Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 21
BY BRIAN WRIGHT
The sound of reggae music and grunting fighters echoed as soft-spoken Javier Cardenas (pictured in white) wrestled with his partner at the Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym in Santa Maria.
With sweat running down his brow after several intense practice rolls—which are informal matches of sorts solely for practice—Cardenas said, “Jiu-Jitsu is for the smaller person to become the bigger person through technique, skill, strength, a lot of things.”
Only 17 and already a promising prospect in the sport, Cardenas has spent three years working tirelessly at Jiu-Jitsu. The hours he’s devoted to training have helped him grow not only as a physical prowess but also wholly as a person; the sport has taught him confidence and discipline, work ethic and mental toughness.
Cardenas described his rigorous training schedule: “I train five days a week, sometimes Saturday—so six—and just work as hard as I can while I have the time to condition.
“Mat time is really the best way to practice,” he said. “The more you put in, the more you’re going to get out of it.”
Looking back at the bantering instructors on the other side of the room, Cardenas said, “I really give a lot of credit to my teachers. They’re always ready to help walk you through stuff, and they’re just excited about their job.
“The cool thing about Paragon is that if you’re a member you can go to any of the other gyms and train there,” he explained. “I’ve caught rides with people from this gym here, and we’ve gone to get great instruction and training at the other locations.”
Cardenas has consistently succeeded at the competitive level the past few years; he’s placed among the top three in all 11 major competitions in which he’s participated.
“I always have to travel to the bigger tournaments down south,” he said. “The competition always gets better when you go to larger population areas.”
In terms of future aspirations, Cardenas has no shortage of Jiu-Jitsu goals to meet.
“I want to take Jiu-Jitsu as far as I can,” he said. “After college and all that, I’d like to open up my own gym someday and continue fighting professionally; that’d be pretty cool.”
Gym owner and instructor Lance Glynn commented on the past three transformative years for Cardenas: “After he got comfortable, he really opened up; he was kind of shy when he first came by.
“We’ve really brought him into the family here,” he said. “He’s always been a great kid, a great learner, and we love having him here.”