BJJ has given my family so much more beyond the obvious health and self-confidence benefits the sport provides. I would have never imagined that BJJ would play such an important part in helping me bond with my daughter.
In 2004, I became a full time stepmother, a term I despise given we had full custody, to two beautiful little girls, 2 and 4. It was a rough beginning for all of us. Gaining their trust was challenging to say the least, especially with the oldest. She seemed to get more distant the older she became.
We searched to find my oldest an activity she could call her own but nothing seemed to inspire her. Traditional sports, acting, and dance were not her thing. We even tried counseling. Our relationship was making me question my marriage and whether I could really pull off being a “step-mom.”
Finally, I found and put her in BJJ. After a while I decided to start taking BJJ myself. What happened between us seemed like nothing less than a miracle. We started having conversations about BJJ. We began to share and talk about what we had learned in our class. As she got older, stronger and her technique improved, my amazing instructor allowed her join me in the adult class instead of having her wait for me to finish. We were eventually paired up to work together.
I recall feeling a little awkward at first. I am not fully certain why. Perhaps it was the uncertainty of knowing she didn’t trust me played into that.
Without realizing it, those 4-5 day-a-week warm-ups, drills & rolling sessions were playing a huge part in our relationship. Drilling taught us how to communicate. Rolling showed us that we needed to, and could, trust each other. We have taken long drives to attend BJJ clinics. Our discussions are no longer just about BJJ and what we have learned in class. It seems simple but I could go on and on expanding on these two things alone.
My daughter is thirteen now and it has been 3 years years of us training together. Our relationship has graduated from step-mom/step-daughter to simply “mother and daughter.” I have learned that much like any long-term relationship, BJJ is a journey that you must continually work and build upon. If you are willing to dedicate yourself to putting in the work required, great things can and will happen.
About the Author:
Sandy is married mother of four children and has a professional Latin dance background. She retired her dance shoes to focus on her family and discovered jiu jitsu while looking for a sport her oldest daughter could do year round. She and her daughters live and train in Sacramento at the Superior Fighting Academy with Victor Vida, who trains under Kurt Osiander. They also train with the Ralph Gracie’s women’s team in San Francisco, which is coached by Christie Sullivan. She looks forward to continuing to train as long as possible with her daughters and is excited to see what the future holds for them as “Girls in Gis.”