22 Jun 2009

British BJJ Open - Part 1

Funny things go through your head when you are fighting. Weird things, random things and dark things. It is like time has stood still and you enter a battle - not only a battle with your opponent - but with your own subconscious. Take my fight at yesterday's British Open in Birmingham. I enter the mat, shake hands and begin. All is going swimmingly. I get to play all my favourite positions - bottom game, de le riva guard, spider guard, etc and I'm thinking Yeah baby! I'm flying here...just need a sweep, come on, where's that sweep...but then it all goes wrong

The Fight

My opponent, a nice chap called Enrique BTW, passes my guard. Now my thoughts turn dark and I start loathing myself. Hating my very stupid essence, how I could have let him pass? I hear voices in a foggy distance - my team mates yelling at me to turn and scoot my hips away. I yell back (in my mind) I'm bloody trying mate, grrrrr. But magic, I re-guard, but oh no, he passes again and gets the mount...disaster. I'm really hating myself now. The black cloud has descended and does not lift. I'm desperate for the killing to stop.

cheer up Seymour!

So yeah, anyway, my fight was a game of two halves. First half good, nice defence work, sweep attempts, second half, a points thrashing. Enrique was gracious with his win and I wished him luck for the final. As there were only four in our category, I shared the Bronze with my pal Vishal. For me, some lessons learned:
1. conditioning, boy I need to get me some of that cardio.
2. open guard sweeps - drill drill drill, especially from de la riva guard.
3. stop talking to myself midfight and get on with it ;)

Old Friends
Apart from the sting of losing, the whole tournament was awesome. I saw some amazing fights, with genuine world class talent on display. Eddie Kone, my old instructor, entered his first fight as a black belt. Sadly he only had opponents who were much heavier so despite a brave effort, he was simply outmuscled. But I'm happy Eddie is back on the mats and he told me he is hungry for more comps in the future (hopefully against guys his own size next time!)

Womens division
The womens brackets were hugely enjoyable. Because the British Open is such a big event (over 620 competitors) that meant a lot of women turned up, so the weight brackets were more fairly spread out. My training partner Dominique came up against the Pan Am gold medal champion Christine McDonagh. This was a great fight, so close all the way with neither party giving anything. Dominique lost eventually on points but considering her opponent's world class abilities, Dominique can be proud of her fight. Later on, in the women blue absolute, Dom did secure a satisfying win against another opponent, so she at least can draw comfort for getting a win on the day.

I took lots of photos, this is one of my favourites: women blue belts.

Other notable women fighters I watched were purple belt Caoimhe McGill - I interviewed Caoimhe for my Jiu-jitsu Sisterhood article. Caoimhe won her division and wanted to fight absolute, but all her fellow purple belt girls disappeared by the time the draw was announced. So she asked if she could fight in the blue absolute. This was a very unusual request but it was allowed and none of the blue belt women seemed to object - so my hat off to their sportswomanship!
Mill Hill visitor Pippa Granger was back on the mat after a few months absence and, despite her nerves, won a very good silver and fought with fire in the blue absolute. As one of the lightest girls in the comp, her technique and experience showed through with class. Unfortunately I didn't stay long enough to see who won the blue absolute - I'll post an update when the full results come out. Oh also one of the best womens fights I saw was Chun-Yee Cheng in the white belt absolutes. Chun-Yee is only 46 or so kilos but her first fight won through sheer speed and will-power. Everyone gave her a standing ovation, it was amazing to see the true spirit of jiu-jitsu for a smaller fighter to defeat a much bigger one.

Mill Hill medals
Mill Hill BJJ did come away with other medals. Toby Norways, one of our resident judo black belts won Gold in his division. A university lecturer by day, he told me he had been divising a way to use his favourite throw (tomo-nagae) in his fights, and true to his word, he executed a peach of a throw on his poor unsuspecting opponent. My fellow pluma, Paul 'Sugarmouth' won silver in his white belt division.
Dan Jones, a regular medal collector at comps sadlylos this first fight. He too went through what he describes as his dark phase during the fight and he wanted it to finish as soon as possible. Gavin, another of my regular sparring pals, fell asleep somewhere in the stadium. He missed his name being called and was DQ'ed. He was very upset, but a few words with Roger Gracie and he was allowed back in. Sometimes, it helps when your club head is the Absolute World Champion!!!
Oh man, I have so much more to write about, but I'll save any more post comp thoughts for part 2. I'll add a video of my fight and select bunch of fave photos. I've also posted an official report with the Fightworks Podcast, which should publish Tuesday tomorrow sometime. I write about some of the outstanding fighters of the day that I witnessed and how well the comp was organised overall.

Crew from the Mill Hill BJJ Club (left to right) Gavin, Clint, Dale, Toby (front), Dan, moi, Paul, Dominique.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Stumpy said...

Well done Meerkat and well done the Mill Hill crew! It's the hardest thing in the world not to listen to the negative thoughts that bubble up during stressful times, but you will find a way, I have no doubt about that. :)

Steve said...

Thanks for the narrative. Well done. Win or lose, the competition will tell you more about your game in one match than in a month of training in class.

I hope you got someone to videotape your match. While you'll want to cringe (at least, I do when viewing my own matches), it's extremely helpful to your training to see yourself roll as others see you.

Matt said...

Definitely agree with Steve re: videotaping. Get it done!

Well done for competing. The key to getting through those dark patches, for me, is to have gone through them a hundred times in training. Get smashed by the biggest, strongest guys in the dojo without giving up. My instructor calls it "stock". Building your stock. I also go jogging the night before a comp and pump myself up to Diego Sanchez levels of self confidence. That works, too.

Anyway, great writeup and I hope to roll with you soon.

Isaac said...

I know how hard to beat you are man, you gave him a really hard time.
And I know how hard to sweep is Enrique, my god!

No matter if you loose or win (well, winning feels a lot better) because you always learn from a competition, and that makes you better.

Reading that about the negative thoughts is really strange for me. The only thoughts I had during the fight were my next movement, his position and intentions or if I had to relax to save energy.
I didn't have time to think about anything else.

But the most important thing for me, is the people I meet.

Meerkat said...

Man, my fight video was so bad even Youtube won't upload it. I'm working on it!

Anonymous said...

It's a well-known phenomenon - a lot of cricketers struggle with 'Oh my God, how could I have let that last ball beat me?' and if they don't put it of their head they're trying to play that last ball when the next one comes in.

Of course, even Malcolm Marshall didn't generally try to twist the batsman's arm off, so it's not a great analogy, but you get my point...

Dave T


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