“Who’s going to be my grappling partner?” Jinri Park asked as she sat in the make-up chair.
I can only imagine how many guys out there would jump at the chance to grapple with a sexy, long-legged FHM cover girl. The idea would certainly make some imaginations (among other things) run wild. On that particular day at Ultimate Fitness in Metrowalk, the answer to her question happened to be me.
You see, like most of you reading this, I have a regular job that sees me sitting in a cubicle for most of the day on the 7th floor of a typical BPO building. My job happens to be with Summit Media, the parent company of FHM Philippines and other leading media titles.
Outside of the office, I can usually be found rolling around on a set of gym mats practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). If you’ve ever watched a mixed martial arts fight, it’s the art that plays out when the fighters hit the ground and grapple. The goal of BJJ is to gain a dominant position and make your opponent ‘tap out’ via a submission hold.
Like Jinri, I’ve been plugging away at the BJJ game for a few years now. In fact, her and I earned our blue belts (the first belt above white) at roughly the same time. So when the FHM bossings told me that they were going to shoot a video of Jinri practicing her skills and that I would serve as the project’s technical advisor/willing grappling dummy, it fit about as well as a perfectly timed chokehold.
As Jinri says in the July 2017 issue of FHM: “[Jiu-Jitsu] has changed the way I view my life because it teaches you to be very humble. The martial art recognizes that there’s always going to be someone better than you and who will beat you even if you’re very experienced. I get this unexplainable fulfillment out of it.”
Beyond just being a celebrity following a fitness fad, Jinri’s passion for BJJ is evident from the moment I open up the conversation. She tells me how she makes her way from the south to the heart of Ortigas Center each day to hit the mats. How she regularly participates in the early morning workouts from hell that her team calls #jiujitsilog. We even discuss the sizes and brands of our training uniforms (known in Jiu-Jitsu speak as the gi), as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Once the shoot began, it was all business. It didn’t once cross my mind that I was literally sitting between the said long and intertwined legs of an FHM star. The way I saw it, we were simply demonstrating some techniques for the cameras. And despite her knack for being the center of attention, Jinri maintained her sunny attitude throughout, happy to explain BJJ and giving her input on the techniques. Right away, I sensed that her mat finesse and techniques have been refined through hundreds of hours of practice. She’s a regular girl (stardom side) who’s obsessed with her hobby.
We also waxed lyrical about our Jiu-Jitsu styles and philosophies. She describes her fighting style as “doing lots of fancy stuff,” and she was more than eager to demonstrate on me just what that meant. Her persistent smile and random jokes kept the entire crew at ease—except maybe the star-struck production assistants who trembled with kilig at her mere glance.
But make no mistake, Jinri has got the fighting skills to match. If her blue belt and myriad of competition medals aren’t enough to convince you, then I’d be happy to show you my tweaked shoulder and sore neck that I earned for playing grappling dummy. Thankfully, she took it easy on me, and she was even careful not to smear her make-up on my white gi.
Once the shoot wrapped, we bumped fists, untied our belts, and called it a day. For most guys, maybe the experience would’ve been something to brag to their friends about over a few bottles, elbows to the ribs, and all that. For a couple of jiujiteros like Jinri and I—the cover girl and regular working stiff—it was just another day on the mats.