I new step in my training came to fruition this past Saturday when I competed in my first Jiu-Jitsu tournament down near Richmond VA. Here's the story.
I went for a final push to drop a few pounds to see if I could make the 190-199 weight class by going to a hot yoga class then doing some sauna suit work (7 rounds of 20 sit ups, 15 push ups, 30 squat and 100 jumping jacks. The 10 minutes intervals on the stationary bike). After a way to long journey down to the high school, I stepped onto the scale with not too much confidents. But, the scale read 198 and it was such a great feeling to know that in just about 3 weeks I was able to drop 22 pounds and really feel good almost the entire time (I will be writing more about that process in my next post). The funny thing is, this was the first time I weighted under 200lbs since 8th grade, that's about 13 years ago!
So, Saturday we drove on down to the event, a little nervous about time seeing how I trained a couple clients and taught my strength class in the morning. But we got there around 1pm and very quickly learned that when over 800 competitors are in town for a tournament, you can expect the guesstimated times to be a little off. Turns out, I didn't make it onto the mat until around 6pm or so. It was a great time to see everything though. It was muggy and hot in the gym, but there was such a great feel in the air. Nobody seemed aggressive or angry, people said hi, gave head nods, chatted, watched, practiced, learned; it was all a very welcoming feeling throughout. I was pretty surprised by that in fact. I expected to be surrounded by a bunch of hot-headed dudes looking to rip my head off if I got to close, but it was all about friendly competition, and that is exactly what I was truly hoping for.
When my belt and weight class came up I was surprised to find 11 total competitors. That seemed like a pretty big group of people compared to the other divisions. Because of the odd number of competitors, a few people got a bye, I was not one f those people, but that was fine, it meant I got more matches in!
My first match was a quick start; my heart rate was up, I felt excited and just a little nervous, but overall I felt ready and confident. We shook hands and moved in. I reached out and grabbed his collar and felt myself tense up, I chose to relax and let my opponent move me around a little, I somehow knew that it didn't mater much if he took me down. Which he did. But the second we hit the floor, I swept him, and took a rear mount position locking my arm around his throat and clenched tight. He tapped out, submitting to me, and when I stood up, feeling a rush and a burst of confidence, I saw that the match had only gone about 40 seconds (out of 4 minutes).
The second match was very similar. It lasted no more than a minute and I was able to rack up a bunch of points before I submitted him as well, with an arm bar. It was the third match where some real jiu-jitsu came into play. I was still very confident throughout the match, but felt very tight at the same time. I took him down, he took side control, I swept and held him in my guard. He passed my guard but I swept and gained side control, then mount; he swept and gained side control and then fell into my guard. When four minutes buzzed, the score said him 11, me 9. That is one simple sweep from being a tie and I would have taken that match because I was in the dominate position for much of it. It was frustrating to lose when I knew exactly what I did wrong; I tried to control things too much rather then relax and let his movements dictate how to react and attack.
I made the adjustment and in my final match I tapped out my opponent with a kimora within one minute, awarding a third place finish overall.
I walked out of my first tournament feeling very good. It would have been great to win it all, but I knew that I learned so much and felt so comfortable while there. Tapping out three opponents (the only tap-outs in my entire division), was a great sign that have come a very long way in less than a year of practice. I hope that I can keep working at it and get better every week. I definitely plan on competing again, it was too much fun, and too much of a rush to not!
(Pictures to follow...some really good ones)
Never Stop, GET FIT.