Is This Fate? I Was Depressed Until A Random Encounter Suggested BJJ | Rose Miller's Story
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @rosezroar
Full Name: Rose Miller
Belt Colour: Blue
Professor: Leticia Ribeiro
Short Term Goals: Fully recover from my ACL reconstruction!
It's truly incredible how one moment can change your life forever. Rose Miller is someone that has been through many hardships, from being homeless, dealing with injuries, being depressed, losing a beloved coach and much more, she is a true role model in the way she finds an optimistic attitude even in difficult times. Experience her kind, resilient & grateful mindset as she takes you on a journey of her life so far.
Having the will to promote BJJ and becoming a strong leader like Leticia Ribeiro (Rose's Professor) can truly transform someone's life for the better. This article will help you understand that no matter how bad the odds may be stacked against you, you can still achieve inner happiness and fulfillment.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
I love them both!
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Yes. Leticia has been a landlord, a boss, a friend, much more than just a coach. I hit a rough period in my life where I got laid off and started living out of my car. At first, I was just grateful I could shower at the gym, but then Leticia set me up in the fighter house for South Bay and gave me an opportunity to work for her. It not only helped me get back on my feet but allowed me to dedicate so much more time to training and competing.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
Jiu-jitsu has taught me that it might seem like you are in a bad position, but if you are patient, aware, and determined enough you can turn it into something positive. I’ve learned to never give up and that belief and mindset go a long way. I have embraced doing things that scare me. I’ve learned the importance of having confidence in your decisions but also being able to recognize when it’s time to trust your instincts and seize new opportunities. You need to be confident and creative enough to adapt if your plan doesn’t work out.
Jiu-jitsu has also taught me that obstacles don’t have to set you back. Tough times are a part of any journey and a part of accomplishing any goal. I used to let obstacles hijack my progress. But, jiu-jitsu has taught me that you can hit roadblocks and it’s just a part of the process. Obstacles are just a part of it. Life doesn’t always happen according to our plans, and but that shouldn’t deter us from moving forward.
One of the greatest things I have learned from jiujitsu and applied to life is that with meaningful patience, attention to detail, and the will to succeed almost any bad position/circumstance can be reversed into something good. And you best believe it's worth giving it all you got.
How often do you train?
When I’m healthy I train jiu-jitsu twice a day, 5 days a week, and strength and conditioning twice a week. Since recovering from my ACL reconstruction I have been doing strength training and rehab 6 days a week and I am beginning to drill and transition back into training.
Update* I'm finally back to training every day!
What made you want to start training?
I had always been interested in jiu-jitsu. Prior to starting jiu-jitsu, I boxed for a while. I was the strength and conditioning coach for Florida State’s boxing team and there was a day there that one of my boxers came to the gym super amped up because he learned how to do an armbar and a triangle from the closed guard at the Florida State jiu-jitsu club. I’m pretty sure they were white and blue belts teaching each other, but he came to the gym so excited to showed us what he learned and I remember from that moment being really interested in it. My interest grew as I saw it more watching MMA.
I moved to San Diego and started boxing out of an MMA gym and I remember seeing a couple of girls in the jiu-jitsu classes and I thought they were badasses. I was training for a boxing match under my coach, Lucky, and he unexpectedly passed away. I was shocked. I didn’t know anyone when I moved to San Diego so he had been one of my first friends and helped me get through my first couple of years after the move. I felt really unmotivated to box after he passed, and coinciding with all that I had just gotten out of a really controlling relationship where I had completely lost myself. I wanted to start jiu-jitsu before, but my ex didn’t want me to. I was so consumed by the relationship that I didn’t realize that was a huge red flag. So all of that happened, I was sad, lost, and felt alone.
Crazy enough, I was at Trader Joe’s and the cashier and I randomly started talking about jiu-jitsu. I mentioned I wanted to start and he suggested Leticia’s gym. The same week an acquaintance from the gym told me I should check out her school because of their phenomenal women’s team, so I embraced it as fate, and I was in love from the first moment I stepped into South Bay. Immediately, after my first class, I ran to a fight shop to get a second gi so I could train again in the evening and that’s how it’s been ever since. I’ve always wished I would run into that Trader Joe’s guy to thank him.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Without a doubt.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
It’s always changing, always creative, and so mentally stimulating because of this. I think the analytical and strategic side of jiu-jitsu, paired with constantly new stimuli, and the physical exertion just leaves you always wanting to go back to figure something else out.
Plus, it’s meditative when you can reach that state where everything is just flowing and you can just be present. I think in our day and age people need that, to be present.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
I have always been athletic. Growing up I ran track and danced. But after my boxing coach died, and I went through that breakup, I got depressed, distracted, and out of shape. So immediately, it helped me get back in shape! More importantly, though, it’s helped heal my relationship with food and my body. Growing up as a competitive dancer I was taught to be so aware of my size. It developed a self-consciousness about my body and an unhealthy relationship with food.
Now, I don’t give my body value on what it looks like or how much or little I eat. I focus more on what I can do, on improving performance, and fueling my body toward that goal. Am I strong? Am I performing well? Am I healthy? These are the questions I ask myself now instead of “am I small enough?”.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
For sure. I have struggled with unresolved trauma, unstable moods, and anxiety. Jiu-jitsu has helped me understand my mind, and to be more grounded and stable. Some of the heavy baggage that came with my trauma was a hesitance to trust myself and my surroundings. Jiu-jitsu has helped me be more secure in who I am and confident in what I am going to do. It’s gotten me back in touch with who I am at my core.
This time of year always makes me reminisce about this experience. A sneak peek into a part of my life I don't typically share. Throwback to a couple of years ago: I had a sweet place across the street from the ocean, I had a job that paid the bills AND allowed me to train jiujitsu multiple times a day, and work from home. I created a peaceful environment and felt like life was mine! Sure, life still presented its stressors, but life was good! I lived sun-kissed & blissed out for about a year until I got laid off. The gym I worked at unexpectedly closed, I was given no notice and no severance. Life happened.
My mental health wasn't its greatest and I started living out of my car and couch surfing. Finding a job was tough. Finding motivation was tough. Everything seemed tough...But, still.. as uncertain and stressful as those times were something about that experience forced me to get out of my head and see SO MUCH beauty! I became more determined to do what I loved every day and more determined to not let my circumstances affect my habits. Living out of your car FORCES you to be productive and be outside. I found myself interacting with people and accepting opportunities to do things that I wouldn't have otherwise. I humbled myself to receive the help of SO many people who showed themselves to be loyal, supportive, and non-judgemental friends. By investing my time in what I love opportunities presented themselves to cover all my needs.
Most importantly, I realized how little you need to have more than enough. Sometimes we have a lot. Sometimes we have a little. Sometimes life is too good to be true, and sometimes life is so hard you forget that hard times are temporary, too. No matter where you are, or what phase you're going through find the bright side...I think back on that period of my life fondly. It was simple, valuable, and humbling.
"Money comes and goes. Times just goes. Spend it wisely."
Fun fact* I also originally tore my ACL while homeless and living in my car, which strangely presented another entire realm of opportunities, friendships, and experiences. Life is cool.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
I think there’s a part of anyone who starts later in life that wishes they had started earlier. But honestly, I think I started exactly when and how I needed it most.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Just do it! Embrace being a beginner. Listen more than you talk. Try things, and don’t be afraid to fail.
Everyone has something they are unsure of, something they reluctantly identify with, and I think our tendency is to run from these things. I think it's important to run toward them. Embrace them. Say, "I will make room for you, but only to understand you. You do not get to call the shots, Insecurity." **What we fear is often also where we find fulfillment.** So, I will listen to my fear. And even though I am typically a confident person I will embrace and acknowledge my insecurity because it will show me where my next fight is, how I can become more sturdy, and what is next to overcome. You will love yourself all the more once you have fought to be that person, once you live with intention and choose who you are... I'm not giving up anytime soon. Not to insecurity and uncertainty. Not to anything.
"The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same thing, fear, but it's what you do with it that matters."
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I want to be a successful competitor. Whatever that looks like, I am determined to be the best athlete that I can be, and be a positive influence along the way.
What’s your favourite move?
All of them! But I especially love lapel chokes from the back and side control… or just anywhere really.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I probably would have finished grad school. But I don’t think I would be as fulfilled. But who knows! I have lived many lives, so anything is possible. But I’m glad I am living this life.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
I would love for more opportunities to open up for jiu-jitsu athletes.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
All of them, all of the time.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
I have always been pretty strong, so I had to learn that my strength was only an advantage if I knew what I was doing with it haha…
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s a tough one. Living I San Diego I get to roll with so many phenomenal people, not to mention train with Bia, Leticia, and Gabi. I’m just grateful for the level of athletes I get to work with on a regular basis and am always humbled when I get to train with the other women I respect from other teams.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
Man, so much is possible if you just take some risks. I have been in great places, and low places, and everywhere in between. Along the way I had people encouraging me, I also had people trying to bring me down. I want to be the positive voice encouraging people to do the thing they’re scared of or take the risk that could change their life. We need more of those voices.
Seeing these kiddos grow in both jiujitsu and life has become a staple in my week. I learn so much from them every day. Their tenacity is palpable in every training session. From 3 years old to 13 their skill and focus are impressive beyond their years and so motivating. Honoured to share in the journey and so proud of all my little (and not so little) beasts that were promoted last week.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
So many. It helped me find myself after losing myself in a very controlling relationship. It helped me when I was homeless. It gave me meaning when I wasn’t finding it in grad school. On a bigger scale though, I never had many female friends prior to starting jiu-jitsu.
Moving to San Diego I didn’t know anyone and struggled to make close connections. It’s hard making friends as an adult! But, since I began training I have developed some of the most meaningful relationships with other women. I didn’t know that not having female friends was hard for me until I found them and realized how much I needed that in my life.
Which competition/match was the most memorable for you?
Probably white belt Worlds. I had no idea what I was doing or what Worlds was or the kind of energy that there would be. But it was awesome. I felt so small and I loved that feeling. So much room to grow, so many possibilities for the future. I had competed before, but not frequently or seriously. After that, I knew I wanted to be more invested.
Do you have any advice for someone that is going to compete soon for the first time but is anxious about the whole experience?
Go to a tournament first and watch to be in the energy and understand how things like gi checks and weigh-ins work. Don’t cut weight. And whenever you feel nervous embrace it as excitement. Know the techniques that you’re confident in and go for them! But mostly, just have fun.
What are some great strength & conditioning exercises for BJJ?
I could write a book on this! But I’ll try to keep it short. Becoming a strong human is paramount to becoming a strong athlete. So, the basics like squat, deadlift, bench, pull-ups and rows and in all their variations are crucial. But, as much as I love barbells, I also love kettlebell work and using accommodating weight to train for shifts in momentum and to build a strong, adaptable core. I write programs for BJJ athletes so DM if you need one!
A Brief Explanation of Why Front Squats Rock:
1. Posture: racking in the front engages muscles in the upper back, with good form (elbows high!) and mobility this will force the thoracic extension. Yes, they require a great deal of mobility, but with solid practice, supplemental mobility exercises, and good technique front squats will give you strong back and quads to keep you looking confident.
2. Flexibility: while front squatting may feel tight and awkward at first practice will send you on your way to becoming a supple leopard. The movement demands ankle, shoulder, wrist, and hip mobility. Get after it!
3. Harder to Cheat: you can turn back squats into ugly good mornings. Front squats will keep you honest with where you're at. Listen to your body and supplement with proper exercises, accordingly.
4. Thicker thighs: to lay more snacks on, duh.
Do you believe a healthy diet is important for physical performance? Is there a specific diet program that you follow?
Diet is huge for performance! I don’t follow a specific diet, but I track my macros and program my nutrition around the type of work that I am doing and goals that I am trying to accomplish. When I am training frequently and with a lot of intensity I make sure I am getting enough carbs to fuel that. After I got injured I switched to focus on fat since I wasn’t expending enough energy to use all the carbs as fuel. I always eat a good amount of lean protein to support muscle building and recovery and just manipulate my fats and carbs according to what’s needed.
Occasionally, I’ll fast, or have a low protein day or period to balance performance and longevity which are often times at odds with each other. I think the most important thing is to make sure what you’re eating is the right fuel for what you’re doing and trying to accomplish. “Eating right” isn’t one size fits all.
How is the jiu-jitsu scene in San Diego? Is it popular there?
The jiu-jitsu in San Diego is amazing! We have some of the best academies in the world here, plus it’s in the heart of the competition scene. People travel, move, etc. just to train here. I’m very fortunate to have stumbled upon the goldmine.
What's it about jiu-jitsu that creates such a powerful bond between teammates and coaches?
I think friendships in jiu-jitsu are unique and powerful because you have to trust your partners when you are in very vulnerable positions. Your training partners see you at your very best when you’re confident, and at your very worst. That kind of visibility and authenticity just expedites friendships and brings them a different kind of depth. Plus, you are ALL UP in each other’s business and personal bubbles and it takes a special kind of cool to be down with that.
What would you like to say to everyone that has supported you along your journey?
Thank you isn’t enough, but it is necessary. My journey is just beginning, and I hope to make everyone who has supported me very proud.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
I hope I live a life that exudes kindness, resilience, and gratitude. I want to be the person who works hard no matter the circumstance and stays positive even in frustrating situations. I want to show that you can grow from seemingly adverse places so that others are motivated to keep pressing on to "find the bright side", as I like to say, even when the odds are stacked against them.
"Life is what you make it." When I was younger I thought that meant work hard and do something with your life. The more life happened the more I realized it doesn't always work like that. I worked hard, stayed focused and dedicated and sometimes, something totally unexpected and inexplicable provided an obstacle or a detour. Other times, I did achieve "success" but the destination was not what I expected, or maybe my priorities just changed. I felt like I was following a map to nowhere. Growing up with boy scouts for brothers I was accustomed to playing in the woods and learned to make something out of nothing.
So, when I found myself off course in life I took a note from my childhood and decided to take a look around to see what I could make of my surroundings. I abandoned the agenda, the time frame, but not the work. Life IS what you make it. We can be anywhere, and do anything if we take ownership and responsibility for being able to make something out of (seemingly) nothing.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who dont believe in magic will never find it."-Roald Dahl
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