Sunday, October 23, 2011

What I learned at the Miami Open.

This time around I didn't get out a competition what I normally do.  Normally, I see where the big holes in my game are, and what areas I need to focus on.

However, this time, I learned the value of what it is to be a good sport and good competitor.  I saw very clearly the opposite sides of the spectrum.

This may end up being a very long post, but it is what it is.  I'll just explain what happened.

My first fight started out well for me, I swept the girl three times, but was never able to establish a top position so I didn't receive any points.  At one point I had a gi choke sunk in, but she was defending, I didn't want to just crush her face, and I saw an opening for a sweep, so I took it instead.  Then she ended up back in my guard, and to prevent me from sweeping her again, she went for a can opener type guard pass... holding my arms down by my biceps.  I tried to go for an armbar, but hesitated since I wasn't sure if I could secure her arm with mine trapped down.  I didn't get the armbar, and we ended up in a scramble.  She tried to take my back.  I don't mean this in a cocky way, but at that point I didn't feel extremely threatened and was mostly just focusing on not letting her in hooks in.  I turned my head to see where her legs were, and I left my self open for a choke and she took it.  I don't mean to take away from her choke at all... she saw it, went for it and got it.  Good for her.

We ended up exchanging numbers.  She seems like a really nice lady, I like her a lot, and was happy to meet her.

Fast forward eight.... Yes, eight emotional hours, to absolute.  I was on the fence about doing it all day.. and the further it got pushed back, and the more tired I got the less and less I wanted to do it.  I mentally defeated myself in spite all of the encouragement I had, I finally decided I wasn't going to do it.  Not two seconds after I finally said, I wasn't doing it, one of the girls ran up and said, "Your up!"  ...  I got instantly pumped, handed my phone to Allie and ran to ring one.

The girl jumped guard and ended up wrapping my head up with my gi and grinding her forearm into my nose.  It hurt like a mother... and then I heard a crack.  It scared me (and hurt) so bad I almost tapped.  But my fear turned to insta rage, and I didn't.  To escape the face crush, I had to break her grip which tightened the grip on my face temporarily... but like I said, I had the insta rage, so I stuck it out.... then there was a second crack... and then a third....  I'm pretty sure I cursed under my breath, and I finally got my nose out of the way... only to leave her crushing my eye socket.  Though once I got my nose out of the way the rest was a little easier.

Once I got my face out, I was able to get her guard broken, leg pined and was 90% of the way out.... just in short of time being called.  If I had another 10 seconds I could have passed and secured side control for points, but alas...  no points were scored and she won because I had to work out of the 'choke' she had.

The thing that bothers me about it is that never once was she even remotely close to choking me.  It was just forearm to face the entire time.  I wouldn't begrudge her if she had the choke, and was trying to finish it, or didn't realize she had my face... but she knew it was my face, and she never had the choke or anything close to my neck.  To me, that is not Jiu-jitsu... Your opinion my differ, and that is fine.... I'm just stating mine.  I feel like when people have to rely on things like that, it means they don't have technique.  Or maybe, they would rather do that because it is easier route to victory.

I could have done something similar in my division, but I didn't.  I would rather lose a match then win by something underhanded or questionable.  More than gold, I want Fabio to be proud of me.  I want to have a good time, I want my competitors to have a good time.  Yes, I want to win, but I want to be able to look my competitors in the eye when I am done and be proud of myself.  If I break a nose for no good reason... that is nothing I would be proud of.  I think it is different if you have a submission locked in and someone is refusing to tap... and I am sure some people might think that is what happened to me... I should have tapped to the forearm in my face... but again, this is just my opinion, and even clear headed right now I feel like I made the right choice.  I didn't want to reward her for what I feel was poor grappling etiquette and bad technique... Am I in pain?  Yes.  Do I think she will remember?  Maybe not.  But if people continue to refuse to let her win that way, maybe she will stop doing it, and rely more on her actual Jiu-jitsu...which she did have; she wasn't without skill.

However, I realize the driving force behind competition is winning, and a lot of people are more than happy to do whatever it takes to get that done... and that is okay.  I just don't think its something to be proud of or something I personally am willing to do.  (I want to live in a world where we slide down rainbows and eat fluffy clouds and sunshine for breakfast too...) Or maybe I am just not cut out for the competition circuit.  It is what it is... however, I will continue to compete.. and maybe one day my Jiu-jitsu will be good enough to over come the brute force some people bring to the table.

Another match I saw a person grind their knee into the neck of the person they were grappling.  It was basically knee on belly, but replace the belly with neck. While the fight was going on, the person who had the knee in their neck... their coach was trying to keep them calm and walk them through the match.  He was saying things like, "They are getting tired.. You've got this!"  or "It is just brute force!  Use your technique!"  He was clearly just trying to encourage his student, trying to keep them focused and get them through the match.  At one point they had to move back to center, and when they got up, the person who was grinding their knee into the other persons neck, got up and started talking trash to the other persons coach.  Finally when everything was said and done, the knee grinder won.  No points were scored, but they were awarded the win for their aggression.  When they had their hand raised, they cursed at the other coach, ripped off their gi top and jumped up and down around the ring, beating their chest and screaming obscenities.  Honestly, it was the most poor display of sportsmanship that I have ever seen at a competition.

Meanwhile the other matches for blue belt absolute were going on, and I was talking to a lot of the other girls fighting... I met a girl from Sweden.  She came alone, and made a vacation out of it.  She was a really awesome lady, and I really enjoyed talking to her.  We also exchanged information.

Turns out the girl from Sweden was in the finals with the face crusher, and another dirty grappler.  So I warned her of the other girls tactics.  She thanked me, and ended up facing off against face crusher for gold, and won.  I pleased me to no end, a nice girl with good technique won the day.

So, in the end I came home with a bronze medal a broken nose, two new friends.... and a clear picture of how I want to compete, and what I want to be known for.  (You know if I am ever known for anything... lol)  And truly, a sense of who I want to be and how I want to repesent when I compete.

This competitions also had a lot of firsts for me.

My first competition as a blue belt.
My first IBJJF competition.
My first competition I went into without an existing injury.
The first time I got injured in a competition.
The first time I cried at a competition.  (Twice no less.  What a baby!  lol)
The first time I did absolute.
The first time I lost all of my matches.... however, no points were scored on me.  ... I mean aside from that one submission.  =)


  1. I felt like that at one of my competitions; that the person I was fighting was using a lot of brute meanness, and not a lot of Jiu-Jitsu. She ended up beating me two out of three times, and I was very frustrated to lose to someone with so little technique. I guess that's just the way it is sometimes, but it sucks.

    I'm lucky I didn't end up getting injured because of it, and I'm really sorry that you did :( You have so much more to be proud of than she does, and that's the most important thing.

  2. shit, so your nose is broken? what a complete b****.

    that is one of the things that can make competitions stressful-- the sportsmanship and agenda (i.e. winning at any cost, even if it means injuring someone or being dirty) of the competitor facing you is a total wild card. At least in the academy you train at there's a mutual trust that keeps things more safe. And even if there's a clown or two at the gym, you know who they are and can prepare accordingly.

    Sorry to hear you ran across someone lame. hope the nose heels quickly. At least you made some positive connections and hopefully learned some things to improve your game. Congrats on competing!!

  3. @Gina - It does indeed suck to lose that way. I'm not a fan of losing, but when I lose to legit BJJ it doesn't bother me. However, having only my face ground upon for several minutes... it just feels like anyone with limited knowledge of BJJ could do that... and it annoys me. Either way though, I am honestly glad it was my face that got hurt. I can still function with a broken face... injured limbs... not as much.

    @Kirsche - I don't know for sure that it is brokekn, but the horrible cracking sounds combined with the pain and swelling is leading me to believe it is. It isn't crooked, and I can breathe just fine so I probably won't do anything about it unless it doesn't start to get better on it's own.

  4. And the girls in absolute were a major factor in why I went back and fourth all day. I knew going into it that some of them grapple as though their lives actually depend on a win. It's annoying... and with as tired and drained as I was, I wasn't feeling up to a duel to the death. lol Buuut I did it anyway. Oh well! hehe

  5. Did you fight Maggie in your weight class? (I saw Maggie's podium picture on Facebook, and thought, "Hm, that girl in third looks familiar...", lol.) If so, she trains near enough to me that I see her at Open Mats and tournaments. And she is a nice lady.

  6. I did fight Maggie! She was my first one... the girl I swept but who refused to stay on the mat so I could get on top of her. lol She is very nice! Brave too... flew in and flew out on the same day, alone just to compete.

  7. Thanks, Stephanie and Leslie! I'm not a blog follower or anything, but I was pointed in this direction today for some reason :) It was great meeting you, and you did great; showed a lot of heart. No offense taken on "trying to take your back" - I believe I did get points for that though, as I didn't have hooks in, it was a body lock, which is why it may have seemed kind of weird, plus I was riding high, and then rolled to the right for the choke.

    The main thing is that you came, you fought, and you will indeed grow from this. I absolutely agree that the nose crushing business is totally unnecessary. I do think some compete for the W more so than for the learning experience, and to gauge technical ability/areas that need improvement. It happens - I've been told I had my first MMA fight at a Grappler's Quest tournament, lol. However, in the DC/MD/VA area, we have a lot of women with a good network, and who are civilized competitors, dedicated to the love of the sport/lifestyle - you should come this way sometime :)

    Anyway, great meeting you, again, and if you have pics/videos to share with me, since I had no one there, it would be wholeheartedly appreciated. Keep training hard!!

  8. I tapped to a "shoot I think she just broke my nose" at a tournament once and I regretted the hell out of it. I was in a reverse triangle (I was in top side control and she stuffed my head between her legs) and she scissored her legs hard around my head, my nose cracked and popped and I freaked out. I wish I hadn't, to this day. I think you made absolutely the right decision and I hope she uses this as much as a learning experience as you did. :)

  9. I hate people who grapple with no skill. Brute force sucks ass. It should be up to the ref to see that the forearm wasn't across your neck so no choke advantage be given.

    And this guy taking his top off, jumping up and down and disrespecting another coach. That just ain't Bjj. If anyone from my club pulled some shit like that my instructor Ian would make sure they were shut up.

    At the end of the day, how they act/compete reflects on their instructors. I would of thought any instructor that respects the art he is teaching and how his students portray his version of the art would ensure his students behave/act/compete in a fair and appropriate manner.

    You should be proud of yourself, coming away with a medal, conducting yourself in a manner that would make your instructor proud and not giving that beast in the open weight the tap that she hadn't earned. Productive day in my opinion.

    Hope your nose gets better soon \m/

  10. It sucks but it will make you a better bjj student. Imagine if we got to the higher belts (brown or black) and never felt that? It would be embarassing to get caught off guard. I remember the first time I really felt shoulder pressure at a tournament and I was like "holy cow". Great performance though and glad you competed.

    I remember taking a knee full on to the face (it was an accident) during a tournament and I was waiting for the apology from my opponent. It never came,he just stared at me and we went back at it. Oh well, jiujitsu eh?

  11. @Maggie - I may not have noticed the body lock due to the choke. lol I switched focuses once I the choke started happening. I checked the score board after the match and it was all zeros... Though, they were pretty quick on resetting them. And sadly - None of the match was recorded! Another team mate of mine was on the mat right next to us, and they were all expecting the girls to be in the same ring so no one noticed our match one ring over. I'm pretty bummed! The matches happen so fast it is hard to remember details, so I always enjoy looking over the videos. Oh well! Next time!

    @Georgette - I do feel like I made the right decision... though every now and then when I accidentally smack myself in the nose I question it. lol

    @The Martinator - Thanks! I'm in the same boat... if anyone from my school ever acted that way, it would be shut down with the quickness. I think what it all boils down to is respect for your instructor.

    "A leader leads by example not by Force." ~Sun Tzu

    Nothing would please me more than, being compared to Fabio at some point in my BJJ career.

    Anonymous - I agree. It does suck, but it will make me a better grappler. Fabio actually said to me after the match that at least now I know I can fight with a broken nose... and that is a valid point... If I never need to use my Jiu-jitsu to save myself from something other than losing at a competition, I already know I can keep going with a broken face. hehe

  12. First of all, congratulations on competing! There are so many people out there who will never know the fear, tension, pain and joy of getting into the ring or onto the mat. It is one of the many things that makes BJJ so powerful; there are a multitude of venues for competition and, thankfully, an increasing number of women willing to compete. It is hard to go to a tournament and feel like you've been cheated (not saying any of them cheated, but that you yourself feel cheated out of your best performance), but it damn sure makes you hungry to compete again.

  13. Wow that's just crazy! Sorry to hear you broke your nose. :(

    And honestly, brute force majorly sucks. I'm so glad (not the broken nose bit!) that you were able to open her guard, pin her leg and nearly pass though! I guess that just shows that you have a lot more technique than having to rely on 'a forearm to the face'.

    Some people will argue that brute strength is part and parcel of competing but there's a major diff between forearm to the face and popping an elbow due to an armbar or a dislocated shoulder due to a americana. To me yanking a submission is bad sportsmanship but not necessarily bad technique. However stupid nonsense moves like breaking your nose through a forearm to the face is even worse and shows no understanding of jiu jitsu at all.

    I hope your nose gets better! :(

  14. @LA - Thanks! That is what I have been telling myself the past few days. It is hard to be proud of yourself when you just straight lose all day. lol And you are right about wanting to come back with a vengeance! Redemption... I need it!

    @SL - Thanks! I fact that I was able to nearly pass he guard makes me happy. Passing guard is hard work, and I suck at it. It would have been amazing if I'd be able to get points and beat her in spite of her face crushing... but I know, and she knows I was about to pass... and I couldn't have gone on anyway... it just would have been nice to stick it to her with a guard pass in the last seconds. .. and my nose is already getting better! I could blow it last night for the first time in almost a week! hahaha Its funny what you can take for granted sometimes!

    And I agree... some people think brute force and face crushing type tactics go hand in hand with competition... and clearly it does... It would just be nice if more people valued the sportsmanship aspect of the game. They do call it the Gentle Art after all.

  15. Congratulations, a bit late. Let me just say that you totally rock and that I have more respect for your performance than for anyone who fights dirty and wins. Unfortunately, I bet your dirty competitor didn't learn anything because in the end she got the W. That's all she came for and it seems like she didn't care how she got it.

    Hope your face feels better soon.

  16. Thanks Shark Girl! And my face is actually starting to feel much better! If I could just stop kneeing myself in it I would be good to go! lol