Student Stories: Hafsah Negussie

Written December 2

If you were to define sunshine in walking form – Hafsah would be it. My first encounter with her was so heartfelt and genuine I left feeling somehow lighter and brighter. The embodiment of grace, kindness and positivity (not to mention wildly intelligent, empathetic and stunning), it may be hard to reconcile these gentle traits with her legendary attributes on the mat – but once you have met her it makes perfect sense. She is a fierce and unshakeable competitor that is compelling to watch. Still the same gracious human but with a force and strength that has seen her rapidly rise the BJJ ranks.

Hafsah, a champion and a mother of two, kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions as the first in our series ‘Student Stories’ designed to shed light on our incredible community.

What initially drew you to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? 

I stumbled upon BJJ entirely by accident, or perhaps it was fate. Nonetheless,  I am so very grateful I found this martial arts.  I joined a women’s self defence group, and the instructor was a female BJJ purple belt at the time. Cherie Dowley is her name – now a black belt (the first female Black belt out of her club). 

Can you share a memorable moment from your early days of training in BJJ? 

My standout BJJ memory: Securing double gold in a Grappling Industries competition in Brisbane during Ramadan. Despite fasting from sunrise to sunset, tough matches, and all, it was a profound testament to self-belief – proving to myself  that the only voice that matters came from me, from within.

How has Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu influenced or changed your approach to fitness and overall health? 

BJJ transformed my health, compelling me to cultivate habits that sustain my body for more training. Out of love for BJJ, I’ve turned my body into a meticulously nurtured temple and i often gift this temple with treats. 

What challenges have you faced in your BJJ journey, and how did you overcome them? 

I’ve faced challenges breaking cultural norms as one of the first hijab-wearing BJJ athletes in QLD. Overcoming stereotypes and discrimination, I’ve chosen to persist on my journey, staying true to my passion and not allowing external perceptions to hinder my goals. It’s about rising above and embracing the uniqueness of my path and myself. 

Are there specific BJJ practitioners or instructors who have significantly influenced your style or approach?

I dont think there is any one in particular. Bjj is such a vast oceans and there are so many Sharks. All my instructors have contributed significantly to my style and approach to bjj. I value and learn from ALL of their unique styles.

How do you balance the physical and mental aspects of BJJ training in your routine?

I have a routine, and I am very disciplined in it. With the mental aspect of BJJ I usually review any mental challenges with my husband (also a bjj practitioner) and he knows what I need, and it helps me regain focus and build from there.

Why did you choose to train at the Arte Suave Academy?

Embracing purpose in life, I sought a safe haven in BJJ, craving an environment that not only prioritizes safety but also exudes genuine care. Emanuela’s positive atmosphere at Arte Suave, coupled with top-tier coaches boasting unique styles and profound martial arts knowledge, instantly resonated with me. Joining this community has proven to be the catalyst for my continued growth in the martial arts journey.

You have two incredible children, would you encourage them to follow in your BJJ footsteps and why?

I would love nothing more than to gift them with BJJ. But my children have their own path to live, and I will support them in whatever interests they wish to pursue. The goal is to make them better than me, so they will create their own footpaths and I will be there every step of the way. The only requirement I have, is that they remain disciplined and always put in their best effort, no matter the result.

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