Grappler, blue belt, and para jiu-jitsu world champion Jess Munter is a fierce competitor in both “able bodied” tournaments like the Portland Open, and adaptive stages like Grappler’s Heart and the Para Olympics. Off the mats she’s a cheery force for positivity in jiu-jitsu even when she faces one of the more annoying opponents in the sport: belt tying.
Munter, whose brachial plexus injury acquired at birth means she is unable to use her left arm in training or competition, used to leave both arms free during rolls. Unfortunately, this left her damaged nerves and severely atrophied muscles in the left arm vulnerable to further serious injury during competition. So the athlete pulled a page from a few other para-athletes and began stashing the damaged arm against her body, secured inside her gi where it cannot be grabbed, wrenched, or dragged by accident.
But how to tie the belt? If you’re Munter you twirl into like an adorable Disney heroine with little help from a friend, then get to the business of trying to choke that same friend.
What a graceful way to start a day of simulated murder training:
You can read more about Munter’s journey from hater of jiu-jitsu (her uncle ran a gym, and rolling around with sweaty dudes wasn’t her childhood dream) to Para BJJ gold medalist later this week in her full interview with JJT.