“I don't see how you do it.”
Sometimes I'm not really sure myself. Let me introduce myself because I'm sure many are not familiar with who I am. My name is Amanda Toups, I am an avid practitioner of the gentle art and a full time mother. I have been training for 3 ½ years which is just a mere nanosecond in comparison to others. I'm a late start in this sport and a little bit older. I honestly had no idea what Jiu-Jitsu was up until around 4 years ago. My personal trainer and friend, Johannes Azucena, was teaching a morning class at Davis Martial Arts. He invited me to come try a class and I was hooked. I now train at Renzo Gracie Lake Houston, and I could never imagine myself without Jiu-Jitsu. I have not really competed much in my journey,
but I will be gracing the stage for my first ever super fight on October 25th on the all women’s SHP card. I have heard it all in regards to my training coupled with me trying my best to raise a family. I get it some people don't understand how I could do this day in and day out, but I don’t understand how they can't.
Being a mother is one of the single most hardest things I have ever done in my life. I have three beautiful children. A forever testing his limits 14-year-old and twin 11-year-olds. Yes, my hands are full, and so is my schedule. In addition to raising them, I am a college student, an employee, a wife, and recently added to the list, a competitor. I have many hats I wear and sometimes multiple at one time. However, Jiu-Jitsu has made me a better mother, actually a better person, because I get time to focus on me and only me. It is my safe space to decompress while I protect my neck. Sometimes I wake up at 5 am to get all of our day started. I have to rush here and go there and do this and do that. By the end of the day, my anxiety level is high and I need to unwind. When I step into class, I don't have to worry about any of those chaotic and taunting things floating around in my head. I get one hour, sometimes two, to unleash my emotions on unsuspecting partners and be present in the moment. The mats are the one place that I have that are mine. I don't have to be anyone else. I am not the keeper of homework, or the decision maker for dinner. I don't have to worry about providing emotional security or keeping the peace. It is just me and my partner, and the only thing I am responsible for now is my actions and reactions. When I leave class and head back home and walk in that door to greet my family, my responsibilities are right where I left them. I get to pick up my variety pack of hats I wear and get back to business. However, this time it's with a clear, less cluttered state of mind.
There is nothing wrong with having a hobby and enjoying things other than being a mother. We are people first. We have needs, wants and desires that need to be met. Our minds need mental escapes from the grueling drain of the weight we carry for our children. We need to have a place to release stress and maintain our mental health. Being healthy is not only about what we eat and how much cardio we do. It is also about being whole mentally. Jiu Jitsu provides that for me. Plus, there is nothing more liberating knowing that I could choke out or take down someone that messes with us.