Quick thought on promotions

A couple of weeks ago I was at my club’s belt promotion.

Watching people go up, I realised that one of the reasons that I enjoy BJJ is that it gives the opportunity for moments of simple happiness. Everyone who went up had the biggest, goofiest smile on their face — which stayed there for the rest of the night. And we all got to share that.

Obviously, this isn’t the end of the story. I’m sure some of the people getting promoted will also have fears, insecurities and doubts. And I’d be amazed if a few people in the audience weren’t, at least in part, disappointed and envious.

But still. I think we all, for a few moments, got as close as one can to a shared moment of joy. No complicated mixed emotions and no careful irony.1 That’s a rare thing and to be celebrated.

  1. Anyone who knows me will know I’m a great fan of both complicated mixed emotions and careful irony. But a change is as good as a rest. 

First competition: Hereford Open

I competed in the Masters 2, 76kg, White Belt bracket. Fought twice, both losses. But had an absolutely great time.

First bout I lost on points (and genuinely had no idea who was up on points when the bell rang). I’m pretty pleased with this one, although I definitely made my share of mistakes. Need to get better on my feet, since I think my oppo quite easily turned my guard pull into his take down. And I need to tighten up my whole guard game. I maintained guard quite well for much of the match, but just couldn’t get an effective offence going, which gave him all the time he needed to pass. But I was then able to regain guard fairly quickly (not even sure if he got the points there). Generally, I felt I did myself justice. He was just a stronger and more experienced competitor who had me beat.

Second was less happy. Lost by an arm triangle, and, with one exception, just never did anything but slow him down slightly in his classical progression of guard pull to sweep to mount to submission. The exception was when, following his guard pull and sweep, I managed to get the triangle position. At this point, I really should have been able to put him in serious danger. But I just didn’t pull the trigger, from a combination of fatigue, lack of confidence, lack of technique and a mental failure to go for the throat when I should have. Lots of stuff to work on there.

One general lesson is that competing is exhausting and the adrenaline dump is brutal. Partly I need to deal with this by experience, but I think if I’m going to continue to compete I need to work on my cardio. Part of the reason I didn’t perform as well as I should in the second bout was that I was still trying to pull myself together from the first!

The other general point was that this is the first time I’ve competed in a weight class sport. At the start of May, post marathon, I was 79kg. To compete at 76kg with the gi, I got down to 74kg. This was an interesting experience in itself — it’s the first time I’ve seriously tried to lose weight (rather than just casually cleaning up my diet for a bit) or tracked my calories.

The cut itself was fairly painless, although I did lose a bit of muscle / strength as you’d expect. I suspect I was also a bit too aggressive / cautious in the last 24 hours with water and carbs intake. I was worried about making the weight, so really was careful to eat little and drink less. A more moderate approach might have left me with a bit more energy.

To be honest, I don’t think this was in any way a factor. My bouts just weren’t close enough for it to matter. But, for the future, I’d like to lose a bit more fat, put on a bit more muscle and end up around 72/73kg. That should give me a bit more strength and a bit more wiggle room on the weight.