Stefanija: I am so eager to get to know more about MMA

Stefanija Duntava. Which member of Tabonon doesn’t know this 21-year old Latvian student who lives in the Netherlands? She can be found at our gym at least 6 times a week. “I haven’t missed a training since I started”, she says. We asked her more about what she is doing in the Netherlands and how comes that she is so fanatic about martial arts.

“I wanted to move to the Netherlands, so I did”, Stefanija answers on the question why she’s living here. “I met some people from Windesheim in Latvia and went to visit them in Zwolle. I fell in love with the Netherlands straightaway, and thought that it would be great to live here. The moment I decided to take the step and move, was when I did an exchange in Norway. When I moved from Latvia, my view of the world changed significantly, and I decided to follow my heart. So I did. I gave up everything in Latvia.”

Studying, veganism, martial arts

Besides her studies of Global Project and Change Management at Windesheim Honours College, she can be found training in MMA, grappling, BJJ, yoga, and kickboxing at Tabonon. “I am a big advocate for veganism, and one day I want to run my own business which would promote a more sustainable lifestyle. I genuinely believe that the biggest obstacle in life is our own mind, and once we conquer it, we can make our craziest dreams come true. For me training is a rest for my mind: when I spend an hour a day thinking about nothing but training, I am more focused on things outside of the gym. Training is a lot about mindfulness and being in the present moment; you cannot think about anything else while somebody is trying to punch your face.”

From krachttraining to MMA

“I used to do all sorts of sports, like wild water rowing, Latvian folkdance and fitness. My ex-boyfriend (4 years ago!) always used to call me the UFC girl, and I would get very angry, because I never imagined myself doing martial arts. When I moved to the Netherlands, I met Gonneke (Meima, Tabonon-member) who trains in kickboxing. I did one boxing training when I lived in Norway, and I felt like a superstar, so I decided to give kickboxing a try. The first time at Tabonon, Gonneke took me to Rozemarijn’s pads training, and I loved it. Then I went to the krachttraining and met Maroushka. She was the one who pulled me into the MMA world, even though at first I was so scared. She just kind of took my hand and took me to an MMA class. I haven’t missed a training ever since.”

Eager to learn more about martial arts

“Martial arts are great. Kickboxing is not easy, and there are a lot of things to learn. But MMA is so broad, there is so much space for creativity. I am very eager to get to know more about it. Dennis would always say that even after 15 years of doing MMA he still learns something new. I can totally imagine! And doing martial arts makes me feel so much more confident.”

Love Tabonon for the sports and the people

“I love training at Tabonon for the sports, but also because of the people. Sometimes I don’t feel like training, but I go anyway because I know that it will be great. Sometimes I come and train just because of Dennis. He is a great trainer, I love him! Overall all the trainers in Tabonon are very friendly and warm-hearted. I remember that I felt very insecure on my first training: I didn’t speak Dutch and knew nothing, but Rozemarijn made sure that it was okay and I was very welcomed with widely open arms. Within a week, people at the gym knew my name. That is a great feeling!”