3.5.2017. Black Belt.

black belt , friends , grading , Jiu Jitsu , team • May 14, 2017

3.5.2017. The day I received by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt from Lachlan Giles and Thiago Stefanutti.

I’ve now had a week to gather my thoughts and it all still doesn’t seem real. Looking down at my waist still shocks me every single time and I can’t quite get used to it. My grading was a complete surprise and credit to Lachie for keeping it under wraps and making sure not one person spoilt it for me.

I usually arrive at training on Wednesdays 10 minutes late as I finish work at the same time as training starts. I remember feeling particularly tired and a bit ill because I just scoffed 2 pieces of chocolate cake before I ran to class. I bumped into our head coach Thiago in the stairwell and thought it was a little odd that he would visit us on a Wednesday, but I knew he just had a meeting with some of our coaches and may have been in the area. When I walked up to reception our manager Dan was there, which was also unusual, but then I remembered that he was going to drop off the defibrillator we needed at the gym. The mats were packed, but even when people started clapping as I walked in, I still didn’t get it. For a second I thought it was Thiago’s birthday and I forgot it, so I joined in with the clapping like a total idiot. It wasn’t until there were a couple of cameras in my face and Lachie told me to hurry up and get changed that it all clicked… All these people were there for me. As I looked around the room and saw many familiar faces that have been a part of my journey through white belt till now, I got a little teary, but feared my teammate Hannah slapping me across the face for crying, so I didn’t. Instead I got myself ready to roll – 2 hours worth of 2 minute rounds.


I sparred with all the girls first and it was joyous and fun. Everyone was just happy and the rolls were light and enjoyable. I can’t highlight enough what the BJJ women in my life mean to me, and especially my Jits n Tits crew who have been a massive part of my life for the last 2 years or so. It’s an absolute honour to teach and learn from these ladies every day. They are my best training partners and my best friends. Next, I rolled with all the brown and black belts.  I will never be able to express my thanks to all the black belts that came on the night from near and far. You have all been my inspiration for many years and guided me in my own journey and BJJ development. I am so humbled to stand amongst you as a fresh new black belt noob. Again, everyone looked after me knowing that I have some very important competitions coming up and let me showcase my skills as we celebrated together. I finished my rolls with Thiago, then finally Lachie and the 2 hrs flew by.  I have never enjoyed myself more rolling.

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As Lachie and Thiago made speeches, I looked around the room which was full of the most important people to me in my life. I was so moved that so many took the night out of their own schedules to come and support me. There were 80 of my teammates, friends, coaches and even my parents. Believe it or not, I was a little lost for words when it was my time to make a speech and there is so much more I wanted to say.
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In the last 2 years or so I noticed a massive shift within myself where belts had less and less motivation to me. In the end, I just love training and learning each day. Whether I’m wearing a purple or a black belt will never change that. I simply love being on the mats every day with my mates as I try to better myself at this sport and as a person. This is why it took me by surprise at how amazing if felt to receive my belt from my coaches, who’s opinions I value extremely highly.

Of course credit must be given, where credit is due. Thank you to:

Lachie Giles – Thanks for being my coach, teacher, business partner and someone I get to share my life with. You have to play many roles and you play them all wonderfully. Without you, I would never even be here. Thank you for helping me fall in love with BJJ, the game and the constant puzzle and for always being honest but kind with your (much needed) critique. Your coaching is second to none and your patience has been tested many times with me. In the end though I have never had so much fun as we’ve had in the last 7 years and it’s still only the beginning.


Dan Shaw – my first BJJ coach who instilled the importance of technique and detail in my brain since the very beginning. Dan believed in me way before I would believe in myself and I will be forever grateful.

Thiago Stefanutti – You were there since my early blue belt days and have had a massive influence on my BJJ. Thank you for being my coach and a good friend. I have learnt so much from you as an athlete and even more importantly as person. Thank you for always being there and for always having my back.


Jits’nTits – I didn’t always have the luxury of training with other women. My white and blue belt days were tough and it has always been a struggle to find appropriate training partners. Now I have a group of extremely talented ladies to train with every day who give me some of my hardest rolls. You are technical and far more superior than myself as a blue or a purple belt. However, what I treasure most is the friendships we have formed. I love each and every one of you and you give me more than you know. From training together to eating, baking, swearing like there is no tomorrow and travelling the world, I could not think of a better group of women to have by my side and share 4 hrs a day with.

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Teammates – You can never do this sport alone and I am so grateful to have you smash me day in day out. It’s easy to improve when you are never the best person in the gym. It’s a privilege to share the mats with each one of you.

Parents – Last but not least. My parents have always supported my journey emotionally and financially and never ask for anything in return. Even though I know it’s not always fun watching your daughter fight and cut weight and you are still convinced I get kicked in the head, I appreciate your unconditional love from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your wisdom and advice and encouraging me to continue with this life, which I absolutely adore. Love you.

I am so damn excited for new challenges ahead. My first go at a black belt competition will be the World Championships…no biggie. But I have looked forward to this point for a long time and can’t wait to test myself against the best. I will be fighting the people I have looked up to for a long time and I know that this is where my journey really begins.

So for now, it’s back to training to work on all my mistakes and continue to enjoy every single minute spent on the mats. I consider myself lucky to be able live the life I’ve created.

I love this sport for so many reasons, but perhaps what I love the most is being a part of this incredible community. Thank you to each and every one of you for being a part it and for sharing some of my life’s best moments.

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Abu Dhabi World Pro 2017

competition , friends , Jiu Jitsu , team • Apr 25, 2017
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My Abu Dhabi Pro adventure began by being invited to Abu Dhabi by the Pony Grappling Club. From admiring their gear from afar to starting a conversation on social media, to being welcomed into their home and lives, I could not be any more grateful.  Reem and Cassielivgr8

are some of the kindest people I have ever known and I already have separation anxiety as I sit on the plane back to Australia.

I was joined by my teammate and training partner Sarah, an amazing blue belt who inspires me every day with her work ethic and her seemingly innocent jokes. I am fortunate to share some awesome adventures and moments all over the world with Sarah, a trend that will hopefully continue for years to come. Erin Here, a fellow badass brown belt joined us in Abu Dhabi and it’s safe to say she made the trip fun and real and full of belly laughs  – the sort that left us rolling on the floor for hours. Margot completed the crazy pack of women, and as always I enjoy her wizard-level BJJ knowledge and the serenading singing.

We arrived a few days before the competition began and went straight to training at Cobra’s, as we all had about 2 kgs to lose in order to make weight. I chose to do the 49kg division, which was a little more achievable than at Worlds as the weigh in was a day before. With a diet plan from Reid Reale of Combat Sports Nutrition and mental support from the girls, I had a much easier time cutting weight this time around and did not lose my mind entirely. The hardest part was probably refusing all the delicious food in business class at Etihad, as it was the first and perhaps the only time in my life I will not fly cattle class. The start of the week saw us all running around the streets of Abu Dhabi in our sweat suits, which seemed so usual at the time, but in fact was not very normal at all.

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For the days before the comp we drilled and rolled with the of the Aussie team and athletes from the rest of the world in various hotels including a newly set up ‘dome’ at the Armed Officers Club.  It was nice to be reunited with Lachie to brain storm last minute strategy, flow roll and just enjoy jiu jitsu without everyday stresses back in Melbourne.

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Margot and Sarah were up first and although they fought really well and showed some really high level technical BJJ, they didn’t win. I am so excited to see them smash their next goals – I am continuously impressed by both of them and I can safely say they are a much better blue and purple belts than I ever was. Demi won a silver medal in the 90kg purple belt division, which was amazing but not at all unexpected.

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Erin was a ‘victim’ of the new 2 per country rule and had to fight in the country qualifiers. She was very impressive in her fights against Tammi Musumeci, but unfortunately did not go through to the main draw.

Friday saw myself, Lachie and Kit Dale from Absolute take the centre stage as well as all the other Aussies such as Jess Fraser and Lee Ting. Although there were 7 women in my division, it included 4 Brazilians, which means after the country qualifiers there were 5 of us in the main draw. I was so excited to new new rules because a 5 person division meant we had a round robin so that everyone fought everyone. I think this was the most fair way to determine the top 3 and I finally got to have more than 2 fights with people my own size. The only downfall was that our medals were determined on Friday and we did not take the big stage on Saturday for brown/black belt finals.

Although my water cut took a little bit out of me, I woke up feeling great. Reem made me a delicious breakfast and the girls kept the mood light and I kept laughing all the way to the IPIC Arena. I love getting to the warm up area of the competition. That’s when my nerves start to leave me and I get excited because it’s finally where I’m meant to be – on the mats doing BJJ.  Last year I was a 4 month brown belt, competing for the first time in a brown/black division and fighting my idols. I was thrilled, but star struck to be warming up and sharing the mats with the people I look up to. But this year everything felt very different. I felt like I belonged. I wasn’t there to participate, I was there to fight for a medal. Fighting black belts no longer bothered me, in fact nothing really did. Time changes and mat changes and possible uniform changes meant nothing. I have gotten good at accepting whatever I can’t control, including my emotions.

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As I stood on the side of the mats waiting for the ref to call us, I felt proud. Lachie, Jess and I were all on at the same time. I had friends in the audience and I was going to enjoy every second of my competition. I was conscious to slow myself down a little bit and be smart. At the ADCC trials in Japan, I went 100 miles an hour, rushed some decisions and didn’t perform to my ability. I was determined not to repeat the same mistake.

My first match was a repeat of last years Worlds final. This time I managed to pass and choke from the back. My second fight saw me pass a couple of times and execute Lachie’s cross-face choke from mount. Third fight was Rikako. We double guard pulled and I had a tight footlock, which in the end went nowhere. I came up and started to feel out Rikako’s spider guard, but just when I started to feel confident, Rikako set up a nice triangle which I pretty much saw happen in slow motion. It was tight and I had to tap. I met Mayssa Bastos in 4th round. We double guard pulled, then Mayssa came up.  I made a small mistake and got passed in the first 15 seconds… hard to come back from in a 6 minute fight. I managed to recover guard to single-x and sweep. However with 1 point down and 2 minutes to go I was unable to pass.

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

passing rikako win

Final tally of wins and losses saw Mayssa take gold, Rikako silver and myself bronze. Although I am not really satisfied with the result and would like the medal to be a different colour, I took so much out of this competition. I was so happy with my mental preparation and controlling my nerves that I enjoyed every second out there. I executed some things I have been working hard in training such us over under passes, smash passes and pressure passes. I haven’t played top game in a comp for a while but I felt very confident there. I will need to watch my videos and closely analyse my mistakes and do much better at Worlds. However I finally feel like I belong. I was very proud to claim a medal at brown/black division and to do so as a brown belt felt even more special. Sometimes I need to remember to take a step back and get some perspective on my performances and to be proud, but never settle.

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Watching Lachie fight his way through repacharge and earn 5th place in the stacked 77kg division was inspiring. He is so close to a medal and I have no doubt he will earn his spot on the podium soon. Jess Fraser made it through repacharge to the bronze medal fight and managed to win it. It is hard to describe how happy I was for her.  It was so special to share the day and some happy tears with Jess and to line up amongst the best in the world to receive our medals as first Australian females in the brown/black division. Success is becoming the norm and this is just the beginning.

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I got to spend the rest of my time in Abu Dhabi with Lachie and surrounded by friends from home and all over the world. We tasted local cuisine, drank camel milk, went 4 wheel driving on the dunes and rode a vey unhappy camel called Shane. Having my ‘girl pack’ there with me meant the world to me and made this journey so incredibly fun. I am forever grateful to Reem and Cassie of Pony Grappling Club, Sarah, Erin and Margot for sharing my crazy for the week.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my sponsors who made this trip possible:

Pony Grappling Gear

MA1 Apparel



Mum and Dad

I can’t wait to get back on the mats. It is now full steam ahead for ADCC Trials and Worlds!

Crazies Dancing


AIS Wrestling Camp

camp , friends , Jiu Jitsu , team , wrestling • Apr 16, 2017

I have started training wrestling about a year ago. My goals were to improve my stand up game, get better at scrambles and to get ready for ADCC trials and ADCC style competitions. I am loving wrestling so much right now that I am even seriously considering jumping into a competition and giving it a go.

For a few months I only managed to train 1 session per week, and then I tore my ACL and wrestling had to wait as I continued my rehab. It is only in the last few weeks that I have been able to wrestle comfortably and not think about my knee too much.

I have the most wonderful coaches in Rio Olympian Talgat Ilyasov who’s technical knowledge is second to none and his fluidity and smoothness makes me admire even his warm up movements. Connor Evans who is one of the best wrestlers in Australia and a wonderful, encouraging instructor also coaches me out of Absolute St Kilda. It is not easy coaching a  newbie like me, so  I take my hats off to Talgat and Connor’s patience as they explain the same concepts and moves weekly, or so it seems.

I first got excited to wrestle a little more when the one and only badass swear-mouthed MMA fighter Young and I paired up to be training partners. Although she is a little smaller, we are similar sized and close in skill level, which makes for a perfect partner in crime. Young and I actively encouraged all the girls at Absolute MMA to wrestle at least once a week. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have successfully used bribes such as buying matching leggings for anyone who starts wrestling classes. It has worked and now we have a good group of ladies training regularly.

tucan tights

Wrestling has made a massive difference to my BJJ – not only do I feel confident in standing and going for take downs, but my spatial awareness and fight from scrambles have really improved. I am learning how to control my grip fighting and head position and I get enormous amount of excitement and satisfaction in trying new things … it feels like I’m a white belt again.

This is why when former Olympian Kyla Bremner and her husband Kris Grzywniak announced yet another wrestling camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, I jumped at the opportunity. I figured 3 days of wrestling a selection of girls my own size will do me good even so close to the World Pro in Abu Dhabi.


My teammates Shantelle, Apryl and the young up and comers Stella and Nacinta jumped in a car and drove up, which was not without mishaps. We had a flat tyre on the way up, which turned it into a really long drive.

I am so grateful to Kyla and Kris who housed and fed us for the weekend and of course provided some great coaching at the camp. Each day we focused on a different concept and I loved the amount of drills and ‘play’ time we got. Even after 3 days of immersing myself in the sport, I feel like I came away with so much new knowledge and a much better understanding and feel of certain positions. I feel my BJJ and athleticism really compliment my wrestling, and of course my wrestling is making my BJJ a lot better. It was so wonderful to be a student at the camp, and a beginner one at that. Even though my energy was super low as I was cutting weight, Kris and Kyla’s passion and excitement carried me through the weekend and I laughed a lot, though mainly at myself.









It was great to get back home to my own wrestling coaches and continue to work and improve on some of the set ups, take downs and pins.

I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing coaches, training partners and other athletes.

If my body is up for it, I will give Wrestling Nationals a go next month… Because you only live once!



Photo credits to the lovely Apryl Eppinger.

Teaching seminars in South Korea

friends , Jiu Jitsu , korea , seminar • Mar 26, 2017
AFG group 1


So how did I end up in Seoul teaching seminars in the middle of their winter?

Well, a little while ago I posted my love for Korean food on Instagram and as a result started chatting to a purple belt named Jes who lives in Seoul as an ex-pat. Before I knew it we were plotting and planning how I could come and teach and eat all their delicious food at the same time. Pretty much a dream scenario!

We planned my trip to coincide with the ADCC Trials in Tokyo, as it’s only a short flight from Japan. I will be forever indebted to Jes who organised my seminar including a translator, connected me with people, gave me a place to stay and was a constant source of laughs.

I couldn’t be more grateful to the one and only Heejn Lee, who is Korea’s first and only female black belt for hosting me at her own academy Queen of Jiu Jitsu. Heejin is a pioneer and pretty much started women’s BJJ in South Korea from scratch. I cannot put it into words how badass this woman is and how much I look up to her.IMG_1736

I flew to Seoul straight after the trials, which gave me 5 days to sight-see and train before my seminars. My teammates Sarah and Chi joined me for a training holiday, which made the trip infinite times better. They are both the best company I could ask for and also incredible training partners. It was pretty nice to share this BJJ journey with them.IMG_1829

We did lots of fun stuff like exploring the markets and buying way too many socks and face masks, beauty products and street food.IMG_2333 IMG_2137 IMG_2113 IMG_1794

We also managed to dress up in traditional Korean dresses. I am sure the shop owner’s only goal was to make us look as hideous as possible, but we embraced it. Sarah’s marshmallow dress definitely topped the fashion world rankings.
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We also visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was beautiful and so well preserved. The contrast between the old temples set on the background of mountains and the modern sky scrapers was striking.

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One of the things I will remember forever is our visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). We did the Panmunjom Tour (Joint Security Area) which was a half day trip. On the bus to the JSA, we had a North Korean defector with us who answered all questions that were asked of her about her escape and life in North Korea. It was all shocking and sad and I still can’t get over how life can be absolute hell for someone just a few miles away from where we stood. Once briefed by the UN soldiers we finally entered the border between North and South Korea. The rules and orders to us were strict and you could literally feel the tension in the air. I didn’t quite expect it all to feel so heavy,sombre and real. On the way back we stopped and paid tribute to the families that got separated when Korea was divided and never saw each other again. They left messages to each other written on ribbons that dance in the wind. This trip has left me with a lot to think about and I would recommend it to anyone.
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The border of North and South Korea

The border of North and South Korea

Sara is in North, I am in South

Sara is in North, I am in South


On a lighter note, we got to do a lot of training and met some amazing people in the process. I loved training at Queen of Jiu Jitsu with Heejin. I really enjoyed her teaching and also her top game is world class amazing.  I was lucky that she let me specific train playing guard and her passing me, just so I could absorb as much of her goodness as possible. We also had some really fun rolls with the small purple belt men and very technical blue belt ladies.

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During the week we were also visited my old Absolute teammates Jay’s school Movement BJJ. Last time we rolled was in Australia when he was a purple belt and I was blue, and it was wonderful to see his school becoming so successful. Kris Kim also welcomed us at his school where the vibe was relaxed and fun, yet at a very high level. Thank you to Nat (another ex-pat) for taking time to take us to dinner after training and just generally being fabulous. On Friday we were invited at John Frankl’s competition training. John is a pioneer of BJJ in South Korea and is a truly wonderful, kind and a wise man. Check out this short video about his story here.
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Korea was freezing. Me no like.

Korea was freezing. Me no like.

It was a treat to catch up with my friend Margot on Saturday morning, as she stopped over in Seoul for a few hours before flying to LA for Pan Ams. It makes me smile to think at how many random places we have travelled to and trained at together. Thank you to Chuck of Seorae Jiu Jitsu for opening his gym to us so Margot could drill a little before she had to head back to the airport.IMG_2178IMG_2353 IMG_2203

It was finally time for my first seminar on Saturday. It was held at Queen of Jiu Jitsu and I never expected so much interest and so many people to turn up. We had 47 on the mat raging from white to black belt, male and female. Special mention goes to the Asia Fight Guide team who was my media partner for the seminar and took photos, recorded techniques and interviewed myself and Heejin. It is so nice to see women finally being taken seriously and equally in the BJJ community.

afg int interview

During the seminar, the mats were so full I even had to modify and change the content as I went because there was no space to execute some of the sweeps. What a good problem to have! I taught single x and x guard variations and passed on some of the details that I had to develop throughout the years as a small fighter. I taught in english but each sentence was translated by Libby and she did not skip a beat. She even did a good job at doing my weird analogies and pathetic jokes some justice.

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At the end of the seminar everyone silently sat in a circle as I rolled one by one with 10 people who were randomly picked. It was a little terrifying as the rounds were 3 minutes, I had bad asthma and really wanted to execute the moves I just taught. After about 5 opponents all I could hear is my own laboured breathing and wheeze and I am sure my BJJ started looking a little sad. It was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry…

AFG rollingrolling

After the seminar we got taken out for delicious BBQ and where I ate the whole cow and a pig and then some. At least it did give me energy for the next day’s seminar. Sunday saw more than 40 people flood the mats again and this time I taught spider guard recovery and attacks.

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After the seminars we raffled off some prizes donated by Heejin’s sponsors and notes of encouragement/inspiration which I wrote. We took many photos and I signed people’s belts and gis, which was completely nuts.


Safe to say my first international seminar was a big success. It was such an awesome cultural experience, but most of all I had a lot of fun.

I am forever thankful to Heejin for not only hosting my seminars but also for teaching me, taking us sight-seeing, feeding us, providing massages and for some beautiful and technical BJJ. Thank you to Jes for organising everything, making this trip actually happen and for being the best mamma around. Thank you to Libby who was a wonderful and a patient translator and a very kind human. Nat deserves a medal for the rolls, laughs and dinner. John Frankl and everyone who welcomed us to their academy with open arms- I do hope I can return the favour one day. And of course Chi and Sarah – training, competing and life is so much better with your silly in it. Your company means the world to me, and one day I hope to travel the world with you as you teach in weird and wonderful corners of the world.

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby. We did it!




My crazies – Sarah and Chi


If you would like to host me for a seminar comment, message or e-mail me at livia.gluchowska@gmail.com

ADCC Trials and dealing with a loss

competition , Jiu Jitsu , team • Mar 19, 2017

adcc walk out

One of my goals of my BJJ career is to qualify and compete at the ADCC Worlds. It is the most prestigious grappling championship in the world which happens every 2 years. For women there is only an under and over 60 kg weight class, and only 8 women from around the world are chosen per division. There are 4 trials around the world – European, North American, South American and Asia/Oceanian.

Lachie and Craig have already qualified at the end of 2016 in Kazakhstan, which certainly didn’t happen by luck. 18 months ago we started an ADCC advanced invite only class at Absolute MMA, where we specific train scenarios that may come up during the competition. We focus heavily on leg locks, heel hooks, wrestling, submissions and strategic training. The sessions are hard but it’s a good feeling to know the best in the country are all training under one roof. I also train wrestling around 3 x a week now and my knee is handling it beautifully. I went from not knowing anything about leg entanglements to absolutely loving heel hooks, wrestling and no gi in general. It changed my game completely and I’m only getting started.

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

Absolute MMA had a massive team going to Japan and we all felt confident. I tried to bulk up as much as I could so I would walk around a little closer to 60kg, but in the end I still had to give up 7kgs. Weirdly, I only had a division of 3. One of the women was my teammate Pippa. The other was Rikako Yuasa who is a 2 x black belt world champion with beautiful jiu jitsu. I faced Rikako 2 years ago and knew what to expect.

Weighing in and keeping my feet warm

Weighing in and keeping my feet warm

It was a long day and after waiting for about 6 hours, my first opponent was Pippa. It’s not a good feeling fighting your teammate at such an important event, where I knew that I would not be playing around. I pulled guard and fought a very strategic game without taking any risks. I had quite a few leg attacks and submission attempts during the fight, but ended up winning the fight only by a sweep.

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I had about an hour before the final and a solid game plan. I felt good and was ready to go. We slapped hands and Rikako pulled guard quickly, giving up a point. I entered into a  leg lock position but I rushed it, allowing my opponent to come on top in my single x. From there instead of slowing things down, I let the fight happen without much control from my end. I recovered guard and entered into another leg entanglement which I didn’t control well. Eventually Rikako passed my guard straight into an arm bar which I started to defend. Just as I was about to bridge, she switched to the other side and I tapped quickly. It was a really nice transition and a beautiful sub… just wish it wasn’t done on me. In the end I lost to a better person and I learnt a ton. I made many mistakes and I rushed a lot, which gave me a lot to think about. I know I will improve out of sight after this experience and my dream of fighting at the ADCC finals is still alive. I will keep trying until I get there!

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It was great to have so many of my teammates there. Massive congrats to Kit Dale who won his division. We now have 3 people from Absolute MMA St Kilda who qualified for ADCC!
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Many people have asked me if I’m ok after this loss, which surprised me a little. Yes, I’m ok. I hate losing more than anyone, but BJJ is just a game. I lost this one, but there are many to come. A loss will never define me as a person. A loss simply makes me sad for the day, but hungrier to get back to training and to try harder to be better next time.

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As I walked around Tokyo on my last day, I’ve made a training plan for the next few months to lift my BJJ to another level. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

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2017 Australian Girls In Gi Camp

Uncategorized • Feb 18, 2017
@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

This year marked my 5th AGIG Camp and what a pleasure has it been involved yet again. I returned as a coach, joined by Jess Fraser, Esther Tavares-Tutida, Hope Douglass and Demi Butler as well as amazing assistant coaches in Van Do, Kirsty Mather, Jessica Dobbs, Patricia VanderMeer and Robyn Jordan. The AGIG community keeps on growing – this year there were 130 participants ranging from beginner white belts to very experienced black belts.


@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

Since the theme of the camp was ‘playfulness’, I decided to teach a small part of my spider guard system. Spider guard is something I started to experiment with as a white belt, but never really used it in competition until the end of my purple belt days. It has taken me years to develop the skill and confidence to use it effectively and now it’s a big part of my game. I use it to sweep, submit, recover guard and transition to other guards.

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

My teaching style is always quite reliant on details and technique. Being a small female, I can never really rely on strength to power through moves, so I pay attention to the tinniest details that make a difference between the technique working and failing. I always teach things that work for me at competitions at the highest level.

The best part of my day? Photo with 130 women pelvic thrusting. Why, you ask? Because why the hell not!

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

I was so thrilled to teach 13 private lessons at camp as well. It was a pleasure to see so many ladies interested in my style and technique and most importantly thinking about the direction and progression of their own BJJ. I am not a particularly fast learner, so if I can master a skill and perform it at a world class event, then anyone can. With enough smart training and repetition anything is learnable.

I was so lucky to have my friend and training partner Chi with me all weekend. She was not only my ‘dummy’ for the seminar and privates, but also brought me food, coffee and lollies for the entire 4 days!

I absolutely loved learning from the other coaches this year. We all have our individual touches to similar techniques and we are all successful in our own rights. It was great to see individual spins, creativity and different personalities come through. I also had many fun rolls. The lower belts picked up the techniques learnt quickly and tried to execute them during sparring. I also loved rolling with black belt Van and brown belt Jessica – I literally could not wipe the smile off my face, as it’s not often I get to have such high level,  beautiful technical exchanges with people similar to my weight.

coaches 2

The vibe this year was very positive and encouraging and I am damn proud to be a part of such wonderful community. Jess Fraser has yet again outdone herself and is an example of what can be achieved with a little bit of imagination and will-power.

During the 4 week camp, I took the Saturday off to compete at the Melbourne Open Abu Dhabi Pro Trials. Unfortunately there was only one open weight ticket on offer, but it was a good hit out and a nice start to the year. In my weight division I hit a nice spider lasso sweep taught by Abmar Barbosa and a deep half pass to S mount to a cutting arm bar (which I didn’t finish). In my open weight I lost by a take down, but played a very offensive guard with a few sweep and sub attempts. Congrats to Lachie, Ben and Demi to winning their well reserved tickets to the World Pro.

@ Joshua Stebbings

@ Joshua Stebbings

@ Macofoto

@ Macofoto

abu dhabi pro

I am skipping the Sydney Open and Australian Pro Trials this year, because I will be going directly to Abu Dhabi with the help of Pony Grappling Gear. I am beyond grateful and excited for such an awesome opportunity and will be joined by some of my favourite people from around the world.

Don’t forget to check out AGIG Camp photo gallery at Gumboots Photography.

2016 was fabulous, but 2017 is looking even better already!

competition , friends , Jiu Jitsu , review , team , Uncategorized • Jan 6, 2017

Time is going so fast and I still can’t believe it was 17 years ago I was worried about the Y2K bug!

I have such an exciting year ahead with loads of fun opportunities just around the corner. I will be teaching at the 2017 AGIG camp in 3 weeks, to which you can still buy a ticket here. There will be over 100 women from Australia and all around the world, so you’d be crazy to miss it.


Many comps are planned for the first half of the year including some fun international assignments. I am also organising a seminar tour in Korea and I literally can’t wait to get over there.

My knee rehab is going great, training is in full force, I’m getting strong from lifting and I am feeling more and more confident in my BJJ.

Over the very short Xmas break I’ve had time to sit down and reflect on 2016 and make some goals for 2017. In short, I am proud of myself in how far I’ve come in the last year on a personal and professional level. I pushed my limits this year so much that I thought I would fail many times. But instead I got stronger.

Most memorable experiences of  2016 include:

  • Competing at Abu Dhabi World Pro in a mixed brown/black division for the first time.
  • Fighting my idols in Abu Dhabi and Macao.
  • Having enormous amount of discipline and drive to cut to rooster weight for Worlds.
  • Winning brown belt Worlds a week after tearing my LCL of the knee.
  • Winning Asian Open and learning from my open weight loss.
  • Overcoming many panic attacks due to a torn ACL.
  • Becoming the first Australian to win at Copa Podio, 3 weeks after tearing my ACL.
  • Growing my women’s class at Absolute MMA, coaching and teaching privates.
  • Watching 3 of my teammates become World Champions this year.
  • Being there for Lachie as he graduated from his PhD and became a doctor.
  • Seeing the blue belt female team spam the podium at No Gi Worlds – 3 light weight ladies from Absolute won gold, silver and bronze in the same division.
  • Getting more confident at leg locks, heel hooks and leg entanglements, and as a result developing my no gi game far beyond what I thought would be possible for me.
  • Learning and loving wrestling.
  • Having the closest group of friends I have ever had at Absolute South Yarra – I just could not ask for a better team.

Jude Abadi 1IMG_9299gi winliv michelle 116-medalsimageimage image image image image image image image

As nice and important as it is to reflect on the past, I am way more excited about the future. I have loads of projects on the go and am diving straight into 2017 full of plans, hope and happiness.

I am also looking for sponsorship opportunities for 2017 – if you would like to be part of my team and be on this journey together, shoot me a message.

If you would like to host me for a seminar, I am also available throughout the year.

Happy New Year everyone… hope 2017 will be your best yet.


Copa Podio feels…

competition , injury , Jiu Jitsu • Nov 13, 2016

I have written about my whirlwind trip to Brazil to compete at Copa Podio for FloGrappling, which you can read here.

I thought I would elaborate on the behind the scenes stuff as well as my emotions and all the mental prep in the lead up to the fight.

When I got the call up for Copa Podio, it came as a big surprise. In fact a few months ago some ladies from Australia were meant to have a competition to select the ‘Kangaroos’ female representative. The competition was supposed to be between myself, 2 of my teammates, 1 training partner and a purple belt, with us all ranging in weight between 50 and 85kgs. None of this made sense, so I’m glad it never went ahead!

In the end my Absolute MMA teammate Maryanne Mullahy was selected to fight Ida Floisvik, but for some reason their fight got moved to January 2017, so in came Emilia Tuukkanen of Finland and I. I was given 4 weeks notice and really wasn’t looking forward to asking my work for more time off for BJJ, especially when I have already planned to go to No Gi Worlds in November and have just come back from Asian Open in Japan. Fortunately my work is wonderful and cleared my schedule straight away.


As exciting as it felt to be selected to compete on such a big stage, it felt heavy with responsibility and no amount of reassurance from anyone else helped me feel any different. It’s one thing competing at the Worlds at the same time as 7 other matches, but another to fight in front of audience, live broadcast on Brazilian TV and a live stream across the world. I wanted to put on a show and make sure I did a good job representing myself, my club and my country. To ease the burden  I jumped deep into preparations where I left no stone unturned. I needed to be aware of Emilia’s game, so Lachie and I studied it together. We then shifted focus to my BJJ including my strengths and weaknesses.

Just when I started to feel confident, I tore my ACL during competition rounds. It hurt as it popped, but I was mainly crying from realising what I have just done to myself. ACL reconstruction means surgery, 12 months of rehab, a hamstring graft, time off work and added expense. In an instant I thought my dreams of competing at Copa Podio and No Gi Worlds were shattered. I had a goal of winning two brown belt World Titles in one year and I was fairly certain that wasn’t going to happen.


I was in denial for a little while because after 3-4 days my knee felt pretty good. Even when I was getting my knee examined at the sports doctor’s surgery, I still hoped that the MRI wasn’t correct and my ACL was intact, which of course was not the case. When my physician advised me that if I could jump, squat and change directions without a problem I could possibly go to Brazil, I was shocked. However I needed to give myself a week to make a decision based on how my knee would handle drilling and heavier weights. I also had an Australian competitor as a replacement ready to take my place if needed be, which was a very tough conversation for me to have.


With two weeks to go I drilled and specific trained and my knee was ok. It didn’t feel right, but with changing my game I had a feeling I would be just fine. In my final week at home, I had a few panic attacks. First one happened when Lachie called me out to do our usual Wednesday night competition rounds. I started shaking, was pretty close to tears and literally wanted to run out of the gym. However, the deal was that if I couldn’t get through that at training, I wouldn’t go to Brazil. So I took a deep breath and tapped hands. I survived, felt good and my knee didn’t combust. My knee only ‘gave way’ during my one and only team competition training before I left. It made me feel sick to the bone, but at least I knew which positions I needed to avoid when fighting. During the final few days, I still wanted nothing to do with leg locks, so of course Lachie and the boys specific trained with me all scenarios imaginable where I could get knee barred, ankle locked or toe holded. There were many panic taps and a lot of fear but by the time I boarded the plane I was very confident in my defences.

I will be forever thankful for the help from my teammates who pushed me to my limit without injuring me further, the constant encouragement from Lachie and my sports psych Anthony, who always tells me like it is and provides me with the tools to get my mental well-being just right.


@ Hannah Gorman

@ Hannah Gorman



I had a lot of time to think on my 40 hour journey to Brazil and came to the realization that the enormous pressure I was feeling is a total privilege of an emotion. I felt grateful that I had the opportunity to do what I was doing, with so many people behind me. It took an incredible amount of courage to get myself ready mentally and physically.

During media day when I was giving an interview, it occurred to me that I perform best under pressure. I have been on big stages before, not only in BJJ, but also when I raced bikes on the velodrome in front of thousands of people and as a rhythmic gymnast as I learnt to perform around the world from the age of 7. I have competed with serious injuries and fought in 4 World Championships finals. This was my playground.image

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

The day before Copa Podio, I went to visit my second family at Alliance Sao Paulo whom I have missed so much. Michael Langhi, who is my BJJ idol, would be coaching in my corner and even volunteered to study my opponent’s game. Together we formulated a game plan for my fight. I was there when Michael tore his ACL 2 months before Mundials, so his words of advice and encouragement were comforting and meant the world to me.


During the weigh-ins I looked around me and realised what an honour it was to be there. I was surrounded with world’s best heavy weights and people I have looked up to since I was a white belt. Now I was going to be fighting amongst them, on the same show. Right there and then I made a decision to do this for myself and forget everyone else watching me.

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

@ FloGrappling

I woke up early due to jet lag, but I didn’t really care how I was feeling. I had no doubt in my mind that my fatigue and knee pain would be forgotten as soon as stepped on the stage. We got to the venue 7 hours before I was due to compete and I even managed a nap an hour before my fight. However as soon as I put my headphones on, it was game on. If I wanted to win, I needed to keep my focus for the entire 8 minutes.imageimageimage

Walking out on the mat holding Australian flag was a feeling I won’t forget in a hurry. I enjoyed every second. We tapped hands and it was finally time. I pulled guard quickly and as per Michael’s instructions played spider guard. I desperately wanted a sub, but couldn’t quite get there. I had many opportunities to come up for a sweep which I didn’t take because my knee wouldn’t handle more than a couple of minutes on top and there was no way I could risk it giving way on me during the fight. I eventually managed to sweep, but just when I tried to settle into my passing rhythm, I found myself in an arm bar. It was never really on, but as soon as I managed to get out of it, Emilia was attacking my leg. I quietly thanked Lachie for trying to rip my legs off every day from that exact position. I was able to get into a smash pass position and nearly get the pass, but Emilia turtled. I am not quite sure why I let go of the harness and went back to guard, but I think I freaked out because of possible leg attacks. I still cringe when I watch all the mistakes I make in the final 2 minutes of the fight. Although I wasn’t the most happy with my jiu jitsu that night, I was very proud of myself for doing what I had to to win, for changing my game and for not losing the plot entirely with stress.

When I finally heard the bell to signify the end of the match, I was flooded with relief. I stayed safe. My knee was a little sore, but it was ok. I was ridiculously happy that I won. 


@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio


@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

@ Copa Podio

Absolute MMA - my team's support is second to none

Absolute MMA – my team’s support is second to none

Straight after walking off the mat, Emilia and I high-fived and congratulated each other on leaving it all on the mats and putting on a good show. Emilia is a lovely human with beautiful BJJ and I was so glad to be sharing those moments with her.

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We finished the night off with some well deserved drinks and it was a pleasure having a laugh with our competitors. Emilia, Ben, Tommy and I caught a few rays of sunshine the next day lazing by the pool and eating acai. It was the perfect ending to my short time in Sao Paulo!

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I made the heart breaking decision to sit out of No Gi Worlds and get my knee well enough to handle the 2017 season. My year of competition comes to an end now and I am back at the gym learning new skills, developing a new game and getting bloody strong. My knee is holding up sometimes, but also gives me a lot of trouble if I get ahead of myself and revert back to playing my normal style of passing. It’s scary and upsetting, but I am really looking forward to turning it into a positive and expanding my BJJ like never before.

Bring on 2017!

ACL rupture & 3 week rehab journey to Copa Podio

competition , injury , Jiu Jitsu , Uncategorized • Nov 1, 2016

3.5 weeks ago I completely tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee during training. Last weekend (3 weeks after the injury) I competed at Copa Podio in Brazil without an ACL and won the fight (more on that later).

Initially we thought it was a partial ACL tear, but later a sports physician confirmed it was a complete rupture, which broke my heart.

I have documented the emotional roller-coaster that was the last couple of weeks by mumbling quite a bit on video and also recorded a small portion of my ACL rehab program, strengthening and sports specific drills, which helped me be as physically ready as I could have been given the circumstances.


Asian Open 2016 and Japan fun.

Uncategorized • Oct 2, 2016

Lachie and I planned our Japan trip a few months ago. The aim was to compete as Asian Open and have a little 3.5 day holiday after, which I was most excited about. Even though I travel a lot, I can’t remember last time I had an actual break and alone time with Lachie.

After we booked our flights, the first ADCC Trials were announced for the same weekend in Kazakstan. Of course these trials were only for men, as women get half the trials and even less weight divisions to compete in, which is unbelievably frustrating. We decided that Lachie would go to Kazakstan whilst I would compete at Asian Open, and then we would meet in Japan for our holiday as planned.

I met up with my international travel companion Margot, otherwise known as Goat, and Chi, otherwise known as Porcini or Pelican or Horse in Tokyo. We checked in to our cute apartment in Shibuya near Koreatown, explored our surroundings and bought all the possible snacks from the local shops.

16-margot 16-smol 16-sashimi

The next day Margot was up first. She showed beautiful, mature BJJ and smashed her division. Demi also won easily and became an Asian Champion. I was absolutely stoked for the girls.

As Chi was cutting weight and I really needed to move after sitting on my butt for 11 hours during the flight, we went to drill and flow roll at MeWe Jiu Jitsu at night. Everyone was so welcoming, accommodating and just lovely.


Whilst drilling, I found out that both Lachie and Craig won the ADCC Trials, which nearly made me cry from happiness. These two put in so much hard work day in, day out and adding in ADCC specific sessions to our training schedule is clearly paying off.


Inspired, I went to sleep and woke up fresh and ready to go the next day. I wasn’t on until later in the afternoon, so I coached Absolute girls for the 1st half of the day. It was a pleasure watching Chi and Lauren compete at their first big international competition and do so well. Loz earned herself a bronze medal in the process too!


Unfortunately, I only had 1 fight in my weight division, which I won 18-0 after a couple of near subs from top and bottom positions. I decided to enter open weight, but my journey stopped in the semi-final. I won my first fight by submission and lost the semi in the final minute after being up on points from a choke I didn’t see coming from 50/50. I was very annoyed at that mistake, but I can be fairly certain I won’t let it happen ever again.

@Ken Sawada

@Ken Sawada

@ Eternal Photo Art

@ Eternal Photo Art






Absolute MMA female team won 2nd overall female team, which is quite an achievement from such a small team. Sharing the happiness with my teammates was my favourite part of the day.


After a good feed at night, we said our goodbyes and I met Lachie at Tokyo station the next afternoon. 16-post-comp16-bullet

We then caught a bullet train to Kyoto. I absolutely loved exploring the old, pretty town, the temples and shrines and the many different restaurants. Some highlights include catching the ‘Romantic Train’ and a 2 hr boat down a river in Arashiyama, hiking up to see the Kiyomizu Temple, visiting the iconic Red Gates at Fushimi Inari and walking around old Gion and visiting the famous Ichikiri Tea House.

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Our time in Kyoto was short and we had to make our way back to Tokyo. Lachie treated me to Robot Restaurant for my birthday, which was completely whacky and weird and exactly what I wanted it to be. We explored so many areas of Tokyo and ate at so many mouth watering places that my little heart was bursting with happiness.

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Lachie also got me a wrestling singlet for my birthday, which means I will just have to do a wrestling competition, which I am weirdly happy about!


I wanted to have 4 days off exercise, but of course I couldn’t help myself when the offer came up to train with 2 x black belt World Champion Rikako Yuasa at Paraestra. It was such a great experience to not only roll with Rikako but also with her many coloured belts, including an amazing brown belt Yuki. Everyone was small, technical and super friendly. I was also one of the biggest girls at the gym, which does not happen too often!rikako-2 rikako-1

This trip was everything and more I wished for. Losing the open weight was the kick in the arse I needed, rolling with the girls at Paraestra has given me so many new ideas to work on and I am completely inspired to bring my game to next level. It was wonderful to spend some time with Lachie, celebrate his win and spend some time together for my birthday.


I am in love with Japan, its people, the culture, food, their whiskey and their BJJ. Can’t wait to go back!