Surprising Myself

I did it! It has been a long time coming, but I finally mustered up enough courage to enter my first Gi competition on the weekend and I did much better than I expected.

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I wasn’t exactly prepared – I decided to compete only two weeks prior, and then hurt my back so figured I’d have to pull out. But I felt okay enough the night before, and this comp was what I knew I needed to do to boost my progression and show my coach I actually want to improve.

I was a stressed-out bundle of nerves come the day of the Southend Open – I’d talked myself down so much during the week, I’d gone from ‘I’m aiming for better than bronze’ (there were only three of us in the weight category) to ‘I just want to put up a good fight, not get stuck underneath the whole time, maybe not get subbed in the first five seconds…’

My first fight was the hardest, but I lasted the whole five minutes, and was actually leading at the start before losing on points.

Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
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Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open

I was only supposed to fight twice, but after the second fight which I won on points (woohoo!) the organisers asked for girls to enter the Absolute category.

I was already in the heaviest female weight division of the day so why not, right?

Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open

I won my first two fights (though again no subs) and ended up facing the same woman as before for 1st/2nd place.

To be honest I was dog tired by the final and mustered as much energy as I had left, but she got an americana … pretty quickly, and it was all over.

Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open

I didn’t mind though, she was a beast – and I was already over the moon with how I’d performed. I didn’t do anything uber spectacular in the fights but I was able to keep my balance and stay on top a lot of the time, and I managed scrambly-but-successful guard passing!

Of course my coach was right – I’ve learnt so much from the experience and now have a platform from which to start being that bit more specific with how I train.

A chat with a teammate later that day is what will really stay with me though.. she said I have to cement this moment in my mind, hold onto the happy, confident feeling and only look forward. Build on it now, don’t go back to that uncertain, self-doubting place I was in before.

I’m going to stay as far away from it as I possibly can.

Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
Photo: James Dennis/Southend Open
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Wine, Cheese, (Beer!) And BJJ

Partially bailing on a girls weekend in France for BJJ? I thankfully have some very understanding friends. While they don’t ‘get’ the sport, they certainly do get that it’s special enough to have me gushing like a teenager after attending a class on our first night in town.

I honestly didn’t know much about Strasbourg before this trip, other than it being near Germany, and one of the seats of the European parliament. But thanks mostly to super cheap EasyJet flights, I found myself in the main city of the Alsace region in eastern France, asking for directions to Gracie Barra 67 (thank God for Google translate).

I was reminded yet again just how awesome – and small the BJJ universe is, when I met the only other girl in the gi and no gi class, Marie-Laure. It turned out she had recently been travelling on my ‘home’ side of the world, AND rolling with some of my favourite AGIG  ladies! You should read her most excellent blog.

Marie quickly took me under her wing, partnering me and translating instructors Geoffrey Kintz and Christian Sardella.

This particular night’s classes were less focussed on techniques and more on rolling rounds, giving me the opportunity to be paired up with (and squashed by) pretty much everyone on the mat. Later, Marie was great in letting me work through some specific techniques with her.

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After class, in true BJJ Globetrotter spirit (a team/movement I only recently heard about, ashamedly) Marie not only offered me a ride back to my hotel, but also a walking tour of Strasbourg the following day.

Taking in and learning about the sights from a local’s perspective.. what could be better, seriously?

How about hanging with her BJJ teammates at a cool little beer festival right next to a stunning gothic cathedral? Yup, I got to do that too, and nervously say “une bière s’il vous plait” – baby steps, you know.

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Meantime back with my girlfriends, copius amounts of cheese was gleefully eaten along with way too many croissants and pastries. I also inhaled my fair share of the local specialty – flammekueche. Did I mention the Alsace wine? There was plenty of that too, naturally.

We also wandered around the Petit France quarter, took a boat tour and caught the train to the pretty town of Colmar.

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I’d love to head back to Strasbourg at the end of the year to experience the Christmas Markets. After such a warm welcome however, I could easily return to this city just for more BJJ.

“Are you sure you’re not a blue belt?!”

The awesome AGIG Apryl came to visit my club on Friday night, and gave the white belt boys a run for their money in comp rounds.

The higher belts made time to roll with her, too.

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It was so great to see this lady! Safe trip back to Australia, lovely.

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BJJ Family

I made my big, scary, indefinite move overseas knowing that if the UK BJJ community was anything like Australia’s – it would provide a great deal of support, friendship and maybe even a surrogate family.

I’m still getting to know my ‘pommy jitsu’ crew, but back home the Australian Elite team and Girls In Gi are making me feel so damn proud.

We all have that special connection to our home club. It’s the place where solid friendships and even relationships are forged, and where we record so many milestones in our Jiu Jitsu (and overall fitness) journeys…

I can only imagine how heartbreaking this fire has been for Legacy Martial Arts.

But what incredible spirit, and what a wonderful show of support from other clubs – more than $10,000 raised and counting! 

* Click the following images to enlarge/read – and skuze me for not making them bigger 😉

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Watch ==> Legacy Martial Arts from Brendan on Vimeo.

“On the 7th September, our gym in Chippendale was destroyed by a criminal act of arson. It was our home. As a show of support and family spirit we continued our training in the park the following day.”

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Much love.

Aussie Jits Girls Represent!

I was sitting in the newsroom at work when this came on one of the five TVs on the wall – I totally squealed “that’s my girls!”

It’s stupid awesome to see the Australian Girls In Gi get national media coverage.

For those unfamiliar with Aussie television, Sunrise is (most of the time?) the number one breakfast TV program. Great exposure for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

If you’re a local BJJ girl or from overseas just visiting, definitely hit the group up for the best Aussie club, and female only open mat meet up recommendations.

Meantime at the Worlds …

Livia Gluchowska won gold!

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I have known this woman for only a short time through AGIG, but she is the most inspirational BJJ gal I know, so incredibly hard working and focussed. Huge congratulations Livia!

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Pic via IBJJF

BJJ slump.

So I hurt myself playing with the big kids again.

I joined a grading class last weekend, Andrew was going for his orange belt (coach uses the kids system to give adult white belts ‘stepping stones’), lots of the blue belts were there to give him a tough rolling session, we drilled while he went through the techniques he had to know, then he got me for some scrambly white belt relief!

I felt a lower back twinge and hobbled off straight after class to get a massage. I have had three bulging discs in the past (not jits-related) so am very wary when I get back pain in BJJ.

Thankfully it’s not very often. But it’s also the reason why I hate being stacked – I freak out about my back and pretty much let my training partner pass straight away to avoid the pressure/potential injury. Not great, I know.

I haven’t trained all week – I haven’t exercised all week actually except for a big walk. Shame on me.

To be honest the motivation died pre-injury though, when the local Gi comp I entered got cancelled due to the organiser being unable to pull it all together. 

But tomorrow I get back on the BJJ train. Sophia Drysdale (old interview, I believe she has 2 kids now!), Australia’s first female Black Belt is holding a seminar at Dominance, so with a week of rest behind me I’m hoping I can participate without much pain, and learn a new thing or two.

Just being around some of the incredible AGIG crew should get me back on track.

** I have been told to ask Sophia tomorrow, but as it’s my first seminar and I’ll probably be sitting out some bits, I’m wondering what the general rules are when it comes to note taking, photo and video recording? Can anyone enlighten?