Traditionally First of May in Finland contains drinking mead, eating fritters and enjoying a public holiday from the Eve to the Day, mostly rolling in a picnic field having a some sort of a hangover. But this year, 10 finnish grapplers hopped on a boat and sailed towards Tallinn to join the Estonian BJJ Girls first Women only BJJ Camp.
Like in a good holiday, it’s best to arrive early, and we came friday and went to Kompressor to get the perfect pre-camp meal to optimize saturdays condition.
We got gigantic sweet and salty pancakes. and some beer. Some tinier than others, so our muscles would be filled with carbohydrates to endure saturdays two, two hour sets of tough training.
For the yours truly this was the first time going abroad for a seminar, so this was sure to be an adventure never experienced before. The Camp was held in a Korrus3. And there we met Saturday morning the rest of your Finnish gang. The Estonian girls have visited our open mats, competitions and seminars so many times so it was a perfect time to return the favor.
This women’s only BJJ Seminar was first of it’s kind in Estonia. So we wanted to interview it’s organizer Laura Mallene.
The 28-year-old Laura Mallene started training BJJ in 2014. She is also an awarded journalist and has written many articles about BJJ. She travels around the world and trains jiu-jitsu everywhere and she on the mats in every chance it’s possible. She is passionate about BJJ, and loves her club. Laura is leading the Estonian female only group Estonian BJJ girls.
She loved the Naisten Suurleiri that we had last summer in Finland and she has lived in Australia about a year where she met an awesome BJJ girl named Jess Fraser. Who has built a strong community of female BJJ girls, Australian Girls in Gi. She felt that they needed to do the same thing in Estonia – but there was nobody else who would start it. So she had to do it herself.
She felt It was a bit odd to be a white belt and organize everything, but she was lucky to have a great support system in her gym 3D Treening. They kept reminding her that you don’t need great guard passing and things like that to organize a camp.
Laura has competed in Sweden, Finland and Australia. And this year she and her friend (and instructor in camp) Liisi Vaht traveled to both Nordic Open and Finnish Open and talked about the camp to as many girls as possible and because of this many of those decided to come. This year they ended up having about 40 people on the mats from Estonia, Finland, Sweden, USA, Ireland and Belarus.
Laura what you can tell generally about BJJ in Estonia?
Laura: In Estonia we have two bigger BJJ clubs and several smaller ones.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is certainly a rapidly growing sport in Estonia. It began in 2001, when my coach Priit Mihkelson started learning and teaching the art. Back then there were only one lady who did BJJ in Estonia – Helin Paara (instructor in our camp).
How about em’ BJJ girls of Estonia?
Laura: We have just started with group called Estonian BJJ girls and there are about 80 ladies who are practising or have done BJJ. But we are still growing.
Few girls are doing great internationally, too. Liisi Vaht and Jane Soodla are the strongest girls. Liisi just won gold medal in no-gi IBJJF Europeans championships (purple belt) and bronze in gi IBJJF European championships, Jane got silver in both no-gi and gi IBJJF European championships (blue belt). Both of them are training in 3D Treening/SBG Estonia.
Liisi is the highest ranked local girl. (Another Estonian, owner of Fenom Kimonos Triin Seppel has a brown belt, but she lives in USA). We haven’t many colored female belts – all together about 10 or so. Most of Estonian girls are white belts, but we are training hard, so expect that to change soon!
Who are the teachers and what are the techniques of the camp?
Laura: We had a poll before the camp to find out what our ladies want to learn. Takedowns and open guard were the winners.
Kadri Vilba was the teacher of the first class, and she offered a little bit different approach to the single leg and changing to double leg.
Freestyle wrestling has so much exploding energy to offer for BJJ’s stading up game. So this was really nice, and the wrestling warmups sure brought so much confusion and joy. After the first class we had two hour break to eat and play around before the second set.
Saturdays second class was held by Liisi Vaht.
In Finland usually we use a phrase like “and then we tighten the armbar”, but Liisi goes straight telling us how to brake them. Her armbars are so famous that her teammates did her an “armcollector” t-shirt. We did four supertight armbars from knee on the belly. And after this class, with sore tights and arms. It was time to head for a social event.
There is no funnier way to spend the evening and getting know better all these girls. And eat.
Sundays first class was a bit earlier, and it was an butterfly sweep hook class by Helin Paara.
After the first day and few good local beers and all the fun in the social event, nothing feels better than a butterfly sweep that feels like a warm hug.
After the first class you could have a mat picnic with the rest of the bananas (30kg) and sausages that the Estonian girls offered us. (Or eat some eggs, which is a perfect recovery snack, or keep rolling extra hour or two in an open mat between classes)
After the open mat it was the time for the last class held by Priit Mihkelson.
Laura: Priit Mihkelson is International superstar of open guard, so we asked him to teach us that. Priit is a guy, but I figured the stuff he teaches is more important – and girls loved his class. Nevertheless we made him wear a baby pink t-shirt that has, coach Priitney“ written on it. He loves it.
When you visit a different club, it’s always interesting to see how they do it. How they do the warmups and what is the training philosophy behind the classes. And Priits class, It was super fun. Priit had really good points about the structure that you need to have in the open guard game that apply to every open guard. He told us how he usually teaches and described BJJ like this: “BJJ is like a perfect girlfriend. You can’t leave her, because she does nothing wrong. It is me who has to change things. She is perfect.“”
Laura, what tips do you have for someone who wants to organize a seminar?
Laura: Be ready for everything. I had a place booked for social event and they called me the night before the camp and cancelled due to water emergency – it was hard to find a new place in a rush. Stay calm. As in BJJ there is a solution for every problem. Have a support system – I had people who helped out with everything! And of course I had a full support from my coaches Priit Mihkelson and Ronald Stimmer.
And before we wrap this up, here is some estonian vocabulary for everyone:
One black coffee – üks must kohv
Shit – pask
No – ei
yes – Jah
Thanks – Aitäh
Let’s roll! – rullime!
And never ever. Say Oss. It means something very different.
Seminars are fun. Camps are more fun. Abroad camps are superb, ‘cause there is the adventure in it and with whom you make it. It’s life and living to the fullest, and I can highly recommend it to everyone.
(For example in the summer there will be and Estonian MMA & BJJ Summer Camp https://www.facebook.com/events/1229818447071488/)
And we sure hope that this Women only BJJ seminar will not be the last that Estonian BJJ Girls are having.
Thanks for Having us.