This Featured Fighter Pick Is a Special One. We decided to Follow up on one super cool Purple Belt, Lana Hunter. A BJJ player that Represents the Women in BJJ very well and very invested in the sport.
Here is the Discussion we had with LH, Enjoy :)
GP: Hey Lana, please tell us about yourself.
LH: I am a purple belt under Andre Monteiro of Nova Geracao/BJJ Revolution Team and I train at Carlson Gracie Texas in San Antonio, Texas. I have been training for about 4 years. Initially, I started jiu jitsu at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu and I was there for a year.
GP: How did you get into jiu jitsu and why did it attract you?
LH: I started Krav Maga which introduced me to some ground techniques. At one point, I was really interested in MMA so I found a jiu jitsu school to improve my grappling skills. Then I injured my knee during a kickboxing class and couldn’t really do much stand up so I focused entirely on jiu jitsu. Gradually I became addicted to Jiu jitsu. It was so challenging and mentally stimulating with its endless possibilities. Jiu jitsu is also so empowering, it gives me this amazing feeling when I am able to do things with my body I never imagined I was capable of doing. I am using my body as a lethal weapon!
GP: Describe yourself to us in 5 words?
LH: Passionate, curious, open, sarcastic, impatient.
GP: Do you enjoy the competition lifestyle or do you prefer the more laid-back training?
LH: I enjoy both! There are times where I am do compete more during the year, where training becomes more intense, and I also like to balance that out with more fun and relaxed training at other times. Competition really pushes me to sharpen up certain skills and forces me to focus on my weakness so I try to compete regularly. Competition motivates me to train hard so that’s why I love competing, it gives me that extra reason to continue learning and refining my techniques.
GP: What is your favorite attack or sub of choice and what is the sweep you enjoy applying the most?
LH: My favorite submission are triangle chokes, arm bars, Americana’s, Ezekiel chokes, Kimuras, Omopolatas, Gogoplatas…pretty much whatever my opponent gives me! As for sweeps, I’ve been perfecting that Berimbolo! It is so fun to execute!
GP: Man, Dangerous Lady… :)
GP: Do you teach? What do you enjoy about teaching?
LH: I don’t have a formal class that I teach, but I am always showing new belts techniques in class and I’ve also taught a few kids classes occasionally. I’ve also presented my first seminar a few months ago. What I really like about teaching is that it forces me to understand the techniques very well and be able to explain it clearly in a way that everyone can understand. Jiu jitsu movement can be very hard to put in words and it definitely requires a new set of vocabulary.
GP: What have you done or where have you been to better your jiu jitsu skills and growth?
LH: I had an opportunity to visit Brazil and train at Nova Geracao for a week, which is my instructor’s home academy in Brazil. It was amazing to be there and train with so many black belts at the gym. I also try to visit jiu jitsu schools during all my travels. A few years ago, I was in Taiwan and managed to spend a few days at a jiu jitsu school there. I am in southern CA frequently so I try to visit different academies. Recently I spent 3 days at the Mendes brothers’ new academy and was able to attend a couple advanced classes and a competition class. I have visited Allan Goes in south Orange County and I have also spent about a month at Orange County Jiu Jitsu, a CheckMat school training with Marcel Louzado. I have been attending women’s jiu jitsu camps hosted by Emily Kwok and Valerie Worthingington and 2 camps hosted by Leticia Ribeiro. The next women’s camp I will be attending is the Women’s Grappling Camp hosted by Michelle Nicolini, Hannette Staack, Emily Kwok, and Valerie Worthington at 50/Fifty BJJ. It’s also really important to train with other women, especially for competition so I frequently attend the Girl in Gis, a womens only training session, once a month.
GP: Who is the favorite top level BJJ personality you ever rolled with?
LH: I rolled with Leticia Ribeiro at her camp, and she is just amazing! She has some serious pressure for her size.
GP: If there is one you never rolled with and had the opportunity to train with who would it be?
LH: I would love a chance to roll with Michele Nicolini and I think that opportunity is coming soon!
GP: How do you see the growth of women practicing BJJ and how do you feel you are contributing to it?
LH: There has been a big growth in women practicing jiu jitsu and I think women are becoming more aware of its presence and benefits of jiu jitsu through the increased number of competitors and fighters active now. The more women train, the more they compete, and the more they will talk about jiu jitsu to others. This gives jiu jitsu more exposure to others and it’s the best when it’s coming from someone who is training already. I always talk about how fun and challenging jiu jitsu is, how it’s pushed me to be in the best shape of my life, and how it’s given me a sense of empowerment and strength. These are the benefits that get other women interested in trying out jiu jitsu and I always share them with every woman I meet. We all know almost everyone who trains BJJ becomes a BJJ evangelist!
GP: Do you have any suggestions on how a gym can attract more girls in their gyms to practice bjj and not think it is only a man sport?
LH: Gyms can start hosting open mats just for women and invite other women from different schools to attend. These events can then encourage new women to come check out what jiu jitsu in a more informal setting. Some women enjoy the chance to learn jiu jitsu in all female environment and find it less intimidating than joining an all male class. If possible, having a women’s only jiu jitsu class may help some women feel more comfortable and once she becomes confident with her technique and skills she might join a coed class. Ask the woman if she feels ready or comfortable rolling with men, then have her roll with men who can control their strength and use good technique.
GP: Some great ideas there!
GP: What music do you like to listen to before training or competing, what puts Lana in the mood?
LH: Usually I’ll listen to some rap or hip hop before my matches to help me focus. The music really helps block out the noise and excitement at the tournament. I like songs I can move and dance to so I can get rid of some of the excess energy! Some of the songs on my iPod include songs by Eminem, LMFAO, Ludacris, Jay Z, and Lil Wayne.
GP: HAHAHA Nice…
GP: DO you have a set diet for training? eating regimen?
LH: I don’t follow a particular diet. I have learned what sort of foods fuel my body efficiently, which is just basically a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, and lots of protein. I definitely do eat according to my training schedule and I always try to eat something 2-3 hours before a training session. I have a huge sweet tooth that needs to be curbed, especially close to tournaments!
GP: Has BJJ helped you overcome any hardships or obstacles in life? did it help you find the way out of things??
LH: I’ve had many different interests and hobbies, but BJJ has definitely sparked a fire in my life. I’ve learned to be more patient, persistent, humble, and forgiving. Life lessons are given right on the mats! I’ve learned to face that fear and anxiety that tells you “No, you can’t” because when I encounter that feeling, I push myself past it. On the mats, it could the fear of training with a certain person or allowing myself to be in bad positions. BJJ has helped me find a reason to live my life in a more healthy way. Everything I do is is geared towards maximizing BJJ performance. BJJ has definitely given me a passion and purpose for life, and I feel truly alive to find something that is a huge source of motivation and inspires such drive in me.
GP: Lana Thank YOU so much for your time and sharing us some Great insight on yourself and your vision of the sport… It was HellaFun Interviewing us, Muito Obrigado and see you on the mats… Ossssss