Elisabeth Clay Reacts to Winning her First Black Belt World Title

By Elisabeth Clay 

After winning the IBJJF 2021 No Gi Worlds, I wanted to talk about it. This is my first black belt world title, while as a colored belt I won Gi and NoGi Worlds multiple times, having a black belt world title is different. Its the first one I can just say I have a world title, without needing to say as a “blank belt”. For me its a huge accomplishment, while it is just hopefully the first of many, its a very big deal. This is a goal I’ve worked my childhood and adolescence for, skipping so many things, missed family events and gatherings. I am really happy (not sure happy is even the right word). Maybe it’s more that I feel like I am reaching the places I want to be at, like it is now beginning to be really worth the sacrifices. I would be lying to say that I was totally happy. Getting silver in the absolute was definitely a let down to an otherwise spectacular day. I think I have finally reached the point that no matter what, the part of me that fights for perfection, not just “winning,” will always be a bit disappointed in my performance. But I am learning to celebrate what I did right, go back to fix the rest, then come again another day. The fans, particularly my little fans, just make everything better. When they are happy, it is hard to stay disappointed with anything. 

New Experiences

This World’s was a new experience for me in many ways, not only was it my first as a black belt, but my brother was there as a juvenile blue belt and I was coaching him. In fact, his last match in the absolutes (which he won) caused me to have to RUN across the arena to make my match in weight. I did not even have time to transition thinking from coaching him to me fighting. Years ago I would have probably lost my match, but I managed to pull it out even if it was not the performance I would/could have given if only focused on me. 

Another first was having family, the last couple of tournaments is the first time I have been able to not feel pressured with family present. Call me weird, but I never wanted to disappoint my family, so having them with me has been difficult. Although my family was/is not the type to get disappointed at all, they support and love me no matter what. I just did not want the pressure. Now, it was great to have them there. I was finally ready. 

The next new thing for THIS Worlds was having my boyfriend beside me competing the same day and time. I was as nervous for him as for me, maybe even more. 

When All is Said and Done

I think what I am trying to get is…when all is said and done, I now feel like I have the job of jiu jitsu. I have gotten to the point that I am truly that professional. It is what I do, who I am, and where I always want to stay. From here on out whether I am a black belt competing (which I plan to do for many many more years), a professor who coaches, teaches or gives seminars or camps, this has become my world. It isn’t just where I am trying to get to; I have earned my spot in this world of professionals. Yes, I am certain I will make many more mistakes. I will learn and grow every day and bust my tail to be better. I will always try to represent the good sportsmanship that has become known with jiu jitsu practitioners and make those around me proud. I am ecstatic to be a part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as an athlete and teacher.  

Thank you to those great professors who came before me and lead the way. The sport would not be here for me without you. Thank you again to my professors, Osvaldo Queixinho Moizinho and Samir Chantre, for all of the support in preparing and being there by my side. Thank you to my boyfriend for coaching me and being with me until the end. And of course thank you to my sponsors. I could not be here without them all. 

Become your lion or lioness!