Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @madsunshinejits
Full Name: Stephanie K. Madden
Belt Colour: White Gi/ Blue No Gi
Professor: Kendrick Coleman under Renato Tavares. Coaches: Diego Pichilingue and Wade Smittle. Professor Buddy Clinton under Royce Gracie
Short Term Goals: Blue Belt No-Gi and Gi World Champion
Being a victim of abuse doesn't define who you are and you can always find a way out of a horrible situation. Stephanie is a great example of how anyone can push through the pain and find peace within their lives again. Through her love of martial arts and having a strong support system, she managed to gain her confidence back and compete on a regular basis. It's amazing to see how jiu-jitsu helped to save another life. Make sure to read the full article as she explains how jiu-jitsu can help empower past victims to live their lives to the fullest again. If jiu-jitsu helped her, it could help you as well. Give it a try!
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
Academy of Martial Arts and Kudos Jiu Jitsu
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
All of my instructors have played a huge role in my outlook in life. How to face problems. Or just encouraged me to be better and keep pushing. I am so blessed to have a life full of jiu-jitsu people that are amazing in their own way.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
Patience. Humility. Strength. Strategy. Growth. Perseverance
How often do you train?
Almost every day if my work schedule and healthy body allow it
What made you want to start training?
An escape from a horrible situation and relationship. Also to defend myself.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
How complex it is. I love how someone of my size can defeat someone bigger if necessary.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
It has helped me maintain a healthy weight, as long as I stay in the gym and eat healthy as well.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
It helps you master your mind, or at least learn how to. With PTSD, you can come into the most random problems or situations and panic. Jiu-jitsu has made me see that there is always a solution around a trigger, issue, or problem, you just have to approach it at a different angle.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything different?
No. The journey started the way it should be and it will continue to.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
What do you have to lose? Try it, it could change your life!
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I want to be a World Champion. I want to teach and become a black belt one day. I would also love to meet Eddie Bravo and be on EBI competing.
Great session at 10th Planet Headquarters Blessed for the opportunity
What’s your favorite move?
I love the kimura trap to the armbar.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I would be lost in the sauce as the Marine Corps saying goes.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
I believe it will and is.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
They do every single day. My boyfriend, Diego Pichilingue, is one of my biggest pushers. I used to love stand up more than jits, but he has changed that for me.
our mouth is a creative weapon. The first sign of a loser is an excuse. Champions take full responsibility for their outcomes...good or bad. Spend less time talking and more time grinding. Stop Making Excuses!
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
How to be a gentle warrior instead of panicking.
Do your kids train jiu-jitsu as well?
They are starting to and I am so excited! They see how much we love it, and they are starting to become more interested.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
The world is full of hate and negativity, I want to show people it isn’t always. I have been used, abused, put down, hurt, but I crawled myself out of it. I want to use my story to inspire others that are in those same situations.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
Yes! I went through a custody battle for my son. The hardest thing to do and it was a very unfair, ugly battle. Jiu-jitsu kept me healthy and balanced during that storm.
As someone that has been through domestic abuse, do you think more women should learn jiu-jitsu as a form of self-defense?
I believe jiu-jitsu is perfect for women trying to get out of that victimhood. I say that in the most sincere way. Sometimes when you are abused, both mentally or physically, you are scared to move forward, you are stuck in the past. They deal with that person daily with the thought of not being able to get away safely. Jiu-jitsu helps empower you. It gives you the tools that you felt you were missing, but you have had them all along.
What would you tell someone that’s going through a domestic abuse problem right now and is afraid to leave?
I would tell them you are not alone and that I am alive. It takes time to heal, but the first step is to get away.
Did that experience cause PTSD? (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
It certainly did. As a Marine, it didn’t help with that PTSD, it added to it.
Do you believe jiu-jitsu can help past victims get their confidence back?
What can society do as a whole to prevent and lower incidents of domestic abuse?
I think there needs to be more awareness and people willing to stand up to bullies and legislation.
If you could send a message to all the abuser out there? What would you tell them?
I need the training, bring it on.
How was your experience being a marine?
It was the most eye-opening, honorable experience I have had. There are always positives and negatives in the military, especially with that hardcore Marine Corps. I do not regret it and sometimes miss the comradery.
What is forever a fighter? and how can people help?
Forever a Fighter is a foundation that my Navy veteran and best friend, Misty Lowder, and I are currently creating. We are trying to get it official, but that takes a lot of time and money. Forever a Fighter actually comes from the tattoo on my collarbone. I got it when I left an abusive relationship. It means “Forever a fighter, never a victim”.
Our goal is to help women veterans with resources, education, and support that they lack now that they are home from active duty and war. A lot of them are overlooked, sadly, or not even recognized as a veteran because it’s a male-dominated community. Our goal is to raise awareness about what they face. It could be with PTSD, MST (Military Sexual Trauma), missing limbs, or even just encouragement. My personal goal is to be able to give them an option to train jiu-jitsu and help them that way if they choose.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a fighter. By that, I mean someone who NEVER GAVE UP! Someone who helped others above and beyond. Someone who was a great mother, sister, daughter, friend, partner.
Thank you so much for sharing Stephanie. Expressing yourself and sharing past experiences isn't easy but I am happy to see that you did it in hopes of inspiring others that might have been going through similar situations as you. It makes me really inspired to know that even though you've been through bad moments in your life, you still managed to work through it and do what you love to do. I think your family, friends, and training partners are very lucky to have you and I believe your story will inspire others to push through the pain and realize that there's more to this life than what they might be experiencing now. Keep doing what you love and I look forward to seeing where your journey goes!