Well, this is my third time heading to Vegas to attend the IBJJF World Masters Championships. Regular readers will know about the steep learning curve that I had in 2015 and the fabulous experience I had last year. I’d love to say that I wasn’t feeling any pressure or expectations going into this year’s event but I’ll be honest – I’d be lying!
For those who don’t follow the competition circuit. The World Masters continues to grow and it is now one of the biggest events in the calendar. Despite only being three days it boasts 21 competition mats and over 4500 competitors and that’s before the additional events including the heavyweight Grand Prix, Exvira fitness expo and a whole host of bjj seminars. 2017 has been a bit of a Jiu Jitsu roller coaster for me so I was really hoping this would be a case of peaking at the right moment / 3rd time being the charm! (Despite my UK training camp not going totally plan but more on that another day!).
Using our learning from last year we’d delayed our departure to the states meaning only a few days adjusting to the change of time zones in Redondo and catching one session at the Garage (with the fabulous Chris and Melissa Haueter) before heading to Las Vegas. Some minor boxing event (Mayweather v McGregor) had made the city much busier this year so I was really glad to be staying off the strip at the Desert Rose hotel slightly out of the madness!
Thursday was the first day of competition and it gave me the opportunity to scope out the venue and layout as well as to watch a number of friends including my coach Adam Adshead. Things didn’t go to plan for a number of friends but watching their performances against adult world medalist and high degree black belts left me in no doubt of my friends bjj mojo!
Friday was time for the blue belts. As always I was accompanied by my team mate Aaron and my hubby. Unfortunately I wasn’t on until 3pm Vegas time and my hubby even later so it meant a lot of hanging about at the hotel beforehand. My hubby unfortunately missed out on a medal this year losing in the quarter final whilst my team mate Aaron won gold following three fantastic matches.
Onto me, I had a busier bracket than previous years with eleven athletes. I won’t go into excessive detail but my first match was close to my game plan as possible with a submission finish which felt really good, I was 2-0 down in my second match due to a sweep but managed to seriously hustle to secure the back for four with eight seconds remaining! With the bronze in the bag I faced the ultimate winner and despite some good exchanges was ultimately caught in an arm bar. I did enter the absolute but I lost to the heavyweight gold medalist in my first match resulting this year in a single world bronze medal.
Last but not least up was my friend and judo coach Sophie who’d waited till the Saturday teatime to make her purple belt debut. Sophie as we hoped absolutely took purple belt by storm winning gold in her catagory and silver in the absolute. As a result Factory BJJ took four medals (25% of all the UK medals) a fantastic achievement for a relatively small gym and a testament to the work Adam and all the coaches put in.
Obviously, once everyone had competed we could focus on the important things like food! There are worst places to eat yourself silly than Las Vegas!
Despite not being a gold I think I’m the proudest of this achievement. Not just because I had to win more fights than at previous worlds to medal but just because of the quality of Jiu Jitsu I had to find and display. On reflection my first year at the worlds was a learning curve, the second year was about proving to other people that I belonged at this level but this year was about me. I was actually my biggest opposition and it was all about pushing past a few physical problems but also mentally starting to believe in my abilities and proving that to myself.
I’ve really loved my Las Vegas experiences and I’d recommend everyone to try and do the Worlds at least once if life allows and I will back at some point. But for now, I think it’s time to take a little break from serious competition. Firstly for recovery, secondly to explore my Jiu Jitsu a little more beyond IBJJF rules but finally and possibly, more importantly, my annual leave only goes so far! Life and my desire to explore other places need a little attention. Although obviously my trips may include a few BJJ gyms, I am the BJJ Minion after all!
Next stop the rest of my holiday back in LA and Redondo beach including some training with my extended BJJ family at the Garage.