Already a World Champion in Muay Thai, KnuckleUp’s own Moe Travis recounts what it was like to add Jiu Jitsu Gold to her long list of accomplishments in the martial arts.
At first I didn’t even want to compete. I fought myself mentally whether I should go for weeks. My daughter’s birthday was the week before and so I had a lot to plan. My husband also had a Crossfit competition the day before my competition. I only get to train twice a week right now so I felt overwhelmed with everything coming up. I even took my name off the white board we have upstairs in the BJJ room. But a few days before the deadline to sign up for the Atlanta open, I spoke to my instructor Gui briefly about my decision and I was not even going to his class that day. He made sure I showed up. He said I should just go and have fun. He was right. I said, ‘Screw it,’ and signed up that night.
The day of the competition I had no kid and my husband, who is a firefighter, was on shift. So it was just me. I felt good and I was real excited to be heading out to the convention center. I was in a great mood and ready to go. When I arrived, the nerves started kicking in. I focused on my breathing as I watched some of my teammates compete.
I saw so many old friends I’ve met from fighting throughout the years. Some have had children and I got to meet them! I love babies. It’s like a reunion every time you go to a competition.
The IBJJF Atlanta Open is a pretty big competition for the Atlanta area. Usually, to get the chance to compete in a tournament of this size, people will travel to World’s or Pan Am’s, which is held in California. It’s a fun trip but it is costly. So when the IBJJF comes to your hometown, you show up! The venue was packed and people from all over the country showed up to compete.
As I waited in the bullpen for my weight division to be called, I tried to smile and take in my surroundings. I weighed in 5.5 lbs. under the max for my division because I had gone up a division so as to not have to cut weight. I tried not to let it bother me. My friends were nervous but I tried not to let them make me nervous. I tried being positive for them. I was determined and ready to go.
As they called my opponent and me to our mat, Gui gave me a pep talk and it was go time. My first opponent was tough and seemed so tall. We went the entire six minutes and no one scored points. I went for sweeps and submissions but did not finish them. I think I won by judges’ decision because I went for more stuff. My forearms were shot and I was tired. I was able to watch some black belts compete while I was resting. It was awesome to see the flow of their roll. I also watched my next opponents compete. They were so feisty. The same girl I had just gone up against won that match so she was able to have a chance to fight me for 1st place.
Master Murgel told me to believe in myself and be confident with what I know. I listened to his advice and repeated it to myself right before I went on the mat. I knew she would come at me hard. We shook hands and went at it again. I told myself I could beat her again. I ended up sweeping her and going to mount. That gave me 6 points. I remember Master Murgel telling me to relax and take my time looking for submissions. While I was looking, I was giving penalty points for “stalling”. They gave me two of those points really fast. That was the first time I had ever experienced negative points. I did win the match by points. I have a lot to learn about points. I was not perfect in my competitions. I have a lot to work on. The older I get, the worse my memory had become. I am grateful I was able to be out there representing KnuckleUp.
This was my second competition as a purple belt and it felt great to win. I was able to listen to my coaches and try new things out while I was rolling. Even after 7 years, BJJ is still difficult for me. That’s why I love it. It’s a challenge and something I can continually improve at. It will keep me busy for many years to come. I’m looking forward to the next competition.