First Step In A Long Journey

I had every intention of posting this back in September, shortly after my first jiu-jitsu tournament in years. However, due to a small roadblock brought on by the tournament, and my tendency to procrastinate when it comes to writing, it took about two and half months longer to complete this post than I originally intended. I know, I know, shame on me. Anyways, the rest of this post will be a match by match summary of the learning experience that was the in-house jiu-jitsu tournament held at Gracie Tampa South this past September. ENJOY!

Match Making

Brackets were created based on experience/belt level, which placed me in the adult white belt (beginners) division. There were no weight classes and after looking around at my competition I knew the likelihood of me grappling someone bigger than me was highly likely. My assumption soon came true when I was matched up against my first opponent, who was approximately 30 lbs heavier.

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Match #1

My first opponent was someone I had grappled with in class. I knew he wasn’t terribly aggressive but since he was bigger than me, I knew using what strength I had was probably not the best idea. I attempted a few unsuccessful arm drags and trips until my opponent finally took me down, and landed inside my guard. I worked off my back for the majority of the match until I was finally able to escape and take his back. I finished the match holding onto a half-hearted submission attempt that was more “prevent defense” than “attacking offense.” I ended up winning the match on points.

Match #2

My next opponent outweighed me but he had just finished a full length match, which meant I most likely had the cardio advantage. He didn’t waste anytime taking me down, but he fell into my guard. He had a low posture which allowed me to get my legs up and slap on a leg triangle. I adjusted my posture to really tighten up the choke and forced him to tap. I think my technique was a little sloppy but coupled with my opponent’s fatigue, I was able to get the win by submission.

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Match #3 (Semi-finals)

I had a chance to guarantee myself a 1st or 2nd place finish, but I had to get past the biggest competitor in my bracket. I grappled with him before and I knew he was EXTREMELY aggressive. However, much like my previous opponent he had spent a lot of his available energy in his prior matches. Even though he outweighed me by about 50 pounds, I foolishly tried to setup a takedown for the first minute of our match. He finally scored a takedown and I was once again working off my back. I made repeated attempts to sweep him, but his weight and posture prevented all my attempts. I attempted a guillotine and arm bar late in the match but to no avail. I lost the match on points.

Match #4 (3rd Place match)

I went into the 3rd place match excited by the opportunity to get on the podium. As excited as I was, the fatigue of three matches was starting to catch up with me. My opponent and I were pretty evenly matched weight wise, but as soon as the match started I knew he had more in the gas tank. He quickly took me down, passed my guard and attempted an arm bar from the mount. I was able to escape the arm bar and almost locked up a guillotine in a wild scramble, but we had to restart after going out of bounds. Once we restarted, it was essentially a replay of how the match began: takedown, passes my guard, mounts and throws on the arm bar. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to escape this attempt, and I was forced to tap. I lost due to a submission, and ended up 4th in my bracket with a 2-2 record.

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Match #1 in the gi (Ultimately the end of my day)

Four competitors stuck around after the no-gi tournament to compete in the gi. Even though I’m still a novice at jiu-jitsu, I can say with confidence that competing in the gi is WAY different than competing without the gi. It takes a different skill set that unfortunately I’m not quite skilled at yet. Regardless, I threw on the gi and went up against a frequent training partner of mine who I knew was better than me. The match was going pretty much as I expected with my opponent controlling the action until I finally pulled an escape and took his back. My good fortune didn’t last long because as I tried to prevent my opponent from escaping, I suffered a non-contact injury and was forced to verbally tap out. I lost via verbal submission due to injury.

Wrap-up

“I did a jiu-jitsu tournament and all I have to show for it is this stinking cast.” I say that in jest because even though I sustained a broken metacarpal in my last match, I am extremely happy that I participated in the tournament. I learned a tremendous amount AND realized I still have a tremendous amount to learn. I finally returned to the gym last week after 10 weeks of recovery, eager to continue working toward my goal of earning my blue belt.

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