April 22, 2012

Beware the Ides of March

Errr... well it is now a bit past the ides of April but the past month has given me time to reflect on the most intense month of training and competing I have ever done.  March represented three tournaments (Arnold Grappling Championship's / Revolution BJJ Tournament / 2012 Pan Am's) with seven fights, all of them losses on my end.  Every other weekend I was fighting in a tournament with two of them being out of town.  Much to my surprise many personal things came to a head as they so often do at the least convenient times which made the challenge of fighting all that more complex.

I learned much about my grappling game, and the sport itself.  Namely it is uber important to be on top dictating the pace.  Also across the board I need to work my takedowns as well.  Tim has some foot sweep material I want to work next time I see him.  Regardless of what I train I need to work on it as it is, and has been, a weakness of my competition game for far too long.

The priority and emphasis on gaining a top position and MAINTAINING it to attack from cannot be overstated.  Mount / side control / back mount even are key.  You may be sitting at home going "Duh Jake" but keep in mind we train from the bottom in BJJ too!  I think it is an essential part of the game, the guard.  But dominance, especially at the higher weights, is important on top.  Then we must  discuss patience!

Patience is a lesson I have been rather stubborn to learn (ask my mom who has been trying for 35 laps around the sun now!), but I feel I am starting to grasp the idea.  Below is video of my gi match at the Arnold's.  Once again the importance of the top position comes into play, but more importantly is the lesson on patience here.  In the waning seconds of the match I am able to pull off the Ballard Bridge reversal and (mistakenly) get points for it.  Now.... I am not going to argue with the ref at this point since I was up by one point, even though he wrapped me in 1/2 guard.  In my mind I hear "Settle down Jake, the match is almost over" in the form of my coach Brians voice.  But I stubbornly refuse and decide I am going to stay active to the end trying to pass his guard.  Well.... this was a hard learned lesson on patience:

The Revolution on March 17th was a great experience because for the first time ever we had a large fight team from NWJJA.  Personally I think I fought pretty damn well though I ended up losing a closely fought battle to Kacey Thompson from Impact.  Kacey is uber strong and went on to fight really, really well at the Pan Am's (I think he placed but not sure).  I was very active with my guard and overall happy with it.  Kacey mentioned how off balance he felt in it the whole time.

Strategy is finally coming into play for me.  I think in large part this is due to me relaxing and being comfortable fighting now.  Though the level of competition is greater, I feel more relaxed and chill then ever before.  I love to fight and compared to my personal life as of late... fighting on the mat is peace.... a sublime truth where I may not excel, but I feel at home.  Not sure if that make sense, but it does to me.

As you can see in the video he eventually works into my 1/2 guard and I start to feel that he is for sure going to pass.  So I start to work my Ballard Bridge Reversal (no longer a sweep as it has been surmised it is a reversal, not a true sweep) grips and set up as I know when he passes my guard he will come with pressure on my head and this will be my opportunity to nail it.  Kasey's balance is impeccable, as he rolls with me and comes back up driving into me!

Again I feel this was probably my best performance of the month.  Though I did not win I played my game and tried my hardest to dictate the pace.  My guard game has really come together, now it is time to start filling in gaps and working the finish.

March 28th 2012 would mark my second voyage to the IBJJF's Pan Am's (last was 2010) and this would prove to be their biggest tournament yet, as apparently the shitty economy is not affecting 3,250 competitors from visiting sunny So Cal to fight!  Walking amongst a virtual who's who of the grappling world one cannot help but get giddy as a girl in a candy store.  The level of competition was fierce where I had over 15 fighters in the masters purple division alone!  Scott had over 50 in purple belt adult.

Again I was rather surprised at my level head and calm nerves at such a big venue.  Run pretty much on time for my portion of the fights, later on many an empty mat were to be found with black belt divisions dragging well into 8pm at night.  By the time me and my opponent Barry Reid fought the air was warm, but not yet over bearing.  Rumor had it that the IBJJF did not want to foot $3000 extra a day for AC.  It was needed guys... don't be cheap at the largest tournament in the world!

Once again I found myself fighting an MMA trainer who is a solid purple under Rodrigo Medeiros out of San Diego, Barry Reid.  Barry set up a snap down perfectly and nailed his takedown points.  Securing side control he kept me pinned for the majority of the fight.  I am not sure if it was his knee or hand or what, but my right hip hurt for days after the fight!  Great control!

Apologies for the shitty video.  Thanks to my bro Duchess who shot and edited the fight.  We lost battery power on one phone right as I was dominating the fight with flying omoplata's and huckleberry handshakes!  But Reid was too tough and had seen those all and came back down in side control.  Once again we see the success of the Ballard Bridge reversal, alas it be too late as I attacked but could not secure anything in time.  Great fight bro!  Look forward to seeing you at future competitions.  You are always welcome to Seattle!

Once again a lesson learned in getting and maintaining top control.  Time flies in the adrenaline realm and things do not seem as they are.  Much like a psychedelic experience all senses are altered.  This year the IBJJF had this huge electronic sign that I fought right in front of that changed every few seconds and the lights were seriously trippy and something to get used to.  I could hear my coach Brian yelling but it seemed muffled, far.  The smell of sweat, adrenaline, pheromones, plastic... was all draining energetically.  Even sitting watching would drain you as the energy in the place was alive and buzzing!  Amazing how our bodies work and interact with each other and the energetic toll on newbies at an event this big where you are on the floor with 200-300 other competitors all jacked up and getting ready to fight.  One cannot help to imagine gladiators coming into the arena!  Wow... imagine an absolute division where you fight lions!!  Mata leon!!!!!!!!

I digress....

Again the Pan Am's marked the first NWJJA "team" to travel and fight at a major tournament.  This marked my 6th major tournament, but first time I fought alongside 4 of my team mates, who all got bit by the competition bug it seems!

  • Short Round finally surpassed her performance jitters and stepped onto the mat at to fight two hard battles against a chica from Texas.  Kim played her game and did really well, gaining some invaluable competition experience.  Overall... she had a huge smile on her face because she had fun!
  • Randy had a tough draw against one of (who can tell them apart) the Miyao brothers.  His first major tournament and he draws pretty much one of the best in the world!  Tough draw but great fight experience.
  • Scotty did amazing!  Just a week (yes, 1 week) after being awarded his purple belt, Scott stepped up and fought three killer matches subbing two cats on the way to a tough point loss in the quarterfinals.  Dictating the pace and having a blast, Scott is an inspiration to all around him on enjoying the BJJ experience.  
  • Stache was like a little kid at X Mas!  He was just happy to be in the sun doing jits with his homies, let alone step onto the mat and fight in his first major tournament.  Chris got the opportunity to train at Roger Machado's, and Ace Jiu Jitsu while competing at the Pan's!  Again suffering from the competition flu, look for a tattooed stache at the No gi worlds!
This is what competition is all about.  Camaraderie, learning, making friends, and in the end having fun.  2012 has been bitter sweet for me.  1914 has taken me on as a sponsor and I feel so blessed and honored to even be considered!  I wanted to do as many competitions as I could this year, but with finances in the tank I am not sure how realistic that may be.  Sponsorship and support from people like Blake and Dallas at 1914 is so, SO appreciated!!  Without them nothing in March would have been doable!  

Lessons learned:

  • 1914 Kimono's are hands down the best in the bizz!  I know it is a biased opinion, but it is still a correct opinion!
  • I have one of the most giving, talented, and caring coaches in the world!  We often butt heads, but in the end it makes our friendship all the stronger.  Thank you coach!
  • I have some awesome team mates who are integral in my development: Shadow / Scotty / Kool Aid Kid / Eric / Kelland / Stache / Big Walker / Omar / Denise
  • Mucho thanks to my awesome family and wife for their never ending support! 
  • Sanuk sandals are the BOMB!!!  Hands down THE MOST comfortable sandals ever made and they are produced from old tires!!
  • I am blessed with two great coaches, the other being Tim Cartmell in So Cal.  Thanks to Tim and his wife Amber for their friendship and house over the past 10 years!  I look forward to 10 more!
  • Steph Gaspar is THE best bodyworker in town!  Hit her up 206-525-2811 today!  
  • Work my takedowns!!
  • Work my takedowns!!

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