More Than Medals, Swords and Super Fights: The Shama Ko Story

It’s Monday. We’ve all got the Monday Blues (who wouldn’t after Sunday Funday?!). So here’s a story to just give you the warm fuzzies, and remind you how very luck you are. Every once in a while; truth be told, every tournament, every seminar, every class, you meet someone new who you just click with. A bond is forged and you’re friends forever! It’s that way not just in jiu-jitsu but in life. “Friendship is so weird. You just pick a human you’ve met, and you’re like ‘yup! I like this one’ and you just do stuff with them!” Once you make those connections you grow in unimaginable ways, and in the jiu-jitsu community we are all linked by the webs of our love for the sport.
So what do we do when we hear that one of our own is down. Unlike many other sports where the contract is done and the athlete forgotten, we rally. We hold seminars, sell gear, have roll-a-thons and make donations. This is one of those times. This is Shama Ko’s story (as told to me by Lana hunter).
Before Shama Ko began organizing Girls in Gis events she was a successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor. She was extremely independent and active. Shama has inspired a lot of ladies all over the nation to start women’s open mats of their own; in addition to bringing Brazilian jiu-jitsu women in Texas together and helping forge a stronger women’s Texas BJJ community. She has also opened Girls in Gis Chapters in OK and CO. Shama has many goals & a vision for Girls in Gis. She has been organizing Girls in Gis events nationally for 5 years! That isn’t all, however, (as if that wasn’t enough!) Shama is multifaceted. There is her blog, her photography, Girls in Gis… she is a true role model for the girls of brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Shama began experiencing medical issues in October of 2014. She suddenly collapsed and had a seizure at the beginning of class at Gracie Humaita Austin. Her teammates, academy members & coaches were there and acted promptly. After seeing a neurologist and additional testing, Shama was diagnosed with PMG (polymicrogyria). This is a condition predominantly found in children & is found in only 3% of adults, usually asymptomatic.
The jiu-jitsu community is rallying behind Shama Ko, showing once again that on the mats we may be competing, driven, goal oriented and focused machines… but off the mats, we, welllll we are like that off that mats to, but off the mats we encompass more, add more to the circle of that focus. jiu-jitsu women all over the nation, even in Mexico and Colombia are organizing Grappling for a Cause which consists of 13 events happening on the weekend of December 13-14, 2014, Leticia Ribeiro is holding a fundraising seminar in San Diego, and Lana Stefanac is also holding a charity event to help raise funds for Shama.
Shama is continuing to seek care and treatment. She has yet to find a specialist that has experience in PMG. Her case is extremely rare due to her age and onset of symptoms. However Shama is a fighter at heart and in generally good spirits. She is staying positive & hopeful that her quality of life will improve. And we are right here with her saying “You’ve got this. Don’t give up hope.”

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson

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