To start, let’s look at my goals for the tournament yesterday:
- NO losses by submission
- Decide when the match goes to the ground
- Win by submission
- Have a winning record for the tournament
The only one I can definitively say I did was #5. I got silver in my gi division.
I thought about crossing of #2, that one is a bit more subjective. I got taken down twice, and had someone pull guard once. And that is the main reason I didn’t cross it off. But from talking to one of my teammates who was watching my matches, he thought I did very good standing up. Even when I didn’t take it to the ground, I put up a fight, attempted to gain position and work my take down. I did hit a double-leg, which was a first for me (I wound up in a guillotine, but that’s another story.)
Three of my losses were by submission, a guillotine, an ankle lock (that’s still a little sore), and some sort of weird Americana. I didn’t win by submission, I tried. I couldn’t get my choke sunk in and I couldn’t get an arm free when I had an arm-bar. Finally, I didn’t have a winning record, I wound up 1-5. Winning my first match in gi to go into the finals. Then losing every match after that.
First of all, I’m very happy with my silver medal. It was in gi, which if I’m only going to get one medal, I’d prefer it in gi over no-gi. And it wasn’t second out of 2. It was a 5 man bracket. So that could be the best medal I’ve gotten to this point. Also, this is the first tournament that I’ve won my first match at. The other 3 tournaments I’d lose the first match and wind up in the losers bracket. But this time I came out and won my match. Which I was happy about, because it meant I wasn’t starting slow.
The medal not withstanding, I was fairly disappointed with my performance in this tournament. For starters, I did a horrible job of relaxing and breathing in my first match. I was completely winded, for no real reason. It was bad enough that the rest between my first and second match was not enough for me to regain my breath completely.
Secondly, I didn’t really have a game plan for my matches. I think that hurt me. In the first two tournaments, my plan was to pull guard and go from there. For some reason though, I didn’t really want to pull guard, and my take downs weren’t great enough to hit with any certainty. In the past, I’ve gone in with a definite game plan.
To be completely honest, I think my biggest problem this weekend was a lack of mental preparedness. I’m NOT saying that my competitors weren’t higher skilled. They very well could have been. But my disappointment isn’t so much that I didn’t win 4 medals in my 4 divisions. It has more to do with my performance. As I thought about it last night, it made me think of a game like golf. In every golf match the players are competing against other golfers, but they’re also competing against the course. Someone could lose a golf match but have their best game ever, because it’s still a personal sport. Obviously BJJ is slightly different in that the guy I’m competing against is trying to impose his will. What he does has a direct impact on me. However, BJJ is also like golf in that there are still things for me to do regardless of what my opponent does. For example, my loss by guillotine was from me being in the bottom half-guard. He was able to get the choke and win, but there were things I could have done better, even if I lost. I could have worked on bumping him up towards my head, I could have worked on escaping my hips and getting out of the bad position, but I didn’t.
After the first tournament I was at, I was talking to one of my coaches, Charles. He won gold in his division, and I made some comment like “Well you won, so that’s all that matters.” He replied, “No, it’s not.” And I thought he was just saying that at the time because that’s something a coach should say. But I can start to see now how true that statement was. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to win a gold. It’s a goal, and I’m going to pull it off. But even in my win yesterday, I have a lot to work on and improve.
I left the tournament yesterday disappointed but not defeated. I will be back at Mid-America tomorrow working on all sorts of things that I need to work on. I’ll keep improving. The next tournament I sign up for, I will be more mentally prepared, I won’t make the same mistakes. And the best part is, I know that my team at Mid-America is just the group of guys I need to get me there.