Balancing Intelligence and Intensity (Athlete Journal 31)

I’m starting to learn how to achieve balance in my training, and it’s a great feeling.

I’m so close to being done with school I can almost taste it! I’m so excited to be free and not have the weight of the world on my shoulders. Balancing school and training can be super difficult, and it stresses me out a lot.

After finals, I’m going to do whatever I want all day. I’ll do things like lying out in the sun, drawing, and exploring different places. Then at the end of the day I’ll train my butt off and go home without the hassle of having to do homework. I’ll get to go to bed whenever I want, too. I can’t wait!

This week has been a little rough with school, but I still managed to get in some pretty good training. Last Saturday, a few of us went to Balance Studios in Philadelphia to train. We were a little bit late because of the yucky traffic, but we got there just in time to review the techniques that were taught and to get in some rolls. Ricky Migliarese taught some cool setups for a few submissions that I’m still trying to get the hang of. I definitely want to work on them a bit.

Apparently I picked a really good day to go to Balance because there were a couple other girls there who were just visiting for the day! I got to see the lovely familiar faces and I also got to meet some lovely new faces. I believed I rolled with every girl there except for one. (It was nothing against her. I just didn’t get the chance to.) I also rolled with my favorite black belt, Aldo. Every time I visit, I make it a point to roll with him. It allows me to get some feedback that I wouldn’t normally get at my own school. When you roll with the same people every day, it is sometimes difficult to see your progress. Rolling with someone every few weeks allows for a better analysis of how you’re improving.

I also always make it a point to roll with my girl, Chrissie. After we roll, I always ask her how I did and she gives me great advice. She and I are the same rank, but I learn so much from her. She’ll always let me know how my movements feel and how my breathing is. Those are things I don’t normally think about when I’m training, so I appreciate that kind of feedback. It’s also nice to roll with a woman who doesn’t feel the need to rip my head off. We can have an easy flow roll and really focus on the technique rather than worrying about getting squished or “accidently” punched.

At Scranton MMA this week we learned arm triangles. I definitely needed some touching up on this technique, so I was really happy we went over it. For a while I’ve been having trouble finishing it during live rolls, but I think I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. It was just a simple step that I missed during the set up, but it made all the difference in the world!

I took this week to really focus on technique rather than going hard during live rolling. I still got in my intense rounds, but I spent more time than usual thinking about the moves I was doing. I believe I’m starting to find a good balance between intelligence and intensity. Let’s hope I keep it up!

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.