Kari Hoffman started jiu-jitsu in 2015, and last week her involvement in that field of the martial arts paid off in a big way.
Genesis Jiu-Jitsu Azle held its belt promotion ceremony on Jan. 2 at 404 Main in Azle where Hoffman, 43, of Azle, was awarded her black belt. Hoffman joins Karen Banes, who is the head coach and owner of Genesis Jiu-Jitsu, as having a black belt.
“My children were doing jiu-jitsu and Karen kept encouraging me to try it, and I didn’t want to,” Hoffman said after the ceremony, explaining her beginnings in the activity. “And my daughter competed in a tournament, and I was challenged by her effort and determination and I decided to challenge myself and try jiu-jitsu.”
Hoffman said female black belts are called unicorns because they’re so rare.
“I’ve been doing this for seven years, and this is the goal and it’s amazing to achieve a goal that I’ve been looking to for seven years,” she said.
Banes said that when she received her black belt in 2017, there were fewer than 500 female Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts in North and South America. She said it is hard to keep track of the number but “it has easily doubled since then. The number of females are steadily increasing in the sport.”
She said she often wonders whether her students even realize how rare it is to have a female black belt.
“Even Kari was surprised by the reaction she would receive from other females in the sport when she told them that she had a female professor,” Banes said, noting a black belt in BJJ is called a professor.
Hoffman said the challenge to earning the black belt is work ethic, tenacity and consistency, and for older people, their age can slow them down because if they get injured they have to heal and recover.
“It’s hard because it takes consistent dedication,” she said. “You have to keep coming to class, keep working, keep learning. Anyone can do it, but they have to be willing to show up every day.”
Banes said it has been “amazing to watch Kari develop as a BJJ athlete, but I am more impressed with the development of her confidence and leadership skills. It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to obtain a black belt. It took a little encouraging and nudging her to start training with her children, who had already been with me a year and a half, but once she made up her mind she was all in. She is one of the most disciplined and consistent women I know.”
Hoffman is a mother of four children. A lot of times, she said, “you feel like all you can do is cook and clean and do all the mom things. And so doing jiu-jitsu, I was able to see how much I could accomplish. I’ve won three world championships through my age group.”
She said she has learned confidence and hard work through jiu-jitsu and is proud of her black belt.
“It’s amazing,” she said.
Hoffman said one benefit from jiu-jitsu is the friendships that are formed.
“There’s something about suffering together that makes you grow closer to people,” she said.
She met her husband through jiu-jitsu.
“The first time we met, we rolled together and he gave me a black eye,” she said about husband John Hoffman. She is the mother of Job, Faith, Noah and Hope.
Banes said there have been a few key ingredients that have led to her personal success in growing Genesis Jiu Jitsu Azle, explaining she grew up in the Springtown community and has lived in Azle for 19 years.
“I am a former school teacher and specialize in child development,” she said. “I had the privilege to mentor Kari as an instructor by having her as my lead assistant for six years before making her a lead instructor in our children’s program. She is a very detailed oriented person and does a great job of incorporating her own strengths into her coaching style.”
Banes has earned six world titles and holds the belt for female black belt featherweight in the Submission Hunter Pro promotion. Hoffman has three world titles, is a multi-time pans champion and held the No. 1 ranking at purple and brown belt, Banes said.
“Although I am slowing down and enjoying my role as more of a facilitator, Kari is still going strong,” Banes said. “I look forward to coaching her and seeing what she accomplishes at blackbelt. More success to come.”
- Wade Blake
- KAYLEE PIPPINS firstname.lastname@example.org
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