In an island where female Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are scarce, Lo Itibus hopes to encourage more women to practice the art as it has multiple benefits.
Itibus been training for her BJJ debut, as she will be representing the CNMI to the Asian International BJJ Federation Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Japan next week. She is the lone female BJJ practitioner on the squad leaving for the tournament dubbed as the Asian Open and she hopes she can influence other women to take up the sport, too.
The Trench Tech standout said that BJJ does not only allow one to have an intensive workout routine, but also empowers women in this day and age when danger could just be lurking around any corner.
“I really do hope that my participation in the competition does influence more females to practice BJJ. Aside from it being a killer workout, it also promotes self-defense and self-discipline, and it really is a very humbling sport. It does not only give you the benefit of taking care of your body and health, but helps you know that you do have some sort of self-defense experience should you ever need it,” Itibus said.
Itibus has been a BJJ practitioner for about two years and credits her mentor, Cuki Alvarez, for motivating her to strive for success.
“I’ve been inconsistently practicing BJJ over a span of two years, but only two months ago have I really dedicated my time and efforts in preparation for this tournament. I am confident in the skills I’ve gained in this short time. However, I am not overlooking the fact that my competitors most likely have been practicing much longer. With that being said, I am going into the competition with a determined mindset to practice the skills we’ve learned as efficiently as I can,” she said.
Itibus will be joined in the Asian Open by the father-and-son pair of Cuki and Shane Alvarez, Vicente Masga, Paulo Sangalang, and Mark Nuique. Also on the Trench Tech delegation for the Sept. 13 to 15 tournament are team manager Mari Alvarez, coaching staff Ken Tanzawa, and training partner Jeff Garcia.
“It definitely helps to have a coach who practices what he preaches and who believes in each of us. When I first started BJJ, Professor Cuki was a purple belt and to see him promote from one belt to the next definitely proves to each of us that there is no excuse, whether it’s work, time restraints, or even age to hold us back from achieving a goal. Anyone who practices BJJ knows that belt promotions are not easily earned, especially as you climb up the ladder, so I think it proves a lot to his credentials as our dojo’s black belt,” Itibus added.
Trench Tech’s participation in the Asian Open is backed by the Marianas Visitors Authority, Saipan Apparel, Saipan Skydive, Black Wood Saipan, FISG, Saipan Crew Boats, IT&E, Capt. John H.B. Salas, and lawyer Jose Mafnas Jr.