When it comes to being shy most of us would hide in a corner and hope to be invisible, but not Amy Daugherty Davis. She has conquered her fears head on. Davis has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for almost five years at Olympic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She says her son was the first to catch the Jiu Jitsu bug, but it wasn’t long before the whole family was infected. When she is not choking people out she is doing hair at her shop or competitively power-lifting.
What has been your biggest obstacle on the mats? How did you overcome it?
I’m a very slow learner. I’m also pretty shy. Having to ask people for rolls is kind of hard for me. I’m very hard on myself and I feel like my Jiu Jitsu still isn’t great, but I will always be a work in progress like the rest of us.
What would you say has helped you to learn Jiu Jitsu most?
I think a lot of repetitive drilling has helped me and just getting a lot of mat time. We train pretty consistently three times a week, sometimes four with a lot of one on one rolling time. I think as a Purple belt I know a lot of technique, so the best thing I think I can do for myself if get more rolling time in and try to implement the technique I’ve learned. The longer I’ve trained It’s definitely gotten easier as well.
When it comes to being shy in Jiu Jitsu what would you say is your biggest fear? How can someone that is shy feel more comfortable on the mats?
I think Jiu Jitsu has made me less shy. There’s nothing like sitting on someones belly you barely know to break the ice! I can’t really say I have a biggest fear especially concerning being shy but I”m very claustrophobic as well and when I have someone bigger than me on top I’ve been tempted to tap just to get them off of me. I’m not one to give up either, so I’ve done my best to develop a few quick escapes from bottom positions. As far as being shy and rolling, you just have to learn how to flip that switch. It can be strange and awkward to be in 99% of the positions we get in. Jiu Jitsu is so fun and rewarding that it’s definitely worth jumping those emotional hurdles.
How has Jiu Jitsu helped you in your day to day life? How do you think it can help others?
It’s given me much more confidence and self control. It’s given me friendships I know I”ll have long term. It’s given me the ability to defend myself. I know it can do the same for others.
For a long time you were one of the only female training at your academy. Was this ever challenging? If so how did you over come these challenges?
I was never the only female consistently but for the first three years or so I was the only one of two to three girls that trained. It is challenging having to roll mostly with men. Especially when they are bigger and stronger and don’t want to get beat by a girl.
What factors have led to more women training at your school? Do you have any advice for other schools?
How friendly we all are has been a factor. We welcome people with open arms and try to make them feel as welcome as possible. Women are funny. There is a silent rivalry that seems to go on among us. I encountered a situation at a open mat at a sister gym I visited for the first time. Being the highest ranking female there I felt like the elephant in the room. My husband was sitting to the side during the woman’s class and told me afterward some of the women were talking about not wanting to roll with me. Most avoided me like the plague. I did my best to be overly friendly and assured each girl I rolled with I wasn’t going to be too rough. By the time class was over most of the girls were going out of their way to talk to me and we all had become friends. I also got some good rolls in. The silent rivalry can lead to not making a awesome new friend. Best advice I have to other schools is try to make my gym/teammates (especially the other ladies) feel like we are on the same page and complete equals.
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.