Decided to train the Friday and Saturday before the comp, we took it easy and focused on some good defense with light rolling. Also learnt some handy defense counters.
Sunday arrives all to soon and I wake up at 5:30am, my friend Helen is coming along to support me and gets all our food and stuff together. We bring a picnic!. We make oru way to guildford were we meet up with Andy and his wife, then go to meet the boys. Everyones fired up and the journey down there goes well.
We arrive early and the venue looks great!, an olympic Judo centre just built in Dartford.
There is a ton of people here, this competition is huge. 400+ fighters, 40 odd just in my division. The organisers are feeling the stress but things are running well. Myself, Matt and Dan are fighting in the white -70 and we are on at 9:15. So we get changed and are eager to weigh in quick so we can get properly warmed up. We make weight EASILY, super light scales put me in at 68kg with the gi. We do some of our normal group warm up and some individual exercises. As far as I can see most other fights are just warming up by themselves. So it feels nice to have a partner helping me get warm. We run into some familiar faces as well, I see some Nova Forca guys Ive talked to before. Matt see's the guy he fought in Brighton and we get chatting to him. Also run into a few RGA boys, we can tell as they write their names on their gi :P . Included in the RGA possie is Nic G who I saw get his blackbelt a few months ago, his abit of an inspiration to me and I really admire him. His also south african! like me!, which is always nice. Oh yeah Roger Gracie is also there...
My mat is called, and Im on the opposite side to Matt and Dan. Im also the first fight on the cards. Ollie shows up as well which is awesome as I wasnt sure if Andy was gonna be able to corner us all and Ollie is a great cornerman with a ton of comp experience. My first fight is against a tough looking kid called Ross Nickols. I had been day dreaming of my strategy for the last few weeks. Pull guard, sweep, choke. Unfortuantly I pull guard VERY badly, I was way to eager and I just sit into it limply. He then steamrolls his way through my defenses, with me being way to static and my half guard weakness really makes itself known. He finishes me with a very tight clock choke from the back. I am annoyed.
Luckily Kent has a repercharge system so I can now fight for bronze, but Im feeling abit knackered. The wind has been knocked out of my sails. The warming up really helped and I didnt feel gassed at all but my morale took a dive.
I have a while to wait before my next fight, and I chat to a few guys and my team mates. The time limit is down to 4 minutes so fights are fast.
Next up Im against a thin looking guy named Muhammad. After watching the other fights and thinking about how mine went I decide to abandon pulling guard and try and be more aggressive. It works well and I stuff his takedown and sprawl. I get good grips and decide to risk a sub. I link my hands with an S grip, put one leg up and fling the other over his back for a Peruvian neck tie. I feel my hands crushing his neck but when I sat down it wasnt tight enough and he manages to slip out, I get him in guard. I go for my usual grips and I set up a kimura, I get it and start putting it on from half guard (his slippy). I dont realise how slippery, Im cranking it on full with his hand approaching the back of his head. He some how escapes!. We scramble and I get side control, I hold tight and I can hear Andy shouting for me to put my hips down. I then move to mount, and go for the corss lapel choke. Ive often neglected this choke from here thinking it far to simple to be caught with. That was untill I saw Roger Gracie putting it on some of the best grapplers in the world. I get the one hand in, cirle my other round, get the grip, tighten and put my head to the mat. Tap.
I am very happy that I got a win, cardio felt good. But I still feel drained. The other guys are having a similar day to me, losing their first and then winning later on. So I think nerves is playing a part. I am very suprised to hear that James (spider noodle) got beaten as I thought he would wreck his division.
Next fight, and its Matts opponent from Brighton (David Potter)!. A friendly Carlson Gracie guy who fights hard and a good guy who I hope does well (just not against me). Im keen to see how I match up. We start and his aggresive from standing, pulling and pushing me trying to offset my balance. I notice his doing it quite regularly and I time my next move for next time he goes to push forward. I hold high on his arms, fall back, put a foot in his stomach and flip him over. Tomoe Nage!. Although it wouldnt of scored ippon as he went to the side, it gets him down. I then get top position and work my way trying to get to mount, but his tough and makes it difficult. Things go back and forth and I end up in his half guard. Im getting desperate and go for a single lapel choke. Its very thuggish but has worked for me before. The half guard doesnt take away to much of my weight, I really have to put it on hard but I had a good grip and the tap comes. Am again very happy with the result but dont feel on top of the world either. Theres just so many fights to go.
The next guy looked tough and Nic G was around talking to Andy in my corner. He tells me the guy looks aggresive but will crack if I put enough pressure on him. Some advice I really appreciate and has still got me thinking.
I again decide to stay up, looking for an opening. He gets bored first and pulls guard, as he does I come down with him hard. Knocking abit of wind out of him, I then get my hands close in and start looking to pass. He goes for a sit up sweep but I base and just about stay up. I fight for posture, at one point he gets close to a triangle. I keep both arms in though, close to his groin so his effort to put it on hurts himself. He also goes for an armbar and nearly gets it but I defend it and use it to pass. It gets alot easier from here on, maybe this was the point he "cracked". I work side control, and mount. But he defends really well and I can finish him. Im aware of the time though and stay busy and keep position. I dont like to stall but his defense is good and Im happy working position and waiting for an opening. Hoping that as he realises he is down on points he will make a silly mistake. He doesnt. I win on points
Now I feel really dead, I feel abit dizzy. All the fight has left me, and all I want to do is goto sleep. I consider bowing out, but I regain some focus. The judge see's Im tired and gives me some extra time to get myself together. One of my contacts is gone as well, which probaly led me to be abit dissorientated. No excuses though, time to man up. But all I can think of is that even if I win this I got to fight AGAIN for the bronze.
I am fighting a guy called Andrew from RGA who was a real pleasure to meet and talk to. He got beaten earlier by a very fast flying submission so I think Ive got a good chance. As soon as we touch hands and start I suddenly feel very happy. All the dread and tiredness leaves me, I give a big smile. But it doesnt last to long as for some reason I pull another shit guard. He then goes on to quickly control me. Looking back on the footage I cringe at how close I was to reversing the situation and how static I am. I dont know where my heart went, but its something I need to make sure never happens again. He holds side control and puts on an americana, I dont react fast enough and he puts it on hard. I verbally submit as I hear an audible *pop*. Im worried my arm is broken. Andrew checks on me straight away and is very apologetic, as mentioned before his a good guy. I stay on the ground assessing the damage, its not as bad as I initially thought. Definitely not broken, just very sore. Am not dissapointed, just relieved I can now rest. Yet I dont feel tired or drained anymore. I go and see the medic to get some ice and see what he thinks.
Kieran our judo guy is fighting hard for bronze, he sneaks on through and pulls a few great throws. He loves to use an over the back power grip. Im definitely gonna copy that. He does really well and wins the bronze!.
Andy is fighting as well, we are really excited to see him fight. He doesnt dissapoint. Check. This. Out.
His next opponent pulls guard and works a very strong spider/de la riva guard game. He works a good sweep and eventually catches Andy. Andy gets silver. We are still well chuffed with his performance though as its his first fight at brown belt. His just gonna get stronger.
More of our fight footage can be seen at:
Andy Roberts BJJ vids
Everyone does well, and for quite a few of the guys it was there first comp. Despite the nerves and the high level opposition I think we should be happy with what we can learn from the outing. We finish the day off by going to a Burger resteraunt where a french waiter see's our academy T-shirts and asks to come train!. Talking of shirts Faixa Rua gave free T-shirts to everyone!.
Back to business, what did I do right, what did I do wrong, what did I learn and what have I got to work on:
Tomoe Nage (sacrifice throw)
Cross lapel choke
In guard defense
Wrong (need to work on and learn from):
Loose sub attempts
Lost my heart
Movement was abit slow and sloppy
Stopped listening to my corner
Things Ive learnt and shall focus on:
My hip pressure has improved but I normaly just put my hips down via sprawling. But Ive now learnt that I should put my body more into it and use some strength to force my hips down to add to the pressure.
I feel comfortable standing! why dont I do it!?, I seem attracted to pulling guard. Yet things have more often than not gone my way when I decide to stand. I am really motivated to work on my standing game now, especially after watching Kieran. I did a fair bit when I was a child so need to get that back. Even if I do pull guard I need to make sure I do it properly, with some conviction. Not just limply sitting into it.
I can be calm, but I need to work on my focus. Staying positive, I really felt bad when all I wanted was to lose and rest. Need to work on my drive and determination, all the skill and strength in the world wont help me if I dont want the win. Nic G gave me advice to get my opponent to mentally crumble, I think it worked. So I need to realise where I can make my opponent crack, how best to take him out of his game and impose mine. Destroy morale, show no weakness and seem unbeatable. Alot of it seems to be tiny bits of body language, like not avoiding his eyes. Taking a strong stance and looking confident.
This went really well and worked, cardio felt 10 times better than the Brighton comp. Need to make sure not to forget this.
It was shit to be frank. I was barely surviving when in it, I found myself in it often. And couldnt work anything. Need to really nail down a few solid moves from here. A massive gap in my game at the moment.
Went for one or 2 subs that I could of made abit tighter before putting them on, because of this they slipped out. So patience is needed here and I think even for low percentage moves, I need to take care to make them as tight as possible.
Thats alot to work on but I really think if I manage to improve all those areas then my game will come on leaps and bounds. Am genuinly excited to see how much everyone will improve from the experience.