GB Ambassador : Mina Burnside

The Gracie Barra Ambassadors Program is about recognizing and supporting GB athletes in their journey of competition, achieving their personal best and representing the Red Shield.  will share profiles of Gracie Barra athletes, their philosophies of Jiu-Jitsu, goals and advice on competition so that you can get to know these exceptional people and learn from their experiences along the way.
Meet the GB Ambassador : Mina Burnside

1)  Let’s start with sharing your back  ground in Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu. Where are you from, your age, competitive achievements, home academy, when and why you started training Jiu-Jitsu?
I am Mina Burnside from Gracie Barra Franklin, Tennessee. (although when I started it was known as Gracie Barra Coolsprings).
I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 17 years old and I immediately fell in love with it. I’m talking “finished-my-first-class-and-knew-it-was-what-I-wanted-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life” type of fell in love with it. I started training because I wanted to get in better shape and I was going through some major struggles in my life.

“Jiu-jitsu gave me an outlet and a way to find strength within myself.
My dream for Jiu-Jitsu is to help other women find
that same strength within themselves.”
I did my first competition about 3 months into my journey and learned very quickly how different the energy inside a tournament is. I did a few more tournaments at white belt but I didn’t start competing seriously until about 3/4 through my blue belt and then again about 2 years into my purple belt (I’ll explain more later).
I am now 23 years old and I am currently living and training in Phoenix, Arizona.

2) GB:  How/ When did you start to compete and what motivates you? When did you start take competing seriously?
My very first competition was at white belt with about 2 stripes on it. I didn’t start competing seriously until midway through blue belt and then again seriously about 2 years into my purple belt. I trained all through college but some semesters made it very difficult to travel for competition, so I would just do all the local tournaments that I could. Once I graduated, I started to compete more and more because it put me so far out of my comfort zone. The more I did it, the more anxious I got each time until slowly, the nerves started getting more manageable.
In 2018 I moved to Arizona and I have had the amazing privilege to train with some of the most serious athletes I have ever met. 2018 is also the year I started competing very seriously again. In a period of 9 months I competed in 15 tournaments and one Fight 2 Win.
Having the training partners I do who help push me to my limits and expand those limits is the most motivating aspect of the process. What I love most about Gracie Barra is that we win together or we learn together.

3) GB:Tell us a little about your training routine to prepare for tournaments? What else do you do in addition to your BJJ training?
To me, Jiu-Jitsu training has a few different components, including Physical Training and Mental Training.
For the Physical training, Gracie Barra Arizona offers 5 official competition training sessions throughout the week. They vary from North Phoenix and South Phoenix in order to make it possible for as many people to participate. To supplement my competition training, I also try to hit some extra classes or rolling in the evenings as well (and occasionally a Sunday class). I also started weight training early in the mornings before work.
To prepare for tournaments, we usually do a lot of “shark tank” training and explosive training to help us get into the proper mentality of “it’s not over until someone says stop.” To me, this is the mental training.

4) GB:  What are the principle attitudes do you think you need to have to achieve the position of a GB Ambassador?
Being a GB Ambassador isn’t about just having one type of attitude. In order to be a well-rounded athlete, it is important to be hard-working, encouraging, and most importantly: coachable. An ambassador’s job is to represent GB on and off the mats, so living with these principles in day-to-day life is a must.
Another important principle to have as an Ambassador is to be resilient. At some point, everyone may have a bad season. But one of my coaches put it the best: “Your results are not your character.” And I try to remember that if a tournament doesn’t go my way. For me, the process (the training, the clean eating, etc) is both the most important and the most fun part

5) GB: What does being a GB Ambassador mean for you?
To me, being an Ambassador for Gracie Barra means I represent the team and our core values in every aspect of my life. Jiu-Jitsu really is for everyone and my dream is to help other women realize the strength they have within. I also want to be an example for any younger kids who may want to make a career out of Jiu-Jitsu and show the importance of healthy eating, living a healthy lifestyle, and the difference between trying to be THE best and trying to be YOUR best.
Being an ambassador also means I have a huge
responsibility to represent my team at tournaments.
As important as it is to be a good winner,
it is also important to be a good loser,
meaning accepting wins and losses with
a healthy attitude.”

6) GB: What does Gracie Barra mean to you? Tell us about how Jiu-Jitsu influences your life on and off the mats.
Gracie Barra means family. Through Gracie Barra I have been able to see what my potential is as an athlete. It also makes me strive to be a better person every day.
I am so lucky to have some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met as coaches and professors. I have seen how Gracie Barra’s coaches and professors have helped others, whether it’s helping them achieve their true potential or just getting them through a hard day with a full team of support.
Jiu Jitsu has a beautiful way of influencing every aspect of your life if you let it. It helps to relieve stress, it helps the way you problem solve, it improves your reflexes, et cetera. It does wonders to help me manage my anxiety, too.
Jiu jitsu is also great about making you want to leave your comfort zone.

7) GB: Any training tips for our readers?
My mental strategy when going for competitions is learning how to stay calm enough to have a good time. Learn how to control your breathing and mentally start untying that knot that may be in your stomach. Just remember: you are there to become a better athlete.

8) GB: Do you want to give a shout out to any coaches or training partners?
I want to give a HUGE shoutout to:
Professor Flavio Almeida for his amazing competition classes and wisdom he has given me on and off the mats. You are the definition of what a leader should be.
Professors Paulo and Louis Piu for their constant support and for taking their time to always help me improve my game.
Professor Dan Mehrkar (also my first jiu jitsu coach) for bringing me out to GB Arizona and welcoming me to his school with open arms.
Coach Vivi Almeida for always giving me the hardest rolls of my life.
All of the other GBAZ Ambassadors for putting in the constant hard work it takes to make this program a reality.
And every single member of GB Arizona.
We are Gracie Barra.