Jennifer Zanotti


Full Name Jennifer Zanotti
Nick Name Smash City
Class Heavyweight
Weight 168lbs
Rank Blue Belt
Height 5’8”
Association Ilya’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/Serafin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


Jennifer Zanotti (Jen Z) has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since 2013. Jen instantly fell in love with the art and Jiu-Jitsu became her passion and life. She is a 35 year old blue-belt full-time athlete and competitor. Jen started competing 6 months into her journey and continues to travel to compete at the highest level competitions. She is a multiple Masters Worlds Medalist, Pan Am medalist and Double Gold IBJJF champion.


Q&A Session Between Jennifer Zanotti and Elite Sports

Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?

Answer: My coaches, my teammates, the incredible females in the sport.  There is inspiration everywhere.  My team and coaches push me daily.  The belief and support they have in me motivates be to move forward and be better every day!  I truly want to be a positive role model in the world of jiu-jitsu, especially in the female community!

Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?

Answer: To become a Pan Am and Masters Worlds champion at each belt level if possible, continuing to place at each tournament and just grow and evolve my game to be the best practitioner and version of myself possible.  I have recently started teaching a Women’s Jiu-Jitsu program at my academy and want that to continue to grow and flourish. I absolutely love teaching and spreading my love and passion of the art!

Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?

Answer: Cross collars and Kimuras are my favorite submissions!  My team mates call me smash city as I like to be on top and smash, haha!

Question: What inspires you about BJJ?

Answer: I absolutely fell in love with BJJ right away!  The dynamics of it, the strength and confidence it gives you, how much you learn about yourself through your journey, how far you can push yourself.  It truly is such a mind/body/soul connection.

Question: How long have you been training?

Answer: I began my journey in 2013 at 31 years old.  It is never too late!

Question: How often do you train?

Answer: 6 days a week.

Question: What will you suggest to the newcomers?

Answer: Spent more time on mats and keep focus.

Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?

  • White Belt:
  • IBJJF Chicago Spring Open 2014-Gold
  • US Grappling 2014 Submission Only-Gold
  • ADCC Nationals 2014-Bronze
  • IBJJF Chicago Summer Open 2014-Gold
  • Five Grappling 2015-Silver
  • US Grappling 2015 Submission Only-Double Gold
  • Gracie Regionals 2015-Gold
  • Blue Belt:
  • IBJJF Chicago Summer Open 2015-Silver
  • IBJJF Master’s Worlds 2015-Silver & Bronze
  • New breed Comp 2016-Gold & Double Silver
  • IBJJF Pan AM’s 2016-Double Bronze
  • IBJJF Chicago Spring Open 2016-Double Gold
  • IBJJF Chicago Summer Open 2016-Bronze
  • IBJJF Master’s Worlds 2016-Bronze

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: Depends if I am lifting or Jiu Jitsu things I always utilize: workout gear, foam roller, trigger point foam ball, kinesio tape, BJJ GI, my belt, compression shorts, rash guard, tank, foot and knee brace just in case:), finger tape, peppermint oil, gum, water with sea salt for electrolytes, sandals, extra hair ties.

Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?

Answer: Determination, mental focus, courage!  I have realized you have to truly believe in yourself and trust your jiu-jitsu.  The mental aspect is the hardest in competition.  No matter what you need to go out there and do what you live.  WIn or lose, there is a far bigger learning lesson and the growth from each experience makes you that much better and stronger, mentally and physically!