CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — There’s more to 8-year-old Sufina Grajo than meets the eye.
The Cumberland Hill Elementary School student spends her Thursday afternoons dancing.
“Dance is more for my girly side,” Grajo said. “In dance, I just wear a cute little tutu.”
But every Wednesday, Grajo trades that tutu in for a Gi, a heavy cotton jacket traditionally worn while practicing jiujitsu.
“I feel like once I take my girly stuff off … I feel like a different person,” Grajo said. “With jiujitsu, I feel kind of mean and strong … I feel ready to defend and attack.”
Grajo has only been practicing jiujitsu for two years, but she’s already made a name for herself.
Out of 1,600 kids practicing jiujitsu worldwide, she’s currently ranked 41.
“I feel great because not a lot of boys and girls get to be as high [of a rank] as I am,” she said. “In jiujitsu, I feel strong.”
Grajo tells 12 News she’s received anywhere between 18 and 21 medals and has won 58 jiujitsu competitions.
“I really thought I was just going to be a little girl doing anything she wants … until jiujitsu came into my life. I feel really comfortable doing it.”
When asked what motivated her to start practicing jiujitsu, Grajo said the answer is simple.
“If you want to know how to protect yourself, you have to have the confidence to do that,” she said. “That’s why I started jiujitsu, because I wanted to be comfortable knowing I’m going to be safe without my parents.”
While being ranked 41 globally is great and all, Grajo has set high goals for herself.
“I think I will feel even better once I get really high up there,” she said. “Like being number one … and if I get a black belt, I will feel the best in the entire world.”
Grajo will be competing at an international competition in Las Vegas later this month, where she will once again go head-to-head with some of the best young female jiujitsu fighters from around the world.