Families who train together are becoming more and more popular. Being that the martial art has much to offer for all ages, a father and daughter team learned this fact at a time when it was most needed.
Richard Lee (35) and his daughter Arraina Lee (16) train Jiu-Jitsu together in Chicago, Illinois. Before she was born, Richard lived in Minnesota with his parents who moved from Chicago, worried that their son was getting into too much trouble. At the age of eighteen he became a parent and Arraina was born. Tragically, when Arraina was six years old, her mother Marianne Van Buskirk died of small-cell lung cancer and the father-daughter pair moved back to Chicago where Richard’s roots lay and so Arraina could have more opportunities. This is where Jiu-Jitsu came into their lives:
“I had found out about BJJ through the Gracie Combative DVD’s and first started going to Carlson Gracie MMA school in Merrillville, Indiana when she was thirteen years old. When my daughter turned fourteen we transferred to Uflacker Academy in Chicago, Illinois,” the single parent says.
Unfortunately the team would undertake another reason to mourn as Richard’s parents, Arraina’s grandparents, both passed away from cancer five months apart from each other in 2012. But through Jiu-Jitsu, the two have been able to strengthen their bond and also use Jiu-Jitsu for positivity in their lives.
Both Richard and Arraina compete in every NAGA and IBJJF event that comes into town near Chicago. Only three months after the passing of his mother, Richard placed first at the 2013 IBJJF Chicago Winter Open in the blue belt master middleweight division.
“Me and my daughter went through a lot of deaths including my parents which made us realize how important family is and made us closer. Jiu-Jitsu made us have father and daughter time and a way to escape from the struggles of the real world. Jiu-Jitsu gives us a time to bond and to compete against each other and helped us become stronger and more fit. It also makes me feel more comfortable of the safety for my daughter. It also disciplines me and helps me relax so I will not go crazy from stress,” Richard explains.
Arraina now competes as a juvenile blue belt and will be in attendance at the 2013 IBJJF Chicago Summer Open in August and the No-Gi Pan American Championship in New York later this year alongside her father.
Training can be a simple stress-reliever or go as far as strengthening a family through difficult times. Richard and his daughter are just another example of what Jiu-Jitsu gives back.