Athlete Focus: Self Defense Director, BJJ Competitor, and Super Mom, Miyo Strong

It's not every day you come across someone like Miyo Strong. Focused on women's empowerment, teaching self-defense, and giving back to her community, Miyo also somehow finds time for a host of other endeavors and responsibilities.

Now a BJJ brown belt she trains and competes full time and is a Master's World Champion! She also coaches BJJ athletes, trains clients as a certified trainer with Gym Jones, and is a full-time mom to two amazing daughters. Not to mention, she's also in incredible shape and works hard to better herself every day.

We are proud to have her represent the HYPERFLY banner and share a bit of her story with you. 

Can you tell us about your role with Smart Defense and what that organization is trying to accomplish?

I am the Program Director. The Elizabeth Smart Foundation mission is...'Bringing hope and ending the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through prevention, recovery, and advocacy'.

Smart Defense embodies all of our mission. Our students are survivors working to heal, they are women and girls wanting to prevent sexual violence (SV), they are community organizations and leaders that believe in advocating and helping all women and girls feel empowered and worthy.

Why is it important for women to take self defense seriously?

The numbers surrounding SV are astounding. The likelihood of someone you know and/or love experiencing some sort of SV in their lifetime is upwards of 1 in 3. Over 86% of all SV happens at the hands of intimate partners. We have a right to keep ourselves educated to the risks, as well as help keep other females safe and empowered. We are all so much more capable and worthy than we know.

Can you give us a few quick tips for women, that doest require any training, to better defend themselves?

1.Take up space. Head held high, shoulders back, eyes up, stay aware.

2.Use/find your voice. Speak your truth and your mind and understand you are worthy of love, respect and set clear boundaries.

3.Be willing to have some difficult conversations with friends and family about sexual violence, start the dialogue, take the shame and guilt away by being open minded and empathetic to others that have had experiences of abuse/trauma. 

Why do you focus on BJJ as your martial art of choice? Is it the best martial art for women?

We actually focus on BJJ, Krav Maga and Muay Thai equally. There are so many real world SV situations that look like guard or mount, so feeling confident and capable off of our backs is really important. Learning to move yourself rather than your attacker (who is most likely larger and stronger) is rooted in jiu jitsu too. We also address the fundamentals of striking, eye gouging, head butting, biting, fish hooking.... any of the dirty Krav approaches prove to be very effective in self defense situations.

 You’re a mother, a trainer, and an avid competitor. How do you manage your responsibilities and stay in top shape?

This is a constant "needs improvement" area of my life. I am a mother before all other responsibilities, but being in a profession/sport that I am very passionate about actually helps me be a better parent. It's a bonus that my profession also allows me to make physical health as much a priority as mental health. When I take care of me, I am better able to take care of my daughters.

What’s one piece of advice you have for someone thinking of getting into martial arts or self defense?

Trust your gut. If you get a weird feeling at a new gym, listen. If you get uneasy around certain people/training partners/coaches, listen. Understand that you are not alone and that there are many women willing and able to help guide and support you in your journey.

Whats your favorite piece of HYPERFLY gear and why?

The Hyperlyte Gi is my go to for all things. From daily training to competing, I feel confident and comfortable in such a high quality, lightweight gi. I also LOVE the new ONE camo rash guard. Super flattering design and cut and it stays put when I train hard!

Follow Miyo on Instagram here!

Learn about another super woman Margot Ciccarelli here.
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