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Wowee, 2017 was an exciting year!

black belt , camp , competition , ebi , friends , gi , grading , IBJJF , injury , Jiu Jitsu , korea , Lachie , no gi , physiotherapy , review , seminar , team , World Championships , wrestling • Jan 25, 2018

2017 went past like lightning! I can’t believe we are at the end on January of 2018 already and the new season is in full swing.

The past year was perhaps the most jam-packed and exciting year of my life. It was a year of many firsts both professionally and personally. I learnt so much about myself, my friends and who really matters to me in my life. I grew up a lot, started standing up for myself and took some risks, whilst really enjoying my life to the fullest.

2017 is the year Lachie asked me to marry him in Fiji. We have finally booked a date for our wedding for the first week of 2019 in a gorgeous venue in Port Arlington. I’m looking forward to this day already and can’t wait to share it with family and friends.19755877_10154541699562461_1583299297_n 19691447_10154541700537461_157624448_n

Mid-year, I finally put my big girl pants on, resigned from my job and started my own business Physio Lab Melbourne. It took me a little while to get going and learn the tricks of the trade of running my own business, but I am loving working for myself and being Lachie’s employer. I mainly treat combat sports athletes, which is my passion and something I can relate to.Social-Media-02

I took on the job of kid’s coach at Absolute MMA St Kilda, on top of my women’s class and 1:1 privates. In 2018 I will also be teaching a lunch time no gi class, which I’m really looking forward to.kids 2

In 2017, I taught my first international seminars in Korea. I had over 50 people for each day and taught via a translator, which was an experience. Since then, I have been teaching regular seminars around Australia and am looking forward to many more in 2018. I was most proud of organising the Super Seminar where 6 Absolute MMA women who medalled at World Championships taught their favourite techniques. We had over 80 people in attendance and raised money to attend No Gi Worlds. IMG_2330 Super Seminar 1

Right after No Gi Worlds, I received an e-mail from the Victorian Government congratulating me on the silver medal and advising that I have been nominated as a board member for the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board of Victoria. This is a huge honour and it will be a wonderful experience and a fantastic challenge. After an interview, a lengthy application process, and pending final government approval, I will be a board member for 2018.

BJJ wise, 2017 was a huge year. It wasn’t all roses and gold medals, but it was the most intense year ever, full of growth and learning. I have never enjoyed being on the mats more and competing proved more joyful every time.

I started wresting 2-3 times a week, attended a Wrestling Camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, but wasn’t able to compete yet, because my knee was not up to scratch post ACL tear at the start of 2017. Doing a wrestling comp is one of my goals for 2018, and I’m super excited about it.

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My first big comp for the year was the ADCC Trials in Japan. Winning the trials has been a massive goal of mine for 3 years. In 2015, I came second to Rikako Yuasa, so I spent the next 1.5 years training my leg locks and wrestling. I definitely improved a lot, but not enough to win myself a ticket to ADCC finals. Yet again, I lost to Rikako at the Asia/Oceania trials and was devastated not to join Lachie and Craig in Finland.adcc rikako 1

Next up was the Abu Dhabi World Pro, where I won a bronze medal as a brown belt and became the first Aussie woman to medal at brown/black division. I gained a lot of confidence and finally got to mix it with the best females in the world.ad 6

Upon my return to Australia and just 3 weeks before Worlds, Lachie surprised me with a black belt. I will never forget this day and all the people that turned up to celebrate with me. I feel like my journey is just beginning as I’m starting to grow into my belt.18198679_10155361379293474_4075446445520613286_n

In April, I flew to Poland for 3 days to have another shot at the ADCC Trials. I lost the first round and came home with shattered dreams yet again.IMG_4343

However, I had to re-focus quickly as World Championships were only 2 weeks away, where I would debut my black belt. I lost my first round by 2 points, which was my first World Championship first round exit.

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I returned to LA only a month later, after getting an invite from Eddie Bravo to compete on the first female EBI. I spent 6 weeks bulking to 56kgs and specific training arm bars and back control, as well as focusing on no points, submission only game. My BJJ improved so much through this process and I became a much better grappler in every way. I was devastated to lose my first round in overtime to the eventual winner. I am looking forward to having another go at EBI, but closer to my normal weight at 115lbs.

@JiuJitsuMag

@JiuJitsuMag

Katie Hibbert and I made a trip to LA for the UAE Grand Slam in September. I had 4 great fights, but lost the fight for a bronze medal. Although I am not beating the best black belt women in the world, I am also not getting smashed, which is comforting. I came home and worked hard on the mistakes I made – both technically and strategically. LA lasso

I then secured myself a trip to Fight To Win Pro in USA by winning the Aus Sub Only Championship in Sydney. It was a fun comp, and I got to fight new ladies, in the no gi open weight division. I postponed the USA trip to 2018, as I was completely exhausted from too much travel.

I won my first black belt title at Pan Pacific Championships, but was most proud of my female team – all the girls from Absolute MMA that entered won a medal, which was a great accomplishment!Pan Pacs 2017

In November, Chisaki and I flew to Bali for Jiu Jitsu Escaped Camp in Uluwatu. It was 5 days of pure luxury and bliss. We learnt from Bruno Malfacine and Gezary Matuda, trained, rested, and explored Bali. It was just perfect in every way. Bali 6

Finally, the last competition of the season was the No Gi World Championships in Anaheim. I witnessed Lachie winning a bronze medal and becoming the first Aussie male to medal at No Gi Worlds as a black belt. Chi won a bronze medal at blue belt, and I followed up by winning a silver medal in my first No Gi Worlds as a black belt. Not bad, but the emptiness from not winning gold, meant that I went home more determined than ever. I already improved 10-fold from this loss, and I now see a black belt gold within my reach. wolrds 9
I put my body through a lot during the year and right around the time of Worlds I got shingles. It was extremely painful, and unfortunately with FTW Pro and Europeans coming up, I could only rest for 3 days, which was not ideal. I will certainly try to listen a bit more to my body in 2018 and strive for a better life/work/training balance.

I have so many goals to accomplish in 2018. There is big things to achieve in my BJJ career, but also professionally as a physio, business owner and a coach. I’m learning how to manage my time better and make sure I get enough rest, so that I can be more functional and productive when it actually matters.

I have done so much growing as a person, but I’m looking forward to maturing more and becoming a better human being. I can definitely say that I am living my life to the fullest and appreciate the shit out of every minute. Thank you to all of you for being a part of it!

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Jiu Jitsu Escapes Camp, Bali

black belt , camp , competition , friends , gi , IBJJF , Jiu Jitsu , no gi , World Championships • Jan 1, 2018
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One of the last comps of the season was the Pan Pacific Championships in Melbourne. I managed to win my first championship title as a black belt, but the biggest highlight was my team Absolute MMA – we won the no gi team trophy, every single Absolute lady who entered the comp came away with a medal and my amazing fiancé Lachie earned himself 4 gold medals like a boss.

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2017 was a hectic and exhausting year with work, comps, training, travel and everything in between, so when I heard about Jiu Jitsu Escapes in Bali, I jumped at a chance to have a little R&R whilst still being able to train.  Bruno Malfacine, a 10 x World Champion and Gezary Matuda who has been dominating my division for years, were the coaches leading the camp – it literally doesn’t get better than that!

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When my training partner Chi and I landed in Bali, we were picked up by a driver from Uluwatu Surf Villas – beautiful and luxurious villa resort right on a surf beach, and far away from the craziness of Kuta. Our villa had it’s own pool overlooking the ocean, a hammock, outdoor showers and a beautifully crafted common area.  Chi and I went exploring the surroundings, but really, we just couldn’t wait to train that night.bali 21 Bali 8bali 15Bali 5

The mats were set up outdoors, under a cover and to avoid over-heating,  training sessions were held either bright and early in the morning or at sunset. There were optional yoga classes each day, which were designed for BJJ fighters and totally worth getting up early for. In between training our time was spent lazing around in the sun, trying our luck at surfing and paddle boarding and going on excursions to Ubud, where we got to explore some pretty waterfalls and walk around the monkey forest.

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BJJ Girls…

BJJ Girls... The Reality

BJJ Girls… The Reality

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The food was so fresh and delicious that I decided to take a break from my weight cut for no gi worlds. I simply could not control myself and wanted to enjoy my short time in Bali as much as possible, without restricting my diet.bali 17bali 24

Now, let’s talk about jiu jitsu, because it was insane... Bruno and Gezary alternated teaching classes and each session build on one another. Bruno is an amazing teacher and not surprisingly, his techniques blew my mind. It was so much fun rolling with him and it certainly inspired and changed my BJJ in just 5 short days. After meeting Bruno, it is clear why he is a 10 x World Champion – his work ethic and attention to detail is second to none. Same can be said for his selfie and photography skills… everything had to be perfect – the light, the colour coordination of gis, the formation and even Bruno’s hair…

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Gezary taught some of her signature moves and her amazing submission oriented game. Her aggressiveness and the push to always finish her opponents has had a big influence on me over the years.

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There was also no shortage of great training partners. Each day there were at least 6 black belts on the mats, all of different sizes, and men and women of every belt colour, from all over the world. Because the group comprised of just 25 people, I was able to roll and get to know pretty much everyone. It was also so much fun catching up with some great friends like Naoko, Ly, Gabi, Bruno, Thais and Gui.
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It’s hard to put into words how amazing this camp was. Gabi looked after every tiny detail and whilst super organised, she managed to stay completely relaxed and in control. I have so much admiration for her and her husband Gui from Garage Jiu Jitsu, who made this camp not only possible, but exceed all expectations.

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If you are considering of going to the next one, don’t even think twice about it, because you will not regret it. The top level BJJ, dreamy location, delicious food, a great group of people and constant laughs made for an indescribable week. The whole experience was perfect and I miss it every single day.

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AIS Wrestling Camp

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Photo credits to the lovely Apryl Eppinger.