There is no bond stronger than the family unit and the stronger that family unit the more anything is possible. Just like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is as much of an individual sport, it takes a team to make that individual. The Jimenez-Muller household is one of those prime examples of where you see these principles at work. Everyone in the household plays their part and at the center of it all is where you will find Gaby Muller making sure the family unit is running like a well greased machine. Not only is it hard to manage a household of five, but image if they all train, compete, you work full time, have a baby and you are running an academy? Now that is something that takes some real skill, which Gaby doesn’t seem to have any shortage of.
Gaby has been training for seven years and is a brown belt. Her husband Raul Jimenez is a black belt instructor and together they are the owners of Alliance Team Gacho. A year after opening their academy Gaby began her BJJ journey. She said she started cause she wanted to fight Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), but her husband told told her she needed to be at least a blue belt to fight. So she started training and ending up falling in love with BJJ. Her ambitions of stepping into the octagon soon faded into dreams of standing on the top of a podium at the Mundials.
For Gaby and her family BJJ really is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that her whole family eats, sleeps and breathes. She says even their free time is spent either talking about BJJ or planned around BJJ. She says with a family of five it can get difficult to plan around everyone’s schedules. Gaby does all the planning, which has affected them and their academy. Especially within the last year with Gaby finishing school, starting a new job, being pregnant and then having a new baby. As busy as she is, Gaby says she wouldn’t have it any other way. She enjoys all aspects of the BJJ lifestyle, the training, competing, meeting new and awesome people.
Given their lives revolved around BJJ, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that her, her husband and her two sons are some of the fiercest competition in their divisions. As we all know competing can add up quickly, but she says that they are very fortunate. A lot of local tournaments help out and comp tournament fees for their sons Roberto and Matias. Roberto gets a lot of invitation to compete because he’s exciting to watch. He is also sponsored by Moya Brand and they help out with a lot of the expenses to compete at IBJJF tournaments. Not to mention he has done well at a few prize money tournaments, so he pays a lot of his travel. Although Gaby has been out of the competition circuit since having her baby girl, she plans to return as soon as she can.
While Gaby is working all day as teacher her husband Raul is Mr. Mom watching over their ten month old daughter Monique as he runs the family business; Alliance Team Gacho. Gaby says it has been a very hard transition back to the mats after the birth of her daughter. Since Gaby works all day, by the time she gets to the academy her daughter has not seen her all day and Gaby says it’s hard to just let her daughter cry or leave her daughter with someone if she’s crying.
“When she was little is was easier to train because she slept a lot but now unless she’s [Monique] on the mat sitting and watching me she will cry. So I find myself picking to hang out with her instead of training. My son Roberto gets on me about training, so at least once a week he forces me to train.”
One of the biggest benefits of having a family that trains together is that they understand the journey and can support each other in a very unique way. They understand the hardship and sacrifices that goes into competing. They can coach each other from the sidelines, share in each others victories and encourage each other in their losses. She says her daughter at the age of ten months has already gone to to fifteen competitions. Which is more competitions than most adults will in their whole lives. It is not often that you see a family so talented and driven, but it is the strength of their family unit that is the secret of their success.
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.