Small, wiry, and flexible on the mats. Loosen your grip even slightly, and she’s out of your grasp. Her teammate’s fingers are sore from trying to hang onto her gi, but Faye fights to gain control. A few seconds ago, she was fighting from the bottom, but she’s found her way into side control. Despite a weight difference of likely fifty pounds and the fact that she’s sparring a man old enough to be her father, or at least an uncle–her face is taut and focused. He’s resisting and trying to shrimp out, but somehow this much smaller woman is keeping him in her control. Her arm maneuvers cleverly and she manages the Americano lock. Her partner grimaces and taps to the submission. Faye immediately lets go and disengages. The man sits up, stretches his arm out, and brings her back into his guard. They begin again.
“I struggled a lot with being an outsider and also because of being overweight,” Albers says. “I was always a spiritual person and also interested in philosophy and science. That’s was not exactly what the people liked, but I just stood up for myself and passions and moved on once I was old enough. Muay Thai as a sport taught me to look deep inside myself, to face my fears and to build step-by-step the woman I want to be. The person I see in the mirror now learned to be dedicated, disciplined and resilient, with a clear vision of herself and her future, and with a clear vision how she wants to accomplish things. I want to show people that we can shape our lives the way we want to.”
"It came to me in a time that I truly needed it the most. It helped my anxiety and gave me something to love so deeply that my depression would never get the best of me; it saved my life. It has been what has helped me fight my demons. It was my reason for being here when I felt like I had no other reason. I will always be so grateful for how JiuJitsu has helped me better myself and my life and for the people I’ve met along my journey so far."
“I wanted to just do it for fun and learn self-defense. My coaches thought I’d be a good fighter, so a few years later I decided to try it out. They call me so many different nicknames, like Mucho Macho or Gaucho, and we are always joking around. I am happy when I come here, so I knew training for fights would still be fun.”
“I worked on my mindset separate from my ranking that I had,” Maroulis says firmly. “Granted, I was going against Yoshida. I had won Worlds in 2015 but I was still probably the underdog because I had never won before. My mindset was that of a champion, regardless of my results. I told myself I was going to win, so I competed like I knew I would.”