Yesterday I competed in Kleos VII: Mad Mats, in no-gi BJJ. It was at High Wycombe Judo Centre, which is quite a way from me it has to be said! I travelled by train across from Lancaster to Sheffield the night before, and then the lovely Maia Holmes drove us down to High Wycombe on the day of the competition. We got stuck in a little bit of traffic around Bicester and Oxford, and I was a tiny bit worried we wouldn’t make it for weigh in, but in the end it was fine and we arrived with about half an hour to spare.
The venue itself was quite small, but Kleos had purposefully limited the number of competitors, so that they could get finished in good time. The women’s divisions were the last of the day (besides the absolutes), so I weighed in just before 2pm. I came in well under weight (around about 51.5kg) and was right at the bottom of my weight class. This is something that I am definitely going to work on – gaining some muscle and putting on a bit of weight. I want to sit, ideally, around a comfortable 54/55kg no-gi. I think that would be perfect. The extra strength that gaining that bit of muscle would give me as well would be very invaluable.
Anyway, I headed out onto Mat 3 to have my matches. I was up first against a girl called Christie. I always find it a little difficult to remember exactly how my matches go down (in the heat of the moment you’re not really attempting to remember what’s happened) but luckily there’s video evidence! I pulled guard and immediately secured my underhook, I managed to get my hips out to the side and come up onto my knees, but my opponent managed to free her legs and come on top of me as I turtled. I then got back into half guard, but was unable to get as good position as the time before, due to the very good positioning of my opponent’s arm across my face! I had the underhook secured again, so I knew if she attempted to pass I would be able to take her back. This didn’t improve my position, however, with my back flat on the floor. She won an advantage for getting my shoulders to the mat. She then passed into three quarter guard, from which I usually try and regain my half from. Unfortunately, she managed to pass my legs, but I immediately shoved my arms under her legs, denying her the four points for the mount (sneaky!). I then managed to escape from underneath, but she pressured down on top of me again and I was back into the turtle position. She pressured me out of turtle, but I managed to reclaim my half guard yet again. At one point I was on my way to deep half guard, but her arm against my face denied me that position. I then worked onto my side again, but couldn’t build a secure enough base from which to come up and sweep. It was as we were struggling in this position that she managed to pass my guard into side control. She tried to secure knee on belly, but I denied her the position by rolling into her. Time was called (although it took my opponent a few moments to realise!) and the final score was 2-0 to Christie. Well done!
I was a little disappointed to say the least, but as I always think, in the venerable words passed down from the BJJ gods ‘you win or you learn,’ and I was immediately thinking about what had gone wrong, and where I could improve.
I had a one match break between that and my second match, against Bryony Harrington. I was just thinking it was rare that I’ve met another Bryony with her name spelt the same as mine, and at the competition yesterday there were three of us (another Bryony was in the Blue belt category)!
The similar names made it a little difficult for the spectators to call out and support, although as she had her team members there and I was on my tod, I was pretty sure I knew who they were calling for! I didn’t immediately pull guard, attempting to secure a collar grip first, but after a modicum of hand fighting I went back to the old faithful and pulled into half guard, securing the underhook. Her shoulder and arm pressure was immense across my face and jaw. Her team told her to “keep heavy on that shoulder” and boy was she taking their advice! She won an advantage for getting my shoulders flat to the mat. She then tried to pass into ¾ guard, but couldn’t quite get her knee down before I managed to get my hips out and back into half guard. She then managed to pass into ¾ guard after a few moments of effort, despite my best attempts to stop it. I then re-secured half guard by getting some space back between us. This process repeated itself again, with me ending up flat on my back again. With 1.30 to go I thought that I was going to lose this match, but there’s was no bloody way I was giving up. I managed to get out onto my side again, and come up onto my knees, sweeping her in the process, before passing into side control. She was certainly a very good wriggler, and it took me a lot of effort to secure the position without her getting away. I then passed into mount just as the ref stopped the match for us to reset, and he made us reset with me in side control. She turned onto her belly to try and throw me off, but I regained the mount position. She then caught my foot and did a very credible attempt at a sweep, but I managed to escape and get to my feet. We then had a rather aggressive wrestle for about ten seconds, before I pulled guard again. By this point I knew the score was 9-0 and that I only had about ten seconds to go, so I was just thinking “survive, survive, survive”. I wasn’t really thinking about advancing my position or attempting to go for anything, I was just purely on the defensive. She attempted some kind of Ezekiel choke, but it wasn’t overly effective because it was no gi. It was still fairly unpleasant, but it was manageable. Time was called, meaning I’d won the match on points. It was an extremely hard fight and I’d had to really push for every modicum of space that I’d managed to attain. Well fought Bryony 2!
I then had a third fight. I was the only one in my division who had to fight three times, and by this point I could feel the energy draining a little. I know most guys will scoff at this, because in their divisions they’re used to fighting 3 or 4 times to even get a sniff at the podium, but I’m not used to it. I’ve only ever had two fights maximum at a competition in any one weight class. In that sense it was extremely good practice and well worth the very long journey. More time on the competition mats is more time won in my opinion.
Anyway, my third match, for the gold medal, was against the girl who’d I’d fought first – Christie. So the way it worked (I think) is that there were two semi-finals, and I’d fought in both(!) and then progressed to the final to fight again. I didn’t pull guard immediately in this fight, instead opting to wrestle somewhat. I tried to remember what Adam had taught me in that one wrestling lesson I’d attended (I will be coming to more this month, I swear!). We both secured collar grips and I tried to get my weight over her. She dropped to her knees, attempting to force me to the mat, but then she came back to her feet. She then had quite a credible attempt at a hip throw, but I remembered my brief Judo days and managed to distribute my weight so she couldn’t throw me. She then managed to secure a take down by dragging me to the mat, with her weight on top of me. I managed to secure half guard and this time was a lot more cautious about her arm position on my face. I had the underhook, so I battled to maintain my closeness to her hip, managing to deny her the face pressure. She then managed to escape her legs, but I turtled, denying her the points. She then climbed onto my turtle, but couldn’t get her hooks in for the four points on the back take. She rolled but I defended the hooks, but she managed to sink in a deep RNC. I tried to defend it, but that point I had very little left in the tank and couldn’t peel her arms away, so I tapped. It was a good win from Christie.
So I took the silver because I’d lost in the final. I was pretty happy with that, but I’ve got a lot of things on my list to work on.
I signed up for absolutes because I thought why the heck not? I’d travelled all the way down there and wanted to get as many matches as possible. For the absolutes they mashed the white and blue belts in together, and in an extremely expedient form of natural selection, the three white belts got knocked out by the blue belts they fought. I was up against the blue belt Bryony. I can’t actually remember how she won (there isn’t a video for this one), but it was some kind of choke. I was just pleased I managed to survive for over two minutes! It’s all good experience though. I had a very enjoyable time and had some great matches. I was a little disappointed I didn’t win my first match, but as far as I can see I didn’t make any huge mistakes. There were just some small things that if I’d done them better, or managed to execute properly, then it would’ve been harder for Christie to gain those two points that won her the match. I’m not in any way attempting to devalue what Christie achieved, she had some great matches yesterday and came out the victor.
It was great to see so many girls there yesterday, there was about fourteen of us, which considering it was a capped entry competition I thought was pretty impressive. War Hammer next year, yeah ladies?
Anyway I had a good competition, came away with an pretty dope silver medal, plenty of things to work on, and I’m excited for the next one, which as it stands will be in Glasgow on the 3rd September.
Massive, massive shout out and thank you to Maia for putting me up the night before the comp, driving down and back up, competing, winning a gold and a silver, and all of this on a pretty horrible weight cut of 4.5kg in a week. You’re a champ!
Watch out for Maia’s Spotlight feature, coming in the middle of August…
Anyway, until next time,