June 6, 2013

2013 IBJJF Mundials In Retrospective

What a whirlwind of a past week... month... year.  When I started getting serious about competing a few years back I was fortunate enough to go to the 09 No Gi Worlds and have a wonderful trip.  I told myself on that trip that despite my advanced physical age I wanted to compete in the Mundials, the Worlds, where there are no age categories; 18 years and up at your weight and belt!  After very little self deliberation I came to the conclusion that 2013 would be the year at purple belt.  And so I began training.

I was at the Worlds every day for at least a little bit and overall it ran very nicely.  Rarely a mat without action, though I did not hear final numbers the mats saw 100's of fighters a day and each division started on time.  Some participants I heard griping about how long their brackets were taking, lest they forget some brackets such as purple lightweight had 100 plus fighters in it!  But it was my observation and experience that most everything ran quite smoothly.

What can I say in regards to the refereeing?  I realize it is a tough position, but I see more and more blown calls / misunderstanding of muddled rules / poor communication (sorry... ref's should be at least bi-lingual) each and every tournament I attend.  Penalties are thrown around like candy when players are confused as to what they did and ask.  I agree if they are rude or inappropriate they should be penalized.  But if they are simply asking what they did wrong, an answer should be provided.  On the flip side of the ref coin I will say this... what happened to the days when we did not settle until a submission?  Who the hell wants to gain an advantage point and stall out for 5 minutes??  Not Tanquinho.  Not Braulio.  Not Buchecha.  

Courtesy of John Cooper Photography
The worlds truly bring together the best of the best in an open tournament format from all over the world.  Met some cats from Mongolia there.  Yes the blue belt champ at ultra heavy did beat a 350 pound man in the finals.  Said Mongolian mountain tipped the scales at 450 pounds and was about 2 inches taller then me.  I must admit the brown belt matches were some of the most exciting fights throughout as the top competitors in the world rarely stalled out.  I think brown belts still have that impatient eagerness to attack like a teenage puppy which makes for some fun matches.  And of course watching the black belts thin out competition over two days was amazing for the most part.  

Overall great fights and competition, though I have one request of the IBJJF.... please bring back heel hooks! I have grown tired of the double guard pull into 50-50 guard where two "grapplers" play footsie all day and win by an advantage point.  This is not Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!  And one simple solution to all this.... allow heel hooks, with the experienced levels at the very least.  I  must admit it was nice see the Mendes brothers knocked out rather early, though we did have to suffer through the Miyao love of 50-50.

A few other quick observations from the tournament:
  • Andre Galvao is a sore loser...chewing the head referee's ear for over 10 minutes after Rafa Mendes  lost to Tanquinho
  • Dude... you are a black belt.  At this stage in the game I should not have to explain to you that it is gross beyond comprehension to be barefoot in the bathroom changing!!!!!
  • The level of BJJ has drastically improved even in the 4 years since my first IBJJF tourney!  
  • Always, ALWAYS, bring an extra gi and belt.  Too many BS DQ's because of stupid gi issues.
  • The camaraderie amongst BJJ brethren is second to none.  Heard nothing but positive encouragement before, during, and after my match! 
  • Leo Lo has a sick guard!  Period! 
  • We all love Brazilian BBQ and Acai bowls, but do we really need to inflate the prices so high?
  • UC Long Beach is a MUCH nicer venue then UC Irvine for both the competitor and the fan alike.
  • Apparently standing in front of folks trying to watch a fight is par for the course in Russia, Bulgaria, and Brazil! 
My fight...
First and foremost a HUGE shout out to my friend Asa Fuller at Ace JJ who was gracious enough to coach my big dumbass!  I really appreciate it Asa.  And a second HUGE shout out to John Cooper at John Cooper Photography for taking AMAZING shots.  I will write a separate review of John Cooper's services and photography later this week, but if you have not already make sure to check him out! 

John Cooper Photography
Overall I feel this is the most prepared I have ever been for a tournament. My physicality is great. I feel my rolling has been sharp, focused, and in general I have a firm grasp of my game. Brian my coach really helped stitch up some of the holes in my top game (yeah... I'm kinda weird like that.... big guy with great guard, and so-so top game!). Mentally it is the most focused I have been ever tournament wise. Coming into a tournament like this I had to impose my will from the get go, and my apologies to my training partners who bore the brunt of said training.

One of the most positive observations I gleamed from this past weekend was my ability to finally control my nerves. Don't get me wrong I still get the little butterflies just before stepping onto the mat, but overall I felt comfortable, confident I had been here before and it was just a fight. This is helped by my avoidance of the bullpen for the most part. The testosterone and nervous energy is unwelcoming to me, so I typically stay on the peripheral where I can still hear announcements but am away from the stagnant air.
As to how I fought.... what can I say?  I fought a decent guy but overall I know I could have beat him and feel like I was doing well throughout until I made a fatal flaw.  I opened his guard once by pressuring his throat.  He ends up scrambling and getting me back into guard.  Holding my elbows strongly I could not open his guard with pressure on his legs, so I reverted back to the throat press pass.  In hindsight he was TOTALLY anticipating me doing it and threw on the armbar quickly. 

I apologize for the limited camera view.  People were rather rude in regards to standing in front of others!

This is frustrating because I should know better and have a number of different looks.  Overall I was happy with my open guard.  His balance was good and I should have mixed it up giving different looks to him.  I suppose these are the lessons we learn, but they are frustrating none the less when you have poured out the sweat and tears (thankfully very little blood was shed!) into the hours of practice.  I keep reminding myself that if I'm going to swim I will most likely get wet, and there was only one champion last Friday. 

As you watch the video you will most likely notice a small lull in action.  Yes, thats right, for the first time ever the referee noticed (kinda weird) my piercing and made me remove it!  I have no complaints as it bought me an extra 40 seconds or so.  I thought it was pretty damn amusing. 

Much thanks and love goes out to my coach Brian, my sponsor 1914 Kimono's (the best gi's on the market), my mom and pop, my mat family at NW Jiu Jitsu Academy, and my coach Tim Cartmell. Also thanks to Chad Hospodar at Arm Bar Soap Co. for keeping me cootie-free!  I hope to offer a much better showing in the future. 

Train Hard.  Train Smart.

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