Each month I post a short interview with interesting BJJ people I meet on the UK scene. For April 2010 ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the very excellent: Leoni Munslow.
Meerkatsu: Hi Leoni, just for starters, give us your age, rank and serial number?
Leoni Munslow: I'm 23, blue belt and train at BJJ School under Felipe de Souza.
MK: What made you begin BJJ in the first place? Had you done any MA before?
LM: I was training under Kevin Cox (Pedro Bessa, Swansea) but then I got a job in London so moved down in summer 2009. I went to a few different clubs when I first moved down here - infact I spent more time looking for a new BJJ club than looking for somewhere to live. Pedro recommended training with Felipe and said he had a good academy here. BJJ School instantly felt good. The people were really friendly and welcoming and I could see immediately that the standard was high. I was also really drawn by the fact that Jenn Webb was here - I was excited at the prospect of training with a girl who would kick my ass!
I do feel that going into a new club as a graded BJJ player there can be some pressure and I feel that even more so as a girl, that often I need to prove myself that I am a decent blue belt and I train as hard as anyone. At BJJ School I never found that and I have since made some really great friends there, I definitely made the right choice of clubs.
MK: What happened at the Euros this year?
LM: The Euros did not go well at all for me this year. I dropped a weight category and felt fitter and stronger than I have ever been in my life. I came up against Paula Almeida first - who medalled at the previous 2 European's - and I tried to pass her arm bar attempt and was DQ'd for slamming!
MK: You recently did a self-defence seminar? Is this a regular thing? How did it go and what format does it take?
MK: What is your ambition over the next couple of years?
LM: To win the worlds! Isn't that everyone's? Short term, I want to win Seni. I've never done Seni as a blue belt. Next year I'd like to have another shot at the Euros and possibly pan ams. It's all finances that are stopping me temporarily but I'll get there. For the next few years I just want to get my head down and train train train, I'm lucky that I don't have anything stopping me so I will take full advantage of that. Now that I am sponsored by Black Eagle, I'd like to use their help to really make a name for myself on the BJJ circuit. I'd like my self defence classes to become a success and get more involved in coaching the kids classes at BJJ School.
MK: Who do you admire in the world of BJJ - abroad, uk anyone you want to say inspires you?
I recently had the pleasure of training with Ana Maria India and she is very cool. I love her attitude and having sparred with her, I saw first-hand how good she is. I don't want to be cheesy because he is my instructor but I really admire Felipe de Souza. In such a short time BJJ School has grown into a force to be reckoned with. With its focus on team unity and huge support across all levels I think he has done a fantastic job. I love the work that Future Champions and the youth academy does and anyone that sees the children from BJJ School compete will know exactly what I mean!
MK: What do you think needs to be done to get more ladies into BJJ and in particular, competing at events - or is it always gonna be a sport that only attracts a few?
MK: Finally, why She-Ra?
Thanks to Leoni for taking the time to answer my pestering questions, here are a couple of recent videos of Leoni in action:
Leoni Munslow vs Emma Baker - Welsh Open 07/03/10
Leoni Munslow vs Jacqueline Morgan - Welsh Open 07/03/10
Leoni Munslow vs Helen Wenger
Top and middle photos (c) James Olouch-Olunya / Combat BJJ Photography
Bottom photo: moi