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“It was really rare when I was six years old to have other girls around,” Dern said. “And my first fight in jiu-jitsu was against a girl and we were standing up and my dad told me to do a takedown, and I looked at him. And when I did that, the girl took me down and won the fight. The kids’ fights were only three minutes long and she beat me by points and I cried. I went over to my dad and I was so sad. But I was so excited to get back and to fight again.”

Dern didn’t lose much after that, and over the years, she not only became a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but a high-level one with a laundry list of medals, championships and accolades. And despite all this, she never forgot where she came from.

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“Everyone liked my dad, and I remember watching my dad compete a lot when I was little,” she said. “I always saw him winning, and losing too, and I felt a little bit of pressure, like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to make my dad proud.’ Around seven, eight years old, I noticed that my dad was really good.”

Dern laughs, and she knows that soon enough, Moa is going to find out that mom isn’t just mom, but someone pretty special in the jiu-jitsu and MMA communities. And when she is of  age to start training, the “gentle art” is clearly a gift Dern wants to give her.


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