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.
Hi everyone! I literally just took a physics test and now I’m sitting down to write my journal. If the torque formula shows up in this entry, I apologize.
This week was chock full of tests, quizzes, and homework, but I was still able to do some traveling this weekend. I mentioned in my last entry that I left my normal-person job. I usually only worked weekends, so now that I don’t work there anymore, I can use the weekends to explore the jiu jitsu community in my area.
I always envied people who live on the West Coast because I thought they had more competitions, seminars, and open mats. I would always see Facebook posts about cool events, but I could never go to them because it’s so far away. But I guess I was just looking in the wrong places. This past weekend, I was invited to two events that were both within a reasonable distance from me. I was a little shocked because I don’t usually hear about too many events in my area. It was a pleasant surprise, though!
Both events were open mats, which is when people come together from different schools, and just roll until they can’t roll any more. They were on the same day, but I chose to go to the one in New York. It was hosted by Brandon Adames and Marcel Oliveira at the UFC Gym in Long Island. Marcel is the owner of Gi Soap, the best dang natural soap company out there, in my opinion. I met him this past summer when he sponsored me for a tournament. He’s been a friend and a supporter of my jiu jitsu career since then.
Marcel, a brown belt, and Brandon, a black belt, held a wonderful open mat with people from all around New York. I think my team and I were the only ones who came from out of state. There were mostly men there, which was fine with me because I mostly train with men anyway.
But there was one girl there who I had a lot of fun with. Her name is Nicole and she is a white belt from the UFC Gym in Long Island. I rolled with her for my first round and we probably rolled for two rounds straight through. She was awesome because she didn’t try to kill me, seeing as I was an outsider. We took it easy and flowed through positions. It’s always fun working with another girl because after we roll, we can talk about the universal issues that affect all female grapplers. Men just don’t always understand.
Other than Nicole, I was able to roll a bunch of higher belts. Marcel was super fun to roll with because he does a lot of the newer trendy moves, which I also like to do. Don’t get me wrong, the basics are important, but using new techniques spices it up a little. I liked rolling with Brandon because he left openings for me so I could assess what my opportunities were in that certain position.
After training for about two hours, everyone was starving, so we got cleaned up (with Gi Soap of course) and walked to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. It was amazing. You pay one price and you can eat all the sushi you want. We sat at one big table, ate sushi, and had good conversation. It was a good night.
That was probably the most interesting thing that happened to me all week. The rest of my week was packed with school work, but I can’t complain because I got to roll with a bunch of people and I made a new friend. Unfortunately I don’t have a little life lesson for you this week. My brain feels too mushy to derive a moral from this story, but I suppose you can figure one out for yourself. Have a lovely week, everyone!