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Denver student takes third at No-Gi Pan Jiu Jitsu Tournament

Read about Mary Hatcliff’s success on a world stage and why Easton BJJ is so important to her — on and off the mat.

By Tara Miller

Nerves can get the best of us. We’re only human. Not all of us train or want to train jiu jitsu for competition. But for some us, those nerves and that thrill of hitting the mat and showing off your skills against a perfect stranger is one very big reason why we love the sport.

Mary Hatcliff, a blue belt out of the Denver academy, faced her unnoticeable fears and competed on Oct. 2 in New York City at the Pan Jiu Jitsu No-Gi Championship. Not only did she prepare, travel and compete on one of the biggest BJJ stages in the world (something some of us would consider an accomplishment all in its own, especially being a woman), she placed third and represented Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with true class.

Easton BJJ asked Mary to open up about her biggest challenges with competing at such a high level, how she handled the travel aspect of this competition, how Easton BJJ was an integral part in her third place success, and the impact jiu jitsu has had on her life.

Easton BJJ: What was your biggest challenge of the tournament?

Mary: I think the biggest challenge in that tournament was just not knowing what to expect. Also, cutting weight was something I struggled with. Any nerves that I had came from a) having never competed in such a large bracket and b) competing at a national level.

Easton BJJ: Did traveling and competing out of state affect you?

Mary: Honestly, the stress of traveling got to me a bit. We had some weather issues and some confusion at the airport, but I was so focused on the tournament that by the time we got there the stress had taken a backseat to the nerves. As far as competing out of Colorado, I honestly think it helped me because we were at sea-level and I had been doing Tyrone’s conditioning classes. My first match went the full six minutes. I didn’t break a sweat, which I was upset about because I thought that meant I wasn’t working hard enough. But it was obviously due to my work here. I also enjoyed going against girls that I had never competed against.

Easton BJJ: What are you most happy about with how you competed?

Mary: I was really impressed with my conditioning. I was able to move faster than I had in past competitions and was able to see more openings in the positions I was in.

Easton BJJ: How do you think training at Easton BJJ enabled you to place in the tournament?

Mary: We are always pushing each other to do our best. After Professor Pimenta left, Elizabeth Tran and I decided that we needed to push ourselves to get to the next level of our training. We started going and training every morning doing movement drills and going over things that were missing in our games. After a while, Professor Suskin came along and pushed us even harder to do our best. Having Easton Denver utilize Professors Glover and Ford sent my training to another level. It took a lot of dedication to wake up at 7 a.m. and sometimes 6 a.m. to do conditioning or movement drills, but I know that that dedication not only sent my BJJ to the next level, but also gave me the discipline and determination to do well at Pan Ams.

Easton BJJ: Why did you decide to start training Easton BJJ and what has kept you here?

Mary: I absolutely love the quality of the instruction at Easton. Professor Junior was the one who convinced me to do Pan Ams and once I decided to do it, Professors Larry, Tyrone, Josh and Junior all helped to get me to the level that I needed to be at. I am also inspired and driven by my fellow students. I love that we all care about each other’s progress and always push each other to do our best on and off the mat.

Mary: How has jiu jitsu changed your life?

Easton BJJ: I initially started Jiu Jitsu to get in shape, but over the past year and a half I have fallen in love with not only the sport and physical aspect of BJJ, but also the lifestyle that goes with it. I mean the most obvious is the physical gains that you get from BJJ, but I have noticed that I am more focused and able to handle tough situations with ease. For me, BJJ is like a physical chess match and that philosophy has transcended into all aspects of my life.

Easton BJJ: Obviously you couldn’t have come this far without help. Any specific people you want to thank?

Mary: Everyone who helped me train! First off, I have to give a special thanks to Professor Junior for not only convincing me to do Pan Ams, but for going with me and pushing me to do my best throughout my training. Elizabeth Tran for always keeping me honest. I know I couldn’t have done it without her help and pushing me to do my best. Definitely want to also thank Professors Pimenta, Glover, Suskin, Ford and King for helping me to get to the next level and continuing to push me. The Easton Denver Competition Team and Jason Cox for always keeping me honest and on my toes. Devin Rourke, DJ Cardi, Phil Joo, Andrew Espinosa, Alexa Nordic, Eli Cancino, Reid Walsh, Mark Giannuzzi, Adam Florez, Mason Hupfer and Andy Rhoades for training with me and always inspiring me to work my hardest!

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