Our second part of the Tale of Two Tall Ladies is about Joy Pendell. Joy is a world champion purple belt, amateur MMA fighter and Fight to Win regular. She started training in the summer of 2014 at Urijah Faber’s Ultimate Fitness, under Dustin Akbari and according to her, plans to stay there for a long time.
Her commitment to training made her drive two hours one way, two to three times a week, for three years until she moved to Sacramento, closer to the gym. Joy talks about her life on and off the mat. Enjoy!
What pays your bills every month? Do you like where you live?
I am a beekeeper. My family owns a business where we take care of lots and lots of beehives, make honey and raise queen bees to sell to other beekeepers. Bees are very nice if you handle them gently, and are a lot of fun to work with. I love where I live. Half the time I stay with my parents near where I work and the other half of the time I live at my own place near where I train.
You are Fight to Win regular competitor. How did you get involved with FTW? How many fights have you had so far and which one is the most memorable?
I heard about Fight to Win because my coach, Dustin Akbari, was competing for them. I was only a blue belt at the time but I knew as soon as I got my purple belt I would sign up. I am 3-1 for FTW and can’t wait to get more matches. Seth and Missy do an awesome job running that event and I appreciate them so much for giving all grapplers the stage to showcase what we can do. My most memorable Fight to Win was my first one in my hometown. It was against Kim Bowser who is a Pan Am champion and a very seasoned competitor. I have a lot of respect for her and I feel like we put on a really good match for everyone.
Do you prefer gi or no-gi training? You’re a world champion in no-gi. Is that what you consider your biggest achievement so far?
I like training in the gi and no-gi equally well. I feel like I’m equally good at both too. I can never decide which I like more or which I am better at. I compete in both a lot. My biggest achievement so far is definitely snagging a gold medal at the no-gi Worlds as a purple belt. But I would consider being awarded my purple belt my biggest accomplishment overall. Being awarded your next belt represents a lot of hard work and also your coach’s faith in you and recognition of your progress.
What is more important to have one or two really good submissions or to be decent at many? What is your favorite technique?
I like guard passing the most. Specifically, I like the knee cut pass. I always like it when someone pulls guard right away because I get to pass without going to the work of scoring a take-down first. I think having one or two really good submissions is much preferable to having a bunch that you are okay at. I definitely have a few favorite subs I always use in competition even though I know many.
What part of the training do you dislike the most?
I hate warm-ups. I always feel slow and sometimes I get winded for no reason even though I have a great cardio. It may just be something in my head. But I know it is good for me so I try not to be late and miss any of it.
Tell us a little bit about your Muay Thai and MMA career. What are your goals?
Ever since I started training BJJ I had been curious to try using it when strikes are involved. MMA is the perfect way to find out how effective your grappling can be when all sorts of other attacks are allowed. I have had a couple of amateur MMA fights, a handful of Muay Thai fights and enjoy the challenge of the other martial arts. My goal is to go pro in MMA and see how far I can get in the women’s light-weight division. There are a lot of opportunities right now in MMA and I would like to take advantage of them.
Do you consider yourself to be a nerd? Were you popular in high school?
I am not nerdy but I can certainly be awkward sometimes. I feel shy a lot but I try to be as friendly and outgoing as I can force myself to be just because I know most people feel shy also and someone needs to break the ice. I was pretty quiet in high school and mostly kept to myself and had a small circle of friends. I am much more social these days and make a point to get my friends together and do things.
What is the oldest thing you own?
I have some really old family photos I hung around my place. I like old black and white pictures a lot and those are particularly special because they all have a story.
What do you think about when you are alone in the car?
I spend a LOT of time in the car because my job is still far away from my gym so I listen to a lot of podcasts. But when I am just thinking, I am usually daydreaming about BJJ and MMA or what competition I’m doing to do next or something along those lines.
What is your biggest BJJ pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is people not washing their gi and their belt. I have a lot of competitive success and I wash my gi and belt all the time. None of my good luck has washed away but I have contracted staph and ringworm from all the “good luck” on others’ belts and clothing.
I want to be remembered as someone who never gave up, always had a good attitude and was a humble student of the sport. I’ve had a lot of success and a lot of failures but I think what is really important is to have the hear of a warrior and not back away from a challenge even when you are afraid.
Do you have any secret talents?
I play the piano and guitar; speak some basic French; I am a good horseback rider: I am a decent ballroom dancer, and a decent chess player. I don’t know how unique any of these are but I also don’t think too many people come across those hidden talents these days.