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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The not-so-light Lightweight

August 9, 2014 - I returned to IBJJF competition two years after my dismal performance at the 2012 Vegas Summer International Open. I registered as a lightweight (leve) which is a weight class above my originally intended featherweight (pena).

In the months leading up to the tournament, I was training an average of 20 hours per week. With the added mat time, my jiu-jitsu game has improved exponentially. I have my team to thank for the much needed push. When everyone at your academy shares the same goals as you do, your game gets better as a result.

2014 IBJJF Las Vegas Summer International Open

I stepped on the mats with determination. Relentless aggressiveness was my game plan. I bull-rushed and set my sights on a takedown. I grabbed my opponent's collar and secured my grip as if holding on for dear life. I managed to put the pressure and pushed him to the edge of the mat. I was determined to lay him flat on the blue and yellow mats of the IBJJF. I didn't expect a guy a good 6 inches taller than me, brilliantly pull De la Riva guard. I instinctively maintained a low combat base - to which my coach yelled at in disapproval. I was stumped and decided to stay on that low almost squat-like posture. I should've kneeled and widened my base. I didn't stay low enough and got swept quite easily - twice.

From there I was on my side for most of the match. My opponent incessantly tried multiple submission attempts. I defended them with almost reflexively automated ease. I came on top in the final minutes of the match and gunned for my favorite submission, the mao de vaca or wristlock. I was given an advantage point for my bold attempt but it wasn't enough to secure a victory.

I was overcome with relief and what seemed like contentment - this was the first time I didn't lose to a submission. I had a "bring it on" attitude that defied my impulse to prematurely tap. The initial feeling of grief due to a loss was unavoidable, but the later realization of how my performance was had changed all that.

At the and of the day, I lost and then I won.


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