This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Family, Faith, Friends & Freedom
by Jennifer Stewart

This sign has hung above our kitchen table for more than 4 years now. Each word reflects the foundation on which we have built our family. The sign hangs in the most popular spot in the house and serves as a constant reminder to us, and to all who visit, of the guiding values of our family.

Ironically, each of these “F” words also relate to how training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has strengthened our family.

FAMILY - The ability to train as a family and share a common interest has been good for us. We’re fortunate in that we all share the love of spending time on the mats.

FAITH – Honestly, I struggled with this one so I’m personalizing it to me. In order to keep balanced I need to make time to train and to spend time in my faith. Both are essential for me to live a happy life and to be successful in all of the other areas. I’d love to hear your ideas on how you see the two tying in.

FRIENDS - Our school, Nova Uniao South Florida, promotes a team atmosphere where we support one another in and out of class. I know with all of my heart that we have found lifelong friends in our coach, Marcelo Meleiro, and training partners.

FREEDOM - Training jiu jitsu allows you to be free from fear by building your self confidence.

Also, training allows a freedom from predetermined stereotypes of what a woman should and shouldn’t do. You can be strong without losing your femininity. The sport proves that you don’t have to be the biggest or strongest to be successful. It’s a matter of technique.

Lastly, all members of our family are free to train. The sports is popular for men, however, me, as a woman, my daughter as a teenage girl, and my young son, are also all welcomed and encouraged to participate.

I remember how nervous I was at my first class. At the end, one of the students shook my hand and said “Welcome, come back again.” I doubt that he even knows the impact of those words. That short statement made me feel like I did belong.

If I could add one more “F” word to the equation, I’d add FITNESS. Jiu Jitsu is like no other work out that I’ve experienced. Regular training can help you lose weight, build conditioning, increase your flexibility and tone your body. We all benefit from the regular exercise that is always intense, and never boring.
For all of these reasons, I would encourage any family thinking about training to check it out. It very well could change your lives for the better.


  1. Those little comments make such a difference. My instructor's "You came back!" made all the difference in the world for me.

  2. Thanks for sharing Megan. I try to remember to do the same when new students start the class.

  3. Cool - always good to come across blogs I haven't read before (thanks to BJJ Grrl's blogroll on that one), especially when they have an interesting angle, like your site.

    Have to admit I'm jealous too: I would love to get my girlfriend into training, so it is awesome that your whole family gets on the mat together. I look forward to reading the rest of the posts! :D

  4. Thanks Slideyfoot. Welcome to the blog.

  5. Hi! Hope it is cool with you, but I have quoted from the last paragraph of this post in an article I am writing for Jiu Jitsu Style on Families in BJJ. Have included your name and the name of the blog. Shout if this unacceptable.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  6. Absolutely. We're honored. Thank you.