Well what an amazing 3 weeks. On the 20th of May I left Australia for a training camp at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu in Las Vegas followed by competing at the IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championships. Only 5 weeks after getting out of a hip to ankle brace, because of tearing my MCL at the Abu Dhabi Pro trial in Sydney on the 18th of February.
After an overnight layover in LA I flew into Las Vegas and headed straight to the training camp at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu. The camp consisted of two sessions per day one at 9am and the other at 6:30pm so for the next week I spent the bulk of my time in a twice daily cycle of eat, train, eat, wash, GI, sleep. Having had 8 weeks of due to injury, it took me a while to get used to this level of training again. Lucky for my old bones there was access to an ice bath after each training session. Of the 14 sessions on offer I think I attended 10. Rocktape on me knee and back for each and every session. It held up great and only had to reapply every 2-3 days even though we where doing regular ice baths and hard rolling.
The sessions were not easy, lots of timed rounds to simulate competition and provide conditioning, and there where days I just felt like I was being beaten up. For the last 5 or so years I have worked primarily with no GI, so I quickly discovered there are so many new moves for me to become aware of and learn. But with the help of the other two other Aussie ladies on the camp, Jess Fraser and Liv Gluchowska, as well instruction on improving our technique and doing rounds with my old training partner from Melbourne – Sophia McDermott Drysdale, I walked away from each session knowing that I had learnt something new.
We ended up train at Drysdale’s from May 21st to 29th, and then on May 30th I hoped on a bus for the road trip to Long Beach and it was time to focus on getting ready to compete on Friday.
Due to my injury I had entered a weight division higher than I usually would so I was in the Purple Belt Medium Heavy. I know that sounds strange, but I didn’t want to have to concentrate on dieting and wanted my body to use all its energy to heal. It turned out there where only 7 girls in the division which meant 3 fights to the final.
For my first match I came up against a girl very skilled at playing deep half guard, one of those new moves I had only learnt how to counter the week before at the camp. I was able to get an early take down on her, she was quite wriggly and I spent a lot of time transitioning between being on top in deep half and or working on getting her back. Robert Drysdale personally coached me for this match, which was a great honor. Unfortunately I was not able to submit her, but at the end of time I was ahead on points and progressed to the next round. I was really happy with how I fought and was very glad that I was able to process and use the new information that I had learnt the week before.
My second fight didn’t go quite as well as my first. My opponent pulled guard on me early trying to choke me, a move I fell for just two weeks before at a comp in Australia. However, this time I was able to identify it – did I mention 5 years on no GI work J. We ended up going off the mat, as a part of the scramble the ref moved us back into the middle the mat. My arm had been trapped in a bad position, which we started in and it allowed her to work around to my back, getting hooks and working on a lapel choke. I countered for as long as I was able but eventually I lost the battle and had to tap out. But I had done enough to finish in 3rd place. This qualified me to enter the purple belt open and I jumped at the chance to have more matches at the World Championships.
The Purple belt open was held on Saturday night. I think from memory there where 16 entered. In my first match I came up against Janni Larsson, the eventual winner of the division. Janni pulled guard early and instantly started working on attacking my arm in a cross arm bar, a theme that continued throughout the length of the match. I was able to counter all of her attacks but she dominated the fight and won on points. There ended my World Championships campaign. But it has made me keener than ever to work my GI skills, and also to come back to the US later in the year for the No GI worlds
Despite the outcome of two loses and only one win, I was happy with my performance and I achieved my goal of medaling. I am looking forward to continuing with my GI work and working toward my brown belt. I learnt something from each match and could tell that my time Drysdale Jiu Jitsu had helped improve my Jiu Jitsu, and I was really grateful for them letting me come and train with them in Las Vegas.
Now it’s time for me to swap the GI for the kurtka and to focus on getting ready for the Australian selection trials later on this month, for the world Sambo Championship to be held in Russia
I would like to thank Femon Kimonos for providing me with awesome new GI’s to wear and to Rocktape Australia for providing me with the tape that held me together.