In 2014 Shama Ko was diagnosed with bilateral polymicrogyria which is usually a mentally, physically debilitating and fatal birth defect of the brain that is predominantly found in children. Only 3% of adults are diagnosed with it and is an extremely uncommon condition that usually has no symptoms in adults. Doctors discovered her condition after she had a seizure during the beginning of class at Gracie Humaita.
Shama was off the mats for a year and slowly worked to control the seizures and regain her confidence a a Jiu-Jitsu brown belt.
This weekend Shama took 2nd at the Masters World Championships.
Shama on her journey to the podium,
"All I can say is that it was a pivotal point in my life and I am so dang happy to be back in be mix. Having gone through all the crap I have in the past few years I never thought I'd train again. Competing seemed impossible. But anything is possible. Never give up.
"It was my first time at the Master Worlds and it was emotional for me. I was incredibly proud watching all the matches this weekend. 14 years ago when I started things were very different. In many ways women competitors were less respected than kids. We were grouped into one division regardless of belt, weight or age. It was the women's division. Look at us now. We've come a long way. It may not be perfect and I'm sure in areas where BJJ is growing this is still going on. But to think that there is an outlet like the Master Worlds where women can compete together with other women the same belt, skill level and age is phenomenal. We've just got to keep competing. Once promoters, media and companies see #'s the see $s. That's what it boiled down. So instead of being discouraged we need to be encouraging, supportive and keep moving forward. Change is happening. There is hope."
I want to give a shout to my teammate Erica Ebanks she has been on the podium before on the world level and came away with third in her division. She is a great teammate and a real example at our academy. Her partner Salsa John Ebanks and my instructor Fabio Novaes Brazilian Jiu-jitsu are also pictured.
Australia, one of the smallest entry numbers for country represented, came away with 7 female World Championship titles. The ladies from down under are killing it!
What helps us stay inspired is people like Sophia McDermott winning masters titles a few years back and us having access to that story (though we heard about it via her news feed). Now we continue to grow through organizations such as Australian Girls in Gis and our world titles are piling up in Masters and Adults.
The Australian scene is booming for women and this Masters Worlds showcased that yet again.