cancer survivor, jocelyn chang, leka vieira, let's roll, masectomy, tiniest black belt in the world
Jocelyn Chang has been training jiu-jitsu for over two decades. She is a second degree black belt under Leka Vieira and at 4’9” the tiniest black belt in the world. Due to her size she has had to adjust the techniques to fit her frame. Furthermore, she has had to modify her training to protect her chest from any pressure. At the age of 39, in 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Jocelyn underwent double mastectomy, 5 months of chemotherapy, and 30 days of radiation. Two weeks after the radiation treatment was finished, she was back on the mat. Jocelyn is a true inspiration for all women in BJJ. Being small or facing a deadly opponent is nothing when you have a never give up attitude. If you have a chance, try to visit her Let’s Roll BJJ Academy in Torrance, California.
What was the most challenging belt lever for you?
Throughout the years of training, the most challenging belt was my purple belt. As a purple belt you are no longer given a pass for any mistakes. The bad habits that you had at the blue belt level are now gone. You have to own the mistakes you make, and reap the consequences. The fun part of purple belt level is that you get to experiment doing more techniques. Mat time is the must, and that is the only way you will grow and succeed to the next level.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling?
It is okay to take a break. Don’t worry, you never forget the basics when you decide to come back from a break. It is like riding a bike. If life completely takes over, BJJ will always be there for you when you find your way back. I’ve had challenging times lately but I don’t see myself giving up the BJJ lifestyle. I’ve recently gone back to working full-time, and still teach at my studio in the evenings. It is too important not to roll. I’m a 3 year cancer survivor, and I believe that doing jiu-jitsu prior to cancer helped me in my recovery both physically and mentally. If you do make time to train regularly, I applaud you. Keep it up, and don’t ever stop rolling!
To read more about Jocelyn Chang, please check out BJJ Legends interview.