When we think of a hub for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a few rocks in the middle of the pacific are not the 1st place you think of. But if you have ever been to the Hawai’ian Islands you know that there is no other place in the world that has more academies per capita than on the Hawai’ian island of Oahu. Within the growing populations of women training in Hawaii handfuls are now making their way up the ranks to black belt. To date there are now five female black belts. Among them is Tracey Goodell, the 1st black belt of Hawai’i.
Goodell says when she never imagined Jiu Jitsu would become such a big part of her life or lead her on the path to becoming Hawai’i’s 1st female black belt. At first, she wasn’t serious about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was just looking for a hobby, but it wasn’t long before she was jetting around the world training and competing. Jiu Jitsu has taken her on a wild ride through life and after taking a few years off to start a family and raise three kids Tracey is now making a comeback and is ready to take her journey even further than before.
You’re just now come back after a long break. What challenges have you faced coming back after being gone? Do you have any advice for anyone that might be going through the challenge of returning too?
Yes, I took some time off. One thing is for sure, not a day went by that I didn’t think of Jiu Jitsu and training again. It’s different now with three kids. When you have a schedule and then something goes wrong with your kids; everything goes out the window. They are my number one priority. So, it can be challenging at times. If anyone is going through a similar situation, I’d just have to say never give up. The challenges make reaching your goal that much sweeter.
Now that you’re back, what are your goals?
Currently I am teaching women, adults, and kids Jiu Jitsu classes. I just want to compete more and travel as much as possible. I want to show my kids that anything is possible. I want to possibly fight MMA soon as well.
Being a mother of three how do you find time to train as a competitor? Do you have any advice I other moms?
(She laughs) It’s definitely hard to find time. Some days it just seems easier to not do it at all, but then I’m not satisfied. I know in the back of my mind I’m always going to wonder if I don’t try. I usually take my kids to the gym with me. Or if I work out they are right there watching. It’s also nice, because they learn it (Jiu JItsu) from a young age as well. My advice for other moms is that, it IS possible. I do it for them and that’s what drives me.
As Hawaii’s 1st female black belt do you think that there is a responsibility that goes along with that role? If so why is that role important and what makes a good role model?
Being Hawaii’s first female Jiu Jitsu black belt is actually pretty cool! And a great achievement that I am honored to have accomplished. I just think that with anything else, you need to just show and lead by example. Always have your best foot forward in any situation. I know a lot of the young girls and women look up to me and that is also a great feeling, knowing that I make an impact on other people’s lives. I want all females to know that they are capable of anything, including Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts. It is not only a sport for the men
What change would you like to see happen in the BJJ community, if any? How do you think it we can work to make that happen?
As for the Hawaii BJJ community I would like to see more competitors. I feel like a lot of people get belts and just like to say they are this belt rank. Especially here in Hawaii. I’d definitely like to see more competitors.
You’ve traveled to train and compete all over the world. What do you think sets Hawaii’s BJJ community apart from the rest?
Yes, I’ve been to a few places to train and compete like Guam, Philippines, Japan, Brazil, all over the states. I think that Hawaii just has the Aloha spirit in general. We come from and island, everyone knows each other, so it’s just like family.