30 days of fitness – part 3

Home stretch! 11 days until Malta!

Consistency has been lacking, but I head back to London from Strasbourg tonight, and I WILL smash the next week and a bit with some solid exercisy, I swear. My day summaries continue, starting with when I eventually arrived in Strasbourg..

Day 19: Plane. Delayed. Ugh. But it’s better than cancelled. It did mean that by the time I landed in Basel, got my luggage, and we drove the hour-and-a-bit to Strasbourg it was pushing 2am. Needless to say this Friday was an exercise write-off. Got my work day done and crashed.

Day 20: Special cuddle time has to count for something right? The boy and I did trek through Strasbourg Ikea and some other stores today so, I got moving if nothing else.

Day 21: To the lake! Oh my, how nice is a Summer sun with actual warmth behind it?! We spent a solid few hours at a lake near his house, did some swimming, got sunburnt – oops. I’m now rockin’ the lobster look.

Day 22: Evening BJJ! It was tough actually, I’m so used to training in the morning so I find it hard to fire up at night. But my face turned a gorgeous, sweaty shade of red, it blended with my sunburn nicely.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.00.13 PM.png
Photo: art-of-bjj.com
It was super great to catch up with Marie-Laure again (now a purple belt!), she had her camera handy and took some candid photos. If you’re not following already, get over to her website and Instagram.

img_3898
Photo: art-of-bjj.com
Day 23: I ventured into downtown Strasbourg on my own, actually the first time I have done so since my first visit, which seems mad but I guess not so much when every trip here is to see my boyfriend/go places with him.

So anyway, walking counts? And can you believe… ANOTHER delayed flight  – this time back to London. Cue tears. There are always tears.

Day 24: Tired. Lacking sleep. Do not give two effs about exercise. Bed time.

Day 25: Feeling human! It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Up early and to Muay Thai class, really it’s 1.5 hours of cardio/circuit training with pad work, which I love. 

I got a shitty partner who kept rolling his eyes and giving me half-arsed pad holding. It was like he resented being paired with me. I got jack of the attitude and when I had the opportunity, asked the coach to change partners. Immediately new guy and I were in sync; pushing each other, shouting encouragement and holding the bloody pads correctly – it immediately made the session more enjoyable.

Day 26: Had to be at an offsite meeting bright and early today so morning gym didn’t happen, nor did anything in the evening. Hmmph. 

Day 27: No exercise, unless you count lugging three bottles of champagne to Ascot?? Had a fabulous day, won some pocket change and finally saw this iconic place. 

winning ticket at Ascot, King George weekend

Second stripe happened!

It’s been a long time coming, a LONG time going by the “usual” white belt journey depending on how you look at it.. but I’ve finally earned myself a second stripe!!

It’s a big deal – huge – because it’s the first one from my coaches here in London, Marco Canha and Bruno Ferreira, and a whole 2+ years since my last one.

IMG_9699.JPG

Bruno’s morning classes at Fightzone have provided me with some much-needed motivation and consistency over the last few months. Work and other competing evening commitments mean night classes are regularly pushed aside, but 7am twice a week? Perfect for this early bird!

In these classes I have found a really wonderful, encouraging crew and an attentive coach who couldn’t be more supportive and positive.

At every grading Marco talks about attitude and how important it is to not compare yourself to others on the mat. And it has taken me a long time to truly find my happy place in this sport, and accept my life and body’s limitations:

  • I can’t train five days a week and that’s ok!
  • Other white belts will start after me and progress faster than me, and that’s ok too!
  • I’m going to have lower back issues every so often, and I need to listen to and rest my body.
  • I’m not super flexible, but it doesn’t mean a move can’t still work for me in SOME way.

2015 has been a turning point year on a few fronts, all of them good. I think this second little stripe turned up at the time it was meant to, and I’m now really excited to work towards the third!

So, Have You Ever Tried BJJ?

What led you to take your first BJJ class? I stumbled into mine accidentally.

I rocked up to my gym in Melbourne for my usual kickboxing session, but I had read the timetable wrong.

“There’s no kickboxing on tonight, but Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about to start – go jump in with the guys!”

I remember feeling so awkward, paired with a dude who was telling me to sit on him, grip his arm between my legs, press my chest into his back and try moving around whaaaat? SO many giggle moments for both of us and the poor guy may have copped a stray knee to the groin a few times too, oops.

I knew nothing about BJJ or grappling/wrestling or judo, but something about that class (other than the God-awful BO smell) stuck, and by my second class I had given BJJ a good google, and even bought a gi.

I’m a weird advocate for the sport. I kinda suck, struggle to make class consistently, don’t follow ‘the scene’ obsessively.. but I know how much I get out of training on a physical and mental level and am always keen to spread the love.

BJJ inevitably comes up in conversation when I’m meeting someone new. In this case that someone was a random Aussie girl I had followed for years on Twitter and vice versa.

She was in London, we caught up (met for the first time! Oooher) I mentioned BJJ and two days later she was wearing one of my gis and rashies, and attending Fightzone’s first Women’s Open Mat. Boom!

She had a blast, and seriously I couldn’t think of a better first jiu jitsu experience than with a mat full of friendly, uber supportive women.  I have a feeling I’ll be spying some BJJ tweets in her feed in the future.

1380821_10154765896215511_6606193500490630093_n

 

BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp

Number of days spent in Copenhagen: Seven, longer than my first visit. Sights seen: Well.. a hostel, a gym, Christiania at night (just spectating mum) and Old Carlsberg Brewery at night. Yeah, that’s about it. Holiday rating out of 10: 11! Non-BJJ people think I’m crazy, but the chance to devote an entire week to training was pretty much the perfect holiday for me. After missing out on a spot at the sold out BJJ Globetrotters Summer Camp, I jumped at the chance to sign up for Fall Camp which also sold out pretty darn quickly. It was held at CSA.DK in Copenhagen, and the gym is located in a really impressive complex – they seem to have every sport under the sun at that place…. archery, ten pin bowling, fencing, all kinds of martial arts, so much wow. My days basically went like this:

8:30 AM breakfast, pack my gear, 10 minute walk from the hostel to the gym. 10:00AM BJJ gi class, maybe do the next class as well. Sit out a session or two to rest/roll/chat with people…2:00PM Do another class, and maybe another (I stuck to about 3 or 4 classes a day). More rest/roll/chatting, eat again somewhere in there. 6:30PM Walk back to the hostel. Haggle over laundry tokens, walk to the supermarket/go out for dinner, hang out with other  Globetrotters waiting for the washing to finish.

Got a big butt, may as well own it.
Got a big butt, may as well own it.

Christian Graugart put together a jam-packed schedule of classes with a really impressive instructor lineup. Along with multiple gi and no-gi classes each day, we could jump into wrestling, judo, boxing, kickboxing and MMA. This was no hardcore training camp however – some of the 140-odd participants devoted all of their time to training, but many took half (or whole) days off to sightsee or recover from partying.

Eric Bydairk's wrestling classes were a highlight - though I still feel as worried as those dudes in the background look when it comes to takedowns.
Eric Bydairk’s wrestling classes were a highlight – though I still feel as worried as those dudes in the background look when it comes to takedowns.

It was such a thrill just to be surrounded by like-minded people all week, and there were no egos on show – the black belts who were teaching classes were also participating and socialising with us lowly white belts. Higher belts were asking ME for a roll, whaaaat?! I was given lots of advice, which I gladly took on board. 2014-09-25 15.14.33 I made some notes on the techniques that seemed to work well for me. A lot of them came from Christian and Daniel Marquez’s sessions. It was interesting to see all the different ways people were going about documenting what they were learning. Some were glued to their video cameras, others left the mat regularly to take notes or did it straight after the class. I liked David George’s advice which was not to film, but to fully participate in his classes, then film yourself doing the techniques later. 10662035_10152255278391876_6619861301384643377_o (2)Oh yeah, this guy Keenan rocked up one night too and took us through the Worm Guard/variations (of which I could do like, two). He decided to make it a gi-only seminar and devoted a good 45 minutes at the end to taking on all the camp black belts (you’ve probably seen the video) down to a few purples. With all the travelling he was doing, Keenan said working that part into his seminars meant he could at least get his own BJJ training in everyday.

Keenan Cornelius Vs Christian Graugart
Keenan Cornelius Vs Christian Graugart
Contrary to my Instagram declaration.. yes I did wash my rashie.
Contrary to my Instagram declaration.. yes I did wash my rashie.

A couple of Keenan insights from his Q&A: when at home he only trains four days a week, taking off Wednesdays and weekends. And he doesn’t incorporate any vitamins/protein shakes into his diet. He also doesn’t really change much about his training schedule leading up to a competition, finding that it only adds extra pressure if he does. Oh, and (smiling at the time) he called Kit Dale irresponsible for being all anti-drilling. Being you know, Keenan Cornelius, he doesn’t need to drill anymore but says he might do 30 minutes or so of something as a warm up. On Saturday morning we could participate in a friendly in-house competition. I chose to help keep score rather than compete (hell, I was on holiday after all!). Did I wish I’d entered later though? But of course. There were maybe 12-15 women in total at camp. I got to catch up with Marie again which was fab, and experience the (literally) breathtaking pressure of purple belt Kira Ingelsrudøyen from Norway, who I am in total awe of. I also met Jodie Bear and am really looking forward to catching up with her again in the UK. You’ve probably read (and like me maybe related to) this great piece of hers on big girl BJJ problems.

I had this under control, I swear..
I had this under control, I swear..

I flew my tired (slightly hungover) self home at the end of the week with a bunch of new techniques to work on, pretty Globetrotters merch stuffed in my suitcase and lots of invitations to visit places in Europe (and the US!) that I hadn’t even thought about travelling to. I sure as hell am thinking about it now though. What a wonderful BJJ team and community you have created Christian, thank you and see you at the next camp.

"One is the loneliest number.." so us solo country kids had a group shot.
“One is the loneliest number..” so us solo country kids had a group shot.

Hello from Copenhagen!

A quick hej from BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp – I’m having a blast training with approximately 140 other BJJ fanatics from all over the world.

Csa.dk taking some wonderful photos each day of camp.
Csa.dk taking some wonderful photos each day of camp.

It’s day three and I have taken the morning off to rest my aching muscles and catch up on work emails, but I’ll be back to it in a few hours – wrestling and no-gi class here I come!

Tomorrow will be an exciting day.. Mister Worm Guard himself is paying us a visit! Woohoo.

I am frequently posting pics to @GypsyGirlInGi Twitter and Insta, and #BJJGlobetrotters – check it. X

image

BJJ Bonanza – belated recap.

Oh, look!

It’s my long-awaited recap of BJJ Camp, Copenhagen!

 Briefly though, to cover off on some FAQs from family and friends..

–       I am loving London so very much.

 –       Yes, I’m gainfully employed – having fun and working with some great people at a hospitality agency HQ (managing staff recruitment and general admin), though the master plan is still to move into a Media Comms/PR role. The industry is a much tougher nut to crack than anticipated (said almost every Aussie in London ever, I’m discovering).

–       The feral flatmate refuses to acknowledge my nudges toward a cleaner, more considerate home life- but he may be moving out soon so, yay to the end of mouldy leftovers lying about the kitchen!!

–       I heard/read/tweeted on the big changes in Melbourne radio. Matt & Jo and Hughsey & Kate’s will be big shoes to fill. I’m very excited to hear how the market sounds in the New Year. 

–       Yep, it’s getting chillier.  Did someone say we’re expecting the worst Winter for decades? 

– I’m keeping those affected by the NSW bushfires in my thoughts – stay safe everyone and please give generously if you can.

  • To be honest the gorgeous city of Copenhagen in Denmark wasn’t high on my must-see list – but finding out about a ladies BJJ camp there had me booking my first ever EasyJet flight. Happy to report it was totally drama free, much like Tiger Airways in Oz just be sure to check in online, pre purchase any checked baggage and rock up nice and early.

Organised by Ida Hansson and Shanti Abelha, 8 x World Champion and 3x ADCC Champion Hanette Staack was the very special guest teacher for the three day training camp at Arte Suave.

 I arrived a day early to squeeze in some sight seeing – which as usual I didn’t plan, and regretted it later. Carlsberg Brewery! Lego Land! A Viking exhibition currently on at the museum! So many reasons to return with a proper touristy agenda next time.

I did get a lovely overview of the city with Copenhagen Free Walking Tours though – saw the Little Mermaid and where Crown Princess Mary and her family live at Amalienborg Palace.  Our guide Rikke explained how down to earth the Danish Royals and locals are; Mary and Fred’s eldest children attend a public school, and the family can pretty much cycle through the city without being mobbed by the public or the press.

IMG_8709

IMG_8698

 Friday afternoon it was time to drag my suitcase to the gym for camp! So much for never planning to sleep on grappling mats again without an air mattress – just a sleeping bag and makeshift pillow resulted in an uncomfy couple of night’s sleep – but it was well worth it.

Myself, and safe to say everyone else had serious air bed envy.
Myself, and safe to say everyone else had serious air bed envy.

 32 ladies from nine different countries and 22 academies participated in the camp. All belts represented, it was such a privilege to have grappling time with so many highly skilled BJJ women!

There were five gi classes over the three days, and one no-gi – each class a good hour and a half, some as long as two hours with free rolling time in between for those keen to keep training.

IMG_8783

IMG_8886

Hanette, Shanti and Ida took turns teaching some of their favourite techniques.

One month on and what do I remember? I’ll be honest, not a lot sitting in my room typing this – shame on me for not taking more notes at the time.

IMG_8852

On the mat though, I have a few extra sweeps to play around with – and some half guard positioning I hadn’t tried before.

 Hanette was very generous with her time – she came out to dinner with all of us on the Saturday night and made it her mission to learn everyone’s names by the end of camp (mission accomplished).

Hanette opened up about her own rocky Jiu Jitsu journey, with Shanti and Ida also offering words of wisdom and advice.

IMG_8798

IMG_8805

From Ida, something I think many BJJ girls can say they’re the victims – or perpetrators of at some point; “Don’t be the b*#ch at your academy, pushing the new girls away to keep the attention of the guys on you. We’re not many, be nice to each other and help each other.”

IMG_8891

It was a very fun and empowering weekend, learning from such incredible women. There were also language barriers to overcome (I was reminded of the double meaning for ‘thongs’), sports bras and gis hanging off every possible drying space to keep track of, and we even had a very cute reason to eat cake just before all heading home. 

IMG_8928

“Don’t you have any stripes yet?”

“No!” – That was the indignant answer I gave my BJJ coach as I sat on the mat, dishevelled, sweaty and out of breath from a tough roll, that ended with me being submitted (as usual).

Seven months I had been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, sometimes up to five days a week as I worked hard to get better – and keep up with my teammates.

I had watched those who started classes at the same time as me go from strength to strength, picking up moves quite quickly and earning stripes for their white belts. They’d enter local competitions and end the day with medals around their necks.

I’ve entered a couple of comps too – the best result to date has been a draw with a (much lighter) blue belt, the rest.. losses on points or by submission.

I’ve been keen – spending hours at a time at the gym, responding to Facebook posts by my teammates to meet up for extra training sessions, eagerly joining Australian Girls in Gi events for the chance to roll with people more my own size and strength .. even regularly heading to a gym friend’s house for some drilling.

So why wasn’t I getting better? I know they say it takes a good year for this sport to click, and for you to really understand what you’re doing, when to make a move and why.

But talk about disheartening – “don’t you have any stripes yet?”

All that pent-up angst bubbled up. I was about to let loose on my coach who was standing over me, tell him how much it sucked that he didn’t seem to care about how I was progressing or offer any words of advice or encouragement..

Then I noticed the strip of white ribbon dangling between his fingers.

And I burst into tears. Relieved, proud, happy tears.

Image