In this busy world we live in we can sometimes get lost in the chaos. We struggle with finding balance and keeping our heads above water. However among the chaos there is always a select few that manage to calmly juggle the world on their shoulders and never miss a beat. We wonder how do they do it. Perhaps it is because they are a super hero?
Jessica De La Garza is a modern day Wonder Woman. Jessica is a single mom, a student and works full time. Yet she always makes time for herself to train even when on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion. She says that the secret to her success is that she is a self proclaimed nerd when it comes to planning. Everything she does is scheduled in her personal planner. As her son sleeps she takes online classes and does her homework. She says she has a lot of late nights and early mornings.
“I’m always in a rush to get from one place to the next, but I like staying busy. It helps that my son is my biggest supporter and likes coming to class. He’ll often ask me when I pick him up from daycare, “Are we going to Jiu-Jitsu?” There are times when I am tired and can easily talk myself out of doing anything, but when he asks me that simple question it puts me back on track.”
Jessica says that time management is one of the most valuable skills she lacked earlier in life and now having learned the skill she knows how it can make all the difference. She says the biggest tool that has helped her learn these skills is having a personal planner. However she says it is important to be flexible and not to beat yourself up so much if you divert from the plan. Sometimes life gets in the way and you don’t have time for everything. When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu Jessica says that the mats and your teammates are always waiting there with open arms, waiting to choke you.
Jessica has been training off and on for around two years now. Over the years she has had to take several breaks for school, injuries and lifestyle changes. Jessica found Jiu-Jitsu after surviving a sexual assault. She was in search of a martial art that would provide her with self-defense skills. She says that her search lead her to Bakersfield Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where she felt safe under the instruction of black belt, Jill Baker. Jessica found the environment supportive, encouraging and one of a kind.
Jiu-Jitsu helped Jessica break out of the protective shell she had built up around her. She became a new person and Jiu-Jitsu brought out the best in her. She was also able to reconnect with a friend that she had had a falling out with.
“It’s given me back little pieces of myself that I thought were lost. It has given me confidence, acceptance and patience with myself and with others. Anyone who has stepped foot on a mat knows how humbling it can be. It gives you the opportunity to grow as an individual and put your ego aside.”
According to Jessica the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu will shine through all aspects of your life. She says that in today’s society it’s so easy to want instant gratification, but Jiu-Jitsu gives you a different sort of gratification. The type of gratification that money can’t buy. Nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment when you finally land your first arm bar, after drilling it over and over.
Jessica is an avid believer that Jiu-Jitsu can benefit other victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She says that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can feel very isolated and have diminished self-worth, Jiu-Jitsu helps to combat that. Training Jiu-Jitsu will teach you how to defend yourself and you will meet an amazing community of supportive women at the same time. Jiu-Jitsu can feel empowering and cathartic.
In January Jessica was awarded the first Girl in Gis scholarship, providing her with the opportunity to compete in her first Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Competing in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament has been a long sought after goal of Jessica’s. However she has never had the financial means to do so. Jessica says that not being able to afford to tournament fees and travel expenses has been the leading factor in why she has yet to accomplish this goal.
“Tournaments and travel can be expensive. As a single parent, I could never justify spending that much money on myself after already paying for training and gear. I feel extremely thankful to have been given this opportunity. After I was chosen I had to read the e-mail over several times before it truly sunk in. I am so thankful for the support, more than words can express.”
Jessica says in her upcoming debut she hopes to be a good representative of Bakersfield Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Girls in Gis. But mostly, she hopes to not get choked out or submitted. For Jessica being a girl in a gi means to help others, encourage, accept and empower each other. With that being said, their is no doubt that regardless of the outcome she will be making us all proud here at Girls in Gis. Best of luck Jessica!
“And remember that in a world of ordinary mortals you are WONDER WOMAN!”
Girls in Gis staff writer
Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX. She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003. She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.