Thursday, April 21, 2011

Girls in Gis Photo Gallery-April 17th Paragon Corpus Christi

Check out the latest shots from Girls in Gis Corpus Christi @ Paragon!  Feel free to download any of the shots.  All I ask is you keep the watermark to support my business.  Thanks!

Father knows best...

Years ago, when I graduated from high school my Dad gave me some sound advice. He said "Enjoy every minute of life, because the older you get, the faster life moves".  At the time, I thought my Dad was full of it, because it seemed like an eternity until I  was going to finally turn 18.  Time seemed to have stopped as a child.  Everything took forever to come  like Christmas, Halloween & of course, Birthdays.   It wasn't until later in life that I began to know exactly what he was talking about. It's true, as the years pass time seems to be speeding up faster and faster.  It can be overwhelming and challenging at times. What keeps me centered is practicing how to "live in the moment" and stay appreciative of life.   

This past Friday I celebrated yet another birthday which served as a reminder of how quickly time goes by and how very grateful I am to have been brought into this world.  On Friday, after a chaotic day with school and exams I meet up with a group of my friends for a Birthday dinner.  I invited friends from all areas of my life (that for the most part didn't know each other). I've always loved to throw people together and see what happens.  As for the outcome of my experiment, it worked even better than I could of imagined.  People were able to look beyond their differences, get to know each other and we all  had a great time.  Most importantly, I once again realized that I have some really great friends that care about me as much as I care about them.  I am so appreciative for the generosity of my extended "family".  I couldn't have had a better Birthday.  Thank you to all for sharing my B-day with me!

But....the fun didn't stop there...

 During the weekend, I drove down to San Antonio to carpool with Lana, Monica and Emily to Girls in Gis in Corpus Christi.  Lora Hallock of Paragon Corpus Christi hosted this Girls in Gis event on Sunday April 17th.   Twenty-two women came out for the Girls in Gis training day.  The academy was filled with some new participants and other familiar faces. Having this event every month is a great opportunity to catch up with fellow female practitioners in the community and meet new ones.  Over the past year  I've been participating in Girls in Gis events, I've especially loved watching  the Girls in Gis program growing in popularity.  The continual support from veterans and newcomers are what sustain the program.  I believe this program is vital to the growth and support of  BJJ for women.  We absolutely need each other to make a difference and gain equality in the sport.

I especially like how Girls in Gis brings women together in a non-competitive environment where team rivalries and personal differences are left at the door.  This environment  is definitely not the appropriate place to "check out"  the competition (leave that to Youtube).   It is a time for us to train, learn from each other and build unity.  Each Girls in Gis event has been different from the last.  Perhaps we should return to the roots of this project and structure the program where women are instructing women and we are not sharing training space with men.  The previous Girls in Gis had heavy instruction and less rolling time.  This time Lora wanted to just roll for the two hours.  There was no instruction or warm up. We just all rolled as long as we could with as many people as we wanted to.  I alternated back and forth between rolling and photographing the event.  I was happy as a clam, as I got to do my two favorite things.   Of course, I forgot how humid it is near the coastline.  By the end of the session I was completely drenched in sweat.  I can only imagine how humid it is in the summer.  It's training during the Texas summers that make us ladies tough.  Big thank you to Lora Hallock and Aurelio Gallegos for hosting this event.

After Girls in Gis, it has become a tradition for all of us to go out and eat some local food after training.  Even though I've been told that we can eat the food from the Gulf, I am still not buying it.  I love fresh fish and supporting local businesses, but I am worried about the traces of chemicals  used to clean up the mess that is now being found in local resident's  blood  and may be causing illness and  and death.   Nonetheless, I just worked around my concerns and the food tasted great!   Also, while in Corpus, we took advantage of being near the beach.  It's been a while since I'd been out to Corpus and Padre Island.  Heck, It's been a while since I've been next to the ocean period.  It was Lana and Ari's first exposure to the Gulf of Mexico. Since we are from places with much more beautiful beaches, (California and Australia) we were sorely disappointed by the greenish waters and seaweed lined shores.  Even though the Gulf beaches are not the same as what I am used to in Hawaii, I just love being near the water.  The smell and sound relaxes me and takes me back home to my childhood.

Being near the ocean makes "living in the moment" and being appreciative of each day so much easier.  The rhythm of the ocean hitting the shore, the salty breeze against your face and the warm sun hitting your body can't help but put you in a good place in life.  As the years pass me by like weeks on a calender, I see life moving very quickly and I can not fight it.   Instead, I've decided to flow with it.  Much like the ocean, life is not a predictable tide.  In life, sometimes you're riding high on the crest of the wave and other times you caught in the undertow and being pounded into the sand not knowing which way is up.  It's through these rises and falls that we become the people we are and find our inner strength.  We  need to celebrate our lives everyday by doing something nice for ourselves and loving our self unconditionally.  As far as we know, we only get one shot at this life,  and we might as well make it the best that we can.  Even though we can't stop the clock, we can take inventory of each second that we have.

p.s. Girls in Gis photos are coming.  I'll post them tomorrow @!/pages/Shama-Ko-Photography/123242841810 Thanks!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yo, Respek!

One of my most favorite quotes of all times, made popular by the movie "Spider-Man," is "With great power comes great responsibility." The most basic of needs as a human is the desire to be respected by others in all areas of our lives (i.e. work, personal lives and hobbies). Having respect can give individuals the power to influence and inspire others (regardless of whether the intentions are good or bad). Having respect from others can make us feel valued and boost our self-esteem. However, it is often forgotten that respect is something that has to be earned. It is not one of our inherent rights as humans. We cannot demand or coerce people into respecting us. It is through our morals, principals and most, of all, our actions that we earn respect. In my opinion the most valuable type of respect comes from within. Confucius explained it best when he said, "Respect yourself and others will respect you."

I think that as women sometimes we put more importance on what others think of us rather than developing self-respect. Perhaps it's because we are still considered the underdog in many of life's situations. Or maybe it's because as women we must stand up against more oppression and battle more stereotypes than men. Then again it could be because we are more prone to be openly sensitive and tend to have more self-esteem issues. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that women had less rights than men. In my grandmother's generation, women were restricted by society on how they should act and behave. Women were supposed to be submissive, helpless, vulnerable and weak. The worst part of this oppression was that the dreams of some women were limited by society's social and gender constructions.

Now-a-days, women have more options than ever before. However we still face negative stereotypes. Some of which are placed on us, and others are consequences of ours and or others actions. It's unfair that strong and assertive women are sometimes misinterpreted as bitches or have their sexuality questioned. And then those who are passive or quiet are seen as weak. Although the times have changed, but the struggle for equality remains. This is especially true in male-dominated fields like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Women are constantly battling stereotypes. It is especially discouraging to me that there are old Brazilian terms for self-destructive women who train at academies for the wrong reasons and no known term for strong and empowered women in Jiu-Jitsu. These women whom perpetuate negative stereotypes for others can diminish the efforts for those who are serious and devoted to equality in the sport. It Is through our accomplishments in competitions and on the mats that we can defeat these obstacles. Our sportsmanship, attitudes, personal conduct and over all demeanor will shine through. Through these efforts we can earn respect from fellow female competitors, male competitors and people with in the BJJ community. Now of course, everyone wants to be recognized for our contributions and successes. But as I said before, no-one can respect someone who doesn't adhere to the standards they expect of others.

That brings me to my next point: Why is it that some women feel they need to compete with each other and bring each other down in order to feel better about themselves? As women, we should not be competing with each other and rip each other apart. Instead we should be supporting and encouraging one another, especially in this small community of BJJ. We should also strive to be the champions we are and bring out the strengths within each other. Perhaps we shouldn't worry so much about what others think of us and instead focus on living up to our full potential as athletes and people. Meanwhile, remembering that we must also be conscientious that our conduct can affect not only our own reputations but that of all women in Jiu-Jitsu. Not to mention the reputation of your academy and team.  I am not perfect by any means and don't claim to be, but I strive to be the best person I can be on and off the mats. By being an active competitor and throughout my successes I have been told by parents that I am one of many female role models to the "future" females in Jiu-Jitsu. That's something that I honor with great responsibility.

Even as a grown woman, I have role models of my own like Leticia Ribeiro, who I think represents one of the many strong women in Jiu-Jitsu. I also have the utmost respect for women like Triin of Fenom Kimonos and Ashley of Girls in Gis. I am extremely grateful for their contributions to the community in Texas. We need more organizations like these that bring women together in positive and encouraging environments. Together we can fight the negative stereotypes and bring out the best in each other. Doing this, we can all be positive role models for the "future" generations of females in Jiu-Jitsu. When it comes to respect one thing to keep in mind is: although it's hard to earn, it's so very easy to loose.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Awesome Video!

I remember seeing this tv show a while back and kind of forgot about it.  I am so glad someone recently posted it on a forum I follow.  With that, I wanted to pass it on to those who many of never see it or who are like me and It's been a while.  If you haven't seen it then you are in for a treat!  It features Royler and Helio Gracie!  Not only is it a good piece on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it shows a lot of my favorite spots in Rio.  I miss Rio so much and the amazing jiu jitsu thats there.  I can't wait to get back this summer!  In the meantime I'll have to live vicariously through videos like this...