Street Athletes: Tameka Small
Fascinated by the fluidity of movement that comes with Capoeira, we tracked down Tameka Smalls, who is fusing it with martial arts and yoga – throw in a couple of Spartan Races and we’ve got ourselves a Street Athlete. Meet Ms Small.
I just returned from studying Mandarin in China, currently training as a Personal Trainer.
- What’s your sport/sports?
I absolutely love Capoeira, Gong Fu and Muay Thai.
- How did you get into it?
I started Capoeira about 12 years ago. I just remember seeing snippets of it in films, on TV, and posters and that curiously lead me to want to know more. I was soon hooked and it became a way of life. I started Gong Fu about 7 years ago as a way to improve my Capoeira. I found a Shaolin Gong Fu academy near me, and I haven’t looked back since.
I did a lot of Muay Thai in Shanghai, China. There were some fantastic teachers there, who trained me hard. I initially started Muay Thai as a way for me to keep my kicks sharp and my fitness up in absence of Gong Fu, but I found it had more to offer.
For me, the thing that connects these martial arts and continues to draw and fascinate me is how they help my mind, body and spirit work more harmoniously together. I’ve learnt (learning) how to just “do”. Think “run”, and just run. Think “jump”, and just jump. Sometimes it’s more complicated and difficult to just simplify things.
- What’s been your best moment in your sport so far?
Completely away from martial arts, in 2006 I decided to learn how to surf. I spent a month in beautiful Cost Rica learning. I have to say without a doubt, surfing was one of the most physically demanding sports I have tried as a beginner. I will always remember catching my first wave and have a deeper respect for nature and the ocean that could have so easily gobbled me up.
- What motivates you?
Proving the impossible wrong.
- How do you push yourself when you don’t want to train?
Knowing that it’s exactly on the days, you don’t want to train, that you need to train the most.
- What’s your favourite motivational quote?
“…Sometimes, when you find a place you don’t like, you have to stay there till you do…”
- What events do you have lined up for this year?
I just completed the London Spartan Sprint Race on the 22nd July 2012, which was a muddy 3+ mile/ 15+ obstacle race course, and have been inspired to complete the Super Spartan (8+ mile/ 20+ obstacles) and Spartan Beast (12+ mile / 25+ obstacles) later in the year. God help me!
This year is for me to push harder and go further. I really want to find somewhere new in my martial arts. I also plan to develop my role as a personal trainer, using my martial arts and yoga background to help people obtain their goals.
- What role does fitness play in your life?
Fitness is everything to me. I helps me understand my body, my spirit, my determination, it gives me a sense of empowerment and helps me recognise beauty and appreciation in myself and others.
- Do you draw inspiration from any other types of sport?
Yoga is amazing! I’m so grateful for it and have learnt so much from it. It has helped me know myself more and helped me find and keep my breath control when training instead of constantly chasing it.
- What’s your top training tip?
Trust yourself, you are stronger than you think.
- What do you do in your down time?
Crash-out! Rest is underrated, it took me a long time to realise that. I know it’s still training but I do enjoy trampolining, I think it takes about 1 year off my life every session, makes me feel like a kid again.