Sa’idah "Ginja Ninja" Zeinab Durkee
Sa’idah Zeinab Durkee is a 34 year old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt training under Abmar Barbosa and Isaac July Jr. in Washington, DC. She began training Jiu Jitsu in March 2015. After getting her Blue Belt in August 2016, she competed and won Gold in her division at the IBJJF No-Gi Pan Ams just a month and a half later, as well as Bronze in the Absolute division. She has been a very active competitor ever since. Some other highlights of her competition track record beyond Pan Ams include beating a Black Belt in Gi at a New breed tournament in Richmond, VA, and winning her first Super Fight at Toro Cup 6 in North Carolina. She will continue to train 6-7 days a week to achieve her goal of becoming a World Champion.
Sa’idah grew up in Egypt, where she and her sister were the only Americans, and speaks English, Arabic and some French. She was very active in sports growing up, doing Gymnastics, TaeKwonDo, Horseback Riding, Swimming, Soccer, and Snowboarding. She works at a Health Advocacy Non Profit, and is also a photographer and artist. She is passionate about bringing people together, and helping communities grow and thrive. She would like to see where Jiu Jitsu can take her, hopefully training, teaching and competing in other countries in the future.
Q&A Session Between Sa’idah and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: I have always been into Martial Arts. I didn't start Jiu Jitsu until March, 2015. It was love at first roll, and I have been obsessively training ever since. I live and breathe it. I am amazed at hearing so many people’s stories about how their lives changed when they started training. It has such a positive impact on so many people’s lives.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: Honestly my coaches and training partners inspire me more than anyone else. They push me daily, through blood, sweat and tears…and I couldn’t do what I do without them! I have a very strong social media following on Instagram and Facebook. I post often and work to encourage others to be positive, train hard, and strengthen the BJJ Community as a whole.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: I want to become a World Champion at every level belt from Blue up to Black. I also want to work hard on keeping the idea of the entire BJJ Community as a family. We are all doing what we love to do, and I just want to share that with each other and the world. I plan on making a few trips abroad, including one next year to Senegal to do a weeklong seminar and tournament with the LionHeart Initiative which teaches local residents about Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and self-defense.
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I have been training since March 2015
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: I have a full time day job but it has not stopped me from training 6-7 days a week, often 2-3 times a day (before work, lunch break, after work).
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
Since getting my blue belt in August of 2016, I competed in IBJJF PAN AMs NogGi a month later and took home gold in my weight division and bronze in Absolute. I won 13 other medals and a championship belt competing since August 2016, including beating a black belt in Gi at a NewBreed tournament in October 2016, and winning my first SuperFight at ToroCup 6 in February 2017.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days
Answer: I always carry a gi or two, belt, rashguards, shorts, spats, sweats, disinfectant soap and sports tape for all the injuries And Water…Water…Water!
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: I have a few go-to moves. Americana from Kesa Gatame is one, and what we call a Submission Sampler that is a move that I can get 3 different armbars, a wristlock, a gogoplata and a triangle all from the same position!
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: Focus, Hard work, Dedication, Determination, Belief in Self, Heart And a willingness to face your greatest fears head on.