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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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Macofoto

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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2018 No Gi World Championships, Anaheim

black belt , competition , friends , IBJJF , Jiu Jitsu , Lachie , no gi , team , World Championships • Jan 11, 2018
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I have been looking forward to my first No Gi Worlds at black belt for a long time. Last time I competed at No Gi Worlds was in 2013, when I won it as a fresh purple belt. I didn’t compete at brown last year, because of a torn ACL.

Since Lachie and Craig have qualified for ADCC in 2015, we, at Absolute St Kilda, have focused a lot on no gi and wrestling, and as a result over the last two years I went from feeling like a fish out of water in no gi, to absolutely loving it. I enjoy the speed, the scrambles, the physicality of it all, and I finally started to get the hang of the different grips and controls required for no gi.

We had a large team from Absolute MMA and I was stoked to compete amongst my black belt teammates and training partners in Lachie, Kit and Craig.

My training partners Chi and Sarah, joined Lachie and I for a week in LA. We trained at Brea Jiu Jitsu for a few days and thank Trumpet Dan for his hospitality and a place to roll and drill. Make sure you check them out if you are ever in the area, there is usually plenty of talent on the mats!

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I realised one of my childhood dreams when we went to Disneyland. It was such a fun day out and somehow we all survived even though most of us were cutting a little bit of weight!

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My cut wasn’t hard, as I usually walk around 52-53kg, but I did stop eating dessert for 4 weeks or so, which is always sad. For those who don’t know me, I am known to eat like a tub of ice-cream every night, because I loooove desert which will probably give me diabetes one day.

Lachie was up first and set the tone for the Aussies. It’s hard to describe the happiness I felt for him, as he qualified for semi-finals the following day and secured himself a medal. He absolutely smashed his first 2 matches and it was so nice to quietly celebrate together – medal at worlds was a long time coming for Lachie and he finally did it!worlds 21

Chi looked amazing in her fights and won a bronze medal. Not many people can win two World Championships medals in one year, but Chi did it in style. Watch out for this girl, she has a very bright future ahead of her!worlds 10

Sarah, Kit, Mikael, Tim, Craig, Lachie Warne, Cooper, Dan and Raph from Absolute MMA all did great and were an inspiration to watch. Everyone is getting better and closer to a podium finish and I’m proud to be their teammate. Other Aussies did amazing too and brought home a few medals!

Absolute MMA

Team Absolute MMA

I drew Sofia Amarante, a woman I have looked up to for a very long time, in my first round. Sofia has won black belt world titles, had a kid, and is still competing all over the world. I had to switch the fan-girling off when I stepped on the mats though. I managed to win by only 2 advantages. Can’t say it was my best performance, but I did what I had to, stayed safe and followed a plan that Lachie and I worked on. I was ecstatic to qualify for my first black belt worlds final the next day.

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That night Lachie and I couldn’t stop smiling. We each guaranteed ourselves a medal and to do it together meant the world to us. Lachie became the first Aussie black belt male to bring home a medal from No Gi Worlds, which is a huge achievement. It was so hard to sleep with the excitement and going over our game plans.

The next day, Lachie was up first in his semi-final against AJ Azagarm. AJ got an early take down and then defended Lachie’s sweep, takedown and sub attempts for 9 minutes, winning by 2 points (and 5 advantages down).

I faced a 2 x World No Gi Champ Pati Fontes. Hearing my name called out on the centre mat for a black belt final was an unbelievable feeling. I have been in 4 Worlds finals before that, so I knew the drill, but this was special. A couple of years ago, I didn’t even dream of being a competitive black belt, and now I was competing at the World Championship final…

worlds no gi 2 Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJ Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJ

I knew Pati has a great half guard, but I love half guard passing, so it suited me. Pati pulled and after a while got an undertook and forced the fight into ‘dog fight’ position. I was trying to drive her shoulder to the mat to free my leg, however I leaned into her a fraction too much, which ended up in me getting swept. As we landed in my half guard, I locked on a kimura grip. I was pretty happy in that position and took my time adjusting grips. In hindsight I should have let go as soon as Pati started to get passed my hips, as she started to set up an arm-bar. By the time I came up to defend, it was too late and I tapped quickly.Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJworlds no gi 3worlds 14 Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJworlds no gi 8worlds 2017 ng1 Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJ

It’s hard to describe how disappointed and underwhelmed I felt at that moment. I knew I had a good shot at winning the World Title and it felt a little like a wasted opportunity. In the end though, I composed myself quickly. I made a mental note of the mistakes I made during this fight and congratulated my opponent, who did a much better job than me that day. I’ve had my black belt for 6 months and I have a lot to learn. I grieved my loss, but my sadness didn’t last too long. I was proud of that, because 3 years ago I would have been a broken woman for months.  I put a smile on my face to collect my medal and celebrate with Lachie and the team.

Purchase your prints and licensed downloads from this event - www.mikecalimbas.com/BJJworlds podiumworlds 19Taking a step back and getting some perspective is always a good idea and in the end Lachie and I were coming home as black belt medallists, which is huge for Australia, for our club and for us.
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It’s unbelievable what a loss can do to your BJJ. I had a list of mistakes I needed to fix and I worked hard in the last month to fix them. My half guard passing entries and controls are way better now. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of some really bad habits till after I reviewed myself on film.  I adjusted the ‘dog fight’ position with my wrestling coach. I also changed my kimura strategy from half guard.

My next challenge is a re-match against Pati at Fight To Win Pro in Sacramento on January 12th. It’s a no-gi sub only fight which allows heel-hooks, which is down right my alley. I am pumped to get another opportunity to fight Pati and do much better this time. I am confident in my leg lock game and will be as aggressive as I can!pati

Photo credits:

  • Mike Calimbas
  • Mike Anderson
  • Kenny Jewel
  • Giovanni Sacco
  • IBJJF

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.

BJJ Girls...

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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Seminars and Team Work

gi , Jiu Jitsu , no gi , seminar , team , World Championships • Sep 29, 2017
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I have been flat out with training, work and teaching seminars for the last couple of months. I have also finally officially launched my new physiotherapy business Physio Lab Melbourne, but more on that later.

A few weeks ago we held the Super Seminar of which I am still insanely proud of.

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The idea for the seminar came about when I was warming down after training with the girls and asking Sarah Chapman some technical questions about her spider lasso sweeps. Sarah has been a blue belt for 8 months, but her BJJ knowledge is incredibly deep and she has the competition results to prove it. I looked around the gym and counted the world titles we hold between the women at Absolute MMA… there are 6 medalists, who hold 9 world titles and no less than 17 medals from World Championships between us. It hit me that it’s a remarkable achievement to come out of one club in Melbourne and it’s extremely rare.

The idea of the Super Seminar was to show off the individuality of each of the women who taught. Highlighting their achievements, rewarding the hard work and giving them opportunities I never had at lower belt levels. We had myself and and fellow black belt Maryanne Mullahy kick off the event, followed by brown belt Shantelle Thompson and our talented blue belts Pippa Shaw, Sarah Chapman and Chisaki Akiyama. It was a fundraising event to get the girls to No Gi Worlds in December and the community support we received was incredible. We had over 80 people on the mat – men, women and children who came from all over Victoria and even as far as NSW and New Zealand.

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Thank you to everyone who supported the Super Seminar!

My next adventure was teaching a seminar in Echuca at Whickam’s Martial Arts Centre, which is about a 4 hour drive from Melbourne. I was so grateful to have Sarah and Mel come for a road trip with me and to assist with teaching. I had a fantastic time showing some of my spider guard and single x basics and had some very technical rolls. I can’t wait to visit Echuca again soon.

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I was lucky enough to travel to Brisbane and teach a seminar on my ‘Headquarters Passing System’ at Infinity North Lakes.  Lachie and I were so well looked after and enjoyed every bit of the QLD sun.

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Right before ADCC Finals, Lachie and Craig Jones taught a Heel Hook Seminar. All money raised went to Australian Cancer Research Foundation and at $30 per head you would be kicking yourself if you missed it…especially after Craig’s epic performance at ADCC! It was such a positive and a fun day with so many different academies and affiliations present and training together.

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I am so proud to be a part of Absolute MMA and my team. I am constantly inspired by my coaches and teammates, not only by their fabulous BJJ but by their never ending support and love and friendship.

I am available for seminars and privates throughout the year. If you would like to host me please contact me via the blog or email me at livia.gluchowska@gmail.com

EBI 12 – The First Female Only Card

competition , ebi , injury , Jiu Jitsu , no gi , Uncategorized • Aug 17, 2017
@JiuJitsuMag

Competing at EBI was an incredible experience despite my loss. It was an absolute honour to be invited to the first female only card and compete amongst 15 other badass women.

The EBI prep was quite brutal on the body. As soon as I got back from Worlds, I trained no gi every day, twice a day. The leg entanglements hurt my shoulders when I bridged off them, and the overtime rounds specific training pretty much killed my arms, neck and back. A lot of the training took place with our ADCC team of purple-black belt guys who certainly didn’t go easy on me. It’s fair to say my body was thankful when it was time to taper and get ready to compete.

Absolute EBI

I flew in to LA on Friday and met good friend Erin Herle at my hotel. Erin was kind enough to drive me around for the day and keep me company. Originally she was one of the first fighters to be invited, but a persistent knee infection meant she had to withdraw from the competition.20864147_10154666171582461_744108399_n

We spent the day playing basketball (as you do) and generally being loud and obnoxious. It was a perfect way for me to move around a little, but not waste my energy on being too nervous.

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The next day, all the other fighters started arriving at the hotel so Erin and I met up with Kristina Barlaan and continued on with our crazy. There was plenty of laughter, sun-baking and terrible dancing to go with Kristina’s lovely signing.

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The brackets came out that night. I felt so well prepared that I did not really care who I would fight first. I was happy with my bracket and went to sleep calm and relaxed that night.20839472_10154666176457461_1501234704_n 20815147_10154666173147461_1289301815_n 20840127_10154666181642461_1062717074_n

I worked extremely hard at bulking up in the last 2 months by being disciplined with eating more and often, lifting and taking creatine. It was pleasing to see that I was nearly on weight after a full dinner and breakfast and that I wouldn’t be too teeny on the night.20863994_10154666177047461_799763628_n 20814889_10154666177207461_64860686_n

We got driven to the venue and went through the rules meeting before it was time to warm up. Seeing the Orpheum Theatre and the whole production team setting up made it all feel very real. Although my nerves were at check, I won’t lie and say I felt no pressure. I am aware that the pressure I feel is what I put on myself, and I know it is actually a privilege of an emotion. However it doesn’t make it any easier.  I wanted to perform well. I wasn’t there to make up the numbers nor did I considered myself an underdog. I have trained EBI/ADCC rules for a while and have good knowledge of leg locks. I also wanted to represent my club Absolute well and follow in the footsteps of Lachie and Craig who both made it to the semis at EBI. I wanted to make my club and the Aussie community proud. So many people gave up their time to help me prepare and I wanted to fight well as though to say thank you. I knew my family, friends, teammates and my competitors would be watching and I wanted to put on a show. These are all the things I had to block out when I put the headphones on to warm up. I needed to do all of it for me.

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I was so grateful to have some top people in my corner – Al, Erin and Jason. Since no Aussies were able to come with me to LA, it made it all a little bit easier to know that someone had my back.

I stood on the platform listening to Bruce Buffer announce my name and I knew there was nowhere else I would rather be. Eddie asked if we were ready and we tapped hands. I pulled quickly and ended up in closed guard. After trying hard to work my Williams guard, but failing to set up a triangle, I opened to try to enter to a leg entanglement and aim to finish the fight quickly. Erin was doing a great job keeping her hips low and making it difficult for me to attack her legs, but I found an opening for a kimura. In fact, during the fight I did have a few kimura attempts of which none I finished. I will be working hard on this in training to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Probably 3 minutes into the fight, something happened to my breathing. I’m unsure if it was a massive adrenaline dump, but I could not control my heart rate or my breathing rate for the life of me. This made me panic and as a result I made some terrible choices like going to turtle to catch my breath… I somehow managed to recover and get on top and pass Erin’s guard, but again couldn’t find a sub or in fact, I couldn’t even think very clearly. I eventually saw an opening for a heel hook, but when we rolled off the mats it was way too loose and I lost the position. The last minute of the match was a blur as I tried attacking the kimura again and then nearly got arm barred in the last 10 second of the fight.

I re-focused quickly and chose the arm bar for the overtime rounds. Erin escaped my attempt and I escaped hers. Next overtime round saw Erin start from the back where she eventually subbed me. I tried to hold off as much as I could to buy some time and had 1 minute 30 sec to sub her. I started from the arm bar and as I tried to wind up my hand, I didn’t control Erin’s posture and I got stacked. In a split second, my hand slipped from my hip and I lost the arm completely. And that was it.

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Erin went on to win the whole thing in a very impressive manner. She showed a lot of good jiu jitsu and amazing control and maturity.

The girls and I watched majority of the fights backstage. Most of us were supporting each other and really enjoyed the night together. I heard Talita coach me during my fight and we managed to turn our losses into smiles by the end of the show.

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Unfortunately I hurt my back badly during the fight, but I didn’t it realise until I walked off the stage. In the end I don’t think it contributed to my loss as I’m not even sure at what stage of the fight I got injured. The pain only hit me as soon as the adrenaline wore off and it was excruciating. I haven’t experienced anything like it before and even though I treat patients with acute disc bulges every day, it was super scary. Thank you to Erin, Kristina, Al and Dawna who looked after me, got me off the floor and even dressed me. Flying home was absolute hell, but I’m happy to say that after 2.5 weeks of rest and a whole lot of back rehab I am back to rolling this week relatively pain free. It is so good to train again and I have been focusing on fixing the many mistakes I made at EBI.

Understandably I was sad to lose first round and not show my best form. I was well prepared and ready and I know I have a lot more to give. At least I know I left it all on the mats that night, but the only way forward is to improve more and do much better next time.

I’m very grateful to have been invited by Eddie – the whole experience was incredible. I can’t wait to be back on the show in the near future in a more comfortable weight at 115lbs. EBI is such an amazing production and I am stoked they are now supporting female fighters and offering the same prize money as they do for men. Make sure you tune in to UFC Fight Pass and support the next show.

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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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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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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