As a female entering a primarily male-dominated sport, I was a little nervous – well, more like terrified – walking into Mario’s gym for the first time. Naturally, that fear was only multiplied when for the first time I saw people rolling and throwing punches in MMA class, and flipping a giant tire as a warm up in the jiu jitsu session.
Mario reassured me that I wouldn’t be required to do any giant tire flipping, but I was still a little skeptical. However, after my first few days at the gym, it was clear to me that I was going to feel very comfortable there. While the opportunities for awkward situations in jiu jitsu are countless, I have never felt uncomfortable or unsafe at the MRJJA. Mario has always been very accommodating, making sure that I never feel out of place or unwelcome. He treats me like one of the boys, and doesn’t underestimate me while at the same time understanding my limitations.
Even on the most frustrating of days, after training in the gym’s laid back, low pressure environment, I have been able to walk out of there feeling accomplished and successful. Every time Mario tells us to “leave it all here” while we are rolling. I do just that, allowing me to feel relief from whatever it is that may have bothered me before entering the gym.
Each day Mario presents several new techniques, allowing each student to build quite the catalog of moves. While most techniques in jiu jitsu work for anyone of any size, as a female who had never lifted weights in her life (or done ten solid push ups, for that matter) I found certain moves more difficult than others. In these cases, Mario has kindly instructed me on ways that I can tailor or improve my execution of the technique so that I can implement them when I am rolling.
There has never been a class at the Mario Roberto Jiu Jitsu Academy that I was disappointed in. Every day at the gym brings new moves, new lessons and new success. MMA began as a hobby for me, one that I pursued because several people told me I couldn’t do it. I have never had anyone at Mario’s gym tell me that I can’t do anything! It’s because of that encouragement that MMA and jiu jitsu have become more than a hobby for me, and are now a significant part of my life.