True love is like a four leave clover. Good luck comes when you find it, but good luck finding it. We all want to believe that somewhere out there that is a yin to our yang. The one that brings out the best in us and encourages us to be even better. Some of us find each other early in life and some later. Erin Longacre found that four leaf clover and with it a rollmate for life.
In 2013 Erin was looking for something new to do. She grew up playing every sport she could, but as an adult she wanted something that would challenge her. Something that she could work toward. Jiu Jitsu was perfect. As a matter of fate, her gym started offering Jiu Jitsu so she was able to start with a group and grow with them. She says it’s been amazing to see everyone develop in their own training over the years.
Martial Arts has brought Erin much to her life, but most of all it has brought her love. Erin met her husband Thomas Longacre through martial arts five years ago. Thomas was a professional kickboxer and MMA fighter for years and had fought in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League. He has always been known for his stand up in the cage, but when Erin started Jiu Jitsu he started focusing more on Jiu Jitsu too. She says although he started before her, they really started consistently together and have been progressing together ever since.
Together they have been running an academy ThunderKick Tulsa for around three years and they make a great team. She says she started out just helping out with their Bootcamp classes and running the books. However when their instructor for the BJJ fundamentals class took a job in another state Erin stepped up and started teaching the class. She says she fell in love with instructing and with their students. The Fundamentals class has evolved into one of their more successful classes allowing newbies to fall in love with that sport.
Erin tremendously looks up to her husband revering him as an amazing motivator and coach. According to Erin the benefits of running an academy with Thomas is that they get to be with each other even while they are “working”. They get to watch each other excel in what they are good at every day. She says that establishing specific roles in the beginning has helped to make this a successful venture for them both and adds that without the established roles, things would be forgotten.
As a mother, wife, academy owner, instructor and practitioner there are a lot of hats to wear. However Erin says balancing act is easy because everything works together. Her daughter Lucy has adapted to the gym life and she won’t ever know any different. Erin adds that when she is older, she will do her homework there while they teach. According to Erin when you are passionate about something it’s not hard to make it work.
Erin and Thomas set the precedent at their academy for other couples that train together. Erin would definitely say her and her husband are stronger because they learn, grow, and train together. Her husband is her role model when it comes to Martial Arts. She says the biggest compliment she has ever gotten in Jiu Jitsu was when someone told her that her technique and grappling are similar to her husband.
Knowing first hand the benefits of training with your significant other Erin is a big believer in couples training together. They have several other couples that train together at their academy. Erin believes it brings couples closer and it is beneficial having someone who really gets you right there to encouraging and helping you along the way. She also says it is so rewarding to watch your significant other compete and know that they worked on things specifically for that moment. She adds that when they excel, you do too.
“I would wholeheartedly recommend couples to train together. Your significant other “gets” you, which means they know how you learn and how you can handle adversity. They are there to push you that extra step and comfort you when you are struggling.”
Of all the memories Erin has made over the years through her BJJ journey, her favorite memory was competing, winning her division, and then being awarded her blue belt on the podium. She says that when she took time off to have her baby coming back was an adjustment. She had to adjust to how her body had changed and how her game had changed too. She says she had to work really hard to get back to where she was before having her daughter. However says she learned a lot by sitting out and watching. She attributes this to her being more technical when she came back. Erin has big dreams. She dreams of the day when she will get to compete at Worlds with her husband and this dream isn’t too far off from being reality.
Erin found more than she bargained for when she let Martial Arts into her life. She found the love of her life, motherhood and a career. She says females wiling to step out of their comfort zone and grow in something that is so challenging.
“I want every female to feel this confidence in knowing she can do anything, at any age, at any size, and at any season of life. Jiu Jitsu does not discriminate.”
Erin had some good advice to girls who are considering Jiu Jitsu. Saying “just go for it!”. After all you never know what you will find. Maybe you will find your four leaf clover too.
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.