Athlete Journal: Jess Papi, Entry 5 – 11/2/2013

This week I had a training seminar with Phil Migliarese of Balance Studies in Philadelphia. It was a great experience and I learned a lot of new moves to bring to the mat.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the athlete journal of Jess Papi. Jess is a blue belt at Scranton MMA and also pursuing her degree in exercise science. Read her entries every week for insights on competing, training, and juggling BJJ and life.

This week we had a very special guest, Phil Migliarese, come to Scranton MMA and teach a seminar. He is a fifth degree black belt under Relson Gracie, a master yoga instructor, and the head instructor at Balance Studios in Philadelphia. I had always heard from my coaches about how good Phil is with jiu jitsu. They told me you can ask him any question and he would have a solution for you in a heartbeat, so I was excited when I found out he was coming for a seminar.

My gym has a close association with Balance. My coaches, teammates, and I like to visit their school to train on random Saturday mornings. I’ve been to the school a few times, but I never had the chance to meet Phil. I have met his brother Ricky, though, the co-owner of Balance and a third degree black belt under Relson Gracie. I always learn a lot from him when I go there. The ladies who train at Balance are super nice and hospitable. Sometimes when you visit a school to train, the students get territorial, but these girls have no problem inviting me onto the mat and repping out moves with them. The two -hour drive from Scranton is absolutely worth it.

At the beginning of the seminar, we warmed up with some self-defense moves. We started off with choke defenses, some hip throws, and an o-soto gari with an interesting grip. We then moved to the walls where we drilled some defenses and counter-attacks. The cool thing about the self-defense techniques Phil showed is that they could be easily translated into MMA situations.

We then transitioned to ground techniques, which are my favorite. The first move we did was a counter-attack for someone shoving their forearm in your throat from guard. The whole sequence Phil showed would be great for self-defense and sport jiu jitsu. After that, he showed us my favorite move of the day. I wouldn’t call it a traditional omoplata, but it was definitely an effective shoulder lock. I really want to keep that one in my arsenal. I’ve decided that the next step in the development of my jiu jitsu is to improve my open guard. This move is perfect for just that.

Phil then stood us up and taught us a proper guard pull, which is a staple in competition jiu jitsu. He had us practicing the guard pull, establishing guard, and then working for the shoulder lock. I was doing the guard pull straight into the shoulder lock without even realizing it and I was so excited because Phil had me demonstrate it to everyone. I’m a huge dork so this made me feel super special.

Overall, it was an awesome seminar. I’m pretty sure Phil came in without an official plan for what he was going to teach us. It seemed like most of the stuff he taught us was thought of on the spot. I really enjoyed that. He assessed our current knowledge, added some bits and pieces to make it better, and then taught us some new techniques that we could easily incorporate into our current games. It was a seminar tailored specifically for the good folks at Scranton MMA.

If you ever have the chance to attend one of Phil Migliarese’s seminars or train with him at Balance Studios, definitely do it. I know I’ll be continuing to travel to Philadelphia every once in a while to train with him and the rest of the talented Balance crew.

On a completely unrelated note, I got a new gi from CTRL Industries and it’s beautiful. That’s all. Peace, everyone!

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