Find out what gets the Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent going.
"GETTING punched in the face? It’s not fun,” says Chan Su Ling with a goofy laugh. Petite and with a laid-back disposition, it is hard to imagine that Chan is capabale of breaking a man’s arm – but she can.
Chan, 29, a strategic planner in an advertising agency, has practised the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu – what some claim is the most effective of all martial arts – for over four years now.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu, in a nutshell, is a grappling form of martial arts that’s based around one simple question – which position can I manipulate my opponent into to force him/her into submission?
Unlike other forms of martial arts where strength is a huge factor, Brazilian jiu-jitsu relies more on skill, agility and technique – which may explain why more women, like Chan, are taking up this form of self-defense.
“I’ve done pole dancing, yoga and pilates, but none of them really stuck,” she says.
For some reason, the usual fitness routines didn’t spark the same passion in this self-proclaimed tomboy – with a closet love for pink – like Brazilian jiu-jitsu did.
“Before I got into Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I was a real couch potato. But after getting started, I ended up doing a lot of extra exercises to help facilitate the jiu-jitsu training.”
That is, of course, an understatement.
Chan practices jiu-jitsu four hours a day, in two two-hour sessions, five days a week. But that’s not all. She also spends her mornings tackling either cardio or strength training.
She unfortunately pulled a ligament during practice recently. And the first thing that came to her mind after sustaining the injury?
“The World Championships,” she laments.
“All I could think about was ‘Oh no, please don’t let this be a serious injury’.”
Chan is referring to the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World Championships in the United States, at which she will be competing in May.
The World Championships (or “Mundials” as the people in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community call it) is essentially the largest, most prestigious Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament in the world.
Already ranked in the world’s top 10 for her weight class, Chan may just be the first Malaysian female to place at the Mundials, and she isn’t going to let anything stop her.
But the greatest challenge so far hasn’t been torn ligaments or over-exertion – it’s juggling work and the crazy schedule her jiu-jitsu training calls for.
She wakes up at 7am for cardio, heads for work at 10am, leaves at 7pm before starting on her jiu-jitsu training. It’s an impossible schedule.
“Then again, I have to have a way to pay for (the competition),” she jokes.
“It’s not an easy sport and no matter how much I train, I always feel like I’m not good enough … yet.”
Chan is currently training at Leverage combat academy in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, with her trainer, Marcos Escobar.