The Part Time Grappler Interviews Hillary Williams

Hillary Williams is an awesome and well-decorated BJJ brown belt and no-gi grappler. I first heard about her thru fellow blogger Georgette Oden (featured above in Hillary's closed guard) and, after hearing her on her recent Fightworks Podcast interview, I couldn't resist but to attempt to interview her for this blog. After all, she's just come back from Abu Dhabi Pro!

Busy as she is (which becomes evident in the interview) she kindly took the time to sit down and answer my questions. Many thanks Hillary and all my best wishes. I hope all the readers will both enjoy and learn from this interview. She is a true Part Time Grappler!

Hillary Willams:

Hello. Why don't we start by you telling us a little about yourself?

I'm a 21-year-old Arkansan, fully trained in domestic duties, an avid horseback rider, and aspiring BJJ champion.

Are you currently working / studying? Is that Full time / Part time?

I'm a fully time student in the Honors College at University of Central Arkansas, where I'm on track to finish my undergrad in Biology (pre-med) next spring. I love it, it's a good sized university at about 12,000, so enough to feel like I'm at college but few enough to let me get away and study when I need to. When I need to "work," it's just here and there things, mostly artwork to make some money on the side.

You also set aside time to practice a sport. Which sport(s)?

In high school, I played volleyball, softball, soccer, golf, and trained horses (in dressage) while studying, and I picked up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the beginning of my senior year. Once I hit college I dropped all the other sports to really focus on BJJ, and it's been a great decision. I'm really able to train hard and travel quite a bit to train.

How long have you done that?

My Jiu Jitsu anniversary is in June, so once Worlds rolls around it'll be four years. As much as I've trained and traveled, it seems like so much longer, but at the same time I feel very new in the sport. The fact that I get an email to answer questions about BJJ still astounds me, hahah.

Do you follow any special diet? Do you use any Dietary Supplements?

Not particularly special, just careful. When competition season is around, I focus on a lot of veggies and a lot of protein. Clean eating, not particularly a special diet, is what I focus on. And it makes me feel better when I train. As far as supplements, I don't take any. I would but I don't know that much about them, and I don't have a supplement sponsor, so both ignorance and lack of funds is preventing that.

How do you manage to fit your training around work, study and family time?

Very carefully, hahah. I have a very strict, set routine. It's train, study, train, study. Most of the art pieces I produce are products of insomnia so the time just kind of creates itself. I just have to be very careful. I can't go to a party, I can't waste large blocks of time, I just have to hustle from the gym back to my room and use all the time on airplanes that I have to study. I like being busy, actually. I always have been, and having nothing to do makes me very antsy.

Do you compete in your sport(s)? Have you won any competitions?

Absolutely, I compete at least once a month. I've placed first at the Pan Ams in my division six times (white belt gi, blue belt gi, purple belt gi, purple belt gi absolute, purple belt nogi, brown/black belt gi) and five at the World Championships (purple belt gi IBJJF, purple belt gi CBJJE, purple belt gi absolute CBJJE, brown/black nogi IBJJF, brown/black nogi absolute IBJJF). I also took two bronzes at ADCC and World Pro BJJ, in Barcelona, Spain, and Abu Dhabi, UAE, respectively.

What is the greatest thrill you have got out of practicing your sport?

The first time I stepped on the mat to compete at ADCC was a feeling I can never explain...I was so shocked to be there, to be at the most prestigious grappling tournament in the world and to be competing at it. I was sharing the same mats with legends of the sport and people were watching ME. It was unbelievable, and very surreal.

Give us your top 5 tips for time-management (to fit exercise around life)

1) Eat on the run. One thing that helps me eat well and save time is to have pre-prepared meals at set sizes. That way, I only have the certain amount allotted (no time for seconds or desert!) and I can grab it quickly on the way to the gym without having to stop and wait in a drive thru or anything unhealthy.

2) Multitask. If I have to get a chapter of reading done, I do it on the treadmill or the elliptical. That way, I get my work done, and I don't focus on being tired, I'm focusing on the book. It really helps me double task.

3) To-do Lists. I love marking off tasks on a to do list and it keeps me bouncing from one task to another throughout the day.

4) Ration phone calls. I usually only make phone calls when I'm in situations where I can't be doing anything else. For me, this is walking to classes. If I need to call, I do it when I can't be studying or training, I do it when I'm on the way. Try to never, or rarely, make phone calls when you're capable of doing something else.

5) Drop the unnecessary tasks. There are lots of little things we think we can do that we don't need to do. Don't be afraid to just say no to something.

Now let's balance that with what you consider the top time-thieves.

1) TV.

2) Video games.

3) Procrastination (to-do lists kill this).

4) Internet.

5) Phone.

Essentially? Technology. I try to do all my work and studying the old fashioned pen and paper way, if not there's too much temptation. Also, you get comfortable. You can't just drop down on the couch to watch TV then honestly think you're gonna get up to work out in 20 minutes. It's hard.

Do you have any regrets?

None. I love my life and everyone in it, every mistake has been a lesson to get me where I'm at now.

Any great sponsors you want to give a shout-out to?

MTX Audio for being the most supportive sponsor ever and revolutionizing the lives of so many athletes, Koral Fight Co for making the best gear in the business, and Team Zipplokk for always being by my side. Can't forget my boys at Westside MMA for pushing me every day.

Finally, why do you train? What drives you?

I train because it makes sense. I don't have to push myself to train, it's something that I want to do every day and I feel very lost if I don't go to the gym. It never the same. Each day, there is something new to learn, something new to discover, and some new situation you're going to be put in. That dynamic characteristic keeps me going back.

What a great attitude! Once again, many thanks to Hillary Williams for granting me this interview and all the best wishes in her sportive and academic career. I have no doubt that we will continue to hear more great news from her. Her journey has just begun.

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Meerkatsu said...

Hillary is such a star, I;m a big fan.
Hopefully she'll make it to the UK later this year ;)

The Part Time Grappler said...

I know! That'd be great!

A.D. McClish said...

LOVE this interview. I'm a big fan of Hillary Williams. Lucky you to have gotten to meet her and interview her! :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thank you very much Allie for the kind words. I wish! I conducted this via email and super-busy-Hillary was kind enough to reply.

If I had actually met her in person, I would have at least stuck a couple of my own pics with her...rather than that pesky Georgette Oden :p