I am so average.

Photo and video at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday was the Copa South Japan BJJ Cup. I entered both my category and the absolute, and lost by submission in both of them.


I have no excuse other than I just wasn’t good enough. I did quite a lot of training for this, in the dojo and out, and felt ready, but my skill and my conditioning just wasn’t up to par. I was tapping people of all belts out left right and centre in the dojo but on the competition mat it wasn’t nearly so easy.

My coach always tells me about when he was starting out. I think he said he didn’t lose a fight at all at blue belt. There’s someone unique. Me, I’ve lost all four of my fights so far… I think I’m resigning myself that blue belt is going to be a long hard slog of painful averageness. It’s just going to be a question of putting the time in before I get better.

My pace, my pace, as they say in Japan.

In the first fight, I thought I had him in the first minute. I sunk in a pretty deep triangle almost immediately and squeezed for all I was worth. But he was slippery, and managed to escape in the end. On video the fight looks quite close but he scored a lot of points on me after that. Then choked the shit out of me. That was really annoying. It was frustrating to be so close with the triangle and unable to finish. I need to work on my finishing.

In the second fight I was a little scared. I was up against a 90-kilo monster in the absolute. (I’m about 67.) I just watched him wrench an 86-kilo guy’s leg till something went pop. It was the first time I became quite worried about being injured.

I went for it though and when I got my hands on him he didn’t seem to have the godlike strength I imagined him to. I was able to work from guard for a bit, threaten with a couple of sweeps, but then he started to pass before going for a leglock. That was pretty surprising, it’s the first time anyone has ever gone for my leg in a comp. I was able to defend but he was so big I couldn’t take his back. He switched to the guard and triangled me. I held off for a gentlemenly few seconds and when I started to feel blackness closing in, I tapped. And tapped. And tapped some more. But the fucker didn’t let go.

He only held on for a few extra seconds but with somebody that big squeezing your head a few seconds is enough. I felt like I was going to sleep but managed to muster up the energy to slap him on the back a few times so that it was very obvious I was tapping.

He had held it because the ref hadn’t seen that I tapped. He held it until someone saw it.

I think that was unnecessary. Even if nobody saw it I would have acknowledged that I tapped and he would have won. Still, I guess the guy wasn’t taking anything for granted and if it meant nap-time for me then so be it.

Lessons learned:


2) I need to be physically stronger.

3) Train, train, train.

I really don’t have the slightest bit of an imposing presence on the mat, whereas most of the other guys there look tough and mean. I don’t have that going for me, so I need to make sure my strength and skills are up to par to be able to compete. Still, even at this local competition, and only at blue belt level, the winners are serious motherfuckers. Everybody who won on the day was ripped when they took their shirts off. No hobbyists here. These guys are in the gym lifting when they aren’t on the mat training.

There is another competition in June so I’ll treat this one as a tune up and do my best in the next one.

Oh, and I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick (and his girlfriend), author of Murasaki BJJ, a fellow jiu jitsu blogger. He is a blue belt himself but currently too far away from a dojo to train regularly. It was great to meet him and I hope to see him at future competitions. I forgot to ask… what weight are you dude? I don’t want to fight you, I have a losing record against Hawaiians!

On to the video.

I was feeling so good in training that I started making a video. I was enjoying this epic song I found (Last Man Standing by Hybrid) and so started making something epic. Then I turned out performing pretty crappily, so the video is kind of aborted… still, enjoy!

17 Responses

  1. thanks for the comment.

    yeah, Axis rolled in like, sixty deep or something to the Rickson Cup. not surprising since they’re like, the heart of the new federation.

    no big blue belt named Mario, but he’s probably bigger than I am (middleweight) and i didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the other divisions.

    re: finishing the triangle, where are you getting stuck?

  2. Awesome video. The gratuitous U2 is a nice change of pace…

    I think you looked fairly awesome, from a white belt’s perspective. That is, um, up until the end. I can’t imagine what competition is like, especially with a bunch of expressionless japanese guys with huge chops.

    Did the triangle attempt sap you a little bit? I guess that applies physically and mentally when he escaped…

    With that burly heifer, do you think sexy pecs would help? I ask because I’m a little guy (I don’t know kilograms, but I’ll guess I weigh…1 kG) and I’ll never be stronger than 3/4 of the guys I’ll roll with. Are you questioning your functional strength, or are these guys stronger and more technical?

    Sorry for all the questions. I think it’s great you video yourself and would like to hear how you troubleshoot, something I have no clue how to do.


  3. troubleshooting the triangle

    first off, you didn’t get enough angle. you got a bit, but not enough.

    second, you were switching from one point of rpessuer to another without maintaining the last. To finish the triangle you need to:
    a) hips up
    b) squeeze thighs together
    c) pull the head down.
    You were alternating between them but not committing to any of them.

    Use your hips more on the triangle. You wanted to bring his arm across more, so next time bridge your hips up to the sky and suck him back in, pulling his arm across at the same time.

    Or, use that hip motion to hit a sweep. then you get points AND top position.

    Also, lastly, try attacking the free arm with a kimura or something. Freaks people out.

    Hope that helps 🙂

  4. If you’d thrown either of those guys at the start, I’d have sent you a biscuit.
    If you’d thrown both, I’d have sent you a case of Irn Bru.

    Feel free to use this as motivation for your next time out.

    You do get points for throws in BJJ matches, right?

  5. The triangle looked good to me except his arm could have been closer to his head. Like Hywel said I usually raise my hips pull his arm across to the other side and collapse my hips back down it kind of locks the trapped arm in between your stomach and you’re thigh. then lock it in however you lock it in. I usually grab my ankle and twist which we call screwing it in.

    The other thing I try to do is pull the head down towards the arm thats trapped to put more pressure on that side of the choke because thats usually where the space is.

  6. Hang in there man & keep competing. For strength, get on a serious (3-4x/week) weight training program if you haven’t already done so. One hears BJJers say all the time that strength doesn’t/shouldn’t matter and this is of course pure crap. Make sure to incorporate some core strength-type elements (e.g., CrossFit-type exercises) into your program too. You’ll find it will make a huge difference for you when you roll. I’ve done BJJ and lifted for years, and I’m finding that this core strength stuff is really taking me to another level conditioning/strength wise.

    Love the Galvao-Vieira video, BTW. Galvao (along w/Robert Drysdale, Kron and later Telles) were all at Axis last week before the tournament in Hamamatsu. Physically, Galvao is a mutant, a true specimen from another planet. I rolled with him a little when he was here in 2006, although I hesitate to call what I did “rolling”. I just kind of ragged and flopped wherever he wanted me to. This time he took one of our strongest, most talented guys and (in the guy’s own words) repeatedly and effortlessly raped him. Crazy strength in addition to amazing technique, flexibility, agility, etc., etc. Simply awesome.

  7. Good job of not getting pissed at that guy pulling off a Renato Sobral on the triangle…..

  8. You are my hero, Matt 😉 I would have been upset at that big bastard. Actually, since I was there, I was. Anyway…

    Don’t worry too much about these tournaments. One day the victories will be pouring in. Till then it’s the small ones that count.

    BTW, I’m 63 kilos soaking wet. Or with a gi on.

  9. tokenminorities… did you get to see rickson much?

    Ram… thanks for the comments. glad you enjoyed the U2. hey, its my video and i can stuff it full of awesome irish pseudo-american mega-rock if i want to. im questioning my functional strength, and really just looking for any advantage i can get on the mats. i dont need large muscles, but perhaps a little more functional strength and muscle endurance (for example, being able to clamp on the triangle tighter, and hold it for longer.)

    hywel… thanks for the excellent advice. you clearly watched closely…. not committing to all three might have been exactly it. although watching the video again it is very frustrating. he scored a lot of points on me but i was very easily able to reclaim guard or nullify his attack each time. i just got caught snoozing in north south and got choked.

    david m, you do indeed get points for a throw and i will be holding you to your offer. my uchi mata is coming along, look for that in june. i will try to scream “this is for you david” in my best scottish accent as i do it.

    tanner… sound advice. im going to turn the triangle into my weapon of choice.

    tom… thanks for the comments. im definitely going to be working on my strength. at the moment i lift some 15 kilo dumbbells once or twice a week, and do different kinds of pullups, situps and pressups in various combinations about twice a week (outside of normal classes.) im going to ramp it up and be more regular. you got to see galvao do his thing huh… lucky you. those guys are on another level.

    jj365… i kind of threw my belt to the floor just off camera in frustration but to be honest i wanted no beef with that beast.

    patrick, thanks dude, i am going to be patient and use the fights as a learning experience. good to see you are out of my weight class, but i might see you in the absolute, hahaha!

  10. Dude! that was a great video. Don’t be so hard on yourself you did great. Im really proud of you. Keep it up! and next time you’ll kick some butt 🙂

  11. And I, in turn, will definitely be holding you to that promise.

    Incidentally, Uchimata is my number 1 throw (some say only throw!), and I would be delighted to pass on tips, tricks, advice and dire warnings.

    And another thing, for fitness/strength, are you familiar with the work of Ross Enamait?
    Look him up – http://www.rosstraining.com – he’s got some excellent ideas for strength and conditioning training for combat sports.

  12. sadly, no. rickson was there to give the opening speech, then he sat in some private room or was escorted around by big ass brazilian guys in sharp-looking suits all day. except for when he was cornering kron, of course.

  13. I’m lucky enough to have a good friend that’s a trainer (and Scottish, from Arrrrrgyle, Clan Campbell) who listened to what I wanted to do, took the time to learn about the sport and tailored a training program for me. I was in decent shape, but was miles from BJJ shape. Continuing my cardio regimen of running, BJJ and lifting twice a week each, it took three months for me to able to handle six 5-minute rolls. This time last year, they would’ve been cremating my body on site.

    Each workout is two parts: hardcore, pants-shitting weight followed by stabilization lifts with much lower weights. For example, I’ll do short reps (8-10) of my body weight on the machine, immediately followed by 20 bench presses with 30 lb. dumbells on the workout ball. His whole focus is building stability and endurance, with top-end burst strength coming in second. It’s a total endurance test (i.e. skullfuckery) but it’s translated directly to class. Maybe something along these lines will help when you deal with your own Douglases*.

    *Douglas: 320-lb black man who knifed his shoulder into my solar plexus and left it there for 4:51 at my last class.

  14. hobo – thanks man! looking forward to training with you in 2009.

    david m – would love to hear your uchi mata tips. tailor them for a complete beginner would ya!

    tokenminorities… im not surprised, still it would have been nice for rickson to be milling around with the plebs…

    ram… your routine sounds good. im basically stuck on my own out here and i dont have the time, money or japanese ability to join the gym or work with a traininer so i am kind of just making stuff up on my own. but i will try to be sensible about it and be regular about it and i should be able to improve myself.

  15. well in that case Rosstraining is def for you. That guy has some seriously cool training ideas.

  16. You got it.
    Post up some vids forthwith!

  17. I like Dave Camarillo’s way of explaining the Uchi Mata in Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu. Especially with a gi, no-gi its harder i usually use and overhook. I’m an Uci Mata, Harai Goshi thrower.

    When i start i usually grad the lappel and work that grip up to behind there head, Then i grab there sleeve with my other arm. I push the lappel grip and pull the sleeve, you know the motion to get your hips in and trip but when i’m coming through i found it best to make sure you keep pulling there sleeve all the way through.

    A lot of times i miss but thats where harai goshi comes in.

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