I Want Her To Be Proud Of Me... | Johanna Heaney's BJJ Story: The Fighter That Never Gives Up!

    Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @johanessa_128

    Jiu-Jitsu Girls

    Full Name: Johanna Heaney 

    Age: 35

    Belt Colour: white 

    Professor: Darlynson Lira

    Short Term Goals: Pass my first belt test and earn my blue belt and win the next Ms. Health and Fitness 2019

    Submission Shark:

    Life can be full of difficult moments that test your will and strength. You never know what hard times may be on the horizon, but sometimes in life, you are presented with a blessing and a new reason to become the best version of yourself. Johanna Heaney is a martial arts practitioner that found a new life through this art form and motivation from her daughter. Through her passions of both, she has become an inspiration for others by teaching and sharing her love for fitness and martial arts to those that may find benefit from it. Her story is filled with difficult times and is a reminder to everyone that no matter how hard life gets, you just have to find your reason to keep fighting and never give up!

    How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?

    Johanna Heaney BJJ Team

    8 months at Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca 

    Do you prefer gi or no-gi?

    I like both equally 

    Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?

    Johanna Heaney Jiu-Jitsu Friends

    Absolutely 100% we are more than a team we are family and everyone has helped and support me since day one

     Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca

    What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?

    Discipline, respect, commitment, no giving up, work hard, be positive, stay strong, be humble... I can go on and on 

    How often do you train?

    lol call me crazy but I train 6 days a week 

    What made you want to start training?

     Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca

    I train at the school for almost 4 years just kickboxing and I want it to try bjj for awhile but I felt like it couldn’t do it. So one day I just took the class I couldn’t stop. I have a lot to learn and to improve but every day I give it my best and just keep training to become better then I use to be. 

    Do you plan on training your whole life?

    Yes !!! No doubt... I can’t see myself without Jiu-Jitsu 

    What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?

    Johanna Jiu-Jitsu Competition

    For me challenging myself every training be better than yesterday. Adrenaline after every roll ... the connection mind and body is amazing 

    What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?

    Jiu-Jitsu has made me stronger. Things that I would never think possible to do, I can and when I can’t I will go back the next day and do it again.

    Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?


    Absolutely the darkest times in my life and jiu-jitsu saved me .. made me stronger! 

    Johanna Heaney

    If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?

    <img src="//cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2278/5001/files/Johanessa_123_blog_picture_024_large.jpg?v=1562009810" alt="&lt;img src=&quot;//cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2278/5001/files/Johanessa_123_blog_picture_018_large.jpg?v=1562009852&quot; alt=&quot; Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca &quot; /&gt;" />

    Start sooner ... for sure! I regret no starting 4 years ago when I joined the school. But I’m happy I did. 

    What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?

    Just try it ... don’t be intimidated or scared just go for it! Your mind is your limit 

    Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?

    I want to earn my black belt and make my Sensei proud, my team proud and of course my daughter 

    Johanna Heaney

    What’s your favourite move?

    Kimora / elbow choke / Americana / dbl heal sweep / 

    Johanna Heaney Jiu-Jitsu

    If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?

    I don’t know ... to be honest 

    Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?

    <img src="//cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2278/5001/files/Johanessa_123_blog_picture_018_large.jpg?v=1562009852" alt=" Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca " />

    Jiu-Jitsu is not easy but it will be awesome to see more people practicing especially girls, mom and daughters.

    Mirella Attalah's BJJ Story

    Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?

    Jiu-Jitsu Girls

    Team Lira we are family always helping each other to become better ... But my Sensei has pushed me every training to become better and stronger. He makes me believe in myself since day one. 

     Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca

    When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?

    Johanna Heaney BJJ Competition

    I think the concept connecting with my body .. so I can do it ... I still have a lot to learn so I’m putting the time I'm committed 💯 this is my life now so I won’t stop. 

    If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?

    Brazil Flag

    Master Darcio Lira the founder of our school I admire so much his legacy .. so I hope what day I can personally meet him go to Brazil and train at his school there. 

    What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?



    Inspire through fitness

    I want to give back ... and I think the best way I can do that is by helping people that are struggling ... because I was there so I know the feeling ... when someone said to me you inspired me is like my heart burst in happiness because making that connection with people to help them makes me happy .. makes me feel very blessed and humble.

    Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.

    Going through Divorce, trying to find a place to live for me and my daughter and not having a family to help me, I came to the United States when I was 21 and all my family is back home (Costa Rica)

    Depressed Girl

    After I and my daughter moved to an apartment she got pretty sick and after many visits to the doctor and test and spending a lot of time in the hospital she was diagnosed with Chrons disease ... I felt pretty depressed and lost I didn’t know how to be strong anymore... I starting training and it was the answer to my prayers ... Jiu-Jitsu gives me that fire back to keep going and not giving up ... stay strong and positive.


    What would you like to say to everyone that supported you on both your BJJ and fitness journey?


    Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️ I honestly don’t have words to express my gratitude..because the support is beyond amazing! I feel very lucky and blessed

     Darcio Lira Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts ln Livermore, ca  

    Has having a child changed your outlook on life?

    Mother and Daughter Johanna Heaney

    Yes being a Mom is the most amazing feeling... every day I wake up ... and I look at my daughter and the love and the feeling is beyond extraordinarily... I just want to be the best Mom, show her the world, make her feel proud of me ... be a good example for her.

    Does your daughter train jiu-jitsu as well?

    She did for 6 months when she was 4 she decided to stop ... so now that I’m training she will be back. Can’t wait to be in the mats with her.

    What's it like sharing a passion with her? 

    Great! Nothing like the feeling of sharing my passion with my mini-me. 

    Jiu-jitsu Girls Mom and Daughter

    I’m feeling blessed to share this moment with my daughter ...I hope that one day she can look back at these pictures and feel the same way ... After all the negativity we have been through together we learn how to turn that negativity into something positive and stay strong and happy through the bad times ... Something that I’m very thankful is to make the decision to start Jiu-jitsu and REALLY!! committed to it. Has made me believe in myself and challenge myself ... stay humble and be better every day ...I'm so thankful for all the new friends I have made along the way people that believe in me and are there for me ... Always motivating me to keep going ... I’m very proud to be part of the Lira Team 

    If she reads this article one day when she's older, what would you like to say to her?

    Johanna Heaney

    I want her to be proud of me .. she can say that’s my Mom! Excitement and respect.

    Do you have any advice for women that are expecting a child soon and they are nervous about it?

    Take a deep breath and go with the flow ... don’t overstress. You will know exactly what to do when you are holding your baby for the first time ... you will just know. no books .. or advice from outside will know your child as you do ..  the bond is amazing! 

    What got you interested in fitness and what do you enjoy about it now?

    Johanna Heaney Fitness Journey

    I gained 80lbs with my pregnancy lol yikes and I became a Mom I focus on my baby forgetting to take care of myself ... I got to a point when I was 206lbs and I knew that I need it a chance to be able to take care of my daughter and to be a good example for her ... so I change things around .. eating healthy and training .. here I’m 60lbs down better shape than when I was on my 20s.


    Do you have any advice for anyone that wants to get fit but doesn't know where to start?

    Ask yourself why? Set the goals and do small changes at a time. It's not something you do for 6 months and that’s it is a lifestyle .. and you really need to be committed to do the change! 

    When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?


    A fighter that never gives up... no matter what.



    • Dário Lira

      Parabéns pelo belíssimo testemunho de vida, Joanna! Desejo-lhe tudo de bom nesta Vida. Ah, e o desafio está aceito: 01 hora de luta, sem intervalo para descanso, e … SEM REGRAS. 😘

    • Darlynson Lira

      Great article and very motivational. The Darcio Lira Jiu Jitsu school and the Clan Lira are very proud of you Johanna. Oss!

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