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So I headed off down to Liverpool this Sunday to compete in the latest event put on by BJJ 24/7 Events – I was expecting big things because the Manchester Open had been so good. More on that to follow.
Kaizen Academy was fielding its largest team to a competition yet, so I thought that that was really exciting. For many of the competitors it was their first “big” competition, so it was exciting for them as well. I predicted in the last post that we would come away with nine medals – we didn’t reach that total. Instead coming home with five – one gold, one silver, three bronzes. I think we would’ve got more if we’d have stuck around for absolutes (open weight categories), but due to the event overrunning by quite a lot, the absolutes were pushed right back to the end of the day (6pm) and most of the team couldn’t stick around that long in order to take part.
We arrived in time for the beginning of the event because one of my teammates was up in the first division at 10am. One of the things that was a little bit strange, and different from Manchester, was the fact that there was no warm up area. The sports hall we were in could just fit the four matted areas, with space around the edge to walk, and then the viewing gallery/medal podium, but there was nowhere to warm up or down.
Unfortunately Mat, who was up first, lost both of his matches in his division. The first one was to an accomplished Judo player who had a set game and a mean Americana. The second bout was lost to an RNC I think. Mat’s second match is available to watch here. It was Mat’s first big competition, however, and it takes a lot just to step up onto the mats and find out what it’s like when somebody is actually trying to beat you aggressively. It’s a totally different atmosphere to the rolls you get used to in the gym, even if you’re going hard with your partner.
At around the same time the no-gi masters -91.5 was taking place, in which Kaizen Academy had two competitors. Robyn was up first and lost a hard fought match. It was unlucky for Robyn because at one point he had a deep footlock attack on his opponent but that guy must have had feet of steel! He was able to escape and take Robyn’s back before sinking in an RNC – watch Robyn’s match here. Kam was also taking part in that division and he won his match in style with a flying armbar, sunk in once it reached the floor. Watch Kam’s match here. As a result that division yielded one gold and one bronze for Team Kaizen.
Up next in terms of Team Kaizen was Luke’s division. The organisers were extremely liberal with mat side time for competitors, which meant Luke was called about forty-five minutes before he actually stepped onto the mat! I think this was because matches were running to overtime a lot and the divisions weren’t moving as fast as anticipated.
I was also called to mat side in this time and had my first match whilst Luke was still waiting for his! I was up against a girl called Lucy Harrison, who was very smiley and lovely.
After an initial failed attempt to pull guard, I managed to get my butt to the mat but she escaped, causing me to roll and have to play half guard on the side that I’m not used to! This was a bit of a nightmare and it took me a while to secure my underhook. I eventually managed to get my hips out and secure a sweep into an over-under position. Initially I was okay at securing the leg, but then I got caught in a triangle. I struggled to escape for a while, almost managing it at one point, but with 16 seconds left on the clock before overtime, I could feel the world going grey at the edges so I tapped. Watch the full match here.
I also got thwacked in the nose at some point during this roll because as I stepped off the mat I noticed that there was blood on my face and hands. I ended up having to use some of the first aiders stuff to clean up. It wasn’t bad, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t break it. It must have just had a bit of a knock which caused it to bleed. I didn’t have another match in this division, which I thought was a little odd ’cause there were three of us and I was anticipating a round robin, so I got the bronze medal.
By this point Luke had fought two matches and was waiting for his final. He’d won both his first two matches in style with his characteristic footlocks. Both his opponents were good at defending them, but they succumbed in the end. Watch his first and second match. His final was going much the same way, but the guy had clearly been watching his previous matches so was doing his utmost to keep his feet and legs away from Luke. He managed to push the match to overtime and after a gruelling three rounds of overtime managed to clinch the gold. Watch the final here.
Then it was Neil’s turn in the -91.5 adult no gi. Neil took both of his matches to overtime and if it had been the standard points method of BJJ he would have dominated both his opponents. Unfortunately both his opponents were savvy in their overtime rounds and just managed to pip Neil to the post. It was unfortunate because Neil’s jiu-jitsu had been more technical during his rounds. Watch his first and second fight here. He was disappointed, but he needn’t of been, his jiu-jitsu was very good. Competition just sometimes gets the better of you.
Then it was time for my gi match, where I was once again up against Lucy. This match went better than my no gi match, and I found myself in a dominate position a few times. She had several good submission attempts early on but I defended those. Unfortunately I was unable to capitalise on this defence and ended up getting caught in a flying armbar at about 3.30 time wise. I attempted to wiggle free, and nearly had my elbow out, but she put it on deeper and I decided it wasn’t worth a broken elbow so tapped! I was actually quite pleased with my performance, despite getting caught, because I feel I was a lot more in control of my technique and that it was just a good match. Watch the match here. So once again I picked up bronze in that division.
The team’s final competitors the day was Jack Morgan. It was his first major competition as well, but unfortunately he lost his first match and due to the fact he was in a stacked bracket meant that he didn’t get another one.
I am so so proud of my team though. As I mentioned earlier, for many of them this was their first “big” competition, and they all rose to the challenge really really well. It made each of them aware of the atmosphere of competing, the potential adrenaline dump that can occur, the aggressiveness of opponents, the noise of spectators etc. etc. It’s very very different to rolling in the gym. All of them are aware of the bits of their games that they want to work on now, and we’ll come back stronger than ever at the next one.
As for myself, I’m going to be working on my submission defences, and securing dominant positions. I was able to get into good positions, but then struggled to maintain them long enough to progress. It’s the North West Open in about four weeks, so we’ll see what happens there. The brackets already look bigger than normal for that and not everyone’s signed up yet!
Until next time,