Whilst Bill gets his exercise through his 30,000 steps a day in our cheese store, there’s another member of staff who keeps fighting fit in a slightly more extreme way…
Meet Emily, who by day takes on the role of Commercial Analyst, but also lives another life as a two time British Jiu Jitsu Champion. Emily’s latest exploit was to secure herself a place at the prestigious IBJJF Jiu Jitsu World Championship in Long Beach, USA. However, she would need a sponsor who was just as bold and daring as her, step forward Blacksticks Blue.
We caught up with Emily upon her return to see how the trip went, here’s what she had to say:
First of all, how was it?
It was amazing, although I lost… but forgetting that fact it was my first time visiting America so it was really good! I arrived on Monday and I was there until Sunday so I had a couple of days to explore before the competition started as my fight was on the Friday.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning I thought the weather seemed similar to England when it’s sunny and as I was right off the beach thought it would be a good idea to go for a run… and nearly died! It was so humid, I thought there would be a lovely cooling breeze from the sea but I was wrong!
I went on my own, which was good in a way because it forced me to speak to people. There was a girl that I fought in a big competition in Luton last January, we’re different belts now so wouldn’t have fought at this competition but it was great to see her. The American competitors were so lovely, they kind of put the English to shame wanting to be friendly, help you out and invite you to join them in the evenings.
So, a bit more about the competition and your fight?
I lost my fight within minutes. It was a knock out tournament so one loss and you’re out. The girl I fought was from Australia and she had 6 years practice on my 2. Although it didn’t really phase me too much for my journey at this particular competition to end there, I was just dead proud to get to America in the first place.
I’ve done the same to a lot of people in England, knocked them out of the competition within minutes, so now I kinda get how they feel. To make it into the competition from about 12,000 entries worldwide felt pretty impressive anyway.
Did people comment on your Blacksticks robes? Surely you were the only competitor out there with an award winning blue cheese in their corner?
I was surprised actually before I went how many people were excited by my sponsor. Friends and family knew I worked for a Cheese brand but didn’t realise it was Butlers that I worked for, home of the infamous Blacksticks Blue! I’ll be honest, like I was when I applied for this job, I don’t really like cheese myself, before I started here I thought there was only 2 kinds of cheese; cheddar and the yellow cheese with holes in that you see on Tom & Jerry. But so many people commented on the gold logo on the back of my robes with ‘woah? Blacksticks Blue? That’s wicked!’
The venue looked pretty amazing with its pyramid shape, reminded us of a certain blue cheese we’re familiar with.. what was the venue called? Do you know how many spectators were there?
Walter Pyramid, Long Beach University Campus. The venue was really cool! Luckily I was at the venue a few days before competing to watch some of the other fights, I am glad I got to go and see it before it was my turn. It was a bit intimidating the first time I pulled up, my gut instinct was ‘OMG’, I felt dead nervous! Competitions in the UK are held in sports halls so this huge blue pyramid arena was a big shock. Not sure on numbers of people watching but there was definitely a few!
How long have you been practicing/competing?
Originally I wanted to start practicing MMA (cage fighting), but at the time I had an office job and I didn’t think I could really get away with rocking up for work on Monday with a black eye or broken nose.. Jiu Jitsu felt a bit more gentle, you still get bruises but you don’t get punched in the face or kicked in the head. Rules are no punches, the skill is in submissions so arm locks, knee locks, shoulder locks etc. Matches last 5-10 minutes depending on the belt level, if nobody taps out (submits) within the time then it goes to points.
Judging by the photo above, with your numerous trophies laid out in front of you, you’re pretty good?
I have been training for just over 2 years now. Really I should still be on my first belt, the white belt, but my teacher just recently bumped me up to the next level. It is all ranked depending on how your teacher judges your skill. This is why my competitor had years on me. Usually in Jui-Jitsu you train at each belt for 2-3 even 3-4 years. There are 5 coloured belts in total; white, blue, purple, brown and black.
I guess there’s only one question left to ask.. will you be back?
Not next year. I think maybe in 3 years time when I’ve been a blue belt for a while I will return with a stronger fight!