Recently, Ukrainian sportsmen have gotten three golden, three silver and one bronze medals in Spanish National Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Among the winners in the European Continental PRO were Bohdana Holub (in the category up to 70 kg) and Yaroslav Kizenko (up to 73 kg), and also Oleksandr Matviychuk and Ivan Hladush who took second place in the championship. Opinion talked to the famous sportswoman Bohdana Holub who, besides Jiu-Jitsu, is professionally engaged in CrossFit. How difficult is it to master untypical sport? Is there time for leisure and hobby and who is the winner in the kitchen – she is a European champion and her husband is a vice-champion?
Congrats on the awesome performance in Spain. Ukrainian media wrote about the victory of your team. However, simply to ask – why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Such a pretty girl and martial arts…
I have decided to find an awesome husband. (laughs) Really. There was a turning point in my life: I kind of do sports, I’m a normal girl, but I couldn’t find my love for a long time. I was even tired of a classic gym. The guys, with whom I trained, advised me to try myself in Jiu. And I thought, why not! This is a combat sport, there are many strong and cool guys… I was 21 and I found my husband in this sport, with whom I’ve been already five years together. Although, I was involved with Jiu itself from the first days of training.
You know, the sportsman is attracted to everything in Jiu. When I fight, when I’m in sparring – I feel free and comfortable. Yes, of course, I’m tired physically. But the mind clears from bad extra thoughts. Everyone who has ever been involved in Jiu will confirm – after sparring, you reborn psychologically. It’s true that many single out the importance of philosophical thinking in this sport.
How is Jiu-Jitsu developing in Ukraine? Do you have many competitors in the domestic arena?
As my husband says (Oleksandr Matviychuk, vice-champion of Europe, purple belt – ED), you don’t have competitors in Ukraine. In fact, there are many girls. But there’s such a tendency, nobody wants to fight with me. (smiles) It’s gotten to the point that I have to register in Ukraine on the last day of submission. Fair enough. I register and some competitors immediately withdraw from the tournament. I don’t know why. Maybe they are just afraid. But it’s important to emphasize another moment. The problem is that there’s no one united Jiu championship in Ukraine. There are two federations in the country that hold two different championships… But in general, the trend is that this, as you said, untypical sport, is becoming more and more popular.
You mentioned your husband. Do you train together?
Yes, he is my chief coach. In fact, many gyms for various sports in Ukraine still divide sportsmen on a gender basis. If you are a girl, you have to train only with girls. In our gym, and this is our firm conviction – everyone train together. We are one team. And our current issue is how to battle domestic violence in the country. I’m totally convinced that if a girl trains with a boy together, the barriers just drop off. We even get to sparring on the tatami. Moreover, it happens to be so pleasant to joint lock a man and see his helplessness. And the idea that boys can’t train together with girls is an extremely stupid stereotype.
We got to stereotypes. You are the champion of Europe and your husband is a vice-champion. In your family – who cooks dinner?
Actually, Oleksandr is a very good cook. (smiles) And most of the time, he’s in the kitchen. To tell you the truth, my husband taught me cooking. Basically, the husband deals with meat at home.
About the drilling. Sometimes it happens that I defeat him. But he sort of succumbs to me. You know, there is such type of drilling – light work. We call it “rolling”. We give in to each other so that one movement flew to another. It’s not like that in tournaments. There, you wait for a moment and make a strike. If Sasha fought against me seriously like in tournaments, I wouldn’t have chances. But it happens to catch a moment to do grappling. But this is rare, and only because of his inattention.
Did your husband congratulate you on March 8th? Basically, do you mark International Women’s day?
To tell the truth, no, I don’t. Now some people congratulate women on March 1st – sort of the beginning of spring. But on March 1st we were in Lviv in the tournament. The spring came and we met it together with the team. I asked not to give me anything for the 8th. I treated this day very coldly during my whole life, not only now when it became a new fad. I never got a kick of “women’s day”. I think that the compliments, as well as the presents for beloved ones, can be given on any day.
Apart from Jiu, you do CrossFit professinally. How do you manage to handle all this?
I think that these two sports complement each other. Achievements which I have in Jiu directly depend on CrossFit. And visa versa. CrossFit is a strength training, where people improve their speed, flexibility, endurance… I have these in Jiu. This is an ideal co-existance of two sports.
When new acquaintances find out what you do, how do they react?
You know, the sport didn’t kill a girl in me. If you hint at this. Sport, regular training and tournaments never prevented me from being feminine. Rather visa versa – sports gave me a good figure and emphasized the charm. It’s obvious that I tend to sports outfits in life. But it doesn’t prevent me from wearing dresses or high heels for some special occasions.
Meeting with people, when they see me for the first time, they say that I look bigger on the photos. Sometimes, I meet people who think in stereotypes. For instance, Jiu isn’t for women. They say that a woman shouldn’t do martial arts at all. But we live in the modern world and by our own example we show that girls can be strong, sporty ad beautiful…
What hobbies do you have except sport?
Sport is life and profession. About hobbies – there are plenty of them. I actually love shooting motivation videos, promoting the sport. I enjoy seeing people whom I train improve. I also love the feeling that people get inspired by my example. I love snowboarding. We try to go somewhere to snowboarding every year.
After the victory in Spain, where to root for your team in the future? What plans do you have for the nearest future?
If we talk about the tournament season, in April our team goes to Rome Open Championship – in kimono and without it. We also plan to go to the UAE at the end of April, but I don’t know yet whether we will afford it because participation in the competitions is at our own expense. In summer, we are going to hold sports gatherrings in the Carpathians. The team – up to 60 people. We will take part in different Ukrainian competitions. The convinction of our team – all have to take part in the tournamnents. Even the ones who go to the gym to train “for themselves” anyway, over time, they notice the success of others and sign up for competitions. My husband and I also plan to open our small academy in the future. It will be a family business.
Tell me, please, what is your own “Top-5” reasons why girls should go to Jiu?
Well, they are more than five. First of all, it gives emotions. This is very beautiful. A girl in kimono looks cool and sexy. And more – you become more confident. You become agile, your head works better in different directions. This is not to mention endurance, physical strength and strength of will. Also, you can be confident in self-defense. But no matter how strong I am, in any ambiguous situation on the street, I’d better run away. When you are a professional sportsman, you treat street fights differently. You realize that your knoweledge and strength mustn’t be used this way.
Interview by Vadym Lubchak
Photo from Bohdana Holub’s archieve