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Life Lessons in Martial Arts


1.Not to quit. It’s going to be an uphill battle, don’t let it scare you. The hard work will pay off. Jiu jitsu is incredibly difficult, and on top of that sometimes things happen that interfere with your training. Perhaps an injury, perhaps a priority shift in your personal life, but if you truly embrace the jiu jitsu lifestyle, you will always find your way back. You can determine a person’s greatness by what it takes to discourage them. People who are living the jiu-jitsu lifestyle are not quitters. Almost every BJJ star out there today has faced some kind of challenge that threatened to keep them off the mats. We all face obstacles, the best thing we can do is learning how to persevere in spite of them.

2.If something doesn’t work out, find something that does. Don’t force anything. That guard sweep didn’t work? Go inverted and try something else. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we envision it will. You can drive yourself crazy trying to make it work, you can quit altogether, or you can ‘’flow like water” and find a different way. It took me a while to understand the difference between giving up and finding a different way. Sometimes life will offer a detour, but you won’t find it if you’re only focusing on the direction you can’t go.

3.As long as you are breathing, you are ok. I learned this during a particularly tough battle with claustrophobia while being on bottom side control defending about three different attacks… I closed my eyes and realized that as long as I could be in control of my breathing, I was ultimately ok. It doesn’t remove the adversity but it’s a small reminder that no matter how crazy everything becomes around you, you are centered. When distractions are pulling you in, remember to breath. It’s only when you forget to breath when that panicky feeling of suffocation starts to set in. As long as you are breathing-you are OK.

4.Patience. Why can’t I hit that sweep?! I must have drilled it 1000 times by now?! Sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years to integrate a technique into your game. There are some simple things I learned at white belt that I’m just starting to hit properly. Nothing worth having happens over night, just like a sick jiu-jitsu game will not happen overnight. Everything takes time and there is a right time for everything. Trying to sweep your opponent while they are still in base is silly, the time to sweep is when they are off base. Patience can mean the difference between success and failure.

5.It’s easier when you don’t have to go it alone. A jiu- jitsu mat is useless unless there are training partners there to use them. The people around you are valuable. Make sure they know how valuable they are. And even when you’re getting tapped out left and right and you feel exhausted , your training partners are there to make you better. Look around at the people in your life that are lifting you up, but also at the people who are exhausting you. Appreciate each of them for the lessons they are teaching you. “Everyone and everything in your life is a teacher.”-Ken Keyes


Kingwood Student Highlight— Heather Smart

What is your name and age?

My name is Savannah Ewing, and I am 22 years old. 

What is your name and age?

Heather Smart – 30 Something :-) 

When did you join Elite MMA?

November 13, 2014 

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I chose to start martial arts because I wanted to improve my mental and physical well-being, not to mention, meet new friends in the process. 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I took Karate when I was in elementary school; however, I did not become interested as much until my fiancé turned me onto it. He and I have similar weight histories, and I was intrigued by his story and how much he had progressed in the two years he had been with Elite.


Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I took Karate in grade school. Which has been too many years to count.

The classes I take are: Kickboxing (Kingwood, Westheimer), Fight Fit (Westheimer), Jiu-Jitsu (Kingwood).

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

Prior to my fiancé and me getting together, I used to ride my bike through the greenbelt trails here in Kingwood and would stop and watch the Elite classes through the window…not having the courage to walk in and ask questions. I was embarrassed because I felt like I’d be the largest person and wouldn’t fit in. Typical negative self-talk that most individuals go through before they join any gym. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

Since joining Elite, I have achieved so many accomplishments:

  • I have met so many people whom mean the world to me and have become a large part of my life.
  • My fiancé and I have grown stronger sharing this common love for Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu. It has helped us build our relationship physically and mentally, and now we are engaged to be married. I contribute this a lot to the fantastic relationship we have with our Elite family (several of which have been invited to be a part of our wedding.)
  • I have lost a total of 49.75lb. And, now I’m working on losing another 15-20 before my wedding in October for the first formal dress I have ever worn. 

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Elite will change anyone’s life for the better. Physical well-being. Emotional support. Motivational support. Stress Relief. It’s all here. I cannot express my gratitude for what Elite has helped me accomplish. I cannot picture life without it and look forward to the classes every day. I look forward to what the future will bring, and I would encourage anyone to try it as least once….they will be hooked.





Baytown Instructor Highlight: Julian Vega


What is your martial arts teaching history and where are you currently teaching?

I am a current instructor at Elite MMA in the Baytown Location. I started helping teach in the kids class when i was a white belt. I have always helped in the adult class, when we had someone new to the school. I always enjoyed being their partner to help them out but I didn't really start reaching the adults by myself until I was a brown belt.  

What is your current rank in Martial Arts?

I am a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 

What caused you to start practicing martial arts?

I remember it clearly. I always looked up to my brother and I was visiting him in Virginia because he was in the Navy during spring break of 2008.  We went to go watch the movie Never Back Down.  When the movie ended my brother said "I want to do MMA "and I said "I want to do MMA too."  We got home I looked it up online and as soon as I got home I went to the school and got started. 

Do you have a competitive history in martial arts?

Yes, I’ve done MMA fights and they are okay but I really enjoy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions. I feel they are a great way to see where you need to improve.  

What do you see is the main benefit the average individual can receive from martial arts ?

CONFIDENCE.  There's nothing better then knowing anywhere you go and whoever you are with you will be able to protect them.  

What is your favorite part about practicing martial arts? 

My favorite part of martial arts is the stress relief.  When I step on the mats to teach or train everything negative going on that day gets put aside and I can just be in the moment.  At the end of a great training session you are so tired that nothing going on outside really bothers you.    

Where do you hope martial arts will take you later in your life? 

I hope to do this the rest of my life. I love it and I would never trade it for the world. I found my passion and I plan on teaching until I am able to open my own school.  


Probiotics in the Body

Probiotics are beneficial, friendly bacteria that reside in our intestinal tract. There are approximately 500 different strains of these bacteria. In fact, there are several times more bacteria in our intestinal tract than there are cells in our entire body. In all, there are three to four pounds of bacteria growing in our intestinal tract daily. Probiotic bacteria, the “for life bacteria”, are essential for healthy living and are the core of our total wellness.

Lactobacillus bacteria are the primary bacterial strain living in our small intestine, while the Bifidobacterium are the main bacteria in residence in our large intestine. Whatever the appropriate strain, gut bacteria and probiotics perform many important functions inside our bodies besides digestive health. Probiotics and bacteria are an essential part of our immune system and work to increase the production of immune cells in the intestinal tract. It has been stated that 70% of our immune system and immune function lies within the gut. The gut flora also serves another function by helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Probiotics have been shown to assist in helping to lower cholesterol. We would expect that the major role of gut flora would be to assist in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and other minerals. But researchers are also finding a role for bacterial flora in depression, autism, certain cognitive diseases, and even weight loss.

A healthy bacterial flora is essential for good health. However, there are several ways that the population of these friendly, essential bacteria can be diminished. Taking an antibiotic will eliminate good, friendly bacteria as well as bacteria causing an infection. Episodes of diarrhea, extended periods of stress, and drinking chlorinated water will also have an adverse effect on intestinal flora.

Probiotics have been shown to be helpful for a wide range of health issues including:

  • Using probiotics while on antibiotics to reduce diarrhea and prevent yeast infections
  • Relieving diarrhea with probiotics by re-establishing normal gut flora
  • Using probiotics to improve digestion and minimize acid reflux
  • Using probiotics to manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Enhancing recovery of compromised immune systems with probiotics


Ashley Nguyen, PharmD  

Zoetic Compounding Pharmacy


Ashley has been a student at Elite MMA since 2005.  She is currently a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She founded Girls in Gi’s in 2009, which was a project she took on to empower and enroll women mentally and physically and by using BJJ as the platform for that. She is also a wife, mother, and a pharmacist that loves helping people to feel better, perform better, or just feel as normal as possible.

Greenway Student Highlight— Franco and Natalia Zamora

What is your name and age?

  • Franco Zamora: 6 yrs. Old
  • Natalia Zamora: 4 yrs. Old    

When did you join Elite MMA?

  • Franco Zamora in February 2014, when he was 4 yrs. Old
  • Natalia Zamora in April 2015, when she was 3 ½ yrs. old

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

  • Franco: To start teaching “him” values like respect, discipline, and responsibility; furthermore, to have him learn self-defense concepts before registering to school
  • Natalia: She became very encouraged as she observed her brother engaging in martial arts practices; in turn, one day she spontaneously decided to “just” join one of the sessions. 

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

  • Franco was too little to understand directions before joining the class.
  • Natalia was afraid of the group and too little to understand directions. 

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

Yes, we take the Kid’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class


If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

  • For Franco, he initially was afraid and cried during his introductory class, even though Mr. Mitchell patiently kept explaining to him about the practices; however, that same afternoon, as he viewed the first class and kids in it, he became so encouraged that he thought each session as a chance “to play” with other kids.
  • For Natalia, it was her interest “to defend” herself from her brother. 

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

  • For Franco: better understanding of discipline, self-esteem, courage, respect, and self-control. It is worth noting that the “value” seeds Mr. Mitchell planted in Franco’s in his early stages of his training, Mr. Jose eventually reinforced.
  • For Natalia: she’s more engaged in discipline and courage; what’s more, she showed more confidence after her first belt-test. 

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

The journey of Jiu Jitsu is a process in which the fruits of the efforts and dedication will manifest gradually.  Franco and Natalia demonstrate some these results as they “spontaneously” join their skills and strengths when they perceive a “common” challenge, for example when they play “rough” with their dad.  In addition, Franco has developed great appreciation for Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jose through this process, as he quotes some of their teachings when he’s outside the training gym. 

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