And the hiatus is over! It’s been so long since my last post that I almost feel the need to re-introduce myself.
Me: Hi, I’m Kris, and I’m a BJJ-a-holic.
Internet Audience: Hiiiii Kris.
So it’s been a crazy past several weeks. I went on a whirlwind of business travel which kept me off the mats for nearly three weeks. And just my luck…my first day back, one of my training partners rolled awkwardly on my hand and my pinky finger got smashed. Really? My first day back? Well, luckily, I’m sponsored by Mueller Athletic Tape (ok, I’m not…but I go through a LOT of it). What’s worse, we were only two weeks away from Copa NOVA 2013 BJJ Championship here in Northern Virginia. More about that later.
Day one back on the mats. Poor finger…why is it always the left hand? (I’m left-handed)
I also found that during those weeks of travel, I definitely lost some of my fitness. Yes, I was a little lazy and didn’t get my butt down to the gym at the hotel. That’s all my fault. The first training session back was miserable. After rolling with a few teammates, Professor and I rolled; he tapped me in maybe 12 seconds? I was pathetic…I barely put up a fight. As I rolled from underneath him, feeling like a piece of chum after a shark gnawed on it a bit, he simply said, “Kris, you are out of shape.” Then he grabbed my lapel and pulled me underwater again. Nothing like a simple, honest statement to refocus one’s training efforts, eh? The next few classes were better. I got some of my wind back; some of the rust was knocked off.
And then before I knew it, it was Copa NOVA 2013. Tape up that finger, you great big whiney-baby, and get ready to compete!
There’s always an interesting decision to make with these tournaments. Perhaps you more seasoned grapplers can suggest a good approach. You see, at 41 yrs old, I’m definitely in the Masters category (30+). And in the masters category, heavyweight is 200+. I sit at 225. Now, in the Men’s Category (under 30), there’s a heavyweight category (200-224), and a super heavyweight category (225+). So if I cut 6 lbs, I could fight as one of the heavier guys in a group of athletic 20-somethings. Or, I fight guys my age (if you call a spry 31 yr old ‘my age’), but risk fighting anyone from 200lbs to a 400lb sumo-wrestler. This year, I chose poorly. I fought in the Masters bracket, and ended up being the lightest of the group by at least 25 lbs.
My first gi match went perfectly. I executed a (sloppy) takedown, and landed in a loose half-guard. I quickly moved to side control. I tried knee-on-belly, but because I failed to get off my other knee, I didn’t get any points for it. Either way, I was able to slide over into mount fairly easily, and hooked my legs to pressure him. I was able to attempt an americana, but he had crazy flexible shoulders, and truth be told, my technique was probably a bit sloppy. Come on Kris – paint the floor with his knuckles! Oh well. I abandoned the attempt and started looking for something else. Professor was coaching me along the way, and I heard him yell ‘sleeve choke’! Ahh, that’s right – the Chuck Special from my gym. So I was able to work the sleeve choke, adjust here and there, and he finally tapped. What a great feeling!
After that, it went downhill a bit. My next opponent was a lot stronger than me (and maybe 40 lbs heavier), and ended up in side control. I was never in any jeopardy of being submitted…and the ref actually reset us for stalling on his part. However, he was able to get me back to side control, and squished me for the remaining time. I lost by a few points on his gaining and retaining side control position. My third gi match was a blur. I lost by a few points, but as I remember it, it was a lot of back and forth the entire match. Needless to say, I was exhausted…and I had only rolled for about 13 minutes total!
My fourth and final match was no-gi. I fought a guy shorter, but much heavier than me. And man, he was SWEATY (= very slippery). He also got me in side control after I executed the worse takedown attempt in the history of BJJ. He also just laid on top of me. At one point, he tried an americana from my half-guard, and while he was in horrible position, I thought I could sweep him as he focused on my arm. No dice. About 4 minutes into the 5 minute match, I swept him and landed in his guard. I broke it, and there was a bit of a scramble. I was, for a brief moment, almost able to take his back. I’m usually pretty good at that, because my long legs allow me to wrap my leg around to sink a heel into the hip (coupled with a seat-belt hold), which keeps my opponent from turning during the transition. And my mind went into afterburner, because he was beating me by like 300 points, and a rear naked choke to end the match in my favor would have been SWEET. But alas, he was able to weasel his body around and turn into me. The match ended. I was 4-matches exhausted. And I got a second-place medal for Masters Heavyweight No-Gi.
Second Place, No-Gi, Masters Heavyweight Div
Six of us from the gym competed, and everyone did such a great job. I’m so proud to be part of this BJJ team! It felt great to have several guys from the gym come out to support us. And of course, Professor was on edge of the mats coaching us (loudly) for every single match.
So as I bring this to a close – this year’s Copa NOVA showed me a few things that I need to focus on over the next few months of training. (1) I need to incorporate more ‘non-training-day’ training into my weekly routine. Running…push-ups and sit-ups…weights. That will help when I need to hip escape from underneath a 280lb guy. (2) I need to work on side-control escape. I never had issue with this, but for some reason, I have had a horrible time lately.
So while I work on that, I’m going to get re-acquainted with all the awesome blogs I follow. Be prepared for comments!
In the mean time, take care of each other. Cheers.