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.


Hey everyone! I hope everybody had a chance to spend time with their families this week and eat a lot of food. There’s nothing like taking some time away from all the stress and just relaxing.


A few things happened in the past two weeks that really got me thinking about my jiu jitsu game and what I need to do to improve. When you start learning jiu jitsu, the first things you are taught are the basics, but they are extremely important. You see many people make a career off of fancy, trendy jiu jitsu, which is what I like practicing the most. But sometimes you see competitors only use the basics to win matches. They can do this because they were brought up being taught that the basics are important and you should know how to do them forwards and backwards and inside out.


I’m not saying I’m a terrible jiu jitsu player. I just wasn’t brought up the correct way. I can’t say I learned nothing, but many times I was taught the techniques my instructor felt like teaching instead of the things I needed to learn. This set me on a wonky path.

Breaking Muscle Shop


Last week Royce Gracie came to visit Scranton MMA to teach a seminar. Royce is old school. He teaches the jiu jitsu that his father, Helio Gracie, had taught him. Helio believed in the basics and self-defense jiu jitsu. And rightly so, because it will always work. This was proven in Royce’s UFC battles. At the seminar, Royce taught self-defense techniques that I had seen before. It’s a little shaming to say that Royce had to correct my technique a lot. I’m lucky he’s a nice guy, because I messed up quite a bit!


Then, last Saturday I took a trip to Balance with some of my teammates. We learned some cool techniques from butterfly guard and then it was onto rolling. When I visit other schools to train, I try to be as respectful as possible and not roll like a maniac. I had chance to train with a woman named Christine, who’s become a good friend of mine. She is a white belt, and her basic technique is so solid that it beats modern techniques. Again, this got me thinking about how I need to fine-tune my basics. I know the techniques, but executing them efficiently is a different story.


Finally, one of our brown belts at Scranton MMA will be going for his black belt test in December! I’m not sure how it works in other networks, but in ours you need to know your self-defense better than the back of your hand to receive your black belt. A few of us have been helping him prepare and practice the techniques. When going through all the techniques, I realized I knew maybe half of them. I want to know them all just in case of an emergency.


Maybe this is all a sign. The Royce Gracie seminar, rolling with Christine, and helping someone prepare for their black belt test are all reminders that I need to make sure my basic techniques and self-defense are on point. Like I said, I’m not completely terrible, but I would like to know that in any situation the most basic techniques in jiu jitsu will work. That can be a self-defense situation, a jiu jitsu competition, or just plain rolling. In order to do this I want to drill these moves more often. Maybe I will also try to roll some rounds using only the basics. I like my crazy techniques so it might be difficult to stray away from them.


So, always remember how important the basics are. No matter how cool the berimbolo is, you must first know how to hip escape out of side control. Peace, everyone! 

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