My name is Kristina Barlaan and I am many things: I am a dreamer, an explorer, a lover, a fighter, and a person who seeks to feel things deeply, passionately, and intensely. I am a person filled with wonder and a sense of adventure. I am a person who desires to shine and radiate joy, even when incapacitated to do so. I am a person of gratitude and a person of purpose. I am a person who will always persist and work hard, but will also not hesitate to slow down, relax, appreciate the small things, and make fun of myself. I am a person who will eat the ice cream out of the carton and take the last slice of cake.
Though I am a 1st degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Professor Caio Terra, my life didn’t include martial arts until I was 20. Since the age of 5, I was raised in performing arts. From playing the piano and singing in choir to, most notably, dancing, I found great joy and comfort in being in the spotlight or up on stage. Being classically trained in ballet and jazz, I thought for sure that dancing would be my life. I would have never thought that at 32, I would be a World Champion martial artist that travels the world for competitions and seminars. I would have never thought that I would be a person that could deeply influence others. I didn’t know that me, living my life, could create change and make a difference.
When people first see me, I am usually recognized for 2 things: my smile and my strength. While it is true that it is rare to see me without a smile or without a posture and presence of confidence, I have had to struggle for most of my life to be able to keep that outward appearance. My smile is real. My strength is real. But so are the pains of mental illness and traumatic experiences. So are the sorrows of not knowing where you belong or if your life is validated. I didn’t truly understand the meaning of purpose until I started speaking and illuminating the dark places of my past and my heart. I didn’t understand how powerful a voice could be until I was 26 and it wasn’t a roar or a yell. It was a little more than a whisper within a private conversation between me and one other person.
I love Jiu-Jitsu not because I excel at it and have the ability to win titles and championships. I am so much more than just a black belt. I love Jiu-Jitsu because it first empowered me, then it put the right people in my life, and that lead to finding my voice, my passion, and my purpose. Jiu-Jitsu has given me the tools to succeed and the platform to be the kind of person I was always meant to be: a role model. I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. Jiu-Jitsu has helped me to be that and I hope to inspire others to do the same.
I had always thought that to create change, it was necessary to do something grand and ground-breaking. What I have found is that all that is required is to be unapologetically you. There is only one of you, after all, and who better to fulfill that role than yourself? I strive to embrace all that I am because that’s the person the world deserves. That’s the person I deserve.
LEARN A LITTLE MORE ABOUT KRISTINA
What is your current state of mind?
Practicing gratitude for all things blessing my life. From my daily struggles to small personal wins and to being able to wake up everyday and have the chance to choose how I will live each day, this attitude of gratitude helps me to accepts the things I can’t change, also allows me to have the strength to make changes when and where I can.
My Addictions are:
Food, good music, and Disney singalongs
Biggest accomplishment in life:
Becoming a mentor
Words that most describe you:
Passionate, vivacious, and joyful
If you could super power, what would that be :
I would like to be able to speak and understand any language, verbal and non-verbal.
What is it that you want to do when you grow up?
I’d like to think that I’m already doing what I want to be doing and the great thing about that is that I don’t EVER have to “grow-up”. I can gain maturity, yes, but I will always possess a child like wonder and view of the world.
Tell us one thing we don’t know about but we should:
You should know that I operate under extremes, whether it be consciously or sub-consciously. I believe things she be done and felt with passion, otherwise, it’s not worth having or doing.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
I would like the world to practice more kindness, empathy, and communication. I believe a lot of our problems could be solved by actively living in the pursuit of making our communities better by learning to understand those that we share this world with.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is the kind where nothing is required but being present in your whole self. Perfect happiness is acquired when we can realize and embrace the fact that “I am enough as I am”.
What is your greatest fear?
I fear being left behind and forgotten. To me, that is a dark, cold, lonely place where there is no one who sees or recognizes your pain except yourself.
What do you like most about yourself?
I like my ability to continually persevere and without letting trauma and heartache compromise my ability to give and love deeply.
What is the trait you most DISLIKE in yourself?
I won’t say that I dislike my big heart, but it does come with some pain. It’s the pain I dislike, but I would not change that for anything. The pain of a big heart is worth the hurt.
What is your greatest regret?
I regret the hurt I have caused people, consciously and unconsciously, through mistakes that I have made. But although I wish that hurt didn’t happen, it was necessary for those events to happen in order to make the change and growth to be a better person.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am changing every day, from mindsets to ideas to habits. Who I am at my core will never change though and that is something I embrace.
If you were to die and come back as another person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A well loved cat with indoor/outdoor privileges (so true to my nature haha)
What is your most treasured possessions?
My heart and my soul.
Where would you like to live if you could live anywhere in the world?
Somewhere with lots of sun and close to the ocean.
What is your life motto?
Live passionately and purposefully
List 3 things you cannot live without?
Passion, music, and movement
What is your legacy?
I would like my kindness and drive to inspire to be my legacy. I would like for people to remember me for my will to make change and spread hope.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
That all things great can be accomplished with perseverance.
Many thanks to:
Everyone who has impacted my life, directly or indirectly, positively or negatively. You have helped to create who I am today and that gift will not be wasted.
Be kind and forgiving, not only to others, but in particular, yourself. You are a human being worthy of love and full of value. You are flawed and imperfect and absolutely beautiful.