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We interviewed Jill Baker in 2012 when she was a brand new brown belt, and had become the main organizer of SoCal Women’s BJJ Open Mat.
Last year in September she was promoted to black belt by Jean Jacques Machado. She called the promotion day a really special yet terrifying one. The striking tall beauty was kind enough to make a second appearance on our blog, and answer a couple of questions for the Black Belt Corner series. Enjoy!
Which belt level has been the most challenging for you?
For me, white belt was absolutely the most challenging belt. When you start training, jiu-jitsu is daunting. The things you don’t know are overwhelming in comparison to a few lessons a week. I remember learning a move and practicing it and then going, “OK got it! But then what do I do?” I didn’t compete for my first year or so, and then when I did, I could not win a match to save my life. I just did not have any pieces glued together. I got my blue belt after almost three years of training, and that is when I felt like things began to make sense.
What advice do you have for women who think about quitting?
When women have the courage to start jiu-jitsu, I let them know that it is a life changing move. There will be highs and lows, tears and celebrations but if they persevere through the first year, they will never be the same person they were before they trained.
They will be better athletes of course but more importantly, they will be better problem solvers. They will be better stress managers, better wives, moms, teachers; just better at life because of this sport. No exaggeration.
I am so thankful that I had the teammates, and my amazing coach to get me through the weeds of the first years, so that I could learn the life lessons that are communicated through my involvement in this sport. Training has become an outlet for me. It’s a place I go to when I’m stressed, when I am tired, when I am sad or starving. Most days I really feel like jiu-jitsu solves all of these. It is also the place I run to after a great day. When I am happy, jiu-jitsu feels just as good. It makes me feel productive, and accomplished; it let’s me think about nothing but what is happening in the moment.
Check out Jill’s upcoming SoCal Women’s Toy Roll in Bakersfield, CA. Bring an unwrapped toy to make a child happy, and get some rolls in to make yourself happy!