Road to EBI 12 – The Female Flyweights

black belt , competition , ebi , friends , Jiu Jitsu , Uncategorized • Jul 16, 2017
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EBI promo

As I was on my way to Worlds, I recieved a message from Eddie Bravo asking if I wanted to be on the EBI 12 – The Female Flyweights card. I answered without a second of hesitation – I have been getting ready for this style of submission only event with my team at Absolute MMA for a long time!

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I will be following in footsteps of Lachie Giles and Craig Jones who were the first Australians to be on the card and both made it through to semi finals. I will be the third person from Absolute MMA on the show, and the first Australian female. I can’t highlight enough what an absolute honour and privilege it is to be a part of the stacked 16-woman bracket. It is the first female only card, with the same prize money as the men and I am proud to make history along with my competitors.

Ever since EBI first started we have been training the overtime rules at our advanced no gi classes at Absolute St Kilda. It’s hard not to feel confident when you have the likes of Kit Dale, Lachie and Craig trying to rip your legs off and heel hook you every day and well as specific training not only the back and arm bar, but many positions which may come up during the fight. Since Worlds, my focus shifted to no gi and bulking up. The 125lbs division is way above my normal walking weight and I am adamant not to repeat my mistake from the European ADCC Trials where I was 7 kgs under-weight. I have been lifting and eating a lot more and I feel much stronger and sturdier now.

I feel ready and prepared, my fitness is good, I am strong and I will put on a show in 2 weeks in Los Angeles. You can watch the even live on UFC Fight Pass.

Thank you to my team and all the wonderful people who have volunteered to roll with me no gi and agreed for me to attempt to take their legs, arms and heads home. I couldn’t ask for better teammates!

Thank you to the ongoing support from my sponsors:

MA1 Apparel

Musashi Nutrition

Pony Grappling Club

W vs N (Al has volunteered to corner me and I couldn’t be more grateful)

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He put a ring on it…

black belt , Lachie , World Championships • Jul 2, 2017
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Lachie and I planned a little 2 day de-tour via Fiji on the way home from Worlds. We travel a lot, but hardly ever actually stop and have a break. Usually our trips are filled with competing, training and coaching, after which we rush home to our academy and work.19679723_10154541698672461_1106297908_n

We arrived in Fiji early in the morning and checked in to a beautiful Hilton resort on a picturesque beach in Nadi. We lazed around, swam, walked around and of course ate way too much. The next day we booked a day trip to an tiny deserted island, where we relaxed in the sun, listened to the locals entertain us with their subpar singing, ate coconuts and snorkelled on the reef in the warm ocean. It was a stunning day and it felt great to finally unwind, even just for a day.

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At night we got ready to go out for dinner on the marina. It was so nice to enjoy each others company on such a warm and breezy night. I ordered a mud crab, but after a long wait the staff advised that they run out of it and I settled for a seafood hot pot. It consisted of blobs of cream, some sort of seafood chunks, mashed potato and garnished with more cream and cheese slopped on top. It was comparable to aeroplane food, but all we could do was to laugh about it and had a frozen mojito to save the day.

We walked home under the breezy starry night, we prayed that no coconuts would fall down from the palm trees and kill us that night. Alas, we survived to tell the tale.  We de-toured via the beach and found a quiet spot with no other soul in sight. Without going into too much detail, that’s where Lachie asked me to marry him. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and I’m beyond happy to be his fiancé.
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The next day we woke up smiling, grabbed a coffee, played a round of mini golf with a beer in hand where naturally Lachie smashed my score by a mile. We also tried to find some giant millipedes (and failed) and soaked up the last bit of sun before our flight home.

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What about the ring you ask? Since my jiu jitsu fingers resemble that of an arthritic witch, and nothing generic actually fits, we decided to get one made when we got home. We did choose a gorgeous interim ring that will remind me of Fiji and this happy moment forever and I love it so much that I can’t stop looking at it.

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Even though 3 weeks have passed now I’m still bursting with giant bubbles of happy and I’m excited that Lachie decided it was a good idea to be stuck with me forever. I can’t wait to be his awful wedded wifey.

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2017 World Championships – The Black Belt Debut

black belt , competition , friends , gi , IBJJF , Jiu Jitsu , team , World Championships • Jun 14, 2017
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Ladies Only BJJ

I have never expected I would compete at the World Championships as a black belt this year. However, having won brown belt World Title in 2016 meant I didn’t need IBJJF points and as a result my first black belt fight would be at the Mundials. It’s no small feat, but it’s a challenge I felt ready for. In the end, I have been looking forward to this moment for 7 years.

Unfortunately because of the ADCC Trials just 3 weeks prior to Worlds, I had no time to cut to rooster, which I was initially a little annoyed about, but in the end I loved feeling full of energy and happy during the lead up. I entered the absolutely stacked light-feather weight division and I couldn’t have been more excited about it if I tried.

This year we chose to stay at home for our camp. We have so many high level grapplers at Absolute MMA that we didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. I had a great prep; I felt super strong, sharp and confident.
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We had around 20 people in all from Absolute head to LA.  Lachie and I stayed with black belt Michael Hourigan, Aaron Petersen and my amazing tiny training partner Chi Akiyama.

Chi and Nikki were first up and I knew just how ready they were. I get to train with both of them on daily basis and I had no doubt in my mind they were worthy of a gold medal. Both these women have improved out of sight and give me a pretty hard time in training.

Chi was up first, competing in rooster weight blue belt division. She absolutely dominated her way to the finals, sweeping, passing and submitting her 5 opponents. I have never seen anyone take on coaching and instruction as well as Chi did that day. I have a feeling I believed in Chi’s game more than she did herself and seeing her achieve so much put tears in my eyes every single time she fought. This was Chi’s first Worlds, her second international competition and only her 6th comp in total. Winning a silver medal is such a massive achievement, but this is where she belongs now – on top of podiums at worlds.

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Nikki followed Chi’s performance and submitted her way to the final. Her arm bars are the sharpest I have seen and she looked absolutely flawless. Nikki lost the final by an advantage, but in my opinion was the best fighter in her division. I’m so proud to call these girls my teammates.

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Everyone from Absolute fought great, and even though we didn’t achieve more medals, we are definitely coming. Everyone is winning more fights than the previous years and we are now in the mix. It’s a matter of time  until we climb our way to the podium.team

I wasn’t on until Saturday and all week I was just excited and couldn’t wait to step on the mats. I have found the perfect mix of nerves, adrenaline and happiness. I warmed up and took it all in. I absolutely thrive on the pressure I put on myself. I loved every single moment of being in the bull pen this year and felt confident, calm and ready to go. I so wanted a medal and I knew I was perfectly capable of it.

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My first round was Kristina Barlaan who is a seasoned competitor with a tricky guard and some beautiful omaplata set ups. Luckily for me, I love pressure passing, so it was always going to be an interesting match up. In the end, I lost the match by 2 points. I gave up 2 points when I rolled out of an omaplata, but then swept back for 2 points. After a few close passing attempts, Kristina attacked an omaplata again and transitioned to a toe hold from which I rolled out of bounds for and lost 2 points. This was a crucial mistake on my behalf as the sub wasn’t and I kept my leg straight. The last couple of minutes were me trying to desperately pass from a stacked position and then 50/50 where I tried to set up leg attacks, but nothing eventuated.

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I can honestly say I left everything on the mats that day. I didn’t do terribly, but I didn’t do the best I could either. Losing first round is never my aim… I have no doubt I belong on the podium and I know I will get there. My opponent was simply better than me and I need to improve in skill and strategy. And I will. The fire in my belly is lit and I am so motivated to have a better performance at the next Worlds.

It was a pleasure watching the rest of the Aussies compete, and especially my black belt teammates Lachlan Giles, Michael Hourigan and Kit Dale. Kit made it to the 1/4 finals, taking on Andre Galvao on the big stage on Sunday and putting on a hell of a fight.IMG_4659

2017 Worlds campaign came to an end. It’s the first time I have lost 1st round at the world titles and only the second time I have walked away without a medal. But I now know what is required of me and I will come back a million times better and stronger and I am more excited about that than I can really express.

I am so incredibly proud of my team this year, especially of Worlds silver medalist in Chi and Nikki. This is just the beginning for them and the BJJ world will hear their names many more times to come. I’m honoured to be their teammate.

I loved catching up with all my international friends during Worlds and spending quality time with some of my favourite people. IMG_4520 IMG_4664

Thank you to my sponsors MA1 Apparel for making this trip possible. I wouldn’t be here without my sponsors:

MA1 Apparel

Pony Grappling Gear

Musashi

European ADCC Trials 2017

black belt , competition , Jiu Jitsu , Uncategorized , wrestling • Jun 9, 2017

2017 has been a busy year for me so far. One of my major goals/dreams of my BJJ career is to win ADCC trials and compete at the world finals. 2 years ago I came second at Asia-Oceania Trials and I repeated the same, extremely frustrating result this year in Japan.

With the help of Pony Grappling Club I was able to have another shot at the European trials. I am Polish and moved to Australia at the age of 12, which means I have a dual citizenship, which in turns allows me to compete in Europe.

My trip to Poland was rough… I have no more leave left at work (or money), so I had to make this a quick one. I pretty much spent more time in the air than in my homeland, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

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When I landed in Poznan, I was picked by a Drysdale black belt Filip Sadowski. I met Filip 4 years ago, when we both did a training camp in Las Vegas before Worlds. Jiu Jitsu community is amazing like that. Filip picked me up, fed me, took me around his wonderful town, gave me a room to stay in in his beautiful family home, made sure I trained no gi, took care of my recovery by taking me to spas, introduced me to all his friends and entertained me for 3 days by signing ridiculous amounts of car karaoke. I managed to have a super fun time, whilst alone on a different continent competing at one of the most important comps of the year.

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If you are ever in Poznan, check out Filip’s club Gameness Team. Filip is extremely technical and a fabulous teacher. His students of all sizes and belt colours were a pleasure to roll with.

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The weigh ins started early, and despite my best efforts to pork up, I still weighed in close to 7 kg under weight. I needed to rely on my footlocks, wrestling, speed and superior technique. I felt well prepared and ready. I drew Ffion Davies first round and I knew it would be a tough fight but I was determined to force my game. Unfortunately for me, things went pear shaped from the get go. I wanted to pull straight into a leg entanglement, but instead Ffion forced me into my half guard. Inch by inch she closed the distance to a tight crossface. With 20 seconds left of ‘no points’ time, I took a risk to try to reverse Ffion and aim to be in her guard when the points started. Alas, I bridged like a noob, which allowed my opponent to go to 1/4 guard and work her way to my back. She eventually separated my arms and choked me. Words can’t describe how disappointed I was in myself and at the mistakes I made. I truly believe I never got to show what I’m capable of. But that’s the way it goes. Fiion dominated me in that fight and she did everything right, all credit to her.

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After taking 10 minutes to compose myself, I decided to take a deep breath, hold my head high and move on. I joined Filip in commentating on the live stream and tried to get as many female fights on the main camera as possible. I cheered the ladies on in the finals and was very happy for Ffion to take out the under 60kg and the lovely Sam Cook to win the over 60kg division. Both these ladies deserve their spots at the ADCC Finals later this year.

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It hurt to not achieve my goal, but I will not stop until I will. It’s easy to give up and to think that flying all this way for a 5 minute fight is pointless, but I have gained so much out of those 5 minutes that I have no doubt it will be crucial to my development as an athlete.

When I returned home, I specific trained half guard till the cows came home to make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice. I feel so much more confident from that position now and can’t wait to make it my own. Since the World Championships were only 3 weeks away, I quickly switched my focus to gi where I would be debuting my black belt.

Thank you to all who stand beside me and support me even though I don’t always win. I couldn’t have done this trip without my Absolute teammates who smash me day in day out and my sponsors Pony Grappling Gear and MA1 Apparel.

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3.5.2017. Black Belt.

black belt , friends , grading , Jiu Jitsu , team • May 14, 2017
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3.5.2017. The day I received by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt from Lachlan Giles and Thiago Stefanutti.

I’ve now had a week to gather my thoughts and it all still doesn’t seem real. Looking down at my waist still shocks me every single time and I can’t quite get used to it. My grading was a complete surprise and credit to Lachie for keeping it under wraps and making sure not one person spoilt it for me.

I usually arrive at training on Wednesdays 10 minutes late as I finish work at the same time as training starts. I remember feeling particularly tired and a bit ill because I just scoffed 2 pieces of chocolate cake before I ran to class. I bumped into our head coach Thiago in the stairwell and thought it was a little odd that he would visit us on a Wednesday, but I knew he just had a meeting with some of our coaches and may have been in the area. When I walked up to reception our manager Dan was there, which was also unusual, but then I remembered that he was going to drop off the defibrillator we needed at the gym. The mats were packed, but even when people started clapping as I walked in, I still didn’t get it. For a second I thought it was Thiago’s birthday and I forgot it, so I joined in with the clapping like a total idiot. It wasn’t until there were a couple of cameras in my face and Lachie told me to hurry up and get changed that it all clicked… All these people were there for me. As I looked around the room and saw many familiar faces that have been a part of my journey through white belt till now, I got a little teary, but feared my teammate Hannah slapping me across the face for crying, so I didn’t. Instead I got myself ready to roll – 2 hours worth of 2 minute rounds.

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I sparred with all the girls first and it was joyous and fun. Everyone was just happy and the rolls were light and enjoyable. I can’t highlight enough what the BJJ women in my life mean to me, and especially my Jits n Tits crew who have been a massive part of my life for the last 2 years or so. It’s an absolute honour to teach and learn from these ladies every day. They are my best training partners and my best friends. Next, I rolled with all the brown and black belts.  I will never be able to express my thanks to all the black belts that came on the night from near and far. You have all been my inspiration for many years and guided me in my own journey and BJJ development. I am so humbled to stand amongst you as a fresh new black belt noob. Again, everyone looked after me knowing that I have some very important competitions coming up and let me showcase my skills as we celebrated together. I finished my rolls with Thiago, then finally Lachie and the 2 hrs flew by.  I have never enjoyed myself more rolling.

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As Lachie and Thiago made speeches, I looked around the room which was full of the most important people to me in my life. I was so moved that so many took the night out of their own schedules to come and support me. There were 80 of my teammates, friends, coaches and even my parents. Believe it or not, I was a little lost for words when it was my time to make a speech and there is so much more I wanted to say.
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In the last 2 years or so I noticed a massive shift within myself where belts had less and less motivation to me. In the end, I just love training and learning each day. Whether I’m wearing a purple or a black belt will never change that. I simply love being on the mats every day with my mates as I try to better myself at this sport and as a person. This is why it took me by surprise at how amazing if felt to receive my belt from my coaches, who’s opinions I value extremely highly.

Of course credit must be given, where credit is due. Thank you to:

Lachie Giles – Thanks for being my coach, teacher, business partner and someone I get to share my life with. You have to play many roles and you play them all wonderfully. Without you, I would never even be here. Thank you for helping me fall in love with BJJ, the game and the constant puzzle and for always being honest but kind with your (much needed) critique. Your coaching is second to none and your patience has been tested many times with me. In the end though I have never had so much fun as we’ve had in the last 7 years and it’s still only the beginning.

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Dan Shaw – my first BJJ coach who instilled the importance of technique and detail in my brain since the very beginning. Dan believed in me way before I would believe in myself and I will be forever grateful.

Thiago Stefanutti – You were there since my early blue belt days and have had a massive influence on my BJJ. Thank you for being my coach and a good friend. I have learnt so much from you as an athlete and even more importantly as person. Thank you for always being there and for always having my back.

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Jits’nTits – I didn’t always have the luxury of training with other women. My white and blue belt days were tough and it has always been a struggle to find appropriate training partners. Now I have a group of extremely talented ladies to train with every day who give me some of my hardest rolls. You are technical and far more superior than myself as a blue or a purple belt. However, what I treasure most is the friendships we have formed. I love each and every one of you and you give me more than you know. From training together to eating, baking, swearing like there is no tomorrow and travelling the world, I could not think of a better group of women to have by my side and share 4 hrs a day with.

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Teammates – You can never do this sport alone and I am so grateful to have you smash me day in day out. It’s easy to improve when you are never the best person in the gym. It’s a privilege to share the mats with each one of you.
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Parents – Last but not least. My parents have always supported my journey emotionally and financially and never ask for anything in return. Even though I know it’s not always fun watching your daughter fight and cut weight and you are still convinced I get kicked in the head, I appreciate your unconditional love from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your wisdom and advice and encouraging me to continue with this life, which I absolutely adore. Love you.

I am so damn excited for new challenges ahead. My first go at a black belt competition will be the World Championships…no biggie. But I have looked forward to this point for a long time and can’t wait to test myself against the best. I will be fighting the people I have looked up to for a long time and I know that this is where my journey really begins.

So for now, it’s back to training to work on all my mistakes and continue to enjoy every single minute spent on the mats. I consider myself lucky to be able live the life I’ve created.

I love this sport for so many reasons, but perhaps what I love the most is being a part of this incredible community. Thank you to each and every one of you for being a part it and for sharing some of my life’s best moments.

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Abu Dhabi World Pro 2017

competition , friends , Jiu Jitsu , team • Apr 25, 2017
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My Abu Dhabi Pro adventure began by being invited to Abu Dhabi by the Pony Grappling Club. From admiring their gear from afar to starting a conversation on social media, to being welcomed into their home and lives, I could not be any more grateful.  Reem and Cassielivgr8

are some of the kindest people I have ever known and I already have separation anxiety as I sit on the plane back to Australia.

I was joined by my teammate and training partner Sarah, an amazing blue belt who inspires me every day with her work ethic and her seemingly innocent jokes. I am fortunate to share some awesome adventures and moments all over the world with Sarah, a trend that will hopefully continue for years to come. Erin Here, a fellow badass brown belt joined us in Abu Dhabi and it’s safe to say she made the trip fun and real and full of belly laughs  – the sort that left us rolling on the floor for hours. Margot completed the crazy pack of women, and as always I enjoy her wizard-level BJJ knowledge and the serenading singing.

We arrived a few days before the competition began and went straight to training at Cobra’s, as we all had about 2 kgs to lose in order to make weight. I chose to do the 49kg division, which was a little more achievable than at Worlds as the weigh in was a day before. With a diet plan from Reid Reale of Combat Sports Nutrition and mental support from the girls, I had a much easier time cutting weight this time around and did not lose my mind entirely. The hardest part was probably refusing all the delicious food in business class at Etihad, as it was the first and perhaps the only time in my life I will not fly cattle class. The start of the week saw us all running around the streets of Abu Dhabi in our sweat suits, which seemed so usual at the time, but in fact was not very normal at all.

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For the days before the comp we drilled and rolled with the of the Aussie team and athletes from the rest of the world in various hotels including a newly set up ‘dome’ at the Armed Officers Club.  It was nice to be reunited with Lachie to brain storm last minute strategy, flow roll and just enjoy jiu jitsu without everyday stresses back in Melbourne.

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Margot and Sarah were up first and although they fought really well and showed some really high level technical BJJ, they didn’t win. I am so excited to see them smash their next goals – I am continuously impressed by both of them and I can safely say they are a much better blue and purple belts than I ever was. Demi won a silver medal in the 90kg purple belt division, which was amazing but not at all unexpected.

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Erin was a ‘victim’ of the new 2 per country rule and had to fight in the country qualifiers. She was very impressive in her fights against Tammi Musumeci, but unfortunately did not go through to the main draw.

Friday saw myself, Lachie and Kit Dale from Absolute take the centre stage as well as all the other Aussies such as Jess Fraser and Lee Ting. Although there were 7 women in my division, it included 4 Brazilians, which means after the country qualifiers there were 5 of us in the main draw. I was so excited to new new rules because a 5 person division meant we had a round robin so that everyone fought everyone. I think this was the most fair way to determine the top 3 and I finally got to have more than 2 fights with people my own size. The only downfall was that our medals were determined on Friday and we did not take the big stage on Saturday for brown/black belt finals.

Although my water cut took a little bit out of me, I woke up feeling great. Reem made me a delicious breakfast and the girls kept the mood light and I kept laughing all the way to the IPIC Arena. I love getting to the warm up area of the competition. That’s when my nerves start to leave me and I get excited because it’s finally where I’m meant to be – on the mats doing BJJ.  Last year I was a 4 month brown belt, competing for the first time in a brown/black division and fighting my idols. I was thrilled, but star struck to be warming up and sharing the mats with the people I look up to. But this year everything felt very different. I felt like I belonged. I wasn’t there to participate, I was there to fight for a medal. Fighting black belts no longer bothered me, in fact nothing really did. Time changes and mat changes and possible uniform changes meant nothing. I have gotten good at accepting whatever I can’t control, including my emotions.

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As I stood on the side of the mats waiting for the ref to call us, I felt proud. Lachie, Jess and I were all on at the same time. I had friends in the audience and I was going to enjoy every second of my competition. I was conscious to slow myself down a little bit and be smart. At the ADCC trials in Japan, I went 100 miles an hour, rushed some decisions and didn’t perform to my ability. I was determined not to repeat the same mistake.

My first match was a repeat of last years Worlds final. This time I managed to pass and choke from the back. My second fight saw me pass a couple of times and execute Lachie’s cross-face choke from mount. Third fight was Rikako. We double guard pulled and I had a tight footlock, which in the end went nowhere. I came up and started to feel out Rikako’s spider guard, but just when I started to feel confident, Rikako set up a nice triangle which I pretty much saw happen in slow motion. It was tight and I had to tap. I met Mayssa Bastos in 4th round. We double guard pulled, then Mayssa came up.  I made a small mistake and got passed in the first 15 seconds… hard to come back from in a 6 minute fight. I managed to recover guard to single-x and sweep. However with 1 point down and 2 minutes to go I was unable to pass.

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Final tally of wins and losses saw Mayssa take gold, Rikako silver and myself bronze. Although I am not really satisfied with the result and would like the medal to be a different colour, I took so much out of this competition. I was so happy with my mental preparation and controlling my nerves that I enjoyed every second out there. I executed some things I have been working hard in training such us over under passes, smash passes and pressure passes. I haven’t played top game in a comp for a while but I felt very confident there. I will need to watch my videos and closely analyse my mistakes and do much better at Worlds. However I finally feel like I belong. I was very proud to claim a medal at brown/black division and to do so as a brown belt felt even more special. Sometimes I need to remember to take a step back and get some perspective on my performances and to be proud, but never settle.

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Watching Lachie fight his way through repacharge and earn 5th place in the stacked 77kg division was inspiring. He is so close to a medal and I have no doubt he will earn his spot on the podium soon. Jess Fraser made it through repacharge to the bronze medal fight and managed to win it. It is hard to describe how happy I was for her.  It was so special to share the day and some happy tears with Jess and to line up amongst the best in the world to receive our medals as first Australian females in the brown/black division. Success is becoming the norm and this is just the beginning.

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I got to spend the rest of my time in Abu Dhabi with Lachie and surrounded by friends from home and all over the world. We tasted local cuisine, drank camel milk, went 4 wheel driving on the dunes and rode a vey unhappy camel called Shane. Having my ‘girl pack’ there with me meant the world to me and made this journey so incredibly fun. I am forever grateful to Reem and Cassie of Pony Grappling Club, Sarah, Erin and Margot for sharing my crazy for the week.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my sponsors who made this trip possible:

Pony Grappling Gear

MA1 Apparel

Musashi

Stryda

Mum and Dad

I can’t wait to get back on the mats. It is now full steam ahead for ADCC Trials and Worlds!

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AIS Wrestling Camp

camp , friends , Jiu Jitsu , team , wrestling • Apr 16, 2017
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I have started training wrestling about a year ago. My goals were to improve my stand up game, get better at scrambles and to get ready for ADCC trials and ADCC style competitions. I am loving wrestling so much right now that I am even seriously considering jumping into a competition and giving it a go.

For a few months I only managed to train 1 session per week, and then I tore my ACL and wrestling had to wait as I continued my rehab. It is only in the last few weeks that I have been able to wrestle comfortably and not think about my knee too much.

I have the most wonderful coaches in Rio Olympian Talgat Ilyasov who’s technical knowledge is second to none and his fluidity and smoothness makes me admire even his warm up movements. Connor Evans who is one of the best wrestlers in Australia and a wonderful, encouraging instructor also coaches me out of Absolute St Kilda. It is not easy coaching a  newbie like me, so  I take my hats off to Talgat and Connor’s patience as they explain the same concepts and moves weekly, or so it seems.

I first got excited to wrestle a little more when the one and only badass swear-mouthed MMA fighter Young and I paired up to be training partners. Although she is a little smaller, we are similar sized and close in skill level, which makes for a perfect partner in crime. Young and I actively encouraged all the girls at Absolute MMA to wrestle at least once a week. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have successfully used bribes such as buying matching leggings for anyone who starts wrestling classes. It has worked and now we have a good group of ladies training regularly.

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Wrestling has made a massive difference to my BJJ – not only do I feel confident in standing and going for take downs, but my spatial awareness and fight from scrambles have really improved. I am learning how to control my grip fighting and head position and I get enormous amount of excitement and satisfaction in trying new things … it feels like I’m a white belt again.

This is why when former Olympian Kyla Bremner and her husband Kris Grzywniak announced yet another wrestling camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, I jumped at the opportunity. I figured 3 days of wrestling a selection of girls my own size will do me good even so close to the World Pro in Abu Dhabi.

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My teammates Shantelle, Apryl and the young up and comers Stella and Nacinta jumped in a car and drove up, which was not without mishaps. We had a flat tyre on the way up, which turned it into a really long drive.

I am so grateful to Kyla and Kris who housed and fed us for the weekend and of course provided some great coaching at the camp. Each day we focused on a different concept and I loved the amount of drills and ‘play’ time we got. Even after 3 days of immersing myself in the sport, I feel like I came away with so much new knowledge and a much better understanding and feel of certain positions. I feel my BJJ and athleticism really compliment my wrestling, and of course my wrestling is making my BJJ a lot better. It was so wonderful to be a student at the camp, and a beginner one at that. Even though my energy was super low as I was cutting weight, Kris and Kyla’s passion and excitement carried me through the weekend and I laughed a lot, though mainly at myself.

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It was great to get back home to my own wrestling coaches and continue to work and improve on some of the set ups, take downs and pins.

I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing coaches, training partners and other athletes.

If my body is up for it, I will give Wrestling Nationals a go next month… Because you only live once!

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Photo credits to the lovely Apryl Eppinger.

Teaching seminars in South Korea

friends , Jiu Jitsu , korea , seminar • Mar 26, 2017
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So how did I end up in Seoul teaching seminars in the middle of their winter?

Well, a little while ago I posted my love for Korean food on Instagram and as a result started chatting to a purple belt named Jes who lives in Seoul as an ex-pat. Before I knew it we were plotting and planning how I could come and teach and eat all their delicious food at the same time. Pretty much a dream scenario!

We planned my trip to coincide with the ADCC Trials in Tokyo, as it’s only a short flight from Japan. I will be forever indebted to Jes who organised my seminar including a translator, connected me with people, gave me a place to stay and was a constant source of laughs.

I couldn’t be more grateful to the one and only Heejn Lee, who is Korea’s first and only female black belt for hosting me at her own academy Queen of Jiu Jitsu. Heejin is a pioneer and pretty much started women’s BJJ in South Korea from scratch. I cannot put it into words how badass this woman is and how much I look up to her.IMG_1736

I flew to Seoul straight after the trials, which gave me 5 days to sight-see and train before my seminars. My teammates Sarah and Chi joined me for a training holiday, which made the trip infinite times better. They are both the best company I could ask for and also incredible training partners. It was pretty nice to share this BJJ journey with them.IMG_1829

We did lots of fun stuff like exploring the markets and buying way too many socks and face masks, beauty products and street food.IMG_2333 IMG_2137 IMG_2113 IMG_1794

We also managed to dress up in traditional Korean dresses. I am sure the shop owner’s only goal was to make us look as hideous as possible, but we embraced it. Sarah’s marshmallow dress definitely topped the fashion world rankings.
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We also visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was beautiful and so well preserved. The contrast between the old temples set on the background of mountains and the modern sky scrapers was striking.

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One of the things I will remember forever is our visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). We did the Panmunjom Tour (Joint Security Area) which was a half day trip. On the bus to the JSA, we had a North Korean defector with us who answered all questions that were asked of her about her escape and life in North Korea. It was all shocking and sad and I still can’t get over how life can be absolute hell for someone just a few miles away from where we stood. Once briefed by the UN soldiers we finally entered the border between North and South Korea. The rules and orders to us were strict and you could literally feel the tension in the air. I didn’t quite expect it all to feel so heavy,sombre and real. On the way back we stopped and paid tribute to the families that got separated when Korea was divided and never saw each other again. They left messages to each other written on ribbons that dance in the wind. This trip has left me with a lot to think about and I would recommend it to anyone.
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The border of North and South Korea

The border of North and South Korea

Sara is in North, I am in South

Sara is in North, I am in South

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On a lighter note, we got to do a lot of training and met some amazing people in the process. I loved training at Queen of Jiu Jitsu with Heejin. I really enjoyed her teaching and also her top game is world class amazing.  I was lucky that she let me specific train playing guard and her passing me, just so I could absorb as much of her goodness as possible. We also had some really fun rolls with the small purple belt men and very technical blue belt ladies.

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During the week we were also visited my old Absolute teammates Jay’s school Movement BJJ. Last time we rolled was in Australia when he was a purple belt and I was blue, and it was wonderful to see his school becoming so successful. Kris Kim also welcomed us at his school where the vibe was relaxed and fun, yet at a very high level. Thank you to Nat (another ex-pat) for taking time to take us to dinner after training and just generally being fabulous. On Friday we were invited at John Frankl’s competition training. John is a pioneer of BJJ in South Korea and is a truly wonderful, kind and a wise man. Check out this short video about his story here.
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Korea was freezing. Me no like.

Korea was freezing. Me no like.

It was a treat to catch up with my friend Margot on Saturday morning, as she stopped over in Seoul for a few hours before flying to LA for Pan Ams. It makes me smile to think at how many random places we have travelled to and trained at together. Thank you to Chuck of Seorae Jiu Jitsu for opening his gym to us so Margot could drill a little before she had to head back to the airport.IMG_2178IMG_2353 IMG_2203

It was finally time for my first seminar on Saturday. It was held at Queen of Jiu Jitsu and I never expected so much interest and so many people to turn up. We had 47 on the mat raging from white to black belt, male and female. Special mention goes to the Asia Fight Guide team who was my media partner for the seminar and took photos, recorded techniques and interviewed myself and Heejin. It is so nice to see women finally being taken seriously and equally in the BJJ community.

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During the seminar, the mats were so full I even had to modify and change the content as I went because there was no space to execute some of the sweeps. What a good problem to have! I taught single x and x guard variations and passed on some of the details that I had to develop throughout the years as a small fighter. I taught in english but each sentence was translated by Libby and she did not skip a beat. She even did a good job at doing my weird analogies and pathetic jokes some justice.

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At the end of the seminar everyone silently sat in a circle as I rolled one by one with 10 people who were randomly picked. It was a little terrifying as the rounds were 3 minutes, I had bad asthma and really wanted to execute the moves I just taught. After about 5 opponents all I could hear is my own laboured breathing and wheeze and I am sure my BJJ started looking a little sad. It was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry…

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After the seminar we got taken out for delicious BBQ and where I ate the whole cow and a pig and then some. At least it did give me energy for the next day’s seminar. Sunday saw more than 40 people flood the mats again and this time I taught spider guard recovery and attacks.

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After the seminars we raffled off some prizes donated by Heejin’s sponsors and notes of encouragement/inspiration which I wrote. We took many photos and I signed people’s belts and gis, which was completely nuts.

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Safe to say my first international seminar was a big success. It was such an awesome cultural experience, but most of all I had a lot of fun.

I am forever thankful to Heejin for not only hosting my seminars but also for teaching me, taking us sight-seeing, feeding us, providing massages and for some beautiful and technical BJJ. Thank you to Jes for organising everything, making this trip actually happen and for being the best mamma around. Thank you to Libby who was a wonderful and a patient translator and a very kind human. Nat deserves a medal for the rolls, laughs and dinner. John Frankl and everyone who welcomed us to their academy with open arms- I do hope I can return the favour one day. And of course Chi and Sarah – training, competing and life is so much better with your silly in it. Your company means the world to me, and one day I hope to travel the world with you as you teach in weird and wonderful corners of the world.

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby

Me, Sarah, Heejin, Chi, Jes and Libby. We did it!

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Libby

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My crazies – Sarah and Chi

 

If you would like to host me for a seminar comment, message or e-mail me at livia.gluchowska@gmail.com

ADCC Trials and dealing with a loss

competition , Jiu Jitsu , team • Mar 19, 2017

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One of my goals of my BJJ career is to qualify and compete at the ADCC Worlds. It is the most prestigious grappling championship in the world which happens every 2 years. For women there is only an under and over 60 kg weight class, and only 8 women from around the world are chosen per division. There are 4 trials around the world – European, North American, South American and Asia/Oceanian.

Lachie and Craig have already qualified at the end of 2016 in Kazakhstan, which certainly didn’t happen by luck. 18 months ago we started an ADCC advanced invite only class at Absolute MMA, where we specific train scenarios that may come up during the competition. We focus heavily on leg locks, heel hooks, wrestling, submissions and strategic training. The sessions are hard but it’s a good feeling to know the best in the country are all training under one roof. I also train wrestling around 3 x a week now and my knee is handling it beautifully. I went from not knowing anything about leg entanglements to absolutely loving heel hooks, wrestling and no gi in general. It changed my game completely and I’m only getting started.

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

@ Chris Triantopoulos

Absolute MMA had a massive team going to Japan and we all felt confident. I tried to bulk up as much as I could so I would walk around a little closer to 60kg, but in the end I still had to give up 7kgs. Weirdly, I only had a division of 3. One of the women was my teammate Pippa. The other was Rikako Yuasa who is a 2 x black belt world champion with beautiful jiu jitsu. I faced Rikako 2 years ago and knew what to expect.

Weighing in and keeping my feet warm

Weighing in and keeping my feet warm

It was a long day and after waiting for about 6 hours, my first opponent was Pippa. It’s not a good feeling fighting your teammate at such an important event, where I knew that I would not be playing around. I pulled guard and fought a very strategic game without taking any risks. I had quite a few leg attacks and submission attempts during the fight, but ended up winning the fight only by a sweep.

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I had about an hour before the final and a solid game plan. I felt good and was ready to go. We slapped hands and Rikako pulled guard quickly, giving up a point. I entered into a  leg lock position but I rushed it, allowing my opponent to come on top in my single x. From there instead of slowing things down, I let the fight happen without much control from my end. I recovered guard and entered into another leg entanglement which I didn’t control well. Eventually Rikako passed my guard straight into an arm bar which I started to defend. Just as I was about to bridge, she switched to the other side and I tapped quickly. It was a really nice transition and a beautiful sub… just wish it wasn’t done on me. In the end I lost to a better person and I learnt a ton. I made many mistakes and I rushed a lot, which gave me a lot to think about. I know I will improve out of sight after this experience and my dream of fighting at the ADCC finals is still alive. I will keep trying until I get there!

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It was great to have so many of my teammates there. Massive congrats to Kit Dale who won his division. We now have 3 people from Absolute MMA St Kilda who qualified for ADCC!
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Many people have asked me if I’m ok after this loss, which surprised me a little. Yes, I’m ok. I hate losing more than anyone, but BJJ is just a game. I lost this one, but there are many to come. A loss will never define me as a person. A loss simply makes me sad for the day, but hungrier to get back to training and to try harder to be better next time.

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As I walked around Tokyo on my last day, I’ve made a training plan for the next few months to lift my BJJ to another level. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

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2017 Australian Girls In Gi Camp

Uncategorized • Feb 18, 2017
@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

This year marked my 5th AGIG Camp and what a pleasure has it been involved yet again. I returned as a coach, joined by Jess Fraser, Esther Tavares-Tutida, Hope Douglass and Demi Butler as well as amazing assistant coaches in Van Do, Kirsty Mather, Jessica Dobbs, Patricia VanderMeer and Robyn Jordan. The AGIG community keeps on growing – this year there were 130 participants ranging from beginner white belts to very experienced black belts.

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@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

Since the theme of the camp was ‘playfulness’, I decided to teach a small part of my spider guard system. Spider guard is something I started to experiment with as a white belt, but never really used it in competition until the end of my purple belt days. It has taken me years to develop the skill and confidence to use it effectively and now it’s a big part of my game. I use it to sweep, submit, recover guard and transition to other guards.

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

My teaching style is always quite reliant on details and technique. Being a small female, I can never really rely on strength to power through moves, so I pay attention to the tinniest details that make a difference between the technique working and failing. I always teach things that work for me at competitions at the highest level.

The best part of my day? Photo with 130 women pelvic thrusting. Why, you ask? Because why the hell not!

@ Fiona Gumboots

@ Fiona Gumboots

I was so thrilled to teach 13 private lessons at camp as well. It was a pleasure to see so many ladies interested in my style and technique and most importantly thinking about the direction and progression of their own BJJ. I am not a particularly fast learner, so if I can master a skill and perform it at a world class event, then anyone can. With enough smart training and repetition anything is learnable.

I was so lucky to have my friend and training partner Chi with me all weekend. She was not only my ‘dummy’ for the seminar and privates, but also brought me food, coffee and lollies for the entire 4 days!

I absolutely loved learning from the other coaches this year. We all have our individual touches to similar techniques and we are all successful in our own rights. It was great to see individual spins, creativity and different personalities come through. I also had many fun rolls. The lower belts picked up the techniques learnt quickly and tried to execute them during sparring. I also loved rolling with black belt Van and brown belt Jessica – I literally could not wipe the smile off my face, as it’s not often I get to have such high level,  beautiful technical exchanges with people similar to my weight.

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The vibe this year was very positive and encouraging and I am damn proud to be a part of such wonderful community. Jess Fraser has yet again outdone herself and is an example of what can be achieved with a little bit of imagination and will-power.

During the 4 week camp, I took the Saturday off to compete at the Melbourne Open Abu Dhabi Pro Trials. Unfortunately there was only one open weight ticket on offer, but it was a good hit out and a nice start to the year. In my weight division I hit a nice spider lasso sweep taught by Abmar Barbosa and a deep half pass to S mount to a cutting arm bar (which I didn’t finish). In my open weight I lost by a take down, but played a very offensive guard with a few sweep and sub attempts. Congrats to Lachie, Ben and Demi to winning their well reserved tickets to the World Pro.

@ Joshua Stebbings

@ Joshua Stebbings

@ Macofoto

@ Macofoto

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I am skipping the Sydney Open and Australian Pro Trials this year, because I will be going directly to Abu Dhabi with the help of Pony Grappling Gear. I am beyond grateful and excited for such an awesome opportunity and will be joined by some of my favourite people from around the world.

Don’t forget to check out AGIG Camp photo gallery at Gumboots Photography.