- When and why did you start BJJ?
I started jiujitsu on the 6th of January 2016 and it was totally a random decision to start BJJ. I was always asked to start by one of the girls on the team (Sara), who has been there since the class started, but I never thought I would ever stick to it. This is especially true with the gym being about an 40 minute long car journey; but the journey seems to get shorter and shorter every time I drive there!
2. Did you have any previous martial arts experience? What was it?
I had no other martial art experience whatsoever, apart from my boyfriend being a high level MMA fighter. I had watched lots of MMA fights with him, and had the odd play fight when he gets annoying! When I was younger I used to do dancing, and lots of horse riding I used to own my own horse, but other than that, no other sporting/martial arts experience.
3. What do you love about BJJ?
I love everything about BJJ, it is so interesting and confusing at the same time, but the thing I love the most has to be competing.
4. Where do you train? Tell me about your gym/training partners. What makes it special?
I train at The Dungeon BJJ and MMA academy. It is in my opinion the best gym in the U.K and the results from everyone on the team prove it. They are 3 gyms altogether, but the main gym is based in Sunderland. The other two gyms are based in Thornaby and Consett. The head coaches are Aaron Naisbet and Sean Colfer, who are both black belts. Even though there are 3 gyms at 3 locations, we are all one big gym/family.
My training partners are mostly all female; we have a huge and successful ladies team based in Sunderland, with 10 ladies in total. We all have such a great bond together and always so supportive towards each other in everything we do. 8 out of 10 of us have competed and done amazingly well, especially Rebecca Purvis who is only 15. She competed against a girl of a higher belt, and won gold and silver at the Europeans last month. There’s also Sara Colfer who is the first female from our team to medal in an IBJJF competition, coming away with a silver after some very tough fights against highly skilled girls. I am proud of everyone in my team and so happy to have them all as training partners.
5. What would you tell yourself when you first started BJJ?
This is such a hard question! I would tell myself that you will find weird shape bruises in the strangest places haha! But seriously I would tell myself it is the best thing you would ever do and you will not look back!
6. What has been the hardest part of training BJJ for you?
Having a full time job is the hardest part because all I want to do is train! I recently changed jobs so I could train more regularly and get into a routine, as my old job I used have to work weekends and some days until 8pm, which meant I had to miss a night of training, whereas my new job is monday-friday 9-5. This means free weekends – more competitions waaahhooo!!!!
7. Have you competed? What do you like/hate about it?
I competed in my first competition on the 8th of May 2016 which was Versus Grappling in Newcastle and I loved it, I was sooooo excited! I love everything about competing, I never get nervous which I find strange as it is such a physical sport. I always get so excited to compete, from the moment I find a competition I can do, to the moment you slap hands on the mat.
8. What was the best BJJ-related memory from 2016?
I have lots of great memories this year, my highlights are when I got my first stripe in May at the Leon Amancio seminar at our gym; winning my first gold at the Blackpool Open; competing in the IBJJF; receiving my second stripe on the 14th of December, and being sponsored by Vicky Lynch of Additional Lengths Hair Extensions who helps me towards all my competitions. I wouldn’t be able to compete so much if it wasn’t for her help you will see me wearing ‘remi-catchet’ patches in the upcoming competitions representing her business.
9. Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
I prefer no-gi as I find it a lot easier for some reason I feel like I can move a lot more and a lot faster than I can in the GI! I always seem to do better in no GI at competitions which I find strange as we don’t have a no GI class for the ladies at my gym, the only time I get to do no GI is at open mat! I do love GI as though! It’s all great.
10. Is it hard being a female BJJ practitioner? Is there some things that you think are different to your male teammates?
I do think it can be hard for females, as I don’t think they get as much respect as males. For example I got a load of rubbish from a ref at my 3rd comp, at Empire, he mocked me losing my match, and he mocked my team mate for wanting to get a picture on her phone. That can put a girl off competing, and I can’t imagine him saying that to a male competitor! Males also have more weight classes and better prizes, but I have to say the BJJ competition’s are slowly growing for the women it be interesting to see what 2017 brings for us ladies!
11. What are your goals for 2017? Do you plan to compete?
My goals for 2017 are to do as many competitions as possible, and to do the absolutes as I have never done one before! I also want to get better in the GI at comps.
12. Take down or guard pull?
I don’t actually have a preference I just go with the flow, sometimes I might pull guard sometimes I might try for a takedown. I just wait and see what the other person gives me and react from that.
13. Where would you like to see yourself, in terms of jiu-jitsu, in a years time?
In a years time I would like to see myself competing in a couple of international competitions, going around the world meeting new people, attending one of Mackenzie Derns seminars, and I would also love to do the female bjj camps in Amsterdam.
Written by Samantha Oram,
Edited by Bryony.
Until next time,