Last Sunday, April 26, Jackie First, a martial arts student from Guillobel Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Dojo in San Clemente, won her first martial arts tournament.

This tournament was the Southern California’s famous, Copa Pacifica, hosted by Sensei Cleber Luciano.

But before we get into the details of her amazing performance at the women’s division, let’s take a look at her journey until this tournament.

Jackie started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the same reasons most women do, because she wanted to feel more confident and wanted to know how to defend herself if attacked by a man. As she mentioned, “I chose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because I want to feel safe, comfortable and confident in any situation or environment  whenever I am, whomever I am with, and especially when I am by myself. I was apprehensive to try Jiu-jitsu at first, but soon found an appreciation for the movements, concepts and philosophies.”

 She started training a couple years ago at OCJJ in Lake Forest, but for personal reasons she had to stop for almost 2 years. One day a conversation arose between Jackie and one of our Guillobel BJJ students, she decided to try out our school.

She joined our Dojo as a blue belt (second belt in the BJJ adult rank system), and at first, she was a little rusty (Like most people that take a break from martial arts), but I could see she had a good foundation.

After 6 months of her training with me, I asked her if she would be interested in competing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. She said she thought she wasn’t ready, but I knew that was not the issue, it was because she was afraid of the experience.

We all have fears, and my role, as a martial arts instructor, is to help my students overcome their fears. Fear of fighting at tournaments is a big one, because it is beyond that. It involves many other fears infused together and also a low self-esteem issue.

I didn’t force her to compete, if she ever wanted to, it had to come from her. And one day, finally it happened, she decided to compete. The tournament of her choice was… the biggest BJJ tournament in the world, the IBJJF World Championship. Pretty bold huh!

She was very nervous (completely normal), but even though, she won two fights and lost her third. After this tournament, I thought two things could possibly happen: she would train harder to do better at the next tournament, or she would lose her motivation to compete. She did the latest.

But my goal as an instructor is to help her find her self-confidence, not only for competing martial arts tournaments (because this is only one little challenge), but also for her personal life. I knew if she overcomes this challenge, it would help her overcome other challenges as well.

To make the long story short, almost one year later, she decided to compete again and she lost at her first fight. However, this time was different, she came back to the dojo eager to train harder. Something in her had changed, this time she wanted to continue trying until she wins.

As I mentioned on the first paragraph, one day before the day I’m writing this blog, her perseverance paid off, she won her first gold medal. She put an amazing performance, winning both matches by her adversaries’ submission.

*You can watch her final match by clicking the video on this blog.

Her story doesn’t end here, and it’s just one of many I’ve seen from my students along the years. That’s why I know my martial arts program can transform people’s lives. Come experience yourself, if you haven’t yet, here is our number: (949) 366-2107