31 Oct 2013
Kat Gibson is a blue belt grappler under Carlson Gracie Team in London. She recently won double gold (gi and nogi) at the IBJJF London Open and gold at the British NoGi Open. A long time follower of my design work, Kat has kindly agreed to represent my brand. I spoke with her about juggling training with a busy academic career at Oxford University...
(Photograph by Dave Shu Photography)
Q: Hi Kat, let's kick off with some basic stats - age, rank, club please?
I am 29, Blue Belt, Carlson Gracie London.
Q: When did you first begin BJJ and what was it about the sport that gave you the bug?
I first started in 2009 in Oxford. My husband watched a lot of MMA and so knew what armbars, triangles and so on were. He showed me a few to explain when I was watching UFC with him and I thought I would give it a try, so I rang up Oxford Mixed Martial Arts Academy and tried a class, and was hooked.
When I am not on the mats, I spend my life reading books and looking at manuscripts as I am a research fellow at Oxford University. BJJ gives me a challenge which is completely different to the demands of my job, but also BJJ is a thinking game. The two seem to go very well together, and one provides relief from the other. You can't worry about conference papers on the mat! Also I am intensely competitive and like putting myself under pressure to achieve, so BJJ seems to suit me.
Q: You compete a lot, what's your best event memory/achievement/triumph so far?
My biggest achievement has been my recent performance winning gold in gi and no gi at the IBJJF London Open three weeks after becoming no gi British Champion in my division.
Going to the Euros for the first time in 2011 was an awesome experience but I still think my first competition was my favourite and most important. I turned up not really knowing what to expect, hung around for hours, worried about weighing in (all the usual suspects) and then somehow managed to get gold, and the high was amazing. I finished the girl in the final with a triangle; maybe that's why it's still one of my favourite submissions.
Q: Who do you admire in the sport in general?
I always enjoy watching technical fighters likes the Mendes brothers, but in terms of people closer to home I really admire the UK fighters who have gone out and performed on the international stage - Yas Wilson, Luke Costello, Jason Bell and Vanessa English for example getting golds at the Worlds.
Q: Your husband Tom also train BJJ, what are the pros and cons to having a partner who also trains?
It's great having someone else who understands the demands of the sport both physically and mentally, and he is very supportive of me. I have dragged him round to a fair few tournaments and he doesn't complain when I am eating clean. I have realised that sparring with him too often is a bad idea (not only because he's 6' 3" and has a mean rubber guard) but because I react in an emotional,irrational way if he beats me or I beat him, and It's not good for me to behave like that on the mat.
Q: What are your next goals in terms of tournaments and BJJ in general?
I am flying out to Munich soon to compete in the IBJJF tournament there and have the Euros in 2014, so am hoping to climb up the rankings. I have had quite a few big breaks from BJJ with work and moving house taking over my life, but I am really getting back into the swing of training and competing, and would love to do the Worlds next year.
Like everyone I am always looking to improve my game, but I have also become involved in lots of other side projects such as supporting BJJ in schools and helping to set up the UKBJJA. We hope this will become a National Governing Body to support the sport so many of us love.
Q: Got a nickname?
No not really, though apparently Kat means executioner in Polish. I am also one of two Dr Hills on the UK female BJJ competitor scene - the other being Rebecca Hill at GB Nottingham.
Q: Feel free to give a shout out anyone you want?
I haven't been at Carlson Gracie that long so I am very grateful to Dickie Martin and the other instructors for making me feel very welcome, and Sarah Merriner for always being around to help me prepare for comps when I turn up train at random times inbetween teaching, lecturing and conferences.
Q: Please provide a full comp/medal tally stats list (as of 23rd October 2013):
White belt light weight
London Open - Gold
British Open - Silver, Silver
Bournemouth - Gold, Silver
Essex Open - Gold (Light weight)
Kilburn - Gold (Open weight)
London Open - Bronze (Feather)
English Open - Silver (Feather)
British Open - Bronze (Feather)
English Open - Silver (Open weight)
British No Gi - Gold (Feather), Bronze (Open)
London Open Gi - Gold (Feather)
London Open No Gi - Gold (Feather)
Q: Thanks Kat I look forward to seeing your continued success.
Thanks Seymour I love your stuff!