On December 8th, Mid-America held an in-house BJJ tournament. They had two whitebelt divisions, under 30 & over 30 as well as a blue belt and kids division. I’ve heard there were over 100 people there that day.
This was my first exposure to competition in BJJ. I’ve done the sparring class for a whlie, but even that takes the approach of “You have 4 minutes, if you get tapped out, just reset and start over.” But the tournament was set that if you tap, you’re done.
I didn’t have high expectations for myself, but I was really excited for the tournament. My workday on Friday seemed to drag along slower than any in recent memory. Saturday came and I got to the gym about 8:40, the tournament was set to start around 9:30. At one point I was nervous that we wouldn’t have many people in my division, as most of the white belts I’d bet were under 30. In the end, we had 6 white belts over 30.
After the first match of the day, in our division, the names Nate & Paul were called out. I stepped up to the mat and found out there were 2 of us named Nate. They matched the other Nate up against Paul. Then a couple minutes later I was matched up against PJ. Turns out this was Paul’s son, I had been slated in the under 30 division. Both Nates lost to both Pauls, and so we swapped back into the correct divisions.
After that, my next match went the full 4 minutes before I lost on points. I don’t think I ever gained a dominate or advantageous position, but there were several scrambles and a lot of movement.
The third match also went the full 4 minutes and I lost on points there too (either 2-0 or 3-0.) It was a much slower match. The other guy got a take down, and i was able to get half-guard. I didn’t really know what to do so I just made sure he couldn’t attack my arms or choke me. I wanted to escape, but I was worried that if I opened my guard up, he’d get a better position.
My fourth match was pretty quick. My opponent did an arm-drag, and I wound up turtled up. He was able to pull an arm out and tap me.
My final match was probably the most dissappointing to me. I had gained mount once and the back twice. The second time, however, I crossed my ankles and as soon as I did, I was tapped out by some sort of ankle lock.
Overall, I had a lot of fun, even going 0-5. And more importantly, I realized something during my second arm-bar loss. It was an armbar that I’d tapped to a few times already and I finally realized I was moving in the wrong direction. When my opponent would start to move towards side control, I’d roll so that my back was to them. At the same time, my top arm would be up, a second or two later I’d be tapping because that top arm was attacked.
As I sat and thought about the tournament, I realized if I had rolled to face my opponent on that arm bar, he wouldn’t have been able to get my arm. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have other attacks, but he wouldn’t have had that one.
Another thing I learned is that I’m not deliberate enough. I plan on writing a post about this at a later date, but I entered each match with more of a mindset of “Ok, let’s see what this guy does” rather than thinking about how I wanted to attack. My focus was completely reactionary. At first I thought I wasn’t being aggressive enough, but I noticed that others look very relaxed while rolling, but they are still deliberate.
I’ve been told a few times leading up to the tournament, as well as afterwards, that it’s probably one of the harder tournaments I’ll go to. More than one person has told me that they do pretty good at other tournaments, bringing home gold or silver, but go 50-50 at our in-house tournament. If that’s true, then maybe I’ll actually win a match at another tournament 🙂