One of the best parts about running a company serving jiu-jitsu players is the incredible stories we hear from our customers.
We love Grace's story because regardless of her charming and innocuous appearance she proved her strength in BJJ.
Turlock, CA. Blue Belt.
Why did you first get into jiu-jitsu?
I was looking for a way to stay active during the week as well improve my self defense skills. During a yoga class I overheard a fellow yogi talking to the instructor about Jiu-jitsu. I went up to him and asked him about it.
It was a gym here in town (I'm all about convenience) and he was super positive about the place and head professor. So I managed to find the courage and walk into something completely new to me. To be completely honest, I had no idea what jiu-jitsu actually is. I didn't realize it was a grappling type of martial arts until I walked through the doors.
What has been the biggest obstacle in your journey and how have you overcome it?
The biggest hurdle is being okay that you have to seek out rolling partners. At my gym, almost everyone is 175 plus, and I'm a fairly smaller gal at 135. Most of the guys, especially when I was first starting, would never approach me and often times I would get the avoidance looks as they desperately looked across the mat to find another guy to roll with.
It took finding a new skill set of calling people out to roll. I could tell some of the guys felt awkward rolling with a girl, but once they realized I wasn't a push over partner that was dainty, they soon changed their minds. The best comments I receive with these guys is...' whoa you're really strong. I wasn't expecting that much force from someone small'.
Since being at the gym for over two years now, I've been able to share some of the frustration with always having to seek out and ask to roll with some of the regular guys. They took that to heart and now many of them regularly come and ask to roll. It makes me feel validated that I am gaining more skills and techniques to give these guys a good hard roll that we can both use our skills and improve.
Tell us about your best (or worst) submission story.
I think at my gym I have a pretty good reputation for being tough and our blackbelt at the gym was doing a no arm lock January type of new year self improvement regime. Which is fine, she always gets those on me and I've really gotten my defense on those down because of it.
So her new submissions for the month were chokes.The first roll I had with her defended with all my might and survived. She cranked on my neck and put all her pressure and weight onto my hips as she tried to get the choke, no luck, I survived to the sound of buzzer.
Another day here in no arm lock January and I again try my luck with a roll.I managed to escape the back take, only to find myself in full mount by her.She wasn't having mercy this time. The collar choke was tight, but I managed to find a little breathing space. She sank her forearm into my throat, and I had no choice but to tap out.
For the next three days my throat was legitimately sore and strained from the submission. All she could say was, 'well you're hard to tap, I had to use more pressure' .
Share one piece of advice you have for our community.
Always always build each other up. We have bad days on the mat, sometimes you just make stupid mistakes. But learning from them and trying to help one another will always win the day, no matter what happens. Our journey all starts the same, although the reason may be different, being there for each other keeps everyone coming back to the mats.
You can find Grace on Instagram at @12gem24.