Demi Lovato has just released her sixth album, Tell Me You Love Me, and has been dominating the world with chart topping singles since her Disney star days.
Her latest single is already number one in 40 countries with her fan base stretching over 145 million on social media.
The 25-year-old American Grammy nominated songwriter is known not only for having a powerful voice on stage but also for her mental health struggles.
Demi has spoken about her depression, eating disorders, self-harm, bullying, bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol addictions.
But she continues to bounce back and prove she can not only kick ass in the charts but also in the ring.
Demi has recently earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Posing for a makeup-free selfie, Demi thanked her team, including World Champions in the sport, who she trains with several times a week. ‘I fell in love with BJJ’, she wrote.
Alongside Muay Thai, boxing, MMA fighting, functional training and her own fitness fashion line with Kate Hudson’s activewear brand Fabletics, the pop singer took up BJJ over a year ago.
She received her belt two days after singing the national anthem at the Mayweather vs McGregor fight in August. Lovato is a huge fan of the male-dominated sport and isn’t afraid to get stuck in with it.
Success: Demi Lovato achieved her jiu jitsu blue belt (one up from white) in August
The singer (pictured last month) swears by the sports for her mental and physical health
What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Part of the martial arts family, Brazilian jiu-jitsu teaches a smaller person how to defend themselves against a larger person using a set of techniques based on grappling and joint locks and is an adaptation of traditional Japanese Jujutsu.
Ninety percent of jiu-jitsu fights end up on the ground, and so the method focuses more on sophisticated ground fighting and submission techniques, using joint-locks and chokeholds, as opposed to takedowns and throws used in the Japanese method.
BJJ is often seen as not just a martial art, but a form of character building, as founder Carlos Gracie found that when he started as a 15-year-old boy, he became more confident, tolerant and always looking to improve.
That’s an oversimplification of the sport, so what other way to explain than a ‘Jiu Jitsu for dummies’ YouTube video below:
When Demi fell in love with BJJ
Demi has spoken before about the importance of working out for her mental health, advising people with depression, anxiety or stress to do the same.
‘I work out personally because of the way it makes me feel and the release of serotonin [happy chemical in the brain]. It’s important to take care of yourself physically but also mentally as well,’ she told SELF Magazine.
What Demi loves about jiu-jitsu and MMA is that it never gets boring. ‘When you’re rolling with somebody, you’re constantly thinking of defending or attacking moves, so it’s kind of meditative in a way, but it’s also a great workout when you’re training — when you’re really moving around with somebody’, she told POPSUGAR about her workout routines.
Rooting for her all the way are Demi’s team of trainers, including Jay Glazer, Danielle Martin and Tarsis Humphreys.
Tarsis is a black belt three times World Champion in BJJ, smashing titles since his career started 21 years ago. He talks exclusively about why women like Demi are falling in love with the sport.
Tarsis Humphreys on Demi’s training routine
‘I have a friend who is a BJJ black belt and teaches self-defence and jiu-jitsu for women, Danielle’ says Demi’s trainer Tarsis Humphreys.
‘She started to teach Demi and is the main teacher for her. As Demi became more interested in the sport, Danielle asked me to teach Demi in a class as I am a professional athlete and have been doing it for 21 years. Demi enjoyed my class so I started to teach her.
‘Demi is still a beginner after one year. You need years to be good, but she’s doing a great job. She is a smart and learns super fast. If she wants to compete, I don’t know if that’s her goal yet, she will be an amazing competitor.
‘She trains almost every day during the week for at least two hours,’ says Humphreys.
‘Most people train one hour a day three times a week, but she’s intense. She does Muay Thai, boxing, cardio, functional training – a lot! She trains MMA sometimes with professional fighters, but I don’t believe she competes. MMA is tough. You can simulate some moves, but to be a fighter is another level. I try to see her at least once a week when she is in town (LA).
‘During a session you always need to warm up the body. Then you work on new movements with a partner. You can do it by yourself by drilling or shadowing but you don’t feel it as much.
‘There is a lot to learn – the take down, the top game the bottom game, the defensive part, offensive part, so we always try to learn a new sequence. We always have answers depending on how the other person is going to react. I try and give as much information as possible so there is more than one option to take. It’s not like a sport that you learn ten techniques and continue to get faster and stronger. BJJ has thousands of techniques and its still evolving now.’
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