• Hi Heide, Please introduce yourself to our readers

Hey guys! My name is Heide Truong. I’m from California, USA but I live in Copenhagen, Denmark. I moved here for a Master’s in Food Innovation and Health. Within my program, I’ve chosen to focus my research in cannabis on human health. I’m a BJJ purple belt under Shimon Mochizuki at Arte Suave. In addition to training and academia, I am passionate about traveling and entrepreneurship. I’ve solo traveled to 36 countries in 5 years, often taking my gi along, funding my travels as a personal trainer, and am currently developing food products for the Scandinavian market and building a women’s self-defense workshop.Heide Truong in Paris

  • Tell us more about your background and how your education is helping you into training BJJ? 

I started martial arts 11 years ago with Muay Thai and MMA. I tried BJJ but I was 16 and my ego couldn’t handle how bad I was so I didn’t think I liked it. I gave it another chance when I moved to San Diego for my BSc in Kinesiology and wanted to pursue MMA. My first BJJ coach was the first “jiu-jitsu nerd” I ever met. It amazed me that a person could have so much passion for something. He encouraged me to train more, suggesting that BJJ would show me my true self (I thought he was crazy). My feelings overturned after I took a job at a Gracie Humaita academy. 

After a year, I began training with Leticia Ribeiro. That’s when my obsession grew and I was training upwards of 4-6 hours everyday. I was studying exercise science and nutrition but disregarded everything I knew when it came to my own training. I didn’t have anything else going on except university so I overtrained, resulting in many injuries. Nowadays I’m adamant about training efficiently and use my education to optimize recovery and performance.

  • You are working on interesting research on the effects of cannabis and sports can you tell us more about it and your motives behind it.

I began using cannabis for recovery in 2016 during an IBJJF World’s camp. We were training late into the evening and had to go back to the gym early in the morning for 2 more sessions. It was hard to sleep and I felt terrible in the morning sessions as a result. I started experimenting with cannabis oil in my night routine and that made a big difference. I remember feeling the best I had in all my years of training. People asked me about it, and because research was severely lacking, I could only give them my anecdotal experience. 

I came to Denmark to study nutrition and health sciences. I thought a lot about cannabis and my personal experience. I also found there was a bigger stigma in Europe than in California. When I’d reveal that I sometimes used it, people would commonly respond “but it makes you lazy and unproductive.” Most people couldn’t comprehend that I was a user because I trained twice a day, was a full time MSc student, had a job, worked on my own projects, traveled often, and had a social life. I didn’t fit their idea of someone who used cannabis. I got tired of this stereotype and the lack of scientific evidence, so I began researching cannabis on human health. Since I couldn’t find anyone else in Denmark who was an expert on the topic, I created my own course and wrote a systematic literature review on Cannabis (THC & CBD) Effects on Recovery and Athletic Performance. The more I learned, the more questions I had and it drove me to dig deeper. My main motives are to provide a better understanding for the public to make informed decisions and to destigmatize cannabis use for athletes.

  • CBD is getting very trendy these days. Can you tell us more about the effects of CBD over athletes.

CBD has been shown to be effective in relieving pain, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep outcomes. If you’re an athlete looking for an alternative to over the counter medication, CBD is a great option. It’s non-psychoactive, well-tolerated and low risk. 

The main issue with CBD products is the lack of regulation. In a 2016 study, researchers discovered nearly 70% of online products were mislabeled. 43% of the products underlabeled the amount of CBD, 26% were overlabeled and 18 of the 84 products analyzed detected unlabeled THC. This can be problematic for athletes who are subjected to drug tests or are in places where it isn’t legal. Look for third party testing certificates if you’re buying full or broad spectrum, otherwise buy CBD isolate to be safe. It won’t be as effective as full spectrum CBD, but you won’t be at risk of testing positive for THC.

  • How often do you train Jiu Jitsu and what routines do you have?

I train BJJ 4-5x times/week, up to 2.5 hrs a day. I picked up no-gi last year, so I’ll do that at least twice a week. I drill at home with friends a few times a week too. As for strength and conditioning, I go through phases but currently I’m outdoor training 2-3x times per week. 

Aside from training, I routinely dedicate a portion of my day to my thesis, which is the cannabis use study I’m conducting on the BJJ population. I’m in the library most days researching, writing, and recruiting. Entrepreneurship is also a big part of my life. I go to the lab weekly to develop my food products. I just started research & development for a women’s self-defense workshop. I’ve been giving free lessons to my friends. My goal with this project is to expose more women to martial arts and empower them. With the time I have left, I spend it with my friends. Pre-pandemic, I had a routine of traveling at least once a month but that’s on hold until things return to normal. Until then, my current routine keeps me pretty entertained.

  • Would you like to give any advice to our readers that would help them either on the mat or in their lives?

The mat is one of the only places in the world where who you are beyond doesn’t matter. Not what you own, what titles you have, or your social class. The only way to get respect by how hard you work and how you show up. Let the mats teach you by learning how to lose, how to win, and how to evolve. 

And before all else, take care of your sleep, nutrition, mobility, and overall well-being.