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competition

Recent Competition Fun

black belt , competition , friends , gi , Jiu Jitsu , Lachie , no gi , Uncategorized , World Championships , wrestling • Oct 16, 2017
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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!

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EBI 12 – The First Female Only Card

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

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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

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

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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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ADCC Trials and dealing with a loss

competition , Jiu Jitsu , team • Mar 19, 2017

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One of my goals of my BJJ career is to qualify and compete at the ADCC Worlds. It is the most prestigious grappling championship in the world which happens every 2 years. For women there is only an under and over 60 kg weight class, and only 8 women from around the world are chosen per division. There are 4 trials around the world – European, North American, South American and Asia/Oceanian.

Lachie and Craig have already qualified at the end of 2016 in Kazakhstan, which certainly didn’t happen by luck. 18 months ago we started an ADCC advanced invite only class at Absolute MMA, where we specific train scenarios that may come up during the competition. We focus heavily on leg locks, heel hooks, wrestling, submissions and strategic training. The sessions are hard but it’s a good feeling to know the best in the country are all training under one roof. I also train wrestling around 3 x a week now and my knee is handling it beautifully. I went from not knowing anything about leg entanglements to absolutely loving heel hooks, wrestling and no gi in general. It changed my game completely and I’m only getting started.

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Absolute MMA had a massive team going to Japan and we all felt confident. I tried to bulk up as much as I could so I would walk around a little closer to 60kg, but in the end I still had to give up 7kgs. Weirdly, I only had a division of 3. One of the women was my teammate Pippa. The other was Rikako Yuasa who is a 2 x black belt world champion with beautiful jiu jitsu. I faced Rikako 2 years ago and knew what to expect.

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Weighing in and keeping my feet warm

It was a long day and after waiting for about 6 hours, my first opponent was Pippa. It’s not a good feeling fighting your teammate at such an important event, where I knew that I would not be playing around. I pulled guard and fought a very strategic game without taking any risks. I had quite a few leg attacks and submission attempts during the fight, but ended up winning the fight only by a sweep.

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I had about an hour before the final and a solid game plan. I felt good and was ready to go. We slapped hands and Rikako pulled guard quickly, giving up a point. I entered into a  leg lock position but I rushed it, allowing my opponent to come on top in my single x. From there instead of slowing things down, I let the fight happen without much control from my end. I recovered guard and entered into another leg entanglement which I didn’t control well. Eventually Rikako passed my guard straight into an arm bar which I started to defend. Just as I was about to bridge, she switched to the other side and I tapped quickly. It was a really nice transition and a beautiful sub… just wish it wasn’t done on me. In the end I lost to a better person and I learnt a ton. I made many mistakes and I rushed a lot, which gave me a lot to think about. I know I will improve out of sight after this experience and my dream of fighting at the ADCC finals is still alive. I will keep trying until I get there!

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It was great to have so many of my teammates there. Massive congrats to Kit Dale who won his division. We now have 3 people from Absolute MMA St Kilda who qualified for ADCC!
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Many people have asked me if I’m ok after this loss, which surprised me a little. Yes, I’m ok. I hate losing more than anyone, but BJJ is just a game. I lost this one, but there are many to come. A loss will never define me as a person. A loss simply makes me sad for the day, but hungrier to get back to training and to try harder to be better next time.

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As I walked around Tokyo on my last day, I’ve made a training plan for the next few months to lift my BJJ to another level. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

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ONE FC Grappling Challenge, Macao

competition , Jiu Jitsu • Aug 21, 2016

ONE FC announced that they will hold a grappling competition on the same day as the MMA event ‘Heros of the World’ in Macao only 3 weeks ago. I noticed that the prize money on offer was the same for men and women, which unfortunately is still really rare in the jiu jitsu world. Additionally, the organisers were putting everyone up in a hotel for a night in Macao, therefore offloading some of the travel costs. When Lachie and Craig decided to compete, I asked my work if they would give me a day off on Saturday and after they agreed, I booked my flights.

I entered the Elite division, which was for women with 5 + years of grappling experience and black belts. I knew that my idol Michelle Nicolini would be fighting in the same division, but I never back away from a challenge. In my opinion, the more experience I can get fighting the absolute best in the world, the better. It was only a couple of years ago, when I first attended Michelle’s seminar as a blue belt.

michlle 2012

Our flights were brutal. We left Friday lunch and got to Hong Kong lat at night. When we checked into the hotel, I had a minor panic attack. For those who don’t know, I get pretty claustrophobic. In fact, it took me years to get over it when training and competing, but I still hate small, confided spaces. Our tiny room had no windows and a small double bed and that was enough to make me freak out and run outside. Since it was nearly midnight and we really needed to get to sleep, I had no choice but to take a deep breath and go back inside.

HK hotelflight

After a terrible night’s sleep, we got up early and sailed on a ferry to Macao. We went straight to the competition venue, which was the impressive Venetian Hotel. I felt like I was in Vegas with all the shops, bright lights, canals, gondolas, chandeliers and masses of people, who mainly were there to shop, gamble and eat.

The boys were up first. Mikael unfortunately lost first round by toe hold, Lachie lost a very questionable ref’s decision and Craig fought his way to a third place in the stacked Elite heavyweight division.

Photo @AFG

Photo @AFG

I had a three person division. First up was Angela Lee and I. Angela is a young MMA phenom, and ONE FC Champion. I pulled guard quickly, but made some mistakes and had to turtle. Angela tried to guillotine me, but after months of doing our ADCC submission specific training, I am pretty used to being in bad spots and didn’t panic. I got out of a submission threat and quickly regained my composure and set up single x. I swept and attacked her foot, but as a response Angela grabbed my leg and reaped hard, which caused her to get disqualified. It’s not a good feeling to win that way, as I really wanted to dominate and show good BJJ.

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Angela then fought Michelle, and lost by toe hold, which meant Michelle and I were set for a final. I still pinch myself that I got to compete against my idol. 3.5 years ago when I was a blue belt Michelle autographed my belt for me and now I got to tap hands with her in a competition. It was such an honour knowing that I would be fighting my favourite BJJ fighter in the final, however I had to be careful not to be as start struck as I was in Abu Dhabi World Pro and make myself believe I deserved to be there.

warm up

I pulled guard quickly and we spent some time grip fighting. I defended a few toe hold attempts and then locked in a kimura trap from bottom half guard. I transitioned to an arm bar set up, but it was sloppy and I never controlled Michelle’s posture, so she escaped without a problem. As I spun back to recover guard, I was caught in a tight toe hold and tapped.

It wasn’t my greatest show of jiu jitsu, but the experience alone is worth more than any medals. I am proud of the work I put in and I know that I am always improving. However, I have such a long way to go to hang with the best, let alone to be competitive at the highest level, but I guess that’s what gets me to training every day and strive to be better than yesterday. Step by step, I will try to close the gap and be the best I can be.

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ Patricio Reyes

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ AFG

Photo @ Lee Li

Photo @ Lee Li

liv craig money

I received $US1500 for my efforts, which will go towards paying for my flights to Hong Kong and for flights to No Gi Worlds.

We spend the rest of the day having a look around the casinos, eating some delicious local cuisine and watching ONE FC. Exhausted, we went to sleep early and woke up at 5.30 am the next day to catch the ferry back to Hong Kong, then boarded the plane back to Australia. We landed at about 11pm on Sunday night, and I was back at work at 8am on Monday morning.

duck duck liv food 1gondoloas canalone fc eiffel towerpack

In all, it was a fantastic weekend, but extremely exhausting. It was totally worth the long travel though, and we will be back for future ONE Grappling events. The organisers made us feel welcome, everyone had a great time and the prize money on offer was a major drawcard. On a personal level, I loved fighting the best athletes on the planet, and it can only make me a better, stronger and a smarter athlete.

Photo @ AGF

Photo @ AGF