My sponsors MA1 Apparel made a small dream of mine possible 2 weeks ago.
Even though I got back home a few days ago, I am still pretty jet-lagged. The 6-hour difference between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi is killing me, but it hasn’t stopped me from getting right back into my routine of hard training and work. Only a month left until Worlds, and I want to leave no stone unturned.
In all, Abu Dhabi was an amazing experience.
Lachie and I met the Sydney crew when we arrived at the destination at 6 am. Of course we had to stay at separate hotels (Lach was in a black belt hotel), but even if I was also a black belt, we would be put in separate rooms, as we are not married. It was a strange feeling being there with my partner, but sort of not being there with him. Lucky for me, I got to room with Hope, who is a fabulous room-mate.
Then Lachie, Hope, Marko and I got in the cab to Yas Island and went straight to a water park. It was actually the most fun I’ve had for ages and I went on all the scary rides. I get claustrophobic when it comes to closed tube-type rides, but I did them all and was super chuffed with myself. The 40 degree heat was a nice welcome to my pasty skin from Melbourne’s freezing weather. Hope and I also broke all the rules by wearing small bikinis and taking some possibly inappropriate photos. It was great to get the adrenaline dump out of the way and get rid of some nerves.
The hotel had an amazing buffet for brekkie, lunch and dinner, so I was happy to not have to cut for the 55kgs division and ate all the things. As we proceeded to the weigh-ins, someone informed me that Lachie’s gi didn’t pass as it was ‘rip-stop’, so I was worried about mine. As we went into the change room where all the girls hang out, I had offers of gis to use if needed. My hero Janni Larson was even willing to lend me hers to compete in the next day! It was also a pleasure to finally meet Erin Herle in person (Instagram is not real life, apparently). We made a pact there and then to make Joao Miyao smile during our time in Abu Dhabi. Because why not, right?
The next morning, I did a little bit of drilling with Lachie in the room of dreams – where all the competitors roll together and then I rested for the reminder of the day. It was nice to laze by the pool with the Aussie girls and catch up with my Brazilian sisters Renata, Natalia and Gessica. I miss training with them every day.
I woke up ready and couldn’t wait to compete. My bracket was as hard as it gets, so I knew I had to be 100% switched on.
After a long wait, my opponent and I finally tapped hands. I think I fought relatively well, even though the results didn’t reflect it. Brenda got an advantage for holding my foot from inside closed guard (I think it was meant to be a foot lock). She had a very tough spider lasso guard, which I finally managed to break, made her turtle, stood up, took her down and we landed back in her guard. No advantages or points for me. With 20 seconds to go I was down for an advantage and knew I needed to do something. I sat back for a tight footlock, but instead Brenda scored 2 points against me for a sweep, with the sub still on and again, no advantage for me. The timer went as I was still trying to sub. So that was it. First round loss in a long while. It sucks only having 6 minutes of mat time in the whole tournament and it really hurts to lose. But I am looking at the positives and the lessons learnt. I gained confidence knowing that I can do very well with the best girls in my division. I know I can trust my game. I listened well to Lachie’s coaching. I know what mistakes to fix – I have been drilling and specific training them each day, every day since. This experience has motivated me to not ‘just’ hold my own with the girls, but to be so much better, that no one can argue points or advantages. I trust in my training, and I know my time will come.
It was great to watch and support all the Aussies. Lachie had a tough 1st round loss – his opponent scored sweep points very early on and despite Lach’s amazing sweep attempts, he wasn’t able to consolidate. Hope, Mary and Demi all did amazing, but also lost their first rounds. Will Diaz had a great fight with Keenan, young gun blue belt Levi fought 6 fights to earn a bronze medal, and Marko had a great run to win a silver in the white belt division.
The atmosphere of the competition was incredible; with full audience and some great fights, it’s a comp I don’t want to miss again. I was pleasantly surprised by the encouragement the local women received to participate and compete… maybe one day the ladies will have equal prize money to men. UAEJJ announced that they will be expanding globally by holding tournaments in 7 cities around the world, including Sydney. The prize money promises to be the biggest yet and it seems that they are making every effort to make BJJ into a professional sport. Exciting times.
We spent the rest of our time watching the competition, drilling and rolling. I got to roll with Erin, which I really enjoyed – she is tough, super technical, nice and most of all fun. And yes, we did take a selfie with Joao (sorta) smiling. Mission was complete!
Poor Hope hurt her foot during her fight and couldn’t weight bear. I tried hard, but failed to get her crutches. After a cab ride to a hyper market, 3 pharmacies, a hospital and a medical supplies shop, I gave up. Abu Dhabi has no crutches. Fortunately Demi and Mary were excellent camels and offered Hope rides for 3 days. It was odd, but it worked.
Before our departure back to Australia, Lachie, Demi and I went to visit the mosque. The building was beautiful and the architecture was stunning, however I can’t say I enjoyed covering up from head to toe in a 40 degree heat. Since Lachie’s knees were covered by his shorts, he got away sight seeing without any heat strokes.
I didn’t win this time, but I love that I get to train, improve and travel the world doing what I love. I am living the dream. And there is nothing like a loss to motivate me to kick some ass next time.
Now before you all roll your eyes, let me tell you that I DO NOT feel ashamed to give my sponsors a shout out. They support me and I support them back. It’s a mutual relationship and this is how it works; I work hard for the help I get, and I want it to be worth it for the companies that choose to be associated with me. In the end everybody wins, including the wider community.
I won’t say I’m lucky to be teamed up with my sponsors, as I believe hard work, communication and putting myself out there has got me here. But I do feel lucky to be able to choose whom I work with and how I interact with my sponsors.
After winning blue belt worlds in 2013, MA1 Apparel came on board and has supported me ever since. Not only do I love their products, but Simon, who is the owner is one of the most generous and genuine people I know. In the process, he has become a business partner, my strength and conditioning coach and most importantly, a good friend. I see MA1 supporting the BJJ and MMA community by sponsoring events, athletes, clubs and doing little kind deeds such us lending a car to get to comps or road trips. I hope we continue to work together for years to come.
Musashi/PowerBar came on board as my sponsors this year. I am part of the GenNext athlete program and am so far impressed at the professionalism and care they have shown me. Their supplements and protein is of the highest quality and their brand reputation is flawless. I am happy to work closely with the Musashi nutritionist to make sure I get the best out of my training, recovery and performance. Make sure you come and say hi at the Musashi booth at the Arnold Classic Expo next Saturday in Melbourne!
Absolute MMA & Conditioning has also supported me since winning blue belt Worlds. I have loved training there since the first day I stepped on their mats. World class facilities, instructors, management as well as incredible training partners make it a great place to train. In a fortunate turn of events, Lachlan and I opened an Absolute MMA branch in South Yarra a few months back. Just goes to show you never know the opportunities that can present to you given the right circumstances.
34s Core Tactics makes a delicious anti-bacterial shower gel. I really believe in their product and the people behind it. An innovative, professional, calculated and refreshing brand on the market. I love their clean, no bullshit approach to business and of course, the support they offer to their sponsored athletes, which I am one of. Check them out – you will be hooked!
Moral of the story? Support the guys that support us.
GRAPPLING TOURNAMENTS AUSTRALIA (GTA)
Last weekend was a busy one. Originally I planned to compete at the Grappling Tournaments Australia comp on Saturday, and then the trials in Sydney on Sunday. As my hand was broken and there were very low entries for purple belt females at the GTA, I decided to sit out.
The GTA organisers are so supportive of grapplers that I wanted to give back and volunteered help out and referee all day. I think I was more nervous then actually competing, but after a few matches I got my groove and felt like I could concentrate better. I recommend that every BJJ fighter does the rules course and refs at least once in their life.
As soon as the competition was over, Lachie and I drove straight to the airport to get the last flight to Sydney. We were picked up by my good friend and a fellow purple belt Eleni and her boyfriend Eric, who offered us a bed for the night. It was so lovely to catch up with them.
ABU DHABI PRO TRIALS
I originally I never planned to compete at the trials due to the fact that it was a purple-black under 65kgs division. At 53kgs, competing up at 65kgs is a bit of a stretch, let alone being merged with brown and black belts. But when Lachie found cheap flights and Eleni offered us a place to stay, I thought I could at least give it a go.
For some reason the interest and the entries for this year’s trials were at all times low. To be eligible to win a ticket there had to be at least 4 entries per division. The morning of the day the registrations closed, we still had only 3 entries, but needed at least 8. My chances at competing were looking bleak as after a chat with my sports psychologist, we decided that if they merged the divisions, it was unsafe for me to fight with a fractured hand.
So then Jess Fraser and I started plotting. We both felt that it was silly to let a ticket go to waste and give the organisres more of a reason to NOT support women in the future. So we begged, hassled (perhaps even borderline harrased), encouraged and individually asked pretty much every purple, brown and black belt we knew to enter. I even had Michelle Nicolini willing and ready to jump in and compete to support us. Special mentions go to the New Zealand BJJ community and especially NZ Girls Grappling who got together and sponsored Serina Cole to fly over for the weekend. TUF competitor and UFC fighter Alex Chambers also voluntereed to put on a gi and compete at the trials. Jess moved up to the over 65kg division and we also had a black belt (Louise) ready to go up if we needed to.
By midnight we had 9 competitors entered and enough to make up a light open and a heavy open. At this point I didn’t care who would win the golden ticket… it was a massive accomplishment, a total community win and a way to guarantee Aussie women get more tickets and exposure overseas.
Come competition day, no one really knew their start times or schedules and the comp was very disoreganised. I was absolutely exhausted in the morning and found it difficult to keep focus all day.
They called Lachie’s division up first and he proceeded to destroy each competitor in his way. I was so happy to see his hand raised in the final and earn his way to Abu Dhabi, especially after so many years of coming a very close second, yet quietly persevering.
Now that Lachie had a ticket, I really wanted one too.
I knew I had to try to finish my fights quickly, as I wasn’t sure my hand would hold up for 6 minutes. It was the first time out of a splint and first time doing two-handed BJJ since the injury. I knew I had to be able to protect my hand.
I only had one fight in my weight division, which I finished in just over a minute. I pulled spider guard, got a nice sweep, passed to mount and subbed with an Americana.
I wasn’t called up to fight in the Light Open till about 6pm. It was hard work not knowing when I would fight next, not really eating or resting and trying to keep the concentration up for so many hours. I wasn’t in the mood to socialise or small talk – this was time to get a job done.
My first fight started a little scrappy, but I got a quick sweep, a smash pass and as I was going for an arm-bar my opponent hurt her shoulder and the fight stopped.
My final was against a great competitor Sunny whom recently received her brown belt. Sunny has an incredible guard and my original plan was to come up and try passing. When we double pulled though, I changed my mind and thought I would try for a sweep and get some points first. After feeling it out with some spider shin on shin guard (thanks Michelle!), I found a quick triangle and got the tap in about a minute.
I couldn’t quite believe I won the ticket! I think this is the 5th time I tried – 2 x in Australia, 2 x in Brazil and 1x in New Zealand. I’m so happy I will get to experience it with Lachie, catch up with Michelle and many of our Brazilian friends and training partners.
What I really loved about this comp is how the Australian and NZ community got together and supported each other. There is a lot of mutual respect amongst us, which makes competing valuable and fun.
For now though, it’s back to the gym, working on improving my game as always. I can’t wait to have a full use of my hand again!
Thank you so much to my sponsors and training partners, who continually kick my butt. Absolute MMA & Conditioning, MA1 Apparel, Musashi/PowerBar and 34s Core Tactics all play a major role in my development as an athlete and allow me the absolute privilege of training and competing in this sport.
My coach and partner Lachie not only teaches, drills and rolls with me, but also provides me with a healthy dose of reality check everyday. Most importantly never doubts my jiu jitsu and the potential to constantly improve.
My sports psych Anthony has been instrumental in my BJJ journey for the last 2 years and more importantly he has helped me to become a better, more confident, and a settled person.
Can’t wait to Abu Dhabi!
I have yet again fallen behind with this blog, but at least it’s directly as a result of a very busy and fun last few weeks.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
I’ve had a fabulous month of training. Then I broke my hand. My fingers hyperextended whilst rolling and it hurt a little more than normal. I proceeded to roll though and went to work later, where I had 2 physios check it out and we all agreed that it’s likely to just be a sprain. But when I woke up in the morning it just didn’t feel right. I went to get an x-ray and an ultrasound on the way to training and discovered I had a fracture in my metacarpal of my dominant hand.
The advantages of being a physio is that I quickly consulted a sports physician on the phone, who was of the opinion I didn’t need a surgical review and if a miracle happened I could still compete at the trials, providing my pain was controlled. Then the hand specialist at my work made me a splint which I will be in for 4-6 weeks. I went to training that night, wearing a splint and with my hand completely taped up so that it would make a paw and did one-handed jiu jitsu. Not the prettiest sight.
My decision to compete at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials the following week would come down to 3 things:
1) After consulting with specialists, it was decided that by competing I was unlikely to cause any further or permanent damage. I am a bit nuts, but not nuts enough to ever put my health at risk for BJJ.
2) I was very likely to withdraw if they merged the divisions and I had to fight open weight. Under 65kgs is already a stretch for me, and any mistake in open weight could cause further injury.
3) My pain was controlled and I was able to at least make a weak grip a day before the competition.
So with that in mind I kept training. I trusted the more experienced training partners and learnt how to protect myself and tap early if I got into a compromising position for my hand.
This damn injury happened at such a wrong time, as I’ve had some pretty cool visitors in the last two weeks.
We were lucky enough to have a wonderful Danish couple crash on our couch for a few days. Camilla is a fantastic black belt and Jeppe is a purple belt. It was pretty exciting to be able to train with Camilla a lot. She was such a fabulous rolling partner and as annoying as it was for her to roll with a cripple, she pretended that it didn’t bother her at all. Camilla has beautiful foot work with her passing and she also showed Lachie and I some cool sit up shin to shin guard details.
About 2 weeks ago Lachie fought at BOA Super 8, 2nd Edition. As the only Aussie in the line up, he made it all the way to the final, where he lost to Satoshi. I’m super proud of him, as always. What Lachie does best is improve after his losses, so the next day we were at the gym fixing the mistakes he made in that fight. I was also very excited to see women’s fight on the card. Massive props to Jo Masiello who was the only female to agree to take the fight with none other than Michelle Nicolini. What a wonderful opportunity not only for Jo, but for the whole of Australia to see what the ladies have on offer. You cannot lose fighting at events like that and in my opinion, we need more women to agree to showcase their skills at high level events like BOA.
Lucky for me, Michelle was in town for a few days so we got to catch up, train, hang out, and I learnt some new tricks in her seminar and a private. Michelle is still my favourite fighter and all who know her will agree that she is super friendly and approachable.
Next up was training with Satoshi at Absolute South Yarra. With about 8 black belts on the mat, there were good rolls galore (for me, not for them)! Satoshi answered many of our questions and I got to roll with him and his super sayan powers.
Happy, somewhat rested, slightly annoyed at my crappy prep and injuries, I decided to fly to Sydney for the trials and make up my mind on competing on the day. More on that in the next post!
About 3 months ago our dream of about 2 years has come true. Lachie has finally opened his own BJJ school under Absolute MMA & Conditioning in South Yarra , in Melbourne. After a very long time of planning, it all happened very quickly and before we knew it, Lach was teaching his first class.
The club has gone from strength to strength since and 2015 looks to be an incredible year for us. Exciting things are happening such such Saturday BJJ video analysis and competition class, a new syllabus, kids curriculum, fundamentals, blue belt and above advanced classes, as well as very early morning training. I have gained some talented, friendly and technical training partners who roll, drill and specific train with me 6 x a week. On top of that I get to learn from and train with Lachie twice a day, every day. Somehow I am not sick of him yet.
I have been given the very exciting task of teaching Women’s only gi classes on Fridays. Can’t wait to develop this project, give back to the sport, help women find their place in the BJJ world and create a tough and technical competition team. When I started BJJ just 5 years ago, I was the only female in the club. Fast forward to now and there is an actual demand for ladies to all train together. We have an open door policy and anyone from any academy is always welcome to attend our sessions.
It has been an amazing journey so far – we are lucky to have a great team around us, and kind and knowledgable business partners. Even though it has hard work and exhausting at times (we often don’t get home until 11pm from the gym), I couldn’t be happier to be living the dream.
Come check out our gym (timetable is here) – if you are travelling from overseas or interstate, we can help you arrange accommodation nearby. Even though we have a strong competition team, the focus is always on technique, fun and learning.
Holy shit. How has another year passed? It seems that just a minute ago, I was sitting under the sun at the beach, eating acai in paradise in Brazil writing about what a good year 2013 was. In fact, I was sure that 2013 was pretty much impossible to top. So I didn’t win another World Title in 2014, but god damn, I had a ball.
- We started 2014 with a bang with new friends and our adopted family in Brazil.
- We settled in Sao Paulo and trained at Alliance for 5 months, where we met the most professional, friendly, determined and hard working team. Training under Fabio Gurgel was a dream come true and 6 months later, I am still consolidating all the things I’ve learnt.
- I have never trained harder or pushed my limits more in training. It took us a little while to adapt to be able to do 2 classes a day plus extra drilling, and I loved every minute. Sometimes I actually cried from exhaustion, but getting smashed each day was a humbling and a motivating experience.
- We travelled all over Brazil to train with our idols such as Michelle Nicolini, Cicero Costha, the Miyaos, Leandro Lo, Luiza Monteiro, Mario Reis, Monique Elias and Rico Vieira.
- We also taught some BJJ (but saying we, I mean Lachie) in Sao Paulo as well as up north of Brazil on 2 square metres of mats in the middle of nowhere. Yes, we taught in Portuguese. No we couldn’t actually speak it.
- We competed on average every 2 weeks – I won a few titles, got my ass severely kicked in some competitions, disappointingly lost the final at the Brasileiros, but mostly held my own a lot of the time. I met so many incredible souls in the process; from my team mates, to my competitors, to the referees and each and every one of them was kind, helpful and friendly to us gringos.
- We saw sights so amazing that I never imagined they even existed, we walked through sand dunes for 8 hours with no other soul around us, we got chased by a bull down south of Brazil, we tasted at least 10 new fruit, we danced very bad samba at carnival, we ate too many tapioca pancakes, we swam with dolphins, and watched way too many TV shows in between training sessions due to pure exhaustion and inability to do anything else but lie down.
- We spend our pre-Worlds training camp at Marcelo Garcia’s academy in NYC, which was pretty much another one of my dreams come true. We lived off $5 burritos in Brooklyn, turned somewhat hipster for the 3 weeks we were there and in all, we walked more than ever before. Apart from the sand dunes. Because no one should walk that far.
- I got heart broken after losing my quarter-final at the Worlds. It sucked balls in fact. But I did get over it and it motivated me even more to keep on improving and learning.
- Upon our return to our beautiful Melbourne, I got my dream job at the Melbourne Physiotherapy, Fitness and Pilates Group, where I work as a physiotherapist and a pilates instructor. I love the space, the team, the freedom, flexibility and support my work gives me.
- I was appointed the Head Physiotherapist for the Caulfield Grammarians Football Club for the last half of the season, which I really enjoyed.
- I turned 30 and it was fabulous!
- Lachie and I won 4 golds each at the Pan Pacific Championships.
- We then both competed at BOA Super 8. I did not win, which I still kick myself for a little, but I had so much fun and I really believe it was one of the best fights of my life. It was a nice reminder that you can still kick goals and be a winner, without actually winning a fight.
- I was involved in filming a fantastic and inspirational video by Koray Kilicli, which is an add that doesn’t advertise anything, apart from pure movement and being completely in the moment. I could re-watch it a 100 times!
- One of the biggest life changing events happened 2 months ago. Lachie opened his own BJJ Academy, which was in the planning for the last 2 years. It happened very quickly and I count my blessings every day to have great training partners, such a friendly atmosphere, an incredible coach and fantastic business partners. I love the location, I love being there and not a single day feels like work. Check out Absolute MMA & Conditioning South Yarra (more on it in my next blog).
- I got to go to Japan with my beautiful friend Jo Vlahovich, where we experienced a new culture and totally fell in love with the people and the country. At the Asian Open, I won my weight division, got third in absolute and got to see Jo smash her way to a silver. I had so many good moments with my team mates and other Aussies.
- Seeing Lachie win ADCC Trials in Korea was one of my happiest moments of the year. I don’t know anyone who works harder and is more humble, yet keeps his head down and always pushes forward. He is my true inspirations and I wish I could see him fight in Manaus, Brazil in August. He also kicked butt at the Australian Grand Prix and I can’t wait to see him in action at the next BOA Super 8.
- I got to work at the Australian Institute of Sport as a physiotherapist for the Combat Centre. This was my professional career dream and it somehow came true. Working with such an incredible team of people, not only taught me just how much can be done in one day, but also motivated me further to start my masters or a PhD in the next year. I also completed a couple of professional development sports physio courses and got to sit in on a few surgeries.
- Lachie and I finally found a new pad close to our new gym, which we love. We moved out just before the New Year, with the help of my wonderful family (who housed us for the last 6 months). We even got what I call ‘adult’ furniture, and I now feel a little grown up.
- I finished the year ranked # 2 in the World in no gi and #4 in a gi (purple belt, light feather) and #1 in Australia in both gi and no gi (purple belt, open weight).
So that was my 2014 in a short review. So many dreams became reality and so much hard work actually paid off. Parts were tough and hard and incredibly exhausting, but when you are passionate about each and every minute of your day, no work actually feels like work. I am looking forward to 2015 so, so much. Bring it on 🙂
“I have also learned (finally) that jiu jitsu is about the execution of skills. It is not meant to be a war at every training session. I am not trying to win at jiu jitsu. I am not “fighting” my team mates. I am attempting to execute a particular skill, and when it doesn’t work, I ask questions, watch videos, problem solve, and then try it again. It is good to fight with heart, but you should try as much as possible to take the emotional component out of training.”
A week or so ago I wrote a guest article for White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blog.
The article covers some survival tips for anyone starting BJJ. I have also addressed some issues that often come up for us ladies, such as the constant tears on the mats, comparing ourselves to our training partners and dealing with ‘losses’.
Read it here and let me know what you think!
If you haven’t yet heard about the new kid on the block called 34S Core Tactics, well you should. It’s an anti-bacterial shower gel that works, feels and smells as good as it looks.
It is basically a heavenly mix of eucalyptus, tea tree and emu oils that doesn’t dry out your skin. It has anti-bacterial properties, which is perfect for after training and preventing skin infections.
And to top it off, the design, the bottle, the graphics look amazing.
34S is a hip, refreshing and a well-made brand, run by some incredible people.
Watch out for their clothing line coming soon, I can’t wait to get my hands on some sleek and sexy streetwear!
Check out their facebook page here.
The website is under construction, but will be launched very soon http://coretactics.com.au/
Yay for a new Australian brand. I am excited to see it grow and take over the world.
Asian Open crept up on me very quickly. One minute I was talking about going with my amazing friend Jo Vlahovich and the next, I was rushing from my last patient at work straight to the airport to board a plane to Japan.
I was on weight before I left, but found myself 1kg over and with 2 massive kankles when we landed in Tokyo. This was a problem, as the food was incredible everywhere we went. The streets smelled of ramen noodles, fried chicken, red bean treats and pretty much everything that I couldn’t eat. I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to indulge in all the possible food combinations.
We spent our first night in Asakusa, in a tiny hostel recommended by Minol. It was quiet and cute and we got to explore an ancient temple right next door to us.
At night we ventured out to Shinjuku and caught up with my brother Dom and his lovely girlfriend at the New York Bar on the 52nd floor, where Lost in Translation was filmed. We had a great night listening to good jazz, surrounded by great company and breathtaking views. Unfortunately whilst everyone else was eating exquisite food and sipping on their Martinis, Jo and I quietly ordered about 4 cups of peppermint tea each. At this point I knew I couldn’t lose this competition. Saying no to the cocktails was hard…
The next day we woke up early and went for a jog – a great way to get the legs going, sweat a little and explore the surroundings. Later we went shopping in the electronic district and then caught the bullet train to Nagoya (and didn’t get lost). When we arrived in our hostel, I was still sitting 1 kg over. I thought it was odd, as my abs and veins on the stomach were showing and there is no way in hell I’m 53.5 kgs when I look like that. I quickly learnt that the hostel was full of other BJJ competitors, which meant we had 4 scales between us all. The lovely boys put up with me running to their dorm in my gi weighing myself every hour. I was so happy when I found out that my scale was about 1.5 kgs out… that meant I was going to eat dinner. Jo was the best friend anyone could have asked for – not wanting to upset me, she only ate what I ate (which was close to nothing) and pretended it was totally normal for her.
We decided to walk to dinner and of course de-toured and went clothes shopping, followed by hungry supermarket shopping – this resulted in me buying about $40 worth of random snacks for the next day. I had no idea what I ate most of the time, but Jo did point out to me that I probably should put the sweet potato donut down. We also ordered dinner from a Japanese menu and without english speakers around, so it was pretty much a lucky dip. And lucky we did get – we got a delicious smoked mackrel dish.
I woke up the next morning on weight and just wanting to get the job done. I was in my hangry mode, slightly short with people and so ready to go.
I had a 3 person division and faced the loser of the 1st fight. I quickly pulled guard, attempted couple of foot locks and then made a terrible error when she slipped out her foot and I exposed my back for a second. Luckily I was much quicker in the scramble, took her down, passed, took the back, passed again, mounted and ezikiel choked in about 3 minutes.
My final was against a famous Japanese MMA fighter and a well respected grappler Mei Yamaguchi. I knew she would be tough. Mei’s take downs are out of this world and she literally rampages through her opponents, so my goal was to pull guard cleanly and without getting points scored against me. I did just as I planned. For most of the fight I was trying to attack from closed guard and had a couple attempts at triangles but couldn’t capitalise. Mei got a penalty and I won by an advantage for a choke. It wasn’t the prettiest jiu jitsu on my behalf, but all credit to my opponent as she was bloody hard to do anything to. It felt good to have my hand raised and even better to receive that gold medal.
I decided to enter open weight. I was the lightest in the draw and I fought a light weight girl in my first round. I swept from single x and then had a brain fart when trying to pass her lasso spider guard and nearly got caught in an omaplata. When I escaped I knew she was dangerous and I had to finish the fight. I passed, mounted and choked in about 3 minutes.
My semi was against a much, much bigger girl. I felt confident, but as I pulled guard I never had control of the grips and couldn’t bring myself to play x-guard. I ended up defending half guard and eventually got passed. I turtled and as last chance resort I tried a sweep/reversal, but it got me choked pretty quickly. I was both super sad to lose and not be in the final with Danielle Alvarez, but also happy that I really tried to make something happen of the fight and not give up until the end. I always learn a lot more when I lose, so I am already working on all the things I did wrong. I got a bronze medal for my effort and in retrospect I am quite proud of it.
Minol was a great coach on the day, Jo was there for me every minute and I can’t thank them enough. My Maromba team mates had some bad luck – Murat was out with injury, Pat got a DQ first round and George did great, but lost his fight. Burak won his division, Minol got 2 silvers and Jason Caulfield went beast mode and won a silver in his black belt division.
Jo was up the next day and I am so incredibly proud of her. She did a great job and nearly gave me a heart attack in her first 2 fights where she was down by about 8 points but reversed the score and won with a good margin. She lost a close final to a very good girl.
We met so many beautiful people at the competition – I have never been to a comp with such a friendly vibe with so many polite people and respectful competitors. I will definitely be back!
Sipping on warm sake, we boarded the bullet train back to Tokyo and met Long and Jason for some fun on the town. We found a random street festival in Shinjuku and explored tiny little bars, ate street food, people watched, drank more sake and laughed our heads off until 3 am.
Jo and I headed to Harajuku the next day and continued to shop, which included close to $50 worth of different flavoured Kit Kats! Harajuku was full of quirkiness and weirdness and awesomeness.
I also learnt that Lachie won the Australian Grand Prix Championships in Sydney beating some super tough competitors. I am so extremely proud of him as he deserves every bit of success.
That was the end of our short, but unforgettable trip. I am forever grateful for my sponsors MA1, Absolute MMA & Conditioning and 34s, my coaches and my training partners. Every time I doubt and ask myself why I roll around with sweaty people on the mats and spend my money travelling for competitions, I am reminded just how much I love what I do, how much I learn and how many inspiring people I meet. Jiu Jitsu wins yet again 🙂