Jiujiteiras of Oregon Series “Hillary VanOrnum”
Hillary VanOrnum is the first female black belt at Impact Jiu Jitsu, a gym opened in 1998, with 14 locations across Oregon, as well as Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hillary began training in Jiu Jitsu, as well as Judo and MMA, in 2005 as a way to get in shape and try something new. Although she quickly fell in love with all three sports, and she has had much success in them, Hillary now mainly trains Jiu Jitsu six days per week.
Hillary recommends BJJ because it’s a ‘great way to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable’. Jiu Jitsu has helped Hillary feel more confident in her everyday life as well as allowed her to exercise without thinking about exercising. It’s also a great way to build strong relationships and friends because of the closeness of training. Hillary counts her highest Jiu Jitsu-related achievements as being a successful coach; winning gold in her division at Pan Ams only eight months after ACL reconstruction surgery; and winning her first match at black belt against a multiple time world champion.
For those just starting out, Hillary suggests that they find a women’s class to get more comfortable more quickly. For women who have already started, Hillary suggests finding other women to train with regularly. Women move and roll differently than men, and training with other women really helps one to learn the techniques correctly. She adds that even if you get injured, it is still important to find a way to make it to practice. Hillary was out for seven months after she tore her ACL, but she stayed on the mats almost every day either watching or coaching, and she thinks this helped her to recover relatively quickly, as well as improve in her Jiu Jitsu.