SOLO EXHIBITION: Interview & Thank You!

Show ends July 28th, 2013… go see it while you can at Photobooth SF.

For those of you that couldn’t make it out to San Francisco last weekend to catch the opening reception of my first ever solo show, the amazingly talented women at caught it all on video. The turnout was more than I could have asked for considering that it was a holiday weekend and most people were out of town. The gallery was packed with some of my favorite people, training partners, friends and family and I was exhausted with joy by the end of the evening. Event photography provided none other than my own dad, check it out at the bottom!

Didn’t get a chance to contribute to the show, but would like to?

You still can:


I want to give a huge shout out to all the contributors that gave toward my Indiegogo campaign.

Here’s to my White Belts:
Sway Photography
James Dale
Erena Shimoda, who by the way is an awesome, underwater photographer who works with cancer survivors!
Melissa Wyman, AKA the Fight Therapist.
Christie Sullivan
Eric Knight
Tiffany Tamaribuchi & Sacramento Taiko Don
Dee Dennis
T. Kreek
National Pay Day
Steve Walsh
Leah Van Tassel
Noah David Bau
Miquel Jacobs

and my Blue Belts:
Cynthia Vance, phenomenal video artists and fighter!
Jeremy Dang
Diane Cousineau
Audacia Ray
Tara Tamaribuchi
Chikara Magazine
Candace Stump
Denise Henry
Amanda Gary
Tim & Naomi
Beautiful Brawlers
The Specific Chiropractic Center
Women’s MMA Roundup
e3 Fitness Grips

Last but not least, my Purple Belts:
Mr. Cuddles, my personal grappling dummy
Jiz Lee
Simon Modery
Dana Hoey
Nancy Maynard

You all are fabulous people! Speaking of fabulous people, check out all these lookers who made it out to the show…

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Also want to add an extra thanks to my fight banner sponsors:
Tara Tamaribuchi
Chikara Magazine
Beautiful Brawlers
The Specific Chiropractic Center
Women’s MMA Roundup
e3 Fitness Grips

Also special thanks to my bartenders Pati Gracia and Chris White, My mom hope helped me shlep all the art across town, my dad who did last minute drink and snack runs and my girlfriend for flying all the way out from Tokyo last minute to be there with me. Of course it couldn’t be possible either with out all the hard work from Vince and Clare at Photobooth SF.

Interview: Competitor and Instructor Christie Sullivan

Ralph Gracie San Francisco 2012 Women's Team

Christie Sullivan is a Purple Belt (awarded in 2010) who fights and teaches for Team Ralph Gracie San Francisco. I snapped this quick photo on 120mm film of Christie and some of the other Ralph Gracie SF girls during our lunch break at the Leticia Ribeiro Women’s Camp SF 2012. Dang heavy bags casting shadows all over the place!

FFP: How did you first get into BJJ? What were your first impressions of the sport? How have they evolved over the years?

CS: I started training Jiu-Jitsu in 2006 during my sophomore year of college. My boyfriend at that time would rave about this sport, which many people had never heard of at the time– Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I learned Jiu-Jitsu was a major component of MMA and it was also considered to be one of the most effective forms of self-defense/fighting. Also at the time, a technical instructor from Ralph Gracie was opening up a new school right near our house. I remember how enthusiastic my boyfriend was about training and convinced me to go with him to try out a class. I was always a bit of a tomboy at heart because I was raised by a single dad, but I’d say I was more a girly girl and was focused on my studies.

I remember learning the armbar from mount and the upa – but most of all I remember that I loved it immediately. My first impression was that nothing had ever made me feel so physically and mentally challenged at once. There were a couple blue belts there that I thought moved like water around me with their “fancy” moves and I wanted to be just like them. I started training 2-3 times every week from that day forward, and once a blue belt, I began training 4-6 times a week. We were two of the academy’s first few students. I didn’t realize it at the time, but to this day I am so grateful he wasn’t the kind of person who wanted his training to be his “guy thing”. Even though our relationship ended a few years later, we are still dear friends. Oddly, he was the one who stopped training after a couple years. He is still very supportive and checks in on my training and competition.

My impression of Jiu-Jitsu has changed significantly over the years. As I white belt I was eager to learn as much as possible, was fearless, naïve and wanted to be one of the old timers. As a blue belt, I became addicted to training. This was the stage where I began to revolve my life around my training routine. The jobs I chose, where I lived and my career path, all came second to training. This mindset carried into the first year of purple belt. Last year I felt I had to restore some balance in my life. I decided to keep my same intensive training schedule, but to also focus more of my time off the mat with my family, new friendships, and re-visited my plans to apply to law school. It was also a dream of mine to be a part of a women’s program. I’ve had ideas in my head for a long time about what the environment would look like. I’m happy to say it’s now a reality and growing fast.

What were some of the personal challenges you had to overcome to get where you are at now? How has BJJ contributed to the quality of your life?

I have supported myself financially since high school and earned scholarships to put myself through school. I believe everyone is given opportunities to thrive and succeed, no matter how much adversity you come from. It is learning to recognize them and run with them that sets you apart. When I was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu during college, it forced me to hone my time management and efficiency to a T. At the time I was studying at UC Berkeley, so I packed all my classes into three days, worked two-three days and trained four nights a week.

I believe that focused goals, good time management and passion can breed success for anyone. Jiu-Jitsu has contributed immensely to my life. It is a major pillar in my life. I fall back on it for strength and guidance in everything else I do. I see the principles of Jiu-Jitsu in relationships, my schooling and career. The biggest lesson is to never give up when you get broken down or lose. It has reinforced perseverance through many types of challenges.

What inspired you to start a women’s class? How has it been received? Can you tell me a little about the women on it, age range experience etc…Who are some of your mentors?

From my own experiences and what other females have shared with me, there are a myriad of reasons why women start Jiu-Jitsu, what motivates them to train and why they might not stick with the art. It can be something that entirely prevents them from starting or something arises during their time training. I don’t believe the quit rate is any higher of a percentage for women than for men, but I think it oftentimes is for a different set of reasons.

When I started training full time in San Francisco, I noticed that there were only 1 or 2 women at each regular class, but I could name at least 30 women off the top of my head who trained between the SF and Berkeley academies. Just like the men on the mat, they were of all ages, backgrounds and body types.

I went to Kurt Osiander, our head instructor in SF, and asked if I could organize and create the class. I’ve had ideas about what sort of structure and learning environment I wanted it to look like. He was very supportive of this idea. At Ralph Gracie, the dream of a women’s class and team is now a reality. Our class has taken off and we are growing fast! The average class size is anywhere between 8-13 girls. The experience level is anywhere from women who are there for their first day to colored belt competitors. The class is structured to drill fundamentals, sequences, positional sparring and regular sparring.

Having a women’s community allows women to improve more of their offensive game because we can train with women of similar body type and weight. As a competitor, it feels very different to compete against a small and technical girl, they move entirely different and leave much less space. When you are on the mat training with men, you can develop strong defenses, but practicing hitting your sweeps and submission is often more challenging. Practicing on a similar body type allows you to perfect it and then you are more likely to be able to use it on different body types.

The females I look up to in the sport are Leticia Ribeiro, for being a pioneer in Jiu-Jitsu for women and Mackenzie Dern for her impressive tournament success and likeability off the mat.

Separately, I admire those in the art who live a balanced life and are admirable human beings in how they conduct themselves off the mat. There is more to life than Jiu-Jitsu.

What are your general and personal aspirations for the sport? What words of advice do you have for women who might be curious in trying BJJ?

My aspirations for the art are to be healthy enough to train until I’m a little old lady!

I would like to inspire other women to train and support them in their own training journey.

In regards to the sport, I am constantly working on being more comfortable in competition. I don’t think I’ve been able to display my level of technique because of how engulfed I feel with nerves. I am committed to working through that and being able to perform at my best. I had a lot of close finals matches in 2012. I would like to continue to improve in competition and reach the top of the podium more often in 2013. I think I’ve put in the hard work and technique to expect this of myself. I would like to win multiple IBJJF titles during my competition career and one day earn my black belt.

Advice I have for women who are curious about trying Jiu-Jitsu:

-Jiu-Jitsu is probably not how you think it is! You might think it looks weird grappling on the ground or training with other men, women, whomever, but as soon as you try, you’ll feel the organic elements of the movement and the empowerment you gain from learning the potential of your body and mind.

-You will be very sore and you won’t understand a lot for the first year, that’s ok, keep drilling and training and you’ll have big “ah-ha” moments where you will find a breakthrough in your training.

-Research many schools and try out a handful before you sign up. You can switch at white belt and most people won’t care, but when you earn a belt from an instructor, it’s harder to make the move—but not impossible. Most people choose a school for its location. This will not always be what is the most important for you in the long run. Ask yourself what you want out of training and how often can you commit? Do you want a strong competition program? A school with a women’s program? A very technical school? A more MMA based school? These are all very important. Try to ask around to get as much information as possible. If you don’t know anyone in Jiu-Jitsu, ask the instructors and a few colored belts on your first class.

-Make your training non-negotiable, if you decide 2 days per week, or 4. Stick to it, don’t even allow yourself to decide every week whether you are going. Just get there and you usually won’t regret it.

Advice for those women already in Jiu-Jitsu:

-Never give up. There were many times I wanted to throw my belt away and give up. I’m so glad I didn’t. Jiu-Jitsu is a bunch of plateus, with steady increases of improvement, so be easy on yourself if you feel you have reached a plateau. Ask your training partners to explain how they are catching you, how they defend what you are going for, if you like to play on your back, start working on your top game. You might get caught more but you’ll improve on the holes in your game.

-Drill, baby drill! and watch high level matches in the academy or online. I drill 3 passes, 3 subs, 3 sweeps, 10-20xs each, 2-3xs a week. After major tournaments, I watch the black and brown belt fights online, especially in the women’s divisions. I wouldn’t recommend instructional videos as a white belt, but there are great ones out there for blue & above. You should learn your fundamentals before you try “fancy” variations.

-Write down your short and long term goals. I can’t emphasize enough how much this improved my game, tournament success and mindset. We need short term goals for our game to improve and long term goals to remind us to push through those plateus and reach those dreams.

-Have fun! Make sure the journey is fun and healthy, otherwise the belts and titles won’t mean as much.

Ralph Gracie San Francisco Women's Team

Photo by Hiroshi Matsui.

Interview: Beautiful Brawlers & Babyface Boxing Promoter Blanca Gutierrez

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FFP: When did you first start boxing? Why and how did you get into it?

BG: I first started as a kick boxer in 1997, I had a late start at 32 years old. The reason I joined was because I was on a wrestling team and one of the 250 lb guys in my class was flipped on top of me and broke my leg in 3 places. After getting 9 screws and 3 plates in my leg and wearing a cast for 5 months, I had gained 10 lbs and wanted to lose weight. I went to a kick boxing card in San Jose and the minute I saw the only female bout there I fell I love with it, and knew that is what I wanted to do. So once the cast was off and I had the ok from the doctor I began kick boxing to lose the weight I had gained and to begin my journey in a new sport. 6 months after I started training I had my first bout, which I won by unanimous decision. I would go on to have a record of 15-5 and would win several kick boxing titles.

How did BabyFace Boxing and Beautiful Brawlers start?

I started BabyFace Boxing because when me and my girls were coming up there was just kick boxing and barely boxing back then, men trainers really didn’t show much interest in us. I even had one boxing trainer tell me he didn’t and wouldn’t train women or ever even be in the corner of a woman. When my friend Martha Salazar and I first started, it was also difficult to get bouts because trainers or matchmakers didn’t take the time out to match bouts correctly which was detrimental to the sport back then because it made women’s bouts look bad. So after training out of Martial Arts Enterprises, Physique Magnifique, and in any front yard we could, I decided to open my own gym and welcome girls and woman who trained with an open heart and arms. Soon we had girls showing up from as far as Fresno and Sacramento to come get some sparring in.

As the years progressed and I realized that boxing was starting to become of serious interest to some females, I started reaching out to other gyms and let them know that I had females meeting for sparring and soon I started matching female bouts on local boxing cards. I decided then that because the females most always gave the best show on the card that I would created a spectacular all female boxing card one day that would rock the amateur boxing world. Soon after, I created the Beautiful Brawlers all female Amateur boxing card and made history in September of 2011. Not only did I pull this off, I was nominated for Best Boxing Card of the year, Best Promoter of the Year and Best Coach of the Year. I also received an award from WBAN that is the top site for female boxing, and a huge honor and acknowledgement.

Who is behind Beautiful Brawlers? Can you tell me a little about some of the fighters?

Many girls are tired of hearing why do you box? You are too pretty to fight. We box because we want to and because we have talent. That is why I started the Beautiful Brawlers and I had 200% support from my husband, my friends former heavy weight world champ Martha Salazar and former light weight champ Eliza Olson. We started mini day camps and sparring which many girls came to and we created a sisterhood of boxers young and old. This was a key component for the success of BB.

I had gained the respect of many male coaches that had a problem finding their female boxers a fight. They would call me and knew they had a better chance of matching their boxers now because I had made a lot of contacts and made a roster of girls and women looking for bouts. Soon I had the reputation of being the female to contact to get their girls on a card or a bout.

Many if not all of the Local Boxers on the Beautiful Brawlers I met at local bouts and sometimes I scouted at Desert Showdown or other tournaments. I have followed their young careers or heard about them from their coaches who convinced me that they had to be on the Beautiful Brawlers card. Some girls who are standouts are: Brenda and JO Champ Nancy Gutierrez, Melissa Monroy, 10 years old and Silver Gloves Champ Graciela Ortega, 11 years old from Caballeros, B Streets, Adidas Champ Casey Morton, Old Schools Tatiana Almaraz, JO Champ Marisol Lopez, 15 years old, out of Atwater, out of Reno Jo Champ Maritsa Guilan and Jessica Galvez, El Centro’s Sparta has some outstanding boxers like 4 time world champ 14 year old , Danika Lara. Velardes always has girls ready to box, an upcoming great little boxer is Ellie Sanchez, 11 years old. I have my own girls from my gym Megan Siordia, 13 years old and Ayla Moreno. I was very impressed with boxers who came from out of town from Duarte and Ocean Side Boxing. Out of Southern California we had Faith Franco, Lisa Porter and Poula Estrada who are absolutely outstanding boxer open boxers. I can go on and on with a list of very talented boxers but those are the girls who stand out for me.

I was really impressed with the level of talent and dedication that was showcased at BB. There were a lot of young women and girls there which was awesome! I think there are many athletically talented girls out there that would love the opportunity to do something like this, but there is a lot of social stigma preventing them from having access to sports like boxing. Can you talk about why you think it is important for parents to support their daughters who want to fight and why boxing is such a phenomenal opportunity for these young women?

I know a lot of girls who like to box, but only a select few of them like to actually get in the ring and fight. Once you get punched in the face a few times you will know whether you want to train to fight or just train for fitness. Boxing does so much for these girls. Boxing changes their lives. The girls who train with me are athletes and have confidence and a level of self worth that is extremely important. They love the physical aspect of boxing but mostly the mental strength that comes along with the grueling training and sparring. I have some really great athletes in the gym and their parents won’t let them box in a real bout. It sucks because it’s usually the most talented girls that don’t get the support of their mothers. Some moms think that boxing is not for girls. Many of the girls who train with me come from single parent homes and they need something positive to do with their time, so those girls are in the gym. And I thank God every day that I can give them a place to hone their talents, be safe, become stronger woman and have friends.

I know you pretty much grew up in the world of boxing and your father was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame. How did your relationship with him impact your love for boxing?

My father was my best friend. He died 11 years ago but every day of my life I remember him telling me about his fights. He used to cry when he talked about his past. Those tears were joyful and a longing for those days again. He was a champion in Acapulco and Mexico and became the California Bantam weight champ in the 1950’s. When my dad came to California he was a pioneer for boxing in California History. My dad never bragged about how good he was. In fact I didn’t even know how talented he was until after his death when I started digging around about his history as a boxer. When I contacted the Veteran Boxers in Los Angeles, a man by the name of Frank Baltazar told me just how good he was and Don Frazer the president of the CBHOF saw many of his bouts. He said he wanted to induct my father into the California Boxing Hall of Fame and I was glad that I called him. That gave me new energy for my passion. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad and what passion he gave me for this sport. At the end of his life, I was still kick boxing and he or my mom still had never seen my fights in person. That didn’t hurt me though, he always gave me tips. I would win the IKKC Fly weight belt in 1999 and the IKKC atom weight belt in 1999. When he was dying he told me to go fight at a tournament to try and when the IKF Belt. I lost that tournament in the finals because I was losing my dad and I was distraught. I would go on to be asked fight on the Worlds Team where I would compete in France and would take the bronze in Kickboxing for USA. I would win the IKF West Coast Atom weight Title in 2000.

Correct me if I am wrong, but your daughter also boxes too? Can you talk about how it’s impacted your role as a mother and understanding of family?

My daughter Sylver also knows how to box but she is a soccer player and runs cross country. She doesn’t compete in boxing because she hasn’t demanded that she get in that ring yet. If she ever does want to compete, she will be ready and I will support her 100%. I will support my daughter in any sport and will never stop loving her for what she wants to do in her life. She is incredible on the mitts and has a mean punch but she is only 11 years old and I do not want to push boxing until she really wants it. When I have a bunch of strong woman at the gym like Martha Salazar and Eliza Olson, around I make sure Sylver is there so she can see how powerful, confident, and athletic women are. She does very well in her sports because of it. The one other great thing about being a boxing mom is that no one picks on your kid.

I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts about growing up in the boxing community with a specific focus on women’s boxing especially in light the recent developments within the Olympics. How has it evolved over the years? Where do you see it going? How can people get more involved and support it?

I always grew up thinking that boxing isn’t a sport for women. But that changed as I changed and I realized that it was in my blood and I couldn’t stop the feeling I got when I put the gloves on and hit somebody. I got to spar in the garage and beat up boys when I was younger but that wasn’t enough. I was tired of coaches not taking me seriously or putting me down for wanting to box. I decided to make changes for female boxers and I will keep doing the Beautiful Brawlers Forever. I even hope to make my event a national tournament in a few years. I am so glad that female boxers got to compete in the Olympics this year and I had a hand in helping a woman achieve her dreams. Even though Claressa Shields won a gold medal, I am not sure that the attitude towards female boxers will change in the USA. Promoters here in the USA don’t think they can make enough money off the females. It’s sad because Mexico, Germany and Argentina treat their female champions and boxers very well. I think that the more talent that is created with the younger girls in the amateurs is going to carry this sport to another level. It will take some time but I do see that happening. People should support female boxers by telling promoters they want to see more female bouts on shows, donating money for equipment and travel, and letting girls know it’s ok to want to beat people up, just do it in the ring, as a sport! (lol)

Truth be told, I don’t know too much about boxing. For those of us who are uneducated, who are some of the top female boxers out there we should know about? What makes them so uniquely talented and how would you characterize each one’s style?

The Bay Area has some of the best boxers in the world. World Champion Ava Knight just beat Mariana Juarez who was the #1 ranked champ in the world. Ava Knight went to Mariana’s home town , out boxed her and out powered her and became the Reigning World Champion. She is definitely one to watch, she is strong, talented, dedicated and humble. Melissa Mc Morrow with B Street went to Germany and took the World Title away from one of the best boxers in the world Susie Kentikian. Melissa is a thinker, a counter puncher , slick movement and outworks her opponent. A match between Ava Knight and Melissa Mc Morrow will pit the best fly weights in the world against each other and both are from our Bay Area. I also want to mention former World Champion Martha Salazar who is one of the most feared Heavy Weight World champs in the world. She is coming back to the ring December 1. She is a boxer, powerful slugger with a smooth style and an incredible athlete. Definitely one of my heroes and someone to watch!

Shout outs?

Shout out and thank you to all the people who helped make a difference. My Best Friends, Martha Salazar, Eliza Olson, and Carol Kutznitsky, Nicole Ortiz

Shouts outs to the coaches who helped make the Beautiful Brawlers event more successful this year by bringing their boxers to the show; Marcus Caballero, Hervi Estrada- AV Kickboxing , Fernando Lara- Sparta, Louis Vanezuela- Duarte, Steve Tiller- Velardes, Austin Smith- Warm Springs Indian Nation, Armando Mancinas- Atwater, Elloy Ramirez with Gladiators, Paris Alexander , Keynoe Fenner, Bosco Basques, Ryan Maquinana, Jerry Hoffman, The Pacifica Moose Lodge, Melissa Mc Morrow, and Sue Fox, and Horace Hinshaw, Dr. Spriter, Ed Clemens, Charlie Hilder, my husband and GOD

Press: Vincit Magazine Interview

Pick up your copy of Vincit Magazine and check out page 10 for Carey Rockland’s interview with Shawn Tamaribuchi, founder of the Female Fighter Project.

“Shawn Tamaribuchi’s reputation precedes her. I had heard of her one-of-a-kind Female Fighter Project well before meeting her on the mat at a Bay Area Women’s Only Training Camp with Leticia Ribeiro, hosted by The Sweaty Betties back in 2011. The Female Fighter Project is an important project providing exposure and recognition for female fighters on an international level. Since meeting her in 2011, Shawn has become a training partner and a friend. It was a privilege to finally sit down with her to discuss her work…”

Read more here.

Press: Akimma Interview

Photo credit: Belinda Dunne / Princesses of Pain

“I have had not only the privilege of photographing some of the greatest female fighters in the world, but have often gotten to train with them. I started this project in Rio de Janeiro at Kyra Gracie’s first Women’s Camp. I stayed a few months in Rio, training at different academies and watching tournaments. I absolutely love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so being able to snap a few rough shots at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trails was a real treat and got me more invested in shooting other female athletes. I spent the next few months in Tokyo, Japan training at Abe Ani Combat Club with Megumi Fujii’s all-star women’s fight team and make an effort to visit them every year. The girls there called me a camera nerd, which I take pride in and is totally true. I work in a photo gallery and facilities and get to play with film cameras every week. I love it!”

Read more.

Mothers’ Day Special: Youth BJJ World Champion Alyssa Wilson & Her Mom, Tanya Wilson

Youth BJJ Champion Alyssa Mia Wilson and Mother Tanya Wilson

I met BJJ player Alyssa Wilson at American Cup this year. The first thing I noticed about her was her awesome style, fresh hair cut and that she exuded confidence. After watching a few of her matches, it was clear that grappling was truly her element. She tore through her division, defeating several boys with great ease, one of which had beat her at a previous tournament. This 10 year old, yellow belt was executing bow and arrow chokes with text book perfection. It wasn’t until I got home and did some research that I learned not only about her truly impressive record, but also about how extraordinarily humble she was which makes her all the more cooler! Coming off her recent Abu Dhabi Pro gold and now her American Cup gold, Alyssa clearly has a great head on her shoulders and some pretty amazing parents. I was fortunate enough to get to interview her and her mom Tanya, just in time for Mothers’ Day too! Remember BJJers say thank you to those inspirational women in your life and call your mom this week.

Interview with Alyssa Wilson

FFP: Alyssa, what year were you born, where are you from, who are your main instructors and academy?

Alyssa: I was born February 13, 2002 and I’m from Lawndale, CA that’s in Los Angeles. I train at A-Team Jiu Jitsu in Westminster CA and my coach name is Ali.

FFP: What is your record and what competitions have you done?

Alyssa: I don’t really know my record or how many tournaments, it’s a lot. But I have 38 gold medals, 25 silver, 22 bronze, 2 belts and 2 samurai swords.

FFP: How old where you when you first started BJJ? What were your first thoughts and feelings about it?

Alyssa: I started when I was 4 1/2 years old. When my dad took me in my first school I remember thinking it was cool when I saw all the people training only I didn’t know what they were doing, but I thought it was cool.

FFP: What advice do you have for other BJJ athletes out there?

Alyssa: I would tell other BJJ athletes to work hard, do your best, and have fun.

FFP: When you aren’t on the mat, what other things do you like to do?

Alyssa: When I’m not training I like to read and go to the library, ride bikes with my cousin memorie, play with my puppy Weezy and my sisters. But I really like to go visit my friend Norm at his shop Will Rise, I get to work and help the guys there and do a bunch of art.

FPP: Do you have any sponsors and people you want to thank?

Alyssa: I have a few sponsors. They are Moya Brand, Grappling X, Revgear, Painted Demons, and Dr Kessler. I want to say thank you to all my sponsors, Pete at Nakama, Jakobe, my coach Ali and my mom and dad ‘cus they take me everywhere for Jiu Jitsu.

FFP: Who did your awesome hair cut?

Alyssa: I got my hair from Willow Smith, I liked her style. But when I get it done, I go to my Dad’s friend Jeff’s barber shop or sometimes to other Barber shops!

FFP: Tanya, what inspired you to get Alyssa into the sport?

Tanya: We decided to get Alyssa in Jiu Jitsu because she always liked to wrestle around and jump on everything. She had so much energy that dance class any gymnastics didn’t interest her. So my husband decided to walk her into the local Jiu Jitsu academy by our house and it turned out to be one of the best things we could of ever done for her.

FFP: Why do you think it is important for her to be involved in it?

Tanya: Its always important for kids to be involved in something whatever it may be, I think it helps them grow as a person. For Alyssa she’s always been independent and a people person, so being involved with this sport has just worked really well with who she is as a person. She has made so many friends it’s unbelievable.

FFP: How has it impacted her life?

Tanya: Jiu Jitsu has given her so many opportunities its been really great. We never thought she would be where she is now when we first started her. She has gotten to travel, met a lot of people, made a lot of friends and just accomplished so much by working hard and training. She really loves it and my husband Danny and I are extremely proud of her. She still has a lot of growing and learning to do in the sport, but we know she will go all the way!

FFP: Did you compete as an athlete growing up?

Tanya: Growing up, my mom was great but not really that encouraging to get into sports, so I didn’t do much outside of dance in high school. I make sure I’m always there to support and encourage Alyssa no matter what and I feel that’s why we have such a strong bond. She knows she can come to me for anything and I’m always gonna be there for her.

FFP: Do you have advice for parents out there?

Tanya: I don’t really like to give advice to parents, because at the end of the day that’s your child and you’re gonna always do what you feel is best for them, whether it’s good or bad as a parent you’re always learning and growing just like them. So who am I to tell you anything? I choose to be open minded to my daughters so they can express themselves and find who they are whether it’s mixed match clothes or shaving the side of her head. I myself am learning too as a travel down the road of being a parent. The only thing I can say is always love your child and give them the foundation and support so that they feel confident enough to find who they are and find whatever they are going to be great at.

(Photographer’s Note: this was the first time I took the Canon 5D out for a spin. I was playing around with a Nikon lens adapter which forced me to shoot all day in MANUAL including focus. Please forgive the poor quality photos. I usually shoot film for this project and am bummed I didn’t bring the Hassleblad to take her portrait, next time! Word to the wise, always bring a camera with you.)

Check out Alyssa’s blog here.

Uploaded by DTxWiLSON on Jan 1, 2012


Press: Women On the Mat Interview

The Female Fighter Project

I met Shawn Tamaribuchi while training Krav Maga in San Francisco. That was well over five years ago. We recently ran into each other again on the mat at Stephan Goyne’s amazing new training academy, Bay Jiu Jitsu. Shawn hadn’t changed a bit. She was sporting a rather beat up old purple belt, probably soon to be brown. She was her light hearted and humble self. I asked her what she had been doing and she told me about her recent project “the female fighter project.” Turns out Shawn had been travelling all over the world doing what she loves, photographing and fighting and making friends. The female figther project is an amazing body of work featuring women in the fight game from around the globe. Check out her photo of Sayaka Shioda and Tamada Yasuko and the gallery moments from the mundials. You can reach Shawn through Be sure to check out all of her images. Shawn trains jiu jitsu at Bay jiu jitsu in San Francisco…

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