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Business Spotlight: Rose Smith, Philotimo Freestyle Jujitsu

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Rose Smith started her company Philotimo Freestyle Jujitsu after her own daughter started high school, realising there was need for effective self-defence classes for teenage girls. Here’s how her business and grown and what benefits all kids can gain from learning martial arts.


Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’ve been teaching jujitsu for about 25 years, and I’m passionate about encouraging women to take up martial arts.

Tell us about Philotimo Freestyle Jujitsu

Philotimo Freestyle is a female-led martial arts school. All of the instructors are female, bar one. We have three levels of classes, Minotaurs (3-6years) Manticores (7-11 years) and Arktoi (12-17 years) which cover all aspects of jujitsu for children, plus adult classes. Once our girls get to Year 6, the classes are girls only all the way through to the end of high school. This is important. It is the best way to keep girls training in martial arts.

Inspiring young women

What did you do before you launched your business?

Jujitsu is my passion but not my day job. I work full time and I am blessed to be able to work Jujitsu in around my work hours.

Rose in her ‘other’ job

What makes Philotimo different?

Three things…

  1. Size. We are a small school and deliberately so. You cannot have as much impact in your students lives if you have so many you don’t miss them when they’re not there.
  2. Cost. Our classes are structured to be affordable, and we do not charge for gradings or extras. We are committed to being affordable for the whole family.
  3. Mums always train free. Mothers can access all our classes at no cost for the lifetime of their children’s memberships. We are really committed to empowering women through the vehicle of martial arts.

Young kids enjoying class

What inspired you to start Philotimo?

When my daughter started high school I realised how badly there was a need for effective self defence classes for teenage girls. That was when I realised we needed girls – only programs.

What do you enjoy most about running the school?

I get a real kick out of seeing girls and young women develop confidence, and begin to expect better and believe they deserve better in situations all around them. They don’t have to be sidelined or feel scared. They can take up as much space as they like, make noise, be strong, enjoy their bodies as strong vehicles that can do great stuff with, not just be sexualised and objectified and worry about what their weight is and what they look like.

Strong, confident women showing off their martial arts moves learned from experts

Has your job been portrayed in a famous movie? How does the reality of differ to the screen?

Everybody thinks that coming to martial arts means that it’s going to be like the Karate Kid. They’re disappointed when it isn’t a dojo straight out of a movie set! But the reality is, all the stereotypes, all the tropes, about turning up, about not giving up, about just putting one foot in front of the other, all those things are actually true about martial arts. If you never quit, eventually you will get your black belt! And it absolutely does change the way you feel about yourself, forever.

What’s your best advice to any mums looking to start their own business?

Make sure you are going to get your kids and your partner doing chores and making dinner if you are going to be running your own business. Otherwise you are going to be running your business while still running your household on your own. Kids want to be helpful and they want to be useful. If we take them up on those sentiments when they are young, and stay consistent with our requirements that everyone pulls their weight, you will find it so much easier to manage when you are pulled in 1000 directions with your business.

How do you balance running a business with family life?

My kids have always helped out. I come home and the washing is done, or dinner is cooked, the animals are fed. I don’t have to fight about it. Now they’re is grown up, they teach in the dojo as well. It’s a team effort.

What advice would you give to a new mum? Sleep when the baby sleeps!

What’s your go-to quick meal to make after a busy day at work?

Baked bean jaffles with cheese!

What are you watching on the television at the moment?

I’m trying to catch up on Veronica Mars.

What’s your favourite cafe on the North Shore?

We love Stoneground Bakery in Hunters Hills and are always there early on a Saturday morning for our coffees and a delicious pastry before classes start at 7am. On weekday afternoons, we grab coffee from Hadz&Co in Hunters Hill as they are open later.

What’s your favourite outdoor space on the North Shore?

Lane Cove Valley Walk.

How do you spend your weekends?

Doing martial arts! Going to tournaments, going to training sessions with other martial arts schools, or just getting ready for another week of training. Our classes start early on Saturdays so we can get on with the day a bit earlier and hopefully our students feel the same way too.


Free 10-Week Support Program for people affected by Domestic and Family Violence

Philotimo Freestyle Jujitsu runs classes in Hunters Hill. You can find them in the North Shore Mums Directory.

Want more?

How to choose a martial arts class for your child

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