Welcome to the Open Guard home grown athlete spotlight. We will be selecting an up and coming Australian athlete to feature on our site every 2 weeks. At Open Guard we are all about promoting the Australian BJJ scene to the rest of the world and what way to give exposure to the future by spending some time with them and talking about their BJJ journey and life in general.
For our inaugural spotlight we had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Kayte Hel from Checkmat Australia.
Welcome to Open Guard Kayte, it’s awesome to have you join us for a chat. Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for the opportunity. Well, I guess for most who don’t know me I can start by saying my name is Kayte and I’m a jiu-jitsu’holic. A problem I have struggled with now for 3 years. I’m 25, based out of Melbourne and represent Checkmat.
A fellow addict, I am certain it’s a problem many of our readers can relate too. So having trained for the past three years have you been exclusively training at Checkmat or did it take you some time to find your home?
Interesting question, thinking about it. I have been blessed. I found my team and home with Checkmat from the 1st day my feet touched a mat, blessed from day 1 to find a group or I should say a family of people who have shown nothing but love and support for me and my growth in the sport every day since, so blessed I am.. And Checkmat I am proud to be.
That is really good to hear. Sometimes it can be daunting walking into a gym and getting the cold shoulder. I can only imagine how many potential champions have been scared away by a frosty reception. Tell us about how it all got started.
It’s an interesting story how it all started, being a girl that never had any interest in a sport I sat and watched my boyfriend do for years to where I am now. I couldn’t get the cold shoulder treatment because my boyfriend has been training for years so the guys around me knew me from coming in and watching him do his thing, as much as he tried to get me in to the sport I said no way. It wasn’t until Yuri Simoes was coaching out here in Australia that I was finally convinced to get on to the mats by Yuri to be a training partner for his girlfriend at the time so I gave it a shot for a laugh. When I started I couldn’t even hold mount position without falling off. No bridge and roll needed. I was terrible no joke.
I like that you say WERE terrible. I look at your past competition performances you seem to be doing really well. Tell us what your plans are for the 2016 competition season. Any big plans?
Thank you, I do like competing. I don’t really plan my year around comps or my training around comps I usually just train the same all year round and enter the comps that appeal to me or think will challenge me. I recently did the UAEJJF Australian pro in Sydney and managed to get gold in the less than 62kg division which was a lot of fun. I missed out winning the ticket to Abu Dhabi in the absolute division but have decided it’s time to step it up and take a shot at the world pro in Abu Dhabi anyways. So I have entered that. And for the first time ever my training has changed totally for a comp, I can’t wait to get out to Abu Dhabi and do what I love. From there, who knows, maybe the world’s.
Awesome news and good luck in Abu Dhabi hard work and preparation will no doubt pay off. What changes have you made to your training leading up to Abu Dhabi?
I have started drilling more, sharpening up what I’m best at and adding in a few new tricks to my arsenal. I have started strength and conditioning program, eating properly and basically taking everything serious for once, I will be ready. I plan on bringing the best Kayte I can to that comp and making my team and coaches proud.
Brilliant. On your coaches you have mentioned before that you are lucky enough to be coached by the one and only Michelle Nicolini tell us about the relationship you and Michelle have?
Ohhhhhhhh… wow, I don’t even know where or how to start with that. Imagine your inspiration and your hero, being family to you. That’s how my relationship with Michelle is. The girl is the best female BJJ athlete the world has seen, a superhero! And I am honoured and blessed to have her coach and support me. I fight not for the medals, but to make her proud Michelle is family.
That is great. It would be a tricky relationship having a coach based in Brazil. How does the training side of things work?
Well I travel to Brazil as much as my pockets allow me to, the training over there is next level and I have fallen in love with the city of Santos over there. So I’ll always find my way back there to train with Michelle and enjoy the beautiful city of Santos. In Australia though I have an amazing bunch of guys helping me I have Daniel Shaw who is awesome and my teammates don’t hold back just because I’m a girl so I get all the training I need out here as well.. I get the best of both worlds.
Sounds great! You are one lucky lady that’s for sure, with a very bright future ahead of you by the sounds of things.
I guess we will see what the future brings till then I will keep training and travelling.
I would just like to thank you for your time and congratulate you on your past successes and wish you all the best for the future. I will definitely be keeping an eye on your performance over the coming years. Is there anything else you would like to add?
If I could add anything to anyone reading who doesn’t already train, try it! BJJ is life changing and I’m not just saying this. The sport has made me a much happier healthier person and forged friendships I may never had had without it. It’s true what they say, it’s a lifestyle!
Thank you to everyone who’s ever supported me and thank you to those who have doubted me to. Without you all I wouldn’t be wearing this smile I have now.
Thank you Open Guard, I appreciate you having me on your site and showing me support.
Much love Kayte