The European Fight Network (www.EFNSports.com) bring you an exclusive with whom many now consider ‘the first lady or European BJJ’. Laurence Cousin The European Fight Network (www.EFNSports.com) bring you an exclusive with whom many now consider ‘the first lady or European BJJ’. Laurence Cousin has managed to achieve what many individuals outside of Brazil have failed to do on numerous occasions. She joins the ranks of BJ Penn and Rafael Lovato Jr as winners at Black Belt in the BJJ World Championships.
Big thanks to Antony Rode for making this possible and doing the translations.
Anthony Rode: Was competition and martial arts always in your Childhood Dream(s)/Aspiration(s)?
Laurence Cousin: At that time I had no dreams so I just followed what my dad wanted to do as a sport. He decided for me! I started to do sports at 5 years old. At that time I did not have any aspirations to do any competitions.
AR: Tell me more about your Martial Arts History outside of BJJ?
LC: I started martial arts at 8 yrs old, before I was doing gymnastics, but I did not like it because of the competition aspect of it. So my dad put me into Martial arts with no competition pressure attached to it, also because he told me it was important that I was able to defend myself so I started Aikido.
During the lesson my teacher made the training very hard. We did things like push ups, circuit training and so I loved it. He also wanted us to be open minded so he made us do seminars in other fighting sports. So we did Judo, Karate and finally Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So thanks to my Aikido teacher.
So from this seminar I begin to like BJJ, first it was only for fun and then people told me that I was good at it so then I wanted to fight in competitions. That is where my love for fighting came. At that time I had no dreams to become famous and winning. It was just an opportunity to fight in a competition. Then I finally joined a BJJ academy full time.
AR: How did you get into BJJ and who do you currently train with?
LC: So when I started BJJ, I was still training in Aikido and on a Sunday I was training 3 hours of BJJ with my Aikido teacher. Then I join Cercle Tissier in June 2000. I then had to change academy in June 2007 to fulfill my aspirations as I was not finding what I needed at Cercle Tissier. Now I train at SANKUNO in Paris with David Pierre Louis , Francois Laurent and Alain Nagera all black belts.
AR: How do you manage your training and your day to day job?
LC: I am a police officer with the French police so I tend to work shift work. So consequently I train at night with my partners or I train with my personal trainer, working on my conditioning or doing specifics. This however allows me to train almost every day.
AR: How do feel being the 1st European to win a gold at the Black Belt Division at the Mundials?
LC: Since I have received my black belt my objective was to win the World Championships (Mundials). Its true that I am the first European girl, but I get mistaken for a Brazilian (hahaha) so it went unnoticed at the Mundials. This win means that Europe is progressing fast!
AR: With BJJ being a relatively small sport, how was the reaction of your friends and family to your win?
LC: My friends and family are happy for me. In the academy everyone understands that it was difficult to gain the title. And my friends had been really surprised not to see the result on the TV. I should to explain that the sport in small and not recognized in France. In France you have to go for a famous sport (football) or there is no interest. My family was always behind me which is most important.
AR: Talk me through your fights with Fabiana Borges, Leticia Ribeiro and Sayaka Shioda.
LC: Before the fight I was out of the absolute division (3rd Place). So all my stress before the competition was gone, then I was really focused. When I saw the brackets, I said to myself one thing “I want to get to the semi’s to fight Leticia Riberio, to get my revenge from 2003”. In 2003 I lost to her in the Semi final in Copo de Mundo in Rio. I was Purple and she was a black belt. It has been 4 years that I was running after her and I have been to the Pan Ams in 04 and 05 only to fight her with no success. And finally here I am and all I have to do is reach the semi final. Against Fabiano Borges it was more of a mental fight and I was much better than her. I opened her guard to gain half guard.
Against Leticia Riberio she had a warning against her for stalling, then I tried to make her run out of gas while in my guard. Then I tried as many submission attempts as possible and she had a very good defense, but I gained an advantage. At the final part of the match,she tried a leg lock, but I defended and reversed the position to come on top. The clock stopped and I won. It was my best victory in a tournament and then no one could stop me. Even though my knee was injured from my last fight.Against Shiodo I blocked as I had a bad knee and wanted to win so much. I won by an advantage from an uncontroled sweep. At the end of the time I cried like a small child as I fulfilled my objective.
AR: BJJ world wide has very low participation rate amoungst woman. How do you think that we as competitors and promoters can remedy the problem and get more woman training and competing?
LC: Because there are very few woman in the academies and doing competition there is only one absolute. So light girls do not want to come and fight so very few fighters. So less and less girls are in the academy, because the sport is developing via the competition so it almost like a chicken and egg situation.
In France I ‘fight’ with the promoters to gain at least a girl division and I plan to fight for more divisions for woman.
Also I think girls are far more technical than men, however men find this very difficult to admit!! hahaha!!
AR: With the growth of MMA around the globe, do you feel that BJJ is in danger of being squashed by the very sport that got it around the globe in the first place? (The reason I ask that question is that I cannot believe EFNSports is the first person to interview the 1st European BJJ World Champion at BJJ).
LC: It is true that MMA is more and more popular and I like to watch UFC, Cagerage etc!!lol!!
We should not forget that BJJ is an entire martial art. But BJJ needs to be in the media in order for MMA and No-Gi not to squash it. Even today BJJ is the one to have and lots of MMA fighters work on it and No-Gi. In BTT for instance if you want to be an MMA fighter you have to study BJJ and No-Gi.
AR: How do you feel about the newly introduction of MMA in France?
LC: With MMA being recognized in France it is a good way to structure the sport. France fighters are obliged to fight abroad and its a shame because they have no recognition in France. We need more exposure on French TV.
AR: With the introduction of MMA in France, do you think that BJJ has an important role in educating the general public and new MMA fans?
LC: Totally agree. We need to educate the public to work on the ground, the thing that Judo which is deep in French culture has totally rejected. But in order to educate the French public to MMA, requires alot of time. Too many early UFC video’s are in the mind of the French puplic when you first mention MMA, so they have a very violent opinion of it.
AR: Do you plan to fight MMA in the near future?
LC: No i don’t think so. BJJ is one sport and I do not like stand up. lol!!
AR: Who are some of your favorite BJJ and MMA fighters today?
LC: I really like Mario Reis and Romulo Baral. In MMA im supporting Jess Liaudin and Cheik Kongo as im French I am obliged. I like dynamic fights and dynamic fighters so GSP and Karo Parisyan.
AR: What is your training regimen like these days?
LC: I train 4 -5 time a week.
AR: With all this going on in your life what is next for Laurence Cousin?
LC: I want to defend my title next june. My marriage next August, so there is not only BJJ in life!!lol!!
For other tournaments we will see. Try to gain more popularity outside of France would be cool!! lol!!
AR: Any last words and thanks to your friends and family?
LC: I love them!! lol!!