Jennifer Abdo scientist/ purple belt / mom

I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu with Prof. Geoff Balme for 5 or 6 years now. I earned my purple belt last year. With Geoff, you’ll find a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, helpful students and expert instruction.

I’m one of the smaller practitioners and a female – I probably don’t have to say that it can be intimidating to be the only woman in the room sometimes. Plus I came to martial arts at ~age 35, so I was apprehensive about how I’d fit in and if I’d be able to do it. I thought I’d try a few classes to see what it was all about and that would be that. Six years later, I’m trying to fit in as many classes as my schedule permits. You could say I’m addicted.

Jiu-jitsu is the perfect exercise really, it challenges you mentally and can test your limits physically. Most surprising to me was how competitve I could be against my fellow practitioners even though I’m generally smaller. It teaches you to use what you have (there are benefits to being small!) and combine that with the open guard techniques Goeff teaches. It’s greatly improved my endurance and flexibility. I can work up a sweat just playing, it doesn’t seem like work at all. I will admit its tough as a beginner processing the new information, but don’t give up! As a white belt, I had trouble remembering how to do each technique, then progressed as a blue belt to pushing myself to chain my favorite moves together. After awhile though, it’s like meditation. . . with cardio.

From a self-defense angle I think I’ve gotten stronger and developed faster reflexes. Plus, having spent hours drilling every position and in close proximity, I’d like to think I have better composure to think quickly under pressure in any situation. I try not to have delusions about fighting off attackers, but I sometimes I find myself in everyday panic inducing situations where my hands are full walking out to the car, I’m running alone or I find I’m in a deserted area I expected to be more populated. I think knowing a few attacks and having experience escaping people twice my size on a regular basis makes me feel less vulnerable. Even if it gives me nothing more than confidence, that’s just as valuable to me.