Trinity Pun: Competing Against World Class Black Belts Since Age 13

The future of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu looks bright with emerging stars including Grace Gundrum, Mica Galvao, Cole Abbate, Jessa Khan, and the Ruotolo brothers who are all still in their teens. Right behind this new wave of young and dynamic grapplers is Trinity Pun, a 16-year old Purple Belt from Middletown, New York, who has cross-trained at Renzo Gracie Middletown, Orange County Fight Club, Renzo Gracie Academy, and Studio 84. While Pun looks like a normal, high school student, she is a killer on the mats, who has continually challenged herself by competing in adult tournaments and super fights she was 13-years old. Among her key accolades are The Submissions On The Shore EBI Rules tournament where she defeated AOJ Black Belt Jessa Khan in the tournament quarter finals. 

She will once again test her skills against the top-level adult competition in a field that includes both MMA and BJJ competitors at Medusa Female Only Strawweight Tournament with EBI Rules on Saturday, October 2nd on UFC Fight Pass. We recently spoke to Trinity about her BJJ journey, training, and future aspirations in the sport.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Many teen competitors are competing against other teen competitors while you have faced world-class adults including Danielle Kelly, Jessa Khan, and Grace Gundrum since you were 13-years old. What compelled you to compete against older, higher-ranked opponents at such a young age?

Trinity Pun: I was competing a lot in the children’s divisions and decisively beating both boys and girls. My coaches at the time were thinking it would be a good test to go against adults. At 12 I went into my first adults blue belt division and won, we built up from there to purple belt eventually until my coach got me into the Finishers Sub only where I went against Danielle going into 3 rounds of Overtime, with her winning by escape time. After that, it was only adults moving forward!

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You have defeated Jessa Khan and hung tough with Danielle Kelly and Grace Gundrum, taking both to overtime in losses under EBI rules. What are some of the BJJ and life lessons you learned in both your wins and losses against more experienced and older opponents?

Trinity Pun: It’s tough to come back from some losses but knowing the level of opponent that I’ve lost to definitely is motivating. I know I can improve and come back and beat them the next time. Overall I would say I just learned to persevere and focus on where I need to improve. My losses to Danielle and Grace showed I needed work on EBI Overtime and so I worked on that then went on to beat Jessa Khan in EBI overtime.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are doing Medusa on Saturday, October 2nd. Your tournament bracket includes BJJ Black Belts, as well as UFC and MMA fighters. What is your training routine for this event and is there any special preparation you do as far as working with certain training partners, coaches, or drills?

Trinity Pun: We definitely have been doing special training sessions with some tough girls who I’ve trained with and competed against in the past. Overall my coach and I have been just going over the things I personally need to work on to address small issues and holes in my game. I’m definitely coming into this tournament with a different mindset and skillset to show off.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: The Medusa event is in Cancun, Mexico. How did you convince your parents to let you go all the way to Cancun at the start of the school year? Can you describe the support your parents have given you by driving you to different BJJ gyms to train and traveling around the country with you for tournaments and super fights?

Trinity Pun: It’s funny, my dad is the one who convinced to me to do it! Haha, my parents are super supportive and take my Jiu-Jitsu career very seriously. Even still, they do stay on top of me with my schoolwork and make me balance both worlds. 

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You live in Upstate New York and your home gym is Renzo Gracie Middletown, but have traveled around New York and New Jersey area to Renzo’s in New York City as well as Studio 84 in New Jersey. What made you decide to travel up to 1 to 2 hours each way to train and what have been the biggest benefits of training at multiple gyms over the past few years?

Trinity Pun: We travel all over, always looking for some of the best training, you obviously can’t beat Renzo Manhattan for some great instruction. I was brought to Studio 84 by my coach to train with Jay Regalbuto who is an amazing instructor and a great person overall. The benefits speak for themselves though, getting to see what other styles I might have to face in competition as well as new techniques I might not have seen otherwise.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: A lot of teen BJJ athletes also train and compete in high school wrestling during the school year. Do you have any plans to wrestle this winter and how did you come to your decision on whether or not to wrestle?

Trinity Pun:  I do train a lot of wrestling at a local club called Deep Roots Wrestling. I am doing it only to add to my Jiu-Jitsu skillset, I am competing at ADCC trials and my focus for wrestling is that I don’t plan on wrestling at school this year.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are still in high school. What are your goals once you graduate high school in both lives on and off the mats and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Trinity Pun: Obviously I still want to train and compete in Jiu-Jitsu. I don’t see myself having much to do off the mats, once I graduate high school I will be full-time focused on my Jiu-Jitsu career.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Kids’ BJJ participation and competitions are continuing to grow. What tips do you have for both pre-teens and teens who are interesting in training and competing in BJJ?

Trinity Pun: Considering I didn’t even want to go to my first class and then after being made to try it I fell in love and now I’m doing what I’m doing my advice would be just to go out and try it. Whether it’s competing or just going to train in general, I think the best thing anyone can do is step out on those mats.


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