Hannette Staack is widely considered one of the best female jiu jitsu competitors to have graced the mats and it is an absolute honour to have her on our website once again. This time, BJJ Heroes joined forces with DSTRYRsg to provide a tip-top quality interview. DSTRYRsg is one of the best BJJ websites in the blogosphere, a website with loads of cool and fun content for BJJ & grappling fans in general, from valuable techniques to the the goofy side of fighting. This being a special interview with a very special interviewee, a lot of content was discussed, for that reason, we decided to split the interview in two. In this first part Hannette Staack goes over her self defence experiences with BJJ and a little of her training regime as well as her mindset for competition, more to come.
Hannette Staack: “I had to use BJJ many times in my life.”
Have you ever had to use BJJ in a self defense situation?
I had to use BJJ in many times in my life. When I got hit by a car riding my bike and was able to roll over the car and not get stuck under the car like my bike did, I didn’t have a scratch! One time a group of five people tried to rob me and one of them stole my necklace. I was able to get my necklace back using a rear naked choke and the person gave me my necklace back. The other time I had a guy controlling my wrist with one hand and the other was inside of his shirt, grabbing something that he was trying to make look like a gun. I don’t know for sure if it really was a gun, but I did a wrist escape and ran to my building. He was asking for my purse. I was coming back from work in the evening, and thanks to Jiu-Jitsu nothing bad happened to me.
If you could change anything about or within the sport of BJJ, what would it be?
Some rules in BJJ still favor the competitors who’s stalling, and that should be changed in order to make the art more interesting for the public watching the matches.
The second thing I would change is the use of steroids. I know many people have been using this to increase strength and to get a better performance in the competition, but its gives a disadvantage for the people who do not use these types of drugs. So, I think they should test or at least check the champions of each division, to see if they got a real and not a fake win. The third thing I would change is making more tournaments with money prizes, and more equal prizes for women, because we can give a great show to the public and sometimes even better matches to watch than the guys.
How much, if any, time do you dedicate to cross training in other grappling arts, such as Judo, wrestling, luta livre?
The only thing I am doing now is wrestling to add something to my stand up game and increase my conditioning. Because, once you have to fight from standing it’s a completely different conditioning; it’s much more aerobic, different than Jiu-Jitsu. But other than that, I did some Judo in the past and competed a couple times, but most of the times I won by using a Jiu-Jitsu technique. I don’t think you have to do another art. I just think you have to have some techniques that you like a lot and specialize in doing them. This way even if people know you are good doing these techniques, they still can’t defend. Practice many time is the key to a good and efficient technique.
How much time do you spend watching or reading about competitors?
With the technology in our favor today, of course we can know more about the new people. Who is doing what and how they are doing. I don’t spend too much time watching because I am always watching the main competitions, so, you end up knowing everybody. But, of course, it’s good to have a little more information and to study the person’s game before the match. Telling the truth, I never train to someone in specific, I always train to input my game, and that’s the way I have been doing for all these years. But, because I do Jiu-Jitsu every day I’d rather watch a good movie on my days off or work on my projects than watch matches all the time. But, If I don’t know the person who I am going to compete against, of course, internet helps a lot!
With the recent rise in popularity of women’s MMA (due primarily to Ronda Rousey), is MMA something you’d consider for the future?
I don’t think I’ll be doing any MMA, unless I get a real good proposal. But, I think my goal now is make others good in Jiu-Jitsu as well… I have some very good and technical students, they are doing really good in tournaments as well. Also, to create more opportunities for people less privileged. Like me I don’t have a last name, never had anything easy on my Jiu-jitsu career, but I believed in my dream and that’s why I am able to live doing what I love to do. I didn’t have many opportunities, I created my own opportunities, and because of people like me who truly believed in the sport, today we have many women training and getting sponsors – being able to make a living from Jiu-Jitsu.
People might not know now, but in 10 years from now, we will see the pros and cons about doing MMA, getting hit in the head over and over . Why should I have to do this if I can live promoting health? Getting other women to feel strong and capable of defending themselves in a self defense situation; feeling empowered by Jiu-Jitsu! I think society must know what our art has to offer besides what they see on TV. They have to know the real BJJ, not only the one in the competitions but the invisible one.