A couple of awesome things

  • I went to my first London women’s BJJ open mat last weekend at Horizon BJJ – got my butt kicked, learnt a lot about where I’m at and where I want to be. The Horizon guys seem great too, a really wholesome club that’s very welcoming – I’ll definitely be dropping by in future.

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  • I GOT A FULL TIME JOB! It’s only taken eight months, countless applications, unanswered emails and phone calls and very few interviews. Gosh London you are a hard nut to crack. And because the universe has a twisted sense of humour, two days after I accepted the job I got called to interview for another, AMAZING job *shakes fist* but, I’m going with my gut on this one. Right now the job I’ve accepted is what I need. It’s “9-5,” working with some pretty inspirational people and it’s going to allow me to train frequently, which means I can really focus in on some little goals – like my first gi comp, I’d like to get THAT out of the way this year. Another stripe would be nice, feeling like I deserve to actually have my first one.. this lax little white belt is getting to work.

First Date Down!

*Another non-BJJ related post – if you’d like to read about my Five in Five dating adventures, you can do so here. And if you’d like to support my campaign which is raising funds for three Australian charities, you can do that here and expect a HUUUUUUGE virtual hug and maybe even a big sloppy computer kiss, from me! 

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Will Date For Charity (and myself)

*Not BJJ related, but I am up for a BJJ related date!

A bit of shameless self promotion all for a good cause. In a nutshell, I’m dating for charity. Three Australian non-profit organisations in fact that help fight homelessness and poverty. I’m dating for me too, mind you – maybe I’ll have better luck in London!

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Photo: Birdman Foxglove Photography

Five in Five is an annual event that signs up singles to go on five dates in five weeks, raising funds along the way. I took part in 2012 and my mum (among others!) sponsored me $10 per date. She was quite excited just to see me dating. I had six very lovely dates over the five weeks, one guy I saw again but it didn’t go anywhere. “Just not feeling the zing” seems to be my frequent reasoning for pulling up stumps.

But you’ve got to feel some kind of connection, right?

Lining up five dates (no dating sites/hook up apps allowed!) is a tad harder when you’re away from your main friendship/colleague pool, but through some new friends I’ve made in the capital I already have a few date leads, and am going on my first one tomorrow. He has chosen a really cool location, I’m pretty excited.

If you’re interested, you’ll be able to read about my dating adventures on TNT Magazine‘s website – they’ve given me a column! Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out! (I wasn’t a SATC fan mind you).

And if you’d like to support three incredibly worthwhile charities in Whitelion, Kids Under Cover and St Kilda Gatehouse, you can do so here. 

I’m still looking for a couple more dates and suggestions of things to do in London on said dates.. trying to get away from the usual dinner or a drink, so would love your ideas.

P.S Was paired up with a very encouraging and helpful brown belt in BJJ class yesterday. Oh the thrill!

*Crunch* “Ow!”

Well, this is one for the awkward and mortified files. 

I may have broken a training partner… her nose, I broke her nose and embarrassingly we weren’t even really truly, properly grappling at the time.

“Light/playful roll?” I’d suggested after class as we were going over the knee ride to far armbar transition we’d just learnt.

Living up to my slow off the mark reputation, she had mount in an instant – and we were laughing as I attempted to wriggle out from under her.

Hips up to buck her off, my head comes forward and… *CRUNCH* “oh my God!”
“Oh crap are you okay? Is it bleeding?!”

It wasn’t – but out came the bag of frozen peas and a mirror to check how crooked her nose was (thankfully it still looked pretty straight to me, just red and starting to swell).

I haven’t seen her since as I’ve had a cold and she has also been away from the gym to let her nose heal, but chatting over Facebook there appears to be no hard feelings. At least I hope there truly aren’t.

Just mortification on my side, and the awful feeling you get knowing you’re responsible for hurting someone.

Have you ever broken a training partner? Did it affect your future interactions/friendship on or off the mats?

A Gracie in the Building

It’s not every day you walk into the cafe upstairs from work, to be told Roger Gracie will be taking a BJJ class in the building.

Maloca moved in a couple of months ago, and Roger was dropping by as part of their grand opening weekend.

Photo courtesy of malocauk.com
Photo courtesy of malocauk.com

Roger took us through submissions starting from knee on belly (lapel choke, baseball bat, far armbar, kimura). It’s a position I have never been very confident in, despite having the weight to make knee rides quite effective.

Photo courtesy of malocauk.com
Photo courtesy of malocauk.com
Photo courtesy of malocauk.com
Photo courtesy of malocauk.com

So with regular Jiu Jitsu classes literally above my office, I really have no excuse now, do I? =D

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London Learning

The longer I spend here in London, the more I realise how naive I was when I first started plotting my big life upheaval.

Everything will be bliss in the UK was my thought – especially BJJ. Freed from the increasingly emotional pressure I was feeling in my job, I’d have more time to focus on training, improving and really enjoying everything jiu jitsu has to offer.

In reality, mostly the opposite is true – while I have no regrets about leaving my radio career the transition into a new one in PR has been much tougher than anticipated. 

Working longer hours for less £ leaves precious little time to make classes. Factor in the extra travel time being so reliant on the tube, and I count myself lucky if I make it in to the gym twice a week!

Still plugging away on the career front, my thought for the past six months has been “work goal first, THEN you’ll be able to really focus on training!”

But a heart to heart with a teammate last night has made me realise there is no leaving it for later in this city – you just HAVE to make it work, and now .. because London life will ALWAYS be getting in the way.

I am about to begin quite a challenging work month, but one essential for my new career – and it’s going to leave me with even less free time if that’s even possible..

Dogged determination will get me through though. That and supermarket £3 meal deals.

’tis the season..

Spring has sprung in Australia and my Facebook feed is loaded with news of belt promotions – happy days!

So many awesome BJJ guys and dolls back home are proudly posing for photos with club certificates, and pretty new colours tied around their waists.

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Congrats Amy!!

I am so damn blessed to know this crew, all from different clubs – who show such passion, talent and dedication to their training.

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Woohoo Apryl! You look fab in blue

Of course, all the grading amazingness has me reflecting on my own progress – or lack of, which is especially noticeable when I see friends who began at the same time or after me, receiving their stripes and/or blue belts.

Again I’m having to remind myself not to compare, and not to be so hard on myself.

That first stripe achievement seems so long ago now, and here hasn’t been one since, but my training hasn’t been half as consistent since either..

– I’ve had minor but niggling injuries

– I’ve moved overseas and started at a brand new club

– I’ve been working my butt off in a casual job while hunting for a permanent role here in London, meaning often I am choosing to log more hours over making class.

My goals for 2014 are clear though:

–       Lock in permanent work

–       Train harder, and much more often

–       Jump into some gi comps

–       Earn a second stripe, hopefully a third and in a perfect world, maybe even a fourth as well!

Nice one, Ida and Shanti!

The awesome ladies behind the BJJ Autumn Bonanza I attended in Copenhagen are off to Abu Dhabi – winning their weight classes and closing out the open at the World Pro Trials in Portugal.

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Photo credit – Shanti’s Insta & Fbk

A huge thanks to Shanti Abelha for finding the time while in comp mode to answer some questions I had after the Copenhagen camp – on the training weekend, and the female BJJ scene on this side of the world.

  • You’ve held ladies BJJ camps before, what prompted you and Ida to start organising these events?

The whole “women’s BJJ camps” movement is fairly new, and actually something that I see has grown concurrently in Europe and the US, and only now is getting more popular in Brazil. I think it was around 2009 that some coaches started organizing women’s camps in Scandinavia, and Ida and I were one of the first to be invited to teach at these camps. It was great to have the opportunity to teach at these camps, but the natural step for us was of course to host our own camp at the gym we train, where we felt we could structure the camp as we thought best and be able to give women a great welcome to “our home.”

  • How much has female participation in BJJ grown from when you were moving through the ranks to now?

It has grown immensely! When I started BJJ, the highest ranking female in Scandinavia was a single purple belt. Now, we are five black belt women in Scandinavia, and more scattered around Europe. The growth and difference is also really apparent at the large IBJJF tournaments, such as the World Championships. This year, there were literally hundreds of girls and women competing at the World’s. When I won World’s as a blue belt in 2007, I had three matches. This year, some of the blue belt female champions had 6 fights to reach the top of the podium – meaning the category could have had over 60 competitors. The level is also really high throughout all belts, the women winning at the highest levels train full-time, and I see that the top girls winning at the lower belts have a very complete and tight game. But I don’t think that we have seen the end or even the top of the growth curve yet, actually I think that this explosion in women’s BJJ has only just started recently, and we will be seeing a lot more.

  • How did yourself, Ida and Hanette decide on what to teach over the course of the Copenhagen camp weekend?

We are all well-rounded but also have our preferences for what we like to teach. It was quite easy to agree on actually, especially as Ida had baked apple pie for the three of us to enjoy while talking the program through. We all three place great emphasis on teaching good basics, on showing the positions we feel work best for us, and on making sure that it is something that anyone from any level could learn something from. Also, as we have quite a few women who have participated in previous camps, we make sure to have some variety and not teach exactly the same positions as in the previous camp.

  • Obviously the participants get so much out of these events, what about for yourself, Ida and Hanette?

I get as much out of it as the participants, and I am sure Ida and Hannette would agree with me! Firstly, just being able to gather so many female BJJ’ers in one room is a huge reward in itself. We all love teaching and sharing our experiences, so for us it is great to give something back to the BJJ community, see you all learning the positions and being so eager to learn even more. It is inspiring for us to see and be part of the current growth of BJJ for women, and see such a broad diversity in terms of which types of girls and women train BJJ.

  • What are your thoughts on the standard of BJJ women in Europe compared to those you’ve trained with and competed against from elsewhere?

I think the standard in Europe has always been high and will continue to be so. The European culture supports very much the idea of strong, independent women, and this is mirrored in the way we are treated in our gyms and the way we train. We have a lot of good female European competitors at all belt ranks – if you look at the results for the World’s this year for blue, purple and brown, there was a very good distribution of medalling participants between Europe, USA and Brazil. This trend will continue, and it is only a matter of time before this distribution will also be visible at black belt.

  • Any training tips for the girls post camp on how best to absorb and ‘lock in’ all the new techniques they learnt? 

There can be a lot to absorb during a camp that lasts a whole weekend! I think that if you want to make sure you learn and absorb as much as possible, you need “document” the techniques in some way – either writing in a notebook, or filming together with a training partner after class. And then repeat, repeat, repeat, also when you get back home.

  • When is the next ladies camp?

We aim to hold the BJJ Bonanza twice a year – autumn and spring. We have just talked about the date for the next camp, and it will probably be around February some time. We will be announcing it soon, so keep an eye on Facebook!

“I carried a watermelon..”

It’s a line I’d heard on occasion, but never actually understood until I finally got around to watching Dirty Dancing.

(Everyone else laughs at all the hip gyrating too, right?)

Well, I had my own “I carried a watermelon” moment this week, leaving work too late to make it to my gym in time for BJJ class.

I was trudging up the stairs from work’s basement office to the ground floor with my gym bag slung over my shoulder, when I noticed a pretty darn cute guy in no gi gear, standing in the foyer.

“Oh hey, BJJ?” I enquired, puzzled as to why a guy in gi pants and a rashie was in my office building.

Cute guy: “Yeah, we’ve got class tonight upstairs.”

Me: “No way! I work just downstairs and had no idea there were classes here.”

Cute guy: “Yeah we’re here until about Christmas, oh you train too? And you’ve got your gear with you? Well jump in! An Olympic wrestler is taking class tonight..”

Me: “Oh man I totally would, since I’ve missed class at my gym but, I have this friend’s cat to feed back in East London..”

I think #facepalm is appropriate.

Any BJJ “doh” moments you’d like to share?

“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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