So as time ticks down……11 weeks..2 days..21 hours..31 minutes..30,29,28 Seconds! until we leave for 163 days of adventure, But who’s counting right? I start to reflect on what as lead to this decision of why we decided to go on this journey. A quick look into our training history may give some insight into this.
Its October 2008….my daughter is 4 months old, I have been working in the Iron ore mining industry since I was 17 and was now 26. Living in a small mining town. At that time all I did was work, race motocross and Drink..the great aussie pastime. The UFC was gaining ground in Australia and BJ Penn was dominating the lightweight division, with his boxing and Jiu-Jitsu. A few months prior I had been talking to one of my mates and discussing how I would love to learn this thing called BJJ… One day in October after returning from the weights gym and driving past one of our sporting ovals I saw a group of guys rolling around on mats… Could it be what I was looking for?? I immediately pulled up in the car and walked over to this group to be met by large very fit looking individual who was running the session he introduced himself and explained that he was a BJJ black belt..I couldn’t believe my luck. Gerald Burton-Batty a well known BJJ/MMA competitor in the early days was doing Fly-in/Fly-out work on a construction job at one of the mines. For 3 months I trained every chance I had with them… and was very vocal when the cancelled training when it was 45*c as I couldn’t get enough. After 3 months Gerald informed me that he was leaving the project and was heading back to Perth..1200 km away.
So here is when the traveling began! Dee and I have always been super supportive of each other’s passions and she was about to show just how much she supported me in this. After a quick discussion it was decided that I would leave her and our 4 month old for 2 weeks and travel to Perth to take Gerald up on a offer to show me around and train in Perth’s BJJ scene. We trained at a few different places FFC, Submission factory and AMMA. It was one of the biggest eye opening experiences of my life, I was 100% hooked! On returning home Dee ( who didn’t really understand what I was doing ) could see how excited I was about this and we quickly decided that I would travel to Perth once and month for my rostered days off work ( 4 days ) and train in Perth. I did this for 2 years! I can’t remember each individual trip as they all blend together and recall almost being a more of a regular at some of the clubs than some of the people that lived 10 km away! During this time I spent more of my time at the Submission Factory than any other club and eventually made this my home.
During this time I had purchased mats and had them setup in my carport outside where I would try to convince everyone I could to come and try what I was doing. As there were a lot of workers flying in from other places I had people from all over the country coming to roll at my house just by word of mouth. Not long After I received my Blue belt from Stacey and Troy at the Submission factory it became clear that the carport was just too small and that we had to move somewhere else. With Stacey and John Will’s blessing Newman Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was officially born! Dee had been dabbling in BJJ but did not have the passion for it that I did. Probably due to being the Only woman doing it at the time. When we moved to the new venue I convinced Dee to give it a go with the line “we will needs a ladies class for the new club”. 6 years on her passion for the sport has grown to the same as mine. Our small club hosted even more visitors that were in town for work now that we were setup in a local hall. Both our Children Lilly and Kobe have grown up on or near the mats and love training as much as we do.
8 1/2 years in I continue to travel to Perth when I can but unfortunately the flight costs have jumped dramatically over the last few years and only make it down 5-6 times a year. As I look back, Perth and Australia for that matter have always had a very welcoming BJJ community and the affiliation lines have always been a little blurred. Everywhere I have trained have always been welcoming to me regardless of affiliation. I have enjoyed meeting new people in the BJJ community across Australia and New Zealand over the years.
So after joking about how much leave I had stocked up over the years with mates, Dee and I decided to take the 6 months off and travel and train. First we threw around destinations like Brazil. We then decided to give Brazil a miss while the children were so young and from all accounts can be a little “rough” at times so we will save this trip until everyone is a little older. After more discussion we came to the conclusion that the USA will be a better option. Flying and Road tripping across the country to seek out the best training that it has to offer. We only have limited set plans in the states at this stage as we can to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities that may arise.
A Lot has changed over the years from when I started, Motocross has gone, Drinking has gone some things for the better and some for worse. On thing that has stayed is I have always had to travel to gain skills and train with higher belts. Just never on this scale, to say i’m not a little nervous would be a lie. But that’s what BJJ is about really being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
A Huge shout out to Christian and the Crew from www.bjjglobetrotters.com for the support for this trip can’t wait to start repping the movement and brand.
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