My fifth competition came and went. It was the first comp where I did both gi and no gi divisions which made for a long day but was extra awesome because I had so many matches, learned so much, got to show more of my jiu jitsu in a competition setting. Submission only, round robin.
In the morning, I competed for the first time in the gi; white belt women’s division combined with the weight class lower than us (effectively 129 and below). There were just three of us. My teammate (who just got back from Costa Rica and trained two days before the comp after six weeks off…warrior…) and another girl who has competed a couple of times before but only in gi, so I’d never gone with her. I happened to remember a fancy series of photos where she was taking my teammate down with a nice judo trip after the previous tournament, so the game plan was to get in her space and get the takedown fast (a body lock trip, my favorite because I can usually get it). She and I were the first to go, and it was a great way to start. I don’t have video of this match yet, but I got the takedown and landed in side control. Some other scrambling happened, and I finished with an armbar. The ref had made it really clear that if he saw our arms fully extended he would call it even if we didn’t tap. This girl was hyper flexible, as I was hipping up into it nearly as far as I could and the arm was clearly bent. She was going to try for a hitchhiker escape so I made sure to pressure down hard with my legs. The ref called it, she balked a little bit, but acknowledged that her arm was extended.
Next against my teammate, I got the takedown again, and tried some stuff (Peruvian necktie, transition into a triangle when it was defended…a very fun and variable match, probably more for me than her as I was on offense most of the time). No submission. My teammate was finished with a collar choke from rear mount by our other opponent. Gold in gi.
Six hours later (after a nap on a nearby teammates house and icing my sore ears), it was no-gi time. This was my first time as an intermediate competitor (over a year and a half and under three years experience). There were four of us, including my teammate again, a girl from 10th planet and a 15 year old who was there for some odd reason (I sort of think her coaches wanted her with more technical intermediate players for safety reasons, but they were saying they “didn’t know how” she ended up in our division -either way she and her coaches had fantastic attitudes and were fun to compete with). We found out we were allowed to do can opener, knee bars and wrist locks. Surprise!! Knowing this will change my game plan some what for next time…more on that later. Fortunately my gym believes in incorporating those submissions and their defense early so that by the time you’re allowed to use them in competition you feel comfortable with them. The 15 year old, though, went straight to her coaches to ask what a knee bar was. They gave her great advice - “If anyone grabs your leg, just tap.”
I went first again, with the girl from 10th planet. She was quite good - I got the takedown and landed in side control, and she quickly trapped my head between her legs, working on a reverse triangle. She nearly had it - she had isolated an arm through and was working on tightening it up. I couldn’t hear my coach (as my ears were covered by her legs - awesome for my already sore ears!) and can’t say I’ve ever practiced an escape from the position. I started to walk my legs around in a way I thought would work, and it opened up my hearing just enough to hear my coach say “keep going!” so I passed over her head and her legs unwound. Whew!! From there I retained a top position until I went for an arm bar and she spun into me, ending up in my guard when time was called. A great match! I would have wanted to keep going if there was no time limit.
With the fifteen year old, my game plan was to use basics performed technically against her - I didn’t want to be rough or overly aggressive, but I was going to take the win. I got my takedown, landed in side control and worked for mount with knee on belly, trying to isolate her arm. The girl had drawn with my teammate because she had been mounted but kept her arms in sooooo tight and just bumped and bumped, so that she couldn’t settle her weight or isolate an arm. I knew there was little hope of forcing her arms to extend, unless I gave her something else to worry about. So I faked an ezekiel attempt (I saw Kyra Grace break this down a few months ago) until she brought a hand up to her neck, giving me just enough space to hook the arm and fall back for the arm bar.
I think I drew again with my teammate…another fun and competitive match. If I had won it, I would have rematched the 10th planet girl, but since she submitted two and I drew twice and submitted one, she took gold and I took silver. A great first experience in the intermediate division!
My coach had requested an absolutes division, so that was next. It was a combined intermediate/advanced women’s absolute and it was the only way my advanced/purple belt level teammate would have any no-gi matches, as they disallowed her from competing with intermediate men as she has done in the past. So four of my teammates and the 10th planet girl signed up for that. They were literally pulling up tape and rolling up mats around us and we were the only ones left.
I went first again with my advanced teammate. Went for my takedown, which she immediately reversed with a takedown of her own. I worked to retain guard and scrambled well for a while, I gave up my back to try to get out of mount and she got the RNC. It was cool to meet her in competition because I got to see what her poor opponents put up with…haha. Also, when I first started, the idea that even in a combined division I could face her never occurred to me.
The teammate who had been in all my other divisions and I went again, and I got a triangle choke from guard. Can’t remember anything else about it. Then I suddenly started pulling guard, completely abandoning my takedowns. No idea if my head was straight by this point anymore…I jumped guard on my heavyweight teammate and went straight for an arm bar. (I think I was just tired and trying to end matches quickly…)
When I went with 10th planet girl, I jumped guard TERRIBLY, and landed on my back, but went straight for a double ankle sweep, and then tried for a knee bar. She rolled out and went for my knee, and I defended and scrambled to a top position. I worked for a d’arce from north/south which I SHOULD HAVE HAD (dammit), and when she got out she stood up. I noticed my legs were tired as we were fighting for the takedown, which is not where my head should have been. Her coaches were screaming at her that she had one minute to submit me, and she just turned it on, jumping to a high closed guard and going for a guillotine. Seeing the video, I can see that she was giving it everything she had, and I was merely defending, completely abandoning my offensive mindset from earlier in the day. She submitted me with an arm bar with 10 seconds left. I have SO MUCH TO LEARN from this match. It was a great lesson for me.
-gold in gi, silver in no-gi, silver (tied with 10th planet) in no-gi absolutes
-I got to use SO MUCH MORE of my training than in any other tournament in the past
-I felt relaxed and was having fun
-I got nearly every takedown I wanted
-I played from the top position offensively
-I tried new things - had multiple attempts at the peruvian necktie, I can get it in the gym, so I think I’ll keep trying it.
-I had nine matches
-Didn’t spend a lot of time getting jammed up in closed guard
-I keep my hips too high most of the time, from what I can see in the video. Need to work on settling them and being heavier.
-Work on finishing submissions other than the triangle and arm bar. Work on “squeeze strength” for the d’arce, arm triangle, etc.
-watching the video, I can see many choke opportunities that I missed - arm triangle and barbwire were there for me a few times but I didn’t go for them.
-my teammate had a terrible and frustrating day - I know how good her jiu jitsu is, but her head just wasn’t in it, and she was letting each loss affect her. I know she can only get stronger from it, but it was difficult for me to see her feeling that way, especially as I was having a lot of success.
Thanks for reading! I am not proofreading this…it’s time for work.
Just thinking back to how completely coincidentally I became involved in bjj and martial arts and how many times I had to be shown how to “do my arms” for a rear naked choke.
I am unbelievably grateful for my gym’s investment of time and patience in me, and I know they are grateful for my consistency, reliability and good attitude. It’s a give-give relationship and it sure is beautiful.
“Martial arts aren’t just for self-defense, but also a form of expression.”
So what does everyones styles and training methods say about them?What does mine say about me?
Martial arts are most definitely a form of expression for me. If you see art (broadly) as an attempt to synthesize and understand our relationship to the world around us, then fighting and training are such a visceral and real way to understand ourselves in relation to the world around us. Here is me, and here is my opponent, and I must now understand myself in relation to the person I battle with. What are my strengths and weaknesses and how will I overcome or succumb to these things? What will this other person do and how will I respond?
The drawback, for me, is that since I fell in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I have found that it completely steals all of my creative energy. I used to need to have an art project going at all times, and now BJJ is my ongoing art project. There is nothing so much wrong with this, except for how mentally taxing and dependent on others BJJ is. Sometimes I get to training and I so badly want one thing or another out of the session, and because my training partners/coaches aren’t in the exact same head space, I am limited.
When I do printmaking or photography, the process is completely dictated by me. What’s nice about that is that I can do it any time, for however long I want, to whatever end I desire. What’s terrible about that is that I can make endless excuses and there is no punishment for procrastination. In BJJ, I am held accountable in some sense.
So, what does my style and training method say about me? I truly don’t know - I really wonder what drew me to a close contact sport, and then, in regards to MMA, a violent sport. There are so many guesses I could make - but violence is not the draw for me. Even in MMA, I closely watch the techniques used and am not impressed simply with blood and knockouts. In training, I enjoy using technique over strength and creativity over brutality. Sparring is like a puzzle I have no choice but to try and solve - solve or be crushed, I guess. In “real life,” games and puzzles can’t hold my interest for long, but in the gym the puzzle is all there is.
Yesterday I arrived at work to hear that a co-worker had been attacked by a batshit crazy local business man from across the street who was high and/or drunk and trying to force his way into the store. Two other employees quickly came out to get him away from her, and restrain him/keep him from entering until the cops arrived.
As a practicing martial artist, the first place my mind goes after concern for my co-worker is to what would have happened if that had been me? And of course, this is not something that can be answered; only considered. Am I truly more equipped to defend myself in case of an attack? Would my training cause me to escalate, perhaps unnecessarily? In the end, no punches were thrown, but he was held off from inflicting any damage and was arrested. One of the employees who came to her defense explicitly said that he almost decked the guy, but was concerned about being charged with assault (not an unreasonable fear). But would I be able to restrain from trying to temporarily immobilize the guy, if he had truly invaded my bodily space and threatened harm? Moreso, should I restrain or just defend as I’ve been trained?
I probably would have wanted to choke him until he passed out, especially if I was alone and no one else was near. Reports from staff are that he was way stronger than he looked, possibly as a result of whatever drugs he was on, and was wildly trying to push everyone off of him in order to get in the store.
What sucks is that whenever he gets out of jail, he will likely go right back to being the business-owner across the street, now with legal woes, so it’s not impossible that we will encounter him again.
A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.
Can 10,000 hours of practice really make you an expert at anything?… The psychologists reanalyzed data from six previous studies of chess competitions (1,083 subjects in total) and eight studies of musicians (628 total) for correlations between practice and success, and found huge disparities in how much chess grandmasters and elite musicians had practiced. One chess player, for example, had taken 26 years to reach a level that another reached in a mere two years. Clearly, there’s more at work than just the sheer volume of hours practiced.