Triumph Over Adversity: The Inspirational Journey of Professor Audrey Kua

From Depression To World Champion, How Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Transformed Her Life

In a world filled with remarkable individuals, there are few who can inspire and captivate us with their unwavering determination and resilience. One such extraordinary person is Ms. Audrey Kua, a renowned martial artist from Singapore. She has conquered personal battles, shattered expectations, and emerged as a beacon of hope for all those facing adversity. With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as her primary focus, Professor Audrey has achieved incredible milestones in the martial arts world, defying all odds and proving that the human spirit is indomitable.

Discovering The Love For Martial Arts

Audrey Kua

When asked about how she first discovered her love for martial arts and why she chose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as her primary focus, Ms. Audrey takes a trip down memory lane. She recalls her childhood fascination with professional wrestling and how it sparked her interest in martial arts. In university, she explored different martial arts disciplines like Karate and Kendo. However, it was during a challenging period in her life, while battling depression, that she rediscovered martial arts. Starting with Muay Thai and eventually transitioning to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, she found a deep passion for BJJ and its unique combination of technique, strategy, and physicality.

The Role Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu In Personal Growth And Mental Well-being

Gracie Barra Singapore

Ms. Audrey highlights the significant role Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has played in her personal growth and mental well-being. She bravely shares her experience of being diagnosed with brain cancer, undergoing major surgeries, and continuing her BJJ training throughout her treatment. The resilience she has developed through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has given her the strength to face these challenges with courage and determination. The sport’s emphasis on never giving up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, has shaped her mindset and provided her with a sense of hope. She also emphasizes the importance of community support, both from her BJJ teammates and her medical team, in her journey toward recovery.

Overcoming Depression and Finding Balance

Audrey Kua and her journey with the supportive community at Gracie Barra Singapore

Addressing the topic of managing depression and building confidence through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ms. Audrey acknowledges the complex relationship between mental health and training. While exercise releases endorphins and positively impacts mental well-being, she also highlights the need for a balanced approach. She discusses how finding a balance between medication and training has been crucial for her, especially during periods of injury or reduced training frequency due to chemotherapy. Additionally, she emphasizes the pivotal role played by the supportive community at Gracie Barra Singapore in helping her overcome self-doubt and build confidence. The genuine friendships she has formed both on and off the mats have been instrumental in boosting her belief in herself and her abilities.

Building Confidence And Overcoming Self-Doubt

Self-doubt can often be a barrier to personal growth and achievement. Professor Audrey’s struggle with depression intensified her self-doubt, but the supportive community at Gracie Barra Singapore became her pillar of strength. Genuine and loyal friendships cultivated on and off the mats played a pivotal role in boosting her confidence. With such an empowering support system, it became increasingly difficult for her to doubt herself. Surrounding herself with compassionate individuals enabled her to believe in her abilities and overcome the challenges that came her way.

Channeling Grief Into Motivation

In 2019, Professor Audrey faced the painful loss of her beloved grandmother shortly before competing in the Abu Dhabi World Masters Jiu-Jitsu Championships. To honor her grandmother’s memory, she channeled her grief into motivation. Reflecting on her grandmother’s suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, she drew strength from the realization that her own hardships paled in comparison. Determined to make her grandmother proud, she pushed herself to achieve greatness on the world stage.

The Podium Moment: Exceeding Expectations

Standing on the podium after winning the championship, Professor Audrey experienced a flood of emotions. While happiness was certainly present, the overwhelming feeling was one of relief. The nerves that had consumed her throughout the competition finally dissipated. She looked forward to sharing a celebratory dinner with her team, having diligently adhered to strict dietary guidelines leading up to the tournament. The victory not only surpassed her expectations but also solidified her unwavering commitment to her craft.

Starting Gracie Barra Singapore: A Vision Of Dedication And Complementary Training

Gracie Barra Singapore on their Post-Competition pictorials

When asked about the story behind starting Gracie Barra Singapore and her vision for the gym, Ms. Audrey shared an inspiring tale of passion and dedication. She expressed her desire for a school dedicated solely to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where even non-BJJ classes would complement the martial arts. Ms. Audrey’s goal was to create a space where yoga for BJJ or wrestling for BJJ could be seamlessly integrated, enhancing the overall training experience.

In 2017, she took the initiative and reached out to Professor Alisson Braga, her husband’s student and best friend, to discuss the possibility of starting Gracie Barra in Singapore. Given their shared lineage and the smooth setup process, they embarked on their journey. Initially, they started in a small 1300 square foot space on Hong Kong Street, with humble facilities and the support of friends and family who played vital roles in setting up the school.

Today, Gracie Barra Singapore has grown significantly and relocated to a larger facility in Bugis, doubling its size. The gym now boasts a lounge, a workout area, and two mat spaces. Ms. Audrey expresses her heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to the growth and success of the school, acknowledging the support that helped shape it into what it is today.

Future Goals And Aspirations: Personal Achievements And Expanding BJJ’s Reach

When asked about her future goals and aspirations, both personally and for Gracie Barra Singapore, Ms. Audrey shared her passion for competition and her desire to return to the world stage. She envisions competing at prestigious events like the World Championships once she completes her cancer treatment, pushing her limits and representing her country.

For Gracie Barra Singapore, her vision extends beyond her personal achievements. She aims to train and nurture more local BJJ instructors, contributing to the growth and development of the BJJ community in Singapore. Additionally, she dreams of expanding the reach of Gracie Barra into the heartlands, making quality BJJ instruction more accessible to individuals who may find it challenging to commute to the city.

Impact Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu In Singapore And Contributions To Raising The Standard

Reflecting on the impact of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the martial arts scene in Singapore, Ms. Audrey acknowledges the growth of local tournaments, making Singapore a sought-after destination in Southeast Asia for quality competition. She believes that the increasing number of BJJ and MMA schools in the country contributes to this development. At Gracie Barra Singapore, she encourages her teammates, regardless of their experience level, to participate in competitions. She emphasizes that competing provides valuable experience and opportunities for improvement, transcending the focus solely on winning medals.

Training And Preparation For High-Level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition

Delving into the training and preparation required to compete at a high level in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ms. Audrey highlights the importance of training high-percentage techniques. These techniques may not always appear flashy but are known for their effectiveness and reliability. Focusing on fundamental techniques and refining them allows competitors to achieve consistent results and withstand the pressures of intense competition. She draws from her experience as a white belt, emphasizing the significance of mastering foundational skills throughout one’s journey.

Overcoming Gender-Related Challenges In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Women of the Gracie Barra Singapore

As a female martial artist in a traditionally male-dominated sport, Ms. Audrey sheds light on the unique challenges she has faced throughout her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey. While initially there were few women training alongside her, most eventually quit, leaving her predominantly training with male partners. She acknowledges the potential discrepancy in strength between herself and some male training partners. However, at Gracie Barra Singapore, they prioritize being good partners to each other, irrespective of gender or experience. They adjust their intensity levels to match their training partners’ abilities, fostering a supportive and safe training environment for all.

Navigating Gender Biases And Embracing Passion

Ms. Audrey discusses her journey as a female martial artist in a male-dominated sport, recalling the stereotypes and biases she encountered along the way. Prior to getting married, she was told by individuals unfamiliar with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that no man would want to marry her due to the perceived lack of femininity and an aggressive demeanor associated with the martial art. However, she met her husband through BJJ, and he is now the head instructor of Gracie Barra Singapore. Ms. Audrey finds strength and joy in sharing her passion with her partner, emphasizing the importance of being with someone who appreciates and supports one’s pursuits.

Encouragement For Women Interested In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

To women interested in pursuing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but feeling intimidated by the male-dominated space, Ms. Audrey advises them to try out multiple schools before committing to one. It is crucial to find a school where they feel comfortable and respected. She suggests observing how male students train and interact with women already training at the school as a gauge of the environment. Additionally, women-only classes, such as those offered at Gracie Barra Singapore, provide a supportive and empowering space for female practitioners to learn and grow.

Overcoming Obstacles And Doubts: Lessons From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Drawing from her experiences in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the challenges she has faced, Ms. Audrey offers advice for individuals navigating obstacles or doubts in their personal lives or pursuits. Similar to the mindset she imparts to her teammates on competition day, she emphasizes the importance of focusing on what one can control. While it may not be possible to alter external circumstances, one can choose to fight hard and persevere, refusing to give up. This resilience and determination extend beyond the mats, offering valuable insights for tackling various aspects of life with a similar mindset.

Professor Audrey Kua’s journey in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not only a testament to her personal growth and achievements but also an inspiration for individuals seeking empowerment, community, and resilience. Her vision for Gracie Barra Singapore reflects a commitment to providing a dedicated space for the martial art while nurturing local talent. Through her contributions to the BJJ scene in Singapore and her dedication to overcoming gender biases, Professor Audrey continues to leave an indelible mark on the martial arts landscape, inspiring others to embrace their passions and push past their limits.

Visit Gracie Barra Singapore’s website here.

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