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Recent Competition Fun

black belt , competition , friends , gi , Jiu Jitsu , Lachie , no gi , Uncategorized , World Championships , wrestling • Oct 16, 2017
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This year has been non-stop and slightly exhausting competition wise… and it’s not over yet! So far I’ve had 7 International trips and a few domestic ones for either comps or seminars. Anyone who lives in Australia knows how tiring flying 17 hrs to get anywhere is. My lack of annual leave and a tight work schedule means, I usually land, drive home, have a shower and go to work. It generally doesn’t hit me until a week later, but I guess I’m used to it now and I just keep on going.

A few weeks ago I flew to Sydney to compete at the Aus Sub Only Championships. It was a no gi, sub only format with no time limit in the finals. Since I’ve had a pretty poor showing at my no gi fights this year, I really wanted more experience. I was a little worried about open weight since I’ve hurt my back, but I felt like I could keep myself safe in a ruleset with heel hooks.

It was lovely to catch up with Katie from Sydney who picked me up from the airport and looked after me for the day, and even coached me during my fights. My aim for this competition was to try leg entanglements as much as possible and tighten up my heel hooks. Of course I always fight to win, but I focus on my problem areas in the domestic comps and peak 1-2 times a year for Worlds. I had three fights – first one I spent trying to sub from from an inside heel hook in 50/50 and let go quickly when I felt the tap, but for some reason we continued to fight. I won my second fight by arm-bar from mount after many unsuccessful heel hook and straight ankle attempts and I won the final by an inside heel hook. I took away a few things to work on and won myself flights to USA and a spot to fight at Fight To Win Pro. I really wanted to make it back to USA for FTW before the end of the year, but since I have Worlds No Gi in December, I will compete early next year instead to give my body a little rest.

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The next adventure was a somewhat spontaneous trip to Los Angeles for the UAE Grand Slam. UEAJJF offers good prize money and top level competitors, so I was super keen to test myself out against the best back belts. I was accompanied by Katie  – a Sydney blue belt whom I have become really good friends with. It was special to see Katie prepare and tackle her first International comp, which is a nerve wrecking task!

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We had a few obstacles like having our AirBnB fall through when we landed and having to have to look for a hotel last minute, which also meant me dealing with Katie’s soothing snoring sounds all night.

After weigh-ins I got to catch up with a few people including Erin, whom I see more of than some of my friends in Melbourne.

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I wasn’t willing to cut to 49kg, so I fought in the 55kg division and felt super strong at that weight. I lost first round to Ana Carolina Schmitt by 2 points, but felt very comfortable in my guard. I went through to repacharge and won 11-2 in a technical battle with Tassia Pimenta. The next win was against a tough brown belt, which meant I was through to a bronze medal match against Ana again. I really wanted to pass her guard, so I decided to play on top, but got swept toward the end of the match and couldn’t make up the points. I was definitely sad coming home empty handed and losing the bronze medal, because I think it was in me to win it. However, I had 4 fights against top level black belts and plenty to improve on – both strategy and skill wise. Although I’m not winning everything (yet), I’m also not getting smashed by the best and I’m more determined than ever to be on the top of the podium.

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The next day was Katie’s turn to leave it all on the mats and she did just that. I was very proud watching her handle the stresses of international comps like a pro. Before our flight home we got to go on a fun hike around Runyon Canyon, soak up some much needed Vitamin D and explore Hollywood.
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ADCC was on at the same time as the Grand Slam, so I set my alarm to 3am to watch Lachie, Craig and Kit… and holly shit, did they bring it! I am so proud and happy for them and although Craig’s performance surprised many, we expected it. For the last 2 years, we have consistently trained specifically for ADCC and our sessions include wrestling, leg entanglements and specific training the positions that are often seen in ADCC. We left no stone unturned in our prep and watching everyone mix it with the best has inspired the crap out of me. I will do everything in my power to be in ADCC finals in 2 years.

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I’m very grateful for the opportunities to compete overseas, which help me improve tremendously. My next steps will be the Pan Pacific Championships in Melbourne and then No Gi Worlds in December. Hopefully I can make it to European Championships in 2018 too!

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Road to EBI 12 – The Female Flyweights

black belt , competition , ebi , friends , Jiu Jitsu , Uncategorized • Jul 16, 2017
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As I was on my way to Worlds, I recieved a message from Eddie Bravo asking if I wanted to be on the EBI 12 – The Female Flyweights card. I answered without a second of hesitation – I have been getting ready for this style of submission only event with my team at Absolute MMA for a long time!

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I will be following in footsteps of Lachie Giles and Craig Jones who were the first Australians to be on the card and both made it through to semi finals. I will be the third person from Absolute MMA on the show, and the first Australian female. I can’t highlight enough what an absolute honour and privilege it is to be a part of the stacked 16-woman bracket. It is the first female only card, with the same prize money as the men and I am proud to make history along with my competitors.

Ever since EBI first started we have been training the overtime rules at our advanced no gi classes at Absolute St Kilda. It’s hard not to feel confident when you have the likes of Kit Dale, Lachie and Craig trying to rip your legs off and heel hook you every day and well as specific training not only the back and arm bar, but many positions which may come up during the fight. Since Worlds, my focus shifted to no gi and bulking up. The 125lbs division is way above my normal walking weight and I am adamant not to repeat my mistake from the European ADCC Trials where I was 7 kgs under-weight. I have been lifting and eating a lot more and I feel much stronger and sturdier now.

I feel ready and prepared, my fitness is good, I am strong and I will put on a show in 2 weeks in Los Angeles. You can watch the even live on UFC Fight Pass.

Thank you to my team and all the wonderful people who have volunteered to roll with me no gi and agreed for me to attempt to take their legs, arms and heads home. I couldn’t ask for better teammates!

Thank you to the ongoing support from my sponsors:

MA1 Apparel

Musashi Nutrition

Pony Grappling Club

W vs N (Al has volunteered to corner me and I couldn’t be more grateful)

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He put a ring on it…

black belt , Lachie , World Championships • Jul 2, 2017
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Lachie and I planned a little 2 day de-tour via Fiji on the way home from Worlds. We travel a lot, but hardly ever actually stop and have a break. Usually our trips are filled with competing, training and coaching, after which we rush home to our academy and work.19679723_10154541698672461_1106297908_n

We arrived in Fiji early in the morning and checked in to a beautiful Hilton resort on a picturesque beach in Nadi. We lazed around, swam, walked around and of course ate way too much. The next day we booked a day trip to an tiny deserted island, where we relaxed in the sun, listened to the locals entertain us with their subpar singing, ate coconuts and snorkelled on the reef in the warm ocean. It was a stunning day and it felt great to finally unwind, even just for a day.

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At night we got ready to go out for dinner on the marina. It was so nice to enjoy each others company on such a warm and breezy night. I ordered a mud crab, but after a long wait the staff advised that they run out of it and I settled for a seafood hot pot. It consisted of blobs of cream, some sort of seafood chunks, mashed potato and garnished with more cream and cheese slopped on top. It was comparable to aeroplane food, but all we could do was to laugh about it and had a frozen mojito to save the day.

We walked home under the breezy starry night, we prayed that no coconuts would fall down from the palm trees and kill us that night. Alas, we survived to tell the tale.  We de-toured via the beach and found a quiet spot with no other soul in sight. Without going into too much detail, that’s where Lachie asked me to marry him. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and I’m beyond happy to be his fiancé.
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The next day we woke up smiling, grabbed a coffee, played a round of mini golf with a beer in hand where naturally Lachie smashed my score by a mile. We also tried to find some giant millipedes (and failed) and soaked up the last bit of sun before our flight home.

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What about the ring you ask? Since my jiu jitsu fingers resemble that of an arthritic witch, and nothing generic actually fits, we decided to get one made when we got home. We did choose a gorgeous interim ring that will remind me of Fiji and this happy moment forever and I love it so much that I can’t stop looking at it.

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Even though 3 weeks have passed now I’m still bursting with giant bubbles of happy and I’m excited that Lachie decided it was a good idea to be stuck with me forever. I can’t wait to be his awful wedded wifey.

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2017 World Championships – The Black Belt Debut

black belt , competition , friends , gi , IBJJF , Jiu Jitsu , team , World Championships • Jun 14, 2017
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Ladies Only BJJ

I have never expected I would compete at the World Championships as a black belt this year. However, having won brown belt World Title in 2016 meant I didn’t need IBJJF points and as a result my first black belt fight would be at the Mundials. It’s no small feat, but it’s a challenge I felt ready for. In the end, I have been looking forward to this moment for 7 years.

Unfortunately because of the ADCC Trials just 3 weeks prior to Worlds, I had no time to cut to rooster, which I was initially a little annoyed about, but in the end I loved feeling full of energy and happy during the lead up. I entered the absolutely stacked light-feather weight division and I couldn’t have been more excited about it if I tried.

This year we chose to stay at home for our camp. We have so many high level grapplers at Absolute MMA that we didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. I had a great prep; I felt super strong, sharp and confident.
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We had around 20 people in all from Absolute head to LA.  Lachie and I stayed with black belt Michael Hourigan, Aaron Petersen and my amazing tiny training partner Chi Akiyama.

Chi and Nikki were first up and I knew just how ready they were. I get to train with both of them on daily basis and I had no doubt in my mind they were worthy of a gold medal. Both these women have improved out of sight and give me a pretty hard time in training.

Chi was up first, competing in rooster weight blue belt division. She absolutely dominated her way to the finals, sweeping, passing and submitting her 5 opponents. I have never seen anyone take on coaching and instruction as well as Chi did that day. I have a feeling I believed in Chi’s game more than she did herself and seeing her achieve so much put tears in my eyes every single time she fought. This was Chi’s first Worlds, her second international competition and only her 6th comp in total. Winning a silver medal is such a massive achievement, but this is where she belongs now – on top of podiums at worlds.

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Nikki followed Chi’s performance and submitted her way to the final. Her arm bars are the sharpest I have seen and she looked absolutely flawless. Nikki lost the final by an advantage, but in my opinion was the best fighter in her division. I’m so proud to call these girls my teammates.

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Everyone from Absolute fought great, and even though we didn’t achieve more medals, we are definitely coming. Everyone is winning more fights than the previous years and we are now in the mix. It’s a matter of time  until we climb our way to the podium.team

I wasn’t on until Saturday and all week I was just excited and couldn’t wait to step on the mats. I have found the perfect mix of nerves, adrenaline and happiness. I warmed up and took it all in. I absolutely thrive on the pressure I put on myself. I loved every single moment of being in the bull pen this year and felt confident, calm and ready to go. I so wanted a medal and I knew I was perfectly capable of it.

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My first round was Kristina Barlaan who is a seasoned competitor with a tricky guard and some beautiful omaplata set ups. Luckily for me, I love pressure passing, so it was always going to be an interesting match up. In the end, I lost the match by 2 points. I gave up 2 points when I rolled out of an omaplata, but then swept back for 2 points. After a few close passing attempts, Kristina attacked an omaplata again and transitioned to a toe hold from which I rolled out of bounds for and lost 2 points. This was a crucial mistake on my behalf as the sub wasn’t and I kept my leg straight. The last couple of minutes were me trying to desperately pass from a stacked position and then 50/50 where I tried to set up leg attacks, but nothing eventuated.

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I can honestly say I left everything on the mats that day. I didn’t do terribly, but I didn’t do the best I could either. Losing first round is never my aim… I have no doubt I belong on the podium and I know I will get there. My opponent was simply better than me and I need to improve in skill and strategy. And I will. The fire in my belly is lit and I am so motivated to have a better performance at the next Worlds.

It was a pleasure watching the rest of the Aussies compete, and especially my black belt teammates Lachlan Giles, Michael Hourigan and Kit Dale. Kit made it to the 1/4 finals, taking on Andre Galvao on the big stage on Sunday and putting on a hell of a fight.IMG_4659

2017 Worlds campaign came to an end. It’s the first time I have lost 1st round at the world titles and only the second time I have walked away without a medal. But I now know what is required of me and I will come back a million times better and stronger and I am more excited about that than I can really express.

I am so incredibly proud of my team this year, especially of Worlds silver medalist in Chi and Nikki. This is just the beginning for them and the BJJ world will hear their names many more times to come. I’m honoured to be their teammate.

I loved catching up with all my international friends during Worlds and spending quality time with some of my favourite people. IMG_4520 IMG_4664

Thank you to my sponsors MA1 Apparel for making this trip possible. I wouldn’t be here without my sponsors:

MA1 Apparel

Pony Grappling Gear

Musashi

European ADCC Trials 2017

black belt , competition , Jiu Jitsu , Uncategorized , wrestling • Jun 9, 2017

2017 has been a busy year for me so far. One of my major goals/dreams of my BJJ career is to win ADCC trials and compete at the world finals. 2 years ago I came second at Asia-Oceania Trials and I repeated the same, extremely frustrating result this year in Japan.

With the help of Pony Grappling Club I was able to have another shot at the European trials. I am Polish and moved to Australia at the age of 12, which means I have a dual citizenship, which in turns allows me to compete in Europe.

My trip to Poland was rough… I have no more leave left at work (or money), so I had to make this a quick one. I pretty much spent more time in the air than in my homeland, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

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When I landed in Poznan, I was picked by a Drysdale black belt Filip Sadowski. I met Filip 4 years ago, when we both did a training camp in Las Vegas before Worlds. Jiu Jitsu community is amazing like that. Filip picked me up, fed me, took me around his wonderful town, gave me a room to stay in in his beautiful family home, made sure I trained no gi, took care of my recovery by taking me to spas, introduced me to all his friends and entertained me for 3 days by signing ridiculous amounts of car karaoke. I managed to have a super fun time, whilst alone on a different continent competing at one of the most important comps of the year.

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If you are ever in Poznan, check out Filip’s club Gameness Team. Filip is extremely technical and a fabulous teacher. His students of all sizes and belt colours were a pleasure to roll with.

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The weigh ins started early, and despite my best efforts to pork up, I still weighed in close to 7 kg under weight. I needed to rely on my footlocks, wrestling, speed and superior technique. I felt well prepared and ready. I drew Ffion Davies first round and I knew it would be a tough fight but I was determined to force my game. Unfortunately for me, things went pear shaped from the get go. I wanted to pull straight into a leg entanglement, but instead Ffion forced me into my half guard. Inch by inch she closed the distance to a tight crossface. With 20 seconds left of ‘no points’ time, I took a risk to try to reverse Ffion and aim to be in her guard when the points started. Alas, I bridged like a noob, which allowed my opponent to go to 1/4 guard and work her way to my back. She eventually separated my arms and choked me. Words can’t describe how disappointed I was in myself and at the mistakes I made. I truly believe I never got to show what I’m capable of. But that’s the way it goes. Fiion dominated me in that fight and she did everything right, all credit to her.

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After taking 10 minutes to compose myself, I decided to take a deep breath, hold my head high and move on. I joined Filip in commentating on the live stream and tried to get as many female fights on the main camera as possible. I cheered the ladies on in the finals and was very happy for Ffion to take out the under 60kg and the lovely Sam Cook to win the over 60kg division. Both these ladies deserve their spots at the ADCC Finals later this year.

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It hurt to not achieve my goal, but I will not stop until I will. It’s easy to give up and to think that flying all this way for a 5 minute fight is pointless, but I have gained so much out of those 5 minutes that I have no doubt it will be crucial to my development as an athlete.

When I returned home, I specific trained half guard till the cows came home to make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice. I feel so much more confident from that position now and can’t wait to make it my own. Since the World Championships were only 3 weeks away, I quickly switched my focus to gi where I would be debuting my black belt.

Thank you to all who stand beside me and support me even though I don’t always win. I couldn’t have done this trip without my Absolute teammates who smash me day in day out and my sponsors Pony Grappling Gear and MA1 Apparel.

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3.5.2017. Black Belt.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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