If you have been living under a rock you wouldn’t be aware that last weekend a jiu jitsu camp happened. Jess Fraser from Australian Girls In Gi organised 135 women to train, roll, learn and hang together for 3 whole days. It was a mammoth task and as far as I’m aware it’s by far the biggest event of it’s kind in the world.
A few months ago Jess approached me with an offer of a teaching position at the camp. I was a little sceptical at first, as in the past it was the likes of a black belt World Champion Sophia Mcdermott who taught, but I slowly warmed up to the idea. And I’m glad I did.
The coaching team comprised of Australian home grown black and brown belt women. Maryanne Mullahy is my team mate, a multiple time World Champion and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Esther Tavares-Tutida is Australia’s 2nd female black belt, a mother of 3, my training partner and one of my favourite people ever. Hope Douglass is a brown belt, who is a pioneer for women’s BJJ in Sydney and a wonderful teacher. Jess Fraser needs to introduction, she is just badass. And then there was me. We all agreed to teach different parts of our game to both beginners and advanced women.
During the introduction speeches, I didn’t quite expect how proud I would feel of myself, of us, and especially of Jess. Just 5 years ago, Jess, I and maybe 3 others used to get together to roll on yoga mats, in a dingy yoga studio, because it was a neutral space. We were all blue belts, and not very good ones at that. The first camp that Jess organised was taught by a purple belt and had 30 ladies, which we thought was incredible.
Fast forward 5 years and my competitors have become some of my best friends. I have no words to how much I look up to the women I got to teach with. Putting aside the 6 World Titles and 10 World Championship medals we share between us, these ladies are simply amazing. Each has a different story, various achievements, careers, and paths we took to get to where we are. So when I sat alongside these legends and realised that 2.5 years ago, I was just another blue belt, I felt freaking proud of myself and of us. I certainly didn’t have to look far for inspiration last weekend…
I kicked off the camp off by teaching my favourite guard – single x, x guard and it’s variations. Even though I prefer passing, I think everyone should know single x – it’s basic, simple and very high percentage. It was certainly a challenge to cater for so many women, all of different experience and skill level. Whilst not wanting to bore the advanced girls, I couldn’t make things too complicated for more novice participants. Those who know my teaching style, know that I pay a great amount of attention to details. I am a perfectionist, but even more so, being 52kg I cannot afford to rely on size or strength, so I have to get the details right for things to work. Over the last year, I have grown to really enjoy teaching and it was a pleasure to see people grasp the concept at the end of the session. I am forever thankful to Jess for entrusting me to share some of my knowledge during her camp.
It was also fantastic to see the other coaches’ styles, games and details over the weekend. What a wonderful way to showcase the Aussie women to the world.
I didn’t sit out of a single roll for the 3 days and I’m so excited for the future of Australian women. So many up and coming blue belts and teenagers, whom will be kicking my butt sooner than later.
Apart from lots and lots of BJJ, I enjoyed socialising, making new and diverse friends and letting loose on the dance floor. I met ladies who will go on to become World Champions and women who taught me more than I ever imagined about balance, peace and pure joy of training.
In all, the camp was such a positive and empowering experience. Australia is so far removed from the rest of the world that I think we cannot afford to not stick together. Proof is in the pudding – just look at the coaching team. We all train together at times and support the shit out of one another and get results on the international stage.
I think Jess deserves a giant medal. And lots of recognition. And copious amounts of wine.
I am so proud of you!
Check out the preview to Darran Petty’s AGIG Camp documentary:
If you would like to learn more of my tricks, come to a Women’s Only Class each friday at Absolute South Yarra. All affiliations welcome!
The beautiful photos are by Fiona Gumboots. You can purchase your own copies here.
Special thanks to AGIG Camp sponsors: