A Fight With The World-Class

A Fight With The World-Class

On the 12th and 13th of November, I competed at the SJJIF World JIu Jitsu Championship. This experience was one of the most challenging in my life.
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On a cold, Friday afternoon, I left my home to fight the strongest martial artists in the world inside a giant pyramid. This challenge is called the SJJIF Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World competition, and it is a competition where the strongest fighters come from around the world to fight and defeat opponents on the mat.

I had been training for this competition for almost a year. I spent every free moment of the week I had training my Jiu Jitsu. I had faced people three times my size and I had taken them down. I had tapped countless opponents while sparring on the mat. I practiced my take downs every chance I got because an opponent hitting the mat by my own hand is one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt.

A week before the competition, I was ready. I had lost five pounds in a few weeks from the amount I pushed myself on the mats. I was ready for war.

One morning a week before the Worlds, I woke up sick. I get sick about once a year, but this time I had an ear infection to boot. Knowing I had a week left, I scheduled a doctor's appointment the next day. They prescribed me antibiotics, and they told me I was good to fight. After I took a weekend to recover, I went back to the gym.

At the gym, I felt awful. When I could train for hours a week before, I got tired after twenty minutes of training. I did not have the strength of the week before, and I did not have the endurance. I was getting man handled, and after I got beat, I felt like throwing up from exhaustion.

After three days of mat time, my girlfriend and I left to the World competition in Long Beach. On Saturday, I signed up and watched the other competitors. Their matches were brutal. I was in the presence of world champions. I watched their matches for hours. I could not stop moving around in my seat while knowing it would be me on center stage.

My first match was a drag-out. My opponent was strong, but like myself, he was only a white belt. I had strength enough to keep him where I wanted him and not let him attempt arm lock submissions on me. For five minutes, he and I used all of our strength to try and overpower one another. When the timer was up, we went into overtime.

In overtime, it was sudden death. The first competitor to score a point wins. I was confident in my take down practice, so I shot for his legs. As I grabbed his legs, he grabbed my back, and we both went to the ground with me on top. As soon as we hit the ground, the match was over. Seconds later, the referee raised my hand for victory by take-down.

My second match started ten minutes after my first. I was in a stacked division, and unluckily, I went up against an opponent who had not had a first match. He was fresh, and when we got into the ring, I instantly understood that his strength surpassed mine. Our standing fight lasted seconds before he flung me to the mat. When I was on the ground, it was easy to take position over me. I was exhausted and disappointed in myself. As I struggled, he racked up more and more points on me. I struggled to not be chocked and to scramble to my feet, but my opponent was as skilled as he was strong. I lost by many points.

After shaking hands with him and staying for my teammates who had won their matches, my girlfriend and I went back to our room exhausted. My second competition was the next day, and I needed to make up for my first.

The next morning, my girlfriend and I enjoyed ourselves. My match was not until the afternoon, so we made sure to treat some of our time in Long Beach as a vacation. We got breakfast, walked along the beach, and visited the nice neighborhoods around the city. This time exploring Long Beach made me feel better, and when it was time to leave, I was ready for battle.

I was quickly at The Pyramid and ready for my match. This time I was not wearing my four pound Gi, but instead, I wore a light rash guard and shorts. I warmed up under the bleachers, and I soon I stood across from my opponent on the mat.


He and I fought hard. He was bigger than me, and again, I did not feel the strength that I had when I trained at home. In this match, I shot for take downs and submissions, but I could not catch my opponent. He beat me by points after getting me to the ground and gaining position. After our five minutes was over, I got up, shook his hand, and shortly after that my girlfriend and I headed home.

I thought I was going to medal headed to the SJJIF Worlds. I thought I was doing everything right. I spent long nights after school and work in the gym trying to be my best. What happened at the Worlds was something I was not prepared for. I got sick. I could have been more prepared with training. Some days, I skipped Jiu Jitsu classes to catch up on my coursework. Sometimes I wanted a day off from training to have dinner with my family. At the Worlds, I lost my matches.

However defeated I felt, I have never once felt sad. My competitors were strong, and those I lost to went on to medal as world champions. I also got to compete alongside my amazing teammates. Many of my teammates went undefeated in their brackets and became world champions.

These are the people that I get to train with at the gym and become stronger together with. What I learned at the Worlds Jiu Jitsu championship is that I was not there to earn a medal. It was not my time, and I could not have been ready that weekend in November. However, I learned more than I ever could if I stayed home that weekend. I went out on those mats and I fought my hardest.

And even though I lost, tournaments like the Worlds will be back, and I will be there trained, mean, and ready to compete.

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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A Saudi Woman Was Sentenced To Public Whipping And Jail... After Her Own Gang Rape

Originally, the seven men who committed the crime were sentenced to lesser punishments, her lawyer was disbarred for defending her, and her punishment was doubled for speaking to the press.

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Content warning: Sexual assault

Among the most audacious and cruel crimes against women abroad of slews of acid attacks, brutal murders, child marriages, and the loss of agency and education — the case of the Qatif girl stands out. This case compels the question: Do acts of violence become less a crime just because a particular government sanctions them?

In 2006, a woman who was raped by seven men (whose identity is obscured for her protection) was sentenced by a judge to 90 public lashings and time in jail. When she spoke out against this punishment to media sources, her sentence was doubled to 200 public lashings and six months in jail.

Even her lawyer was attacked and disbarred for deigning to defend her. The Guardian explains: "The victim's lawyer, a prominent human rights defender, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, was suspended from the case as a result of the appeal and his licence, granted to Saudi lawyers by the ministry of justice, has (was) been revoked." To make matters worse, her attackers were given relatively lenient prison sentences of 10 months - five years, where rape is supposed to a capital crime.

Her crime? Being out of her home unchaperoned in the presence of an unrelated man — in their eyes of the judges: she was asking for it. Her crime was that of "indecency."

Not only was this 18-year-old woman raped several times by each of the seven perpetrators, the man whom she was meeting that day to obtain old photographs was also raped. He too, was jailed for his part in luring the young woman into a car, alone with him knowing full well it is illegal in Saudi Arabia for a woman to go outside of the home unchaperoned.

Furthermore, "The women in Saudi Arabia don't have the right to go anywhere without their husband or a male relative. This male person who accompanies a woman is called a Mahram. Without his approval, a woman can't leave the country, get a job, get married, enter a University or even have surgery."

Saudia Arabia is a monarchy. This is important to consider when examining the cause and effect scenarios of this case. This country is based on paradigms vastly different than ones we are used to--and ones that call into question whether or not a country should be allowed to operate in a certain way if it violates an international standard of human rights.

Thankfully international attention flocked to this case, and enough light was shined that the countries King pardoned both victims of any guilt, and the rapists' sentences were increased. Telegraph UK reports:

Saudi Justice Minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed, told the newspaper that the pardon did not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the "interests of the people."
"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," he said.
The victim's husband welcomed the news. "I'm happy and my wife is happy and it will of course help lift some of her psychological and social suffering. We thank the king for his generous attention and fatherly spirit."

Although a relief to hear that justice prevailed in this situation, it is still deeply troubling the lengths in which a judicial body will go to keep a woman from speaking out.

In a 2007 interview with ABC (that has now been taken down) the woman who will remain nameless was given a chance to tell her story. Although her words and right to speak out have been scourged by the Saudi Arabian Government, the imprint of them will forever last on the internet.

This quotation contains graphic and possibly triggering testimonial of a brutal assault and may be difficult to read. Discretion is adviced:

"I [am] 19 years old. I had a relationship with someone on the phone. We were both 16. I had never seen him before. I just knew his voice. He started to threaten me, and I got afraid. He threatened to tell my family about the relationship. Because of the threats and fear, I agreed to give him a photo of myself.
A few months [later], I asked him for the photo back but he refused. I had gotten married to another man. He said, 'I'll give you the photo on the condition that you come out with me in my car.' I told him we could meet at a souk [market] near my neighborhood city plaza in Qatif.
He started to drive me home. We were 15 minutes from my house. I told him that I was afraid and that he should speed up. We were about to turn the corner to my house when they [another car] stopped right in front of our car. Two people got out of their car and stood on either side of our car. The man on my side had a knife. They tried to open our door. I told the individual with me not to open the door, but he did. He let them come in. I screamed.
One of the men brought a knife to my throat. They told me not to speak. They pushed us to the back of the car and started driving.
We drove a lot, but I didn't see anything since my head was forced down....When we arrived I noticed a lot of palm trees. They took me out to a dark area and forced me to take off my clothes. The first man with the knife raped me. He destroyed me. I thought about running away but where could I go to looking like this? Another man came in and did the same. I was about to faint.
For more than two hours I asked them to leave me alone, I begged them. The third man was violent and the fourth almost strangled me. The fifth and sixth were even more brutal. When the seventh man finished I couldn't feel myself anymore. He was so fat I couldn't breathe. Then they all did it again. When they dropped me home I couldn't walk, my mom opened the door and said I looked sick. I couldn't tell anyone and for a whole week I couldn't eat, but later I went to the hospital"

It is no secret that a woman's agency is restricted within the boundaries of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not only is her agency highly regulated, her voice and her body are considered property. It's hard to imagine in the United States what it would truly be like to live under these laws because we take things like driving, learning in school, and going for a walk for granted. In Saudi Arabia, even driving as a woman can get you jailed or, worse.

Imagine what it is like in the Qatif girl's shoes — to be punished for being victimized. I'd imagine there had to be a better future for women and girls all over the world.

Disclaimer: For the purposes of this article, I do not intend to discourse with Saudi Arabia as a country, or the laws governed by Islamic rule. Although detest and actively fight against unfair sanction and subjection of women by an encompassing authority, I do not claim to be knowledgeable of the intricate sociology-political religious systems of such countries. My purpose here is to illuminate this trial, give the victims a voice, and use their experience as an example of misogynistic influence in world governments and how it is different and similar to attitudes toward women and rape in the United States.

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