Emily Kwok

Emily was the first woman in Canada to receive her black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the first to win a world championship. 

Click here to listen to the interview

Below is an overview of some of the topics Sarah and Emily unpack:

  • As an instructor never assume what people know,because my normal may not be your normal’. To not allow students to dictate what to teach because they may be ‘bored’ of a technique or concept. The instructor through their experience has knowledge of what the students need, it is the instructors responsibility to teach not what the students think they want, but what they need - and recognizing the importance of that.

  • Black belt is a licence to learn. Getting your black belt prepares you for everything Jiu-Jitsu has to offer. Solid fundamentals are what allows you to build on those foundational principles, and by adding new techniques and concepts in an efficient way. Along with this comes the ability to deconstruct something you are working on, to develop it on deeper levels. At black belt you have the ability to do that (whereas in a blue belt we are simply learning how to move right).

  • Keep the superpower in the back pocket.  If an individual is really good at something, put that superpower in your back pocket and work on what you aren’t good at. It is not about cruising through, it’s not just about doing what comes easily to you, it’s about working hard and working consistently to create a balanced game (to prepare for black belt). 

    • This is also a great parallel to life, having the ability to to build the tolerance for the bandwidth to handle stress.

  • Jiu Jitsu can allow us to practice and problem solve the intangible aspects of our life (Example: for someone who is impatient. In BJJ it allows so much intent, energy and focus into what we are doing. Patience in learning the techniques of armbar - set up, execution etc. Patience in escaping bad positions, patience in executing certain techniques. Now we are more observant in these situations, and through this process are able to learn more patience). 

    • How BJJ can give people tools to better equip people to be successful in life. There is no cheating BJJ, no magic pill, no shortcut, it comes down to hard work. BJJ forces you to have a very diligent mind, patience, creating context, asking yourself what you want out of this. 

  • Reality VS the Story: Our reality and the story we tell ourselves via training and even competition VS what is really going on. How to take a step back and put that into perspective. Separating what we want to tell ourselves (especially in a bad moment) VS what is real.

  • Different versions of ourselves. How we evolve into different versions of ourselves as life changes, and accepting what that looks like as we recognize the pros and cons. 

    • How we evolve and change

    • How we think sometimes what we were is better than what we are now - which isn’t always the case. 

    • What can we do now, that we couldn’t do then.

    • Importance of celebrating what we can do and who we are now. (Example, someone who took a break off the mats due to having kids or injury). 

    • Comparing you to you, not to anyone else. Managing expectations. There is no point in comparing ourselves to others, we are just as unique as each of our walks of life and each of our stories. Only compare you, to you:

      •  What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? 

      • How far have you grown in your journey, what can you do not do because you put in the work that you couldn't do two weeks ago

    Furthermore than that, clarification of goals are important to be in alignment with, because it keeps us focused not only with where we are going, but what we want out of the art. 

            • What are your goals

            • Where do you want to be?  

            • What do you want out of BJJ?

              • Do you want to train for fitness or to be a world champion?

    • Concepts to prolong longevity of BJJ - How to train BJJ for a long time. How can I protect myself now? (Choose my training partners, don't wrestle to the death every day), choosing training partners that benefit my rounds. What are my goals (what do I want). How can I position myself now so I can meet my end goals ten years later? How do I want myself to be set up? 

    Click here to listen to the interview

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