Celine Haga Interview

Thursday 27 May 2010

I've always thought female MMA fighters didn't get the attention and respect they deserve. When Smackgirl went under about 2 years ago, Jewels and Valkyrie both fought to fill space they left.

Jewels seems to have filled that spot the best. At SmackGirl's last event Mika Nagano was one of the new rising stars and Celine Haga was in the crowd.

Now Celine has just gotten her first win, stopping Mika Nagano's winning streak at 5. And I got a chance to ask her a few questions!

Make sure you check out her blog:

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, and congratulations with the win over Mika Nagano!

-First of, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

55kg of energy in motion, starting to get close to a purple belt in life experience now, love the feeling of being free and independent of others. I am cursed, or blessed? With an intensity that makes me give
101% to reach the goals I set. :D

-How long have you been doing martial arts, and how did you get into
MMA? How did you end up with fights in Japan?

I have been doing martial arts for 3 years now – MMA for a total of 1.5 years. Started MMA because if felt like the ultimate challenge both physically and mentally.

I had no experience earlier, just trained 1 year track and field and a year of strength (that I was forced to because I was so weak my doctor told me I needed to add some muscle).

I won a bit of money playing poker and decided to invest in a Japan trip (the money lasted 2 months). During my stay I got to know Megumi and the rest of AACC. I also fought my first fight (semi-pro) in an
underground event called "Smokers".

-How did you feel during the fight with Mika? What was your tactics
before the fight, and did it go to plan?

The tactics were just to aim and hit her. I knew she was southpaw and good at takedowns, so I wanted to keep to basic boxing. One or two punches and move, to avoid takedowns. If it went to the ground the plan was to work for the best possible position. The plan was to give it everything, fight smart, not stress and have fun.

I knew this was probably the last chance Jewels wanted to give me, they were cool and asked who I wanted to fight, if I could choose. I picked Nagano. I knew I had to win against a good opponent this time
for it to matter.

The plan worked, not a 100%, but good enough. :D

-You had 4 losses before this fight, what had you learnt in the
previous fights that helped you in this one? Did you change something
in your preparation?

I always overestimated my opponents, and underestimated myself and it showed in my performances. I might have been a bit too eager when I went to Japan to have my first pro fight after just 1 year of grappling and 3 months of MMA training. HAHA And tapping breeds tapping, that breeds low confidence
and depressions.

But I continued to prioritize training above everything else. I chose not to give up, continue to train hard but forgot the most important aspect of the sport… The mental aspect.

Before this fight I worked harder, focused more on conditioning and self esteem. I was focusing on what I knew and tried to improve that, I got help from Miyata’s coach Sean, some wrestling tips from Miyata, loads of
good training at AACC and not least from Roxanne and Kunioku.

A person I respect a lot told me that I have the technique and strength, but I lack self confidence and wasn’t fighting with my heart. And the last two things are more important than the former.

-I saw Joachim Hansen in your corner, did he give you some good advice?

I actually had Mohsen (Team Hansen) and Sean Frew in my corner during the fight.

Didn’t want any special advice this time, I just wanted positive energy and support. Joachim has given me loads of good advice over the last 3 years that are like tattooed in my brain forever. :D I have had many sparring partners and coaches, but it is first and foremost his style and advice that will be the fundamentals in my game.

-I know you have been training a bit in Japan, how it is to train
there compared to home in Norway? What are the biggest differences?

In Norway I only train with boys that are 15-20kg heavier. Joachim and the others at Team Hellboy have used a lot of time to help me. Sparring with them has made me stronger and given me better balance, and more tolerant to pain. hahaha

In Japan I train with girls. The biggest differences are that girls are a lot more flexible and agile/quick, that increases the stress factor a lot of times.

There are more training opportunities for me in Japan, since there are a lot of girls my size doing MMA/grapping.

-There is not a lot of non-Japanese fighting in Jewels on a regular
basis, you have had 4 fights there. How is it being the only
non-Japanese, do you get extra attention/support?

I think I mix well?? Don’t look typically Norwegian… hehe

I feel like Japan is my second home! Have lots of good friends here and enjoy it a lot.

I don’t receive more attention than the other fighters here. To fight in Japan is pretty special, the biggest have been jetlag, communication (very few speak English) and the culture. But when you settle in, it’s the martial arts’ Shangri-la in my opinion.

The support I have received is first and foremost from my friends here and from Team Hellboy (that have always supported me) I am so lucky and grateful for having such good teammates.

-What can we expect from you in the future? If you could choose, who
would be your next opponent?

I am going to continue training, and as always never give up!

This is the point of no return for me, I have finally won the battle inside, and I am ready to give my next opponent hell. My next opponent is anyone, hopefully at 52kg. I am ready!

Discuss in the FORUM


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