When the Ultimate Fighting Championship finally introduced to the world a woman fighter named Rhonda Rousey, the general perception of martial arts tournament as a male-dominated field was changed. Nowadays, women no longer take a back seat watching their boyfriends deal with an unruly guy. Indeed, women can now kick butts. Hell, some of them can kick their boyfriends too and make them eat fists if they wish. Fight clubs all around the world are now a common place for women to hang out after office hours to train and learn how to fight. Besides learning fighting skills the other benefit is being fit and active.
In her teenage years, Natasha Marie Claparols Rodriguez is one of those active young girls who wanted so much to participate in sports hopping around from swimming to volleyball, to her first martial arts of kung fu. Curious of other martial arts, she attended krav maga [Israeli combat system] sessions together with her parents. Despite her active involvement with martial arts, there was one thing that keeps her from attaining the fitness level that she wants. Natasha smokes cigarettes like an old choo-choo train. Consuming at least two packs a day, she knows martial techniques but her body conditioning was a joke.
In 2008, Natasha started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) under coach Ali Sulit. Since then, cigarette and alcohol gradually go out of the window. Her BJJ experience proved to be life changing though her parents initially were against it because they perceived it as a male-dominated sport.
A year passed and Natasha won her first gold medal in her first BJJ competition: the 2009 Alaxan FR Philippines Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Novice Championships.
Her victory pushed Natasha to get more serious in her training. This time, she realized that the body is a holy temple and that we are what we eat. Empowered by her new conviction, she cleaned her body, said goodbye to vices and focus on getting fit, healthy, and pretty. A year after her 2009 BJJ victory, she joined three more competitions, finishing first in The 2010 Philippine International BJJ Open, Women’s Pesado. After a few months, she finished third in The 2010 Philippine Brazilian Jiujitsu National Championship Women’s Blue Belt Open Weight.
Not satisfied with competing with women, she competed against male fighters ruling the men’s featherweight division of the 2010 Rollapalooza 5, BJJ Open. She realized that to continue winning, she must indulge in more serious training.
It took Natasha another four years of training in BJJ, giving more importance to sport-specific exercises before she returned to competition this time armed with a superbly conditioned body.
This year, though she fought better opponents, she didn’t allow herself to come home without a medal. She finished third in the 2014 Philippine International Jiujitsu Gi and No Gi open Championship.
She got a taste of defeat too and the important lessons that go with it. The first was when she competed for the first time in the men’s division of a no-gi tournament [a gi is the traditional uniform used in jiu-jitsu and judo]. She lost all three matches. She suffered another defeat when she fought against mixed martial arts fighters in The Ultimate Challenge 4 No-Gi tournament. But, a month after that, she bounced back by finishing second both in the 2014 Philippine BJJ National Championship Women’s 58.5kg, and the Women’s Absolute division.
She is one of the women fighters who will represent the Philippines this November in the 2014 Asian Open Brazilian Ju-jitsu Championship, which is the biggest grappling tournament ever organized in Nagoya, Japan.
Natasha is now living a good life away from vices while training with other world-class athletes. Outside of her martial arts practice, Natasha runs her business named VitaOils, which produces and sells a line of dermatological products for men and women.
Natasha’s beauty easily attracts men but her prowess as a fighter could repel them too. Indeed, she personifies the new and rare breed of women exuding with both beauty and ferocity.