TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

That’s What She Said: “Just Between Sisters” – Forging a Bond through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

By Shama Ko

AUSTIN, TX, March 23, 2012 – Sisters….  They can be your best friend or your biggest rival, but what would we do without them? A sister is someone who is there for us when we need it most. They know all the buttons to push to drive us crazy and how to motivate us. No matter how much they get on our nerves sometimes, most of us really do love OUR sisters. It is an unbreakable bond that lasts a lifetime. We couldn’t trade them in even if we tried.

Several groups of sisters have been wrecking it all over Texas’ tournament scene. I caught up with the DeLeon Sisters of Revolution Dojo, the Villalobos sisters of King Webb BJJ- Relson Gracie, and sisters Angelina Gomez and Crystal Venegas of Carlson Gracie Texas. We talked about sisterhood on the mats, the challenges they encounter, how BJJ brought them closer, and how they motivate each other.


Meet the three DeLeon sisters:

I am Kayla DeLeon. I am 12 years old and have been training for 3 years.  I am an orange belt and my instructor is Jeff Messina at Revolution BJJ. Outside of BJJ I like to play volleyball and run. I am not sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I have a lot of time to think about it.

My name is Ashley DeLeon and I am 16. I have been training for 7 ½ years and I have a blue belt. My instructor is also Jeff Messina at Revolution BJJ. I like to wrestle, box, sing, EAT, read and hang out with friends (like every other teenager out there). For my career, I want to be an audio engineer.

My name is Chasity De Leon and I am 17. I have been training for   7 ½ years and now have a blue belt. Jeff Messina is my instructor from Revolution BJJ. I like to wrestle, run, hang out with friends and listen to music.

What made you to start training BJJ? 

Our Dad made all of us start training.

How long have you been training with your sisters?

Kayla : 3 years with both Ashley and Chasity.

Ashley:   7 ½ years with Chasity, 3 years with Kayla.

Chasity: 7 ½ years with Ashley and 3 years with Kayla.

Do you work together with your sisters as partners often during class?  Do you train at home together?

Yes, we all train together both at the gym and at home.

What are the benefits and challenges of learning Jiu-Jitsu together?

Kayla: My sisters know a lot more than me so it’s good to have them around to teach me what they know to help me become even better. They can teach me new things and help me get better with the things I need to work on.  The challenges are because my sisters have been doing Jiu-Jitsu longer than me, they always beat me right now in class. But I have confidence that when I get a little older, a little bigger, and know more, I will beat them.

Ashley:   The benefits are teaching each other different techniques and helping each other to get better. The challenges are adjusting to how each of us grapples. It becomes frustrating because I know how each of my sisters grapple. Competition is also a bit more   fierce with my sisters. There’s that natural sibling rivalry.

Chasity: A challenge we face is that we train together all the time so we begin to learn each other’s style of grappling and being one another becomes harder. There are also times when we get upset with each other and take our aggression out while we grapple. A benefit is that we can help each other learn from the mistakes we’re making since we know each other’s style and technique.

How do you encourage and motivate each other?

Kayla: By making each other feel good about one another and use encouraging words to make each other feel confident and motivated. And when one loses, we try and lift each other up by taking the sadness away.

Ashley:   Although there can be tension between all of us when grappling, we are still family in the end and are there supporting each other in every match. We constantly work with each other and point out each other’s flaws and high points. If one of us loses, the other two are right there with positive things to say. It’s the same if there isn’t a coach at one of our matches, one of us is there to help. No matter what we’re there for each other.

Chasity: By being there for each other and understanding the ups and downs of Jiu-Jitsu, we can provide inspiring words that we can fully trust in. We push each other to become better and we go through training together step by step. We watch each other train and look for any mistakes we may be making or anything we may be doing right. Just being in each other’s corner is motivation in itself, knowing that we are always backing each other up.

Has BJJ brought you closer?  How so?

Kayla:  Yes. Jiu-Jitsu is one big thing we all have in common and do. It’s something we can relate to. It allows us to help each other in ways we thought we couldn’t.

Ashley:   Yes. It gives us something we can all relate to. Each of us has felt the pain of cutting weight, training hard, and losing a match, but we’ve also felt the pride of how far we’ve come and all our accomplishments.

Chasity: Yes, because it gives us something to relate to. We all understand how it feels to win, lose, cut weight and sacrifice.

What’s the best part about having sisters that also train BJJ?

Kayla:  The best part is knowing you have two kick-butt sisters who know what they are doing, and because they are my sisters they can help train me and maybe one day I will be as good as them.

Ashley:   Having sisters to help creates a small bond between us. We push each other to aim high. Also, besides parents, it’s nice to know that there are two other people behind me who genuinely want to see me succeed.

Chasity: It’s like having two other coaches. They know what I do right and what I do wrong. They understand how I feel before and after a match. The criticism I receive from them is the one I trust and feed off. Working with them makes me better and stronger.

Meet the Villalobos sisters:

My name is Serenity Villalobos I am 12 years old, I’ve been training in BJJ for about 2 and a half years. I am currently a yellow belt and train under King Webb of Seguin/Luling MMA in Seguin/Luling Texas. I am also a junior black belt in Tae Kwon Do under the Diaz brothers of Diaz martial arts in San Marcos Texas. I enjoy being outside fishing, camping going to the beach and the river riding my bike and just hanging out with friends. When I grow up I would like to be a female fighter and enter the cage. I would also like to attend Texas A&M and get my degree in the medical field and practice sports medicine. My goal is for my sister and I to open up a gym together.

My name is Cielo Villalobos and I am 13 yrs old. I have a white belt with 3 stripes under King Webb of Seguin / Luling MMA. I was in competitive cheer for 8 years, and I am currently Captain of the Lockhart Junior High cheer squad. I am also involved in cross-country, volleyball, and District Champs for Basketball, and track. I also enjoy the outdoors, and attending live music venues. When I grow up I would like to attend University of Texas in Port Aransas and pursue a degree in Marine Biology. A dream that my sister and I have is to open up a gym.

What made you to start training BJJ? 

Serenity: I was introduced to BJJ at Diaz Martial Arts, and I really enjoyed my instructor. Mr. Eddie Diaz referred me to King Webb. I tried a BJJ class and loved it, and asked my parents if I could enroll. They said yes and I have been there ever since.

Cielo: I decided to try BJJ for one year and not do competitive cheer. I have not gone back to competitive cheer. I really thought I would not like BJJ, but after one class I was hooked. I liked that it was an individual sport. Don’t get me wrong I loved cheer, but that was a team. In BJJ it is you alone against your opponent.

How long have you been training with your sister?

We have been training regularly for about a year. But have been rolling together at home a little longer than that.

Do you work together with your sister as partners often during class?  Do you train at home together?

Yes, we are often paired up in class because of our closeness in age we are 15 months apart and we are pretty much the same size, and sometimes we are the only girls in class.  We often roll at home on mats that my Dad will set up for us in the garage or outside. We will go over techniques that we learned in class.

What are the benefits and challenges of learning Jiu-Jitsu together?

Serenity:  That I always have someone to train with, but during competitions we grapple in different divisions usually at the same time, and I cannot go and watch my sister.

Cielo:  A benefit is having someone my own size to practice with. A challenge that I am constantly faced with is that my little sister is always submitting me, but I know that it is just making me better and stronger.

How do you encourage and motivate each other?

Serenity: I will make sure that she understands the technique. When we are rolling I know when to go hard on her, but I also know when to just be a rolling partner and let her try different submissions.

Cielo: Being so close in age makes us very competitive with each other, but that only brings out the best in the both of us.

Has BJJ brought you closer?  How so?

Serenity: BJJ has brought us closer because I know I can always count on my sister when I need her, and I feel closer to her now that she is not in competitive cheer. It’s like we are hanging out and working out together.

Cello: Yes it has brought us closer because I know my sister will be there for me to train with or just to talk to.

What’s the best part about having a sister that also trains in BJJ?

Serenity: My sister is there for me in class and at home to train with.  She is the one I can always count on to be there for me.  She is my training partner, my confidant, my own personal cheerleader, punching bag (lol) and my best friend. I love it that we share the same interest and the love of BJJ.

Cielo: It is great to have a sister that does BJJ, because whenever we need extra mat time or we are getting ready for a tournament we can go to class, or we can go home and roll. Whenever we get on each other nerves at home, we let out our frustrations in a “healthy” manner on the mat.  We know how to leave what happened on the mat stays at the mat.  I also am thankful when she pushes me, so hard cause it makes me better.

Meet Gomez and Venegas sisters:

I am Angelina Gomez and I am 11 years old.  I have been training for 2 years and I am a 2nd stripe yellow belt with Carlson Gracie Texas – Andre Monteiro. I like to scrapbook, play basketball and want to be a female UFC fighter or Police Officer.

My name is Crystal Venegas and I am 8 years old. I have been training for 2 years and I have a 2nd stripe yellow belt with Carlson Gracie Texas – Andre Monteiro. I also like to scrapbook and swim. I want to be a cop when I grow up.

What made you to start training BJJ? 

Angelina: It was something that interested me when I saw others doing it.

Crystal :I wanted to learn how to fight and because my dad was training in it.

How long have you been training with your sister?

We have both been training for 2 years.

Do you work together with your sister as partners often during class?  Do you train at home together?

We work as partners during class when they group us up together. Sometimes we train at home and go over the moves we learned that day.

What are the benefits and challenges of learning Jiu-Jitsu together?

Angelina : The benefits are that we help each other with techniques. The challenges are that we both have different styles of fighting and sometimes it’s hard to get past my sister’s guard.

Crystal: The benefits I that my sister helps by correcting me if I’m doing a move wrong but she also rolls hard with me, which is a challenge.

How do you encourage and motivate each other?

Angelina:  I secretly whisper to my sister “good luck” and I give her advice on what to do before she rolls.

Crystal: I cheer my sister on and give her advice when she’s rolling with others.

Has BJJ brought you closer?  How so?

Angelina: Yes because we spend more time together learning and less time fighting.

Crystal: Yes because it has brought us closer and we don’t fight as much.

What’s the best part about having a sister that also trains in BJJ?

Angelina: Because she corrects my mistakes and helps me with my techniques.

Crystal: She helps me understand better and guides me through the techniques that are being taught.


Although these sisters honestly shared that they do fight and compete, it seems Jiu-Jitsu has given them a way to “fight” in a healthy way. Rivalry is often a part of sisterhood but so is sharing and encouraging one another. This proves that when sisters unite they are stronger then rolling alone. I’m sure we’ll be seeing these girls around for a long time. The future is bright. Best of luck and thank you for sharing!


About the Author


Shama Ko has actively been a part of and contributed to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community in Texas for close to a decade. She is a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu purple belt at Gracie Humaitá Austin, a champion competitor, a photographer/owner of Mean Streak Photography, a community/event organizer for Girls in Gis and Austin Women’s Open Mat, and most recently a contributing writer to TXMMA. Follow Shama’s endeavors online through any of the links above or through any of these sites: Twitter, FacebookThe Adventures of Shama KoShamaKo.com, and SKOphoto.com.