I had a great time competing this past weekend at Brea Jiu-Jitsu’s free tournament. I was in the same division with 15 other folk, 2 of them being good friends. I’ve already mentioned this, but I really respect the friends I have in this division as they both work tirelessly and have what seems like effortless technique time and again.
We got to the venue early, checked in, checked my weight and watched some of the white belts. Scott and I talked about perspective a bit and how it changes as your game develops. More on that later.
Weighed in, relaxed and watched some more matches. The best part was that I got to bring JD along, my 10 year-old nephew. I was incredibly nervous, but he managed to make me think less about that; there was some open mat time at one point before the blues went and I got to wrestle around with him, warm up with a decent sweat and have some fun. That’s what jiu-jitsu is about – just enjoying the movement of it, the comraderie, the brotherhood on the mat.
When my name was called, I was nervous but had no fear. I didn’t look at my opponent until we faced each other across the mat and had no intimidating thoughts one way or another. My body told me I’d be going to war and I agreed. Scott talked to me about nerves beforehand as well, because I ordinarily suffer tremendously from them. I felt the nerves and apprehension, but as Scott said, “It’s normal. Tell yourself it’s a normal response and you’ll be fine.” — and he was right.
Standing on the mat across from my opponent, the nerves fell away, replaced with a desire to display solid technique and make my instructor proud. Though I don’t carry his name on my back via patch, I understand that I am representing him, his lineage and his technique.
We shake hands and circle. He pulls guard and immediately breaks my posture and throws up a triangle. I get worried that I’d lose so early on, hear Kenric in my ear telling me “Back straight, head up, Keith! Back straight, head up!” I escape to side control and he reclaims guard almost immediately. Guard opens and I look for the straight ankle lock for about 2 seconds before Kenric tells me “No!” and I go back to trying to pass.
Scramble, no points thus far and we’re both standing, but my posture is broken and he has a hand behind the head, looking to pull me to the ground. I go down and he tries to scramble to my back, but I sit out. I am now on top in half-guard. I’m up 2-nil, I believe. He tries to reclaim guard and I shut him out. Scramble as I go to mount and I end up on top again — half guard. I look for the kimura to no avail. Kenric and Frank are giving me excellent instruction the entire time, how to pull the lapel, to be patient, etc.
My opponent gets the underhook and I reclaim it. Shoulder pressure of DOOM, I tell ya, kids. I can tell he’s not comfortable and I am HEAVY on top, smashing as best I can, looking for the pass. I pass by sitting on my hip and hipping away, kicking out the quarter-guard foot to side control. 5-nil. I think there is a sweep in there somewhere and it’s 8-2, somehow. he locks his arms over my head from side-control and I go for the armbar, but fail miserably at retaining control, fall badly and he comes on top. There’s a scramble and I’m grabbing his lapel on top and he’s threatening the sweep. His knee comes out somehow awkwardly and Kenric is telling me to get a better grip and “SIT UP!” There’s another scramble and I end up on the bottom, with my left leg in the reaping position. There are 4 seconds left. Time is called early. I am disqualified.
As the ref stops time, I know I’m DQ’d. I know it and it sucks but somehow, I am not angry. I’m happy at my showing because I went out there and showed up, finally. My opponent went on to take gold in the division; knowing that, and how well I did against him – knowing I was ahead the entire time and in no danger of losing the match – I had some anger later that evening in the shower, but honestly – I showed up. I’ll get him next time.