My name is Samantha Faulhaber. I’m a purple belt under Regis Lebre and Gracie Humaita. My regular competition weight is pluma.
My competition record of note is:
2008 Pan Ams/blue/pena – bronze
2008 Worlds/blue/pluma – gold
2009 Worlds/blue/pluma – silver
2010 Pan Ams/purple/pluma – silver
2011 Abu Dhabi Pro Trials San Diego (purple/brown/black) – lightweight silver
2011 Abu Dhabi Pro Trials San Diego – light open Champion (purple/brown/black)
2011 Pan Ams/purple/pena – silver
2011 Worlds/purple/pluma – silver
I also have many gold medals from NAGAs on the east coast and a no gi advanced belt from Grappler’s Quest Northeast.
I am currently the manager of Gracie San Diego Competition Team for black belts Regis Lebre, Joao Faria, and Royler Gracie.
Full Name: Samantha Siu-Bic Tam Faulhaber
What year did you begin training BJJ?
200….3? I think my senior year of high school. Possibly 2002, junior year. My dad wanted me to do it for self defense, so I went and watched a women’s self defense class, tried the armbar I saw on my boyfriend who quickly did not want to play with me any more, and joined. Spent approx the first two years in the sport with only two classes a week and no live training so I don’t really count them. Southside Jiu-Jitsu Club in Salisbury, MD, under Miles Moffit will always be my home and my foundation as I was eventually forced to take it seriously by him.
What is your rank?
When were you promoted and by whom? I was promoted to purple in July of 2009 by Regis Lebre.
This changes weekly. I tend to focus and get really excited about a position and then get excited about the next when I should still be working on the first one but eventually it all ties together. I would say I’m a bottom person but the past few tournaments I’ve ended up playing more top and doing well with it so who knows. In general I love anything involving a hook game and loading people up.
Where do you train now and who is your main coach?
Gracie San Diego Competition Team, Royler Gracie’s school in San Diego, CA. Regis Lebre is still my main coach and mentor. I have to give props to Joao Faria, also a head instructor of Gracie San Diego; and Brian Rago and Zak Maxwell of Gracie Philadelphia for being huge influences on me.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date so far? And why?
I’m pretty proud of going to Abu Dhabi this year. Winning the San Diego trials was a really big deal to me because I had only been living in San Diego for a few months and it was in our backyard. This meant that my whole new academy was there to watch. I also hadn’t competed since Pan Ams in March of 2010 so I was extra nervous about cobwebs in my game. The weight class ceiling was higher than I was used to fighting at, and it was purple/brown/black, and three of my female teammates (all of them that had tried thus far) had already won trips at the Las Vegas trials…once on the mat I felt great. I have this academy to thank for that. It was all the thinking the week before that wasn’t fun. The biggest thing about the trip was it gave me something relatable to tell to friends and family that don’t do jiu-jitsu and might not appreciate how awesome it was that I defended that omoplata to win on advantages, etc. Of course it was an incredible experience regardless.
Do you cross train in other sports (wrestling, judo, etc) to help you with your Jiu-Jitsu? No, though they’re on the to-do list. Yoga is very helpful in my opinion.
What is your favorite thing about Jiu-Jitsu?
Tangibly, the feeling of my knee connecting to an opponent’s hip for the pass, or when the inside of my knee connects perfectly to the neck for a triangle. Philosophically, I cannot narrow it down. I love training, I love the people I’ve met, the advice I’ve been given, the fitness it’s given me, the opportunities, the way it keeps egos so largely at bay, the respect combined with the informalities compared with other martial arts, how I get hungrier after each competition, the bad jokes I can make that nobody gets if they don’t do it. I could go on forever.
My parents want me to be happy. We have butted heads on this, definitely. I made Jiu-Jitsu the life plan instead of the backup plan, and I can’t blame them for wishing I had reversed the order with some kind of formal schooling degree. I can’t say my family has ever been one to bring out the confetti to tournaments, but I think I would feel weird if they did. They respect it and did not try to stop me. It’s funny, as I mentioned earlier, Abu Dhabi changed some of the perspective. My dad finally decided I might have a shot at this and has been researching stuff, reading this website, learning about the sport more after all these years. I can now discuss Rodolfo Viera and Luanna Alzuguir with him and he knows what I am talking about. It’s great.
Tell us something different or interesting about you that we all probably don’t already know.
I really really love to climb trees. Preferably to sit and read in them but I’ll take just climbing. (People might not all know that I’m a 12 year old boy trapped in a 26 year old female body)
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for new female grapplers?
I always tell new chicks that it’s going to be weird. Heck, it’s that way for the guys, too. I forget that it’s not a normal thing to wrap your legs around people, or tell a girl, “No, no, open your legs more. Your base is too narrow,” because my training partners and I are used to it. Just give it some time, trust your instructors, and TRY it. You are going to be very confused for several weeks at least until you have some idea of what these positions are and what’s going on. You may be uncomfortable for half of that. You need to do the live training. I didn’t count my years without it because I know that it doesn’t matter if I can show you a pretty armbar all day if I can’t take it from someone who’s not cooperating. Even if you’re doing it strictly for fitness you won’t get the same results without training live. Just try to get to mount however your baby Jiu-Jitsu logic tells you you can, or try to execute whatever you just learned in class that day. Compete. Once. You’ll be nervous in the street, too, if God forbid you ever have to use it for real. If you still hate it, never do it again but support your teammates by training and cheering.