Published: January 11, 2023


by Jessica Paul

Growing up I was never an athletic kid. I loved being outside and being energetic the way most kids were but it never translated well to sports. I tried a few different activities including soccer and dance but I never felt the want to be dedicated to either. When I got older my talents translated more to school and helping my family. However, the older I got the more I found myself overflowing with feelings I didn’t know how to express such as; anxiety, insecurity and anger. I had gone through difficult times with family loss and toxic relationships which left me with so much emotions it became overwhelming just to get up some mornings. It wasn’t until I started going to the gym and lifting weights that I started to feel a little better about the things I was going through. Even further, it wasn’t until I met the right people that really changed my perspective on myself and my situation.

The first time I met coach Raquel was at a family baby shower. The minute she walked in the room I was in awe. Not only because she is clearly a good looking woman, but mainly her confidence and how strong and capable she looked. She had the demeanor of a woman who knew who she was and who was confident in herself. That was everything I was looking for in myself. I immediately made it a point to talk to her about her interests and try and find any way I could build the type of confidence she held. At that time coach Raquel and Renato had just found their new location and were planning to move their gym. I sat and talked with Raquel as she tried her best to welcome me and push me to come in as soon as possible. Despite her kindness and reassurance, I was still so scared and although I nodded yes that I would be in soon, I knew in my heart that part of me didn’t feel strong enough, athletic enough, or confident enough to do it.

At the time I was in a very bad relationship. I was dating a man who made me feel even smaller than I already had made myself feel. After the loss of my grandmother, who was my whole world, I didn’t know what to do with myself. She was my light source in every dark spot and just like the women I admired my grandmother was confident, strong, and unmoving in her opinions. Due to the losses I felt I thought that this relationship would save me. I was so wrong. In only a few months of dating this relationship completely broke my spirit. I felt I had nothing to loose and I had to start all over again. Something came over me; For once the enter I felt towards myself and the things I let happen around me overshadowed my anxiety and though I was frozen for months I was reminded of Raquel. I thought to myself, ‘I bet a woman like that would never end up in a situation like this’. More than anything, I wanted to emulate that energy; the feeling of being and knowing who you are fearlessly. With the small amount of courage I had in me I messaged her and asked to come to the gym.

Immediately I got a response. I scheduled a day to come in and even though I felt that pit of anxiety in my stomach for the first one in a long time I was doing something for me and I was excited. My brother who’s always been the athletic one I our family, gave me one of the best lives of advice that I still tell myself to this day: “ the feeling of being uncomfortable is the same feeling as growth. Without one you cannot gain the other”. This is the thought I brought with me walking into the gym the very first time. I was lost. I wore a cotton t-shirt and leggings. Now, if you’ve never done jiujitsu this maybe confusing to mention but if you have- you’ll know this is the complete wrong attire. The second Raquel saw me, she walked off the Matt’s and gave me a hug while a smile that said I’m happy you’re here. She gave me a loner gi and thus began my first class.

Flash forward to where I am now jiujitsu has given me so much of what I wanted before but better than I ever thought. The friends I have found in the gym have become like family. Every single person in the gym welcomed me with opens arms, supported my journey, and encouraged me to grow even more. Not only was it the kindness of the coaches but the immense love between the women in the gym that altered my mindset. The women who train at Hybrid jiujitsu are dedicated to created a safe, welcoming space for women to train and feel as strong as we are. Jiujitsu gave me an outlet that I was searching for; At last I had a home to come to so I could release these feelings I had no idea how to handle. It has changed my mindset so that not only can I stay healthy and active physically but also so that I would learn to Problem solve and handle my mental turmoil with a much calmer demeanor. Not only did jiujitsu bring me personal growth it also opened the door for me to surround myself with people who love and support me the way I was searching for. Jiujitsu has impacted my life in a drastically positive way, and even if those voices tell me I can’t or I’m not strong enough, I have finally learned through this sport that I am. If anyone is even considering joining the sport, I strongly encourage you to do it not just because it’s bad ass, but also because the growth you will see in all aspects of your life will be more than worth it.

Published: January 11, 2023

Categories: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Community, Health, Martial Arts