Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 IBJJF Houston International Open

The IBJJF visited Houston last weekend and I was fortunate to be healthy enough to partake.  Last year was a particularly difficult one for me in terms of staying healthy.  I had multiple injuries that kept me from being able to compete (only 1 tournament for the entire year).  I had this date penciled in as soon as it was announced and even managed to squeeze in a tune-up competition in late January to knock off the rust.  Let me preface this post by stating that I have a true LOVE / HATE relationship with competing.  I like the preparation portion of competitions okay but the nerves that plague me at times is not a lot of fun.  I have heard from high level competitors countless times that the only way it ever gets easier is by doing it more often.  I can attest there is some truth to that.  For the rest of us "mental people" I think it gets better to a degree but many of us will never know what it's truly like to have no real pressure.  I think that some of us are just wired differently and those people that can compete with nerves made of steel...I envy you!

I am technically a Senior 1 by the IBJJF standards and intended to compete as such this weekend.  I have found out through my progression in Jiu-Jitsu that as you get older and more experienced there are less competitors.  This is particularly common if you are as light as me.  I compete down at Feather and rarely ever see anyone at my size and skill level in the Master division at the local tournaments.  I had hoped to have more luck at this tournament which is historically very well attended.  So much so that the IBJJF made this a 2-day event.  My luck wasn't so good in that regard.  As the tournament approached there was no one signed up in my division.  There wasn't even anyone in the Masters division for me to compete against.  Rather than drop all the way down to Adult I opted to move up to the Lightweight division.  I knew this was a gamble because walking around at 148lbs lately I could would be giving up around 20lbs.  The division had four other guys in it so that's what I decided to do.  When the brackets were posted I wasn't terribly pleased.  I managed to draw the long straw and ended up on the long side of the bracket.  If I was going to win my division I would definitely be taking the long way there.  Thank God the matches are only five minutes!

Just a heads up.  The videos are available in HD so you may have to go all the way to YouTube to view them that way.  They are playing at a much lower resolution on my blog from the looks of it.  

Match 1

I had never seen this competitor before and only know he's a local Gracie Barra guy.  He was pretty strong right off the bat but I was able to secure a crossover sweep and float on him a bit as he did a good job of escaping the mount.  In preparation for this tournament I had been playing a lot of DLR guard and Berimbolo when it presented itself.  As I came up from the Berimbolo position he moved into a pretty deep reap position.  I don't usually cheer for a DQ but I was okay with this one.  I think I would have gone on to win the match regardless and the shortened match gave me a good break going against a fresh guy in the 2nd round.

Match 2

I was a little familiar with Chris Matthews (BTT) as he's done the NAGA tournaments but I had never seen much footage of him.  He was definitely a strong guy and was difficult to break down in the closed guard.  At around the 1:47 mark I ate a big knee to the chin but was lucky to recompose guard and prevent the pass.  I had been drilling a series of DLR sweeps and the technical stand-up from this position was one that I was working on if my other options were unavailable.  That was a critical point in the match that swayed the points in my favor.   At 3:26 I missed a huge opportunity to see the lapel draped over his neck.  I heard my coach yelling to feed it but failed to notice it completely.  Of course I opted to feed my OTHER lapel which almost landed me into a reversal.  I somehow spider-monkeyed to stay afloat.  He had a great sweep opportunity at 4:05 and again I was very lucky to avoid that as well and hang on for the win. 

Match 3 (Final)

I was very fortunate to face smaller guys in the first two matches but finally ran into someone with some considerable size in the final.  I can honestly say that I had no idea how much trouble I was about to get into during this match.  I should have completely abandoned my over hook game once he started feeding the lapel from the guard.  Initially, I thought he was attempting to trap my left arm with the lapel and sit back to open guard so I was focused on that and my own grip game.  Little did I know he was looking for an Ezekiel choke from the guard.  As common sense in Jiu-Jitsu would tell me, "no one would do that at this level right...???"  Well I was very wrong.  That choke came on so quickly I didn't really have any time to react because I was so concerned about my own grips from guard.  Very good lesson to be learned in this match. This is the first time I've ever been put out in competition.  Props to Ken for setting up such a good choke. 

All in all this was a great experience. I managed to finish second in my division and didn't have an easy route to get there, plus I went up in weight.  I was also able to fix a lot of mental mistakes and made some adjustments in the heat of battle that I failed to do in past competitions.  I'm happy that the team we took down to Houston (2-purple belts, 4-blue belts, and 1-white belt) did so well.  Almost everyone came home with a medal.  Nova Uniao finished 3rd over all in the points.

Academy Results

1 - Gracie Barra - 232
2 - BJJ Revolution Team - 190
3 - Nova UniĆ£o - 170 
Me & Professor JD Shelley

Me & my wife Lindsey
...and no competition celebration would be complete without a celebratory meal.  We hit up Tin Roof BBQ just east of the Woodlands (Humble, TX) when we left Houston.  This is a can't-miss spot if you like Texas BBQ.  


Once we got back into Dallas we had to stop for oysters at Pappadeux's.  

I've heard on good word that the IBJJF will return to Dallas May 5th.  Hopefully we will see you there!