Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Faces, New places: Gi and No gi.

SO, Ash and I are fairly well settled in now here in T-Bay. Interesting note, people here refer to their cottage as their “camp.” Very cute, this takes some adjustment. The city is pretty OK. It's unremarkable in almost every aspect. It feels like it has a lot of un-achieved potential in fact.
The club up this way is going well. They have a very strong MMA team. Easily the strongest one I've been around. Looks to me like they have 4-6 guys who fight and win on the regular. Along with this, they have a lot of no gi grappling and solid wrestling. As Lakehead U has a good wrestling team, the guys who graduate from LU with wrestling experience tend to end up there.
So this is good stuff, there's dedicated guys who want to train. My difficulty is preference for the gi. I really just enjoy Gi a heck of a lot more. This situation has made me think more and more about the cross over-value of training in a gi. It's a common saying that the people who are the best in the world in the Gi are the best in the world at No-Gi. Obviously, there's a exceptions to this. I can think of two guys off the top of my head from Pura who roll at a brown belt level without having worn the gi.
I feel like the Gi game *can be* slower and more technical. This is obviously a function of the combatant's games. More importantly it requires more thought (the game is more complex), problem solving(more complexity means more exposure to unknown positions), and technical accuracy (flailing is far less useful) to do something in a gi than in No gi. While some people want to talk about the specifics of the Gi game and say that it's non-transferable (usually, these are specific position that don't work because of a lack of good grips) the unseen, less obvious bits (thought, problem solving, technical accuracy) are incredibly transferable. I'd argue they are of far more value.
I'd say this train of thought has all been fairly new to me. I'd thought about it at some length the other night when we had to do a drill (start guard, take back, roll back to guard) for max reps. I did this in my gi (it's slightly big too) on a partner wearing their gi. With all the extra friction present, you would think the No-gi fellas would have outpaced me. It wasn't the case. I managed to do it fastest in the class. I was quite surprised.
I am fortunate that this club has a couple of high-belts who are keenly aware of the value of the gi. One, my new pal Keith, lamented that it had proven hard to find gi-partners and sometimes he'd have to roll no gi despite not preferring to. I told him that Ash and I are gi-players first and foremost. We will always be there with our gis on. I'm not opposed to no-gi, and I will roll without (mat time is mat time) but if I can help foster a group of people who train in the cloth by always being present with a gi, I make it my duty.
So that is my plan for now. School starts in the near term and I'm uncertain how often I will be able to make it out. When I am there though, I will be there with a gi on. I also plan on talking more about the value of the gi. I want to get other people thinking about it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Tourney in the Bag: Kombat Arts Classic 2011.

It's obvious at this point that I'm not a consistent blogger. I won't make excuses, or promises I can't keep about it. I've never been under the impression that the things I write here are worth anything, outside of contemplating things that would go unnoticed otherwise.

One thing is for certain, I won't blog when I have nothing to say and I won't blog when there are more pressing issues. That being said, There are a lot of pressing issues at the moment. Followers of Ash's blog know that we have relocated to Thunder Bay. That's chewed up the bulk of my daylight for the last 6 weeks.

Thunder Bay, more or less.

We're on the ground now though. Ash is napping and I've nowhere else to be. I wanted to talk about the last tournament. It was full of firsts, and an interesting experience all around.

I showed up and started talking with the familiar tourney guys. Max, the guy I fight at every tourney, initially moved up a division to fight some new faces. He had to move back down when it became apparent that there wasn't a very good showing in that weight class.

In talking with people and warming up, it became obvious that there were a lot of guys from a certain school who had simply not shown. No idea what had happened here.

Needless to say, the first two fights I had were guys from this school, so I won two matches by forfeit. Very lame. I had to wait a long ass time in the pit.

So guess who's my first match? It's my pal Max. (I say pal in a tongue and cheek manner, but we are pals. You simply can't fight someone as much as we have and still have distaste for each other.) I was certain that I would be able to get him this time. It was always a single move that determined our matches. It was always chess. I could come out on top.

Well, I didn't this time either. I went for a throw that I've been trying a lot. It occurs to me to be fairly low risk (either I get the throw or I land guarded) so I tried it out. I didn't get the takedown, but I've got guard. I've been working a ton of Lasso guard, and went with that this time. I didn't manage to make it work. I was well aware from our previous fights that Max is well versed at dealing with Lasso, regardless, It's my sharpest guard and i felt compelled to use it. Max managed a pass and got the win.

As this is the format where the semi final losers fight to determine third place, I've still got a fight left.

This fight was peculiar. At the start, my opponent reaches out to clap & pound. I'm no stiff, so I do similar. As we pound, he grabs this arm and jumps guard. Dirty damn pool. You do not offer to clap/pound or shake again, or whatever, and then use it as a way to close the distance. Needless to say, I was pissed right off.

I smash passed him. I mean: I smashed his guard open, crushed him into the mats and took mount. I got him to turn and I used the bow and arrow choke. This choke is bad enough when you do it in a friendly way. I was practically trying to dead lift his collar. I was out of my mind. Needless to say, he tapped. I think the whole thing lasted a furious 30 seconds, tops.

I got up, shaking my head and frowning angrily. The ref raises my hand. I've no patience for this guy, so I'm just leaving. I've got no time for pleasantries after that. His coach starts yelling at me, asking me what my problem was. I went over and told him. He had trained this guy to think that being a poor sport and a cheat was acceptable. I explained this to him. Much to my surprise, the coach sort of apologized, or at least granted that I was right to be angry. I hope he has explained to this student that some people won't accept this sort of trickery. I am very beatable, but it will have to be legitimately done.

I will also grant that in hindsight, I wasn't proud that I got that angry. That's also not tremendous sportsmanship. Perhaps I should have kept it cooler when the match was done.
On the other hand, someone tried to cheat me, and he paid with his neck.

The next fight played into a pattern of people trying to disrupt me mentally. Some one needs to tell people that it doesn't work on me. This non-sense just makes the victories better.

So I've got third at weight (by rather unimpressive methods.) I'm just excited that I can fight in the absolute. I like the absolute. It's like you've already got what you paid for, you probably fought a bunch of guys you've seen in past tourneys. Now you get (literally) more than you had bargained for. Different people, different sizes.

More Importantly, My beard will benefit from the experience.

Any hoo. First fight in absolute. I'm fighting this guy who weighs ~190. He's not much bigger. I go for the same Takedown as above, but it doesn't pan out. I've got guard. Buddy is trying to pass. I'm re guarding and he is becoming frustrated. His coach is trying to mess with me, I can hear him yelling: “You're bigger than him, you can control him!” Wrong. Regardless of his size, if you can't pass a guard, you can't win. If you don't have technique, all you have is piss and vinegar. The “Piss and Vinegar” types have become the easiest to control for me. Stall them, confuse them, annoy them, tire them, beat them.

Shortly after that remark I tapped him with an inverted armbar.

I've noticed a trend in this post, and in my imaginings and re-tellings of tournaments generally. Anyone who I fight that demonstrates goodwill, and valour; guys who showed through themselves and their coaches that they are good people, I wouldn't dare speak bad of. People like these last two competitors, guys who cheat, guys whose coaches try to play mental games with people, I don't have a fleck of patience or pity for.

Learn to play the game. Be cool, and people will respect you. It's always the guys who can't hack it who are out there playing the dirty games of pool.

Max, for instance, is a shining example. Consistent medal winner. No beefs and no ego.

The next fight was also with a guy who was weird. His team (same team as the guy who pulled guard cheaply) was calling him “Crazy.” So great. More piss and vinegar.

This went exactly as anticipated. He was playing the “Crazy Card” hoping that his frantic movements would tire me or mess with my head enough for him to win. No dice. He wasn't actually all that bad. If he wasn't so frantic, he'd be able to fight intelligently. He had some solid escapes and managed to get out of a few chokes and out of a few bad positions. Despite this. I had him beat. I won 13-2.

The problem with fighting this crazy guy, was that I was actually very tired after this fight. I was light headed, and not really able to think clearly or move well. I had tunnel vision. I thought I was having an embolism or something. I lied on the ground and sort of rolled around all out of it, for about ten minutes.

The guy who was organizing the Open division cut me some serious slack. He saw me on the ground, rolling around and trying to figure out where I was. He said to me that he was going to put in a couple of other divisions before my next fight. I don't think I could have fought if he hadn't have done that.

The next fight I was fighting a guy that I knew to an extent. He's a cool guy. We'd met a few times before and we talked after our fight. Nice fella.

I managed to get myself DQ'd in this match. That was a first. Basically, he pulls guard and is working a sort of DLR where he is trying to go around the outside towards the back. My leg is tangled funny. It was an interesting guard. I wasn't able to come up with an intelligent pass for it. It seemed to me that he was looking for my back, and that he wants me to pass attempt as a bait. I figured, I will sweep myself and work from the bottom. Not an ideal strategy, but I'm not in an ideal position.

As we come up, my leg is entangled so that it is in the 'reap' position. I didn't notice this in time. The ref notes it and I move my foot so that it is on the side of his hip. This was apparently not done quickly enough. The ref stops us and disqualifies me. The ref is actually a friend of mine from way back when I started. I told the ref (less politely than I should have) that his decision was unreasonable. I said that he could have told me and I would have moved my foot. Apparently, according to the rules this is the sole job of the fighter and their coach. IF the ref notes it, it's game over. I don't think this is fair. I didn't have the luxury of having a coach at this particular event.

My opponent was very gracious about it. We both legitimately wanted to fight it out.

I also apologized to the ref. I disagree with the rule and the administration of it. Despite this, I apologized for getting worked up. The ref was cool about it. Like I say, we go back a few years, and he competes a lot. The same thing has happened to him.

So now I've got to fight and try to win third. I'm gassed at this point.

I'm fighting this bigger guy. Maybe a lean 190 or 200. It was sorta ok. We were both standing and interested in a bit of a judo fight. This was cool. I tried a tai otoshi and a collar side seio. No dice though. My opponent managed to get the take down. From here it was me trying my best to get something on this fella. I couldn't pull it off. He's got the td points, and he's got the win.

So, decent tournament. I got third at weight and fourth in the absolute. I was pretty happy to have done well in the absolute. In the past I had gone out in the first round.

It's also great just to get tourney experience, and this day was rich in it. I got 6 fights in a single day. Nice.

The lesson was that I need to pick up better standing game. Lakehead U has a good wrestling team, so I should have good opportunities to improve this.

While I do prefer Judo throws, I feel that Judo as a stand alone sport has gone in a weird direction with the 'No leg attack' business. I would like to continue to learn judo, but I simply can't ignore the legs altogether. That's not feasible for BJJ. Wrestling has high attacks as well as leg attacks. Most judo style throws anticipate a high standing posture and can be largely stifled with a low wrestling posture. This is also the height I need to be at to meet guys who are pulling to an open guard. Thus, wrestling instead of Judo as a side hobby for now. It has a larger ROI.

I'd change the name of the blog to reflect the above, but I think only Ashley reads this. Possibly also Slidey, but he is as prolific of a reader as Micheal Valentine Smith.

Also of note, Lasso guard has lost some lustre. It's a good guard, but it was stifled by Max and by the last guy I fought. I have been working on transitioning to another guard from Lasso. I had tried to do this against the last opponent but failed. This transition will be key to the utility of my guard game in the future.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leaving, again.

I've just had a morose hour of moping around and lamenting a few things about my immediate future.

I'm just sad that I'm leaving somewhere again.

Obviously, the move to another far-away city had long ago been planned. I knew I was going this route for a few years now. When I came back to Hamilton, and began training with the gang at Pura. This was still all a distant thing. It's now a rather near term reality.

I have had an excellent 4 months rolling at Pura. It has felt completely like home to me. I have always been lucky to train at a number of great clubs during my time doing jiu jitsu, but at Pura, I feel like I am honestly part of something that is getting better by the day.

There are no doubts in my mind about any aspect of Pura. PJs dedication, thought, and attention to every aspect of the organization makes the future look fan-effing-tastic. Everything is reviewed and evaluated. From business aspects, to how we train as a team, to the minutia of an individuals game, there was time and attention for all of it. There are such a myriad of good things happening.

It has been my honour to be a part of something that is growing, something that I know is going to be big. I hope I have contributed something of value, and I am proud that I've been given the chance on many occasions.

Although I am very sad to leave this club and these people, I look forward to visiting in the future and seeing how far they have all gone. I know, I have no doubts. Pura.

During the next month to 6 weeks I will be living Northwest of Kitchener with Ash, her brother and her Mom. I'm excited for this. I'm gonna be on a farm. I haven't managed to spend any amount of time on a farm since I was young and dumb. The opportunities are looking good out there, a good Lifting gym nearby, and Jiu jits is an hour away in Waterloo. I've also always got Ash. It's about time we live together again. Having her around will be the best part.

Sometime in June we'll be packing our bags and heading up to Thunder Bay. I'm gonna get my bachelor degree. It's a future full of uncertainty and possibility. It's gonna kick ass, actually.

Just wish I could take Pura with me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ontario Open 2011.

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.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Febs, Part Three

Febs, part three (a post-mortem so late, that it has reanimated and left the table)

February for me ended on an unspectacular note, at least in the competing sense. I went to the Abu Dhabi Qualifiers in Montreal. It went unaccording (new word) to plan.

I continue to be fortunate that I am with a team that competes. We have a lot of guys that come out and get into the fray on a regular basis. Handy for me, as I have always been without a vehicle when I am doing school.

I managed to secure a ride up to the venue with two pals from Pura. I arranged the hotel. Friday was pretty cool, lots of time spent in the car, shooting the shit and saying stupid things about glory and beards.

I've mentioned before that I don't care for cutting. I seldom see a reason for it to be important, unless it's part of some sort of strategy outside of the actual fights. Worrying about weight is a waste of energy. I'm a strong little man, this is part of the reason I fight well against the big guys. Typically in fact, I find that my style tends to victimize those who are bigger than me. There are bigger things playing on my mind on Tourney Day.

This was a tourney that was apparently supposed to be over by 2pm. Not a shot in hell. I showed up at 10 (like a lot of people) and heard that my division was already running. I changed out as fast as I could and started warming up. Then I stopped. It was really taking a long ass time. This series of events repeated three or four times. I was in the pit for nearly four hours before I fought. This took a toll. In situations like this, you just want to leave out of boredom and anxious tiredness. I've found though, that when it is time to go, I am always ready.

First fight I won against a Montrealer. It was a good scrap. I got the W on points.

My second fight was not as good. I was fighting a guy that I was familiar with. I had seen him prior in tourneys down in the GTA. This is one of these young guys who comes in and cleans up, takes the weight, takes the absolute. Prior to this he had always fought in the division above mine.

I didn't much care about all of this. I'd say that mentally I've just recently come of age with competing. I shut out the concerns, the man is good, but so am I.

The fight went very poorly for me however. I didn't do anything of note, other than be a resilient bugger. He triangled me three times. I escaped twice. Not a good loss on one hand, but it was clearly his game. Jump, Triangle.

How'd I get triangled three times? Fine question, this may perhaps be the only material thing I came away with.

Although I am good with breaking closed guard, at one point the hand that I had on his hip apparently became loose or at too shallow of an angle, and he quickly hipped over it for the triangle. The second time I was executing a “double under pass” but allowed one of my arms to get trapped again. I don't recall the third time, but it may have involved being out of it from triangle escapes.

At any rate, I still had fun that day. I managed to hang out with tons of my Tourney comrades, and the Ronin Crew was there in force. Always excellent to see those guys.

I also talked briefly with Ryan Hall. I'm impressed that he remembered me from our conversation way back in the summer when I was in NY at Marcelos. Very cool and smart guy. Much like the rest of the grappling world, I think it would be great to pick his brain. I'm going to make it a point to train with at his place someday.

I also had a lot of fun with the guys from Pura that I went with. They are cool guys to hang out with, and it made the drive up there go quick.

Some highlights:
-Josh's epic weight cutting.
-We ate at a Hawaiian themed Chinese buffet...?
-We had awesome prime rib at a restaurant that has the worst service I've ever seen. Well done.

I spent the next four days in Kingston with Ash, rolling at her club. This was cool too. I was on reading week so the time off with Ashanator was very tremendous. I also managed to make it into the Queens Weight room, which is glorious.

I'm hoping my next blog post will be more timely. I won't be held to that though.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Febraury d'excellence, Part duex.

I had essentially committed to fighting three times in February quite a while back (Well, I had said I would, and thus felt obliged.) The Jean Jacques Machado Tourney in Windsor was the tournament I had debated the value of. I remember the day before, showing up to Pura for the yoga class and expressing my concerns to PJ. Was I going far afield for little? I am always interested in competing and the lessons I can learn from it, but was this event going to prove to be worth the investment? The divisions were small, it was a 4 hour drive, and required staying overnight. I wasn't so sure.

Also weighing on my mind was the Abu-Dhabi Pro Qualifiers the next weekend.

It certainly didn't help that I was in a sort of mild malaise all Saturday. I had gone out for a few pitchers with some pals Friday night. This didn't affect anything On Sunday, tourney day, but it certainly made Saturday a bit of a bummed out day. Just not that good for the spirits. I get hung quite easily, I will admit. I'm not saying I regret Friday...I don't at all. I had a ridiculous amount of fun with some friends. Since in the near distant future I will be very far from them, these experiences must also be valued now.

Yoga seemed to clear my head though. It always does. We are lucky to have an experienced yogi at Pura (he's also a wicked roll.) I left feeling refreshed and more upbeat than when I came in.

Also playing to my fortune is my good pal Rob and the rest of the Pura Team. We had a ton of guys going down to fight. Rob has been a good friend of mine almost since the start (I met him when we both trained at my former club.) I was looking forward to getting a ride down with him. He's a hell of a good guy, so I knew he would make the adventure that much easier. Rob decided that Hoteling would be the way to go. It costs a bit more, but driving four hours, then standing around for who knows how long to fight, would be exhausting and not worth the trouble. Windsor has cheap hotels anyways. I guess this is no particular surprise; Windsor's not that nice. I got my room for 60 bones, and also earned myself the title “Captain Economy” from Rob. Ever the comedian. I think this is one of my favorite monikers.

We made it down Saturday night with no issues. Hotel was good. Great even. One of these places that is old enough to have broken even 40 years ago.

The tourney was pretty small, with each division having 3-4 competitors in it. Despite this, it was good to be down there in a big group. Our team was easily the team with the most competitors. Very cool.

I found the draw table unguarded and proceeded to rifle through the brackets. I discovered that it would be Rob, some guy named Dave, and myself in our bracket, cool. The name of the other competitor didn't strike me as familiar. I don't know many (if any) guys my weight and skill from the States. I've never gone down to compete, and they seldom come up.

Rob and I discussed the spectre of us fighting each other in a tourney and discovered that we both found it distasteful. We decided that we'd Rock Paper Scissors for gold, after we knock this other guy out of the brackets.

Then I caught a glimpse of a familiar face in the crowd... A fellow I fought not too long ago, who beat me and went on to get silver in my division and then win the Absolute. His name, of course, is Dave.


I briefly lost my composure. I had been the very face of hubris up until I figured out who the other Dave was. This particular Dave is a fellow I have fought who bested me, handily, at Bravado 2010. I spent some time talking with him afterwards and discovered that he is one of these guys who trains full time. 2-3 times a day, 6 days a week. BJJ as a way of life is no hokey cliche to him.

So I'm worried now. I rather lost my cool. This went from being a push over tourney to being a genuine challenge.

I think this is where the extensive tourney experience comes in. I turned this around in my head. I am excited. An easy tourney? Eff that. I don't come out because this is easy. I am here to be challenged. To do my best and see what that is and where that lies. This was my challenge.

Now I am stoked. I am excited. I can hear Nordic horseman screaming rage in my ear. This will be excellent.

Rob is first to fight him. Rob lost to an armbar in what I think is the most baffling example of referee malpractice I've ever seen. Rob attempted a flying armbar and accidentally kicked Dave in the head. The ref stops the match, but then instantaneously restarts it when Dave says he is ok. The un fortunate thing is that Rob hears only the command to stop, but nothing about starting again, Rob stops and is subsequently arm barred, while not defending.

I will say that at some point, everyone gets burgled by the ref. More often than not, this is a matter of points, and it's neither here nor there. Either you get a decisive win (a sub) or you take your chances that no-one has screwed up.

This case was different. This was clearly a time when the ref didn't call it right. After a stoppage like that, the only thing to do is apologize to the guys fighting, and stand them up. I wouldn't go so far as to completely pass judgement on the Ref though. This guy is here doing a job that no-one envies. He did a fantastic job in the other fights, and worked a thankless chore all the day.

I mostly just felt for Rob. Rob had trained his ass off for this. He'd been doing conditioning classes at 6 in the morning for the last two months in preparation for this. This would have been less aggravating had it happened to me.

Now it is my turn to fight Dave. I have to say that the match we had is easily a favorite of mine. We had a good chess match. One little man against another little man. We swept each other, we worked hard to pass each other, we defended each others attacks. In the end, he swept me once and I swept him twice. The ref hadn't scored my one sweep (see what I mean with point wins and referees? No one is perfect, refs included. A sub is an unmistakable win.) The ref ended up giving me the decision win anyway.

Apparently, Daves team had a talk with the ref, and pointed out his error. The ref came and apologized for the error. Luckily, he chose right anyway. I tip my hat to Dave's crew (MASH out of Warren MI) very classy.

Rob and Dave go again (It was double elim due to the bracket size.) This time Rob gets a good go at Dave. An excellent match, very hard work by both parties. Rob sadly, loses by points. I still think that Rob, despite losing again, had redeemed himself in this fight. It was an excellent performance, it was something to be proud of.

With Rob eliminated, it's now just Dave and I.

We had two more chess matches. These were both fights I enjoyed a hell of a lot. We both played a tight game. I lost them both by narrow margins.

Silver, in this case will do. I was happy to fight a guy who trains as much and works as hard as Dave does. He's an excellent competitor, and I was very happy to have fought a guy his calibre and come out on top the first time, and to not quite pull it off the next two fights. It's good to know that I can hang with guys like Dave.

This tourney taught me:
  • That I can hang with some solid talent.
  • I'm not mentally weak at competitions anymore. I've graduated.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Busy February: Part1

February has been long and fairly exciting for me. I managed to get in three competitions and still got a good amount of training in, while still studying for my midterms. Decent.

Ascension Open:

This tourney had attendance in my category that was a little under average. For most regional tourneys, blue belt lightweights have around 14 people. Actually, it seems that every tournament has 14 in this division. This one only had 11. I didn't hear a heck of a lot of hype for this one, so I guess it's no big surprise.

As always, The Ascension Open was very well run and quite a bit of fun. These organizers do their best to have a good atmosphere, and it always shows. I was also uber stoked to see my girlfriend compete. More on this later.

First match came around, I fought a guy who was very strong. I'm reasonably strong myself, so it was a bit of a surprise to come across a fellow competitor of similar strength. He may actually have been stronger in fact. Very hard to say. I caught him with an inverted arm bar (aptly called “The dickmove” by my friends at Ronin.)

I've always been a fan of this move, but it's not that good strategically. Quite often people don't realize the danger their limbs are in with inverted armbars. This is because the span of movement between no pain and a broken arm is just a few inches. Often they will go all haywire trying to escape and end up breaking their own arms. Sometimes, because of the fact that the danger isn't immediately apparently, they'll go all haywire and get out...I'm not sure which of these scenarios I prefer. I've learned, through my use of this move that it's a solid attack and will either result in a tap, or result in the opponent moving away from it. This attack from guard is easily followed by any sort of omoplata-type attack should it fail. So it remains valid. It still happens that people go haywire and end up getting out though. Can't win them all.

Second match I fought a fella named Neville. Cool guy, very nice. I see him around frequently. Got him by points.

Then I fought Max again. I rather enjoy doing battle with max. It's always a good fight because we're both experienced guys. Our matches are more like the game of chess people are always talking about. Strategy vs Strategy. Another thing that i find interesting with Max is that I feel our games and our strengths are similar. We're both open guard specialists (admittedly though, our methods of open guard are different.) This is problematic yet amusing. At least once during our match, each of us had a moment where we were in the others open guard, and kind of having a moment of very deep thought and worry.

Max beat me, again. By points, again.

Fortunately, this match was the finals, so I didn't go home empty handed. Silver is pretty good. This was my 18th tournament, and the first time I had placed second. Feels quite good, It's an improvement over third. Even if the outcome of the final isn't the best it could be, it's still cool to be the last of two in the division.

I once again had problems with my forearms. I have excellent grip strength, but I seem to abuse the privilege at tournaments and end up burning my forearms out. It was of annoyance this time especially as I distinctly remember it costing me a sweep. I've since started taking a recovery supplement with BCAAs to help prevent muscular breakdown.

Another lesson I learned is that I can't pass De La Riva well. Or, I should say, I can't pass a well practised DLR very well. This was part of my issue with Max, and it's something I noted once in the past. It's become pertinent now! There are things you can learn at tourneys and elsewhere and all too often forget.

It would be awesome to have people at my home club who play this particular style. I rather lack this at home base. There's not a ton of DLR happening. Likewise, Max and I both expressed the fact that we wish we had training partners with each others games. We bump heads at tourneys often. I'm really looking forward to the evolution of how we fight each other.

It's very cool how every club has some variation of BJJ that they use. Everyone's games are slightly different. This is part of my joy for BJJ. Different games for different people. All to the same end, to choke a friend.

This part of the day was pretty good. I was happy to have competed and done well, and fought a guy that I stood to learn a lot from. However, the big highlight for me was watching Ash fight in her first tourney. She didn't have a lot of competition, but she did amazing none-the-less. She won both her weight division, in a best 2/3 VS another girl, and then took home the absolute.

If you ask Ash, she will tell you that she's not happy with how she fought. She thinks her technique was not as good as it could have been. This is just an extension of her need to do things perfectly. It's fairly ridiculous that she should say these things given the circumstances. She went in there calm, fought well with a remarkably well executed game. There is literally nothing else that a person could ask for from their first tournament experience. Both myself, her coach and her teammates were very impressed with her. Needless to say, I was also tremendously proud.

The lessons:
  • DLR passing requires improvement,
  • Forearms are burning out (now trying out a solution,)
  • Ash is an Animal! Rawr!