While visiting my bro "Shadow" in DC I decided to time it with one of the area's biggest tournaments the Copa Nova in Ashburn, VA. Anytime I travel I try to coordinate my travels with opportunities to learn and grow as a martial artist and a human. This trip I lucked out and was able to both compete and to train a seminar with Abmar Barbosa (more on that later).
The tournament director announced over 300 competitors from child through master levels. Few belts higher than blue attended that I saw, but some decent matches none the less. Admirably they have adopted 98% (I never heard what 2% was missing) of the IBJJF's rules. Many local tournaments are heading in this direction which I think has both positives and negatives (again, more on that later). But one positive aspect is the elimination of rules meetings which inevitably eat up TONS of time before tournaments! You are responsible for understanding the rules prior to coming to the tourney.
Here on the east coast I guess they do no gi first then move on to gi competition. I was not aware of this, as on the west coast it is flip flopped. No biggie though as I signed up for both.
Naturally not a god damned thing started on time. I literally sat around for 6 fucking hours waiting for my first match. I must say this has gotten really, REALLY old in my young career. IBJJF gives you times that your division will start, and in my experience (only two official events) they are pretty close (within a 1/2 hour). Not knowing when you go forces you to try to balance staying warm and loose while not wasting energy. Up and down, up and down gets screws with your body and mind.
A total of 8 mats were available, but (again, on par) at any given time there were as many as 6 (no not a typo) that were stagnant and down with ref's and time keepers playing titley winks (how do you spell that???). This is par for the course even in WA. where the Revolution usually only has 6 mats and 1/2 are often down for up to 20 minutes!!
Around 2pm I was warming up (again) on the side of the mat waiting for my division to be announced to be on deck. I was not totally warm, but not cool. I flew in the previous afternoon but jet lag had not hit yet, though I was stiff. I was starting to get hungry even though I had eaten and munched on some protein bars from home (homemade, not the store bought crap!). When all of the sudden out of nowhere I hear a ref yell my name. "What the...." (fill in the blank) is what I mutter to Shadow.
I go to the ref, and he says "You're up."
"Sir, no one called our division yet."
"I know, we are squeezing you guys in right now."
Fuck me, no prep time, or perhaps too much prep time. Oh well, on the street you have no time to prep for an altercation, man up and put your big girl panties on Jake!
Long story short(ish)...
I am squared up against a young kid who is a bit chubby but strong. We scramble about four or five times sweeping each other in a flury (no one gets points). He ends up in side control. No problem I think, I have really been working on the subtleties of my Ballard Bridge Sweep, so I start to work to set it up (sorry kids, not letting you on to my secrets. It is bad enough 1/2 the academy has figured it out!). He falls for the bait, but as I sweep him he transitions smoothly, I have underestimated my opponent (fatal). He moves to the other side of me maintaining side control and immediately wipes my arm away with his head into a key lock. I try to escape... then shit hits the fan... I hear three distinct tears (much like celery being broken), and tap!
My opponent was super cool and stopped immediately but it was too late, my arm was hurting. He heard it as did the ref who immediately asked if I need a doc. I said no, I am fine (sorta hurt at this point). My opponent is apologizing and I reassure him he has nothing to apologize for (again the awesome brotherhood and camaraderie of BJJ shines through), it was a great key lock and the injury is my own fault.
- Get warm and stay warm. If local tournaments cannot maintain decent schedules don't support them.
- When you are caught just tap. Not worth it in the end. My ego caught me and taught me a lesson.
- I am a true believer that pain is in our life to teach us. I learn a lot from pain (emotional, physical, mental) and use it to grow. I have already learned a lot from this (most likely my most serious injury other than a couple of rib injuries I have had, which I do not consider too major).
- Get on top as soon as possible and maintain position. Dominant positioning is paramount in BJJ (all martial arts really). I have fucked around too much the last couple of tourneys. Not aggressive enough!
Not too wax too much woo woo shit here, but I had a strong premonition for over a month that I would get hurt at this tourney. Shadow asked why I still competed (and berated me for not telling him prior). Simple answer... because this was my fate. I needed this lesson. I will grow stronger because of this.
Overall it was an okay tourney. The lack of medical staff is a serious concern. Paramedics NEED to be on site. Makes one wonder if they even had insurance! Obviously I did not go on to compete that day ($80 down the tube). I did not have faith in my arm to continue in the gi and absolute divisions. After the adrenaline kicked down I realized I made the right decision.
Not to worry folks... I immediately began my rehab protocol of 12 ounce (actually Stella is only 11.2) curls when I came back. The arm is in decent shape. I only tore the ligaments, no ruptures. I tested the arm out last night at the seminar with Barbosa and it was touchy but good. I will be back in the academy Thursday night when I get home.
Hopefully some of you can learn from this,