Grappling for gold

Posted on: 18th April 2017

Levi Steedman, administrator at our Manchester office, has just won a gold medal in grappling.

Levi won the gold medal in the women’s fly-weight category at the Empire Northern Open 2017 grappling competition in Manchester on 1st April.

She first got into mixed martial arts (MMA) in January 2016 after her personal trainer spotted her potential and encouraged her to give it a go.MMA is a full-contact combat sport that allows both striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts including jiu-jitsu, which Levi has focused on so far.

“I was always interested in MMA and boxing,” says Levi, “as I used to watch them on TV with my 2 brothers.”

This was Levi’s third grappling competition. After winning silver medals in the previous 2, this time she competed against 3 opponents in her weight category and came out victorious.

“Each match lasts for up to 5 minutes and the winner is decided by points or physical submission,” says Levi. “It can go into extra time is points are tied.”

While she trains every day - either at her MMA gym or at a general gym - Levi began intensive training for this competition about a month beforehand. She had to lose just under a stone in a month to qualify for her category.

But what about the risks in the sport? Levi believes that instructors and competition organisers take safety very seriously: “They’re really promoting safety and prevention of head injuries. With jiu-jitsu especially, it’s very unlikely to have a serious injury.”

Jiu-jitsu is often referred to as ‘the gentle art’. “It’s great for learning how to defend yourself against attacks, without doing any serious damage to the attacker,” says Levi. “It’s also a good option for smaller people.”

“It’s great for fitness too,” says Levi, “it’s very social and there’s lots of respect involved. It’s amazing what you learn and discover about yourself.”

Levi is currently a white belt but is going for her blue belt in July this year, sooner than most (the average time spent on a white belt is 2 years).

Levi hopes to one day teach jiu-jitsu to others. “Once I have my purple belt (the next one after blue), which normally happens after 5-7 years of practising the art, I should be able to start teaching it, if my instructor thinks I’m ready.”

“The ultimate goal is the black belt, which usually takes about 10-11 years to achieve.”

Levi has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition coming up in May. Come on our Levi!