Since May 2015 I have been training at a little gym in Felixstowe who train under the banner of BJJ Revolution team and Eduardo Gonçalves. The gym is small, but has some big past champions, English, British and European Gi and No Gi. The training is excellent and taught with passion. Mark Nixon often taught the classes and would always call it little man jiu jitsu. It was perfect for me being a feather weight.
The only downside was only being able to train twice per week as the distance was 90 miles round trip as I taught my kickboxing class or worked on the other training days. The training was worth the journey, but it wasn’t enough for me.
With the politics of jiu jitsu and the stigma that comes with changing teams, I was staying loyal to the lineage of Carlson Gracie team.
After going to the Euro’s and fighting my friend from Carlson Gracie team in the first round, there really wasn’t any point trying to stay loyal. I had to go where the training was good, where I could train often and didn’t take miles and hours to get to and from, that didn't rinse my fuel and somewhere that I could get quality training more than twice per week.
The decision was made, but it wasn’t an easy one. Mark had taken me in with open arms to BJJ Revolution team when things weren’t going right for me and my ex coach had turned on me. I had often told Mark that if I lived in Felixstowe or even 30 miles closer to the gym, I’d be there every night. The people of Felixstowe don’t know what they have on their doorstep and that’s a little frustrating.
I told Mark at the end of Tuesday’s class that I was going to train closer to home and with Lee. Lee knew Mark, and commented what a great guy he is. One of his top fighters started with Mark all those years ago, and is now fighting in the UFC.
Mark looked upset and I was holding back the tears, but we hugged it out and he welcomed me back any time I wanted to, and I will go back. I’ve been inspiring the new white belt ladies, so I have to go back and see their progress.
I drove away from the gym in Felixstowe and burst in to tears on the way home.
So now this means that I’m a Creonte. That dreaded word that means I'm a traitor. I didn’t see myself as a Creonte when I was asked to leave Carlson Gracie team by my old coach, I had to go, but now this was my choice. I spoke to Eduardo, the BJJ Revolution team head coach, and I had his blessing. He understood that I needed to train more to be competition ready and that the journey was too much for me each week. Not only was it rinsing my fuel, it was puting 180 miles per week extra on my car and 4 hours of travelling time each week. All this for the love of jiu jitsu. I had showed my loyalty to the sport, and now it was time to be smart and train smart.
In a decent size gym in Rayleigh, Essex, the PMA Academy is the home to Braulio Estima’s black belt and head coach Lee Catling. I was blown away by the quality of the class, the way the class is instructed and the sparring at the end. They train under the Gracie Barra banner. If I want to, I can train in 11 classes per week, and out of competition season I can practice my striking and kicks with the Muay Thai coach Jez Lord.
This wasn't the first time I had trained in Lee's class, my friend Jodie had invited me along to train with her and she tried to convince me to leave Carlson Gracie back in 2014 to train there. It was about 18 months ago and when my ex coach had started to be mean to me that I was contemplating it, but the time to change teams wasn't right at that time, as I had to keep my training consistent as I had the World Masters to train for.
The signs were always there, but my loyalty lay with Carlson Gracie Team. Once I realised that competing against my friend from Carlson Gracie team at the Euro's and could happen at any competition, and it was just a team that I worked really hard in training for and dedicated a lot of time and effort to Carlson Gracie Team by putting in to setting up and running of the Chelmsford gym and the Chelmsford Open, it was time to break away and make a fresh start. Be Jolie, make new friends and really love training jiu jitsu again.
I know people at Gracie Barra Southend, My S & C coach Will trains there, friends already train there and so does my boyfriend.
It’s my new home, I’m happy, I love the training and I can feel some medals coming along…..