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.


Happy New Year! I made it to 2014 alive. 2013 was a really good year for training and competing. Here’s a list of all the cool things I did last year:


  • I competed in five tournaments and placed at all of them except one.
  • It was my first year competing in IBJJF tournaments, and I competed in three of them.
  • I earned my first gold medal at The Goodfight Boston Open in May.
  • I traveled to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia for tournaments, seminars, and open mats.
  • I received two stripes on my blue belt from Royce Gracie.
  • I met a lot of famous and inspiring jiu jitsu people.
  • I received my first ever sponsorship from Girl-Jitsu, LLC.
  • I made a lot of good friends through traveling and social media.


28 Day Meditation Challenge

Those are the big picture things I did last year. It was pretty exciting, especially during the summer months. I wish I could have competed more, but school and money got in the way. In 2013 I competed five times, so I hope to compete seven times this year. Eventually I want to be able to compete as much as possible, but I have to take baby steps, people!


My ultimate jiu jitsu goals are to get my black belt, become a world champion, and be a role model for younger girls. Earning my black belt is a matter of time, so in order to make it through all the years I want to set mini goals for myself every day. Maybe one day I could drill a guard pass 100 times, and on another day I could try to improve my teaching skills. It takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work to earn a black belt, so I just have to take that goal one day at a time.


Being a world champion doesn’t necessarily have to take a lot of time, but it definitely takes hard work. Heck, I could be a blue belt world champ this year as long as I work my butt off. I know I have the resources and coaches to help me get to that level, so I’m not worried about that. What I am a little concerned about is not having enough experience or not being in the right mindset to win a competition like that. I would like to compete as much as possible leading up to that day (if I can afford to get there) so I can be in the right state of mind. I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself here. I just have to see what the future holds for me, I suppose.


As for being a good role model for little girls - I already have some tiny fans at Scranton MMA. Being one of the only women at the academy means the young girls are going to look up to me. It’s not a matter of getting them to look up to me. It’s about being the best person I can be on and off the mats so they have a decent person to look up to. I have to admit that sometimes I could have a bad attitude or be lazy during training. It’s things like that that I want to change. This year I want to be focused during training and make every day count. I also want to be more positive. If I can do those things, then I would feel a lot better about having little girls look up to me. I don’t want them to be lazy and negative. I want them to be serious about training and grow up to be good people.


Those were my long term goals, but my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 are to always keep my goals in mind, make progress every day (even if it’s miniscule), and to stay positive and believe in my abilities. If I can do that every day, then I know I can reach my long-term goals one day.


Training was alright this week, but next week I’m kicking it into high gear. That’s the only way I’ll make my resolutions happen. Happy New Year, everyone! 

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