Vernon’s Lillian (Lillatron) Marchand, 11, from the North Okanagan Shuswap Brazilian JiuJitsu club, repeated as Pan Kids World Champion, to go along with other medals, during her recent trip to California. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Marchand marvellous at worlds

Vernon Brazilian jiujitsu fighter tackles bullying with martial art; becomes two-time world champion

Lillian Marchand’s wit is as quick as her Brazilian JiuJitsu moves.

Asked what her coach, Mario Deveault, is like, the 11-year-old, Grade 6 Harwood Elementary repeat world champion didn’t hesitate:

“He likes Coffee Crisps (chocolate bars),” smiled Marchand, a four-foot-five dynamo who returned to Deveault’s North Okanagan Shuswap Brazilian JiuJitsu gym on Waddington Drive with another gold medal from the International Brazilian JiuJitsu Federation Pan Kids world championship event in Long Beach, Cal., the same event she won in 2o17.

A year ago, the “Lillatron,” as Marchand is nicknamed, won the yellow belt light feather division (Junior 2, 73.5 pounds and under) at the Pan Kids world finals, capturing gold by beating a girl from Brazil with a kimura (shoulder lock) submission move.

This year, Marchand – fighting as an orange belt in the yellow belt light feather 80 pounds and under Junior 3 division –beat a girl from the Phillipines in her opening match, then defeated twins from the Art of JiuJitsu academy in Costa Mesa, Cal. on points (20-2, 11-2) to win her second straight world title.

“I was happy to have won again but I was also intimidated,” said Marchand. “When you have a big group, it’s like a really big win because you know you’ve earned it. Lose once and you’re out. It’s all do or die.”

Said her father and chauffeur, Chad Marchand: “Every year the weights change and it’s good because you get different weight ranges. Every year the weight brackets change a little, so some kids in your division you may not fight this year, but you could fight them in the division next year.”

So how did she get to become so dominant?

Well, Marchand was introduced to Brazilian JiuJitsu at the encouragement of her parents, Chad and Rachel, who, six years ago, were noticing a change in their daughter. Once a bubbly five-year-old Grade 1 student in private school, Marchand became just the opposite.

She was being bullied.

“I thought that Lillian should get into some self-defence class because she is a quiet, happy kid who doesn’t speak up and doesn’t break rules,” said Rachel. “She needs some kind of tool to help her in case she was a target for kids at school. Well, I did my research and I asked around my circle of friends and that’s when I learned about Mario and his club.

“I called, set up a visit and Lillian took the free class while my husband and I observed. At the end of it I was enrolling her full- time and giving Mario my information.”

Deveault – who, when told about the Coffee Crisp comment divulged that Marchand likes Starbucks’ grandé London Fog tea and milk – said the Lillatron has been coachable from the day she walked into his gym.

“She listened closely, attempted everything and asked for and accepted help to improve,” said Deveault. “She won’t remember, but I can recall years ago when I taught her a flying armbar and she said ‘that’s sooo cool, can I do that in the tournament?’ I said ‘yes,’ she responded with ‘I’m going to do that in the finals’ and that’s exactly what she did at the very next tournament; winning the finals with a flying armbar.

“Like all kids who started, Lillian needed hand-over-hand teaching at first, but she got the Brazilian JiuJitsu bug and learned quickly with constant training, and has consistently tested herself since then, winning tournaments and working very hard on and off the mats.”

Marchand helps Deveault with class warm-ups if he’s dealing with customers.

“I’ve been coming to him for six-and-a-half years so I’ve got to know him,” said Marchand. “He’s a great guy who has helped me a lot. It was hard at the start but I got better when I came more. I liked it because I had a challenge and I got to stay, have fun and make new friends.”

Marchand will be at the gym training for tournaments six times a week. She’ll train with her brother, Mason, 10, at home (“He doesn’t like it when I beat him,” chuckled Marchand), or sometimes dad will drive her to Deveault’s other gym location in Grindrod for training.

Away from the gym, Marchand likes to hang out with her friends and likes to read from her large collection of books.

As for being bullied at her new school, well, that doesn’t happen anymore to the two-time world champion.

“Nope,” she smiled.

“There’s such a big difference in her now, and the confidence she has is unbelievable,” said Chad.

Added Coach Mario: “She is a great role model and encouraging to everyone. I have never once heard her complain, and she’s really coming into her own as she grows up. She has a tremendous positive attitude, funny, kind, spirited, extremely talented yet humble to the point that I think her some of her close friends didn’t know about her being a two-time Kids World Champion. It’s been a pleasure having her and her family train here, it’s been a blessing for me.”

* Marchand was joined in California by clubmates and brothers Elan and Winter Breget.

In her first tournament, the “Grappling 5,” Marchand competed (in gi and no gi) in a belt class and an age group higher then her and she finished with two silver medals.

The following day, she competed at the “Dream” tournament, tearing through the competition, winning matches by submissions and points, winning gold. Both were tune-ups for the Pan Kids, which featured more than 1,400 competitors.

Elan Breget had a large group of competitors and in his first match, pulled a last second submission to secure the win in a scoreless match, then followed it up with two more impressive technical wins to become Kids Pans Champion in his division, winning gold.

Winter Breget won his first match (securing a bronze medal) and lost his second match via a ref’s decision. This tough loss fuelled Winter who went on to battle in five exhibition matches, winning all five matches against competitors who were, in some cases, three years older and with higher belts.

“These three students have tremendous support from their families and work extremely hard on and off the mats,” said Deveault. “I’m very proud of these kids who always impress people with their drive, dedication, heart, and technique everywhere they go.”

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