But I guess there are moral victory points. First blue belt tournament under my belt, and I’m pretty happy with how I did. I got a bye in the first round, so I only had a semi-final match to get into the finals. I ended up winning the first 10-2 and then lost in the finals on points.
I was definitely nervous, but the other guy looked a bit more nervous. So far so good. He pulls guard, and I force him to play half guard almost immediately because I’m a lot better at passing from half. I think Rob tells someone that I have a pretty sick half guard passing game, just as the guy bridges me into guard right when I’m pulling my leg out. Sick, I guess. When I train, I usually fool around with crap like berimbolo or DLR or reverse DLR, but when you’re in the heat of combat, you don’t really have time to think, so you end up falling on what you know best. Which means that I stuck pretty close to my standard closed guard/arm across/mount/back game. Thanks Tim. I’m down 2-0 because he swept me, but I’m pretty comfortable in closed guard and was pretty sure I’d at least be okay. A lot of the other blue belts were telling me that I was essentially the wild card because even though I’d been training in NY for almost a month now, my game is still pretty unknown. In any case, I get the arm across without too much trouble right into mount. I’m hunting for the arm triangle, but he bridges and I end up taking his back to get up to 10-2. From here, this is my house. I usually get some variant of a gi choke when I flatten my opponent out, but to be fair, he was defending well. At around the one minute mark someone yells out “stop stalling!” Gotta be honest, I was totally content with just trying to squeeze his poop out with a body triangle.
Things I learned: hostile crowds are okay and maybe even better for me because I don’t have any pressure; can’t be afraid to take risks, such as switching sides with the choke (real talk, I was up by 8 and probably could have made things at least a bit interesting)
For my weight, I’m usually taller than most of my opponents, which has its advantages and disadvantages. For this match, I went up against another tall lanky dude with long arms who also had a propensity for taking the back (which I saw in his first match) and throwing down triangles (which I saw in my match). I’m a bit tired by this point, so I end up pulling guard on him. Again, because nobody’s really had a chance to figure out my game before, I was able to play my standard arm across/back take game with impunity. In any case, I get close to sweeping him and taking his back, but he drives his head into me to defend. It gets a bit blurry here because I’m running mostly on autopilot, but I remember going for an armbar that ended up being really deep. I also remember feeling like his arm was about to break if I cranked it anymore. Actually, a bunch of people who were watching told me after the match that they thought his arm was broken. I think my opponent did too. Anyway, he defended well, I decided to abandon the armbar and try and take his back. That didn’t work out too well for me, but we ended up trading sweeps, and then my unlucky foot betrayed me again. The cramp always starts off with a whisper, just a slight twinge, and without fail always rapidly escalates into shouting “HEY REMEMBER ME?!” in around half a second. Unfortunately, this happened right as he mounted. I bridged him back to guard, and he shoots a triangle on me. I don’t really remember too much at this point, except being really surprised that I got out. He sweeps me again, I’m playing half guard for what seems like forever. Eventually, I make a mental mistake and he mounts and wins on points.
Things I learned: breathe; don’t let up pressure; slow down, insist on the finish (but see below)
So actually, at the end, it really felt like he was in mount for a couple minutes, but I was really surprised that he only mounted me at the end for 10 seconds (even more unfortunately, right after the girl says “don’t let him mount you!”)
I also did not realize I lost 15-2, especially because people were telling me how close the match was, but (1) reversals don’t give points, and (2) it was technically my bad for letting him score 7 points in the last 10 seconds (3 for the pass, 4 for the mount).
Now that I’ve had a lot more time to think about it, I’m glad I didn’t win, because there’s a lot more learning that I can do at blue. For instance, learning that there are a lot of people further ahead in their journey, but also that I’m further ahead than some others. Or learning that there’s no point in being an asshole and cranking a submission. Even if the other guy doesn’t tap and you feel like you can get the submission, just let go. It’s only a tournament, and we’re all helping each other towards the same goal, right?
A bit poorly executed on my part.
I think this was right before the armbar.