I first bumped into Caz at the Ana Maria India seminar last year and since then I've followed her progress as she storms her way through the no-gi grappling competition scene. So, without further ado, let me present my up and coming fighter of the month with perhaps the oddest nick-name in grappleworld: Caz 'Ghost-Owl' Tweedy!!

(May 2010) UMA 2010 open NoGi Groundfighting Championships. Photo by Gen





Meerkatsu: Hi Caroline, er, may I call you Caz, let’s begin, please tell me your age, rank and serial number?

Ghost-Owl: Sure! I am 22 and I have been grappling for 19 months, our academy does not have a belt or grading system, so I don’t have any rank.

Meerkatsu: Where do you train and why does it rock?

Ghost-Owl: I am proud to train at Leicester Shootfighters. Head coach, Nathan Leverton, is the best coach in the UK, and I was incredibly lucky to walk into his gym by chance. Nathan is completely self-taught. He has a unique way of teaching the fundamental techniques needed to become successful in the sport, and it is his perseverance and mental toughness, which he has gained over the years, that he’s been able to transfer to his students. The standard at our gym is very high, and our competition record speaks for itself, we regularly clean out every division of every competition we enter! We also have a fantastic mix of personalities at the gym, which makes it an enjoyable and supportive training environment, I love it!

Meerkatsu: Ok, so the obvious question - why 'Ghost-Owl' as a nickname?

Ghost-Owl: People keep asking me this, and I would love to give a cool answer! Unfortunately I got the name (from my lovely team mates) because I am pale like a ghost and apparently perch like an owl. So there you have it! I have to say, it has grown on me now -  I've accepted my owl-likeness.

Meerkatsu: Tell me about your tournament experience?

Ghost-Owl: I have done three comps, and my record is 3-3. My first comp was a disaster and I completely lost it with my nerves. Since then I have fought one comp with men and one with women and taken silver and gold respectively.

Meerkatsu: What, you fought a bloke? Wow! Tell me more!

Ghost-Owl: It was at the UMA last December. The run up to the competition had been the most ridiculous and stressful thing ever, the competition officials kept changing their minds about me competing, and eventually I was told I wasn't allowed and got a refund. So, when I got there to support my team they called me out to the front of the hall and asked if anyone wanted to fight me – giving everyone my details in a bid to auction me off! Thankfully two guys stepped up. Just before my first fight I dislocated my toe collecting my certificate for entering. It was just ridiculous! So when I went up there (after having a team mate pop my toe back into place!) and managed to finish the fight with a sub the whole room went crazy, it was a great feeling and it marked something special for me.

Meerkatsu: So is that your best fight?

Ghost-Owl: Well, my most impressive performance has to have been the UMA this May, in which I took gold in the U95kg women's division.

Meerkatsu: What differences do you notice between fighting or  sparring with guys compared to girls?

Ghost-Owl: Most of the differences come from different mentalities. I find that women are way more aggressive – they really want to tear your head off!! Most men concentrate on their technique and on controlling the opponent. I have also found that, due to training mostly with men, it really closes the gap strength-wise when I have to fight larger women.

Meerkatsu: Do you prefer mixed gender divisions or would you prefer women only comps?

Ghost-Owl:  I will fight in either, and I enjoyed both. But I prefer fighting in women only divisions. This is because I want to have a fight where it is my grappling skill vs their grappling skill. I don't want them to hold back because I am a female, and I don't want anyone to see it as an excuse if I lose. I spar with guys all the time, and I would never want to lose that aspect of my training, but I think when it comes to competing I have more of a desire to fight in a well-attended female division rather than smaller female or men's divisions – so let's hope we get some higher numbers!

Meerkatsu: You run women only sessions - how are these going?

Ghost-Owl: They are going great! Fitness specialist, LJ Adams, and I have been combining technique and circuit work to appeal to all levels of female grapplers, and the feedback has been superb! Initially the idea came up when I decided not to move away from Leicester after finishing my degree, but to stay and become a coach at Leicester Shootfighters. I have been extremely lucky to have a coach, like Nathan, who is so supportive and encouraging of what I want to achieve for females in the sport.  The sessions were put in place to encourage women to have a go at the sport without any pressure, we started by saying if we get 5 or 6 women together then it'll be great. We got 16 women for the first session and we're hoping to keep building on that over the coming year.

Meerkatsu:  Do you only train no-gi?

Ghost-Owl: Yes!

Meerkatsu: Oh, aren’t you even just a teeny bit interested in gi-training?

Ghost-Owl: No, it really doesn't interest me at all. I see it as a completely different sport, and it isn't the sport I chose to do. I do, however, respect those that do gi, and understand how it could improve my game. It just isn't for me.

Meerkatsu: What are your future plans? Any aspirations to compete internationally? How about MMA?

Ghost-Owl: I would definitely like to compete internationally, I am concentrating at the moment on improving all areas of my game and my strength and fitness in general, but I hope to compete a few more times this year and really get the experience under my (imaginary) belt.
A lot of my future plans are centred around my coaching, it is my desire to help create a scene for women in the Midlands, and to encourage larger numbers of women to train and compete. I am focused on learning as much as I can from Nathan, with the hope of sharpening my coaching skills and contributing to the success of Leicester Shootfighters.

Meerkatsu: Who do you admire in the world of grappling/BJJ/MMA etc?

Ghost-Owl: I admire loads of grapplers – Garcia, Hall, Glover - I am a huge fan of Hillary Williams, she has achieved so much at such a young age and she keeps improving, she truly is inspirational for women. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for Rosi Sexton, who has been flying the flag for the British MMA scene for years, and I love the way her jits transfers over to her MMA. Just went to a training session with Helen Currie, she is outstanding, completely on a different level.

Meerkatsu: Finally Caz, try to sum up for me just whatit is about grappling you love so much?

Ghost-Owl:  I love it because it is a sport in which you need a bit of intelligence. At the risk of being a cliché, it is physical chess, and striving to be that one move ahead is truly addictive! When I first found grappling I had the feeling like 'This is the niche I have been looking for all these years'
It just feels right.

Meerkatsu: Cheers mate, and if we ever cross paths in a mixed gender, no-gi, under 60 kilo event, please go easy on me, I’m fragile.

Ghost-Owl: Bring it on!!!


Caz ‘Ghost Owl’ Tweedy teaches and trains at Leicester Shootfighterr: http://leicestermma.wordpress.com/

1 comments:

Chris Bishop said...

Nice to see the Mat Catz getting in there and bringing it to us fellas.