We’ve spoken with a lot of Fierce Women, women who were adamant on changing their surroundings for the betterment of others. But our Fierce Woman for May, Women’s National Health Month, is probably quite literally, the fiercest.
Hillary Witt is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt and a 2-time world champion in gi and no-gi competitions (sport grappling tournaments)!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller or weaker person can successfully defend them self against a bigger or stronger assailant by using leverage, technique and by bringing the fight to the ground. Not surprisingly, many techniques used in this practice are also common in women’s self defense classes.
Hillary says, “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gave me the confidence to know I can defend myself and get away. I can control my breathing and stay cool. Keep my head clear. And no one can ever take that away from me. “
In a male-dominated sport, Hillary has proven that women aren’t only grappling with each other, but with society as well. As a girl, she wasn’t allowed to train with the Lehigh University Wrestling team, but was finally able to join the club in exchange for teaching them her killer moves! Since then, much more women are entering (and kicking ass) at the sport!
For girls and women interested in BJJ, she recommends Women’s Grappling Camp. The program is exclusively for women to go, train, discuss, and make new friends in an environment “where women rule the mat” and in an online community, where interested girls can watch videos, discuss them, and “just be girls 24/7/365.”
Scared to try it? Her tip is to bring your significant other! “It‘s a close-contact, intimidating sport, so having someone you are comfortable with is important when you are just getting started.”
And if you do try it, here’s her favorite post-workout meal: 1 Scoop of chocolate whey protein (One that tastes good! She likes Gold Standard Whey) + 1/2 banana + 2Tbs of all natural peanut butter + ice + 12oz water, and a little cinnamon= Awesome!
To find out more about Hillary and her personal journey of working towards earning and deserving a black belt, read below!
At Maxim Hygiene, we define a fierce woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice & each moment.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why?
The one that comes to my mind is a pioneer of women’s Jiu Jitsu, Professor Leticia Ribeiro. When I just started training, I first saw her in a BJJ documentary called Arte Suave which followed almost a dozen top BJJ black belts through their daily lives, training, and competition accompanied by in-depth interviews. And Leticia, the only female, made the cut.
Watching her I said to myself “This is what I want to do. This is who I want to be.” She is beautiful, strong, intelligent, and one of the most decorated female Jiu Jitsu fighters in the world.
She just has that aura about her. It’s not just her competitive resume however, it’s because she is a role model for all women who train or want to train BJJ. When Leticia teaches everyone listens. Men, women, and children. She has the kind of aura that demands respect. But at the same time she is very approachable and is always cracking jokes and smiling.
Being a BJJ student, what mental and physical changes do you find in yourself?
It’s a completely different kind of strength and endurance. Plus it takes discipline. Learning Jiu Jitsu physically put me in the best shape of my life! It has balanced my strength from head to toe, increased my flexibility and endurance. With a little determination and mental toughness I never knew I had, I came a long way.
BJJ also gave me the confidence to know I could defend myself and get away. Before, I thought I would die of a panic attack before even trying to defend myself in a rape situation.
Why do you think it’s important for people, or women in particular, to learn martial arts?
For self defense. To have something in your back pocket if some is not in punching range or the fight goes to the ground.
Favorite song to listen to while working out?
When I’m training and doing some last minute cardio for weight cutting before a tournament, Linkin Park gets me psyched! Their albums Hybrid Theory and Reanimation just do it for me.