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6 Questions › BJJ › Inspiration › Jiu-Jitsu ›



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6 Questions For...Sarah Black

Sarah Black, IBJJF Miami Open 2015

Rank & Organization: Black Belt, Gustavo Dantas Jiu-Jitsu Academy/Kimura NU 

BJJ Highlights: Gold, 2015 IBJJF Miami Open; Gold, 2015 IBJJF World Masters; Gold, 2015 IBJJF World Adult; Currently #12-ranked IBJJF Adult Open Class

1)  What do you consider your worst BJJ moment, and why? 

The worst BJJ moment was after a final's match that I lost. It was not because I lost, it was because I felt like I never showed up. I "wasn't myself." I did not perform to my best. I did not believe I had the skills to win the match so I didn't play my game. It felt awful. No one likes to lose of course, but not believing in yourself is a horrible feeling.

2)  What’s an “AHA!” moment you’ve had in your journey?

I had many "aha!" moments when I first starting training at Gustavo Dantas Jiu-Jitsu academy in Tempe, Arizona. It's amazing how your jiu-jitsu game can grow when it is built on a solid foundation, clear concepts and great awareness. Most of my "aha!" moments feel more like "duh!" moments now, but we don't know what we don't know. One "aha!" moment was when I realized how much easier it is to pass a guard when I don't let my opponent establish one ("duh", right?). For example, have someone put you in their ideal spider guard and try to pass it…it's too hard! Now subtract one of their key points (i.e. a sleeve grip)…then subtract two…its gets easier and easier to pass. If I always make it difficult for my opponent to get their key points in the first place, by circling grips, quickly breaking grips, getting rid of hooks, and keeping feet off my biceps and hips, then I can get ahead. When I am ahead, I BLITZ. I don't stop until I am in a dominate controlling position where I can rest. If you "blitz" when you are NOT ahead (meaning, your opponent has ALL their key points for the position), then you are just SPAZZING.

3)  What’s the best jiu-jitsu advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have received is to take the time to build my confidence and identify mental blocks that keep me from performing to my best. We spend 20+ hours a week preparing ourself technically and physically to compete. Learning and practicing skills that will allow you to manage anxieties, remain confident and focused is beneficial in several ways. First of all, it makes competing more enjoyable. The last thing I want to do is spend the competition weekend not being able to wait till its over…that's a horrible feeling. We sacrifice too much to just want these competition experiences "to be over already." Second, win or lose we can walk away from a competition knowing we performed to our best. As long as your mental mistakes are not holding you back then technical mistakes can be fixed, conditioning problems can be improved, strategic mistakes can be dealt with. Don't neglect mental preparation. Check out thebjjmentalcoach.com to help you with your mental skills training.

4)  What is one habit you have that you believe has contributed to your success?

I show up to class and train. I set a training schedule and execute that training schedule. Unless I physically can not make it to class then I will be at the classes on my schedule.

If you can only make three classes a week, because that is what your schedule allows, then don't miss them. Give up: the Thursday Night farmers markets (I did). Give up: Monday Night football (I don't care about football). Give up: Taco Truck Tuesdays (I wish those really existed; I just made that up). Show up to class. You don't have to go crazy every class. If you need rest then do specific's training or drill. If you are injured a little, do what you can. Just, come, to, class.

5)  How do you mentally and physically prepare for competition? 

My professor, Gustavo Dantas, does an excellent job with the competition training leading up to the bigger tournaments. The amount of sparring, specific position sparring, and drilling is intelligently formulated. I have an excellent strength coach, Joe Micela at Performance One in Mesa, Arizona that customizes a strength and conditioning program based on my tournament schedule. Dr. Jenni Larson at OSS Physical Therapy keeps me healthy and on the mats. It is my job to eat healthy, take my Q5 supplements, and get ample sleep in order to get the most benefit from the training laid out for me.

Some of the mental skills I work on are mental imagery, positive self-talk, managing my anxieties and emotions, being optimally confident, and improving my concentration. I use the thebjjmentalcoach.com as my main resource to help me with the development of these skills.

6)  Who is your favorite superhero?

The Hulk. I like the idea of the alter-ego. 


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