Asena Melike Ağansoy (Sponsor: Moya) is the first woman, living in Turkey, to earn a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu. She trains on and coaches for the Istanbul-based team Corvos, under Burak Değer Biçer -Turkey’s first black belt (lineage: Ricco Vierra). Asena routinely competes in the highest level of European grappling tournaments, capturing silver at the 2017 IBJJF Paris International in the Brown Belt Absolute division (medalists of all weight classes fight each other after clearing out their respective weight divisions)…She is a featherweight (58.5 Kg/122lbs). Asena aspires to be Turkey’s first female blackbelt, IBJJF black belt world champion, and to empower woman all over the world with her knowledge and abilities. She is also a student at Bilgi University in Istanbul majoring in Sports Management; having earned a full scholarship to attend.
Jimmy: Tell me about Team Corvos and your mentor Professor Burak D. Bicer?
Asena: Hello, my team Corvos Combat is Turkey’s first Brazilian JiuJitsu and Mixed Martial Aarts team. It was founded by my professor in 2010, he is also Turkey’s first BJJ black belt. Burak is a great instructor and mentor. He has a unique teaching style that can be applied to both recreational Jits players and serious competitors. I’m really thankful to have the chance to learn from him and really appreciate his support. BJJ is a new sport in my country and he has been the key person about the dissemination of BJJ in Turkey, he gave countless free seminars/workshops and organized camps in different cities, supported many small groups to build up today’s BJJ community in Turkey.
Jimmy: What are your future goals in this sport? Don’t be humble.
Asena: My first goal is becoming a brown belt European and World champion next year. After that I’m planning to become a black belt world champion for sure 🙂. On that level, becoming a black belt world champion is even harder than becoming an Olympic medalist and I’m ready to put in the work. But first I have to work on becoming Turkey’s first female black belt.
“More than material stuff, I want to have the power to reach out to every person in our sport, especially to girls.”
For this I’m working on my projects about dissemination of our sport and BJJ for females and kids in Turkey, thanks to my lecturers in college. I also want to fight in MMA and recently started working on my striking again, can’t wait to enter the cage and test my skills.
Jimmy: What are some of your other hobbies besides Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Asena: Reading books. Archeology. Astrophysics. And of course art!
Jimmy: I mean people will still be amazed if you said fashion!
Asena: Lol. I don’t like fashion.
Jimmy: What are some of the philosophies you take from Jiujitsu to apply to your personal life?
Asena: In my personal life I try to take every loss as a lesson learned. Because in BJJ if you can’t learn from your mistakes, you can’t develop yourself and your technique. First thing that makes you go further is your mistake and the lessons you learn from it. Just like science. It depends on experiments and what you learn from them with an endless bound of trial and error. If you get stuck by how you lost, then you can’t take a step forward. First you have to admit you made a mistake, and this makes you humble. Second you have to analyze what caused this mistake, and this is very good for your observation skills because you have to cut that mistake into tiny little pieces until you find the bug. And for the last step you will get the chance to fix it which develops your planning skills and your determination skills. All of these also helps you to understand what you really want and who you really are. Even your smallest mistake on the mat or in competition teaches you endless lessons if you know where to point your questions at and know how to ask the right question. You should know how to admit and work on them. And that is what makes you get ready for the next level.
The second philosophy I apply to my personal life is staying calm under pressure and waiting for the right moment to attack. I’m already known for my calmness under stressful events but I have to work on this skill on the mat from time to time. Sometimes you lose all the control when you’re under pressure but you need to see your limits to go beyond them. BJJ is the perfect tool to see my limits (and train my mind on that way), not only the physical ones but also the mental ones. If you lose your calmness, you give all your control to your opponent and this is the same in real life. People will push you to your limits and force you to make mistakes but you need to keep calm and wait for the right time to answer.
The other philosophy I like the most about BJJ is if you put your emotions into it, it interferes with your technique. Just like meditating, you have to see where your emotions and thoughts come from, don’t cling on to them and let them just pass away without getting into them. You can even go beyond the place where your emotions and thoughts rise, if you train your mind enough. If you start to feel your emotions when you’re training/competing you start thinking about them and not the things you should be doing, for example; feeling bad because someone passed your guard or feeling superior because you’ve mounted someone. You shouldn’t be feeling anything because that person can escape when you’re feeling superior (because there is always a way out, and this is also another philosophy for me) and also you feeling superior doesn’t have an affect on the fact that there is a way out from that position or someone can keep attacking you if you keep being sad because they passed your guard. You just have to take everything as they are and shouldn’t put any meaning on them. Just like life, you shouldn’t take anything personal. Because life is not just about you, so is BJJ. It’s just there and it keeps moving, it has rules. If you start thinking about your emotions or start listening to your thoughts and take things personally (positive or negative) you won’t be able to see the things that come on your way or the things you should be doing in order to make progress.
And the last one is one of my professor Burak Değer Biçer’s quotes, “No medal has a greater value than what you earn trying to crown them.” This also applies to everything I achieve in life. Becoming who you are when you’re working towards your goals is always more important than your goal.