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British Open 2016

This year was my 5th consecutive year as a competitor in the BJJ British open. The first year was a disaster. What was I to expect as a white belt who had gone on a hen weekend the weekend before the competition and had to cut to light weight in a week? I now fight at the lower feather weight.

My fitness was bad, back then I hadn’t eaten well, I wasn’t serious about competing and what it really takes to get somewhere in a jiu jitsu competition. I had one fight, got stuck in Sonya’s guard and lost the fight by decision.

The next year was better, I won! The year after I came third by winning a fight, and then losing one. Last year I went up a weight as I struggled to drop down the extra kilo that I usually need. I fought Kate Jackson, and MMA fighter who is currently on this season of TUF. I didn’t win, but after watching back, I was happy with my performance.

This year I had a tough division of five feather weight purple belts, the most I think there has ever been in the British Open. My first fight was Ashley Bendle from Chris Rees Academy. Ashley is 19 years younger than myself and been training for 14 years. So I was up against a tough young girl. I have sparred with Ashley before at her Gym in Cardiff, and she’s awesome. We see each other at different competitions, are often in the same division, but Ashley is smaller and should really fight at light feather, but there aren’t many women who are that light.

Within the women’s BJJ comm

unity, there is a brilliant sense of support for one another and excellent sportswoman ship. Queuing up and getting ready for our match, Ashley said “Lets go and have some fun!”

We did exactly that. Nerves were in my belly as usual, and I’m sure Ashley was the same. We stood at the edge of the mat, was called to the centre, shook hands and went for the same lapel worm guard, but Ashley got there first. She swept me, and I spent the rest of the 7 minutes trying to fight her off. She was surprisingly strong, and there wasn’t a lot I could do. My ego did over come me and I didn’t want to get tapped, so fought defensively and then lost the fight 12-0. Fair play to Ashley, she was brilliant and did so well. I loved the fight despite not winning, so I can go away with a lot to work on.

As out fight was the semi finals, I gained a default bronze medal and signed up for the open class.

This years British Open was the most disorganized that it’s ever been. There were so many complaints about divisions starting at 8pm on a Sunday evening, when flights were booked that same night and the competitors would have no time to get them. So the schedule was changed less than 24 hours before the event, and still people were up in arms about it. This kind of thing can mess with a fighters state of mind, so I’m sure there were a lot of people who pulled out of the tournament.

The female purple belt open class was scheduled for 8.30pm, but it actually took place at 5.30pm. There were only 3 of us. Myself, Kat Hill and Ffion Davies. I had no chance…..

It’s not being negative, or creating the wrong frame of mind, I was being realistic with myself. Ffion is young lady, an MMA fighter, a judo black belt, she won the worlds No Gi and Open class and keeps winning every competition since then. She’s a little heavier than me and no doubt a whole lot better.

Kat Hill was on the mats the very first time I stepped on them back in 2011 as a blue belt. She was also an old team mate from Carlson Gracie and someone who I very much looked up to. She won a lot of competitions and in training she would make me tap time and time again.

The first fight was Ffion and Kat. Kat tapped to a choke. She was ready to go again pretty soon after and I was up at the mat. We shook hands and both pulled guard together. She tried to pass, but couldn’t, she went for double unders, but I got out, I got her lapel and went for the worm guard, but we were out of the area. We were reset slightly different to how we were when we went out of the area, and I’ll be honest, it annoyed me. Kat passed, then went for the choke in the last minute. I tapped.

It was a great fight and I was really happy with my performance, even though I didn’t win. That’s the beauty about jiu jitsu, you learn when you don’t win a fight, and I have a lot to work on.

Kat tapped again to Ffion, and we all went on the podium together.

A competition is never going to completely go as you plan, so it’s always best to train hard, and love every minute of what you do.

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