I Train Because I Love BJJ-Maia Matalon

Every woman’s jiu-jitsu journey is unique. Case in point: Maia Matalon, a long-time grappler who cut her teeth years ago on her high school wrestling team. The Northern California native later starting training judo in college. She soon realized her favorite part of judo was “newaza,” also known as grappling. […]

Combating Teen Angst with Jiu Jitsu-Taylor Danielle Segovia

Our awkward teenage years can be some of the most challenging times of our lives. While battling sometimes out-of-control hormones and peer pressure, our teen years are spent trying to find our place in the world. For Taylor Danielle Segovia, now 21, jiu-jitsu became an essential tool to help her […]

The Evolution of Female Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competitors 3

It was only 32 years ago, in 1985, that women were allowed to compete for the first time at the Rio de Janeiro federation thanks to Yvone Duarte, the first ever female black belt. Later in 1998, women’s divisions were added to tournaments at the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, […]

Coming to America-Pri Bispo 1

Things don’t always turn out how we expect, but sometimes when life takes us on a detour, we end up finding just what we are looking for. Case in point: Pri Bispo and her family, who immigrated to America to seek out a better life. In her search for better […]

Inspired By The Next Generation-Christy Synan 1


Once you become a parent your life is forever changed. You take on a life-long job of loving, protecting and supporting your kin. Our influence as parents encourages our children, but often they end up inspiring us as well. Christy Synan’s daughter Hailee did just that. Ten years ago Christy was motivated by watching her youngest daughter Hailee train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

“I remember thinking ‘Wow! She’s really a tough little lady!’” Christy said. “The more I educated myself about jiu jitsu, and watched a few other women train, I decided I must try it. Once I hit the mats, I never turned back.”

Fast forward 10 years later and Christy and her husband Kevin, who is a Roberto Traven black belt, now own Fighting Chance Fitness in St. Augustine, Florida. Jiu jitsu is a family affair. After taking some time off, her daughter Hailee returned to training regularly and competed for the first time in nine years at the Atlanta Winter International Open. Her other daughter, Aubrie, also trains occasionally to keep up on her self-defense skills. And her son Julian is a partner in the academy.

“I believe that people become complacent with their lives and accept limitations,” Christy said. “Jiu jitsu will open doors that most people don’t realize were even there — let alone closed. It allows a person of any age to push through and past the most difficult of mental and physical barriers.”

Christy says she has become healthier, happier, and more confident and focused through jiu jitsu. Although Christy is a firm believer in the benefits of jiu jitsu, she says the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for all females. She believes that you have to listen and learn what each female is looking in their training.

“Everyone’s journey is different and a lot of the time people don’t even realize they are missing something until it is introduced to them,” she said. “I always address that the camaraderie of your fellow jiu jitsu family is unparalleled.”




 Shama Ko

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.

The Measure of a Stripe 2

Last month, I was granted a much-needed scholarship from Girls in Gis, which will help me compete this year. This award has come at a time when I have found myself struggling with the so-called blue belt curse. I got my blue belt in December 2015 and it was a […]

Taking The Long Way Home-Lora Heinen Heaps

Have you ever taken a break from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? A few days, a week, a month or even years? At first it feels like your heart gets ripped out, right? “Oh my what do I do with all this free time?” You have to reinvent yourself, but after a […]

Overcoming All Odds -Tamara Spring-Water Benton 1

Life just isn’t fair and we have no control over the cards we are dealt.  However we do have control over how we play them and that is what determines the outcomes of our lives. We can either choose to go down a hard road or we can choose to […]

A Desire to Inspire-Ginger Mark 4

No matter if we realize it or not each of us inspire each other in ways we never imagined. For some it is unintentional for others it is a burning desire within to change the lives of others. Ginger Mark may seem like your ordinary mother of three or is […]

The Further I Go, The More I Want to Keep Moving-Chelsah’ Lyons

There are many rising stars coming out of the Lone Star state. Among them are brown belt Chelsah’ Lyons of Marcelo Garcia Dallas. Chelsah’ is on the fast track to making a name for herself with in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community. Since her start in 2010 she has been […]