Your Dreams Aren’t That Far Away | Kayla Patterson's BJJ Story
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @kaylapattersonjj
Full Name: Kayla Patterson
Professor: Andre and Angelica Galvao
Short Term Goals: Win worlds, make a full recovery from an elbow injury, and regain the strength I lost during time off
Submission Shark BJJ Interview:
Chasing your dreams and doing what you love is a great start to finding your true inner happiness and joy. The journey is filled with laughter & heartbreaks but if you are passionate about what you are doing, it'll all worth it. Martial Arts/Jiu-Jitsu has captured the interest of millions but only a few are willing to step outside their comfort zones to pursue this passion.
I hope Kayla Patterson's thoughts can help inspire you to never give up on what makes you happy. She's a high-level practitioner and is proof that anyone can reach their dreams as long as they are willing to work for them. Take the time to read the full article as she explores some helpful tips that can also translate off the mats as she strives to become a better BJJ practitioner.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
I’ve been training Jiu-Jitsu for 9 years
Where do you train BJJ out of?
Atos Jiu-Jitsu in San Diego, CA
Do you prefer BJJ in the gi or no-gi?
I honestly don’t have a preference. I just love to train.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Absolutely! As an instructor, you oftentimes become a mentor, therapist, and confidante.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that apply to everyday life?
Jiu-Jitsu has taught me that I can handle more pressure than I ever thought possible. It has taught me patience and to look for more options when things don’t go as planned the first time.
How often do you train?
Ideally, I like to train twice a day 5 days a week with 3 days of strength and conditioning. Sometimes I have to make a few changes to the schedule depending on travel or injuries.
What made you want to start training in martial arts?
I was in a car accident and sustained a pretty bad knee injury. I started with boxing just to get back into shape.
Do you plan on training BJJ your whole life?
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
Jiu-Jitsu tends to attract people with more self-awareness than the normal person. I think that Jiu-Jitsu forces you to look inward and be real with yourself. A Jiu-Jitsu session for many people is like a therapy session.
Where else do adults get to go play fight with their friends? The average American adult receives less than THREE SECONDS of physical contact per day. In Jiu-Jitsu we get multiple hours per day of physical contact. That contact releases dopamine and that dopamine makes us happy. It’s easy to see why it’s so addicting when you look at it from that standpoint.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
Jiu-Jitsu has made me a stronger human in general.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
100% it has benefited my mental health. For years I dealt with anxiety and ADHD. Jiu-Jitsu helps me stay grounded.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
Nope. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my past. I believe I am the person I am today because of it.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Just dive in with an open mind! You’ll be surprised at what it can do for you.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I want to compete and win, but more than that I want to inspire people along the way.
What’s your favourite BJJ move?
Oh, that's not fair! I love all of Jiu-Jitsu, but lately, I’ve been favouring the monoplata
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I have no idea…. I lived a few different lives before Jiu-Jitsu and each was extremely different from the other.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Of course. Jiu-Jitsu is so great for the soul.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
All of them have.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
That I didn’t have to be stronger than someone to be able to beat them.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my life. If I can motivate those around me and help prevent others from going to those places then I feel like it's my duty to do so. I’m at a place in my life now that I thought would never be possible. I want to show others that your dreams aren’t that far away if you’re willing to step out and go get them.
I wake up every day in love with the life I live. I went from a full-time job living a comfortable life, but I didn't smile like this. I currently make less than half of what I used to make. The craziest part is that you couldn't pay me to go back to that life. I went from being motivated by money to being motivated by happiness. I don't know what the future has in store for me, but I do know that I'm loving this ride.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
I went through a pretty bad break up last year. It was one of those relationships that your life revolves around. When it ended I didn’t know what to do with my days because the thing I had been doing wasn’t there anymore. I went from having someone that was a part of me to that person becoming a stranger.
The one thing that stayed constant during that time was Jiu-Jitsu. I didn’t travel much prior to the break-up, but after I did! I met so many people and made so many great connections that wouldn’t have happened if that relationship had continued. The Jiu-Jitsu community is so welcoming and caring. I’m thankful I had that community during a hard time in my life.
Check out how Chris Shahgoli used Jiu-Jitsu to help him recover from a heartbreak!
Do you have any advice for someone that hasn’t been in competition yet but is interested? Were you nervous at all?
I still get nervous to this day. I've just learned to use it to my advantage most times. The nerves still get me sometimes though.
If someone is interested in competing I recommend watching several matches online or in person if you have the opportunity. You can familiarize yourself with what it's like on a small level by observing. Obviously, nothing compares to the real thing but if it's something your serious about then fully submerge yourself into it before you make the decision. Your coaches and experienced training partners can guide you through this too.
I'm horrible about diving headfirst into things and learning the hard way. Often times I could have avoided losses and mistakes by listening to my peers but I'm pretty stubborn. Don't be stubborn. Listen to people who know more than you.
"Have fun" was said to me more regarding this match than any other before, so that's exactly what I did. I wasn't able to secure the finish but I was able to win in over time. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way!
What's it about jiu-jitsu that captured your attention away from boxing?
I saw much smaller people physically dominating much larger people. It was a puzzle that I couldn’t wait to try to solve.
How was your experience being a referee instead of a competitor?
Oh, man! Those folks definitely don’t get enough respect. It was something I’m glad I did but doubt ill do again.
Which belt promotion was the most memorable? Why?
My brown belt promotion. I was promoted to a brown belt on January 1st, 2017 during a new year's day open mat. I ended the year winning the 2016 no-gi worlds at the purple belt rank but hadn’t done so well in the gi and was being pretty hard on myself. I didn’t expect it or think I deserved it. It was a nice way to start the year off.
I try not to get attached to things. This belt is an exception to that. This belt was a turning point in my life. It was a milestone I thought was so far out of reach. It used to be pretty and intact. Now it's tattered and the insides are starting to peek through. This belt has been with me through some of the hardest times of my life, and some of the best times of my life. This belt is more appealing to me now than when it was new. I love the story it tells.
What are your thoughts on the jiu-jitsu community as a whole? Do you think more people will join in the years to come?
It’s already grown so much. Based on the level of growth now it’s only going to continue to grow.
How was your experience competing at EBI?
Competing at EBI was incredible. It showed me how athletes should be treated when competing at a professional level.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to compete on the @ebiofficial stage for the second time in my competitive career against the most decorated competitor I've faced so far, @biabasiliojj. I lost, and for that, I have no excuse. Bia is the better of the two of us right now. I'm thankful that I was able to share the mat with so many world-class women. Nothing to do but go home, and go back to work.
Thank you to @eddiebravo10p and @victordavilaufc for having me on the card again. You guys are creating an incredible platform for our sport. I hope to be back! I'll always step up to the challenge. Thank you to @loganmyox and @jmarkglory for coming to San Diego with me, and being in my corner. I know I can be stubborn sometimes, so thank you for all of the support leading up to last night. Until next time!
Do you have any advice for cutting weight?
I used to cut up to 10 pounds a few days before the tournament. Never again though! I think a lot of athletes put pressure on themselves to perform within certain weight category. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore. It’s unhealthy and can be dangerous.
If you want to cut 10 pounds over a few months and you can do so by cleaning up your diet then definitely go for it, but that isn’t really cutting weight, that's just living healthier and making better decisions.
Out of all of your matches, which one has taught you the most about yourself and your jiu-jitsu game?
My most recent match against Bia Mesquita at Combat Jiu-Jitsu fight night. I went up a weight category to fight her. She’s also been a black belt for 8 years, I've been training Jiu-Jitsu for 9 years.
I had an elbow injury and a knee injury that I sustained one week before our match. I lost the match but learned that with multiple things against me I can still show up and give my best. It was a very hard loss for me, but it showed me how important mindset is. I caught myself focusing on trying not to make mistakes instead of focusing on trying to win.
If you had to pick, which one do you prefer, teaching, competing, or training? Why?
If I absolutely had to pick I would go with training. I’m a forever student at my core and my brain is entirely too curious. I think training gives me more freedom to explore than anything else.
In your opinion, what makes a good student?
Someone who comes to learn from your point of view. I think a lot of people feel they already know certain moves or sequences so they don’t fully listen or engage in what is being taught. A good student is someone who can absorb your knowledge and then determine how to apply it to themselves.
What are some daily habits that you do that you believe lead to your success on the mats?
I check myself on a daily basis. I remind my self that the only time I have is the moment I’m in. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come, so living in the moment is the only real thing that matters. I think that mindset helps me really be present not just on the mat, but with everything in life.
What is Stardust Jiu-Jitsu? and Why should people support it?
Stardust Jiu-Jitsu is something special to my heart. It was created by my good friend, Lucas Trautman. Lucas is creating a safe place for underprivileged children in Memphis, TN. For several of these children, it is the only positive interaction they receive. He is showing these children that they are more than their circumstances. He is giving these children a gift that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Lucas has incorporated wrestling into his program too. Through Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling, Lucas is teaching these children to be confident, compassionate, and self-aware.
Submission Shark BJJ Interviewer:
The story of Stardust Jiu-Jitsu is one that's filled with hope, love, acceptance, friendship, empathy and inspiration. Lucas is one of the most selfless people I've come across and his story deserves much more attention.
Out of the kindness of his heart, he was inspired to create a place where people can freely express themselves from judgement and be a part of a community that wants to help them grow as people. If a martial artist imagined heaven, I'm sure it would look very similar to Stardust Jiu-Jitsu. He is exactly what the Submission Shark Community represents and it's an honour to be able to share his story.
Stardust jiu-jitsu provides not only a physical place to train but a nurturing spirit within it as well. From accepting refugees and teaching passionate practitioners free of charge to even feeding the underprivileged and helping children do their homework, Stardust jiu-jitsu is a beacon for positivity and healing. He's a very intelligent man with decades of experience as both an addiction psychiatrist and a martial artist.
Learn more about the man that is outrageously full of life. A man that is passionately loving towards his family. And become inspired as he leveraged all the assets he could find in order to make people feel safe, happy, loved, and empowered.
What made you realize that you wanted to quit your full-time job to pursue your passion in jiu-jitsu? What is your philosophy about money and happiness?
I enjoyed what I did in the dental world, and I’m certain I positively impacted the lives of the patients I worked with. With that being said, I felt I could do more positive in the world through Jiu-Jitsu. It was a scary decision but has been the best one I’ve made to date.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be? and Why?
If I would have received this question prior to leaving dentistry and pursing Jiu-Jitsu full time the answer would be different, but at this point, I’ve either competed against or train with the women I look up to. With that said, I’m a huge fan of Bruno Malacine.
I watched Bruno compete at an IBJJF open in either 2015 or 2016 and was so impressed by him. He fought in the open class against some really big guys and won. His style is so impressive to me because the man never stops moving. I would love the opportunity to learn from him.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
As the girl that changed the world and as someone that wasn’t afraid to live life to the fullest, and inspired people to do the same along the journey. My goal is that when I am no longer in this world that people will look back and think that their lives were a little better for having known me.
What are your thoughts on this BJJ interview? Kayla showed her courage and pursued her dreams. If you could chase your dreams, what what you do?
Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to see what you would love to do. If you enjoyed this article or it's helped to inspire you, make sure to share this with your friends and family.
Kayla shares some helpful advice for BJJ athletes and martial arts students and if you are interested in learning from another brown belt, I suggest you read this article from Nattie Boss, a BJJ brown belt that shares how to structure your life as an athlete. Another helpful resource would be to learn how to utilize the philosophy of flow to improve the quality of your training sessions and prevent overtraining.
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