You think the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community is small, let’s go back 80 years and you’ll realize just how small it really was. If you trace all the lineages back you’ll find that it all started under one roof and with one family. At first there was one academy where everyone trained together and over time there were many. With each new academy that popped up a new branch grew and the lineage spider webbed out. Let’s just say that not every time a new branch formed was it amicable. In many cases rivalries were formed, some which we still see today. During this period the art continued to evolve and the techniques became “secret”. Academies would battle it out to prove that their style was the best of the best. Keeping one’s technique secrets was vital to their success in each battle. Sharing the secret teachings of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the “enemy” was considered unforgivable.
Fast forward to present day and things have most certainly changed with the introduction of Youtube and the internet Brazilian Jiu Jitsu “secrets” are now available at your finger tips with a click of a button. Prominent black belts have online courses, DVDs and teach seminars worldwide. But the acceptance of this new age is not for all. Some still hold tightly to the principals of the past and refuse to embrace this new era of open information.
Mindy Poehl Yager, a purple bet at Select Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Waco, Texas, owns and runs the academy with her husband Lance Yager. She believes in the power of knowledge and that being a Jiu Jitsu hoarder doesn’t serve anyone. According to Mindy sharing your Jiu Jitsu knowledge with others is crucial to the success of all. Because after all there is no I in team.
“I want those around me to get better, not just myself. If I have a cool move I am working on, I’ll mention it to my sparring partner. Don’t try and hoard all of the tips and secrets to yourself just so you can beat your teammate. When your teammates get better, it pushes you to get better, as well.”
Mindy been training for five years because she says at the time she was tired of ordinary workouts in gyms, like lifting weights or jogging on treadmills. For Mindy Jiu Jitsu was a fun way to work out without feeling like you were working out and it made her feel tough. She began her Martial Arts training first with Striking classes, which led to “MMA classes”, which then led to Jiu Jitsu.
Mindy didn’t go into Jiu Jitsu with ambitions of Jiu Jitsu evolving into her livelihood, but it is funny how life works out that way. Mindy began training prior to meeting her husband and she says that having this common passion has helped to strengthen their relationship. Each day they work side by side sharing something they love with students and friends. She couldn’t ask for more.
Since starting their own academy and the birth of their son, Mindy says she hasn’t trained as hard as she previously was before. Although she still gets a lot of mat time in, it is a lot more drilling than sparring. Between chasing after the baby, helping students, or doing work around the academy she doesn’t get as much “me” time as she used to. However she says when she needs “me” time on the mats she has the support of her husband who will either train with her or watch their son while Mindy gets in some training. Off the mats, her “me” time comes when her husband drops the baby off at Parents Day Out and lets her take her time getting to the academy.
According to Mindy the biggest benefits of Jiu Jitsu for her has been building self confidence, awareness and camaraderie. She says she loves being able to share Jiu Jitsu with people and help impact our community. Not to mention Jiu Jitsu is fun.
“Each sparring session is different. Everyone matches up differently with other people. Jiu Jitsu teaches real moves that could hurt someone else and allow someone to protect themselves in a real life situation- But the way we “play” Jiu Jitsu in class allows us to tap before we get hurt. And then we shake hands and spar again.”
To read more about Mindy’s adventures check our her blog at Jits My Life
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.