Abilene woman dominating Jiu-Jitsu sport


ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - As you know, KRBC is the home of the Olympics and as we continue to bring you Olympics coverage, we share with you another sport. This one not involving freezing temperatures!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners wear a Gi, also known is a Kimono. It is something that the Japanese shared with the Brazilians as the sport was becoming popular. 

More and more women are joining the martial arts sport and KRBC introduces you to an Abilene woman who is bringing home loads of medals!

"She's very competitive," Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Joseph Tonche said.

Jess Goodlett is one of the few girls in her Jiu-Jitsu class.

"A lot of times when the new guys come in, they single me out, but it's no big deal. They underestimate the smaller guys too. Then they learn real quick there's more to it than just going up there and being tough," Goodlett said.

She continues to beat the odds against her.

"That's why I like to compete. I get to see other girls that can train a lot and train hard. So, I like to get out and experience that and that's what keeps me motivated, really, because sometimes it's hard. It's hard to come in and get beat up by all the guys. It's hard to keep pushing but it also makes you better at the end," Goodlett said.

The now, blue belt is in her second year of the martial arts sport, bringing home medals from each of her tournaments.

"It's good for you mentally because you're going to get thrown around things are going to happen forms arm locks, forms of chokes and it teaches you to be very humble and a very hard worker and outgoing and makes life that much easier and you've been through the fire and the pressure of the training," Tonche said.

Joseph Tonche is Goodlett's instructor. 

"We're very lucky to have her on our team and she's just outstanding and a very hard worker," Tonche said.

Tonche teaches at Zombie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in Abilene. He currently holds a brown belt and has been practicing for eight years. It was the first martial arts sport he got into and immediately fell in love with it! He trains every single day.

"The form of Jiu Jitsu is the form of submission grappling and in close combat, every situation is going to start on the feet. There's going got be a close encounter but if somebody wants to get close to you to attack you, they're going to get close, there's going to be a few punches exchanged," Tonche said.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an all around exhaustive and complex sport, dating back to nearly 100 years ago. It is known for its aggressive moves.

Once an attacker is brought to the ground, the first step is to get a hold of a limb. You win by either points or by submission.

"If you can protect yourself, get out of forms of headlocks, do different forms of takedowns, throws, defend your neck, you'll be perfectly fine," Tonche said.

The point system is determined by how many techniques you use on your opponent before the time runs out. The amount of time varies on the skill level you are on. The higher the belt class, the longer the match time. Submission is the ultimate match finisher, which is where your opponent taps out. 

Matches are done similar to wrestling and a referee is present.

"One of the main concepts of Jiu Jitsu is to aid a smaller person or weaker person against a large opponent and a lot of people don't know but when you end up on the ground, it's one of the most common spots to end up in in a street fight. Being able to defend and control, if anything were to happen. That's why I like it.," Goodlett said.

There are five belts in the Jiu-Jitsu grading and belt system:

White Belt: Beginning rank and requires no prerequisite
Blue Belt: Requires a practitioner to remain a blue belt for a minimum of 2 years
Purple Belt: Requires a practitioner to remain a purple belt for a minimum of 1.5 years
Brown Belt: Requires a practitioner to remain a brown belt for a minimum of 1 year
Black Belt: You have to have been a brown belt for at least a year to be eligible for the highest rank

The male-dominant sport is attracting women like Goodlett, hoping to one day acquire her black belt.

"I've learned a lot about body control and staying calm and relaxed because if you get all worked up, you make the situation a lot harder, but a lot of it is patience. A lot of it is taking your time," Goodlett said.

Spending every day of the week on the mat, training, as she takes on her next challenge: competing in the Pan American Championship, in Irvine, California. She trains about six days a week, as well as hitting the gym for conditioning. 

To follow Jess Goodlett's journey in Jiu-Jitsu, follow her Instagram: @JessGoodlett.

If you would like to become a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner or learn more about it, Zombie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in Abilene, offers a 30-day trial.

More information on the sport and local academy can be found through its Facebook page and website. You may also call at (325) 864-0434.

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