the tweed vault  Apr 23



Care Centre black belt taking names

In an industry that attracts personnel from unique backgrounds, Tweed has been fortunate to welcome talented professionals from a range of disciplines to our team. Alison Tremblay is perhaps our most unorthodox example. A world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt who is part of the Care Team in Smiths Falls, Alison moonlights as a professional fighter with a well-padded portfolio of international experience under her belt.

This weekend she will be competing at the World Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championship in Long Beach, CA. As the only Canadian to have medalled at every belt level at the world championships – having won the tournament as a purple and brown belt – she is hoping to improve on last-year’s bittersweet second place finish in the black belt division.

The tournament, which runs from June 2-5, will feature some of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners on the planet. Divided by belt and weight class, the matches can run as long as 10 minutes in the black belt ranks. On the tournament’s final day, the focus shifts to one mat and the fights are televised. Alison has three divisional battles that will conclude on the final day, when she hopes to top the heap at the competition.

For Alison, training is a way of life passed down from her father, a BJJ black belt who owns Alpha Mixed Martial Arts in Carleton Place and has been teaching martial arts since 1978. She says having her dad as an instructor is a blessing that sometimes stings in the heart of competition.

“It’s tough because you want him there to console you and say he’s proud and it’s ok, but it’s your coach talking and he’s like, ‘what were you doing?’” she says. “So it’s a very tough dynamic sometimes that’s awesome at the same time, because you have people there who have your back no matter what.”

As further proof that martial arts are a family affair for the Tremblays, Alison’s brother is also scheduled to compete at the world championships. A brown belt who is 4-0 in amateur MMA, he will be participating at the event under the watchful eye of his father, who Alison credits for preparing the siblings for the tournament.

“I think if you train in a safe environment with people you trust, then you can eliminate a lot of the risks,” she points out. “We put ourselves in bad positions while training so that when we get there in tournament, it’s not this new experience and we’re stuck. We know what to do because we’ve practiced.”

Alison’s athletic career has been characterized by a devotion to excellence. While she’s only been formally training BJJ since 18, the 25-year-old acquired her black belt in short order after taking up the sport as a hobby after high school. A former competitive soccer and Junior AA hockey player, Alison says despite her natural knack for competition she’s never played a sport for the accolades, preferring to cherish the feeling of personal accomplishment instead.

“I’ve never done a sport and not competed. So it was natural to start competing as soon as I could with jiu-jitsu. I don’t think it’s a sport you can do unless you have that passion because you don’t really get anything out of it. You just get that personal satisfaction, which is a lot different than if you played hockey or basketball or football.”

Nor, she admits, is there much to be taken from the sport in the way of riches. Alison says that, while many of the girls she competes against are in the gym three times a day and live in fighter houses year-round, most don’t earn much money. She says she prefers to work and train simultaneously to the betterment of both worlds – her career feeding her passion, and passion feeding her career.

“I’m at a point now where I’m not going to be able to do jiu-jitsu forever, so it’s nice to have a career and a job that allows me to go out and do something that I’m extremely passionate about,” she says. “Tweed complements my training very well and it’s important that the workplace is open to that.”

Apart from engaging with jiu-jitsu as a sport, Alison says BJJ is a spiritual exercise. In jiu-jitsu as in life, she says, it’s important to address weaknesses and character flaws in preparation for the moment of truth.

“I use it as a way to kind of audit myself personally. Your personality flaws come out when you’re learning something new,” she says. “So if you can realize those flaws on the mat when it doesn’t really matter, then you can fix those within yourself and become a better person, a better person at work, a better person with your family. To me, it all ties into each other.”

Here’s to Future (Athletic and Spiritual) Growth!

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