Joanna Champion: It’s all in the legs

You get hurt, hurt ‘em back. You get killed… walk it off.


There’s a moment in Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron when Steve Rogers addresses his assembled superheroes before going into battle against impossible odds with: “You get hurt, hurt ’em back. You get killed… walk it off.”

I’m not saying Poland’s Joanna Jędrzejczyk is a Captain America fan, but she must have been listening to the same advice when she fought  Cláudia Gadelha in Friday’s TUF 23 Final at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

As a perfect example of fighting back from a bad start, this fight was unmissible, and far better than any fight I saw in the UFC 200 show the following day. Cláudia, a BJJ black belt, spent the first two rounds on the offensive, with clinch followed by takedown after takedown, totally dominating the fight, but Jonanna always found a way to get back to her feet without ever sustaining any real damage. Eventually Cláudia’s repeated takedown attempts took their toll and her gas tank veered perilously close to empty. By the third round the tide was turning and Joanna had Cláudia on the run. With Cláudia too tired to continue the takedown attempts, Joanna could open up with her strikes and kicks. She unleashed hell.

Joanna is well known for her unpredictable staccato style of striking mixed with devastating flurries, like this:



And the accuracy of her strikes. Like this:


and this:



Her hand speed is often the big talking point, but watching her move, I am always struck by how much her legs are involved in everything she does. Whether it was getting back to her feet again, or resisting the constant stream of takedown attempts from Claudia, her legs and hips are always being used. And when it comes to punching, she never just launches with her body or arms, as her opponents always seem to do. Her legs are never the passive carriers of her upper body – she’s always driving every action from them. Look at the clips above again and see if you can get what I’m talking about.

I’m not suggesting she’s doing Tai Chi movement, but I do think there are parallels to observe between what she’s doing and the way we are taught to use our legs in the ‘internal’ martial arts.

As for her heart and ability to come back from adversity. I don’t think you can teach that. She’s a real life superhero.

2 thoughts on “Joanna Champion: It’s all in the legs

  1. Pingback: Fight Mom | The Tai Chi Notebook


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