With 2x European Champion, Emilia Tuukkanen (inspired by Santeri Lilius)
I’ve heard a lot of people saying that their dream is to have a significant other who also trains jiu jitsu, and that life would be so much easier as a BJJ couple. They think as a couple you would never complain about the amount of time you spend at the gym, or the sweaty, smelly gis drying all over the house, or be jealous of you rolling with someone of the opposite sex. But, is it really such a walk in the park?
I happen to have a brown belt boyfriend who trains and competes at a high level, just like me. I can tell all of you dreamers: Think twice. Seriously.
I don’t have as bloody and serious sparring as I have with Santeri with anyone else. Our rolling always ends up one of three ways: tears, days of silent treatment, or hospital. We both have this attitude of wanting to either rip each other’s legs off or choke the other one out. When I’m annoyed about him not doing the dishes, I try to murder him on the mat. And the joy of getting a kneebar is something I can’t even describe. I think we have almost broke up a few times after rolling, too. I remember at least one kneebar by me and a few chokes by him when I thought ‘okay, this is it, there’s no way of coming back from this’.
Competing is another reason why I recommend reconsidering the dream of being in a BJJ couple. I don’t know anything as dangerous to my mental health as watching Santeri fight. I’m more nervous about his fights than my own! I just focus on filming his fights and I watch our teammates’ reactions to know how he is doing. The exception was the Mundials a few months ago when I went to yell him instructions, but that was maybe even worse than just having to watch. I got so mad and frustrated about his mistakes (he gave the guy sweeps when he attempted footlocks) in his third fight that I wanted to punch him.
If you compete in the same tournaments, you also diet at the same time. I still don’t know how our relationship has survived so many weight-cuts, it’s a true miracle. I get very cranky and impatient when I’m denied food, and I want to kick him in the nuts every morning when he has lost a lot of weight by just eating a bit less than normal, while I’ve lost 50 grams by eating about as much as a bird.
Today’s class included the perfect example of our struggles. I was tired and not feeling my best, and didn’t have the energy to roll 100%. Santeri was not tired. I thought that he sparred too hard, and he thought I was whining and complaining for nothing. We came to the conclusion (for the 100th time) that we will never train together again, ever.