Sunday, February 20, 2011

NAGA 2011

Warning: This is a looooong story. If you only want to know about what actually happened at the tournament, skip to the bottom. lol

So, let me tell you the story of a tournament that tried it's hardest to keep me from coming. If you remember, last time I wanted to go to a tournament, my neck was giving me major problems. I still have problems with it from time to time, but it's manageable. But add onto that these minor injuries: a finger that was injured on an exercise ball and refuses to heal up, a knee that got tweaked in class two weeks ago and a rib that got popped under another one (but came right back out) that same week. I was beat the crap up. But I was STILL going to compete!!

My house has been a wreck the last 6 months because of a pipe that broke behind my kitchen sink. We've gutted the kitchen and master bedroom. Everything is so close to being done, but we have Noah's birthday here next weekend, so I am going to have to be Wonder Woman to get everything done by then. I was tempted not to compete because of that. But I went anyway!!

Also, very few people from our gym decided to do this competition. Everyone is training for PanAms. And my instructor was reffing this tournament, which meant I probably wasn't going to have a coach during my matches. I wasn't sure if my husband would be able to make it and none of my close friends from the school were going. But I decided to go anyway.

Only one guy from the Lakeland school that I knew of was going, so I convinced him to let me ride up with him. Who was it? THE VERY SAME GUY I HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT ON HERE!! lol. It's a guy I have been so frustrated with during grappling because he is so strong and because I absolutely cannot get out of bottom half guard once he gets me in it.

That actually turned out to be a good thing. We talked about a lot of stuff (It was a 3 hour drive) and I apologized for having such a poor attitude while I grappled him. I told him I had nothing personal against him, that I was just getting frustrated because of my OWN inability to adapt to his style of grappling. He said it was all good and we are pals now. I will probably still hate grappling him. lol But he is a nice guy.

So, we get to Boca Raton and go to the weigh in. All was well. We both made weight. Then, I met up with my instructor and everyone went to their respective hotels. That night, I slept in a room with 2 other people from our school. NONE of us could sleep. I took some melatonin at around 1:30 am, but it only made my body feel heavy. We had all gotten in bed around 10, laid there tossing and turning until about 3 am when we all realized everyone else was still awake. We talked about why we shouldn't be nervous for about an hour. Then we tried to go back to sleep. No luck. I think one of the guys actually drifted off around 4 in the morning. But me and the other guy were up ALL night.

I wasn't even all that nervous. I just couldn't shut my MIND off!! Every time I tried to close my eyes, scenarios would pop into my mind and the next thing you know I am grappling some faceless opponent in my imagination.

One of the guys in my room had to be there early the next day, so we all had to be up and out of the room by 7 something in the morning. When I got to the gym, I found a spot beside the wall and tried to sleep. No good. Just got up and tried to enjoy the hubbub of the tournament beginning.

At that point, all the pressure was off. I figured that I was entering in this under the worst possible circumstances: alone, beat up, bad cardio, no sleep, first time competing as a blue belt. If I ever had an excuse to do poorly, it was today.

But then I thought to myself, "No. I am going to go out there and give it everything I've got. I am not going to give up. I will just take it one fight at a time."

Then all the enormous girls started arriving. Giants. Oops, I mean Giantesses. I started freaking the crap out. There were no other girls my size that I had seen. Just one tall, muscle-bound girl after another. I laughingly told my friend that it was a good thing I was used to grappling guys because I was going to be outmatched in the size and strength department. A few minutes later, I realized all the girls were wearing the same sneakers and had the same gym bags. With the college logo on them. We were in a college gym set up for the tournament.

My tired brain finally put two and two together. They were not here to grapple. They were here for basketball practice. LOL!! I think that was the biggest sigh of relief I have had in a while.

My husband and a friend of mine, Joyce, and another blue belt who trains at our school who we call Delilah (his real name is Josh) decided to drive up that morning. I was going to be one of the first divisions to go, since I am a girl, so I knew they would have to hurry to make it on time.

At 10 am, the girls were supposed to head to mat 13. I looked at the mats. None were marked 13. What the crap?!?! Then they announced over the loud speaker that mat 13 was upstairs. When I got up there, I saw they had set up kind of a mini tournament in a room that looked like it was made for dancing lessons. All the girls and the masters division men had been sent up there.

At first, I was kind of put off that we'd been shucked to the corner. But then I was happy. It was like being at a really small, home town tournament. Only the close friends, family and teammates of the competitors were there and it was a really friendly room. I got to meet a few fellow bloggers: Megan from Tangles Triangle and Jennifer from Family Mat-ters (who I ended up fighting), and Gina who I think reads some of our blogs (Hi Gina!! :)) who I also ended up fighting.

Here's where the good things finally started happening. My husband and friends arrived. Yay! Delilah agreed to coach me and another one of my other teammates who were there competing in masters. Delilah is a really good blue belt who I have learned a lot from. I was not very nervous. I just kept telling myself, "I'm going to go out there and show them what I've got. That's all." There were only four girls in my division, so we all started talking and making friends, which was fun.

So. At long last, here are my fights. This first one was with me and Gina.

Gina was a good competitor and I am glad to have met her. She, Jennifer and I are hoping to get a girls open mat together sometime so we can all have more girls to roll with. Woohoo! :)

Things that I was happy about in this match:

- I got my first take down ever in a tournament!!! I know, it is a really ugly, sloppy one. But it is my first! Don't make fun of it! lol

- I stayed calm. I remember thinking at a couple of points, "You're using too much energy here. Calm down. Work steady."

- I tried knee on belly in a tournament. I don't know why, but I have always been scared to try knee on belly in a tournament. Ok. I know why. It's because I suck at it. LOL My attempt was a gross failure, but at least I tried! ;)

Things I saw in this match that I need to work on.

- While I was grappling, I felt like my hips were too high and I was leaning too far over her while I was trying to escape half guard. I need to keep my weight down on the person and use my hips to break out.

- Knee on belly. My failed attempt in this grapple is very similar to how I injured my finger! lol

Here's my second match against Jennifer:

Jennifer was a tough competitor, as you can see. She shocked me by how strong she was!! I thought we had a good match and I learned a ton from it.

Things was happy about in this match:

- I stayed calm even when I was in bad positions. She caught me off guard (literally) from the beginning. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONE JUMPING GUARD! lol!!! But I kept telling myself to stay calm. Because she was so strong, a few times, I was tempted to fight back with strength. But I clearly remembered thinking that I was way too tired for that and that I needed to rely on technique if I was going to do anything. I had to just work steadily. That strategy didn't pan out for me in the end, I guess. lol

- I did well defending or escaping submissions. In class, I purposefully got myself into submissions in order to practice escaping them. Man, am I glad I did!! I needed it! lol. During the armbar escape, on the second roll, I ended up hurting my elbow and shoulder. But at least I escaped!! The kimura she was going for at the end was frustrating. I could only remember the first part of that escape. It was enough to defend from her finishing it, but if I had done the rest of the escape correctly, it would have ended with me passing her guard. Oh well. That was right at the end of the match and I probably wouldn't have had time to do anything anyway.

Things I saw that I need to work on:

- I need to be quicker on the draw. I waited too long to move after we started and she jumped on my faster than a flea on a dog! lol

- Apparently, I need to work on getting out of closed guard!! LOL I never have a problem with this in class. But then, we always wear gis in class. I am used to having the fabric to hold onto. Also, I was too uncertain to try any of the other guard passes I know. I didn't feel confident in them, which tells me I need to work on them. So, I need to work on closed guard passes in no-gi.

- I need to ask Fabio how to finish that dang kimura escape!

- At one point, when I came up after escaping the armbar, I didn't attack her. I hesitated and because of that, I ended up in a bad position. I need to be prepared to attack as soon as I come out of an escape.

- I need to move more when I am scared. My gut-reaction to being intimidated is to stiffen up. That's not a good thing in BJJ. I need to get it through my thick skull that the way to safety is moving, not hunkering down.

Unfortunately, because I hurt my elbow and shoulder, I ended up having to bow out of gi. I thought about doing it anyway--the elbow isn't that bad. Just stiff and sore.--But I was worried that if I got armbarred again, it would get seriously injured. I felt a little like a quitter, but after I sat down and the adrenaline started to wear off, I knew i had made the right decision.

All in all, I had a great time. This was the first tournament I actually enjoyed competing in, which is ironic considering that it was the one I was the least prepared for. I am ready to get back on the mat and work on the stuff I need to work on (as soon as my elbow is ready). Thanks for all your well wishes!! It was definitely worth going.


SavageKitsune said...

Wow, Jennifer's arms and legs are so muscular! I'll just bet she was strong! You gave her a really good fight, though.

You did great! Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your experience with us. said...

Allie, you were a super tough competitor. It could have been anyone's match. I'm so glad I finally had the chance to meet you - you are just sweet as you sound on your blog. I'm committed to getting a female open mat together for in Florida so we can all train together some day.

Aparna said...

Congrats! You did a great job on both matches. You had some awesome transitions to maintain the top position in that first match, even though the girl on bottom kept moving--it was really cool to watch.

Dev said...

You did AWESOME!!!!!!!!! Congrats! Great escape, next time don't mess up your arm. :)

Liam H Wandi said...

Many congrats Allie!

HomeImprovementNinja said...

That armbar escape was great! Most people would've tapped, but you kept working it, sweet!

And the first match was good too. Why don't you like the takedown? That collar tie to knee-tap looked really good from this side of the screen (in nogi I use the collar tie to ankle pick, which is pretty similar).

Georgette said...

Loved the takedown. Loved the armbar escape. And best of all, LOVED the attitude, so much better than mine at my first bluebelt tournament! Bummed I didn't make it there to see in person. Someday! :)

Afrorican said...

Great Work! I am glad that you had a great time. It's awesome to see that you broke down your hits and misses and will use it to make your game grow. I had my daughter watch so she could see the beauty of Jiu-Jitsu and that it's not "just for boys." LOL

Megan said...

Great matches! So glad I got to meet you and see you perform in person.

Love the videos:)

Junior Familia said...

niiiice Allie
i was just going to ask you where are some videos of you rocking!
thanks for your comment btw!!