The story of one mother’s journey to Jiu-Jitsu through helping her son become a Black Belt world champion
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Interviewee: Claudia de Novaes Lima
Photo by: Personal archive/Claudia N. Lima
Photo description: Claudia and her son Caio Terra at the 2008 California Word Championships
There is a saying that “as God could not be everywhere, he made mothers.” This proverb is present in Jiu-Jitsu, in the gyms, championships, and in daily care so that the athletes generated by them can win the world!
What if these mothers discovered the gentle art at the moment that, in order to encourage their children, they had to start practicing it?
This scenario is precisely what happened with the carioca and multi-sportswoman Claudia de Novais Lima, retired civil servant, ex-dancer and acrobat, surfer, Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, and mother of two Black Belts: Kim and Caio Terra.
As she said: “I went to take Caio to train Jiu-Jitsu because he had some episodes of fighting at school. He was being bullied, and I don’t let anyone take sh*t home.” I said to him, ‘Go learn to fight’! And then I went to take him to train Jiu-Jitsu.”
It turns out that there was no one his size in training. So, as I am also small, the teacher asked me to go and practice with him. I started to practice, but only for as long as it took for him to make friends and feel welcomed because I wanted him to be comfortable, you know, not just going with mommy.”
Claudia abandoned Jiu-Jitsu after two months of practice, only staying behind the scenes as she continued to advise her children as athletes on a daily basis and at championships.
The return to the mat
It was during the first championship that Caio Terra competed and won as a Black Belt that the desire to practice the sport reappeared in Claudia… but for an unusual reason. “When Caio became a Black Belt and went to fight the first championship in 2008, I went to California to watch, and he was champion! So, when I watched the fight, I realized that although I took him to many championships, I didn’t understand anything at all; I didn’t know the rules. Watching his fight, I thought he was suffering; but he was winning! I left there determined to understand this world that now belonged to him. I went back to Brazil to take a class. The teacher taught me the rules, and from that, a new world opened up for me! I didn’t practice anymore because of my children, I did it for myself, and I started to like it a lot,” said Claudia.
Jiu-Jitsu has now entered Claudia’s life to stay and also add to a new bond with her children. “Our conversations always revolve around Jiu-jitsu. For example, Caio does camps every two years in Brazil and brings tourists to practice Jiu-Jitsu here in Rio de Janeiro, and Kim and I are always with him at these events. Thus, Jiu-Jitsu became a factor of unity among us.”
And don’t think that the children go soft on their mother on the mat. “During a trip that I went on to visit Kim in Hawaii, he had me train several times a day! I came back to Brazil with my knee all hurt,” said the Black Belt laughing.
Gratitude is also a feeling that populates Claudia’s thoughts when talking about her life as a mother. She thought that she had helped her son find the path he would brilliantly walk in life, but he actually helped her to find a new path for herself. “I am very grateful to Caio for putting Jiu-Jitsu in my life! Because, although I took him to train Jiu-Jitsu, he stayed and encouraged me to come back. He was also the one who showed his brother that path, and became the greatest example for him,” said Claudia, thrilled to talk about her two-time world champion in GI, a world champion in no-gi, and the only bantamweight to win men’s absolute in IBJJF tournaments.
The sky is the limit
When asked if there is an age to enter or train Jiu-Jitsu, she, who started training at the age of 45, replied: “There is no age for nothing; age is in our head. I just entered a footvolley school. I’m terrible, but I have a lot of fun! I surf the bodyboard; sports complement each other. All knowledge takes us to the next knowledge. I used to do ballet. From ballet, I went to circus acrobatics, from there I went to Jiu-Jitsu, and from Jiu-Jitsu, I don’t know where I’m going.”
For anyone who is a warrior on and off the mats, as a mother and sportsman, not even the sky is the limit!