Julie Gomez, a Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ) purple belt, works as both student and teacher on her path to becoming a black belt. She and her husband co-own a BJJ studio, Gomez Jiujitsu, in downtown Los Angeles, combining sport, martial arts, self defense, and community to create a safe space to train and learn.
Starting in college, Julie knew that she wanted to work in the field of health and fitness, but didn’t necessarily know how that would play a role in her life. She started working out at a UFC gym and happened to stumble upon a jiujitsu class. “The moves that they were doing looked super cool, and I thought that might be something worth getting into. I wanted to try a class to see if I liked it. So I tried a class, and had so much fun that I just kept going back”. Fast forward five months, Julie met her now-husband Carlos, who was a BJJ instructor at that gym. They dreamed of opening their own gym together where they could teach and learn in their own space.
Julie was working as a teaching assistant, and had to make the decision to further that career and go back to school, or to leave her job and help out at their academy. Although a scary and tough decision, she ultimately knew what was right for her: “Obviously it’s not your average career choice, especially for a woman. My parents wanted me to do something that brought in money, and that I could support myself with. Which totally makes sense. But I wanted to do something I enjoyed. At first it was about wanting to make money, but then I asked myself, “why am I going to waste my time doing something that I’m not really interested in just for the money?” Life is supposed to be about living and enjoying it”.
Julie knew her passion was jujitsu. She took control of her life and didn’t let the opinions of others affect her decision to change her career. “I think that you should start doing something for yourself and work towards that. It will be tough sometimes. Sometimes you won’t be able to party every weekend, you’ll be working on your goals. You might lose friendships and you have to make sacrifices, because it’s tough running a business. But that’s okay because it’s something that you want make work, and that’s something that you’re interested in that will make you happy in the long run. Time is going to pass, and would you rather be working for someone else or working for your dreams? I would say if you’re passionate about something, then you should start now”.
Not only is Brazilian Jiujitsu a badass martial art, but it also combines discipline, creativity, and compassion for yourself and others. “There are over 2,000 different techniques in the sport. So there’s a lot of room for creativity. There’s a lot of different ways to advance into different positions, or escape into different positions, or to get certain submissions. There’s no one cookie-cutter method to advance. You start to experiment with different techniques, and eventually you find things that just work”. It teaches students valuable life lessons while providing the skills to defend yourself.
It was amazing to learn so much about this martial art and get Julie’s perspective because it goes to show that you can follow your passion and still be successful. She really emphasized how much it means to her as a business women to be working towards her own goals instead of someone else’s. “It’s unconventional in every way, but it’s so rewarding to be able to do something that you enjoy and not work for someone else’s dream”.