Jackie Harper on European Gold and Developing Warrior Women

Jackie Winning gold at the recent IBJJF master championship

**One to watch for the future** – Jackie Harper is a purple belt under black belt Duane Harper. Adam Phillips here from grapplinginsider.com chatting exclusively to Jackie. After Gold at the European championships, we talk about warrior women, food and what she thinks about Game of Thrones!

Hello Jackie, thank you so much for taking time out your busy schedule to talk to me. Let me start by congratulating you on your Gold at the recent IBJJF European Championships – how have you been since winning? 

“It’s all been a bit of a blur really but everything is back to normal now. It only takes a day to get back into it. I teach classes most days so I don’t really get time to think about things.”

The Move that sealed the Gold!

Do you take a week off after a comp or do you get straight back to it?

“As I say I teach most days so it’s just a case of getting straight back to it. I really enjoy coaching the ladies so it’s never a problem. We joke that I get more from seeing my ladies achieve their goals than I do myself. “

What’s your plans over the next year? Any more comps? 

“Well there is the World Masters in America in August, I’d love do that, it’s a matter of getting the right training in and balancing work. I’ve been working with some great people in all areas with training, coaching, and nutrition but it gets expensive to travel and stay in hotels as well as the entry fees, I’m looking to partner with some local sponsors to see if we can work something out but we will have to see.”

How do you cope with running Warrior Woman and being self – employed whilst trying to get your own training in?

“My nutrition work gets done during the day, early mornings at home going over nutrition clients from the gym’s diaries and tweaking things to go over with them later at work, then food prepping and meal plans to send out for my online clients. This usually makes me hungry so I eat after that! I spend the rest of the morning either studying or working with my online clients.

At 12.00 Monday to Thursday I train for an hour in class with my coach Duane Harper and we usually have Brad Stewart down so two Black Belts. Drilling and rolling for three rounds. Then its food time again and if possible, I like to see my horse KT in the early afternoon. My PT sessions start at 16.00 most days so I like to get to the gym early and relax a little before starting work again. A lot of my PT work is Jiu Jitsu based so I think of that as training as I’m drilling and going over details with people just like in a class, well almost. I train along with the rest of the AVMA BJJ team in the evening classes at 19.00 then its food time again, I love food! That sounds like a lot now I think of it but I love what I do so it never seems too bad.” 

Tell me more about Warrior Woman! I’ve seen you do Warrior Woman nutrition too?

“I started Warrior Woman as at the time there wasn’t anything female based in our area. It was started to give ladies a place to do martial arts-based training in a friendly environment, a place that would feel more welcoming and non-judgmental towards them. Many gyms are like this without realising. We started off with ladies kickboxing then introduced BJJ, MMA and fitness. The ladies have fun whilst getting the work done and it’s a great atmosphere. We do group outings and things like Tough Mudder, basically anything positive and fitness based.

The Warrior Woman Nutrition just grew organically from people in sessions asking questions about what foods and drinks they should be having, and when to have them. I found that many people just needed a couple of changes to what they were doing and getting really good results. Also as a competitor I need to constantly be on a certain weight myself so this helps me keep focused and makes me all too aware of how easy it is to cheat eat, I pass this on to my clients as I know how they are feeling a lot of the time so I can advise them what foods might help them. 

Over time we have come to sponsor some of the UK’s best Female MMA fighters including Made4TheCage Strawweight Champion Lanchana Green, Cage Warriors Academy South East Bantamweight Champion Joanne Doyle and IMMAF Junior World Champion Megan Morris so the brand is expanding well!’

Jackie and her ‘Warrior Women’ medalling at the 2019 British BJJ Open

What got you into martial arts in the first place? 

I started kickboxing just as a way to get fitter and after a while my coach suggested trying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, pretty standard really. I’ve always been a sporty person so I love to dive straight in and give everything from the start.”

Do you find that there is a gender ego thing at the gym? 

“Not at my gym as there are quite a lot of ladies training there, sometimes we out number the men! I was the first girl in my gym for quite a while then I slowly introduced some of my kickboxing ladies to give BJJ a try and it just grew from there! I know there is always going to be guys that can’t take it when a woman gets the better of them and they will use every bit of strength they have to escape or submit or whatever. “

When you get to the mats – how are you feeling, generally speaking? I know I’m real relaxed before I step on, some guys – you see them pacing and getting “into the zone”.

“To be honest, I used to get really nervous but I have gotten a lot better. Its more when I actually step on the mat is when the nerves set in! 

I’ve struggled previously to perform to the best of my ability when I’m competing due to this. I’ve been working with a few people who have helped me get through it and i felt a lot calmer and relaxed at the Europeans and this definitely showed in my results.”

If you could give a person any advice – someone who is thinking about getting into martial arts – what would your advice be?

“Try it now and I’m sure you will enjoy it. It’s the best thing for gaining confidence. you never know where it may lead.”

Is there anyone who has really helped and/or supported you along your way? 

“My husband and coach Duane Harper. He encourages me every single day in and out of the gym. My awesome training partners and team mates. My dad is also my number one fan.” 

Are there any matches/fights that stand out for you? – (personal fave you’ve fought in perhaps or one you’ve witnessed?)

“The absolutes final in Barcelona really stands out for me as it’s one match where I felt in control of my nerves. It’s easy to get lost in the moment in competition but I was fully aware the whole match this time and it’s probably the first time I was looking at the timer/score board and really being in the moment.”

Who’s your Inspiration?

“Leo Negao is our main inspiration, his approach to jiu jitsu is very simple but effective. That’s how I like to be myself. Nothing too complicated.”

Have you watched end game or game of thrones because I haven’t and don’t know what the fuss is about!!

“Haha, no and I have no intention to!! “

Once again, thank you for your time today, good luck with everything, including the future trip to America and Warrior Women, pleasure speaking to you.

If you want to follow Jackie and her Warrior Women on Instagram – head to @Jackieharper83

Adam Phillips

BJJ 1 tag blue belt under Trevor Birmingham (T.Birmingham Academy) and Japanese Jujitsu 2nd Dan Blackbelt under Alexei Roberts and Michael McGarry, Adam haswon the AMA Nationals 3 times and is a 3 time Silver Medallist for Team GB in BJJ and Sports Jujitsu. He has also got tons of medals from regional comps. Trains at Kyouken MMA & Jujitsu, based in Andover and trains with MMA Stars, Mike 'Gip' Cutting and Alexei 'Boom' Roberts. Adam joined Grappling Insider following a request on UK BJJ Underground and has proven to have a real passion for all sorts of MMA, inc. BJJ, in particular. Adam is a huge fan of Mike Bidwell (BJJ over 40 legend) and says that he's very privileged to be able to contact huge sports stars and interview them!