Putting it all on the mat.

24 10 2010

Two and a half weeks ago I decided to enter my first jiu jitsu competition. Maybe NAGA wasn’t the best tournament to choose since it is poorly run, you pretty much wait all day to compete, the refs aren’t always the best, AND you have to pay for your sword if you win. But, since a lot of the boys were doing it (especially the ones that I am closest to), I figured this would be the best way to start. I suppose the significance of this was greater than I thought, as it symbolized my courage to put everything out there after 6 years of training (of which only 6 months or so have been just in jiu jitsu). It is always good to challenge yourself, even if that means losing — in front of a lot of people.

A week ago, I decided to cut weight. It was probably not the smartest thing to do in a week, but I tried… and was successful. I unhappily weighed in at 119.0 on Friday. In hind sight, it was probably the best and worst thing that I could have done. I was exhausted from cutting, but it made competing in that weight class much easier with smaller girls. After a weekend of eating (almost to the point of getting sick on Friday night after weigh ins — I think we all felt that way), I’m probably back to my usual walk around weight. But not to worry, it ends this week and I go back to eating healthier and getting stronger.

The whole process of this tournament sucked balls. They warn you beforehand that you will be waiting for your matches, as they don’t bracket until that day — if not, right before your match. So I waited… women were scheduled to go on Ring #1 after the 49.9 lb and under kids finished (approximately 11:30 am), but they ended up taking too long so we were moved to Ring #5. Nyza was all over the place, as there were 12 matches going on at the same time and between Naia, Clayton, Tyler, and I — he and Neil were all over the place. You could barely hear anything over the speaker, so there was a lot of confusion going on. I had to walk over to Ring #11 to ask Neil to come over after Clayton’s match to coach me if Nyza couldn’t make it, which was perfect timing since Clayton’s match ended before mine and Neil had some time to come over and talk me through some things before my match.

My first match was against Christy Pimental from Purebreed JJ on Kauai. It was bad enough that I realized half way through the women’s no gi matches that the gi matches were purely based on belt color, not by novice, beginner, intermediate, etc. like it listed. And then it finally occurred to me RIGHT before my match that these girls probably had 6 months+ experience on me (plus this wasn’t their first tournament), and that I possibly just set myself up for failure. I lost my first match on points. I kind of knew this was going to happen, since I’m so comfortable giving up my back. I didn’t have enough time to recover and regain a better position to submit, but it was a good learning (and humbling) experience. Plus, I fought a Kauai girl. Kauai girls are tough. I should know.

Christy fought Pam from Relson Gracie after our match. She lost by submission (I think). At this point, I didn’t think I had to fight again, but I did… since I was now fighting for second place. Had I known what the bracket would be, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so defeated after my first match. By this time, Nyza and Neil had left the mat and I had nobody to coach me. Luckily, Tammy was still there and tried to help. But it was too late, and I got arm barred shortly after the match started. It was a very disappointing performance for me, and as much as I’d like to blame it on unpreparedness and being uninformed, I can only blame myself.

So in the end, I got third place, challenged myself and have learned more about my game than I ever would have in training. I am blessed with an amazingly talented instructor and a great team, and I can only hope to dust off the disappointment, get better, and try again. If I waited until I was ready, I don’t think I would have ever chose to compete. But I’ve realized that not everyone has the courage to put it all on the mat, no matter how long they have been training. And that courage, is something that I need to be proud of.





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