GB Interview Kaori Hernandez

When did you start training Jiu-Jitsu? Where do you train now? Who’s your instructor?

I started my training in Jiu-Jitsu when I was 11 years old under Orlando Sanchez at Gracie Barra Pasadena. I have been training there for what is now eight years.

What took you to start competing?

I started competing six months after I joined the academy. One day while training with Orlando he mentioned that I was improving and that I should compete at a local tournament. I laughed it off because I did not believe I was ready for such a big step. However he thought I was, hence he continued to insist and not too long after the idea was brought up to my parents we all agreed that perhaps it was time to compete.

Tell us a little bit about your training routine?

I try to train Jiu-Jitsu three to five days a week at Gracie Barra Pasadena, and do strength and conditioning with my personal trainer, Ron Le, two days a week.

What’s your favorite position or submission ?

My favorite position has to be open guard. As for submissions, I have always loved the triangle.

How is your tournament preparation?

 Based upon personal experience and what I have witnessed at my gym, I am a firm believer that the way you roll at your gym reflects the way you will compete, therefore I always try to imagine myself in a competition scenario. When preparing for my tournaments I hit the mats six days a week. My personal trainer, Ron Le, goes out of his way to help me three days a week instead of two not only in my training, but helping achieve the mental state I need to focus. I also find myself going on a diet, drinking more water, and in addition to the Jiu-Jitsu training along with strength and conditioning, I do my best to hit the gym on my own time at Cal State LA or my local gym.

How long before pan ams did you start prepping?

I started preparing for Pan Ams a week after I returned from Portugal.

Did you do anything different? Did you abdicate of anything with the championship in mind? What was your hardest sacrifice if any?

I began emphasizing my strengths and seriously improving my lacking areas and essentially I recognized the importance of being well rounded. In preparation for Pan Ams I had to give up more free time and decided to dedicate that now vacant time to Jiu-Jitsu. The hardest sacrifice during this particular process has been sacrificing my bubble, or my overconfidence before the tournament in hopes to shake away any nervousness and trade it in for the reality of the situation. That I am who I am, I am the hours and work I have put in, no more and no less. However because I am that “no less” I will always continue to train, I will always continue to do my best and give my all.

Tell us about your future plans? What’s your next dream!

I have many future plans, one that is quickly approaching is winning IBJJF Worlds for the sixth time in a row, but perhaps my biggest ambitions are graduating college with a business degree, becoming a multiple black belt world champion, and something I would debate as more than a dream, but a goal of mine is owning my own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym.

Who’s your idol in Jiu-Jitsu?

My Jiu-Jitsu idol is my professor, Orlando Sanchez. He has overcome and accomplished so much in his Jiu-Jitsu career and in life as a whole. He has shown me that if you can think about achieving a vision and become dedicated to that vision, regardless of what said vision is, it can be done.

What do you do to control your emotions the day before or the day of the tournament?

Until recently, controlling my emotions before the day of the tournament was difficult, however I have grown much better at centering myself for competitions. Weeks before the tournament, I make sure to train frequently and never fail to give my best. I also become more and more focused and centered in all aspects of my life in hopes to do everything and more that is necessary to be my best. This way I know that when I compete I did everything in my power to give the best performance on that mat.

Do you work with anything else rather than Jiu-Jitsu? Do you go to school? Full time Jiu-Jitsu?

I am currently a full time student at Cal State LA and a trainer at Ron Le Fitness: A Better Me Program.

Send a message to the next generation or who is just starting.

For those who are just starting and are looking forward to doing this as a career I advice you to just keep going. Sometimes you will win and other times you will unfortunately lose. But as long as you keep going there will always be a chance to improve and succeed. The only way one could ever possibly lose is by giving up, and throwing all of what you have done and accomplished thus far away. So keep going, even when it gets difficult keep going because surpassing and learning from hardships and adversity is the only path that leads to success.

Have you ever thought about quitting? How did you go about ?

The idea of quitting has once crossed my mind before. It occurred after losing a very important tournament. My schedule was packed and it when it came to training it seemed as if I had reached a plateau. The idea of quitting looked so easy, and so simple. Then one day it hit me, I couldn’t quit. Not only had I put so much time and effort into this sport but I also loved it. Quitting would mean abandoning a craft that I had come to love and be good at, quitting would mean never achieving any more future wins and living the joy that follows, but most importantly quitting would mean that I would abandon something that has helped to shape and mold me into the person I am today and I would be nowhere close to the person I am today without Jiu-Jitsu.

What does Gracie Barra or the Red shield represents and mean to you ?

Gracie Barra to me means unity, but it represents something so much more, it represents family. It doesn’t matter what happens win or lose, and it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, when you are displaying the Red Shield someone will always give you all there love and support.

What drives you?

What drives me is what drives anyone that does any sport or any craft on a competitive level, it is the desire and hunger to win and display my best. On the note of displaying I know I represent more that just myself. I represent Gracie Barra, I represent my professor, Orlando Sanchez and my personal trainer, Ron Le, I represent my gym, and I represent everyone that has put time into me both on and off the mat in an effort to help me succeed.