This weekend was BJJ 24/7’s Manchester International Open. Once again this was the biggest competition I’d ever done, with over 300 competitors, and eight mats running at any one time. The venue was a cacophony of noise and people. I actually found that this took the pressure off compared to smaller competitions, because there’s so much going on that no one really has time to focus on you and your match, other than your immediate team members. Everyone is too busy concentrating on what they’re doing.
Anyway, got down to Manchester and weighed in. I was in the <56.5kg no-gi white belt category. I weighed in at 52.3kg. I had considered dropping down to the weight category below (<51.5kg), but Kaizen already has a girl in that category. Hopefully when I start weight training again I’ll put a bit of muscle mass on, and be closer to where I should be within my category. I also want to start competing in the gi come the autumn. Anyhow, I was supposed to be competing at roughly 11.30, with Kasia (my team mate) on just before me in the weight category below. We warmed up and then headed to the mat.
Kasia put on an absolutely stellar performance, despite saying she wasn’t going to remember anything before hitting the mats! From what I can remember, she was taken down by her opponent, but then proceeded to absolutely dominate on the ground. The final score was 16-2 to Kasia, and despite this massive score difference she continued to search for the submission throughout the match. In the end she didn’t get it, but with that big of a point difference it was totally insignificant. So she got gold! One more for the Kaizen treasure trove…
After Kasia’s match it was my turn. Only one girl in my division had shown up, so I only had one fight in my weight category, when I was supposed to have had two. The girl I was against, Becky, was extremely good and very strong. She won by submission at around the four minute mark. I was still quite pleased, however, because I managed to play my game plan up until that point. I pulled guard into reverse de la riva – I tried for half guard but she immediately moved to knee slice, making me adopt reverse de la riva. If I’d have had a bit more forearm strength I may have been able to hold onto this, but as it was my arm gassed out and she passed into side control with a strong knee slice. I turtled up (sadly too late to avoid 3 pts being awarded to her) and she attempted to take back mount, but she couldn’t get her second hook in, therefore missing out on the four points. There was a lot of rolling involved and me balling up to resemble a hedgehog in order to prevent her getting her foot in. It worked though.
I then somehow managed to reclaim guard (it’s all a bit hazy if I’m being honest!) and ended up on the bottom, on the defensive again.
In the end she got me with a kimuora from half guard (maybe?), which was well deserved because she played an extremely strong game. I tapped as soon as she put it on because – as you can see from the picture below – no way was I getting out of that! So I took the silver and she the gold.
I then decided that I might as well have a go at absolutes, where all the weight categories are in together. I’d never done that before and I wanted more than one match in the day, so signed my name up. I was easily the lightest one in the bracket.
Anyway, my first match in absolutes was against a girl called Rachel and she got me with either a head and arm choke, or a darce choke. To be honest, I can’t remember, all I know was something was around my neck and I couldn’t breathe. Once again though, I wasn’t too disappointed. I pulled guard at the beginning, managed to secure half guard, I worked my way to deep half at one point and nearly swept, but couldn’t quite finish it.
My bronze medal match in the absolutes was the one I was most proud of that day. It was 0-0 and it went to refs decision to the other girl. That might as well have been gold to me. She was significantly taller and heavier than me, and the fact that I managed to prevent any points being scored and play my game was a massive victory to me. She won refs decision because I pulled guard, and therefore was on the bottom. Her passing attempts were more sustained than my sweep attempts as well, and she ended up in ¾ guard a few times, although I managed to reclaim half guard from them. Either way, it went to decision and she took it due to her dominating position. Becky won the absolutes by beating Rachel.
Thank you to all my opponents (Becky, Rachel and Oyinda) for giving me invaluable experience on the day. It was a pleasure to meet you on the mats, and I hope we do so again at some point. Two other team mates of my Jack (in the adult mens division) and Kenzie (in the boys division) both took medals home as well; silver and bronze respectively. Another clean medal sweep for Kaizen Academy!
Moving forward I have plenty of goals to work towards. After I left Newcastle I had two clear goals in mind for Manchester; 1) Don’t get swept by doing anything stupid, 2) Don’t end up in closed guard. Neither of those things happened, so I count that as a victory. I have multiple new targets to work towards:
- Work on my half guard sweeps from the bottom. I really want a chance to play my half guard top game, but to do that I’ve got to get there first! If my bottom game is strong and technical enough, it shouldn’t matter how much they weigh. Michael said he had some things for me to work on, so we’ll go through those and I’ll strive to improve.
- Work on my wrestling somewhat, so I perhaps have another option other than pulling guard.
- I want to improve my muscles. Every one of those girls was physically stronger than me. I don’t want to bulk up per say, but working on my overall athleticism can’t hurt.
- Attempt to figure out where the subs came from, and how to not let that happen again. As there aren’t any clear videos, this could be challenging, but I’ll rack my brains and see if I can figure it out.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the day and all of my matches. I was happy with how I played, and I’ve got a lot to focus on now. It’s the Kaizen comp in a couple of weeks, and then I’ve got a break for a bit, but I know there’s some comps in late summer that I want to take part in.
Thank you to my coaches Michael, Adam and Kieran for being awesomely epic, and to all my training partners (especially my BJJ girls – Kasia, Cosima, Natalie, Jo, Amy, Kayleigh and Andreana) for being supportive and awesome.
Until the next one,