I am not tremendously happy with this tourney. I have a lot of thinking to do. I am going to start with the awesome news.
Ash also competed this weekend, and she killed it. I am so proud of how well she did. She (once again) cleaned up her weight division and then won the absolute. Effing awesome. She also walked away with two very nice arm bars. Ash is a killer, stone cold. It's good stuff.
I, on the other hand, went out second round. I have been doing this long enough to do better than that, yet I simply do not.
My first fight was alright though. I actually managed to fight a guy that I haven't fought before. I was excited for this, as the brackets were set up in such a manner that I would fight this fellow, and then fight a series of friends and guys who I have fought or trained with before.
I wanted a throw at this tourney. I'm realizing the value of being on top. I couldn't make it happen. In both cases, I had a hasty set up for a certain sacrifice throw that I've been working on, and in both situations, I felt that my opponent was about to jump guard. Both times I went for it before I could establish my grips, and both times I landed flat. I don't think I called it wrong, but my strategy requires refinement.
My first opponent was doing a good job at trying to work past my guard. I had landed in closed and was working my way to a variant of spider guard (Leg Lasso) that I am quite the fan of when my left shin became trapped across the upper chest of my opponent. The opponent (and I stress that this was not a malicious move) pressed into my guard to try to dislodge me. Something went bad in my knee. It went pop.
Now I'm concerned, but I'm not giving up. The damage is done, it went numb for a second, but didn't hurt afterwards. I am no fool though. This will hurt tomorrow. I know that I'm going to be missing some training now. May as well take this guy out.
I got my Leg Lasso set up and swept my opponent. I took side (I may have gotten Knee on Belly.) My leg (the one with the knee damage) was initially stuck, wrapped around his bicep, with his forearms between my calf and thigh. Although there is a bicep crush sub here, it's illegal for me to do it. This entanglement actually becomes quite the hazard and is a major difficulty with this style of guard. He was trying to keep my leg and sweep me over it. Not a good plan, but a desperate one that was making my knee rather uncomfortable.
Eventually I got the arm out of the way. I don't recall perfectly the next series of moves, whether I went to Knee on Belly or just tried to paper-cutter-choke my opponent, but he turned, erroneously. I finished with a bow and arrow choke.
Bow and arrow is my friend. I have no doubts that this is my highest percentage sub.
The fight is over, and my knee is hurt. I'd sprained my LCL a few years back, and now it was the other sides turn. It hurt to pivot on my foot and walk with any sort of gusto.
The main lesson here was self protection. If the shin comes across like that and the opponent presses in, bail and take full guard.
I had known for a few days now that I was going to fight Max again. They simply can not have tournaments in Toronto without Max and I fighting. This time, we'd be at it second round. Again, I wanted the take-down. I don't want to play guard. I want points. Max and I stalemate so badly that once a position is established, it is very difficult for either of us to move from it.
We start and I establish the first grip I need, a cross on his lapel or sleeve. I need my other hand around his back to get the belt, I reach but can not get a good grip. I see him getting low, he is in the process of pulling guard. I close my hand around whatever I can find and go for my TD. This grip fails and I land flat. Max gives me a look of knowing disappointment. A sort of eye-roll between brothers in arms.
From here we had a very close range war. He remained top, attempted two passes. I blocked these, remained bottom, came very close on one sweep, and had two other strong attempts. I also attempted two arm-bars, neither of which were advantage worthy.
Time is up. The score is nothing-nothing, no advantages, no points. I've held on to the offensive position, and attempted more manoeuvres. I'm confident that although it was lack luster, it was a win.
It was not a win. Max' hand went up, not mine. I'm still surprised and reproachful about it. At the same time, I don't fault Max, and I don't fault the ref. I may not agree, but I don't point the finger anywhere other than at myself. I thought I had done enough to not lose. I agree that I did not do enough to win.
I have said it before, if you aren't decisive, you take your chances. If you don't sub or make the battle obviously one-sided, you take your chances that the ref didn't mess up, that the score table guys didn't mess up. Get that sub....
ATTENTION READERS: The next four paragraphs are what I wrote directly after the competition in a moment of bitter frustration and whiny-ness. Very Un-Viking of me. Included for your enjoyment:
This all leaves me with more questions than answers. I can look at the short range lessons: The value of getting good at take downs, the fact that I need to improve my De La Riva to deal with people who stand to pass, a few variations to the Leg Lasso Spider Guard that I need to do, Bob Loblaw.
These are the nice things, the rosy “learning” things I'm always talking about. At the very root of it all, I've been in 21 tournaments now, and I've never earned a gold. I've beat the mental aspect of it, and now I feel like it's time to face some hard facts: I'm not that good at this.
Another lesson, a particularly hard one to swallow, is that I need to train more if I want to stay at this. And just how the hell do I do that? More and more, as I progress and meet people at competitions, the more I realize that I'm surrounded by a lot of people who train twice daily, if they're not full-timers. Yeah, full-timers at blue belt. Guys who eat, sleep, and shit out jiu jitsu. I'm expecting myself to do well against guys who compete and train all the time, and I'm some hack “hobbyist.”
I hate mediocrity. Realistically, I have become just that. I'm happy that there is some time before the next competition. I may actually be far away from the GTA by the time this comes up anyway. This is good. I'm seriously thinking I'll just stay home.
I sounded like a screeching child; arms crossed and brow furrowed in frustration.
I am going to do what I do every time I've been disappointed; go home, sharpen the weapons and come back once again to do battle. (Once my MCL heals up.)
I do not do these things because they are easy. I compete because it is hard. It is the crucible. When you stay home, you give up an opportunity to learn. That's unacceptable to me.
It's not mediocre to fail. It's mediocre to stop trying.