9 Aug 2009

Grapplers Showdown Gi Challenge London Open 2009

On Saturday I entered the 2009 London Open run by the Grapplers Showdown crew at the Westway Sports Centre in west London. I wrote a formal report of the tourny for Fightworks Podcast which should publish in the next few days, so I'll save the wider details of the event for you to read there. But here is what happened with my fights...

Super Feather Animals

I turned up at the venue nice and early to find that there were no other rooster (galo - 57.5kg) or super feathers (pluma - 64kg) fighters listed at either adults or masters in my blue belt division. I had no choice but to agree to fight in the featherweight (pena - 70kg) division. I was a bit disappointed as I feared this heavier weight division would be too much for me (I weighed 58.4kg this morning without a gi).

So I just killed time by taking photos and chatting to folk. But after a while I saw one guy in a blue belt who looked my size. His name was Mark Stevenson and I think I've seen him in previous comps, but we've never fought since he is only 21. After a quick chat we both realised we were the same weight so the organisers agreed to let us fight in our own division, thus avoiding the feathers.

Well, as you can see from the video, I was outclassed. Genuinely I was out of my depth as I did not have any control (or grips) from the moment we started. It was a stark lesson on why old men like me should not be fighting 21 year olds! And 21 year olds who are both judo black belts and very very good blue belt BJJers on top! He got me with a RNC that didn't quite choke me, but his forearm was pressing so hard into my jaw that I had to tap.

But something very interesting happened after our fight, and medal presentation (a silver for my troubles). For some reason, the ref asked if we wanted another fight in the weight above?
We both said yes and so I waited, for my next fight...

Bish bash, how to squash a meerkat

Heck, this match was awful for me. I'm not really sure I gained anything out of this other than a real crushing. I did not get subbed, at least I can take comfort from my just-about-capable defending, but man my opponent was just too strong and too fast. Notice the easy foot sweep he gets at the beginning, and at one point, late in the fight, when he stands up and comes storming back to engage - I am bludgeoned into a pulp.

So what about my other pluma conqueror? Well Mark went on to defeat his first pena opponent by 2 points. Nice job but it was close and he was behind for quite a while. Mark's second fight was against my first round opponent. And remarkably, in this final, Mark won by submission (I think a lapel choke) fairly easily - to the shock of the pena crowd, and the delight to his Nova Forca team mates. So, little super feather animal Mark Stephenson, a humble, quiet and almost shy 21 year old blue belt wins gold in both the super feather division AND the featherweight division. An awesome accomplishment.

Team Mill Hill
Dan Strauss blitzed his way with submissions aplenty to win his lightweight blue division. It's high time he gets promoted to purple now.
Big man Salam won bronze in the super heavy whites and Dean lost on points in his divison.
But RGA scored some big wins; Oli Geddes won purple at his weight and in the absolutes. the top four fighters in the blue absolutes were also from RGA. David Khoza, a sometimes visitor to Mill Hill won his division.
Full results by clicking here.

I was pretty gutted after my first fight, and the second fight crushing just added salt into my wounds. I've had time to reflect and listen to wise words from my friends and peers and I don't feel quite so bad now. But losing really sucks. Especially if you lose really badly. I don't mind that I lose if, say, I am hanging in there pretty close and giving it back some - as per my previous competitions - but on this day, I felt like a little wabbit, lost in a scary hole.
It didn't help that Dan Strauss was fighting his final at the same time as me and so I was without corner support. My opponents in both matches had lots of encouragement and technical support from their coaches. I never realised how much having vocal coaching and support from the sidelines can help boost you in times of need. As discussed before about the mental talking that goes on within ones head during a match, mine was less conversation, more blind panic and helplessness. Quite overwhelming really. But I'm not complaining. It was a fun day out and it all adds to the BJJ 'experience-o-meter.'

It's not put me off competing. But I'll probably take a few months off the comp scene to concentrate on my BJJ without the pressure of an impending tournament, then we'll see. I think the Kent Open in November looks like a really good one to attend. Hopefully I'll get a division that suits me more closely than today.

About the Author


Author & Artist

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


slideyfoot said...

Mark has been training for ages (used to train with Oli G back when he was a white belt in Surrey): I rolled with him a few times at Nova Forca. No shame in losing to him! ;)

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Slidey. Yes everyone has good things to say about Mark. He's certainly a classic case of one of those guys who, perhaps due to his youth, hasn't been promoted to purple yet, but sure enough should be. He certainly fights like one and it was an honour to meet him on the mats.

Anonymous said...


The important question is this:
Who's the very attractive long haired brunette in the photo?

It's important that we know.

Peter McC

Meerkatsu said...

Dunno Pete. but if she's watching a match, chances are her boyfriend is fighting and chances are, he'll be bigger and scarier than you! HAHAHA!


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