Emily Dittmar is a 24 year old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner and purple belt who has been training for about 6 years.
During her sophomore year of undergraduate college she became obsessed with BJJ and started training almost every single day, sometimes two to three times a day. For almost all 6 years she has been an avid competitor throughout the midwest, and has trained in a variety of places, including Michigan, Ohio, Chicago (IL), Gatlinburg (TN), as well as overseas in Amman, Jordan.
Currently, Emma trains out of Kaizen BJJ in Plymouth, MI under the instruction of Ryan Fiorenzi, and still makes time to train consistently while earning an MA from the University of Michigan. Jiu Jitsu is a lifelong journey for her, and she is determined to continue training consistently for the rest of her life. It is her longest lived and most beloved passion.
Q&A Session Between Michael Stinson and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: It is the equalizing aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that inspires me the most, and is part of what drew me in from the beginning. On the mats anyone and everyone, from smaller and weaker people like me, to the differently abled, to those suffering from chronic physical illnesses, can each find a way to be on equal ground with bigger and stronger opponents. Through purity of technique and body mechanics, everyone is put on the same level and given the opportunity for growth and advancement. Beyond that, BJJ and MMA do not care what your gender identification, political affiliation, religion, etc. is. Judgment has no place in these spheres.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: My biggest personal inspiration over the past couple years for my training has been my grandfather. Before he passed, and as his mental fortitude started to weaken, he identified and remembered me chiefly as "the fighter" of the family. His recollection of me in his hardest moments, along with his fighting spirit, have been powerful inspiration to uphold the image he held of me, and to continue to train as hard and as often as I can. Within the BJJ sphere, I look up to more petite women who train, like Gezary Matuda, Emily Kwok, and Sophia McDermott Drysdale, among others. I also have to include my father, who just started training several months ago! He is proof that there is no limit to when you can start training.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: I haven not found time to compete for a little over a year now, so I would love to find the time and confidence to jump back into the competition scene within this coming year. In 3 years, I hope to grow confident in my new purple belt rank. I want to move past knowing a list of techniques, to conceptualizing of what I know more like a spider web; connecting sweeps, transitions, positions, and submissions together in intricate ways, and finding more ways to interconnect my BJJ game. In 5 years, I hope, I might be ready to move on to the next level. But if I'm not, I'm sure I'll still be training all the time, as ready to learn as always!
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I can't remember the exact moment I started to train seriously, but I think a little over 6 years is a good estimate
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: Being in graduate school takes up most of my time, but I try to make it in to train at least 3 days a week
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
I can't say that I've achieved or won anything spectacular since I've started training, but I have competed a great deal since beginning, and have collected a large collection of medals in that time. As a blue belt, I almost exclusively took gold in the competitions I participated in. I hope to soon continue as a purple belt. I have also traveled quite a bit and trained in several places throughout the United States, as well as in Jordan in the Middle East.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days
Answer: I tend to keep my training simple. I head to the gym with my Elite Sports BJJ Gi and belt in my bag, a smaller "wet bag" in which to put everything I trained in, cleansing wipes to quickly wash down in after training is done, and a fresh change of clothes to go home in. If I am going out of town to train, or for a longer seminar, I might take something extra to drink, like a gatorade, bandaids, and perhaps an extra Gi. If any of my chronic physical pains start to flare up, I'll carry around my wrist/knee braces and splints as well, along with some tape.
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: The armbar has been my most successful finishing move, especially in competition, but honestly, my finishing moves tend to change depending on what I continue to learn and experiment with. One of my favorite submissions by far is the Americana from mount. It's just so simple and so effective, especially if you're good at sticking tight on top to your opponent
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: Persistence and dedication are what it takes on the most fundamental level. Sure, there are people that seem to have been born to do Jiu Jitsu, and learn and advance incredibly fast (or have the time and support to make training BJJ their full-time job) but the rest of us have to grind, work to keep our love and interest alive and healthy for the martial art/sport, and make time to not only keep it part of our lives, but to train extra if we want to succeed at higher levels and on the competition scene. None of that can happen without determination and a persistent spirit.