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  • Carolena Valencia is Straight Blast Gym Buford’s Kids Martial Arts Student of the Month for January 2022


    Carolena recently came back to SBG Buford’s Kids Jiu Jitsu program, and what a fantastic addition she has been.

    As the year 2019 came to a close, Meagan and Julio Valencia decided that they wanted to get their daughter, Carolena, involved in a new sport and after-school activity. Her dad was looking at doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Straight Blast Gym Buford and when they discovered that they could train together under the same roof and for the same team they decided to enroll Carolena in the Growing Gorillas Kids Jiu Jitsu program.

    Carolena’s mom, Meagan, told us this about Carolena’s start at SBG:

    “We decided to enroll Carolena in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a few reasons. The first being that we want her to learn how to defend herself and her sisters if ever there’s a need. Aside from self-defense, it’s an outlet for her exercise, an opotunity for her to learn a new skill that she can build upon, and an activity that she can enjoy with both her sister and her Dad.”

    Carolena was a student in our Spidermonkey Kids Jiu Jitsu program (classes for our youngest Jiu Jitsu athletes). When the COVID pandemic hit in March of 2020, her mother decided to pull her from the gym for a while.

    “We took some time off when COVID hit. I was also pregnant at the time so, as much as we wanted to keep Carolena in Jiu Jitsu we decided to play it safe with a new baby at home. We continued to practice Jiu Jitsu at the house and came back when we felt it was safe for the family as a whole.”

    This past fall, Carolena came back to the SBG tribe, this time in our Chimpanzee’s class (6-8 years old). Since returning, she has been a fantastic student to her coaches and a wonderful teammate to the other kids in class.

    Kids Jiu Jitsu Coach Carmen Garcia told us this about Carolena:

    “The other day we were doing front and back rolls in class and, like most of the younger kids, she was going more sideways than forward/backward. I leanded down and gave her some instructions to help her rolls and asked her if she’d give that a try. She had such a positive attitude about it and said ‘I’ll try’ and immediatly nailed it.”

    Kids Jiu Jitsu Coach Byron Strickland added this:

    “Carolena always pays attention in class, she is never disruptive, and she is a great student when it comes to learning and displaying the techniques of the day. She is a safe training partner and follows directions like a champ. She’s been a really good addition to class.”

    With only a couple of months spent in our Spidermonkey classes, Carolena has already established herself as one of the core students on the mats. Her coaches think that she has a bright future ahead, both on and off of the Jiu Jitsu mats.

    It wasn’t before long before four members of the Valencia family began training together at SBG Buford.

    Carolena’s sister Emilia trains with her in SBG’s Kids Jiu Jitsu program, while their father Julio is a regular in our adult Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. A couple of months ago their mother Meagan began training in our Fitness Performance classes. It’s a family affair!

    In closing, her mother gave us this feedback about Carolena’s favorite part about training in SBG’s Kids Jiu Jitsu program:

    “She loves the Jiu Jitsu games at the end of class! But she has really grown to love the Friday and Saturday classes whn she gets to do more live sparring!”

    Great job Carolena and keep up the fantastic work!

    Jim Sheppard

    is one of the co-owners of Straight Blast Gym Buford and Straight Blast Gym Atlanta. He has been training / coaching / competing in Muay Thai since 2013 and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.