Our Fenomenal Woman for April is Linford Murao. She represents jiu-jitsu ladies in their 50s and proves that anyone can do it. It’s not how old you are, but how you are old. Everyone meet Linford Murao!
My dad’s name is Stanford, so he named my three brothers Daneford, Bradford and Hartford. When they had me, they did not know what to call me. One day my mom was cleaning out the lint trap for the dryer and had the idea, Lintford! My dad said that it did not sound girly enough, and suggested Linford. And that is how I got my name!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 50 years old, and live in Waipahu, Hawaii. I am a wife of 28 years, and a mother of three awesome young men. I have a 26-year-old who is getting his PhD in Clinical Psychology, a 22-year-old who is in the Air Force and is completing his BA in Business & Marketing, and a 21-year-old who will be entering medical school next year to become a neurosurgeon.
I taught kindergarten for 15 years at a Catholic Elementary School and now I take care of a sweetie pie 97-year-old woman at a convent for nuns.
I currently train at the Alliance Academy of Hawaii. My professor is Rex Barum who is an awesome teacher who treats all his students as equals, no matter male or female. I first started in the women’s jiu-jitsu class with 5 other women who had been training for a year or so before me, and were much lighter than me. After class I didn’t really feel comfortable and felt out of place. That’s when I decided to try the mens’ class over thirty. The only problem: everyone was 30 and under. I thought to myself, I can do this! I got my courage up and joined the class.
On the first day, my professor introduced me to the class, and everyone looked at me with a smirk. At that moment I said to myself, what in the world are you thinking, fighting with not only men, but men half your age! Being 50 and female, one would think that training with a bunch of guys would either intimidate me or they would have an attitude having to train with me, but not these guys. They are the best bunch of braddahs (local name for brothers) anyone could ask for. Now 18 months later, I’m proud to say that I am a first degree blue belt. I have the best teammates who treat me with such awesome respect and never patronize me because I’m an old lady. They really kick my butt and I love it!
How did you get started in BJJ and how often do you train?
I started jiu-jitsu after watching UFC and MMA fights. I fell so in love with the art that I started watching it on YouTube. I watched and learned lots of moves and wondered if at my age could do this. I looked around for a school in my area and found one 2 blocks from my house. So I went down to the academy, walked in, and watched for a bit before professor Rex noticed me. He asked me if I wanted to come to a free class to see if I liked it. I was so excited and agreed. After the first class I was hooked!
I try to train at least three times a week, but with my crazy life I mostly get a good twice a week training. I would love to compete but my hubby is afraid that at my age I’ll get seriously hurt. I haven’t given up on the idea that one day I’ll be there on the mat to represent all the women 50 and over!
Do you do any other sports?
Yes, I play competitive racquetball twice a week, and again my partners are men. I guess being a woman and competing against men gives me the drive to win and better myself. I also hike every Thursday with a group that started with just me and 2 others. Now it is a group of 128 members and growing. We hike all over Hawaii’s beautiful lush islands, some hikes are so extreme that I really don’t know how I do it!
What does your family think about your hobby?
Nuts! My boys just think it’s awesome that I train. They tell all their friends how proud they are of me. My husband on the other hand is so afraid that I’ll get seriously hurt and won’t be able to take care of the family. I have had an ACL replacement a few years back and about 5 months ago I tore my MCL during a racquetball tournament. I know the surgery will take me out of training for 6 months and I don’t want to stop, so I wear a knee brace and just suck it up and ice it on the bad days.
What’s your biggest frustration with BJJ and what do you like the most about it?
My biggest frustration is my knee injury. It limits me to trying only certain moves and getting a submission is not always possible. Also trying to remember the lessons that were taught the week before is frustrating, it keeps me up some nights replaying over and over in my head.
What I like about jiu-jitsu is the competitiveness, the workout, the sense of power it gives me, but mostly my teammates. They are so good to me, and I am blessed to be able to train with such awesome guys and girls.
If money were not an object, which camp or seminar would you want to attend?
I would love to go to an Inspire women’s open mat, hosted by Kristina Barlaan. I so admire her drive as a fighter of women’s jiu-jitsu and yet she is so humble. Also, I would love to go to a camp hosted by Hannette Staack or Leticia Ribeiro, they are my superheros of the 21st century, representing all the women and girls in the world of jiu-jitsu.
Is life in Hawaii really as fabulous and easy-going as we all think it is?
Well, life in Hawaii is more fabulous than you can imagine. We have lush green mountains to hike in, with the most spectacular waterfalls to swim in. We have beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and white glistening sand. We have the most breathtaking million dollar homes with beaches as their backyards. We have thousands of restaurants that serve food from anywhere on this planet.
Really, it is a paradise and I am truly lucky to live here, but with every paradise, there comes a price tag. The cost of living here is way too expensive, homes, gas, food, and clothing are 3 times higher than on the mainland. The jobs are limited and the wages are very low. So yes, it’s true, Hawaii is wonderful if you have the money. Aloha!