Well, the Pan Ams are a week behind us and the smoke has settled and everyone's moved on, including myself. I looked back at my results for the 2-3 days after I competed to analyze my performance. I didn't feel like it at, but I am anxious to improve and everything was fresh in my mind. I've been playing guard since early December (pulling and using as my A game) and it was the second tournament with the gameplan. I had had a warmup with the Chicago tournament and had success there.
My division went off on Friday mid-morning and I met my coach on the floor at 9:30am to talk over things and start the process of gettting warm. I was more nervous than I normally am and I think it had more to do that I knew I could do well and if it faultered, it was more of a mental mistake than a preparation problem. I completed the warm up, stretching, and talking and finally got called to go get checked in and escorted to the mat for my division. My first match was against a slightly bigger guy who seemed sort of stiff, but in good shape. I really only thought about the plan that I was going to put into place, which was pull guard, right to deep half guard, and sweep. The match started and my first pull was not timed very well and a little anxious, but I got to deep half right away okay. I use a double lapel sweep, where I feed both lapels to each of my hands, sweep, and come up with double unders on the opponent; a prime passing position. I will also use the backtake from that position and consequently, that's what I tried twice off the bat with the first opponent. He defended well, but I also didn't have my grips set as well as they needed and I heard Tony, my coach, tell me to get to my grips first and then attack. With only about a minute left in the match, I was down an advantage because I had turtled once to regain guard after a failed backtake. I got my grips set in place and made the pop for the sweep. Success! I put the pressure on there and almost got myself in a little trouble, but rode out the time for the win.
I talked to my coach after and he told me to loosen up on when I pull guard and time it when I felt it better. With the slight changes, the next two matches went like textbook for us, with good pulls, deep half guard, sweeps, and passes. I was in the finals.
The finals put me against a very tough wrestler, but the plan was the same (including no wrestling, haha). I was confident. With his stance, it took a little longer to get the right pull, but I got it and he defended with a kneecut position and grips on my upper collar. He was really giving me options (armdrags, deep half, open guard), but I needed to stick to the gameplan. Getting to deep half from the knee cut is really easy actually since I'm already underneath one leg. I got there fine and immediately got a grip on his near lapel. Now enters the fight. His other lapel was tucked in tight and I needed it. The problem with entering straight into deep half guard is not getting the lapels out in advance and making it more of a fight once you enter. He had a very good base and off-balancing him, even while underneath, was tough; however I continued to fight to get the lapel. I would go for it and he would attack with a cross collar choke. It was definitely his primary defense for the DHG. I finally got anxious and just went for it and he dropped an elbow on my face (which kind of stunned me! haha, but it's a fight, who cares, made me want to win more). From there, he got the choke across my lips and slid it down. He had it in good, but I knew I could still reposition to throw him off balance. Oops, wasn't happening and I was like a stuck pig! The lights started fading and dots started appearing and I don't remember tapping consciously, but I did. I was disappointed, but it was a good ride and I had stuck with the plan. I knew exactly what I had done wrong and a few things, I would need some help on. My main problem was playing the position too "flat" on my back, leaving myself open for attacks. If I am on my side a little bit and facing the same direction as my opponent, it eliminates these threats (largely the kimura and the choke).
The tournament was not as successful as I had intended, but i did decent and came away with some valuable learning lessons for the future. Unfortunately, right now, I am dealing with a knee injury that had occurred about 6 weeks before the Pan Ams. It didn't affect my performance and it's no excuse. I rammed a training partner while doing a guard pull and my knee took a big impact. I've had fluid build up and have had to drain it many times in order to train. Even with a little time off, it wasn't getting better. It's not painful, but the fluid is there and I have little to no power in my hook. I get an MRI this Wednesday on it and the doctor will analyze the results on Thursday. From there, I will take the appropriate course of action to rehab the knee and get it back to somewhat normal. I say somewhat, because at 37, somewhat normal is about as good as you might expect to be! In bjj, nobody's ever 100% for a tournament. Just the way it is with the rigors of training in a contact sport. Hoping for no surgery, but whatever it is it is.
I got together with my coach on Saturday and we planned out the tournament schedule for the remainder of the year (even considering some time to let my knee heal). I like that, because it gives me concrete goals to look at, to mark off the time i need to prepare, and everything is scheduled. For the next few days, I'll just be watching class and learning that way. It was hard to do on Saturday, but it was helpful and the best that I can do right now. I have no intentions of sitting around on a couch for the next month and getting fat. If all I can do is push ups, sit ups, some drilling from my back, that's what I'll do. I even went to the gym on Saturday afternoon and worked out (anything that left my knee alone). I did a lot of upper body work obviously, but it felt good. I want to work on some ways to get cardio in while still resting the knee and that will be a challenge, but I'll learn and figure it out.
Until next time, ossss