We were lucky to be adopted for Christmas by Camila’s and the Caloi families and have a wonderful and warm Brazilian Christmas Eve and Christmas Day lunch. Although I missed my crazy family, and especially my little niece Lucy and cheeky nephews Alex and Reid, it was fantastic to have yet another Christmas in a different country.
We then had a few days to train before going away on a holiday (from a holiday) to the beach at the Caloi’s holiday house. As Alliance is closed over the Xmas/NY period, we trained at Portugues’ gym. This is where I met Larissa, a great feather weight purple belt from Guigo’s. The next day she invited us to her gym and even picked us up and took us out to lunch after. I still can’t believe my luck at how many high level girls I get to train with. At any given training there are girls ranging from purple to black at all different weights. Although I don’t believe it to be absolutely necessary, training with women can be so beneficial. The main point being – there are no excuses. If someone sweeps you or passes you, it’s because they out-techniqued you. For me, this means an accelerated improvement… what I get out of having my butt handed to me is multiplied ten-fold.
So now we are having a few days off BJJ at a stunning house in a condo in Iporanga, near Guaruja – about 1.5 hrs drive from Sao Paulo. It’s a beautiful reserve with amazing houses, private beaches, jungles and nature. The days are spent sleeping, eating too much, hiking, swimming, reading, learning to surf and skate, doing some S & C, running, tanning, attempting to speak very bad Portuguese, laughing and a lot of self-reflection.
I think for me, it has been one of the richest years of my life. My self-growth has come a long way. In turn, it has made me become a much calmer, happier, patient and confident person. In my opinion jiu jitsu has been a vehicle to help me understand myself a whole lot better.
As a result, this year, I came to feel much more confident in my job, my decision-making improved and I started to really enjoy the relationships I made with my patients. Working for Old Xaverians Football Club was a good decision (although taking the job meant missing a BJJ session) – not only did I really enjoy working there, but it improved my clinical skills and strengthened my communication with players and coaches. It also confirmed that I would like to start my Masters of Sports Physiotherapy in the next couple of years.
Working with Anthony, my sports psychologist has been a pleasure. I did a lot of homework and it took a lot of discipline, but I am starting to learn to control my emotions, thoughts, tears, hissy fits on the mat, and the way I conduct myself. I started to see Anthony for BJJ, however anyone who trains this sport can see the relationship between real life. I think I improved in dealing with anxiety, claustrophobia, communication in my personal relationships, relationship with food, letting myself enjoy the rewards of hard work, learning to enjoy all aspects of my life and generally seeing myself more clearly.
I can say I had a pretty good year in terms of BJJ.
In fact, I still sometimes pinch myself to believe it’s true. A year ago, winning Pan Pacific Titles was beyond my imagination, let alone winning two World Championships in two different belts in one year.
I definitely learnt how to compete better and how to back myself, but having Lachie and Thiago in my ear all the time saying that any skill can be learnt if done properly has been an eye opener and an inspiration.
In the end, I LOVE training, I love expressing myself through BJJ and I love improving myself. Although I allow a pat on the back for performing well, I am never truly satisfied.
What I learnt from winning this year is that it’s nice, but really not that important. It doesn’t make me a better person, my family doesn’t love me any more or less, my friends still think the same of me (I hope). I do this sport for the love of it, I compete because I love the feeling and because it makes me improve at an accelerated rate. The wins are really just a cherry on top of the cake.
Being in Brazil, where I am one of the lowest belts and one of the worst on the mat has made me so appreciative of every single person that trains with me. Every roll, I try to fix a mistake and assess where I’m going wrong and what I can change and do better.
With this new (and a much happier) outlook, where I don’t feel I have anything to prove to myself or anyone else, I am so damn excited to compete. It’s a new feeling to me. I’m excited rather than nervous. I want to learn, I want to improve myself and if I happen to win, that’s great. If not, I’m learning and kicking goals right in the butt.
Being able to take a sabbatical, which I worked so hard for and travel for 7 months has already been beyond what I have imagined. I have already seen stunning places, and met incredible souls. I welcomed 2014 surrounded with what I love most – Lachie, the most generous and kind new friends, the beach and a lot of laughter.
Happy New Years guys, hope you are ridiculously happy.
BACK TO TRAINING TOMORROW…WOOOO!