The older we get sometimes the less adventurous we can become in trying new things. We make excuses as to why not, instead of finding reasons why to. We become set in our ways and sometimes fear can take hold and get the better of us. This was not the case with Katharine (Kat) Harrison.
In 2009 at the age of thirty nine years old Kat began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Claunch Academy of BJJ under Jason Claunch. Fast forward seven years and Kat is now a multiple time Masters World champion brown belt. Kat began her training in no gi and evolved to the gi not long after. Since her start she has gone on to win the Master Worlds Open class as a purple belt and as a brown belt. She has also won her division as a brown in no gi. She says each time she competed in the Masters there wasn’t anyone in her age range so she fought younger girls some times as much as fifteen years younger.
According to Kat, there are numerous benefits to training Jiu-Jitsu later in life. She says training Jiu Jitsu helps with mental clarity and keeps one sharp. When you’re younger you are in decent shape naturally. You don’t have to work at it as hard, same with mental clarity. As we age we start to lose it and Jiu-Jitsu helps with that. She says your body will change and become stronger from training, therefore lasting longer for you down the road. She also adds that with training your awareness deepens.
“I think there’s an awesome sense of worth no matter what age you start Jiu Jitsu. When you are over 40 it just confirms that there is still lots of life left and there is tons of stuff you can still do and do for the rest of your life.”
Kat’s thirst for knowledge has extended beyond the walls of her academy. She is an avid believer in the benefits of cross training at other academies. According to Kat she says that cross training is important for a student to evolve. By training with the same partners you will get very familiar with her/his team mate’s movements and fall into a false sense of security. She believes training with new people regularly keeps one’s Jiu Jitsu sharp and on point. She also says it is very helpful in determining if what she is learning is working. The same applies with tournaments. She says it is a true test. She says another benefit of cross training is you acquire a valuable new set of friends.
“I’ve learned from my cross training that there are so many wonderful people in our Jiu Jitsu family, so many different styles and confirms daily my Jiu Jitsu choice! I live it and I love it!”
Kat has since moved too far from her main academy to train there regularly, though she tries to make it back when possible. At the moment Kat trains at Luling MMA with Professor King Webb mainly. She also trains on occasion at Seguin MMA, NBTC, Dojo Kyle, BQuick JJ Pleasanton, Diaz MMA, Vasquez Academy, Cooper MMA, Insight JJ, Integracão JJ, Ohana, Marra Senki and with one of her favorite Professors Fabiana Borges at Gracie Barra San Antoino.
She says Jiu Jitsu never gets boring and if you give it a chance Jiu Jitsu will become your best friend. You just have to be brave in taking that first step. Kat is proof that you can do anything you put your mind to and you can do it well. There are no excuses why not to, only reasons why to.
“Jiu Jitsu has enhanced my life greatly. I love challenges and learning new things. Every single time you step on the mat you will learn something new or different, maybe about your self, your Jiu Jitsu, your training partners/coach or life! It’s simply an amazing art. I’m so glad in my heart to be apart of and extremely proud to represent Jiu Jitsu.”
Girls in Gis staff writer
Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX. She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003. She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.