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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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Abu Dhabi World Pro 2017

competition , friends , Jiu Jitsu , team • Apr 25, 2017
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My Abu Dhabi Pro adventure began by being invited to Abu Dhabi by the Pony Grappling Club. From admiring their gear from afar to starting a conversation on social media, to being welcomed into their home and lives, I could not be any more grateful.  Reem and Cassielivgr8

are some of the kindest people I have ever known and I already have separation anxiety as I sit on the plane back to Australia.

I was joined by my teammate and training partner Sarah, an amazing blue belt who inspires me every day with her work ethic and her seemingly innocent jokes. I am fortunate to share some awesome adventures and moments all over the world with Sarah, a trend that will hopefully continue for years to come. Erin Here, a fellow badass brown belt joined us in Abu Dhabi and it’s safe to say she made the trip fun and real and full of belly laughs  – the sort that left us rolling on the floor for hours. Margot completed the crazy pack of women, and as always I enjoy her wizard-level BJJ knowledge and the serenading singing.

We arrived a few days before the competition began and went straight to training at Cobra’s, as we all had about 2 kgs to lose in order to make weight. I chose to do the 49kg division, which was a little more achievable than at Worlds as the weigh in was a day before. With a diet plan from Reid Reale of Combat Sports Nutrition and mental support from the girls, I had a much easier time cutting weight this time around and did not lose my mind entirely. The hardest part was probably refusing all the delicious food in business class at Etihad, as it was the first and perhaps the only time in my life I will not fly cattle class. The start of the week saw us all running around the streets of Abu Dhabi in our sweat suits, which seemed so usual at the time, but in fact was not very normal at all.

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For the days before the comp we drilled and rolled with the of the Aussie team and athletes from the rest of the world in various hotels including a newly set up ‘dome’ at the Armed Officers Club.  It was nice to be reunited with Lachie to brain storm last minute strategy, flow roll and just enjoy jiu jitsu without everyday stresses back in Melbourne.

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Margot and Sarah were up first and although they fought really well and showed some really high level technical BJJ, they didn’t win. I am so excited to see them smash their next goals – I am continuously impressed by both of them and I can safely say they are a much better blue and purple belts than I ever was. Demi won a silver medal in the 90kg purple belt division, which was amazing but not at all unexpected.

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Erin was a ‘victim’ of the new 2 per country rule and had to fight in the country qualifiers. She was very impressive in her fights against Tammi Musumeci, but unfortunately did not go through to the main draw.

Friday saw myself, Lachie and Kit Dale from Absolute take the centre stage as well as all the other Aussies such as Jess Fraser and Lee Ting. Although there were 7 women in my division, it included 4 Brazilians, which means after the country qualifiers there were 5 of us in the main draw. I was so excited to new new rules because a 5 person division meant we had a round robin so that everyone fought everyone. I think this was the most fair way to determine the top 3 and I finally got to have more than 2 fights with people my own size. The only downfall was that our medals were determined on Friday and we did not take the big stage on Saturday for brown/black belt finals.

Although my water cut took a little bit out of me, I woke up feeling great. Reem made me a delicious breakfast and the girls kept the mood light and I kept laughing all the way to the IPIC Arena. I love getting to the warm up area of the competition. That’s when my nerves start to leave me and I get excited because it’s finally where I’m meant to be – on the mats doing BJJ.  Last year I was a 4 month brown belt, competing for the first time in a brown/black division and fighting my idols. I was thrilled, but star struck to be warming up and sharing the mats with the people I look up to. But this year everything felt very different. I felt like I belonged. I wasn’t there to participate, I was there to fight for a medal. Fighting black belts no longer bothered me, in fact nothing really did. Time changes and mat changes and possible uniform changes meant nothing. I have gotten good at accepting whatever I can’t control, including my emotions.

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As I stood on the side of the mats waiting for the ref to call us, I felt proud. Lachie, Jess and I were all on at the same time. I had friends in the audience and I was going to enjoy every second of my competition. I was conscious to slow myself down a little bit and be smart. At the ADCC trials in Japan, I went 100 miles an hour, rushed some decisions and didn’t perform to my ability. I was determined not to repeat the same mistake.

My first match was a repeat of last years Worlds final. This time I managed to pass and choke from the back. My second fight saw me pass a couple of times and execute Lachie’s cross-face choke from mount. Third fight was Rikako. We double guard pulled and I had a tight footlock, which in the end went nowhere. I came up and started to feel out Rikako’s spider guard, but just when I started to feel confident, Rikako set up a nice triangle which I pretty much saw happen in slow motion. It was tight and I had to tap. I met Mayssa Bastos in 4th round. We double guard pulled, then Mayssa came up.  I made a small mistake and got passed in the first 15 seconds… hard to come back from in a 6 minute fight. I managed to recover guard to single-x and sweep. However with 1 point down and 2 minutes to go I was unable to pass.

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

Photo @ UAEJJ

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Final tally of wins and losses saw Mayssa take gold, Rikako silver and myself bronze. Although I am not really satisfied with the result and would like the medal to be a different colour, I took so much out of this competition. I was so happy with my mental preparation and controlling my nerves that I enjoyed every second out there. I executed some things I have been working hard in training such us over under passes, smash passes and pressure passes. I haven’t played top game in a comp for a while but I felt very confident there. I will need to watch my videos and closely analyse my mistakes and do much better at Worlds. However I finally feel like I belong. I was very proud to claim a medal at brown/black division and to do so as a brown belt felt even more special. Sometimes I need to remember to take a step back and get some perspective on my performances and to be proud, but never settle.

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Watching Lachie fight his way through repacharge and earn 5th place in the stacked 77kg division was inspiring. He is so close to a medal and I have no doubt he will earn his spot on the podium soon. Jess Fraser made it through repacharge to the bronze medal fight and managed to win it. It is hard to describe how happy I was for her.  It was so special to share the day and some happy tears with Jess and to line up amongst the best in the world to receive our medals as first Australian females in the brown/black division. Success is becoming the norm and this is just the beginning.

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I got to spend the rest of my time in Abu Dhabi with Lachie and surrounded by friends from home and all over the world. We tasted local cuisine, drank camel milk, went 4 wheel driving on the dunes and rode a vey unhappy camel called Shane. Having my ‘girl pack’ there with me meant the world to me and made this journey so incredibly fun. I am forever grateful to Reem and Cassie of Pony Grappling Club, Sarah, Erin and Margot for sharing my crazy for the week.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my sponsors who made this trip possible:

Pony Grappling Gear

MA1 Apparel

Musashi

Stryda

Mum and Dad

I can’t wait to get back on the mats. It is now full steam ahead for ADCC Trials and Worlds!

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erin

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.

Teaching seminars in South Korea

friends , Jiu Jitsu , korea , seminar • Mar 26, 2017
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So how did I end up in Seoul teaching seminars in the middle of their winter?

Well, a little while ago I posted my love for Korean food on Instagram and as a result started chatting to a purple belt named Jes who lives in Seoul as an ex-pat. Before I knew it we were plotting and planning how I could come and teach and eat all their delicious food at the same time. Pretty much a dream scenario!

We planned my trip to coincide with the ADCC Trials in Tokyo, as it’s only a short flight from Japan. I will be forever indebted to Jes who organised my seminar including a translator, connected me with people, gave me a place to stay and was a constant source of laughs.

I couldn’t be more grateful to the one and only Heejn Lee, who is Korea’s first and only female black belt for hosting me at her own academy Queen of Jiu Jitsu. Heejin is a pioneer and pretty much started women’s BJJ in South Korea from scratch. I cannot put it into words how badass this woman is and how much I look up to her.IMG_1736

I flew to Seoul straight after the trials, which gave me 5 days to sight-see and train before my seminars. My teammates Sarah and Chi joined me for a training holiday, which made the trip infinite times better. They are both the best company I could ask for and also incredible training partners. It was pretty nice to share this BJJ journey with them.IMG_1829

We did lots of fun stuff like exploring the markets and buying way too many socks and face masks, beauty products and street food.IMG_2333 IMG_2137 IMG_2113 IMG_1794

We also managed to dress up in traditional Korean dresses. I am sure the shop owner’s only goal was to make us look as hideous as possible, but we embraced it. Sarah’s marshmallow dress definitely topped the fashion world rankings.
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We also visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was beautiful and so well preserved. The contrast between the old temples set on the background of mountains and the modern sky scrapers was striking.

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One of the things I will remember forever is our visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). We did the Panmunjom Tour (Joint Security Area) which was a half day trip. On the bus to the JSA, we had a North Korean defector with us who answered all questions that were asked of her about her escape and life in North Korea. It was all shocking and sad and I still can’t get over how life can be absolute hell for someone just a few miles away from where we stood. Once briefed by the UN soldiers we finally entered the border between North and South Korea. The rules and orders to us were strict and you could literally feel the tension in the air. I didn’t quite expect it all to feel so heavy,sombre and real. On the way back we stopped and paid tribute to the families that got separated when Korea was divided and never saw each other again. They left messages to each other written on ribbons that dance in the wind. This trip has left me with a lot to think about and I would recommend it to anyone.
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The border of North and South Korea

The border of North and South Korea

Sara is in North, I am in South

Sara is in North, I am in South

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On a lighter note, we got to do a lot of training and met some amazing people in the process. I loved training at Queen of Jiu Jitsu with Heejin. I really enjoyed her teaching and also her top game is world class amazing.  I was lucky that she let me specific train playing guard and her passing me, just so I could absorb as much of her goodness as possible. We also had some really fun rolls with the small purple belt men and very technical blue belt ladies.

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During the week we were also visited my old Absolute teammates Jay’s school Movement BJJ. Last time we rolled was in Australia when he was a purple belt and I was blue, and it was wonderful to see his school becoming so successful. Kris Kim also welcomed us at his school where the vibe was relaxed and fun, yet at a very high level. Thank you to Nat (another ex-pat) for taking time to take us to dinner after training and just generally being fabulous. On Friday we were invited at John Frankl’s competition training. John is a pioneer of BJJ in South Korea and is a truly wonderful, kind and a wise man. Check out this short video about his story here.
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Korea was freezing. Me no like.

Korea was freezing. Me no like.

It was a treat to catch up with my friend Margot on Saturday morning, as she stopped over in Seoul for a few hours before flying to LA for Pan Ams. It makes me smile to think at how many random places we have travelled to and trained at together. Thank you to Chuck of Seorae Jiu Jitsu for opening his gym to us so Margot could drill a little before she had to head back to the airport.IMG_2178IMG_2353 IMG_2203

It was finally time for my first seminar on Saturday. It was held at Queen of Jiu Jitsu and I never expected so much interest and so many people to turn up. We had 47 on the mat raging from white to black belt, male and female. Special mention goes to the Asia Fight Guide team who was my media partner for the seminar and took photos, recorded techniques and interviewed myself and Heejin. It is so nice to see women finally being taken seriously and equally in the BJJ community.

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During the seminar, the mats were so full I even had to modify and change the content as I went because there was no space to execute some of the sweeps. What a good problem to have! I taught single x and x guard variations and passed on some of the details that I had to develop throughout the years as a small fighter. I taught in english but each sentence was translated by Libby and she did not skip a beat. She even did a good job at doing my weird analogies and pathetic jokes some justice.

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At the end of the seminar everyone silently sat in a circle as I rolled one by one with 10 people who were randomly picked. It was a little terrifying as the rounds were 3 minutes, I had bad asthma and really wanted to execute the moves I just taught. After about 5 opponents all I could hear is my own laboured breathing and wheeze and I am sure my BJJ started looking a little sad. It was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry…

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After the seminar we got taken out for delicious BBQ and where I ate the whole cow and a pig and then some. At least it did give me energy for the next day’s seminar. Sunday saw more than 40 people flood the mats again and this time I taught spider guard recovery and attacks.

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After the seminars we raffled off some prizes donated by Heejin’s sponsors and notes of encouragement/inspiration which I wrote. We took many photos and I signed people’s belts and gis, which was completely nuts.

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Safe to say my first international seminar was a big success. It was such an awesome cultural experience, but most of all I had a lot of fun.

I am forever thankful to Heejin for not only hosting my seminars but also for teaching me, taking us sight-seeing, feeding us, providing massages and for some beautiful and technical BJJ. Thank you to Jes for organising everything, making this trip actually happen and for being the best mamma around. Thank you to Libby who was a wonderful and a patient translator and a very kind human. Nat deserves a medal for the rolls, laughs and dinner. John Frankl and everyone who welcomed us to their academy with open arms- I do hope I can return the favour one day. And of course Chi and Sarah – training, competing and life is so much better with your silly in it. Your company means the world to me, and one day I hope to travel the world with you as you teach in weird and wonderful corners of the world.

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby. We did it!

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Libby

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My crazies – Sarah and Chi

 

If you would like to host me for a seminar comment, message or e-mail me at livia.gluchowska@gmail.com

2016 was fabulous, but 2017 is looking even better already!

competition , friends , Jiu Jitsu , review , team , Uncategorized • Jan 6, 2017
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Time is going so fast and I still can’t believe it was 17 years ago I was worried about the Y2K bug!

I have such an exciting year ahead with loads of fun opportunities just around the corner. I will be teaching at the 2017 AGIG camp in 3 weeks, to which you can still buy a ticket here. There will be over 100 women from Australia and all around the world, so you’d be crazy to miss it.

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Many comps are planned for the first half of the year including some fun international assignments. I am also organising a seminar tour in Korea and I literally can’t wait to get over there.

My knee rehab is going great, training is in full force, I’m getting strong from lifting and I am feeling more and more confident in my BJJ.

Over the very short Xmas break I’ve had time to sit down and reflect on 2016 and make some goals for 2017. In short, I am proud of myself in how far I’ve come in the last year on a personal and professional level. I pushed my limits this year so much that I thought I would fail many times. But instead I got stronger.

Most memorable experiences of  2016 include:

  • Competing at Abu Dhabi World Pro in a mixed brown/black division for the first time.
  • Fighting my idols in Abu Dhabi and Macao.
  • Having enormous amount of discipline and drive to cut to rooster weight for Worlds.
  • Winning brown belt Worlds a week after tearing my LCL of the knee.
  • Winning Asian Open and learning from my open weight loss.
  • Overcoming many panic attacks due to a torn ACL.
  • Becoming the first Australian to win at Copa Podio, 3 weeks after tearing my ACL.
  • Growing my women’s class at Absolute MMA, coaching and teaching privates.
  • Watching 3 of my teammates become World Champions this year.
  • Being there for Lachie as he graduated from his PhD and became a doctor.
  • Seeing the blue belt female team spam the podium at No Gi Worlds – 3 light weight ladies from Absolute won gold, silver and bronze in the same division.
  • Getting more confident at leg locks, heel hooks and leg entanglements, and as a result developing my no gi game far beyond what I thought would be possible for me.
  • Learning and loving wrestling.
  • Having the closest group of friends I have ever had at Absolute South Yarra – I just could not ask for a better team.

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As nice and important as it is to reflect on the past, I am way more excited about the future. I have loads of projects on the go and am diving straight into 2017 full of plans, hope and happiness.

I am also looking for sponsorship opportunities for 2017 – if you would like to be part of my team and be on this journey together, shoot me a message.

If you would like to host me for a seminar, I am also available throughout the year.

Happy New Year everyone… hope 2017 will be your best yet.

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