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.


This is a very special time in Scranton MMA history. Dr. Steve Brunetti, one of the founders of our school, is now our first black belt! He tested for his black belt this weekend in Miami, Florida along with several other people. He and fourteen other Valente Brothers and Royce Gracie students were awarded their black belts on Monday, December 9th. Doc Brunetti was privileged to receive his black belt from the legendary Royce Gracie.


There was never a doubt in my mind that Doc would pass his test and get his black belt. He prepared his mind and body for months leading up to the test. He is extremely dedicated to the original jiu jitsu that Helio Gracie taught, and practices the techniques every day. He spent countless hours drilling these techniques and perfecting them for his black belt test. I think the most important aspect of his preparation was that he stayed humble throughout the entire process. He was confident, but he never boasted that he was undoubtedly going to receive his black belt. We all knew he was going to get it, but he’s too humble to brag about himself in front of other students. Like I said, there was not a doubt in my mind.


Now that I’m done shamelessly endorsing our brand new black belt, I guess I’ll talk a little about my week. It’s definitely been a rough one for me, but I’m chugging through it. Instead of starting my studying early, I decided to start studying for my two hardest finals two days before I had to take them. It wasn’t my best decision, but at least they’re over now.


Over the weekend I got in some pretty good training days. Last Friday, all of our jiu jitsu instructors were busy or out of town so it was my night to be queen of the castle. Of course our general manager, Matt, was there to oversee things, but he’s also my best friend so he let me think I was in charge. I was a little nervous no one would show up because of the snow, but I actually had five people show up to class. That’s a pretty good number for a Friday night. Since it was a mixed group I taught some stuff that was beginner-friendly, but also something the blue belts would enjoy. I got a bunch of good rolls after class, too. I really needed that.


On Saturday morning I took my very first MMA class. Our instructor, Steve Wilson, really loves the sport of MMA so learning from him was a delight. We did some conditioning drills, which was amazing because we all know my ass could use them! Then we did some other drills like takedown-for-takedown and sub-for-sub, but the one that really got my gears turning was “jits with hits." Basically we rolled jiu jitsu but we were able to punch each other. I realized that most of my jiu jitsu game is wrong for MMA. If I ever plan on booking a fight, I have to figure out how to modify my game so that I don’t get my face punched in while trying to play inverted guard.


Seeing as I trained every day last week instead of studying, I had to take some days off this week. It kind of sucked, but it was only two days. I can’t wait until the upcoming week so I can live the jiu jitsu lifestyle: train in the morning, hang out all day, and train at night. It sounds like paradise.


I hope everyone got through their finals alive, and everything else life has thrown at you this week. Peace out!

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