While filming our first episode of Behind the Design with Justin Bua, we couldn’t help but be seriously impressed and inspired when we heard about his daughter Akira Bua, a top jiu-jitsu champ at just 12-years-old!
Living Spaces: How did you become a jiu-jitsu champ at such a young age?
Akira Bua: I started jiu-jitsu 3 years ago, when my dad brought me to a class at the school where he was training. At first, I hated it, but my dad told me to give it one more chance. It still wasn’t my favorite the second time, but I slowly started to enjoy it more. I kept at it and eventually fell in love with the sport. The more I practiced, the better I got, and the better I got, the more I wanted to do it.
LS: For those of us who are not familiar with the sport, can you explain a little about jiu-jitsu and the form you practice?
AB: Jiu-jitsu moves are basically chokes and locks. There are two kinds of jiu-jitsu: Gi and Nogi. I practice Nogi. I also practice wrestling, as wrestling is more intense. It never stops, and I noticed that my wrestling practice helps improve my jiu-jitsu game.
LS: How often do you train?
AB: I train 2 to 4 hours a day, 6 days a week.
LS: How does your training impact other facets of your life?
AB: Jiu-jitsu isn’t just a form of fitness, it keeps me calm and centered. Jiu-jitsu is about letting go of ego, and I can apply that to any situation. Also, working out so often allows me to channel my energy.
I believe jiu-jitsu is one of the most intense practices anybody can do, and it teaches you so many different life lessons, from humility, to discipline, to understanding the psyche. If you can survive jiu-jitsu, you can survive anything.
LS: Do you plan to pursue jiu-jitsu as a full-time career when you’re older?
AB: I don’t know if I want to practice jiu-jitsu for a living, but I believe it will always be beneficial. As my dad says: “Jiu-jitsu is the hardest thing you will ever do, and if you can be great at that, then everything else will be easy because of how much discipline jiu-jitsu requires.”
LS: What advice do you have for girls who want to practice jiu-jitsu or any other sport?
AB: If you want to play a sport or try another physical activity, go for it. Don’t worry about being judged for doing a “boy” thing. You’re just as good as any boy . . . and in many cases, even better! Girls can be great athletes, and we can succeed at many different things. We have to celebrate how far we’ve come in sports and how much further we’re going to go. Watch out, boys!
LS: How do you deal with any homesickness on the road?
AB: When I’m on the road, bringing my own snacks helps me feel at home, since I’m vegan. I love to eat healthy, and my diet includes a lot of raw foods. I also love traveling with my dad, because we play games and tell jokes.
LS: What are your other hobbies?
AB: Besides jiu-jitsu, I enjoy reading and writing (and watching TV, if that counts).
LS: What has been the highlight of your experience as a star jiu-jitsu practioner?
AB: The best part of getting recognition for jiu-jitsu is being able to inspire other young girls who are interested in sports.
Watch Akira Bua in action at @akirabua