend, team mate, and representative. I have a true JiuJitsu lifestyle and I’m sure that what I have now is a reward from enduring in all of the chaos and crazy that comes with this industry and dealing with so many people.
What are some of your fears with BJJ?
Injury, failure, stagnation, betrayal & loss of my beloved pass time.
What do you love about BJJ the most? What do you dislike?
The aspects which I most enjoy are the mental stimulation, physical prowess & cultural awareness.
The points I dislike are the abuse of power by people people who quick promotions, seminar promotions(by other than their instructor), backward thinking (people who try to make our art a perversion) and the dreaded scapegoat of ‘politics’.
Also, the term jitz (and similar to it) disgust me on some deep level. I guess I’m a traditionalist.
What are your future goals with BJJ?
My future lies with my own personal growth in my self defense and expression through my instruction. I want to be a better person, instructor, mentor and leader. I want to give people ability and guidance so they may share in the happiness and further their peace of mind.
Did BJJ change your life? How?
I made tremendous growth as a person and athlete. I don’t know any other way. I’m a hot head, competitive, very aggressive. I enjoy the guidance of Gracie JiuJitsu. It helps me tremendously.
Do you have a BJJ practitioner you look up to whether it be male or female?
I look up to Relson mostly for my JJ influence. I have a great life, family, friends & lifestyle otherwise.
If a girl was standing outside of your academy scared to come in and try BJJ, what words of encouragement would you give her?
I would go outside and introduce myself. I think I’d listen to her and then let her know my thoughts on the topics as well as the effectiveness and ease in learning or being able to apply the techniques. I’d also let her know that the next women only class is Friday at 7pm! And I’d finalize that by assuring her that the guys in my academy are like none I’ve ever met. They are quality people that I would let me sister, daughter and friends train with.
20. Any last thoughts?
Thank You for this opportunity! I appreciate the attention to the ladies that our sport is giving in this progressive time. I hope that everyone remembers that the real point is self defense & self preservation. It’s not all about competition. I truly hope you can all rely on and trust your practice if you ever need it to save your life.