Written By: Natalie Whitson
While Amanda, Louisa, and Michelle call the greater Portland area home, the Oregon Coast also offers great places to roll. Michelle Johnson is a purple belt out of Adamson Bros. Jiu Jitsu (also known as Seaside Jiu-Jitsu Academy), in the little town of Seaside. Always a “scrapper”, Michelle has been involved in some form of martial arts since the age of 12. Later, at college, Michelle found herself “desperate” enough to join a MMA club. Although leery of grappling, Michelle quickly found herself enjoying this aspect of the sport. After college, Jen returned back to Seaside and joined Professors Nathan and Zachary Adamson at their gym. She now trains solely in the gi these last three and a half years.
Jiu Jitsu is the center of Michelle’s life, and she has competed in the Ground Warrior Challenge, NAGA, Oregon Open, Seattle IBJJF, and SubLeague events. Not surprisingly, most of her apparel consists of competition shirts, and she has a saving account dedicated to competition fees. Michelle has switched jobs so her work schedule accommodates her training regime, and anytime she travels, the first thing Michelle does is look up gyms where she can train. In addition, she feels more confident and healthy and has lost a significant amount of weight. “Day to day things seem to be put more in perspective when you’re trying to escape getting choked most nights”.
Michelle recommends Jiu Jitsu to others because it is fun. “Nothing compares to that adrenaline rush of stepping on the mat right before you compete. Or finding out how strong you really are when you finally submit that giant man in your class. It is also relaxing in a way because it is a moment in your day where you’re solely focused on one thing. In a world lacking mindfulness, that’s very therapeutic”.
While she prizes her competition wins, Michelle’s highest achievement has been to develop perseverance, whether it be through being submitted in class, surviving a grueling competition camp, or showing up to class with optimism.
Michelle advises women just starting out to embrace possibly feeling silly, stupid, or out of place. “Enjoy this period, when you’re learning something new, and everything is exciting”. She reminds us, “no one is judging you. No one wants to see you quit or fail. Everyone wants to see you succeed”.
Michelle encourages those women who have progressed in their Jiu Jitsu journey to coach a class. This year, Michelle has assisted with the introduction class at her club and it has really helped her take an honest look at her techniques, and hone those important details that she may have forgotten or glossed over in her own movement.
Finally, Michelle speaks of the importance of appreciating other females as training partners. When she first started, Michelle admits that she was jealous of other women, especially if they beat her in competition. Because of this mindset of wanting to “win practice”, Michelle was not as successful as she could have been during training. Michelle overcame this by actively getting to know women more by training with them at her and other gyms. Importantly, she also turned inwards and learned how her own insecurities got in the way. She now monitors herself and confronts these feelings head on when they start to creep up. Michelle can be followed on Instagram (09michellep.)