By Morgan Beard
Earning gold medals and championship belts in a martial art as demanding as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu takes a lifetime of preparation and dedication…unless you’re Jessica Guedry.
“I started Jiu-Jitsu two and a half years ago, I’ve been here three and a half years…I remember the day exactly, I was like ‘Let me go check this place out,” Guedry said.
The decorated martial artist you see today first went to the Baton Rouge gym formally known as LA boxing for nothing other than just getting in shape.
“I was really overweight, I was 260 pounds actually,” she said.
After taking up boxing as a way to lose over 100 pounds, Gabe Miller, the owner of what is now a UFC gym, says that Guedry’s changes are much more than what meets the eye.
“She’d come in, wouldn’t look at you in the eye, walk right past you…after a year it was an entirely new person. She had changed completely,” he said.
But the true changes came for Guedry as her curiosity led her to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“They had these guys in the back, I didn’t know what they did, but they kind of smelled all the time. I’d see them at the water fountain, I didn’t know what they were doing,” Guedry said.
Miller says Guedry started to make waves at the gym.
“All of a sudden we noticed how good she was getting in Jiu-Jitsu. So we put her in a few tournaments and from there it kicked off,” he said.
Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor Josh Mancuso also started to notice Guedry’s progression and soon Guedry was entered in to the international BJJ Federation’s Houston Open, one of the largest tournaments in the area.
“She just cleaned house. She destroyed everybody, submitted everybody, won gold in her division – it was like ‘wow,’” Mancuso said.
After the Houston tournament, Guedry received yet another honor, a rare podium promotion to the blue belt.
“It takes usually two years to become a blue belt and she did it in, what, a year? Six months? Six months. And in six months we had to give it to her,” he said.
Guedry realized that it was even shorter than that.
“They said six months, but I counted and it was five, but I’m not going to say anything.”
Mancuso says Guedry is a one of a kind competitor that he’s never seen before.
“She’s the only person I’ve promoted on the podium and I’ve promoted every one of her belts on the podium because that’s the way that she earns it,” Mancuso said.
Guedry has since been promoted to purple belt and is looking forward to the next step in competition at the World Championships in May, but she says it isn’t the success that keeps her moving forward.
“I don’t compete because I want to win, I compete because I like testing myself. The sport has so much more to offer, it makes you a better person,” Guedry said.