The joys and challenges of being a BJJ Mom

alex lee

We salute all the moms and BJJ moms out there!

No matter how much you love and enjoy BJJ, training day in and day out isn’t easy. It’s a grind, and one that only the most committed and dedicated are willing to undergo. But just try imagining what many BJJ moms have to go through to pursue their grappling goals, and you’ll feel you’ve got it easy.

Many BJJ moms have full-time jobs, and they still find the time and drive to keep training after a pregnancy that required a lot from them physically, emotionally, and mentally. And despite all these, they manage to give their kids the time and attention they need and deserve.

What keeps these BJJ moms going is pretty astounding, but don’t take our word for it; let these Pinay grapplers tell you about the joys and challenges of being a BJJ mom.

MC Aquino Bartolome

mc batolome

MC and husband/ teammate Bart have a 2-year-old named Thiago, whom they take to BJJ training at Project Lifestyle Manila in Ortigas. Being in the gym with teammates who’ve become like family has helped MC bring her two passions–motherhood and Jiu-jitsu–together.

“Being a mother doesn’t come with a manual, and it is literally a 24/7 job,” she says. “I’m a hands-on mom and when we train, we bring Thiago to the gym. I’m lucky that my teammates/sisters play with him and take care of him. I also think that it is a nice way to introduce Jiu-jitsu to him even at an early age.”

After she gave birth to Thiago, MC didn’t get as much mat time as she’d like, but she sees motherhood as both a blessing and a duty at the same time.

“I think motherhood helped me to be more disciplined, responsible, and it changed my perspective! Before, I’d only think about myself, stay at the gym most of the time, and train even when I’m sick, but now there is a little cute human who looks up to me, so I make sure that I am a good example for my son. I’m quite strict with Thiago because I know it is a big responsibility to raise a gentleman on and off the mats.”

Marikit Alto Uychoco

marikit uychoco

Marikit trains BJJ at KMA Fitness in Makati with her husband Arnell. They have three sons: Daniel and Noah, who also compete in BJJ, and a 4-year-old named Gabriel. Training BJJ with her entire family has given her a unique bond with her kids and ensures her that her sons are dedicating their time to something safe and beneficial.

“It’s great because I know exactly what the sport entails since I do BJJ myself. So I’m not that scared of my sons being injured anymore,” she says. “Since I know [my sons], I also know what can help them get better at the sport. It has drawn us closer as a family. No downsides.”

Marikit also says that BJJ has made her a better mother, and vice versa. “BJJ has made me a better person, which made me a better mother. I’m calmer, more in control of my emotions, and stronger.”

“Maybe motherhood has made me better at BJJ because I know how it feels to be very protective of my sons, so there is a strength there…but that’s just me. I wouldn’t say it is true for everybody,” she adds.

Marikit says that both motherhood and BJJ take time and patience. And if you feel confused or lost in either, then have no fear: You’ll get there.

“Motherhood is something you get better at as time goes by,” she says. “And you can see and feel the rewards, with the love you have with your sons. BJJ? It is a hard sport, but when you get the hang of it, it gets so much fun and becomes addictive. They both entail a lot of patience and hard work. Nobody is good at both in the beginning, so you learn as you keep working on them.”

Sarah Antonio-Tagle

sarah tagle

Sarah and husband Erwin train at and manage Ultimate Fitness in Metrowalk, which has become a familiar playground for their 1-year and 3 month-old daughter Ellie. For Sarah, BJJ didn’t just help her get back in shape, but it also helped her deal with postpartum anxieties.

“Two days after my first BJJ tournament, I found out I was pregnant,” Sarah says. “I stopped training for almost a year. Three months after giving birth, I started training again. Jiu-jitsu really helped me a lot with my postpartum anxieties; it helped me feel better about myself. I gained new friends that became family. The losing weight part is just a bonus. And yes, it helped me lose my baby weight fast with the help of other programs like Fight Form. Balancing motherhood and Jiu-jitsu is a bit challenging, especially when you’re exclusively breastfeeding your baby, but when you really want something, you will do everything that you can to try to work it out.”

“I guess I’m just lucky that my husband owns a gym i get to train, bring my baby, and work at the same time!”

Alexandria Natividad Lee

Alexandria Lee
Photos by Stanley Ong

Alexandria is a BJJ blue belter under Deftac-Ribiero and mother of two. She trains BJJ with her husband Alvin, and she kept training up until the day she gave birth. Motherhood, she says, has fueled her to pursue her BJJ dreams even more.

“Becoming a mother of two has only made me more inspired and mentally stronger as a grappler,” she shares. “Even though there are time constraints when it comes to getting mat time, my lack of training does not create a hindrance from me joining competitions. I’m lucky if I get to train consistently for 2 weeks for the competition, but there were also circumstances that only allowed me to train 1-2 days the entire month. With or without training, I still go out there and give it my all during my matches because jiu-jitsu is truly my passion and it’s my willpower that keeps me going to fight. In essence, motherhood has taught me to welcome challenge.”

Alexandria has her hands full with Xander, 2, and Kyra, 6 months, but she believes that BJJ has a key role to play in her life. Her advice for mothers struggle to find time to train? Make time for your kids, but make time for yourself as well.

“Balance is an essential as a mother and grappler. Planning and organization come hand in hand with the two. It means setting priorities straight and managing time accordingly. Motherhood is my number one priority, but I also need to remember that ‘me time’ is also an important factor. Having tihme to myself which is going to training in my scenario is not only physically healthy, but allows me to bond with my spouse who also trains.”

And on a final note, Alexandria also recommends BJJ training for a healthy pregnancy and to help regain your figure after childbirth:

“With both pregnancies, I never stopped training with the consent of my OB-gyne of course. I trained until I was literally ready to give birth. With both pregnancies, I did my labor at training, then after, I went home to get my hospital bag, and went to the hospital to deliver my baby. BJJ helped me have a healthy, easy pregnancy. I was able to push my first baby out in 1 hour. The second baby I went straight to the delivery room and pushed her out in 30 minutes. With my first baby Xander, BJJ helped me bounce back into shape right after giving birth. With my second baby Kyra, I’m still working on losing the baby weight, but BJJ is definitely helping me stay on track.”

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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