I managed to get another competition under my belt this weekend. I was very happy with it.
(I plan on writing a whole post on why everyone should compete, and (possibly another post) on some tips and tricks for competing. It will be tricky for me to outline why I enjoyed this tournament so much without going on tangents about why competing is awesome, but I’ll give it my best.)
I’m living in Ottawa right now (I will be until January.) I had heard about a tournament about 2.5 weeks before the date. Apparently there were some problems with finding a venue, thus they couldn’t advertise it. I found this odd. They could have mentioned it anyways so that people who are far afield could at least plan the time off of work, get a hotel, etc. I guess though the organizer had some notion of how pissed off people would be if they had to cancel. All the people from afar would have to beg and plead with their hotels for the deposit back, recommit to work, etc.
I guess, either way it’s a mess. No biggy for me anyway, I’ve got things to do in that neck of the woods.
I dropped by the Girl’s in Kingston to spend the night. I left around 7 in the morning. I was a little sleep deprived, but pretty chipper regardless. That’s a handy thing about mild tournament anxiety; you can stay awake pretty easily.
I rolled in around 1030, my division was supposed to start at 11. I didn’t actually expect this to happen though. Tournaments are always late. It’s a bother, but frankly, once you’ve been to enough of these events, you have people you can walk around and talk to. I’ve gained an insight into who knows how the tournament is running. You see these people at every tournament, running the show. I asked around a bit, talked to the guy running the scales, and found that the tourney was 1-1.5 hours late. This is par for the course, and of no concern.
Despite the fact that I have in fact been to a tournament that ran on time, I still plan on being at a Tourney all day. You can’t really ever make specific appointments later on in the day, there’s no point. Someone there will want you to go have dinner with them anyway. So, if you’re lucky (I was) the venue will have Astro-turf, and you can just hang out on the plastic grass.
I changed into Gi pants around Noon, and was wandering around, watching matches and meeting old BJJ “brothers-in-arms.” I bumped into a really good friend of mine. Accomplished grappler and MMA fighter, Rory MacDonnell. I’d done quite a bit of rolling with Rory in Hamilton, and we’re the type of friends who are always trying to make cutting remarks to each-other. Generally speaking, the best friends are the ones you respect enough to make fun of.
Rory is a surprisingly smart guy. I suppose if you take a university grad with a double major, anything that person teaches will be well explained. He’s also done some cornering work for people. Summarily: Good teacher, Good coach, Ugly.
Anyways, Rory trains his grappling at PuraBJJ in Hamilton. Despite the fact that I’ve never been a member here, Pura Guys are at every tournament and they are always willing to and volunteering to help me. As previously mentioned, I used to train with The Pura Patriarch, PJ.
I have pretty much always been a lone wolf at these tournaments. Even when I was with Joslins, the turn out from our guys was not tremendous, and the people who did go usually (attempted to) coach each other. Now that I train far afield from most tourneys, I can’t really expect someone to come down and coach me.
Rory happily volunteered to help out with this. He even helped me warm up by flow rolling. I’d explained to Rory that my strategy involved being equally concerned with points and the sub. I could do without the sub, but I prefer it. The sub is pure. The sub is unequivocal victory. There is no better way to win than by having your opponent concede that you’ve beat him.
Rory and I arranged that he’d be calling out points (whether I was up or down) and when i had held an intermediary position long enough to score, so that I could continue and gain the most from the progression. This worked great.
I’m going to try to analyse my matches...I’d like to point out that I tend to roll opportunistically, and seldom have a good recollection of how it actually went. As always, I will do my best.
First Match: I fought a guy I’ve never seen before. Keil...or something like that. We started, and he got the take-down. He shot single. I had thought about maybe countering this with the Uchi, but I could tell from his grip that I would not be able to turn for it. I’m also crap with the Uchi Mata. I sat out of the takedown. This concedes him the points, but I *sort of* land guard-ishly. Damage control. He has points, I’ve kept a good position. I swept and got to the top. I’m not sure what sweep or to what position. I think it was half. I passed to Side and held until I heard Rory say “points.” Then Knee on belly, “Points” then mount “Points” then took back. He got out and the whole thing started all over again. I looked at the score at one point, 22-4....Good margin. It got down to the last 30 seconds. I was now up 30-4. I humoured the notion of stalling, I could hear my opponents coach insinuating that I was tired. Opponent was struggling like crazy. Despite the point lead, he still had spirit in him. Good man! I decided that I still hate the notion of stalling, the sub is a better victory than a points one by any margin, and that I was not at all tired. I worked a bit harder, secured the collar, and bow and arrow choked for the win.
Second Match: I fought this guy named Jamie. Jamie is one of these guys that I see at every tournament, but have somehow never fought. There’s only a few left of these people. I attempted to Tomoe Nage him, but he was wise to it and it didn’t work. I landed with my back to the ground. Jamie had his weight back. I swung my free leg over his head and attempted to armbar. I couldn’t make enough space to extend the arm, and the Opponent worked his way out of this. Jamie worked his way into My open guard. I swept and mounted. I worked for a while holding him in S-mount and trying to armbar and choke. No dice, excellent defense. Opponent worked his way out and was now in my guard. He tried hard to work the pass, but I prevented as time lapsed. My Win, 6-0.
Third Match: Max, the other guy who I see all the time and have still never fought.
Max has a good strategy. I had seen him do it earlier in the tourney. He pulls guard, moves to De La Riva, and sweeps. He gets the top, but doesn’t work tremendously hard to advance. He doesn’t quite stall per-see, but he doesn’t fully engage when he has a lead. Fair enough, I guess. This isn’t a strategy I’d adopt anytime soon. It’s effective (He won the tourney at weight,) but I just don’t find that mentality fun.
I felt confident that I could pass his De La Riva. I couldn’t, as it turned out. I almost prevented the sweep, and then I almost had a bunch of other sweeps work out. Almost doesn’t cut it at tourneys. Max’s Win, 2-0.
After this fight, the refs asked Jamie and I if we wanted to fight again, for third. This would normally not happen. You would nto typically have to fight a person twice. People who accrued enough points in competition during the rest of the year competed at this tourney for free, and were placed automatically in the semi final round. This messed up the brackets so that Jamie and I would have to battle for third. Jamie said it was my choice. I know that we can tie and both take third. I chose this option because:
A) We’ve already fought
B) We can both qualify for the Absolute (I’ve never fought absolute)
C) If we fight for third, the loser will be disqualified from the Absolute, and the winner will be more tired than he would be other wise.
Jamie seemed disappointed. I don’t blame him. He’s a skilled competitor, and another match between us would be a total toss up. He in fact beat Max (champion at our weight) during the absolute and managed to come in third.
Absolute: This was fun. I have never been in an absolute before, so I was super stoked to take part. The atmosphere is even more chill than the tournament at weight is. In an amusing twist of fate, I ended up fighting Reid. The coincidence here is that I went to high school with Reid ages and ages ago. Then randomly, at a Team training event at Joslin’s, he showed up. He had started training with the guys from Dragan’s, our sister club in Kitchener. People were remarking even then at how he had progressed technically and at his remarkable strength.
I wasn’t expecting this to go very well. Aside from the fact that he’s become quite skilled, he’s alo 55 lbs heavier than me. I wasn’t being defeatist about it, but it was going to be a heck of an uphill battle. Anyways, I lost. I played it wrong from the start. I pulled guard (or tried to Tomoe Nage...not sure) and ended up with him in my open. He passed masterfully, and moved to North/South. He went for kimura. I defended well and came out on top. He still had the armbar, and he made it work. Good for him.
It was very cool to fight absolute, against a former high-school acquaintance and Team-mate, no less.
All in all, I had a great day. I really enjoyed this. It’s always a pile of fun to compete. I made a ton of new friends, Max and Jamie among them (you always seem to find friends in the people you fight.) I was also able to pleasantly bump into lots of old friends. Tournaments are the shiznat. They are central to BJJ culture. If you’re not experiencing this, you are missing out.
Any interesting Tourney experiences out there among the readership? Do you hate it? Love it? Lets hear!