Lana Hunter, a Black belt of Da Firma Training Center, has been an integral part of Girls in Gis (GIG) and it’s growth. She began her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) journey eight years ago. When she isn’t wearing a gi she is a psychologist for the geriatric population. Most of her days in nursing homes with the elderly helping them cope with various problems like depression, anxiety, and end of life issues. She originally started training because she was interested in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). She says she quickly fell in love with BJJ and gave up the idea of MMA pretty early and became very involved with training and competing in BJJ.
Shanda Minney is a Purple belt under Master Luiz Palhares and trains at his West Virginia Affiliate, Imperium Jiujitsu in Elkins WV. She started training at the beginning of 2014, and for the first three years was the only female in her gym, a number that has since doubled to two.
“From the moment I started training, I was hooked on the mental and physical challenge of BJJ. Those early years were doubly challenging for me in the absence of anyone my gender and my size. Those challenges fostered self-doubt and uncertainty about my progress and abilities. The first time I trained with another female was a month after I received my Blue belt, and it was a complete revelation for me. The camaraderie and solidarity was incredible and breathed new life into my training. Six months later Suay Alaziz invited me to my first Girls in Gis and I knew I had found an organization I wanted to be a part of. Jiujitsu has allowed me to grow as a person in ways in never imagined, and I knew I wanted to pass that on to as many women as I could. Volunteering my time and becoming a Girls in Gi’s Ambassador has provided the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Of the mats, Shanda has had a varied history working around the world in International Development, currently runs a non-profit grant making foundation and has two almost grown sons.