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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!