Rhodes Faraday does what she needs to do to turn her dreams into reality.
The BJJ purple belt, who will be competing tonight at Fight 2 Win 149, started training in Austin, TX in 2015 when she was 28 years old. Though she’d initially gone to the gym for a more traditional workout, she found her way into the jiu-jitsu room and quickly discovered a form of exercise that benefitted her mental health as much as her physical health. “I was overcoming a lot of PTSD and childhood trauma,” she told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “I had no direction, no real goals, and honestly, I was just trying to deal with my mental health, heal from past trauma, and function. Jiu-jitsu re-wired my brain and gave me direction, opportunity, and most importantly, a family.”
Since then, jiu-jitsu has become far more than just a hobby for Faraday. She’s competed at events like Proving Grounds and Sub on the Shore, and she made it to the podium at No-Gi Worlds as a blue belt last year. It’s also given her opportunities to meet the international jiu-jitsu community — she cross-trained in Israel for three months at Atos Jerusalem and Pariente Acadamy in Ra’anana near Tel Aviv, and her first tournament at blue belt took place in Belgium. In fact, she traveled to Amsterdam specifically for the occasion, “just for fun.”
As Faraday’s passion for jiu-jitsu grew stronger, so did her desire to improve. Though her family and support system was in Texas, where she was born and raised, she realized that she was unhappy with her work and training there, and she hoped for something better for herself both on and off the mats.
“I wanted more advanced training and training partners. I couldn’t reach the level I wanted if I stayed in Texas at the time, and I knew that after traveling and training around the Pacific Northwest and the west coast,” she says.
Though she says it was “the hardest decision [she’s] ever had to make,” Faraday decided to head west to pursue her goals on the mats and in the cannabis industry. “I’m a passionate and very productive pothead,” she says. “I always have been. I’ve always been educating myself on cannabis and dreamed of working in the industry before I ever found jiu-jitsu. Once I was given an opportunity to go work on a cannabis farm in the mountains of Oregon, I chased my dreams and went for the training I felt I deserved.”
The transition was a big change, but Faraday did what she had to in order to make it work for her. “I lived outside in a yurt with my dog. I worked twelve hours a day and would train three hours at night and shower at a Planet Fitness on the way home to the farm.”
Faraday’s work in the cannabis industry later took her to Los Angeles, where she spent “one of the best years of [her] life” training with Scott Epstein at 10th Planet West LA. “Everything I learned and experienced made me so much happier, stronger, and confident,” she says. “But living in LA is so hard, and I wanted to train with the [10th Planet San Diego] Freaks since I was a fresh white belt. I found a job in the cannabis industry in San Diego, and I’ve been there almost two years.”
The journey was scary and emotionally challenging for Faraday, but the obstacles she learned to overcome through jiu-jitsu also helped her overcome the difficulties she faced when she uprooted her life from Texas.
“There were so many challenges living in the farm, living in LA, and even moving to San Diego. But if I can do jiu-jitsu, I can handle anything. I was confident in going through hard sh*t in life because of the hard sh*t on the mats. I can’t see myself doing anything I’ve done the last 4.5 years without jiu-jitsu guiding me. I’ve completely changed as a woman and a martial artist.”
Thankfully, it’s all been worth it so far, and the training that Faraday had hoped for when she decided to train at 10th Planet San Diego lived up to her expectations and more. She sought out the gym specifically for the environment and the number of high-level women that already trained there, and she adapted to the pressure just fine.
“My coach Boogey [Richie Martinez] is one of the most genuine, passionate, creative, and hardworking humans I’ve ever met. His classes, his students, and the environment that’s grown from all of it bring some of the hardest training I’ve ever endured. Overall, the women in San Diego go so hard. I love to drop in at Atos because I’m friends with a lot of the women there, and my boyfriend trains there. The overall vibe in the community where I live… it feels like home. It feels right.”
Faraday is well aware of (and loves) the numerous ways that the jiu-jitsu community and cannabis industry have intersected, whether in the growing popularity of CBD oil among jiu-jitsu athletes or through events like High Rollerz. Having worked in the industry for years now, she openly advocates for the use of cannabis in multiple forms for jiu-jitsu athletes.
“I love CBD, and it’s essential to any grappler or athlete but I don’t think most people are aware how THC is also an anti inflammatory and it’s best when partnered with CBD, which is why I always medicate after training and sometimes before,” she says.
Still, she’s well aware that living in a state where cannabis is legal and readily available at public dispensaries isn’t everyone’s reality. She hopes to be part of the movement to see it completely legalized in her lifetime.
“Being in the cannabis industry, especially this year through the pandemic when cannabis was deemed as an ‘essential,’ I find it absolutely devastating as a society that we have people incarcerated for plant medicine as if they were violent crimes or crimes at all. It’s absurd that I have the quality of life I live, paying my bills with cannabis, totally legal, while someone in Texas could be serving a 20-year sentence for a minor marijuana charge. I have driven around with pounds of weed in California for work, gotten pulled over, and the cop couldn’t care less. The more I’ve educated myself on cannabis, the more ridiculous it is to be illegal. I’m constantly trying to educate people around me about cannabis because I truly love and believe in the power and the good in this plant.”
Though Faraday’s journey is far from over, it has come full circle as she prepares to put her skills on the line tonight in Dallas against Jess Bermudez. She was supposed to just be taking a casual trip home, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete when she learned that F2W would still be in Texas at the same time as her.
“I couldn’t be more elated because for me, it’s so much more than a match. It’s hard work from the last four and a half years coming full circle… Coming to my roots and having my first F2W here. My opponent is a well-decorated grappler. I’m very well aware of her and I am so stoked to be given such a great matchup. I feel confident. I have a lot of respect for her game, and I’m confident we’re going to put on a hell of a show. Plus, I hope to have a new friend once this is over. I always end up making friends with the people I go up against; it’s one of the best parts about competing.”
Though Faraday’s journey has been one of sacrifice, risks, and unknowns, she’s managed to make her dreams come true by putting in the work necessary to achieve what she knew she was capable of. Tonight, win or lose, she’ll once again be giving it her all and taking the match in as part of her journey.
“It makes me excited for all the years of growth ahead. I was supposed to start in Austin and work my way to where I truly am now. I just did what I felt was best for my training and went after it fearlessly. That’s the best thing anyone can do with their training.”
Fight 2 Win 149 will take place tonight in Dallas, TX and can be streamed live on FloGrappling.