A car accident in 2008 left Samantha Twining a Complete T-9 Paraplegic. Faced with the possibility that she may never walk again, Samantha had two options: either accept that she was in a wheelchair and would be limited in what she could achieve, or give a big middle finger to that notion and do whatever the hell she wanted. She chose the latter.
As a business owner, instructor, wife, and mother, Leeann Morris had originally begun her martial arts journey more than twenty years ago. A 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art Tang Soo Do, she originally didn't want to be involved in Brazilian JiuJitsu. She had been content with doing Tang Soo Do and didn't want to interfere with that training. It was only within the last six years, at the urging of her husband, that she began practicing and quickly fell in love with the sport.
Kristin Doeblin is one such artist you will come across in Brooklyn. Charismatic, friendly, and easy-going, she also trains Brazilian JiuJitsu at Renzo Gracie Academy in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. During the week, she is commissioned to paint for various individuals and businesses, and on the weekends shows her canvassed work at pop up galleries. Her life is pretty busy between training and painting, but that's okay—it's just how she likes it.
Dana Minuta never has the same day twice. Zooming around New York, she works as a chef and cooks for some of the elite on the east coast. If she's not grilling in the Hamptons or whipping up gazpacho in Long Island, you can catch her in the basement of Manhattan's Renzo Gracie Academy. The blue belt has been training for the last several years and knows her way around an omoplata as well as an organic farm.
The voice of Erin Fairbanks can be heard all over New York City. The Michigan-born Executive Director of Heritage Radio Network hosts and moderates numerous shows on the channel. When she's not working on Brooklyn's famous food radio, she can be found making delicious meals herself. In between talking and cooking, Erin trains Muay Thai at Renzo Gracie Academy in both Midtown, Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Tamuira would show up with a swollen ankle, a wrapped wrist, on 4 hours of sleep, and her son Ollie in tow--who would run and do calisthenics off the mat with us during our warm-ups. To me and many others, Tamuira illustrated what it means to be a strong woman, a hard-working athlete, and an amazing mother.
The Brazilian native has had an exciting adventure thus far. She has worked envious events such as the 2014 World Cup and is now currently residing in New York City. In between English classes, Marina simultaneously trains Muay Thai and Brazilian JiuJitsu. She now finds herself on the other side of the microphone: as a dedicated athlete.