Student of the Month: Jessica(Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Adults)

Congratulations to our Student of the Month: Jessica Zavala!

Jessica representing Silanoe Martial Arts at Jiu Jitsu World League World Championship

Hi Jessica, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from East Los Angeles. I was raised there and moved to Montebello (the next city over) when I was a little older. I still live in Montebello with my parents and my 2 older sisters (I have another older sister that lives in New York) but spend a lot more time in Monrovia and Pasadena. I’m currently working in Monrovia as the salon manager of Happy Paws Dog Grooming. I actually originally went to school to be a hairstylist but as it turns out I’m much more of a dog person than a people person so grooming is pretty much my dream job. It’s a very difficult and demanding job but it’s also the most rewarding and best job I’ve ever had. I don’t have too much time outside of work and training so if I’m not doing those things I’m hanging out with my boyfriend and our two dogs Charlie and Sweet Dee.

What classes do you take and what got you interested?

I mainly focus on Jiu Jitsu at the moment because I’m competing, but Muay Thai is always on my mind. Growing up my dad was always into boxing because his dad moved here from Mexico to be a professional boxer. He had quite a few fights here in the states before he decided to retire and start a family. Since it was in the family my dad exposed me to a lot of boxing and martial arts from a young age and something about it always interested me. I didn’t actually start trying it out until I was older though. I wasn’t super athletic growing up so I think my parents were afraid I would get hurt!

How long have you been training and what is your current belt rank?

I’ve been training BJJ for about a year and 9 months (almost 2 years already!) and I’m currently a white belt.

Jessica training at BJJ Adults Silanoe program in San Gabriel Alhambra

What is your favorite part of the Jiu-Jitsu class?

My favorite part of Jiu Jitsu class would have to be learning new techniques. Since there aren’t too many people my size I find I have to sharpen my technique rather than rely on strength. I like sparring too but I very much enjoy dissecting a new move and breaking it down and figuring out how and why it works. It also gives me time and opportunity to correct small mistakes I may not have time to catch when I’m sparring.

You occasionally train Muay Thai Kickboxing as well. What aspects do you like about it?

Muay Thai will always be a close second favorite! I kind of feel like striking is in my blood because of my grandpa. To be honest, I just love the grittiness of close, hand to hand combat and throwing kicks in there just makes it all the more exciting. Something about punching and kicking is just so appealing to me. Hope that makes sense and doesn’t make me sound like a violent psycho! hahahaha

Jessica training Muay Thai Kickboxing at Silanoe San Gabriel Alhambra

You have started competing recently. What do you like about it?

I’ve really never competed in anything in my entire life so the first time I competed was really nerve-racking. I don’t particularly like being the center of anyone’s attention so the thought of putting me out there made my anxiety go through the roof! Now that I’ve done it I can’t get enough. Putting all that hard work into preparing to compete and having it pay off is an amazing feeling. Testing myself and pushing myself out of my comfort zone is something I’ve never done. So I’m pretty proud of the fact that I do compete.

We have noticed more ladies are trying out Jiu-Jitsu. How has your Jiu-Jitsu journey been so far?

To be honest, there were quite a few times I almost gave up on Jiu Jitsu. I would have a bad night of sparring or just couldn’t quite get the technique and I would get so frustrated with myself. I remember calling my boyfriend on a few occasions in tears because I felt like I wasn’t getting any better and I was never going to get better. It’s hard to make guys that do Jiu Jitsu understand what it’s like for a girl just starting out in the sport.

What advice do you have for other females in Jiu-Jitsu?

What helped me a lot was finding other girls on social media that train and talking to them about it. They understood how I was feeling and gave me a lot of great advice. If I could impart any advice to other girls it would be to give yourself a break! Understand that it’s a journey and not an easy one at that. Understand that guys will be jerks sometimes and smash you just to prove themselves or sometimes the opposite; they’ll take it too easy on you and treat you like you’re made of glass because you’re a girl. Trust the journey and have faith in yourself. Everyone has good days and bad days, the most important thing is that you learn and progress from both. And don’t be afraid to go all out! At the end of the day, we are capable of enduring much more than we think!

What current and future goals do you have?

Currently, my goals are to do the best I can at the next competition and make the gym proud. Long term I’d like to move as high up the belt ranks as I can and learn as much as possible. I want to compete more in the future as well.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

I just want to thank Professor Gino and everyone at the gym for welcoming me to the team and for being just an awesome group of people. I’m really happy that I found a place focuses on a team mentality where everyone is trying to help the next person be their best. The last gym I was at was good but now that I’m with Silanoe Martial Arts I can definitely see what I was missing over there. Everyone is so nice and helpful and the higher belts are always willing to give advice and pointers which I really really appreciate! I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of the team for a long time to come.

Jessica securing a bronze medal at Jiu Jitsu World Championships in Azusa

Want to start learning Jiu-Jitsu as well?

Jessica is training to get to ready for her next Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition with her teammates. If you would like to come visit us and say hi to Jessica please check out our current and updated schedule. Try out our Muay Thai and BJJ classes before having to commit to anything Free Week Trial. If you would like to read about other previous students of the month such as for instance, Elliott, click here.