Blue belt Lysset Tapia of GB Lake Elsinore was originally a “maybe” for the GB Compnet 11 tournament. She wasn’t sure she was prepared to compete and was recovering from an elbow injury that was still sore. She’d just returned from vacation and only had one week to train for the event, but she decided to go for it anyway. So she signed up and committed to give her best, regardless of the outcome.
Lysset, who labels herself as “stubborn,” says she spent the week over-training at GB Lake Elsinore and GB Irvine. The college student, who also holds a demanding job, ended up getting sick from trying to juggle such a heavy load. She woke up Saturday morning, the day of the tournament, still feeling poorly but got up to participate in the Alzheimer’s Walk in Dana Point early that morning. “I thought the fresh air would help, but I was wrong,” the 22 year-old says, “After the walk I went to the GB tournament to help coach some of the students from GBLE because my brother, Hector, had a ton of kids and adults competing. I ended up having so much fun helping and enjoying the GB family atmosphere, I forgot I had signed up to compete!”
As the female competitors were called to the bullpen, Lysset tried to get into the zone. She warmed up a little and got a pep talk from Hector. “My first fight I went out smiling,” she says, “I could hear people in the crowd telling me to focus and stop smiling, but I couldn’t help it! I like to smile and I was excited to roll!”
In her first match, Lysset, who has been training for two years, went for the double-leg and landed it. She began feeling confident and started working the knee on the belly, to mount, and eventually to the back, where she went for a bow and arrow choke. “Let me tell you,” Lysset laughs, “I have been dying to land that bow and arrow choke. It’s one of my favorite moves, but I have a hard time getting it when I train. So, being able to finally land it, especially at a tournament, was amazing.”
Lysset’s second match was a little more difficult. Instead of getting rattled by her opponent’s competitive methods, she says she remembered what GB is all about and worked her technique. “It worked great!” she says, “The fight ended at 12-0. I was bummed I couldn’t finish the fight with the Ezekiel [forearm choke]because I’ve been practicing it a lot lately, but I was happy to bring home my third GB gold medal.” Yes, this is the third year in a row that Lysset has won gold in her division at the GB Compnet tournament.
Lysset says her experience at this year’s tournament was “amazing.” “I got my dream submission when I got the bow-and-arrow choke, and I think I performed really well considering the circumstances,” she says, “I feel I have a lot of room for improvement and I see where I made mistakes. My game plan is to go back to the mats and refine my game.”
Lysset got involved with GB through her brother, Hector, who runs GB Lake Elsinore. She says Jiu-Jitsu has changed her life in several ways. “I started living a healthier life style, and by that I mean I take care of my body better and I even train my mind with yoga,” she says, “I don’t give up and I continue to push myself on and off the mats, but especially during sparring sessions when I’m training with men who are easily 50+ pounds heavier and stronger than me. I’ve become a patient, confident woman, and among other great things, I think one of the most treasured things about this art is that it has created an unbelievably strong bond between my brother and I. We share the same passion and he’s been my supporter 100% during the times when my family and friends encouraged me to quit training when it’s taken so much of my time or I’ve gotten hurt from it, and it’s such a male-dominated sport.”
But Lysset is not discouraged or swayed by any naysayers and she has no intention of giving up Jiu-Jitsu any time soon. Her goal is to get her black belt, and to compete more in the future. “I’ve done well in the GB tournaments, but haven’t yet placed in the IBJJF tournaments,” she says, “I participated in the Pan Ams and the Vegas Open and lost by points. I hope to change this pattern soon.”