My name is Shanie Rusth and I am competitive mixed martial artist with a professional fighting record of 2-0, Franchise Development Associate for UFC GYM, and most importantly, a mother of two spunky and wonderful children. MMA has been an integral part of my life and shaped me into the woman I am today. My first experience on the mats was as a teenager, as a sophomore in highschool. My older neighbors were high school wrestlers and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners and their garage was matted out into a makeshift training room. I used to skateboard past their house every day and watch them grapple and I begged them to teach me and let me train with them. It took a few months of convincing, but finally they let me in. Before I knew it, my dad was paying the boys to teach me private lessons. This training sparked my love for mixed martial arts and I have continued to train in the sport since. In my opinion, every woman should practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at UFC GYM, and here are a few reasons why.
Do you have any idea how good it feels to physically stand your own against a man more than double your size? Jiu Jitsu was designed to use technique to overcome brute strength. A weaker and smaller opponent can dominate the big tough guy by using technique alone. Jiu Jitsu is the perfect sport for women, because we can use our body mechanisms to dominate our opponents, regardless of their strength and size. You don’t need to be big or strong to be good at it. BJJ teaches situational awareness, and how to properly disable and escape an attacker in a real-world defense situation. The scary fact is that 1 in 6 women have been sexually assaulted in the US. I love having the peace of mind, knowing that I am a 130 lb female who is perfectly capable of submitting a 6’3” 225 lb man if he were to knock me to the ground and get on top of me. Training in Jiu-Jitsu at UFC GYM will leave women feeling the same way that I do, confident that I can defend myself against an attacker using the techniques I have learned throughout my training.
BJJ is good for the mind, body, and soul. Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle has become the norm for modern society. Much of our day is spent sitting, whether it be behind the wheel, at a desk, or in front of some sort of monitor. BJJ is a great way to get your body limber, increase flexibility, improve strength, burn calories, and use your brain, all while relieving stress! The close body contact of the sport promotes awareness, focus, and a sense of euphoria. You are forced to be mindful and present in the moment. Trust me, it’s pretty hard to be distracted by the things that are stressing you out in life when your opponent is on top of you, trying to take one of your limbs. Jiu Jitsu is a mentally compelling combat sport. Learning a new technique requires as much (and sometimes even more) brain power than movement. This is why BJJ is sometimes called ‘the human chess match’. You must always think steps ahead to catch your opponent. The overall benefits to not only your body, but your mind is a key reason Jiu Jitsu is beneficial for women.
It’s awesome having friends that you can roll with one minute and hug the next! Upon entering the world of BJJ, I was amazed to see the tightly knit, strongly supported community that has developed around it. There is a true sisterhood between the women who practice Jiu Jitsu. The bond that forms between the people you grapple with is a unique and unbreakable one. I have made some of my closest, lifelong friends thanks to this sport, not only through my training partners, but also with a few of the girls that I have competed against in tournaments. We are all in the sport to improve ourselves and each other, to empower one another, to set good examples for the girls in younger generations, and by breaking the norms of what society says woman is capable of and by showing what a strong female figure can be.
I could not imagine my life without BJJ. As women, it is our responsibility to be able to protect ourselves, our children, and our loved ones. It is our duty to stay healthy and strong and to promote a healthy lifestyle to those who look up to us. It is our duty to have fulfillment in our lives and have fun on our journey. If you’ve never been on the mats, I highly recommend changing that.