As we go through our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, it’s so easy to care about things that just don’t matter. We get so caught up in the “sport” aspect of BJJ and forget about the spiritual side of the martial art. We forget to appreciate the internal struggle we face as we experience victory and defeat, and the deep relationships forged as a result of this common ground. These relationships in turn make dealing with life’s hardships a little less painful.
Cheri Muraski of Fort Collins, Colorado reminds us of exactly what is important and she inspires us beyond measure. When we received the nomination email from Cheri’s friend and training partner Rossie Shaffer, we couldn’t wait to share her inspiring story with everyone.
World meet Cheri.
Fenom: Hi Cheri! Tell us about yourself and your BJJ training life. How did you get started? How long have you been training? Where do you train?
Hi my name is Cheri. I’m 31 years old and I train at Mcmahon BJJ in Fort Collins, Colorado and hold the rank of blue-belt. My two sons Ryan and Christian train BJJ. My 9-year old son Ryan started when he was six. My husband started after him, I started after my husband, followed by Christian. I actually was not thinking of training but shortly after Kevin started he came home and said “let me show you this arm bar I just learned” He tackled me and armbared me. (My husband and I have always been competitive with one another) when he armbared me I was unable to get out. Shortly after that happened I signed up. We have been training ever since.
Fenom: How do you balance your regular family life with BJJ? What are some of the challenges and rewards?
We have always been lucky enough to train as a family. The kids classes are scheduled right before the adult class so we are able to just stay there. Kevin had been self-employed and I have been lucky enough to configure my work schedule around class. We were training about 4-5 times a week. Three months ago Kevin passed away suddenly. After he passed I thought I would never be able to return to BJJ. This was something we always did together. I have always felt close to our school but now I consider everyone there family. I can’t even begin to tell you the love and support our family has received. I now train 6 days a week and double up my training 2 out of those 6 days. BJJ is the only thing that helps right now emotionally and physically. My coaches and training partners at Mcmahon BJJ and our sister school Easton BJJ mean the world to me.
Fenom: Do you think all women should compete? Please explain your answer.
I am just starting to get in the competition scene. I have competed three times to date. The most recent event was the Fight to Win tournament in Denver, Colorado where I took first place in Gi and third place in No Gi! I am also planning to compete in Pan Ams this spring. My advise to other women is to train when ever you can and just have fun. I think all women should at least try it once. Step onto the mat without the pressure of winning or loosing. If you win awesome, if you loose you’ll at least know you had the guts to give it a shot.
Fenom: Can you share some of your short and long term goals for your personal BJJ journey and your family?
My long term goal has always been to get my black belt. However without Kevin here I am just trying to make it through the next minute so I can’t really say.
Fenom: If you could name the one thing you love most about training BJJ, what would that be?
Without a doubt, the people. It doesn’t matter if I walk into our school or one of our sister schools, I always feel welcome. The growing women’s BJJ community in our area gives me a whole new way to enjoy the people. We just started a women’s only class on Sundays at Easton BJJ and it is awesome! A special thanks to my coaches Tessa and Finnie McMahon, and Alistair Macdonald for encouraging me to be better.
Fenom: Cheri, thank you for letting us share your story with our readers. You are an inspiration to us all and we’ll be on the look out for you as you rise through the ranks! See you at black belt!
In memory of Kevin Muraski.