Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grapplemania XIII

A few things made me proud this tournament:

1) My school had 6 first time competitors, including my hubby Jason Mask. There's nothing quite like stepping on tournament mats for the first time - it wasn't that long ago that I did it myself, so I remember what it's like. My new teammates all had great attitudes and put everything they had on the mats.

2) My training partner Jeff Shaw had the tournament of his life - at least so far (I have full confidence that there are even more impressive tournaments in his future). He entered all 8 divisions that he was eligible to enter, the first time that anyone has ever done so in US Grappling history. In the absolute divisions, he went against guys who weighed more than a "Jeff and a half" and still managed to take home 7 medals.

3) Team Royce Gracie really banded together. The head instructors from my school were unable to make it, but I was never without coaching, support, and some Royce Gracie bad-ass in my corner (big thanks to Drew Culbreth, Roy Marsh, Mary Holmes, Brandon Brown, Hameed Sanders, and Timber Clayton for coaching me).

4) For the first time EVER, I didn't pull guard a single time during the tournament. This has been my goal for several tournaments in a row, and finally I was successful. Take-downs have always been my weakness and a source of intimidation for me. Finally, I'm starting to feel more comfortable on my feet!

5) There was a HUGE female turnout...including 6 blue belt women!

It is often said that you will learn as much from a tournament as from a whole month of training. Well, this has never really been true for me. I typically pick up a detail or two directly relevant to my game, but to say that it's worth a whole month of training is a stretch. Until this weekend.

I leaned a TON!

And it's probably because I didn't have the tournament of my life. While I had some terrific no gi matches, I had some terrifically educational gi matches. I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn't aware of just how many until I came home and watched the videos (and read the comments from my coaches). I've come to the conclusion that small differences in skill level are more evident in gi than no gi. In  no gi, I can't really tell the difference between low and high level blue belts. In gi, however, it is clear that 2 and 3 stripe blue belts have more tools than I have. And that's to be expected - many have have their blue belts for longer than I've been training.

Also, in no gi, there's a little more room for hulk smash. In gi, on the other hand, weaknesses in technique are amplified. A  lot of where I went wrong was when I "got greedy" and tried to rush, when I should have been more patient and methodical.  I ended up getting 2 gold medals no gi, and a silver and bronze in gi.

Oh, if you don't recognize that gi on  me, it's because it belongs to Jeff. I was a big dope and packed 2 pairs of gi bottoms for the tournament and zero gi tops. Jeff, however, had prepared for the tournament in all ways, including packing an extra gi. Thanks for lending me the gi mojo!

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