As a student of F2W veteran Dustin Akbari, Sacramento’s Joy Ann Pendell is looking to follow in his footsteps. She’ll make her debut at Fight 2 Win 97 when she takes on Nikol Aguirre.
We recently caught up with Joy Ann ahead of the January 11th matchup at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Sacramento.
Tell us a little bit about how you got started in jiujitsu.
I started BJJ in June of 2014 because I was looking for a social activity. At the time, I lived in a very small town where there wasn’t much to do. I would drive 2 hours each way to train at the nearest Jiu jitsu school. It was so fun and addictive that I didn’t mind the time in the car. I would listen to BJJ podcasts, visualize moves, and create gameplans as I drove. I still commute a lot because my work and gym are far apart so if I could be sponsored my Tesla and get a self-driving car that would be awesome.
What has jiujitsu done for your life?
BJJ has introduced me to a lot of awesome people and created many friendships. The social aspect of training is probably the most rewarding. I’m also confident that if I hadn’t found BJJ I would be at least 50 lbs. heavier. Having to maintain a weight class to get competitive opportunities is the motivation I need to not eat everything in sight.
Tell us a little bit about your training. What’s it like?
I train 2-3 times a week when I’m in my busy season with work and about 5-6 times a week during my slower season. I manage a commercial apiary (beekeeping business) so my schedule is never consistent. If I can’t make it to training, I drill on my grappling dummy at home, run, watch BJJ YouTube videos and/or old matches of mine and analyze my game. There are lots of people who say you must train every day to reach a high level, but I say they are wrong. Everyone is different, and you have to do what you can, even when you wish you could do more. I’ve always believed that mental training is just as important as physical training and even if I can’t physically make it to the gym all the time, I can still make improvements. When I do make class, I like to make a point to write down training notes. Writing down the details really helps me get the moves down.
What do you when you’re NOT training? What’s the rest of life like for you?
My job can be very busy and demanding (especially in the springtime) and takes up a lot of my time. I also train kickboxing and MMA to complement my BJJ skills. But when I’m not working or training, I really like to rally the troops (my friends) and do stuff. Whether it’s watching UFC fights and hot tubbing at my place, going to the beach, or going out dancing, I like to gather everyone together and enjoy a good time. I pride myself in being the instigator of a lot of mischief.
What are some of the things that matter most?
Relationships are what matter most. Whether it’s with your family, friends, training partners, significant other, etc. Nothing feels better than being understood, accepted and knowing that people really have your back. BJJ is something you can’t do alone. We depend on others to train with and help us. It’s a powerful way to establish tight bonds with other people.
What’s one difficult thing you’ve had to overcome so far?
Losing. When I took my first loss in competition, I felt like such a failure. I was depressed over it for a long time and didn’t want to compete again. It’s taken some personal growth to realize that literally no one cares about my record except for me, no one thinks any differently of me whether I win or lose, and yes, my mom still loves me. It’s important to separate your identity from your successes and failures.
This match at F2W 97 – why did you decide to compete? How does this differ to you from a typical tournament?
My coach (Dustin Akbari) started competing on F2W cards and it looked really cool, so I knew that as soon as I was a purple belt I’d start applying for them. F2W is way better than any tournament for lots of reasons. First, I don’t have to pay $150 to apply. Second, it’s an actual show I can invite non-BJJ friends and family to, so they can see what I do. There’s no way I’d invite a normal person to a regular BJJ tournament. Third, it’s nice to prepare for only one opponent rather than working through a bracket. It puts me in a better mindset and I’m ready to lay it all out there. The rule set is much more exciting as well. The match is faster paced, I can be more aggressive and take more risks than in a normal point-based setting.
Your opponent at F2W 97, Nikol Aguirre, what do you expect out of her?
I think she’ll be a great challenge and we’ll be fighting tooth and nailt. I’m so happy Seth paired us up.
How have you prepared for this match? What should we expect?
I rarely do anything significantly different when preparing for any competition. I have a lot of confidence in my normal training methods. My only prediction for this event is that we’re going to have a battle and we will earn fight of the night honors.
Do you have any message for your fans?
My fan base has been steadily growing, which is crazy to me, but it’s cool to have so many people interested in my journey. This won’t last forever so it’s important to enjoy the small moments and the little successes along the way. I am grateful to all the people who follow me and come out to my events. The support and encouragement mean a lot to me.
Any last words before the match? Anybody you want to thank?
I owe the biggest thank you to my coach (Dustin) and the people who train with me. There’s too many to list here but if it wasn’t for all the extra drilling, extra rolls and extra time spent mulling over scenarios, I wouldn’t be the grappler I am today. I’m nothing without my teammates.