Martial artist from Opaskwayak Cree Nation proud to symbolize First Nations girls in jiu-jitsu

Martial artist from Opaskwayak Cree Nation proud to symbolize First Nations girls in jiu-jitsu

A 24-year-old martial artist initially from a northwestern Manitoba First Nation says whereas she’s comfortable to be coming dwelling from a global match with three medals, she’s additionally proud to be one of many few Indigenous girls competing within the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“There’s not lots of Indigenous girls within the sport itself,” mentioned Desiree Wescoup, initially from Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

“So simply having the ability to be considered one of them, and to take it far as competing, particularly in … completely different nations — that is, like, an enormous reward.”

Wescoup, who now lives in Kelowna, B.C., took dwelling three bronze medals at a global Brazilian jiu-jitsu match in Los Angeles earlier this month.

“You at all times wish to … go for gold, however even simply inserting on the rostrum is such a giant deal,” mentioned Wescoup.

“It was positively difficult but it surely was such an excellent alternative, simply to go down there and compete with different athletes which might be among the greatest on the market.”

She travelled to the 2023 Los Angeles Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open, which ran March 11 and 12 in L.A., as a part of a crew of seven.

She fought in 5 matches, securing three bronze medals because of this.

Four women stand on a tournament podium: one on the first place stand, one on the second place stand and two on the third place stand.
Wescoup stands on the third-place podium on the L.A. match. (Submitted by Desiree Wescoup)

Amreek Aujla-Fieldt, Wescoup’s coach, mentioned he was very pleased with what she and her teammates completed on the match.

“To have my college students competing towards among the high degree [talent] on this planet, it is essentially the most rewarding,” he mentioned.

Wescoup’s best power is “her tenacity,” her coach mentioned. 

“She fights onerous. She does not quit. She’s feisty. She’ll go after it and he or she simply does not stop.”

A psychological and bodily problem

Although she now lives in Kelowna, Wescoup says she at all times has Opaskwayak Cree Nation — the place she grew up and lived till she was 18 — in her coronary heart.

Nevertheless it wasn’t till after her transfer to B.C. that she took up Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It initially merely provided a solution to get out and do one thing lively, however she finally fell in love with the game — a self-defence martial artwork primarily based on grappling and submission holds.

“I by no means knew that it might grow to be this large, and like, this large a part of my life,” she mentioned.

Now, she enjoys placing within the work to get even higher.

“It is such a difficult sport as a result of … lots of people say it is 50 per cent psychological and 50 per cent bodily,” she mentioned. 

“Simply having the ability to have the braveness and the mentality to step on the mat and compete — it is a very, very onerous factor to do.”

Wescoup hopes to go to extra tournaments and occasions sooner or later. Her objectives embody competing at this 12 months’s world championship in Lengthy Seashore, Calif., in June, and heading to Jiu-Jitsu Con — billed as “the world’s largest jiu-jitsu occasion” — in Las Vegas.

However she mentioned she’ll quickly should decelerate on competitions, as she is shifting to Vancouver in July to attend college for trend enterprise.

“So earlier than that, I did wish to do as many tournaments as I can,” she mentioned.

For aspiring feminine martial artists seeking to get into jiu-jitsu, Wescoup has just a little recommendation.

“I might simply say be comfy and … know that everyone, though it’s a male-dominated sport, everybody on this sport is so welcoming,” she mentioned.

“It’s beginning to grow to be rather a lot larger, although, for females, which is superb.”

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