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