Jiu Jitsu Adventures: The Gi and I

I can’t believe that I’ve already been here in Singapore for over two weeks, and that in ten days’ time I’ll be back in Adelaide.

My holiday so far has allowed me to live out the fantasy of not needing to do anything except eat well, sleep when tired, spend time with family and friends, and train. No matter how many sacrifices one makes, this is not the reality of everyday life, when the more burdensome aspects of our responsibilities in relationships, study and work all get in the way of our peace of mind, recovery-sleep and focus.

Training at Evolve MMA is always rewarding. I first trained at Evolve in 2011, and it marked a turning-point for me at the time, in terms of health, self-esteem, ambitions and relationships. Being exposed to such a positive environment allowed me to envision a life of positivity and progress for myself, and experiencing BJJ and MMA for the first time helped me to clarify my sporting goals.

It wasn’t easy to create the vision that I saw back then, but three years later I can certainly say that I’ve changed my life for the better. When I look back on the sad, lost young woman who walked into Evolve in 2011 and put on a gi for the first time, I am proud. People who know the real me have commented on it as well – my energy goes towards betterment and progress now, rather than to damage-control.

I have chosen good people with whom to surround myself, and this has strengthened me in the pursuit of my goals in all areas, not just training. In the last two years, I’ve upgraded my Fitness qualifications, achieved High Distinctions and Distinctions for all of my Nutrition subjects and in my first year at University, got my first win in MMA as part of the first WMMA fight in South Australia, won gold in my weight class at the South Australian State Championships and Grappling Tournaments Australia as a white belt, won gold in my weight division at the State Championships at Blue Belt, and competed overseas for the first time. I could not have done a fraction of this without the support and positivity of the people who are in my life now.

Coming back to Evolve has become a sort of ritual for me, something which marks the passage of time, gives me the chance to reflect on my progress, and which always renews my passion for what I do.

This time I’ve particularly been enjoying gi jiu jitsu. In the past, the gi has been an obstacle for me, something that I tolerated but didn’t always enjoy. There have been many times where I wished that there was the option in Adelaide for me to train under a Tenth Planet gym, and be able to do away with the gi altogether. While I do love the Tenth Planet style, and find the Tenth Planet techniques that Nick has helped me to use really relevant to my no-gi and MMA game, being at Evolve has helped me to love and understand the gi.

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The Fortnight That Was: Gi Problems, Weight-Cutting, and The Gout Strikes Back

Hot cacao-and-almond-milk after a walk by the riverI’ve just gotten back from a long, slow walk. This rather unexciting circumstance has been brought about by a flare-up of Gout. It’s one of the most ridiculous things that I have to tell people – that I, a thirty-year-old, non-drinking, non-smoking female athlete have Rich Man’s Disease, but without the patriarchal or financial privilege that is supposed to predispose one to it!

I first became aware that I had gout when, on a Saturday night in 2012, when working as a gaming manager after a day of BJJ training and MMA sparring, I started to feel a little pain in my ankle. Within half an hour, the pain had escalated to the point where it was completely debilitating and even the touch of an ice-pack on my foot was excruciating.

I was taken to hospital, in my black work dress make-up and other non-sporting accessories, where I had to explain all of the bruises on my legs and how my ankle couldn’t possibly just be broken, because I had fractured, sprained, broken, torn and crushed many things before with not even half the amount of pain I was in now.

I was given anti-inflammatories, which were surprisingly effective, and a diagnosis of Gout. I remember laughing when I heard it; I thought the young intern was trying to lighten the mood. But no, really, at the age of 27 I had developed Gout.

I went on to discover that it’s not unheard of in athletes. A diet rich in purines and alcohol is only one cause of the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints which cause this intensely painful condition.

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Where Did You Want To Be Two Years Ago?

I was recently prompted to “write the post that was on my mind when I decided to start this blog.”

I went back over my archives and read my first post. It was February 2012. I was enjoying my first year of good health after chronic fatigue syndrome.

I wrote:

Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury
Me, 2012, with cake and neck injury

“Where I’d rather be now is reaching more people through my personal training business, competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fighting in Muay Thai again both here and in Thailand, and making my debut in Mixed Martial Arts. These are the things that have formed the basis of 2012′s Resolutions, which in turn determine the actions I take each day to make these a reality.” 

Since then, I moved some goal-posts. Transitioning from Muay Thai to MMA was more difficult than imagined, so my goals to have more Muay Thai fights and to go to Thailand have been superseded by my focus on grappling.

I have seen how competitive the personal training industry has become, and how much more clients need than basic exercise programs. I continue to work with fitness clients, while making myself a better exercise specialist and, eventually, a holistic nutritionist through formal study.

One area of my life has gone according to plan, and that’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Losing via ground-and-pound stoppage in an MMA fight against Arlene Blencowe last year turned out to be a blessing. It has driven me to develop my grappling skills.

Last weekend I competed in the South Australian Brazilian Jiu Jitsu State Championships – my first competition as a blue belt.

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