Romeoville Home of 13-Year-Old Jiu Jitsu Sensation
Taylor Guerra has won 24 titles in four years fighting in the North American Grappling Association. She's also life-lessons, chief among them how to push toward achieving a goal and how to maintain a healthy respect for others.
Fewer still know the 13-year-old girl from Romeoville is recognized nationally as one of the best young Brazilian Jiu Jitsu grapplers in the country.
“That’s one of the reasons I contacted you,” said Taylor’s father and instructor, Jerry Guerra. “Taylor is a very humble kid. She doesn’t say much to her friends about her fighting. I doubt they know how good she is. And I thought maybe our community would like to know.”
Know this: Guerra boasts a record of 106-17 and 91 of her wins have come by submission, meaning she has choked out her opponents or they have tapped out, and 95 percent of the time she is fighting against boys.
Most of them are 10-20 pounds heavier than Guerra, who is anything but a 92-pound weakling.
She started studying Jiu Jitsu and training under the watchful eye of her father when she was 8—mostly because she wanted to join in a family exercise. Her older brother, Matt, now 16, was the first to get the bug from his dad. He is now a student at Plainfield Central High School.
Jerry, a heavy equipment operator who has been in the construction industry for more than 20 years, teaches at Clay Guyida MMA Stop Fitness. The gym is located near the corner of Renwick and Weber Road in Crest Hill. He holds a brown belt. And he trains for International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation events under seven-time world champ Rodrigo (Comprido) Mederios.
His wife, Lisa, took up Jiu Jitsu seven months ago. She turned 47 recently on a Friday. Then, on the next day—Saturday—she won her first tournament. She has a long ways to go to catch up with Taylor, the prize fighter in the family.
She has won 24 titles since she started fighting in the North American Grappling Association in September of 2009.
“She saw me teaching my son,” Jerry Guerra said. “And she wanted to get involved. It gives her confidence in herself. She knows that you have to struggle through things if you want to make it in life.
“Jiu Jitsu teaches self-respect, respect toward others. It’s a very positive thing. And, another good thing, it’s a deterrent toward bullying. She hasn’t had to deal with any of that stuff.”
Rather, she deals with her opponents in the ring.
“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is submission ground-fighting,” Jerry Guerra said. “It’s kind of like wrestling—that’s the closest thing that I would give as a comparison, but there are joint locks and chokeholds. That’s why it’s called, ‘Submissions.’ That’s the expertise Taylor has.”
She is a recognized as a “High Orange Belt” fighter and is working toward a “Green Belt” — the top belt available to someone of her age and experience level. And perhaps it is no coincidence that green is recognized universally as the symbol for, “Go.”