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Jiu Jitsu Escapes Camp, Bali

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

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

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

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

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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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.