Thrown on to her back during a world championships Brazilian jiu-jitsu bout last month, Amelia Lui reacted rapidly by wrapping her legs around her opponent's neck. Despite being in the intimidating spotlight of a packed stadium, the 23-year-old martial arts athlete remained calm, patiently manoeuvring her adversary further into her deadly embrace, known as a "triangle choke", restricting her airways. Within seconds her opponent succumbed. Lui emerged victorious, barely containing her delight. She's the most unlikely of world champions in the brutal martial art, after all. "I'm a really girly girl, attracted to anything that sparkles," she said. I remember thinking, 'I want to win and I want to be the best. I'm never going to lose again.' I stepped it up and really committed to it Amelia Lui By day, she is a model scout for a local agency; by night she grapples at local BJJ dojo Team Grips Atos, with the aim of defeating her opponents by choking them, putting them to sleep or breaking their limbs. She has set her sights on being world champion at every belt level (there are five) in the rapidly growing sport - a journey she estimates will consume the next 10 years of her life. And she's well on her way. Last month in the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi, British-Chinese Lui took two gold medals in the female white belt division, in her weight category and overall. Earlier this year she was crowned European champion white belt under 76kg and last year she won the female white belt British championship. She's ranked number one white belt world champion in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation rankings. This coming week she faces her biggest challenge yet: the "Mundials" world jiu-jitsu championships, one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in the sport. If she wins, Lui will be the unequivocal, female white belt world champion. It's a lot to take in, given she only took up the sport less than 18 months ago. "It's a bit surreal; I still can't believe all these things have happened in such a short time," she gushes. "And it just shows that anyone can do it." Anyone, that is, who is prepared to train up to three times a day, radically change their diet, and sacrifice their sleep and social life. Someone blessed with natural talent, strength and agility, and born with the warrior mindset. And someone who, as instructor Rodrigo Caporal points out, has an unwavering drive to be number one. "She is currently a white belt but she shows the dedication of an advanced belt practitioner," says Caporal, 31, a black belt and one of Asia's best mixed martial artists. "She trains in my 6am competition class, made up of mostly advanced belts and mostly men. She is the only female in this class, which is not an easy thing, but it doesn't stop her or scare her away." Quite the opposite. She's known for defeating most men with her signature "arm bar" move. Once locked in, her opponent must submit or risk having their arm broken by the dazzling brunette. "She is strong enough to resist the initial power burst from the men, then has the technical ability to use their strength against them," explains gym owner and performance coach Andrew Wong Kee. "Basically she fights off her back, controls, sweeps and finishes 90 per cent of her opponents with her famous arm bar," says 36-year-old Wong Kee, a purple belt. "She is badass," adds fellow grappler Jordan Roberts, 28. "She's only a white belt, but she's really found herself in BJJ. She knows what she wants to do, she lives and breathes jiu-jitsu, and she has the talent to achieve it." It wasn't always the case. Before stumbling into a class, Lui says she was at crisis point, trying to find direction in her life after finishing university. She tried everything from breakdancing, parkour (a form of obstacle-course racing) and pole dancing to netball. "I didn't even know what [BJJ] was, going into the class, but then I got hooked." She finds the sport, which she describes as a "physical chess game", seriously addictive. BJJ is a Brazilian twist on the Japanese martial arts of judo and jiu-jitsu, created during the early 20th century by a Brazilian student of martial arts to overcome all other forms of martial arts, no matter the size of the opponent. Jiu-jitsu is not just a sport, it's a way of life, and everyone's like family Amelia Liu "You improve so quickly. There's progression in learning a new move, and then using the move, and seeing it actually work. "Plus, there's a certain satisfaction in knowing I could probably break your arm right now," she grins. She's come a long way from her first local competition, where she lost feebly within seconds. "I was devastated - I cried like a kid for about a week." But defeat is a great teacher, she says. "I remember thinking, 'I want to win and I want to be the best. I'm never going to lose again.' I stepped it up and really committed to it. I know it's going to be a long journey, but I want this more than anything else and I'm doing everything I can to work towards it." Her ambitious and competitive ways have "always been there", she says, and have been fuelled greatly by sibling rivalry. "My brother is one year younger than me and we were always so competitive growing up." Ironically, her brother is now a professional ballet dancer for the Bordeaux National Ballet in France. But there's something else inspiring her to get out of bed at dawn each morning: passion. "Jiu-jitsu is not just a sport, it's a way of life, and everyone's like family. I think there's nothing more beautiful than seeing someone talk about something that they're passionate about. "I think it's within all of us; everyone can get to that level. It's just whether they want to and whether they use the tools that they have to get there and find it within themselves." Although her eyes are firmly fixed on her long-term goal, for now she's focusing on Mundials in Long Beach, California. Caporal has confidence in his protégé. "She has all the makings of a champion - courage, dedication, heart and intelligence, all of which manifests in her jiu-jitsu game." And if she doesn't succeed? "I'd try not to see it as losing," she says. "All I can do is my best…you always learn from every experience; it takes a lot more to come back from a loss than it does just to win everything all the time." "Having said that," her eyes narrowing, "I'm going to win."