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A couple of months ago we ran a BJJ+BFF photo contest, and asked women to send us pictures of their best friends in jiu-jitsu. We received a bunch of fun, creative entries, and the lucky winners are Beth and Zantha from Keller, Texas. Beth and Zantha were kind enough to tell us how they found jiu-jitsu and each other.

bethzanthaHow did you find jiu-jitsu?

Beth: I got started in jiu-jitsu after enrolling my son Xristian at Peak Performance. It had been a couple of months of watching him on the sidelines and I began to think, hey, I could totally do this! So I signed up for women’s self-defense classes. A little bit later I added Muay Thai and started attending evening boot camp, and beginner MMA classes. Now I’m in a class called white to blue that focuses on teaching the techniques you need to master in order to advance to blue belt.

Zantha: I got started in BJJ through my son as well. Like a lot of ladies it started with enrolling him in classes, and me sitting on the bench. For a year I watched him as the discipline of this martial art changed, and grew him. I watched as he struggled with certain techniques but easily grasped others. I was very overweight and out of shape, and finally made the decision that something had to be done. I knew perfectly well what needed to be done but was unable to make myself follow through.

So finally I bit the bullet, and enrolled in our gym’s boot camp classes. I also added beginner MMA class to see if I could learn more about what my son was doing on the mat. I must admit that Muay Thai captured my heart first. I processed the instructions and understood it better. Eventually I joined the white to blue class, and finally all began to click, and make sense. Now BJJ is my passion.

What do you like about jiu-jitsu and your best friend?


Beth: There are so many different things to like about jiu-jitsu. The total body workout for example. I swear, I use every muscle in my body. The focus of a goal, and the ability to defend myself are important as well. BJJ is also something I can share with my son. We often drill together, and he really shows what an awesome kid he is when helping me, other kids, or other white belts.

This can definitely be a hard road. My body doesn’t always cooperate. It doesn’t always do what my brain tells it to or just plain hurts after rolling. This is one of the disadvantages of being a women rolling with men, and one of the smallest women at that. But that is part of jiu-jitsu, finding the strength to push through, and not giving up.

This is where having awesome teammates comes in, especially those who would call or text every time you don’t make it, and who are always there no matter what, like Zantha. I am an internally motivated person but everyone needs that external push, and she is mine. She is my accountability partner, my BFF in BJJ, and life whom I am truly thankful for every day! We drill, we dance, we laugh, we roll. We make BJJ OURS!

_MG_4996Zantha: It’s always hard to answer the question of why I like jiu-jitsu. There are all the standard reasons that most people give that are true for me as well. I love the physical challenge. There is no other workout that strengthens the entire body quite the same way. The mental component is incredible. The planning, and problem solving that must occur in a split second if you want the advantage is exhilarating. The concept of being able to defend myself if necessary is completely reassuring. But it goes deeper than that. I step onto the mat and the rest of the world melts away. Time stands still, and I can work in that moment alone. Jiu-jitsu allows me to turn off all the other roles I am supposed to play in my life ,and just be. That is why I like jiu-jitsu.

Frustrations abound of course in jiu-jitsu just like in life. When I continuously walk into the same set up realizing it a second or two too late or even when it’s not too late but I just can’t come up with the counter quickly enough. It can also be frustrating being out weighed, and out muscled by every partner on a night when no-one your size is training. But the ability to exist in the moment remains despite all of those frustrations. The bonds and comradery that are built on the mats is another reason I love this sport.

My teammates who are on the same journey continuously inspire me, especially Beth. Over the last year she has truly become my best friend. Not just in jiu-jitsu, but in life. We got out start in BJJ in the same way, through our sons, and both love defying what others expect us to be as ladies with families in our late 30s. We both said, why can’t I take this up now? Why shouldn’t this be where I can grow strong? She pushes me to be better, and she inspires me to keep working as hard as she does. She does not let me get caught up in myself when I am having one of those frustrating days on the mats, and most of all she walks this journey with me. Beth is my BFF in BJJ!!

Thank you Beth and Zantha, and enjoy your new gis!