My teammate Nikki was kind enough to pick us up from the airport as soon as we landed at LAX.
We had exactly 30 minutes to get to Cobrinha’s for the midday class and thanks to Nikki’s superb pushing in skills, we made it with 2 minutes to spare. To say I was jet-lagged was an understatement. I didn’t get much sleep on the flight from Tokyo and the time difference was messing with my ability to stay awake. Previous experience however, taught me that the best way to get over it is to do some light exercise and not sleep till night time… Easier said than done when you jump straight into a training camp with the best team in the world.
I was so lucky that all the girls at Cobrinha’s were so lovely and welcoming and it was a pleasure to finally roll with the Aussie brown belt superstar Karen Tran. I was in heaven surrounded by at least 10 women my size ranging from blue to black belt each training session. The longer I am in this sport, the more I appreciate training with other females. I find it nearly impossible to replicate a light feather’s game with my male training partners and sometimes I am sick of having sore ribs from being squashed every single day. Plus if a move doesn’t work, there are no excuses. And I hate excuses.
Training and watching Lepri, Bruno, Mario and Cobrinha roll was the perfect end to my worlds prep, which started long ago in Australia. I had so many people help me and push me and I am grateful to each and every person who rolled with me. Absolute’s Lachie, Stephen, Saxon, Rory, Dan Ha and Mikael to name a few kicked my butt every day. Mikey from Renegade came in twice a week to do positional sparring from spider guard for weeks, and I will forever be thankful to him for sacrificing his fingers so I could learn to pass. Nikki has trained with me twice a day each day and she is improving quicker than anyone I’ve seen. Absolute/Maromba girls as well as girls from my girls’ class including Kim, Young, Jo, Apryl, Jess, Tina, Maria and Kathryn were all amazing training partners. Jess Fraser, as always selflessly rolled with me and kept me laughing.
So with an army of beasts behind me, I knew I was ready. I had two rest days which I got to spend with the Raptor as we chilled at the beach. I didn’t have to cut weight this year so it was nice to enjoy a normal amount of food. My training volume has gone up through the roof in the last 6 months and Musashi’s Shred and Burn protein has been instrumental at helping me maintain a steady weight.
We got to the Pyramid early in the day to watch some team mates compete. As I wasn’t on until the afternoon I even managed a 2 hour nap under the stands. As always, I was rearing to go and couldn’t wait to get my first fight over and done with.
Round 1 started well. I pulled single x, swept and used different knee cut variations to pass a few times. With 30-0, I finally got a tap from a cross collar choke from mount.
I knew I would be facing an AOJ girl in round 2 with a great top game. I also love passing, but decided to pull single x again and sweep to come on top. It took me 4 minutes to do so, but after I did, I passed her x guard and finished the fight in mount, hunting for an ezekiel and 16-0. I was stoked to make it to the podium, which was one of my goals for this championship.
The semi-final was going to be tough and exciting as my opponent was a very technical guard player. I pulled single x again, swept quickly and ended up in spider guard, as I knew I would. I worked my Lepri-style passing and made her turtle, but in a scramble I saw an entry to 50/50. I took it, setting up a foot lock and got a quick tap. I was through to the final and couldn’t be happier.
I have fought Thamires many times in Brazil last year and each time there was pretty much nothing separating us. I knew I had a great chance. Thamires pulled guard and as I stepped forward she got me in x-guard, sweeping me with a beautiful sweep. I landed in my closed guard and tried to work for some inverted arm bars/sweeps, but nothing eventuated. As I opened my legs, I was already on the defense, in a half guard without any controls I wanted. I waited patiently for an opening to recover to spider guard, but she was pushing pressure passes left right and centre and finally forced me to turtle. I had my back taken pretty quickly and tapped from a choke. I was devastated to say the least…
These two comps have highlighted my mistakes once again, and I am at the gym fixing them already. I made an error that I couldn’t recover from in the final and credit to my opponent, she capitalised on it and was better than me on the night. I am more motivated than ever before to never feel this way again, which can only mean one thing – my jiu jitsu will sky rocket. In retrospect winning a silver medal at the World Championships is still a massive achievement, but I will never be satisfied unless my performance is to the best of my ability.
Other highlights from the Worlds include Nikki winning a silver medal in novice division (subbing 5 of her opponents) and getting her blue belt on the podium – which is every grappler’s dream. Watch out for her in the next year. Kate Wilson earned a silver at her first brown belt Worlds, Shantelle did great and won her blue belt division, Demi came a close second and Alex earned a bronze medal. Australia’s women’s BJJ is going from strength to strength – we won 8 medals with just 12 ladies entered. The numbers are steadily growing, every club has more women participating, we all work as a community and help each other grow. I frequently roll with my competitors, as we all know that our mission is not to win Australian Titles; we are much bigger than that. We want World Championships and are certainly well on our way on getting there.
Although I still cringe at my finals match from Worlds and am a little disappointed with the ADCC trials, I am already fixing my mistakes. I know exactly what I will be working on for the next 6 months and which moves I need to get up to scratch to be a better and a more well rounded BJJ fighter. I love the intensity and focus of competition training, but right now I love playing with new stuff and letting go of my ego as I venture outside of my comfort zone.
With a lot of motivation and knowledge with us, Lachie and I gave our bodies a well deserved rest and headed Yellowstone National Park for a few days.