Destined to Soar: An interview with Milana Panic, Brazilian jui jitsu national champion

Destined to Soar: An interview with Milana Panic, Brazilian jui jitsu national champion

Celeste Kocabay

Destined to SOAR.

This interview series is aimed at celebrating, recognising and promoting the incredible talent and ferocious courage of our young women of tomorrow.

Let's recognise the magnificent effort of girls' in sport across all codes!

Today our interview is with, Australian National, States, Pan Pacs and AJP National Champion and youth sensation Milana Panic. Soar Active had the privilege to catch up and chat about her love of Brazilian jui jitsu aka bjj.

1. Milana, tell us about your early life?
Milana: I started dancing at the age of 4, I started in jazz and tap. When I was 7 I started hiphop. I have always loved dancing and being girly. I grew up in a multicultural family as I have a background of Serbian, Filipino and Australian.

2. So how did you discover Jui Jitsu?
Milana: My parents wanted to start me in martial arts for defence. I started at my current gym complete mix martial arts in taekwondo then decided to trial the Brazilian jui jitsu class (bjj). I had never heard of Brazilian jui jitsu, so I was not sure what to expect.

3. What was your next step?
Milana: After the first few weeks of bjj I really started to enjoy the classes and quit 5 years of dancing to focus on martial arts. I always thought I would continue and dance until I was a senior. I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed bjj as I was never a fan of physical contact sports.

4. How do you balance competitive bjj and managing school?
Milana: I currently train 5 days a week. I will finish school and go straight to training for a 2-hour session. I train 4 days a week in: gi , wrestling and no gi. On the weekend I train judo, which I have recently commenced and have been enjoying for the past 8 months. Sometimes I will train on a Sunday if I have a private lesson. I have no training on Wednesdays, and this will be my day, I focus on any academic tasks.
I am able to manage both my bjj and schooling as I have individual goals for both my schooling and bjj that I like to focus towards. I want to be a lawyer when I am older as well as on the side be a professional athlete.

5. What do you do in your downtime?
Milana: I love reading, one of my favourite books is the dork diaries. I love going to restaurants with my family and tasting new foods as well as visiting family and friends.

6. What makes you feel happy, brave, and strong?
Milana: I am the happiest when I am around the people I love. I feel brave and strong when I get on the matts to compete in a competition, and I am able to implement techniques I have learnt in a pressured environment.

7. Tell us about a special moment in the last year?
Milana: Last year I traveled to europe for a family vacation and took some time to train and compete. I trained at the roger gracie academy and competed in Germany and london.

8. What is your ultimate goal?
Milana: My goal just like any other girl who competes and trains in bjj is to spread more awareness of the sport to other girls. I want to promote bjj and provide education to girls particularly the dance community to have more girls joining the sport and promoting girl power and supporting girls to continue bjj until they reach black belt.

9. What's your favourite attribute about yourself?
Milana: I like how I am creative and curious.

10. Favourite song on repeat right now?
Milana: All the small things by blink 182

11. What has Jui Jitsu taught you about life?
Milana: Bjj has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. The only thing holding me back is my mindset and not believing in myself. Bjj has also taught me to be resilient and keep learning and moving forward when I lose a match.

12. Who inspires you right now?
Milana: My family, friends and coaches

13. What would you say to other young females about following their dreams?
Milana: If you can dream it you can achieve it. Envision where you want to be and communicate this to your parents. Having the support of family keeps you motivated. I wouldn’t be able to train or compete at the level I am if it was not for my family and the endless time and commitment, they also put in with my bjj

Follow Milana's journey on Instagram


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