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Unlike many activities we can participate in, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t allow you to be dishonest with yourself.  At home, work, school and other activities we participate in, much of the internal struggle comes from wanting to be the best we can be only to fall short, or even worse, not really trying at all and obtaining results we didn’t deserve. The practice of BJJ is the great equalizer because it is absolute – we must earn our way at every level of training with no short cuts, and there is no sympathy for wanting results without the willingness to work for it. There is something profound about this. We think it makes better daughters, mothers, co-workers, wives, girlfriends and maybe even mother-in-laws 🙂

Earlier this month we announced our “Fenomenal Women” promotion. The goal was to encourage women training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to edify and spotlight their peers, and to do something nice for these typically unsung heroes on the mat. The criteria we use to select one woman each month is simple – we review an email or emails submitted by our fans describing what makes their nominee special. Although competition performance was a plus, it wasn’t at the top of the list to us. Does she inspire? Does she build bridges between people? Does she have the humility of a martial artist and confidence of a champion? Based on feedback from her peers, we think Yasmin Soto does.

We’re proud to announce and spotlight our first Fenomenal Woman – world meet Yasmin Soto. We’re not exactly sure how Yasmin does it, but she does it well. A wife to BJJ brown-belt Ricardo Soto and mother of Marco, Mateo, Max and Maya (all train and compete by the way) Yasmin trains AND teaches a kids class while working a full-time job and managing a home. We caught up with Yasmin and asked her a few questions about her life as a BJJ femme.

Fenom: Hi Yasmin. Tell us about yourself and your BJJ training life. How did you get
started? How long have you been training? Where do you train?

Yasmin: I’m a wife and a mother of 4 and have been training for about 2 1/2 years. I’m also a blue-belt. I started BJJ after watching my 3 boys and husband train for years. I fell in love with BJJ after many years of just watching them every day in class. I train  3 to 4 times a week at Alvarez BJJ and drop in at Advantage Jiu Jitsu once or twice a week.

Fenom: How do you balance your regular family life with BJJ? What are some of the challenges and rewards?

Yasmin: Having a family that trains BJJ together makes it a little easier to balance regular life — we have a daily routine we go by. Challenges include not being able to do more national tournaments or seminars. It’s harder to just get up and go with a family and work. The greatest rewards is spending time with my family doing something we all truly love doing.

Fenom: You’re doing so well on the competition scene. Can you share some tips with other women on how to maximize results while managing a busy home life?

Yasmin: Always try to find time to train, even if it’s once or twice a week. Make the best out of every minute of your training. Most of all, don’t give up.

Fenom: Do you think all women should compete? Please explain your answer.

Yasmin: I never thought I was going to love to compete as much as I do now. When I started BJJ i wasnt even thinking about competing. After my first tournament I fell in love with the competition scene. I don’t necessarily think all women should compete but they should definitly try it once. It can be a positive experience.

Fenom: Can you share some of your short and long term goals for your personal
BJJ journey and your family?

Yasmin: For my short-term goals, I would love win my division at the Pan Ams and Worlds next year. My long term goals include getting my black-belt and being one of the first black-belt women to open up a school with my family. Not only do I love to train BJJ, I really enjoy teaching.

Fenom: If you could name the one thing you love most about training BJJ, what would that be?

Yasmin: I love how BJJ techniques just work. You know how we get these big guys that think a girl can never beat them. But when you’re done with them, they have no idea what just happened! 🙂

Fenom: Thanks again for sharing your story with us Yasmin. You’re an inspiration to many people — men and women. Would you like to thank any one?

Yasmin: You’re very welcome. Yes, I would like to thank my family, coaches and training partners for making my BJJ an enjoyable part of my life!

We also thought it would be cool to get some feedback from Yasmin’s husband. Ricardo Soto is a brown-belt and is also an active teacher and competitor.

Fenom: Hey Ricardo. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Since we’re here to spotlight your wife, we’ll make sure to keep your list shorter… 🙂

Ricardo: I’m glad I can help. Yes, anything to make her shine!

Fenom: What is like having your wife train BJJ with you? Share some highlights and some challenges.

Ricardo: It’s great having her train BJJ with me! We’re always pushing each other to train. Seeing her and the kids getting ready for class always motivates me to get out there and train. Some highlights include competing at tournaments together — it’s an awesome feeling. We also learn from each other. We can try moves out on each other! The biggest challenge is deciding who get’s to compete and who sits out. Juggling martial arts training and other activities such as wrestling and school makes it important for us to schedule and take turns with our own training.

Fenom: What are some of the positive effects BJJ has had on your family life?

Ricardo: The respect we have for each other and the discipline we have as a family.

Fenom: Yasmin is doing so well in the BJJ scene. You must be very proud. Please share some of the things that make you most proud of your wife.

Ricardo: Hearing positive things about Yasmin from other people really makes me proud and it reminds me of how talented she is. Parents view Yasmin as a role model for their daughters too. I’m just very proud of her!

Thanks again to the Soto family for sharing their story. We hope you like your Fenom Lotus Gi Yasmin!