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Teacher goes from striker to jiu jitsu medalist

Karennenhá:wi Goodleaf trains five days a week and teaches her Kanien’kéha students the grappling terms in class in Ganienkeh. Goodleaf came home with a silver from Brooklyn, ready to learn from her mistakes and hit her training regime with determination. (Courtesy Tanya Iam)


Karennenhá:wi Goodleaf is at the Tristar gym in Montreal almost daily, fine-tuning her skills as a fighter.

About a month ago, she decided to switch her routine and work on something different in preparation for a tournament Saturday in Brooklyn.

“I do more striking than jiu jitsu, but decided to take this past month to focus more on grappling instead of striking to prepare for the tournament,” said Goodleaf.

The strawweight fighter took her talents to the Winter BJJ Open at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn, New York, and walked away from the tournament with an impressive silver medal.

Her final match against Roslyn Lo of Radical MMA ended in a submission win for Lo at 6:03.

“Rosyln Lo was a tough woman,” said Goodleaf. “Going into that match, I was already exhausted because my previous match had lasted 18 minutes, so my cardio died down fast in the final match and you start to make poor decisions when you get tired.”

Regardless, Goodleaf knows she will learn from any mistakes, and was happy to take the trip to Brooklyn to compete in jiu jitsu.

She trains five times a week at Tristar in addition to working as a Kanien’kéha teacher in Ganienkeh.

Her students, it turns out, know the sport well, giving Goodleaf a unique opportunity as an educator not many get.

“I would have liked to train more, but I’m a full-time Kanien’kéha language teacher, so that comes first, but it’s pretty cool because the students in my class also train jiu jitsu, so we get to talk about training and I get to teach them different grappling words in the language,” she said.

Goodleaf cut 12 pounds in two weeks to compete in Brooklyn on the weekend, and said jiu jitsu is an ideal piece for her lifestyle.

“I like training jiu jitsu because it keeps me active and teaches me different techniques to defend myself if I ever have to,” said Goodleaf. “I try my best to live a healthy lifestyle and jiu jitsu helps me stay healthy, happy, and focussed.”

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