Studying and top sports: it is possible!

Aarti Baran in martial arts.

This is the third article in the series about alumni with extraordinary stories. This time, the story of Aarti Baran, alumna of Erasmus School of Law. In addition to her Bachelor's in Law and Master's in Criminal Law, Aarti has always been actively involved in practising various martial arts. Ultimately, she achieved multiple national and international victories in Jiu-Jitsu. We talked with Aarti about balancing top sports with her studies and later with her career.

Reflecting on why she chose these sports, Aarti recalls her elementary school days. Surrounded by peers who attended judo classes every Wednesday, she became curious and decided to join one day. However, she did not just watch: "As we say in sports, 'watching is participating,' so I immediately joined the class." Aarti became increasingly involved in the sport, assisting in other classes by laying out mats and supporting during lessons. Soon after, she found herself on the mat receiving instruction.


After being drawn to it following judo training at thirteen, Aarti recounts how she became involved in traditional Jiu-Jitsu, a Japanese martial art focused on self-defence. She found the dynamic nature of Jiu-Jitsu appealing, with its versatility in techniques such as striking, kicking, throwing, grappling, and controlling. Within three years, she attained her black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. At sixteen, Aarti practised four different martial arts: judo, Jiu-Jitsu, karate, and Taekwondo, eventually achieving black belts in judo and karate and a fourth-degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

Aarti Baran performing topsports.

World Title in hand

As Aarti excelled in Jiu-Jitsu, she increasingly participated in various competitions. While every victory was significant, her most memorable achievement was winning the World Championship in Russia in 2010. "The world title is a wonderful recognition of years of dedication, sacrifice, discipline, and perseverance, representing the pinnacle of my entire sporting career. Winning the world title acknowledges that you are the best in the world in your discipline. It still has a lasting impact on me." Aarti emphasizes the competencies acquired through championship training, translating them into her professional life, where she remains motivated to continue growing.

Advice for current students engaged in top sports 

Balancing top sports with academics is indeed challenging. "Top sports are like entrepreneurship. Top sports can be combined with studying by effectively managing time between sports training and academic obligations and setting the right priorities. My biggest challenge was simultaneously peaking for an exam and a championship."

Aarti advises current students who are engaged in top sports. She stresses the importance of balancing physical and mental health. It must be a harmonious balance: "Adequate rest, healthy nutrition, and effectively dividing your energy between sports and studies are essential for performing well athletically and academically." She emphasizes the importance of time management, setting priorities, focusing entirely on your goals, and regularly communicating with coaches and teachers. "Effective communication with teachers and academic advisors can provide much assistance."

Sports in daily life

Currently, Aarti is a legal governance advisor at the Advisory Council on Sint Maarten. She has been living and working in the Caribbean since 2011. Sport still plays a significant role in her life. Aarti explains, "I find it important to share my passion for sports and give back to the community. Last year, I participated as an instructor in a self-defence program organized by the government of Sint Maarten. Additionally, there will be several clinics starting next year. Besides being enjoyable, it gives me a lot of satisfaction and energy."

Today, Aarti can often be found on the mat. She has taken up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a completely different martial art, expanding her ground techniques. Also, swimming in the sea has become a regular part of her weekly routine: "My swimming workout is perfect with pelicans around and a turtle or stingray passing by."

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