Jen Weintz is practically a Super Heroine in my book. She has been playing BJJ for seven years and if you ever saw her roll you would be awestruck, proud and maybe even envious. She just makes it look that easy, and fun. Jen is a four stripe purple belt in the Gracie Barra system. That is quite a feat in and of itself in a sport where most women give up, get bored , or frustrated with the process after about six months. BJJ is not a sport where you can just show up and get rewarded .
You don’t get a lot of pats on the head, and promotions are not handed out on a pay to play basis. With belt promotions come belt whippings and in some cases Judo throws. Achievements are earned, and no one is more deserving of accolades then Jen. Her accomplishments include:
2006 PanAms Blue belt 1st Place
2007 PanAms Purple belt 3rd place
2008 PanAms Purple belt 1st place
2009 PanAms Purple belt 3rd place.
2009 PanAms open class Purplebelt 3rd place.
I asked Jen about her background, because I have found many women in this sport had other training in other martial arts, or they were like me jocks and tomboys growing up. She said “no I am a girly-girl” Jen was a MAC Cosmetics makeup artist for many years. She is a petite blonde who bears an uncanny resemblance to my childhood memory of Cinderella. She giggles when I gush about how graceful she is when she rolls. She carries a characteristic I have found amongst the people I exhalt to Awesome status. She is incredibly humble and generous of spirit. In fact her humility is confounding. How can someone so great and accomplished in her
sport constantly give credit to not only the ones who came before and helped her in the most obvious ways , but also to the white and blue, and many of the purple belts who have come up after her? She is adamant that she learns from everyone. That the opportunities and the generosity extended towards her will always be re-paid tenfold. She travels extensively to train from Vancouver, Brazil , Hawaii, Europe. She is constantly giving back to those in her world.
Jen and I discussed her passion for Yoga, both participating and teaching, and how she feels it helps her BJJ game. Bolstering her core strength, and flexibility. Yoga is also her stress reliever. She finds that like BJJ she can get lost in the practice and focus only on the moment. Jennifer is interested in pursuing the continued practice of both as a means of strengthening each. I asked her about any future plans to fight in MMA? She didn’t dismiss it out of hand, but having taken other classes that involve striking she has decided that is not where her heart lies. She truly enjoys the cerebral nature of BJJ. The extended chess match that BJJ becomes the more technically proficient you become. I have seen video of her rolling with a much bigger white belt, and I asked her about rolling with new guys, how the male ego plays a part and is she concerned about getting injured? Here Jen imparted advice passed on to her. “Control the pace with instruction.” So I went back and watched her video again and every time her opponent became a bit wild or too aggressive she calmly reeled him back in with gentle praise and invaluable instruction. She is a tremendous addition to our sport, and has a charismatic quality not unlike Eddie Bravo whom I’ve also interviewed. Frankly it was Eddie who said I should get in touch with Jen to let other people in on how great she is. How cool is it when he is your fan?
Jen is on her way to Los Angeles to train for a week at Paragon Gym with Jeff Glover to get ready for Worlds. She will then travel to Portugal for Europeans. Hopefully sporting a new Brown belt.I of course asked her my two questions. First have you ever cried in the gym, and second how do we get more women on the mat? Yes she has cried in the gym, out of frustration, she thrives on perfecting her game. Never on the mat, she made it to the bathroom. I think her answer to the latter demonstrates her generosity of spirit and devotion to others. She told me about Ninja Camp a group of women who all made the effort to travel and meet up and spend time training every day and ending each evening with round table discussions covering a myriad of topics including what it’s like to be a women in a sport that is comprised almost exclusively of men. How it affects us and the people in our lives. (another article entirely) She is incredible ambassador welcoming newer women like myself with a promise of friendship, support, gentle encouragement and a sharing of knowledge and technique. She inspires awe in both those she teaches and from those who have taught her.