Paris Open


I wanted to do an IBJJF competition, before doing the Euros. And I’m glad I did. ;-> Two good matches against strong competitors, but I managed to win both by points and take home the gold for masters 2, light.

As I suspected there isn’t really much difference between IBJJF and other competitions. Fundamentally they work the same way and it’s a very similar experience. The only totally new thing was that they throughly checked my gi by running a wooden block built to the standard measurements over it. I think there were also a few more staff on the organisation side than you’d see at a smaller competition (and the PA system worked reliably). But otherwise much the same. Still, I’m glad to have seen that for myself since it might take some of the pressure off.

The competitor standard was high (for white belt, all is relative). But that was more about consistency than absolute ability. I’ve been against people as tough or tougher in the UK. But nobody at Paris was doing their first comp and everyone seemed to be at the tail end of white belt. It was probably the first division I’ve been in where everyone could have plausibly won it.

From the matches, the particular positive thing I’m taking away is that I managed to stand to break closed guard several times. This feels like a milestone in terms of confidence and control. Standing up in closed guard is a) genuinely a bit tricky and b) tends to feel unsafe. So I’m glad to have overcome that in the heat of competition. Of course, I still need to work on it — in particular I need to get better and more systematic about breaking their grips and controlling them so that I can stand up more easily and in better posture.

Also, while I obviously need to improve everything generally (ahh, the wonderful open freedom of the beginner), I feel I’m starting to get to the point where it’s worth working more on my submissions. Particularly in that first match, I should have put him in serious danger a few times, given my positional advantage. Aside from the fact that it would be nice to win by submission more often, being able to seriously threaten the submission will keep my dominant positions more secure.

White belt, four stripe

Last stripe before blue belt. Unfortunately, I’d managed (for the first time ever) to forget my belt, so I’d borrowed one from Cesar — who then had to put four stripes on it. He was then kind enough to let me keep the belt.

Despite the prevailing view that one shouldn’t care about stripes, I like getting them. They’re a welcome symbol of encouragement and recognition. I do suspect the impact fades as you go up. In fact, that’s been my experience so far. It was a big deal to get the first one and a moderate deal to get the second. The third and fourth have been very welcome, but not quite the same impact. They’re more a symbol of progress towards other goals rather than a milestone in themselves.

English Open


Silver. Revenged my loss from the previous weekend by fighting in pretty much the same match — an inconclusive guard battle where I failed to sweep or seriously endanger him, while he failed to pass me. At the time I thought it had been another referee’s decision, but apparently I took an advantage for an attempt at a cross collar choke from half guard in the closing seconds. To be honest, I think that was generous — it really wasn’t there. But I’m obviously not going to complain. We agreed a rematch is in order and that one of us should definitely try to score some points next time.

Then lost the final to Rob Etheridge, who I’ve met at a number of competitions. He’s a nice guy, but that didn’t stop him passing my guard, taking my back and tapping me by choke. On the positive side, it took him some time and effort. After he initially got round I caught half-guard and we fought there for a while. But, in the end, he was better at passing than I was at guard retention, plus my half-guard definitely needs some work. And, once he got round, he finished me briskly. I should have done a much better job of defending and trying to escape.

Still, similarly to the Warrior’s Cup I’m cautiously pleased with my performance. There’s still a very long way to go, but I’m happy that I’m improving.

For the first time, I have film of proceedings, which is interesting. Definitely a useful tool for post match analysis and identifying areas to work on.