Brazilian Jiu-jitsu newbie Lo Itibus will venture to Tokyo, Japan this month as the lone female CNMI representative to the Asian International BJJ Federation Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
Itibus, who has been a BJJ practitioner for only two years, will be competing in the light-featherweight division of the event dubbed as Asian Open. As a first-timer, she is extremely excited and proud to represent the Commonwealth and Trench Tech in the tournament that will run from Sept. 13 to 15.
“I’m pretty excited about being the only female to represent the CNMI to the Asian Open. I’m mostly proud to be doing this for my team. Our professor, and also my father-in-law, Cuki Alvarez, has always wanted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to grow more here in our islands, so I’m happy to be a part of that exposure,” she said.
When asked about her training for the competition, Itibus said that it was far from easy, especially the part where she had to lose over 15 lbs to meet the weight requirement for the light-featherweight division.
“Training is definitely never easy, especially when you’re training to reach a goal that you’ve never reached before. In addition to building my BJJ techniques and experience, I also have had to drop my weight about 15 to 20 lbs to qualify for the weight class I’d like to compete in,” Itibus said.
She added that her training regimen pretty much sums up to participating in Trench Tech’s BJJ classes, which are two times a week, and the K1/boxing sessions, which are three times a week. Itibus also has open sparring sessions and if for some reasons, she can’t make it to one of the classes, she usually tries to make it up with some running. She follows a strict diet, too cutting out unnecessary sodium, sugars, and carbs.
Itibus said that the biggest obstacle she has faced in preparation for the tournament was the lack of female training partners available over the past months. However, she hopes her sparring sessions with the male members of the team will give her sort of an edge when facing female competitors, who have been practicing BJJ longer than she has.
“I do appreciate my female teammates I’ve gotten to spar with towards the end of our BJJ camp, including Mariana Alvarez and Luise Villagomez. As a competitor, there is the challenge we all face, and that’s simply the physical and mental capacity to balance the demands of our BJJ camp with our regular day-to-day responsibilities. But overcoming that challenge is all dependent on each of our own determination as an athlete,” she said.
In terms of her expectation for the competition, Itibus said she hopes to become a better and stronger BJJ practitioner regardless of the outcome of her debut.
“I do know that after participating in this, regardless of the outcome, I will come out of this tournament a better and stronger BJJ athlete. With that being said, I know that I’m training my hardest and that I will definitely perform the best that I can,” she said.