World champ Ramirez appeals for mat time

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Since the series of lockdowns began seven months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic, world jiujitsu champion Annie Ramirez and other members of the national squad have been deprived of the required sparring to improve their skills.

But with a string of big tournaments early next year, Ramirez and the entire Philippine jiujitsu squad are starting to feel the necessity of getting back on the mat as soon as possible.

“Our sport is a close-contact sport. You can keep yourself fit by running or lifting weights, but you cannot improve your technical skills if you don’t have the mat time needed for conditioning and stamina,’’ said Ramirez.

Jiujitsu requires nonstop grappling, submission holds and ground fighting to gain a dominant position, and these are the elements that have prevented the self-defense martial art from getting the restart approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“You cannot do shadow training just like the other combat sports. Our sport was badly hit by the (COVID-19) pandemic because you need a partner and it requires close contact in training,’’ said Ramirez, the women’s 55-kilogram Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist.

Less than six months from now, the PH jiujitsu team will compete in the 2021 Asian Beach Games in Sanya, China, on April 2 to April 10 before campaigning in the 2021 Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Bangkok six weeks later.

The sport, where the Philippines grabbed five gold medals in the SEA Games last year, was also recently included in the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam, giving Filipino bets more reasons to prepare early.

“I hope we can get back to our regular training routine as soon as possible because sparring in our sport is very important,’’ said Ramirez, whose advocacy is to help deaf children learn jiujitsu and prevent themselves from getting bullied.

Aside from winning the 2019 World Professional JiuJitsu Championship in her weight class, Ramirez is also an Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games gold medalist and a four-time UAAP MVP as a judoka for UST.

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