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.
What a crazy week! I had two tests this week and I trained quite a bit, so I’m pretty run down right now. I can’t wait to just relax on Sunday.
You guys might remember my journal entries from last semester when I talked about how much I hated physics. Well, Physics I is over now, but I’m still not in the clear. I have to take Physics II. I must say, though, it’s not as bad this time around. I just took my first exam yesterday and I’m pretty sure I passed, which was my primary goal. I’ll let you know how I did when we get our tests back. I also literally just took a physiology test. Again, I don’t think I failed it.
But you don’t come here to read about my struggling grades. You want to know about my badass, action-packed jiu jitsu life! So, here it goes:
I’m still prepping for the submission–only tournament in two weeks. I feel pretty good about it. I don’t feel like I’m undertraining or anything like that. I’m also not nervous about it. I used to get really nervous leading up to tournaments, but I don’t anymore. I get a little anxious before my matches, but only because it’s hard to determine exactly when exactly you’re going to go on. I’ve always been that way before competitions. When I had track meets in high school, I would get all worked up because I didn’t know exactly what time my event was. I think it’s because I don’t want to accidentally miss it.
I’ve been trying to work the lower body submissions into my rolls lately. If this tournament is going to allow them, I want to be able to do them cleanly and precisely. I’ve also just been rolling and drilling more in general. I think my technique is good, but my endurance needs a little help. My matches are going to be eight minutes long, so I need to work on pacing myself and learning when the right times are to be explosive. I don’t want to tire myself out from going too crazy in the first few minutes.
We did a lot of guard passing in class this week too. If you want to submit, you need a good position. If you want a good position, you need to pass the guard. Lately, I’ve been having trouble with guard passing. I was okay at it a few months ago because it was my focus, but since then everyone else has been improving and I haven’t been focusing on it as much. This week I tried to push myself during passing drills. I want to be able to pass anyone’s guard, get a good position, and submit. But that takes years to perfect.
I have tons of time to improve and work specific parts of my game. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit a plateau and I’ll never get better. Those plateaus are the hardest thing to conquer. It may be a week or even a month that I think my technique is awful, and it’s mentally exhausting. It usually affects my life outside of jiu jitsu as well. It’s always after those plateaus, though, that my game significantly improves. I’m pretty sure I’m going through a rough patch in my jiu jitsu right now (just a mini one, though). But at least I know that when it’s over I’m going to be so much better. And I’ll feel a lot better too.
So for all you jiu jitsu athletes out there who think you’re not getting better, just give it time. You don’t become a black belt in a day. It takes many people over ten years to accomplish that goal. Try focusing on one little thing that you could improve every day instead of wondering why you’re not as good as the next guy or girl. You’ll get there. I’ll get there. It just takes time and patience.
Have a nice week!