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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!