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Broome martial arts world champion mounts comeback after five-year hiatus

Cain AndrewsBroome Advertiser
Broome's Cacoy Doce Pares student Katie Bidewell with former three-time Eskrima world champion Bianca Hellberg.
Camera IconBroome's Cacoy Doce Pares student Katie Bidewell with former three-time Eskrima world champion Bianca Hellberg. Credit: Robert Dougherty/RegionalHUB

The Advertiser’s own sales manager and former world champion Bianca Hellberg is preparing to step back into the martial arts arena after a five-year hiatus.

The former three-time Eskrima world champion, also known as Filipino stick fighting, had to hang up the sticks and put her combat sports career on hold after an accident in 2017 which caused her to lose sight in her right eye.

“(After my injury) I was advised to not fight again,” she said.

“I was a dual world champion in 2014, Indonesian champion in 2015, world champion 2016, hall of fame inductee 2014 and 2017 and received my citizenship under the acknowledgement as distinguished talent in sport.”

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The Advertiser's Bianca Hellberg prepares to step back into the ring.
Camera IconThe Advertiser's Bianca Hellberg prepares to step back into the ring. Credit: Supplied

But now the 50-year-old mother is ready to make her comeback after stepping back into a full-time training regime over the past year.

“(My injury) affects me more in my daily life than when I’m fighting,” she said.

“(While fighting) I’m on autopilot. I see the target moving and I use my hand-eye co-ordination and if you’re good you can hit six or seven times a second and I would definitely still hit them that quickly.”

Hellberg will be joined by her Eskrima counterpart and fellow Broome resident Lance Smith who will also be vying for the title in his division.

“He’s very talented, especially for his age and he’s super fit and fast,” Hellberg said.

“We train every day. We do a lot of fitness training because it’s high intensity, so we do a lot of footwork and then we also skip every day alongside the normal fitness stuff that you would do in other sports, too.

Martial arts practitioner Bianca Hellberg.
Camera IconMartial arts practitioner Bianca Hellberg. Credit: Rob Dougherty/Broome Advertiser

“And then for stick skills, we do drills to develop hand-eye co-ordination and flexibility and we also do full contact close-quarter sparring.”

Asked whether she thought she could take back her former titles Hellberg said it was all but an inevitability.

“People who know me and the sport know I’m super fast and fit and that I always have been. Those are the attributes that got me to the gold before,” she said.

“Obviously I‘m not going just to be there. I’m going to win.”

Hellberg will travel to the Philippines for the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation World Championships hosted by the legendary Cacoy Doce Pares World Federation in Cebu City later this year.

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