I currently train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu @ Gracie Barra Calgary, Canada. I'm actually a black belt who's fought 1000 ninjas the black wore out into a white. Kidding. Maybe. [edit: I'm a blue belt now,I have less excuses to make]
When I first started training I was reading a blog, rather an anti blog (unable to find the post, sorry) about how too many people post online about their training and how rather than bragging about their guards/techniques they should be putting in more time. I thought I would be far from this risk of talking way too much. And this recent competition indicated that I was this very same example. Going into the tournament I was sure I had a much larger stable of techniques than my previous tournament 5 months ago. I focused on how my body felt in terms of nerves and endurance.
But before I could go on what I did wrong, the results:
I lost my first match. I fought the standup game quite well that in the scramble I was able to dominate at the top. I passed the guard and was able to get side mount. Fighting for control at the time I decided to get fancy and go for a lapel choke. I was confident with this variation because I had just learned it that week and lapel chokes have been high percentage for me. But my knee on belly was shaky and I got swept into guard. I thought I could finish it from there but the angle of my grip was off so I had to let go. Another scramble and my back was taken. Rather than fighting the hooks off I became complacent and let my opponent sink in a body triangle, from there I gave up after a neck crank was applied. I was up on points this whole time.
2nd match, consolation rounds. My oponent pulled guard on me and passed his guard again with a knee cut pass and led into mount. Keeping calm on mount I was fishing for an armbar but didn’t have the confidence to snatch it up despite him pushing me off. But I managed to move into a tighter/higher mount and sunk in a collar choke. Rather than stay frosty on mount I got swept onto my guard. Right before I could give up I heard my corner yell “PULL YOUR ELBOWS INTO YOU!” which is a fundamental step. I did and soon my oponent tapped out. I was burned at this point.
3rd match. I fought a large opponent with long arms. His strong arm kept me at bay and I wanted to come closer for a throw. Frustrated I tried to pull guard and tried for an armbar. My guard gets passed and as I turn for a turtle my back gets taken. Same demise, a body triangle and a neck crank. At this point I was beyond exhausted and not sure what else happened because my teammates told me I was again up on points.
I know I should be doing my best to be positive about the tournament but I’m quite disappointed but feel I only have myself to blame. I had a week where I was unable to train due to my grandmother’s passing but had another week where I regained some ground. As a four stripe white belt moving into the blue, I really wanted to win and underestimated the skill-level. I really am not a confident person to begin with and often feel awkward with compliments so I think my lack of preparation spawned not from being too confident, rather with a lack of it. Good confidence breeds accountability and awareness to the self, which I didn’t have enough off. I needed to be accountable for all my training and diet and I needed to be aware of what I was really up against. I lost my first match because I forgot the most fundamental lesson- control. I went for the fancy finish because I wanted to reserve my energy rather than bank on points. I lost my second match because I forgot that it was a game, the competition mindset got to me and things went blank. Funny but the way I play my guard represents the fun I have doing BJJ, that the freedom from outcome dependent things like winning makes me get creative from the bottom. Lastly, one thing that really irks me, is that I was 1.5 pounds over the weight division so I fought some big boys.
A few days ago, a friend had criticized me from being flaky. I asked around and more people seemed to agree but had different opinions on why I came through as flaky. Funny, the results of this tournament seemed to reflect that because of the lack of accountability and awareness to myself, I became flaky to myself.
Still I’m glad I did the tournament. In looking at the positives I feel I was more gutsier in going for techniques rather than waiting for a long time. I was also able to keep the nerves at bay. I also had some bad-ass guard passing! And a week going into the tournament I had a really good training and diet system. I should without a doubt be able to compete in the lower division (or even the one below it) in a few months.
2nd competition results
This past Saturday, a local competition was held at Red Deer, Alberta called Submission Series [edit: It’s SUBMISSION ACE CUP, not SUBMISSION SERIES…derp, lol]. The tournament was put together quite well and I was impressed at how smooths things went with all the help given by volunteers.
This was my second competition and my first of the year. My new years resolution was to attend as much competitions as I can to really level up in experience before I far with my training and belt level.
I’m not going to lie, my training was sluggish coming off from a Christmas season full of eating and lazing about. Still over the break I trained and gotten a few rolls in. I was confident that since my first competition, my movement on the ground has gotten much better. I was getting more confident in my re-guarding, building a stable of techniques that have been working during sparring, and defending.
But saturday shows that the littlest things amount to the biggest differences. I neglected my strength and conditioning and it really affected my game after my first two matches went the distance.
I had 5 matches in total, 4 in a round robin No-Gi division and 1 in Gi single elimination division. I drew my first and was very tired. In my second I played strong but panicked when I became exhausted and gave into a rear naked choke. My third match ended quickly to a heel hook. But my fourth turned out to be the match I would be most proud off, I fought off exhaustion and caught a single leg, which I transitioned into a anaconda choke and fought to get my first submission!
However, even after hours of rest. My first Gi match was lost to me just simply giving up. I was taken down and instead of fighting to my feet again, I sluggishly moved around in guard and was mounted. In mount I gave in once to a weak choke because I panicked and gassed out. Frustrated, I stormed off and drove home.
When I got a chance to cool off I decided to write down how things played out according to my mind and found how negative my perspective was. There were a lot of positive things that attributed to my growth not only as a BJJ player, but as a person:
-I got my first submission! I learned that I have it in me to assert my game and finish strong.
-Even black belts feel nervous right before a match. I was highly observant in how my body acted and I pulled myself into the moment by constantly returning to the simplicity of my breaths.
-Despite gassing out, I did do a good job warming up. I did some exercises from Andre Galvao’s “drill to win”, did some stretches, and even did some light rolling. It does make a difference in keeping the body warm, and easing the nerves.
And now I’ll definitely need to work on the following goals:
-CARDIO! Both in the aerobic and anaerobic. I need to take less breaks during my roll time. Running the treadmill on highest incline is a great way to expand my bursts of energy.
-Be more confident and attacking submissions. Of course position and control are important but I need to recognize opportunities to snatch up chokes and armbars.
-Work with heavier and more aggressive guys.
Not sure when my next competition is, I’ll need to map out the next couple of months carefully.
Competition Training Day 21
Last post. We just drilled the scissor sweep from guard and upa escapes from mount. Nothing new in terms of techniques but this was great because I was just thinking earlier this week how I wanted to work on these two basic techniques which I have built muscle memory for.
Sparred for a bit and I am still a bit concerned about my cardio, I am really going to have to work on controlling my nerves so that I don’t burn out from being too tight. So basically my main goal is to have as much matches as I can and try my best to not get submitted. Play safe, play smart, maybe play it like a pretty boy on the mat, lol. Try to have a lot of fun which will encourage me to compete more.
I have two days to just rest up (get some sleep and rest :S). Im going to take it easy with a few hot yoga classes, maybe a good hour run and lap-sprints.
Competition Training Day 12 & 13
Really turned up the sparring today as Kent on of my blue-belt sparring partners ran me through a match scenario. We started right form standup and all the way to the ground. Way too many points racked up and I got the “nice guy” beat out of me.
It was great to see the holes in my game in near-competition situation. I don’t wanna loose by points! Really have to work on more standup with Gi.
Found out that one of the first things that’ll really burn out in tournament day is my grip. I’ll definitely be looking at working out my forearms and wrist at the gym.
We worked on some takedowns and I was psyched that it was the double-leg takedown since I’ve never had a chance to drill it in Gi. I’m hoping to just close the distance between me and my opponent in the standup game and either work the leg trips or level change for the nifty double leg. Eased up on the sparring but I’m worried about easily how tired I got after specifics training. Wednesday is going to be a long day at the mat, I’m really excited
Competition Training Day 7,8,9,10,11
For our basic techniques class we worked on arm bar and triangle escapes. One of the blue belts I frequently drill will showed me a neat trick to the pesky Matador pass, which involves yanking the unsuspecting chap’s collar and face planting his face into the mat.
OffDate night ;P
Really worked with more techniques with the half guard variation position I’ve been working on. Whats great is that everyone has been teaching me and sparring with different people allows me to figure out holes in the game plan. I seem to have found an anchor for learning. This sweep would be great if A happened, B failed, and C occurred. A being my main position of interest. Techniques are easier to learn and pickup if you put a purpose behind it, rather than “oh this is just a sweep from sidemount, useful” think “this is my sticking point, I have frustrations with this and that, this technique could work in the case this happened, now I need to take care of that”
Wow, any of that make any sense? I must’ve rolled too hard today :P
Missed out on the oppurtunity to roll at the school. Whats strange is how this really puts me on a bad/low energy mood for the whole night. So I decided to hit the gym. Did a few compound exercises to work on the power followed by circuit training on the TRX bands.
Another off day- Happy thanksgiving from Canada you fatties!
This is way too many off days, but my muscles are quite sore from the trip to the gym the day before. I’ll have a long stretch of training the next day.
Competition Training Day 5-6
Day 5: Monday.
Did No-Gi training and learned some swift spider guard techniques. I’m not sure if I want to be competing in No-Gi yet but will love to try it out and see how my skills have progressed. Clearly Gi training has helped me improved because despite the faster pace, I found myself executing techniques I normally couldn’t do in Gi.
Day 6: Tuesday.
Back to the Gi. Today we learned and drilled the triangle choke. I felt more confident with this technique because my legs were short and stocky. But Yoga has provided me with more fluid hips and have been able to drill this technique with confidence. Still can’t get this during sparring afterwards (because we also drilled triangle escapes, go figure, lol)
Hope to finally hit the gym tomorrow.
Gotta get into the habit of saying this too because 1. Cordial Respect for the Game 2. It’s just pure bad-assery.