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From Sacramento to Lisbon and in-between

black belt , competition , friends , gi , IBJJF , Jiu Jitsu , no gi • Mar 4, 2018
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My life has taken me to some very unexpected and wonderful places lately and I have been given many opportunities. Just last week my appointment as a Board Member for The Professional Boxing and Combat Sport became official and I will be commencing my new role soon. It’s a massive honour, which I will write more about later.  However, this also means that between my own training, competing, full time work, running a business, more and more coaching commitments, teaching seminars and privates, speaking at events and attempting to have a private life, I have very little time to update this blog, which I will try to be better at.

 

FIGHT TO WIN PRO – SACRAMENTO

My year started off with a bang as I travelled to Sacramento to have my No Gi Worlds final rematch with Pati Fontes at Fight To Win Pro. I flew in by myself and didn’t know anyone in town, but thanks to the incredible BJJ community, I wasn’t alone for long. Dave Kovar of Kovar Systems and his beautiful family hosted me for the few days, drove me around Sacramento, cooked for me and were simply amazing company.
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I was lucky enough to train with Marcos Torregrosa and his badass team at Yemaso BJJ, who were all super technical, committed to their training and skills and most of all just super nice people. The atmosphere at Yemaso reminded me of Absolute back home, and I’m super thankful I got to finish my prep there. I have no doubt that Marcos and his lovely wife Nikki, will be friends for years to come bound by our love for BJJ and burgers.

When I found out I would fight Pati on the card I was very excited about this match up. I believe that I didn’t show my best at Worlds and that I could do much better. I spend my Xmas/NY period fixing the mistakes I made and training very hard. Lachie and I drilled and specific trained the bits that needed improvement and I was very confident going into the fight.

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Fight To Win Promotion put on amazing shows and I was so glad to be a part of it. Everything was professional, run smoothly and I had a ton of fun. We had a great fight and I executed my plan that I worked on with Lachie. I had a few sub attempts at the start of the fight with a guillotine I didn’t finish, and a few leg lock entries from the saddle, which again I couldn’t quite execute. Pati had me in a guillotine and a non-threatening toe hold attempt, but the action was back and forth all fight. With about 30 seconds to go, I saw a an opening for a heel hook, and thought I was close to getting the tap, but the time run out. Although I made some mistakes in the fight as I didn’t finish my subs, I was happy with the improvements from our last fight. I lost the judges decision, but gained a ton of confidence and seriously enjoyed myself out there.
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IBJJF EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS – LISBON, PORTUGAL

The next day I flew back to LA and had Erin pick me up and entrain me for a day before we flew out to Portugal to tackle the European Championships together.

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After a long flight we met up with Margot and Steph in a cute old apartment in Lisbon. The best thing about BJJ competition travel for me is meeting my friends from all over the world, training, sharing information, going through the struggles of cutting weight together, the sadness losing and the joy of winning together.
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It’s been ages since I had the pleasure of rolling with Margot, the ever improving technician, Erin and  brown belt Rose of Ladies Only BJJ, who just finished Medical School and is pretty much my hero. I met and rolled with so many people from all over the world and had a constant smile on my face each day.

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I felt great on comp day and had the privilege of being cornered by one of the black belt legends Shanti Abelha whom I’ve looked up to for years. I won my first fight against a tough Tassia Pimenta by a cross collar choke from mount.

More pictures at maggieleft.com. Watch all the fights at flograppling.comMore pictures at maggieleft.com. Watch all the fights at flograppling.com

I was expecting Talita Alencar in the final, however she got disqualified in her first round from a leg cramp, and my final was set against Vanessa English. I pulled guard, but lost 2 points as she tapped my shin. I worked my collar sleeve guard and nearly landed a balloon sweep to mount, but I wasn’t tight enough and we both ended standing up. Instead of pulling again, I hesitated, and Vanessa jumped closed guard quickly. That’s when good BJJ ended from my end. I defended arm bars for 8 minutes and the couple of times I managed to stand up and break the guard, I ended up back in Vanessa’s closed guard. I lost the final by 2 points, frustrated with my performance, but came away with plenty of things to improve on. I feel like I wasted my opportunity at the shot at the European Title, but after drowning my sorrows by eating 6 Portuguese egg tarts and making a drilling plan, life was looking pretty damn good again.liv euros 26815013_986234231533236_5415995646019317254_nIMG_9734

We spent the rest of our days in Lisbon exploring the beautiful city, eating more egg tarts, dancing and going on day trips to beautiful neighbouring towns of Cintra and Cascais.

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It was such a fantastic trip, but I was also looking forward to getting back home and not leaving my physio business for that long again. I missed my training partners, my routine and Lachie!

I had a 5 hour stop over in LA and decided I wanted to go and train, so I did a no gi session at Meraki BJJ with Ryan Hall. What an awesome way to break up the long flights!

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My next major comp will be the Abu Dhabi World Pro. Really wish I could do Pan Ams as well, but overseas trips from Australia are not only very expensive, but also extremely time consuming. But on the plus side, I’m excited to be in a building/learning phase with my BJJ for the next few weeks before I build up for Worlds again.

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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!

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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…

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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

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

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