A few weeks ago we were contact by Karin Richard, the proud mother of Anastasia Ashley. Ana’s mom is proud of her jiujitsu accomplishments but also how Ana has overcome bullying issues and has grown mature and confident through the study of jiujitsu.
This is the letter we got from Karin:
My daughter, Anastasia Ashley, is a 13 year old High Yellow Belt MMA/BJJ Fighter. She hasn’t been training long, just under 2 years at Alan “The Talent” Belcher’s MMA Club in D’Iberville, Mississippi. She has placed 1st countless times at Grappling Events in the Southern United States. I took her last December to Dallas, Texas for the World Championship in which she placed 1st in No-GI Intermediate Division and 2nd in GI Advanced Division. At her latest event in June, which was held in New Orleans, Louisiana I moved her up to the next Division Level and she was matched with an Orange Belt opponent, this was her first match in the new Division and she took GOLD in both NO-GI and GI. That’s why I am contacting you, Ana, also known as “Anastasia “The Fireball” Ashley, would be a great addition to your sponsorship program and an awesome Ambassador, because she is on the way to become a awesome MMA/BJJ fighter. Thank you for your time, sincerely Karin Richard, proud Mother of an MMA/BJJ Girl Fighter.
We are honored to have Ana a part of the Fight Chix Team, so let me introduce you to her now:
How long have you been training in martial arts and how did you start?
I started training in October 2014, so I’m coming up on the 2 year mark. I got involved with MMA because I was getting bullied in school at the beginning of my 1st year in Middle School, and my mom and I felt that I needed to learn how to protect myself, so a co-worker of hers, Todd Pisarich, owned his own gym and asked my mom to stop by with me so I could check it out and I fell in love with it.
Who do you train with?
I trained with Todd Pisarich a Gracie United Instructor for about 8 months before switching to Alan Belcher’s MMA Club. I now train under Alan Belcher (former UFC Fighter), Mike Sanford (Diego Moraes Black Belt), David Barnes (baddest Purple Belt in the Universe), and anybody that likes to roll with me in the gym.
How has martial arts built your self esteem and helped you in life?
Martial Arts has made me more confident about myself, boosted my self-esteem and since this happened I can handle myself better in social situations. It has also showed me that when you focus, train and put hard work together, you can do whatever your heart desires. Martial Arts also made me a better person inside and out, I slowed down eating all that junk food and started eating better. I also made tons of new friends since I started training and competing.
Tell us how training and being in the gym effects you emotionally.
I know that no matter how well or bad my day is going, I will always have a great time at the gym because not only do I get to see my friends, I get to train hard and take a step closer to my goal. I also love to see all my trainers that take time out of their day to come and train me. Also, I can leave all my frustration on the mats or in the cage, and sometimes I take kickboxing classes if I really need to let off some steam. I really love my gym because we are all one big family and I know I have an open ear anytime.
Who do you look up to?
Hhhhmmm let’s see…. There are a few people in my life I look up to. First, there is my brother Michael, because you see he is in the Army and fighting for mine and everybody else’s freedom, without people like him sacrificing their life’s, I wouldn’t be able to do anything let alone MMA and BJJ, and, he is the oldest and only boy (he had to live with 10 girls) in my family, so means for something. Michael is the one that taught me that patience pays off more than haste and I apply this lesson every day of my life.
Then there are all my coaches that touched my life, like Mr. Mike and Mr. David, my MMA/BJJ Coaches, because they teach me Jiu-Jitsu in a way that is fun to learn, so I can understand the moves and submissions and they also encourage me whenever I go to competitions and such to always strive forward and never look back. They taught me that no matter what the outcome of a match I’m fighting is, I NEVER LOSE, EITHER I WIN OR I LEARN, but I never am a loser. And my Volleyball Coaches for they have shown me how to be a team player, have team spirit even though you are sometimes on a losing streak and that there is really no “I” in Team, that to win a game or two you have to work together to be one team to beat….
Oh yes, and then there is my Idol Ronda Rousey… I look up to her because even though she went through tough times, was at the top of the Fighting World and it was all taken away in one match, but through perseverance, hard work and the power of your will that you can come back stronger than ever.
And finally my mom, for showing and teaching me that no matter how many hurdles, obstacles and adversities life throws in your way, always, always stay strong, look straight ahead and don’t hang your head low, because I CAN DO ANYTHING.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years both in jiu-jitsu and in life?
In the next 5 years, I want to compete at the biggest tournaments like the IBJJF Tournaments including the Worlds and internationally and hopefully some professional matches. I am hoping to be a Purple Belt by then and maybe made a name for myself. I will also be getting ready for College and I plan on attending Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama to be like my bigger sister Isabella.
Favorite Food: Geeeeee, everything… lol… nah my all-time favorites are Tacos and Fried Chicken legs with Mashed Potatoes.
Favorite Movie: The Divergent Series
Favorite Band or Music: I really love Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Panic at the Disco, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé. I would be soo happy if one day I were able to meet anyone of them.
Favorite Submission: Triangle Choke from mount and closed Guard
Favorite Activities outside of training: I play Indoor and Beach Volleyball, Shopping of course, which girl doesn’t have that as a favorite past-time, I also play the Oboe and the Piano, and I love to sing in our Church Choir or just about anywhere.
Take us through a typical week, school, training, etc.
Every day, I like to start my day by eating the most important meal of the day, woohoo Breakfast! I go to school from 7:15 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Right after school, I start volleyball practice until 5:00pm. Then, it’s off to the MMA Club where I train until 8:30 p.m. Then I go home and get ready to repeat it the next day. On Saturday mornings, I help teaching the 2-3 year olds MMA/BJJ Kids Class with my trainer David Barnes and then we do extra training afterward. After training, my coach David Barnes and I enjoy our Starbucks almost every Saturday. Then on my free time, I like to hang out with friends or watch YouTube. On Sundays, I like to sleep-in unless I have a Beach Volleyball Tournament then it’s off to the Beach early in the morning, it depends where the tournament is scheduled we could be driving to Florida or Louisiana. I also go to Church every Sunday evening, which is a must for me, because I am also an Altar Server in my spare time, since I’m Roman Catholic. Then I go to sleep that night to repeat get ready for a repeat of the week.
How did you hear about Fight Chix and what is your favorite item on the site?
My mom and I saw FightChix on Facebook, so we went to your website and checked it out and we really loved seeing what all you do for the female fighter in this mostly male sport. My favorite items are the white Rash Guard, Sports bra, and Performance Shorts.