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

Happy Little Noob.

Ok, at 72 kgs I’m not ‘little’ – but right now I’m happy being a noob on the mat … mostly because I’m just happy to be rolling!

Yay nooby me!

One month after arriving in London, I finally got my big butt to an MMA gym. Why the delay?  A few stressy ‘life’ set up things I had to prioritise – but I have also been enjoying the slight break that packing up and moving overseas has afforded me.

It’s this irresponsible, inconsequential feeling akin to the first little moment you have as a grown up, when you realise you don’t need to ask for permission to go somewhere or to eat dessert before dinner … just being away from home again is so freeing.

It was actually the second time I ate a whole tub of ice cream for tea that I decided I’d better get back to BJJ.  Judging by the tightness of my gi pants, it’s lucky I didn’t leave it much longer.

I know, clean eating FAIL.

I walked in, then straight back out of one MMA gym I found quite close to where I’m living. There’s something about a big dog lounging around on a visibly dirty (black in parts) mat, that’s just not very appealing.

I had much better luck at my second stop – Fight Zone London in Bethnal Green.

Marco Canha (Checkmat) is head instructor, with beginner and intermediate/advanced BJJ classes on offer.

There’s also the all-important S&C along with Muay Thai, Boxing and MMA.

You get the family vibe as soon as you walk into this gym, kids classes obviously help amplify the feeling – as does the sight of adorable gi-clad littlies burning off post-class energy, running about inside the cage!

There were a good 30 people on the mat in my first beginner lesson including four ladies, which was fab.

I’m told white belts regularly stay in the mix for the intermediate/advanced class that follows, but I’m happy hanging in the newbie sessions for now. While not ‘new’ I’m inconsistent, so have a lot of basics to work on along with overall fitness.

Friday night I hit class then stayed back for the open mat – just music, me and a bunch of guys who were pulling moves all over the place while I did something hopefully resembling defending!

I was a red faced, sweaty, crazy-haired, blissed-out mess by the end.

Bring on the next class.