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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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. 

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“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.

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