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Boxing Great is Newest Coach at Select Jiu-Jitsu

Coach SuarezSelect Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Martial Arts welcomes Coach Luis Suarez as headstriking/boxing coach.

 With over 50 years of martial arts experience, Suarez is a well-known coach in Waco. He has taught boxing, kick boxing, taekwondo and coached mma fighters.

 At age 71, Suarez is a family man with three daughters, one son, 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

 He’s originally from San Benito, Texas but has lived in Waco for nearly 50 years.

 Suarez first learned martial arts in the military. He served his country in the Army from 1965-1968, where he traveled to Europe and Southeast Asia.

 He originally learned and studied taekwondo and eventually earned his black belt under the American Karate Black Belt Association (AKBBA).

 Suarez owned his own “Tex-kwon-do” school in Waco, called El Sol, for eight years. El Sol was a taekwondo school that allowed full contact. His students learned knife and stick fighting, as well as Aikido.

 In 2005, Suarez was fortunate enough to travel to Japan with boxer Michael Lerma for a K-1 Max main event. Lerma was the main event and fought Yoshihiro Akiyama. Again, in 2006 Lerma and Suarez traveled to Japan when Lerma had an mma fight.

 “There were boxers from Greece, Holland, Thailand and Mongolia,” among other countries, stated Suarez. “It was neat. I want to go back to training camps in Thailand or Costa Rica.”

 Suarez worked at General Tire and Rubber Company for 16 years, but he always made time for martial arts.

 “It is something you can practice by yourself,” he said. “It’s always been a part of my life. Martial arts keeps me going.”

 Suarez likes to help his fellow vets.

 “I like to make them move around and they will feel better,” he said.

 He likes to see people making improvements.

 “Martial arts gives people manners and discipline and you are able to see a live transformation in people,” he explained. “That drive you get from martial arts is good.”

 And one of Suarez’s favorite things is seeing his students progress.

 “God trained me to be a motivator and that’s my ministry,” Suarez said.

 Select Jiu-Jitsu Academy is proud to have Suarez on the mats as a coach. He wants to continue to train and coach others for as long as possible.

 “The rest of my life is the best of my life,” he said.

 And keep a lookout for two of Suarez’s fighters (and soon to be champions), Vernon (Big E) Lewis and Mando (La Lumbre) Villarreal.

A Desire that Lead to a Movement

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I wrote this article about the woman who came up with the idea for Girls in Gis and it can be found here on the Girls in Gis site, or below.

Nowadays there are many women and girls who are well known in the jiu jitsu industry. Women compete, they own their own academies, they are sponsored, they teach classes, they make a living doing jiu jitsu, etc. If you study jiu jitsu, you will see plenty of women in the lime light.

But what about the ones who are hanging out in the background? What were all of the jiu jitsu women who are now brown and black belts doing eight to 10 years ago?

Let me introduce you to Ashley Nguyen. Nguyen is a wife, a mama to Mackenzie (2 yrs) and Lexi (4 yrs), a jiu jitsu student, a teacher, a pharmacist. . . and the founder of Girls in Gis. Most of us are familiar with Girls in Gis, because, let’s face it, you are reading their blog right now! Girls in Gis is an organization that helps grow  and strengthen the jiu jitsu community by empowering and uniting females. Nguyen is a brown belt and her husband (Hai Nguyen) owns elite MMA in Houston.
“I’ve trained jiu jitsu since 2005,” Nguyen said. “I used to kick box and a girlfriend invited me to one of her jiu jitsu classes to try it out.”

What Nguyen liked about jiu jitsu is that, “you can train full speed, and you’re not getting punched and kicked. You can go hard and you can stop when you are ready.”
Back when Nguyen first started training, there weren’t many girls who trained.

“We had two girls at my school and when the girls trained it was always competitive,” she explained. “The girls would only get to train with each other at competitions.”

Nguyen wanted women to get the same thing she saw the men getting out of jiu jitsu.

“The guys had this social aspect of training that wasn’t there for women,” she said.
Nguyen founded Girls in Gis in 2009. She was in a self expression and leadership program, where she actually created Girls in Gis as her project.
“I wanted friendship and camaraderie,” so that is how Nguyen came up with the idea of Girls in Gis. And what she wanted is exactly what happened through Girls in Gis.

Nguyen, who is a pharmacist, used to own her own pharmacy and she taught leadership programs. About a year after Girls in Gis was created, Nguyen was just too busy to put so much time in to what the program needed.

“People wanted to help make Girls in Gis bigger and it was a great idea,” she said. So she handed the program over to Shama Ko.
“I let her have it,” explained Nguyen. “Shama does everything now. At first she’d run ideas by me, but now she does whatever she wants and needs to do for the program.”

And the program has grown from 15 girls at the first event to having 60-100 girls (even 187) at most events. Girls in Gis has spread beyond Texas and events are held in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Washington D.C, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, California, Georgia, Ohio and Hawaii.

“I love all of the impacting Girls in Gis has done,” Nguyen said. “It’s so great and I love that it is spreading everywhere.”
Often, people speak to Nguyen about this great program called Girls in Gis, not knowing that she started the program, and she finds it funny, humbling and amazing to hear.

“Jiu jitsu is a common language that you (practitioners) speak that others don’t,” stated Nguyen.
And because so many women are involved in the sport, if Nguyen travels she can find a jiu jitsu friend in nearly any city.
“I’m really happy with who girls get to be in jiu jitsu right now,” Nguyen added. “It’s not only a guy zone. Girls can be respected and treated fairly.”

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