Emily Fernandez will show off her medals from her jiujitsu tournaments if you want to see them, but she would much rather show off her moves on the mat at Bruno Bastos Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Studio.
Fernandez is Midland’s first home-grown international jiujitsu champion. She won her division in the International Pan Kids Games in fall 2014, defeating competitors from all over the world. She has earned nine medals in gold, silver and bronze and two championship swords. At age 13, this Alamo Junior High School student takes her achievements in stride.
“I have got the best coaching in all of Texas,” said Fernandez. “I want to thank all my coaches and the kids at Bastos BJJ who helped me get where I am.” Though jiujitsu is an individual sport, Fernandez believes the team effort of her coaches, parents and support of her teammates make all the difference in her success.
Jiujitsu is a martial art that was founded in Asia and developed in Brazil, where some of the best competitors in the sport today originate. Bruno Bastos, owner of Bastos BJJ, a fourth degree Black Belt and a former world champion, moved to Midland three years ago. After teaching for a few years in Dallas, he saw the opportunity for growth in the sport in West Texas.
“Midland had no history of martial arts,” said Bastos. “And now we have her (Hernandez) — a national BJJ champion, an international champion.”
Fernandez trains five days a week, spending two hours every day after school at Bruno’s studio learning moves like flying arm bars, bridging and shrimping and sweeps. Her focus is on anticipating what her competitor will do next, always keeping her training in mind.
“When I am out on the mat, the crowd is really loud. You hear everything coming from everywhere,” said Fernandez. “But what I hear most of all is my coach’s voice.” She says he keeps her focused and intent on what she needs to do on the mat.
Each match is four intense minutes of one-on-one grappling to earn points and gain the eventual submission of your competitor.
Hernandez started jiujitsu just over two years ago as a way to burn off excess energy. Diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the second grade, her doctor said she had to stop taking her prescribed medication because of a pre-existing heart condition. Martial arts was suggested to her parents to help manage her health. Hernandez started with Judo then transitioned to jiujitsu .
“Emily is a thinker,” said Bastos. “Jiujitsu is not just brute force. She has the discipline and maturity to be a leader and a champion in the sport.”
Bastos added that Fernandez is very competitive. “She understands that there is just one first place. If she doesn’t get a gold medal, she gets very frustrated. But no matter whether she earns gold, silver or bronze at a tournament, she is always back on Monday to train.”
Weekends for Fernandez mean traveling with her dad to tournaments, training and catching up on her school studies. Fernandez is in the Midland ISD Gifted and Talented program at Alamo and also runs cross country and track for her school.
Jiujitsu is a family affair for the Fernandezes. Emily’s mom, Liz, supports her training by getting her to the studio every evening and managing her schedule. Her father, Israel, has recently taken up the sport, as well. Both parents incredibly proud of their daughter and say she is proof that kids can be good students and successful athletes.
So what’s next for Hernandez? She recently moved up a division and will be competing with older and tougher competition.
Fernandez is working toward her orange belt and Bastos expects she will earn it within a year. Bastos also wants to take Fernandez to Brazil to compete.
Fernandez said she hopes to one day teach jiujitsu and have her own studio. She said she plans to be strict with her students, while passing on her love of the sport.
“Jiujitsu, it’s a lot of fun and you should try it,” said Hernandez. “It’s addicting.”
Read more: Local jiujitsu champion balances sports, school – MRT.com: Culture http://www.mrt.com/life/culture/article_3dd29b42-c1b5-11e4-b237-a3260624886c.html#ixzz3TLAHsmyg
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