I started back to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tonight after taking a month off to see my family back in Texas. If you are interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and think you’d get a kick out of regularly seeing me be submitted, make sure to follow this page and check back regularly!
I became interested in Mixed Martial Arts over 10 years ago when I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few of the guys I went to high school with were really into it and UFC was extremely popular since wrestling was big in Oklahoma. My favorite fighter was Forrest Griffin. I wasn’t really aware of any gyms in Tulsa that would train teenage girls but I did go to a few Jiu-Jitsu tournaments that a friend entered, as a spectator. I really enjoyed attending the tournaments and wanted to try but was too scared.
Fast forward to 2018 in NYC and I became friends with a guy who was a member of a kickboxing and grappling gym and another guy who trained Jiu-Jitsu regularly. They both convinced me (along with a few other friends online) that I could do it and that it wouldn’t be as bad as I was imagining. I was a super small kid and when I took Judo for a few months in Hawaii I remember even the warmups before every practice being so hard. I was scared I would show up to one of these gyms and embarrass myself, not to mention the gyms in Midtown Manhattan are crazy expensive.
I put it off again and then the pandemic hit in March of 2020. Fast forward about a year and I joined several neighborhood Facebook groups in my area. One day another female posted in one of the groups inquiring about Jiu-Jitsu classes in our neighborhood and someone responded telling us to check out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Washington Heights. I decided to face my fears and anxieties and sign up for a trial–after 12 years of debating and being too scared to try, I finally bit the bullet!
I don’t regret it at all! The coach trains under Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro in his Times Square facility and is a Purple belt. He offers kids classes too. NONE of the hundreds of things I was scared of happened–all of the anxieties I had were pointless. I haven’t embarrassed myself, I wasn’t too out of shape, and even though I am the smallest person in the class, everyone has been really supportive, kind, and helpful while teaching me. Tonight I have my first class as a full member of the gym!
One great thing I love about this gym is that it isn’t cost-prohibitive like the Gracie schools in lower Manhattan. This is the cost of my investment so far:
- Trial Classes (x3): $36
- Sanabul Ultralight Gi (pictured): $60
- Sanabul BJJ Belt White A3 (pictured): $10
- Venum “Challenger” Mouthguard, Red Devil: $14
- Silver Monthly Package (8 Classes a Month): $96
If you are looking for a new sport to try, I can’t recommend Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enough. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!
The blog has been refreshed from top to bottom so take a look around. You can find links to my resume, a contact page if you’d like to work together, ways to contribute on the left, and links to all of my other social media channels as well. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let me know if you’d like to read, watch or listen to any specific content.
I plan to publish a new “project” in the coming week and I hope you all will stick around as I experiment with more writing, recording, and live chats this year.
This weekend my mother, father, and I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for a once-in-a-lifetime event: we are meeting two of my father’s biological siblings.
My father is 59 years old and will be meeting members of his biological family for the first time thanks to something many of you may have tried: a commercial DNA test—an Ancestry.com DNA test to be exact.
I found out my dad was adopted at a young age—I don’t remember just how young but certainly before 2nd grade. Beginning in earnest around 5th grade, I attempted to find his biological family—this mostly consisted of combing through digital copies of newspapers or making posts on discussion boards.
I’m a naturally curious person and have always loved to do research but I can’t really tell you why I wanted to find his biological family. I know a big reason was my desperation to have a culture. Growing up in Hawai’i I always felt so, so left out and lesser than for not having a culture, language, or group to belong to—I thought if I could find my dad’s family that would be the key to unlocking my culture and all the amazing things that come along with having one. I was in 5th grade and obviously didn’t understand the larger implications of this but none the less it motivated me back then.
I was extremely close to his adoptive parents, even closer than I was to my own maternal, biological grandparents. They liked movies and music and were well educated. I was able to go to their house and listen to cool records, read interesting books, watch films, and hear all about politics and history. My father’s adoptive father died when I was in 5th grade and his adoptive mother came to live with us shortly thereafter. She was dying of brain cancer at the time and was also suffering from several chemical dependencies. During her time living with us and during end-of-life care she told my mother and father details about his biological family that no one had known. She told us his biological family was from South Carolina, that his mom’s husband was a Postman who had been killed in an accident, and that she had several other small children to care for alone.
My father was born at Saint Joseph’s hospital in Savannah, Georgia on December 28, 1959. His adoptive mother was a nurse at the hospital and after struggling with infertility she and her husband began the adoption process through the Catholic Church. The hospital contacted them immediately when my father was born and they were connected with a social worker who relayed details about his biological family and finalized the adoption. During that time, the State of Georgia “blacked out” all birth certificates of adoptees so there was no way for anyone to gain any information about my father’s biological family.
After adopting my father, his parents relocated to Athens, Georgia, finally settling in Carrollton, Georgia in the early 1960s.
Throughout my life, I begged my father to find his biological family but he was never interested in doing so. He never presented any objections beyond saying he felt he had a good childhood and didn’t need a new family.
When he became a grandfather in 2009 I asked again and he relented. After a couple of years of back and forth, he agreed to hire an agency to find his family. The agency successfully found his 80+-year-old mother. He was permitted to write her a letter and he did so but her response wasn’t what he had hoped. She responded to his letter and while the agency would not pass the letter on they agreed to read the letter to my father: his biological mother was not interested in establishing a relationship with him. They relayed a few other details over the phone but since my father didn’t have a way to record, reread, or take down the details, that was the end of the line.
I had been pushing him to follow through with this process for 20 years and when he finally agreed he was met with further rejection from someone he’d never met. The one friend I confided in said I should have just left things alone and that things happened the way they were supposed to in the past so I shouldn’t have pushed to change them now…I felt extremely guilty.
A year or two afterward, I asked my mother to buy DNA tests in a last-ditch effort to find some additional information. My mother and I ordered Ancestry.com DNA tests. My father lives and works overseas so we planned to get him one at a later date. We spit into the tubes and mailed them off.