Lower-level (and even upper-level) jiu-jitsu athletes are often mocked for starting fundraisers to help them afford to go to major tournaments, but for Ffion Davies, the generosity of strangers was instrumental to her competitive BJJ career long before she was a household name in the sport.
Earlier today, Davies shared a few photos from her early days in BJJ, dating all the way back to her first tournament when she was technically a white belt, but had to compete as a blue belt due to her judo background.
“Found some old photos of my first tournament 😂 my dad gave me peanut butter cups and Powerade as fuel, I threw up in my mouth mid match. Dad was very confused by BJJ rules, having watched me at judo tournaments, and was convinced I was losing every match because I’d get to mount then be rolled over to closed guard, where I’d stall it out in confusion. Didn’t pull off a single move; I think I just aggressively grabbed the girls heads and somehow got passed, but couldn’t execute a submission yet 😂 I also wasn’t actually a blue belt, but had to compete as one because of my judo background. Got my blue officially after the tournament. There were other medalists I swear, they just had to go home 😂 this has brought back some awesome memories, fabulous photography by @tig9122“
In addition to this refreshingly relatable tale, Davies also shared a special memory on her story from later on in her blue belt career when she decided she wanted to compete at No-Gi Worlds in 2015. Like many other blue belts with high aspirations, she’d created a GoFundMe to help her afford all of the expenses required to compete at the prestigious tournament. With the help of some generous contributors and a share from none other than Garry Tonon, Davies was able to travel to No-Gi Worlds that year, where she won double gold.
“Made a go fund me to afford this trip — really didn’t want to, but friends convinced me I should. @garrytonon shared it and this helped massively. Ended up getting double gold. All those people who donated and helped completely changed my life (cheesy but true). Because I won this tournament it gave me belief I could do it at black belt someday. Maybe let’s not make fun of blue belts who make go fund me’s”
What happened three years later?
“And then I did”
Most practitioners will never achieve the level of success that Davies has, but her story is a reminder that sometimes, a little kindness can go a long way in turning a random competitor into an elite athlete.