Back to My Roots (Athlete Journal Entry 26)

I have a short break from school, and I’m taking the time to up my intensity and have fun with my training.

I come to you from my comfy bed on the first day of Easter break! I’m really excited to have a break from school, even it’s just for a few days. It’ll give me a chance to catch up on some work and get organized.

My classes weren’t that bad this week, so it was a nice taper down into break. Since I knew I would have an easy week at school leading into a five-day break, I decided to focus on my training. I didn’t do any weight training, and I didn’t really care about what I ate. I just wanted to drill and roll. When I think back to it, I didn’t even know about Worlds or Abu Dhabi when I first started jiu jitsu. I trained because it was fun, not to become the next big name in jiu jitsu. So this week I just did jiu jitsu, and didn’t worry about anything else. It was nice. I definitely needed to get back to my roots.

But don’t think just because I didn’t eat clean or lift weights, that my jiu jitsu training wasn’t intense. In fact, I think this is the hardest I’ve trained in months. I know what you’re thinking. “She didn’t train hard for her tournaments?” Well, I was training a lot, but my intensity level definitely wasn’t high enough. I think I was focusing too much on being technical, rather than upping my intensity. Of course I want to be technical, but competition training requires turning it on and going HAM! I just wasn’t doing that before. So this week during all of my rolls, I amped it up. I played my game and didn’t accept defeat. I pushed through and fought. I found my way back to the reason I started training: to have fun!

In class this week, Frank taught some sweeps and attacks from de la Riva (DLR) guard. DLR is huge in jiu jitsu right now, with the Miyao and Mendes brothers using it almost exclusively. You don’t have to look far to find a competitor using it on the mats. I’ll be honest, though. I’m not a huge fan of DLR. I’ll agree that it’s an effective guard, but it’s just not my forte. I feel like whenever I learn a new technique from DLR, it’s like learning something in physics class. And you all know how much I love physics (she said sarcastically). I understand how the guard works, and I can drill techniques slowly, but when I try to apply them during live rolling I get passed almost instantly. I’m not throwing it out of my arsenal, but it’s definitely going to take some time for me to figure it out.

That’s what jiu jitsu is all about, though. If I knew how to do everything perfectly then I wouldn’t have to train every day. You should never have the mindset that you know everything. If you do, your mind won’t be open to learning new things. If you’re a competitor, it’s essential that you keep up on trending techniques. Jiu jitsu is constantly evolving. I’m lucky to have Frank as an instructor because his basics and self-defense techniques are solid and he’s always researching new techniques to show us. I don’t do enough of my own research. I think that’ll be my next objective: do more learning on my own. It will definitely help me and my training partners as well.

Okay, guys, that’s all I have for this week. As always, I hope you enjoy your week. Peace!

Jess Papi 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.