Need Therapy? Try Jiu Jitsu (Athlete Journal Entry 26)

Spring break came to a close this week, and I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, my training helped me get through it.

It was a hectic week for school, but a great week for jiu jitsu and training in general. I returned from spring break this week, and I was extremely unprepared. I kept telling myself to get all my school work done while I had time off so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything when I went back. Well, I am a huge procrastinator, so I barely did any work. When I went back to school on Monday I found out that there were even more things I had to do that I forgot about. So, yeah you could say I was stressing this week. I got through it, though. Jiu jitsu is the best therapy.

I’ve been working really hard to get ready for the Boston Open on April 5th. I’ve been more focused and motivated during classes so I can get as much drilling done as possible. Teaching can take a lot of time away for extra drilling and rolling, but I think I’ve been making the best out of my situation. There’s no reason I can’t be a champion and dedicated instructor at the same time.

For a while I was in a slump and I didn’t do a lot of drilling or rolling, even when I had the time for it. Now I’m pushing to make the best out of my time. I’m also more aggressive during my rolls. I’ve been focusing a lot on escaping a bad situation before it gets too bad. For example, if I get swept, I try to immediately hip escape away before my opponent can settle his or her weight on me. I have to get out of that complex that if someone sweeps me or passes my guard, I’m done for. So I’ve definitely been more aggressive in my offense as well as my defense.

In addition to my regular training, I’ve also been weight training, as I’ve mentioned before. It’s obvious that I’ve gotten a lot stronger since I started a few weeks ago. When I first started, I didn’t even know how to deadlift and I couldn’t do a chin up with extended elbows. Now, I can deadlift 175lb and do multiple chin ups with a 10lb plate around my waist. That’s impressive, if I do say so myself! I’m not training to be a weightlifter, so the numbers don’t really matter, but it shows that I’m getting stronger and adding more stability to my joints. Jiu jitsu in its purest form is not about strength, but when you start competing against women who are your same weight and have the same amount of experience as you, a little bit of extra strength can come in handy.

The final tier of my Boston Open preparation has been improving my eating habits. I’m proud to say that I’ve held off on the chips since the start of Lent! I’ve been tempted many times, but I haven’t had one chip – not even a pretzel! I pretty much stopped eating junk food altogether and reduced my calories. I’m trying to drop a little weight so I’m comfortable in my weight class for Boston. I want to be able to eat breakfast that morning and weigh in with my gi on without stressing. I’ve done minimal cheating, but I’m still finding it hard to get my weight down. This time last year, I weighed 140lb. Now I’m clocking in around 145lb every day. It sucks.

Hopefully, if I stick to what I’m doing, I’ll drop a few more pounds or at least stay where I am. The weight I’m at right now should be good, but I like to be extra sure. I’m confident in my training, and I know my technique will be good for this tournament. I feel a little bit of pressure because I’m fighting a girl who I beat at the same event last year. She was up on points and there wasn’t a lot of time left, but by the grace of God I beat her with a triangle. So, I know this girl has the ability to beat up on me. But I also know I can beat her, so it’ll be interesting.

I hope everyone is having a nice 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.