Today, I competed in my very first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Grappling Industries put on a round robin format tournament in Kansas City. My white belt, 170lb, Gi division had 4 other competitors.
I went into this tournament with a clear goal in mind. I wanted to survive all of my matches. That is, I wanted to last the entire 5 minutes without being submitted (or until I was able to perform a submission).
My first match was against a very tough competitor, and I remember being trapped in the same position for at least a minute. I could hear teammates and/or my coach reminding me to breathe. This was good advice. I concentrated on breathing a while. The match was not a high scoring match. When time was called, I remember thinking that I had met my goal! I had survived.
Bonus: I won my first match by a few points!
I sat down to compose myself when the table called out my name and told me my 2nd match was up next. Holy shit.
In hindsight, I could have requested that I be given a little more time to recuperate. In practice, we are given only a minute to recuperate. I was given over 5. That’s going to have to be good enough, I told myself.
My second match was against the eventual winner (and winner of the Absolute Gi he had competed in at he beginning of the tournament). I knew it would be difficult to survive. After a little bit of parrying back and forth on our feet, I got in a deep double leg take down. This is great if you’re in wrestling. In BJJ, they are not all that great unless you have both legs to one side and you’re not in the middle of them with your head outside to be guillotined in under a minute.
I didn’t survive. Shake it off and move on.
Before my 3rd match, I had a longer rest time. This helped.
My 3rd match was much more active, as I was able to get take-downs, work a little side control, get a sweep after losing side control, and work on a submission (that did not come to fruition). Again, when time expired, I got excited. I survived again!
Bonus: I won my second match. This time by a wider margin of points.
During the fourth match, I got too excited. I got a take down and side control, and was applying a lot of top pressure, but didn’t quite get room for a submission. More action, which led to more points. Perhaps this got to my head? Perhaps I let my guard down? I was ahead by a wide margin. He grabbed my lapel from the bottom position and applied such an effective cross choke on me that I had to tap out. Except… I guess I didn’t tap out.
I took a nap instead.
It is quite bizarre coming to with the ref holding and shaking your feet in the air while staring your coach in the eyes.
“I had a dream, coach.”
“Did you solve all the world’s problems?”
“Maybe. I got a good start on it, at least.”
I didn’t survive. Grappling Industries doesn’t allow naps in the middle of matches, surprise, surprise. The experience was a great one though.
When I checked the standings, the first place finisher had won all four matches, and three of us won 2 and lost 2. Because the other two competitors had won one of their matches by submission, they were awarded 2nd and 3rd place. So, no hardware for the points guy.
You know what… no problem. I’m happy having the experience. The camaraderie of having your teammates all around you is indescribable.
Many would come away from this thinking that they need to obviously work on submissions. If they could have submitted one of their opponents, they could have been in the running for 2nd or 3rd place. But I didn’t come away thinking this.
I came away thinking I need to keep training and focusing on surviving and not getting myself into positions where I can be submitted. If I could have survived all 5 minutes of all of my matches, I definitely could have won 3.
I’m a white belt. I just need to survive. Submissions will come in due time.