JP Martial Arts September 2015 Student of the Month
This month’s Student of the Month, Twyla Schran, is 16 years old, and a Junior at Meridian Academy here in Jamaica Plain. She earned her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt this summer at the age of 16 – the youngest age a student is allowed to earn a Blue Belt, by IBJJF rules. Twyla also trains in Karate at another dojo, where she is a Junior Black Belt (the black belt for those who go through the kids program; the next step is the adult Brown Belt).
Twyla is an all-around martial artist. She is strong and flexible, because she strives to be very technical, she is fun and challenging to roll with, and a great competitor.
We asked Twyla to share some of her thoughts about her training in martial arts, BJJ, and at JP Martial Arts.
When did you first begin training at JPMAA?
I started in the fall of 2013. I had been wanting to try out BJJ for a while beforehand, but never got around to signing up. Then my best friend started classes at JPMAA (back when it was Mass Bay BJJ) and the opportunity to train with her was the motivation I needed to check it out. I’ve been in love with the sport ever since.
Do you train primarily BJJ or Karate, or both?
That’s an interesting question for my case. I’ll have to go with both.
Do you have prior martial arts experience in your life?
Yes, I’ve been training in American Kenpo karate (at a separate dojo) for almost seven years now. I love how complimentary it is to train both striking and grappling martial arts.
What motivated you to want to start training in martial arts?
Honestly at first karate was just an after school program that seemed interesting. Like, homework club on Mondays, crafts club on Tuesdays, karate on Wednesdays. Why not? I took the classes on and off and didn’t really get into it until fourth grade, when a boy (who trained with the same dojo much more intensely that I did) overheard me talking about karate to a friend, and he walked over and told me that girls can’t do karate. That was when I got my act together.
How did you first learn about JP Martial Arts Academy?
I live very close by! My family watched its gradual assembly, and it was downright tantalizing having a martial arts studio that near to where we live. I love being able to walk to and from classes.
What do you like most about training in the martial arts? Everything. Even the parts that are less fun, or even painful, really only help build confidence and toughness. I like knowing what I’m capable of. I love moving and being active. And the mental puzzles that you have to solve while rolling or doing kata or learning new technique… it’s so satisfying to accomplish goals, and to be able to watch yourself progress and develop as a martial artist.
How has training in martial arts changed or improved your life?
I was a very shy kid. Starting karate made me more comfortable with myself, more confident. I became less afraid of making noise and taking up space. And that’s really only gotten more and more prominent as time has gone by. Criticism doesn’t freak me out as much as it used to. I have a mental toughness that I can only attribute to martial arts. I don’t get intimidated very easily anymore… I’ve even found that talking to new people is easier as I’ve gotten more confidence in myself. But maybe even more importantly than the knowledge that I can take a beating and still be strong enough to keep going, is the patience that comes from spending hours practicing and meditating. It’s harder to get angry, to hold grudges. A lot of that part comes from jiu jitsu. You know, being able to roll with the flow.
What do you like the most about training at JPMAA?
The environment, everyone is so friendly and open. The karate dojo I come from takes the “martial” part of martial arts very seriously. Rules and protocol all over the place. The transition to a dojo where you can really talk with the senseis during class was bizarre.
What are your goals for your training?
I’ve recently been competing through NAGA (North American Grappling Association) and the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation), and I really enjoyed it. I want to compete a lot more, maybe even travel a bit, to roll with people who train differently than I do and to see more of the huge community of BJJ. Other than that, I just want to get stronger and learn more, there’s always more to improve on.
JP Martial Arts owner and head instructor David Shim has this to say about Tywla:
Twyla has been with us since the early days of our school. I would often see her training with her mother Elin in our BJJ classes with our previous instructor. I could tell that Twyla was serious, and I also learned that she has a black belt in Karate at another dojo. I have had the pleasure of teaching her BJJ for the last 10 months or so, and I have learned what a strong competitor she is (and also how flexible and physically strong she is!). This past summer, Twyla turned 16 and we were able to award her Blue Belt. As a Blue Belt, Twyla has competed in a NAGA competition and the IBJJF Boston Open, winning second and first place respectively in her division. In the recent Boston Open tournament, Twyla submitted her opponent (who had traveled from Brazil for this competition and who was ranked 3rd in her division there). The submission took 43 seconds. Twyla is hard working, humble, and earnest. I enjoy rolling with her, and I look forward to helping her train for future events. Needless to say, she represents us well!