”Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taught me to believe in myself, to keep working through failure, to be humble, to be direct and speak my truth”
How I got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
I’ve been an athlete my whole life. Soccer was a passion, a way to move in my whole body, a way to come together with people and scrimmage. Then I found Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) to be precise. A friend I had played soccer with had found BJJ earlier than I had and was the person who planted the seed for me. “Emera, you’ll love it” she said as I watched my toddler play.
I talked to my then partner about it and got a lot of resistance to the idea, “You’re a mother, when are you thinking of doing this? You have responsibilities, you can’t be chasing dreams and hobbies”. A few years went by and I still held on to that seed she had planted, I desperately missed feeling passion in my life. I missed being a whole person with my own identity. We moved our family to the suburbs and I made a call to the nearest martial arts school and despite my ex husband’s resistance and ultimatums, I signed up at what is now Silver 7 for kickboxing classes to get in shape.
For about 6 months I watched the BJJ crowd train after my class and mustered up the courage to try it out at which point I absolutely fell in love. In BJJ I found an exciting way to be an athlete again, learn something new, and move in and with my entire body. I barely trained over the next few years while going through my divorce, but finally I signed up for a class with Brandon Keel and it was unlike anything I’d experienced.
The music, the energy, the effective jiu jitsu, I was hooked. I began training daily, working hard to create a space for women to feel comfortable trying it out so I could have female training partners. Slowly Brandon and I built an incredible program and community with competitive athletes, and a huge group of women sometimes outnumbering the men.
The impact of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at this point in my life is difficult to articulate as it feels vast and all encompassing. I found a way to be present in my body. When I train, there is nothing else I think about then what I’m doing on the mats. This brought me back to feeling fully connected with myself which in and of itself is a huge achievement for me.
This new skill I’ve learned and continue to learn has given me confidence, self advocacy skills, and an identity so much more representative than just ‘mom’. All these changes and enhancements have made me feel more connected to who I am and my own purpose than ever before. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taught me to believe in myself, to keep working through failure, to be humble, to be direct and speak my truth, to trust in the process and in my hard work. I have never felt more sure of myself, more human, and more connected than I do on the mats.
I have found some of my favourite people training and competing, and built friendships I will carry through life. I have found support through some very difficult moments of my life, and a community unrivaled by any I’ve ever been part of. Having people see me for who I am, value me as I am, and give me space to feel safe and heard is truly life-changing as a woman. To feel lifted up when I needed it, to feel a sense of belonging, to be supported in my studies and chasing dreams is an incredible thing to gain from something that was once supposed to just be my hobby.
When you feel completely accepted for who you are, supported in your journey of healing or self improvement, valued as a human being, respected, safe, and connected to other people who care, there isn’t much you can’t achieve. Fighting people in a consensual way as we do in BJJ is a very efficient way to build trust, see people for who they are, and build the kind of intimacy needed to feel truly connected and respected by those around you.
Monday-Friday: 11am – 9pm
Saturday: 9am – 2pm
Sunday: 9am – 2pm