I am a purple belt from Chicago and began my jiu jitsu journey in September of 2013. Since the first day on the mats, I fell in love with the sport and knew this would be a part of me for the rest of my life. I have always loved sports and competing. Since I was 4 years old, I began playing soccer and continued to play it competitively through college. After enduring three ACL injuries, I decided to try something different. This is when my love for bjj began.
Not only is jiu jitsu special to me, it also plays an important role in my family. Both my fiancé and I train BJJ, compete and support each other’s own jiu jitsu journey. We just recently had a baby and he enjoys coming to open mats on Saturday’s and watching us roll from his play pen. When I returned to BJJ from my maternity leave, I quickly hit the mats training for my next competition. With a fresh purple belt around my waist and our baby just 10 months olds, I competed at the Chicago Open and won my division.
Being a fulltime mom and a fulltime Nurse Practitioner at Northwestern Hospital, often makes finding time for the mats a challenge. Every minute at the academy has to count. This has only motived me to train harder and really prove what I can do.
Q&A Session Between Kerry Shanklin and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about BJJ?
Answer: Jiu jitsu is such a humbling sport. Every day that I feel myself getting better, there is someone on the mats that reminds me how much more I need to learn. I really enjoy watching everyone evolve in the sport. Its takes a lot of individual effort and motivation.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: My dad has always inspired me. He has always worked hard and gone without to support his family. He is my biggest fan when it came to sports. Because of him, I believe I have a hard working mentality. When I have a goal, I work for it and don’t give up. My newest inspiration is m son, Chase. I want him to see how hard I work and realize if you want something you have to put in the work!
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: 1-year goal: to continue to evolve as a purple belt, compete, and be at the top of the podium. But ultimately to have fun and enjoy it.
3-years: Continue to compete but bring it to the next level. Become more proficient with my submissions. Start my son in BJJ
5-years: I would like to have my black belt and compete in some major tournaments. Also, help teach kids bjj – the future of jiu jitsu!!
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: Almost 4 years
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: Before I had Chase, at least 5 times a week. But, after the baby, my gym days are Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday open mats. My fiancé and I trade off nights – he trains Tuesday and Thursdays. We both share Saturdays. Team work!
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
Answer: - 2017 Chicago Spring Open Gi master feather purple belt Gold Medalist
- • 2015 Chicago Spring Open Gi master feather blue belt Gold Medalist
- • 2015 Chicago Spring Open Gi Open Class blue belt Bronze Medalist
- • 2014 Chicago Summer Open Gi master light blue belt Silver Medalist
- • 2014 Chicago Spring Open Gi Adult light white belt Gold Medalist
- • 2013 Chicago Fall Open Gi Adult light white belt Bronze Medalist.
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: I am all about position before submission. I am working for the back – any submission from there!!
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: Quality time on the mats, a winning attitude and being humble! There are days that I feel like a fresh white belt all over again. But, instead of giving up, I use that as motivation to train even harder.
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 always keep in my gym bag Elite Gi and No-Gi gear, Belt, Mouth guard (although I never wear it – but I should), Tape, Water, Flip flops, Extra tank top, Hair ties, Energy bites/drinks, Chapstick