When we open our minds and our hearts it will lead us on adventures that allow us to have experiences that can sometimes change us. We can learn things about ourselves and others. It can alter who we are, our values and make us reexamine our priorities. Allowing ourselves to explore is what the human experience is all about. According to purple belt Stephanie Cantu of Rilion Gracie West Houston, she believes that anyone with an open mind can benefit from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and that there is a place for everyone in this sport. It is all a matter of finding the right fit.
Stephanie began her training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) at the age of seventeen in 2011. She says a friend introduced her to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. At first she really wasn’t sure what it (BJJ) was about but was open to try. After her first class she didn’t fully understand how to begin to wrap her head around the sport. All she knew was she absolutely loved it. Fast forward five years later and she is running an academy with her boyfriend Drew Lockwood. Between having a full time job plus running an academy Stephanie says that for her it is easy to find time to train.
“If you truly love something you can always find the time for it. BJJ is more than just a great workout it’s my therapy. After training I am mentally and physically a better person. The release that comes after a great class is incomparable to any other sport I’ve done.”
Stephanie has been lucky in that she has never trained at an academy where she felt uncomfortable, but she realizes it’s possible and hopes that no one has to experience it. At her academy, Rilion Gracie West Houston, their goal is to spread the word about the benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and offer classes to anyone who is willing to learn. She says BJJ changed her life for the best and she wants to pass that on.
Some people dream of world titles, teaching full time or traveling the world doing seminars. For Stephanie the most important thing right now is to continue to have fun. She says that if she can keep growing and building her game everything else will fall into place.
“I don’t necessary have the World Title on my mind but I know that if I truly want it and really put in the work, I can be a world champion in my weight division. I still have so much to learn and I’m super excited be apart of the growth in this sport.”
Stephanie says the biggest challenge she has faced in BJJ is learning patience. She says patience is a huge factor in her mental game and she has just tapped into this. She says that even thought she has trained at several schools she never understood the “waiting” game. In her previous training there was no such thing as a “flow roll”.
“You rolled to make a statement. The unspoken rules are you never give up any points and you never just get caught in a submission. You were SUBMITTED. Coming from this kind of aggressive background it was really difficult for me to slow things down and really focus on the technique. For the longest time I had trouble finding the right connections to fully control a position. I’m literally relearning Jiu-Jitsu and focusing on my foundation. My Professor has tapped into a very unique form of building connections and teaching me the timing of every movement. It’s a work in progress.”
According to Stephanie Jiu Jitsu creates good vibes and happy smiles that will light up your life. Jiu Jitsu doesn’t have to be idolized as a masculine sport. You can have fun and still learn how to protect yourself at the same time.
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.