3415 Westinghouse Boulevard Suite 10, Charlotte, North Carolina 28273

Jiu Jitsu....MY Life Changer

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Jiu Jitsu....MY Life Changer

My Life Changer 


WOW…Who knew moving jobs from little oh Lincolnton to the Big Queen City would change my life in so many ways. Hi everyone! My name is Ashley and I am going to tell you a little bit about my journey and how I found this AMAZING place I now call home.


I am 28 years old and I have been working in Charlotte for about 6 months. I was recently accepted into UNC Charlotte as well. When I decided to make the move I knew I wanted to find a gym and learn Jiu Jitsu. At that time, I had been taking self-defense classes in Gastonia and honestly I was not fully satisfied. My family background in wrestling demanded that have that one on one contact that self-defense classes could not provide. 

Growing up in a family with one sister and three brothers, one in Jiu Jitsu/Judo and two who wrestled was awesome. “Who can beat who today?” was always the question. I decided to try out wrestling for about a year and unfortunately, all I heard was “girls can't wrestle”. I even had a guy tell me that I shouldn’t have stepped on his mats (lame right?). So when I decided to drop from the team, I focused on supporting my brothers in their wrestling careers and learning as much as I could from them.

Moving forward to February 2019. I started looking around for a new Jiu Jitsu school in Charlotte.  I emailed multiple schools and received the same generic email or text from all of them except one. Michael Allen (the best coach around) contacted me and was not pitching the “hey come try this and if it doesn’t work that’s ok” vibe. He was very interested in my need for a new journey. I explained that I have a wrestling background (which made him super happy) and also that I was looking to start in a women’s class because of my past in wrestling with guys. In which he sold me on the fact that they had a Queen's class for women only!

No matter my excitement, connecting with women and making friends was difficult for me. Sometimes I am too much personality for most. I myself have always tried to be the sunshine in every room even if I didn’t feel so bright and shiny. Not everyone likes that apparently. However, I bought a GI and walked into my very first Queens class feeling every bit of nervous. The minute I stepped on that mat though, I felt at home. Everyone was beyond kind and welcoming. I have never met such a strong group of women who want to see you succeed but also choke you at the same time. I decided to stay for open mat after (that’s when the fellas aka gorillas can come in to roll as well). I was a little worried I would get that same negative attention, but man was I wrong. All of the guys were just as stoked as the girls to see a new person there to train. I left that practice feeling exhausted and SO HAPPY! I decided that day that I was joining this school.

Training with men and women who are striving to be the best puts everything into perspective. There is not one minute of downtime or laziness on the mat. This took a minute or two for me to grasp honestly. Also, learning to be comfortable in situations and to breathe and not panic; well let's be frank, THAT’S TOUGH! I overcame it though and I am still learning that at times. Letting my body go with the moves and learning to roll gracefully, yet powerfully, as possible is still something that I am working on. I know I’ll get there one day though because my coaches and teammates are there with me every step of the way. 


So here we are now. mid July 2019 and I have been training for almost 6 months. I have gained a new family, earned a new nickname or two, “Smashley and Cheech” and on top of that I have earned 3 gold medals and 2 silvers so far…let’s be honest I plan on many more GOLD’S! I even met my best friend (hence the name Cheech..she is Chong aka Chalke)! I have not only overcome my fear of letting people see the real me. I have also learned that I am strong and can push past the limitations I have always set for myself. I am no longer told “you can’t because you are a girl”. The men and woman at Checkmat Charlotte are the best around. They push me and motivate me to be my best self!


My journey is only beginning and I plan to ride this amazing wave as long as possible.


I am a teammate and a family member of CHECKMAT CHARLOTTE!


Ashley Barber





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Good luck this weekend at Newbreed Raleigh, Mckenzie lee and Troy Hunt!