Well it’s certainly been quite a year.
I remember talking to some BJJ girls when I went to a camp at Fighting Fit Manchester in Aug 2015, and they were talking about the competitions they’d done. I distinctly remember saying that I would never have the guts to do that because it sounded utterly terrifying. Well, eighteen months and eleven competitions later… I guess I’ve gotten over that fear! I also meant to do this a while ago, but I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t as the sneaky Newcastle Open entry came up this weekend, so it would have been incomplete.
Anyway, here’s a look back at the events of this year, my reflections on my competitions and how things have changed.
It all started back in February, when I went to an inter-club competition at Positive Options gym in Ilkley. The gym instructor is brown belt Fred Greenall, and he sometimes comes to Kaizen to train. It was a nice introduction to competition. There was supposed to be a girl from a gym in Leeds coming to compete, but unfortunately she had to drop out due to an injury, so it was just girls from Kaizen who were competing. To say that my idea of competition was very different then is an understatement.
Needless to say; I lost. The physical pressure of competition was just too much for me, and I had no sense of a developed game. I didn’t know what I would play, and my matches were mostly reactive – wait and see what they would do, and then react. Not the best way to go about trying to achieve a win.
I went to an inter-uni competition in March, that was organised by Hull University MMA Society. This was the first time I would be against girls who weren’t from my own gym. I remember that I was seriously nervous, because the rule set was sub-only and there were various aspects allowed that were outside of IBJJF rules (not that I really knew what these were at the time!). Slamming, for example. This was because most of the competitors were MMA fighters, so their natural game was tailored towards that end.
Anyway, the matches were ten minutes, with EBI overtime rules if no sub was achieved in that time. I won my first match by armbar after a few scrappy moments. I remember the girl I fought was double jointed, so the armbar was so deep. Apparently, according to my teammates standing on the sideline it looked absolutely disgusting, and I definitely felt her elbow pop before she tapped.
My second match I won by RNC, but it was a proper war. I really had to scrap for it I remember, and I think I got the choke somewhere in the eighth or ninth minute. So I came out on top that day, and won my first (and so far only) gold medal.
Then came the first Newcastle Open at the end of April. This was a bigger competition, even though the women’s divisions were still small. I was only doing no-gi at this point (I don’t think I even owned my own proper BJJ gi) and it was certainly the side of the sport that I felt most comfortable with.
I headed down with Joe Butler (whose spotlight piece you can read here (insert link)), who since has become my oftentimes companion at competitions. It was great to have some support there and he did very well. I was winning my match, by way of two sweeps, when I got swept into mount. Therefore she got six points and won the match in one move. I was very annoyed at the time. Looking back I realise that I could’ve stopped that by having a slightly better appreciation of the rules of BJJ. I can’t be too hard on myself though, it was my first “big” comp, and I think I did well to score points at all.
I took what I could from it, and didn’t get too upset. I prepared for the Manchester Open which was coming a few weeks later.
This was even bigger than Newcastle Open; there were over 300 competitors at the event. There should have been three people in my division, but one of the girls didn’t show up. So it was just me and Becky Bursnoll.
She beat my by Kimura, but once again I wasn’t too upset. My coach told me that he was very experienced and had been competing for a long time.
I then decided to do absolutes, so I would get more matches. I can’t remember who I fought, other than Oyinda, where the final score was 0-0, and she won because she was more aggressive in top position. You can read my full write up of the day here.
Kaizen Academy Competition
I both organised and competed in this competition. I’ve decided that this is something I wouldn’t do again. I loved organising the competition, but if I’m going to do that side, competing as well is a bit too much. My mind wasn’t focused on the personal competition aspect at all, because I was too busy worrying about whether everything was in order and who needed to be where at what time.
As such, I didn’t win a medal. It was my only competition this year that I didn’t pick a medal up at it. I wasn’t too worried though, because the event was a success and we’re looking to do another one in 2017.
I had had no intentions of doing Kleos, because it was so far away from Lancaster. I was convinced by Maia Holmes into doing the event. I was very glad I did in the end and picked up a silver after winning one match and losing the other. It was a bit of an odd set up because I had to fight the same girl twice. I had a lot of fun though and the medals are absolutely badass. It’s definitely my favourite one so far.
There were also three Bryony’s at this event in the women’s blue/white division which is amazing. I rarely meet one other person with my name, never mind three of us at the same place! The other thing that amuses me when I remember this event, is going through the videos with my coach Michael Wood afterwards and him saying ‘You should have won all of them’ but apparently “I didn’t move fast enough” – cheers Michael!
Watch out for Part Two coming next week…
Until next time,