Our own Emma Bramford caught up with Bryony Tyrell, a 33 year old married mum of two from Southampton, you may also be thinking who? But after this reading this interview, this is one person who will be firmly on the Tip of your Tongue.
Hi Bryony thank you for your time today, I know that you’re a very busy person.
Thank you very much for asking me.
You’re a Nurse working in Cardiac Intensive care at Southampton General Hospital, and you also do Clinical Research as your job, how do you cope with this really stressful job?
Yes, that’s right I work 30 hours a week, not quite full time, although sometimes it feels like it! It can be stressful but I’m very lucky to work in a fantastic team who help and support each other.
You also hold a Master Degree in Nursing and a Degree in Molecular Cell Biology, do you want to study further and gain more knowledge in this area, or is this enough studying for you?
I’ve only just finished my Masters so I definitely need a break from studying. I would like to do a Phd one day, probably when I’m too old to compete in MMA. I don’t think I could manage doing both.
You have 2 lovely children aged 5 and 2 who live at home with you and your husband in Southampton. What do your family think of your new added career in MMA?
Well my son is too young to understand at the moment, but my daughter is starting to follow in my footsteps, which is great. My husband has mixed feelings I think. We met doing Jiu Jitsu so he understands the martial arts side of it but he can’t get his head round wanting to step into a cage and fight for your life (laughs). He is incredibly supportive though!
I also hear you’re a bit of an adrenalin junkie?
Yeah, I love extreme sports! Although, I broke my leg BASE jumping a few years ago, which was a bit of a wake-up call. I’d be devastated if I got injured and couldn’t do Martial Arts. Also, having children makes you a bit more aware of you mortality, not to mention having less money (laughs).
You’re not a stranger to the world of Martial Arts, I hear you hold several belts, in several different Arts can you tell me, what belts, in which Martial Arts, and also how long you have been training in them for?
I’ve been involved in martial arts for 13 years now. I’ve trained in Kickboxing and Kung Fu for 12 years, Japanese Jiu Jitsu for 2 years and Krav Maga for 2 years. I hold a black belt in Kickboxing, second degree black belt in Kung Fu, an orange belt in Jiu Jitsu and I’ve just passed my P3 in Krav Maga. Since starting MMA I have added Wrestling, Muay Thai and BJJ to the mix. Jack of all trades, master of none springs to mind (laughs).
What is the difference between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and what people more commonly associate in MMA Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
I wouldn’t like to generalise because there are so many different styles of Jiu Jitsu but in my experience, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu predominantly involves groundwork. In the Japanese style we practiced a lot more throws and other stand up techniques such as escaping from grab holds, evading strikes and weapon training. Both are brilliant to learn but for MMA I think the BJJ is more beneficial.
What is it about Martial Arts that interested you in the sport?
Martial arts are my passion in life. I love the contrast that they can be beautiful and deadly at the same time. Anyone that practices a martial art to a high level knows that it involves incredible dedication and discipline and also pushes your body and mind to the limits of endurance.
What do you remember about your first ever training session, especially with the move into MMA?
I remember my first MMA lesson very clearly, I’m afraid I was a bit foolhardy and turned up to one of the top MMA gyms in the country thinking I was a bit special because I’d done martial arts. I said I didn’t need a beginner’s lesson and inadvertently ended up in one of the fighter’s sessions, as I walked in I was greeted by the head instructor of the gym who said to me in no uncertain terms….”you’re going to die”, I made it through the lesson (much to his surprise I think) but, realised that I could probably do with going back to the basics (Laughs). We live and learn!
Where are you training now? And what gym do you train out of?
I now train out of Exile Gym in Southampton. Without a doubt the friendliest most fantastic gym I have ever been to. I cannot thank them enough for the incredible support and encouragement they’ve given me over the past year.
You made the decision to go into MMA just over a year ago, how did this come about?
I think the only way to truly know how good you are at fighting is to compete, and that’s where the MMA comes in. Being locked in a cage with another trained fighter who can use pretty much any style or technique against you (with full power) is the ultimate test. I’d always liked the idea of MMA but I wasn’t sure if I was tough enough for it, it wasn’t until I started Krav Maga that I thought I should go for it, Krav Maga is also a form of mixed martial arts but there are no competitions because it is purely based on self defence, MMA is the closest thing to it and also compliments it very well.
You’re part of UFC fighter Rosi Sexton’s mentorship scheme can you tell me what this is about? And how it all came about for you?
Yes, I’m very privileged to be on a mentorship scheme with Rosi, I can’t believe it really. I happened to be following her on facebook and she put up a post about starting the scheme and I applied straight away! She’s given me help and advice with regard to training, nutrition, competing etc… She set up the 2 fights I’ve had so far and I’ve also been lucky enough to train with her on a couple of occasions.
You were due to fight Rebecca Davies on July 20th, at Merthyr Mayhem in Wales, this would have been your 3rd fight, was you approached for this fight?
Yes, surprisingly I have been approached for all the fights and I’ve even had to turn some down due to other commitments. I thought it was going to be hard to get match ups but not at all so far.
Your fighting weight is at 55kg, as a female in the sport I personally know how hard it is 1 to train with females, 2 to find females in the sport, 3 find a female in your own weight division, 4 with the same experience as yourself; how did you feel when you knew there was someone who had personally ‘asked’ to fight you?
I must admit I didn’t know that anyone had personally asked to fight me. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not (Laughs) I don’t really mind who I fight, at this stage I just want the experience.
Did you know at the time, that your opponent, who had asked to fight you, was not anywhere near your scheduled fight weight; although bearing in mind, you were 12 weeks out from the set fight date, which in all honesty is before professional athletes start their fight camp?
Yes I did know and I think she took on a huge challenge to try and loose that much weight, it was perhaps a little naive to think she could drop to that weight. Although, I read in an interview she had done, it did state that she fights at 55-60kgs so perhaps that’s her normal weight, I don’t know.
The fight was agreed at 55kg to start with, but it got changed to u60kg, this is not your normal fighting weight, I can see by you accepting this, you really wanted the fight to go ahead as long as Rebecca could weigh in u60kg on the day, but that was not to be, Rebecca came in over weight and the fight rightly so did not go ahead; how was you feeling at the time?
Yes I did really want to fight because I’d trained hard and I need the experience. The first MMA fight I did was u60kgs as well. After having done that I realised that a few kgs, although it doesn’t sound much, can actually make quite a lot of difference. I was disappointed not to fight but not altogether surprised to be honest. Rebecca has since apologised to me which meant a lot. She’d also had a very difficult time for personal reasons and I admire her for carrying on training under those circumstances. She’s a brave and determined lady.
Had you known how much weight there was for Rebecca to cut, in hindsight would you of still agreed to the fight, having gone through a big training camp yourself, dedication of your training, having your full time job, being a mum, weight cutting yourself and everything else that comes with preparing for a fight?
Yes, I would have agreed to the fight. I love training and I’d like to stay fighting fit as much as possible. I’m lucky I’ve not needed to cut weight yet. If anything I should have been putting weight on .Also, David Nicholas is a great promoter to work with, I would gladly go on the show if he was to invite me back again.
This goes to show, how much females will do to go and still fight, even if their opponent does not make weight as you still wanted the fight to go ahead, are you glad your corner said No to the fight?
I totally stand by my corner’s decision it was quite nice to have the decision taken out of your hands because no fighter wants to turn down a fight they’ve trained for. She was 7 kgs heavier and with rehydration that would have been closer to 10. It wouldn’t have been safe.
What, if anything, have you learned through this experience? Will it make you more wary of more opponents in the future?
Yes, I will be a lot more wary in the future. It wouldn’t matter so much if it was just down the road but at the moment I’m having to travel pretty long distances which involves organisation and expense not just for me but for whoever comes to corner and support me.
It’s just been announced by Cage Warriors that they have around 40 females to sign up, with around 18 of them being confirmed, in a new 4 weight division, which in my opinion is a long time coming; Although you are still an amateur, do you see yourself moving to the pro ranks anytime soon, especially with a organisation like Cage Warriors leading the way forward, who will offer female’s the chance to get regular fights and be evenly matched?
Yes that’s very exciting news! I would love to move up the ranks at some point if I’m good enough. Being signed to Cage Warriors would be a dream come true and I love having a goal like that to work towards.
What is next for you? Do you have another fight lined up at all?
I have 2 Muay Thai interclub fights lined up this month. I’ve also been asked to fight on Extreme Cage Championships in Blackpool next month which is very exciting but not as yet confirmed.
Your fellow team mates Arthur Frost and Benny Carr were both fighting July 27th on the ShockNAwe card, which both whom won; were you there? If so how was that seeing them in true winning style?
Yes, I couldn’t miss that! They both did fantastically, we were all so proud to be there supporting them. Benny’s fight was deservedly the fight of the night, they’re both superb athletes and destined for great things.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
First and foremost I’d like to thank all my fantastic instructors, training partners and team mates at Exile Gym and Essential Krav Maga. I’d also like to thank Rosi Sexton for her invaluable insight and help, also my husband for putting up with my ridiculous training schedule and last but not least my amazing brother, Vaughan and sister in law, Lisa, for their unwavering support and for traipsing around the country after me .
5 Quick Questions
What is your fighting Nickname?
At Exile they call me the “Gazelle” because I bounce around and have a silly run apparently (Laughs)
Favourite Fighter ?
I’m going to have to say Rosi Sexton and Joanne Calderwood because they both have such unique skills.
Favourite Film ?
Argh that’s tough I think it’s got to be ‘Last of the Mohicans’.
Favourite Food ?
Definitely cake! Don’t mind what type just any cake.
If you were to hold a dinner party, which 3 guests past or present would you invite and why?
I would invite Gordon Ramsey so he can cook (because I really can’t!), Bruce Lee so he can teach me the one inch punch and Will Ferrell just because he’s brilliant!